Nephalim's Gate
By Elizabeth Carter

Chapter Fifteen

Moving the pawns and knights

"They wanted what?" General Jack O'Neill stared at Daniel then back to Ambassador Granger.

It was the ambassador that answered. "They said they wished have either a Lakota or Cheyenne ambassadors present at the negotiations, they wish only to talk to choirs..."Choirs" that had not broken their word. They also are under the impression that the Samurai can be trusted to keep their words.

"Dr. Jackson and I can be present, but they will only make a treaty with us if can speak with ambassadors whose ancestry they can trust. And since the Lakota, Cheyenne had never broken a treaty they were forced to sign, they carry no Dissonance. It seems the Malakim have traded with the Salish on PXY887 for trinium. The Malakim Trade Guild heard of what had happened with the Pentagon's choice to ignore decision of the Salish Council and steal the Trinium, they also had heard of the NID's off-world operation and the theft of technology, suffice it to say they do not trust the Pentagon nor any other governmental faction. If it wasn't for General Carter's affiliation with them we would never have a treaty with the Malakim."

Jack soaked it all in thinking. He, himself balked at Washington's orders regarding the Salish and their trinium he had even said something about history repeating itself. SG1 were the only ones to protest the actions of the Pentagon. And it was only SG1 that got the Salish 'Spirit' guardians to turn back their anger, return the people they made vanish.

"Salish made a treaty with the Malakim, huh?"

Daniel shrugged. "The Malakim showed them how to "Sing" the metal out of the earth, the Salish thought this agreeable, the Malakim sing to the mountain with their ecomancy and pull the metal out of the earth, and the rivers. If we could get the Malakim to sing some of our metals out of the earth it would change the whole face of mining," the archeologist said. "I've watched them do this, it's really quite fascin..."

"Daniel," Jack held up a hand to make the younger man become quiet. "You're telling me they want someone from either the Lakota or Cheyenne nations to negotiate with them or a Samurai?"

"They respect honesty." Granger said. "They are under the impression that people from either Native American nation or the Samurai will be honest in any treaty we make with them. Reading our history doesn't paint a very good picture of solidarity."

"Our history?" Daniel rose a bushy eyebrow, "By this you mean Anglo-Saxon history."

The ambassador gave a hapless shrug.

"It's errors like that make the Malakim hesitant to go into a treaty with us. Jack the Malakim are our best possibility for allies against the Goa'uld, and the Wraith. We can't lose them. They are so ready to pull out because of what Kinsey wanted to do and almost succeeded."

"So we lay it all on the line," Jack said.

"Speaking of that," Daniel stepped foreword, "They want you there too. They like your blunt honesty," the archeologist smirked. "The GAA said despite your unrefined manners, you don't hide behind pretense, and anyone you have dealings with knows where they stand with you. They respect that and you. They like you."

Jack gave a self satisfactory smirk. "They like me."

"Yes, according to the GAA, the Prime Minister of the Malakim Empire requested that you also represent Earth considering that you lead the SGC."

"The Prime Minister?" O'Neill's grin turned into a frown. "I thought we'd be dealing with Queen Novalis."

Granger shook her dark head in a negative responded. "The Prime Minister, is sent to deal with trades that the Malakim GAA deem questionable. The Empire is ruled much like England with both a Prime Minister and a monarchy."

"Yes, yes I know this, only Novalis isn't a figure head. with glorified ambassadorial duties." O'Neill dismissed Granger. "Daniel, do what you have to do to make this happen. We need this alliance."

Sam Carter rubbed her forehead thinking she was about due for a migraine. She headed into the anti-chamber of her office, poured herself a cup of espresso roast coffee and waited for the next set of briefings to commence. Within three days she was to meet with Earth as the Prime Minister of the Malakim Empire.

Prime Minister. The idea still daunted the forever-young woman. Sam was confident in her abilities as a scientist, she was brilliant in that regard, she was an accomplished Officer and leader, and a damn good fighter pilot.

Kha'antar lifted his azure maned white furred head as he heard his mistress's words, "And here I thought I was only a ... glorified Governor of Grigori. You know Command of this base; the surrounding cities—the planet but .... this." Sam ran her fingers through the thick blue mane of her mount. But the GAA and Novalis are correct I am the perfect liaison between our worlds."

Kha'antar grunted, his approval. He bumped her hand with his large head as if to tell his mistress she had nothing to worry about. "Yes, I know I am more than capable of impartial representation; if I wasn't, Novalis wouldn't have appointed me the task, instead Nachamel would be handling all negotiations." Her hand was idly petting the thick white fur of the pumaica's leonine head as she once did Schrodinger's ginger one once upon a time, "I'm used to being a liaison between Earth and people of other planets. I was leader of the Flagship team after all, but this seems so different. Now I'm representing a whole Empire to my former world."

Kha'antar nudged Sam again, 'I'm, going with you.' he seemed to indicate.

"Don't worry, I will not misrepresent the Empire, Kha'antar. As I told Nachamel will not forsake my duty as Prime Minister, I will do what is necessary for both of our people."

Kha'antar pushed against the delicate hand that was stroking his fur, 'I'm still going with you.'

Sam found herself smirking, "Yes, you big lug you can go. You'd put too much of a fuss up if I didn't let you."

The great beast seemed content and laid his large maned head on the lap of his mistress. His ears flickered forward, he rose his head curiously and looked into the eyes of his lady. And purred once more. He rested his head upon her lap again this time a little more gingerly as his tongue gave a great sweep across her belly.

"HEY!" Sam protested at her tunic getting wet.

He purred one more. As of to say, 'You, have a cub in you.'

"You sense her don't you?" Sam placed an hand over her womb. She smiled brightly, "Yes, I'm going to have a baby, me and Janet....we're going to have another daughter." Her hand remained over her belly as Sam smirked, "I'm over the moon in love with the idea of having another child."

Kha'antar nudged his mistress, the protective primal urge within him flaring into full bloom. He was bound and determined not to allow any harm to cross her path. He watched her open up her computer terminal scanning through the list of orders she had made in recent months. He knew the Near-Dead troubled her mind and heart. Her colors transferred from the warming orange gold of the cub to the frozen white-gray of death. The Near-Dead, Kha'antar had decided would not come within sight of his mistress.

Three days until the meeting with Earth and its ambassadors. According to the orders of the GAA and the Queen, there was to be a Malakim presence at the Atlantis base and a contingent of members from the Science Guild. Any recovered Ancient Technology will be freely traded between the Empire and the mortals of Earth. On the Atlantis planet the Empire will have a separate civilian stronghold for research purposes, in exchange, Malakim found knowledge will be given to those of Atlantis and Earth Base. The Queen will have no other than the President sign the agreement on behest of Earth and Sam would be forced to enforce this request.

Further, the GAA had ordered only a probationary trade agreement. This was something Samantha didn't understand. Janet had been asked what was the standard life expectancy of a very healthy Tau'ri female—the answer was up to a hundred years. Sam read her orders once again, the life of the treaty would span the life of a newborn Tau'ri female. Within a hundred years the treaty would end, during that time the Tau'ri had a chance to prove themselves worthy, by not breaking any 'word' they gave or promise they made. One broken promise and the whole deal was off.

As she scanned the documents for the treaty for the thirtieth time, Sam still couldn't fathom why Daniel Jackson was once again allowed to partake of the negotiations when both Novalis and the GAA didn't trust the archeologist because Shifu's teaching dream.

At the pumacia's grunt, Sam looked up from the reports in her hand to see Cassandra hesitating at the threshold of her office. "Permission to enter?" At the formal tone of the younger woman's voice, Sam knew this wasn't a visit from her daughter, but from her junior officer.

"What can I do for you Captain Fraiser?" Sam smiled, proud of the new rank for her daughter. Since her exemplary tour of duty during the Chimera battle and years of service Sam had promoted the young woman in accordance to the Malakim Military guild regulations. The USAF would uphold the field commission as well, should Cassandra wish to pursue her career with the Air Force.

" Zircon, Azurite and Lapis Wings have engaged the Wraith. They have managed to hold the line, thus far but they are requesting additional troops." Cassandra's face suddenly became very grave, "Ma'am, they are facing fourteen Hive ships, each with a complement of three hundred Darts."

"Oh God." Sam's mind ran the scenarios in her mind, the outcome would not be good. "Minister Kidumiel is waiting conference with you on the matter of sending an armada."

Sam's blue eyes narrowed into a frown, "Armada? Grigori doesn't have the resources to send an armada of ships. We can send troops perhaps, a few Wings, but we don't even have an armada."

"Ma'am," Cassandra was a model officer, "perhaps Minister Kidumiel perceives she must ask for our aid, rather than order it as she would any other division of the Military Guild because in truth we might follow all military regulations, but technically we are of the Merc' Guild."

Sam found herself almost wincing. It was true. It had started with the Blue Wing, they had renounced all ties to their Choirs and created the Grigori Choir. Not soon not only did they secede from their Choirs but also resigned their commissions from the Military Guild, stole the new Science vessel the 'Samantha Carter', and joined the Mercenary Guild while abducting their Liege, their heroic Nephalim and thus proving themselves to the Mercenary guild they were pledging.

Sam and Janet as well as Cassandra had resigned their own commission to the USAF and signed on with the Malakim Mercenary's Guild, so that they could remain in the Empire, and be free to act lest a conflict of interest befall them with any connection to Earth and the angelic's realm.

Even though Sam commanded the Gregorian base as she would if she was still in the Air Force, she often forgot she was now a free-sword. Despite she was appointed Prime Minister of the Empire, Sam's military force answered only to her.

"Thank you Captain, dismissed."

Cassandra saluted with one hand clutched over a fist in the adopted Merc-salute, "I heed," she said and turned. The action brought a smile to her lips, more and more her children were adopting the ways of the Malakim. Since the climatic holocaust, Sam had to be truthful to herself, so had she. Samantha Carter had embraced her role as the Nephalim.

Musings dismissed, the blonde turned to the flat screen monitor of her communications terminal. Hitting a command key she called up the communication link between herself and Minister Kidumiel. Instead of an image on the screen a small holographic projection emanated onto the top of her desk.

"Minister Kidumiel, no doubt you have word, three of the Gregorian Wings have engaged the Wraith. Can I surmise by the request that you have encountered them as well?"

"Too long have they haunted our tailwinds. And now the Ori make moves against our front as well. It goes ill on the front lines, and it is a cure your wife can not bring. We thusly divided in our numbers."

"I can send troops but our numbers are few and we have no armada to speak of, a handful of ships only." Sam tried to inform the proud female.

"On Grigori yes, but you have ties with the Mercenary Guild and you are on more amiable terms than I. Thus I commission you, submit a request to the Mercenaries to send conscripts to face the Wraith. This will allow the Military to confront the Ori.."

"Mercenaries have their own ships, and they will make an armada, I understand. I will see to the request, Minister, and that it is carried out. The turn of the tide will be ours."

"Your actions Nephalim, are as small pebbles that start an avalanche. Doubt gnaws away at you, but do not suffer it to exist, Samantha."

Sam turned her eyes away, the guilt still too near for the climatic upheaval in the Empire and all that had been harmed by the torment of the ecosystems turning on itself. This as was the evolution of Repli-Carter, was a guilt Sam would forever hold. Nothing she did could ever exonerate what had happened, because of her actions. Usiel had been right to fear the Harrowing, Sam had summoned. Even if a portion of what occurred lay upon the shoulders of Janet, for her rejection of her Song. It was something Sam, herself would bear alone if only for repentance. It had since the death of her mother always been apart of her nature.

"But for all this dark eclipse, light now harkened on the horizon however small it was, it was there." Kidumiel spoke once more as if she had not seen the look of despair take the Nephalim. "Anger festers in the hearts of the Wings for this old enemy—the Wraith, and the Ori. And what lingers still is grave doubt, for this threat on the horizon. There are those within the Empire that do not look for welcome this treaty with the Tau'ri. They do fear mortal words----mortal promises will not be upheld. It is only the Nephalim that softens their ill -hearts, and stills their swords.

"Harken to me, Nephalim, and draw out the Disaccord between our nations that lingers ever long as your mate would draw out a malady in the body. These are old doubts that tarry Nephalim. The defenses hold, but only just, now the Tau'ri look to us to vanquish the blight that darkens their skies, when they cannot themselves hold peace between their own Choirs."

"Minister Kidumiel, yes my people the Tau'ri have conflicts between our nations, open war, and a war of terrorism, but we are a young world, not so ancient as the Malakim, and the young are rash, and yes sometimes foolish, but on the whole there is a lot of good in the hearts of the Tau'ri. I won't let you or any other dismiss the quantified good, for those that do evil. I will give my life for my world. If you think me to turn on my planet because I am now the Nephalim of the Malakim, and its Prime Mister, then I am not worthy of the titles given to me by the Malakim or the Tau'ri. All hope of valor would be gone and I won't let that happen. We're not perfect, we make a lot of mistakes, some make monstrous choices. Yes I know, but not all of us. And if I have to become the voice of those who choose light, compassion, the goodness in the human heart, then that is exactly what I will do. The loyalty in my heart for my planet doesn't wax or wane because of broken promises or terrorism, it holds ever fast, even if those actions causes my heart to break and it has. Many times. But I will never turn my heart from my home world."

It was almost a surprise even to the great pumaica, who was watching the hologram as well, when he saw the lips of Kidumiel curled into a smile, and say, "This is why you where chosen by the Great Song, Nephalim. You see more than what is revealed to the rest of us."

The power of the Wraith has been unleashed, and their war in the galaxies will come swiftly, the strength of the free peoples is fading and the quest will take many lives. It is a risk they all took when faith in the Nephalim was placed. She is not easily seduced by her power. She may not fully understand how great it is. The Wraith will have dominion in this galaxy even unto the ending of the worlds. The mere utterance of the Nephalim gave warriors and civilians the hope to draw the line, hold it and not fall to the terror of the Wraith, or darkness the Ori brought with them. This was the true power of the Nephalim. And Kidumiel knew it to be so. The power of the Nephalim was to hold back the storm and she would do it. It was only now the Minister of Defense completely believed in the power the Nephalim carried.

"I submit to your heart, Nephalim." Kidumiel's wings pressed against her body as would all Malakim in submission to a more dominant figure. "May the winds carry you far, and hold you."

"May the winds lift your own wings, Minister," Sam returned the traditional salutation of farewell.

The hologram blinked off leaving the ever-young woman alone with her thoughts and a very protective Kha'antar. When she moved the great winged cat moved. He kept her within a pace's distance. The cub within his mistress would need the utmost protection, instinct drove the great animal, and nothing would stay him from his course.

Sam raked a hand through her short cropped wheat yellow hair, before her hand quickly danced over the keyboard of her computer. A part of Sam flinched for having to negotiate with mercenaries. It was something the Academy never trained her for. The proper military had always thought ill of soldiers of fortune, guns for hire, a path that wasn't seen as honorable, much less respected.

The Malakim thought differently.

Malakim mercenaries would not take a job if they deemed it carried no honor, nor valor. They organized themselves much like the Miltary, Sam knew so well, complete with rank and similar laws. Regulations were vastly different, in that fraternization was allowable between the ranks. In a sense the Malakim mercenaries were more like the Military Reserves back on earth. Sam recalled reading histories on the Feudal Japanese companies of samurai as she found so many comparisons between the Wings of warriors and ancient warriors of Japan. The blonde took solace in that at the least the Malakim Mercenaries were much like same in that regard, the mercs after all carried themselves with a very strict code of conduct..

"Commander Urial, com coming though," a very young Amisor said, his bright orange eyes widened "Commander...it's the Nephalim."

"Patch it through to my private chambers, heightened the connection, I want to a ensure a clear transmission, I will not be disturbed, make it so." Urial, master of the Mercenary Guild house of Grigori was woman of fading beauty. Battle tested and over fifty thousand years old she was still remarkably fit and her face showed no sign of her ancient age. A regal handsome face, with sharp bone structure. Her own silver eyes reflected a mind of cunning and a heart of fire.

"I heed, Commander," the youth's yellow wings pressed tight against the gangly body. "Com patched though to private chambers."

Urial didn't waste time, she turned swiftly from the command center of the Guild House to her office chambers. Her chambers were more of a museum of trophies than a commander's office. The walls were decorated with the shields thousands of years old as well as bladed weapons and firearms all presumably taken from formidable enemies. Bookshelves lined one wall that were overfilled with epics of heroes, including an entire section on Nephalim theology. The office contained a desk, with a writing table, computer terminals, several easy chairs and a fireplace for warmth. Amongst the trophies, Urial held her own personal weapons and armor.

Tucked in the corner of the chambers, was a holographic projection platform. Here Urial waited for the transmission of the Nephalim. Her silver eyes looked to the painting that was hung with holy reverence above her door and over her desk, before she looked to the platform, in time to see the very Song, she so worshiped.

"Nephalim, it is an honor," Urial said not even attempting to stop her silver wings from folding tight about her muscular body. "Why have you hailed?"

"Three of my wings have engaged the Wraith. Fourteen Hive ships, each with a complacent of three hundred Darts. It behooves me to request the Merc Guild to deploy an armada to assist. They need to disembark immediately to the coordinates I'm sending to you now." Accustomed to the military and those under her following her orders it was difficult for Carter not to issue the request as an order. The Mercenaries unlike the Military Guild would need compensation.

Something passed over the face of the Nephalim, something, Urial had a difficult time labeling, it was almost as if the great one was attempting to rid herself of old thoughts. But before the Guild Master could put a name to it, the expression was gone.

"I have the coordinates, Nephalim, we will deploy a fleet. There are many within the Empire, Nephalim that will take this call. The Mercenaries Guild has your tailwind."

"And at what cost?" Sam sucked in a breath, waiting for the sordid topic of coin to be brought to the table for negotiations.

"The Guild will take captured Wraith Hive ships, Darts, weapons, and the right to count coup." Urial said.

"Nothing else?" Clearly there was surprise in the soft musical notes of the Nephalim's voice.

"The right to count coup against a formidable enemy like the Wraith is no small thing, Nephalim. The renown it brings will be sung in many tales to come in the far future," Urial smiled, "And of course captured enemy vessels and weapons is compensation enough."

Sam nodded in full understanding. In her own worlds history, World War Pilots would stamp on the side of their fighters their own counting of coup. It was indeed a great triumph. Stargate Command had the 301 and the 303 fighters because of captured enemy fighters, and the same could be said with weapons.

"So let it be done," The Nephalim said with all the formality of the Malakim Throne.

"With honor and valor," Urial said as she touched her forehead with two fingertips to her temple, then clenched both fists before her hearts, much like the students of Kung-fu. In this instance it was the more traditional mercenary solute: thought before force, yet both promised by the strength of Malakim hearts.

Cheyenne Mountain was bathed in shadow. Daylight slipped away before the premature evening, dark beneath a brooding sky. A storm churned restlessly overhead. For a week the rains had come heavily leaving mini lakes in every pothole, ditch and crevasse.

Deep beneath the mountain, at the very heart of a military compound which still to this day did not officially exist, Jonas Quinn and Daniel Jackson stood yet again before Jack O'Neill this time not with Ambassador Granger but with Ambassador Ayana Midthunder, the requested Lakota ambassador. She looked to be in her mid to late fifties. Her white hair pulled back into a severe bun, showing off a high-forehead marred with the wrinkles that gave her a distinguished professor / Aunt Bea appearance. Despite her matriarchal hairstyle she was not as portly as Sheriff Taylor's aunt, in fact she was rail thin. Something of her made Jack think of the Tollen Councilor Travell. She had the same cool look to her dark almost black-brown eyes.

"Jack, this is Ambassador Ayana Midthunder." Daniel introduced the elderly woman.

O'Neill had already been on his feet, when the woman entered his office, now he leaned over his desk and shook Midthunder's hand. "A pleasure ma'am." he tilted his head ever so slightly in respect. "Ayana..."Jack found his face turning into a frown, it bothered him that the name tickled his mind and yet he couldn't grasp why it was the ambassador's name was familiar.

Almost ever-smiling Quinn relieved the sensation. "She's Dr. Francine Michael's grandmother. Dr. Michael named the Ancient Ayana after..."

Jack snapped his fingers as his memory recalled the young doctor he had met almost ten years ago. "Oh right! But I got the impression that her..." Jack looked to the woman before her then stopped.

"That I was dead?" Ayana finished the General's words for him. "No quite. This septuagenarian has several more years left before I pass on."

Jack liked this woman almost immediately. In away she reminded him not only of his own grandmother who was a take no shit from her grandson type of woman, as well as Catherine Langford, who was a gutsy as they came.

"Dr. Jackson and Mr. Quinn as well as Ambassador Granger briefed me for the last two days on mission ahead, what I can expect. Now I want to hear it from you General," without asking to be seated Midthunder sat down in one of the red leather chairs across from Jack's desk.

O'Neill knew both men had more than likely told the Ambassador almost everything there was to know about the negotiations with the Malakim, etiquette and protocols when dealing with the angelic, including Malakim Culture. "We hit a brick wall, Ambassador, in a lot of ways. The Malakim got wind of what a certain senator wanted to do with General Carter, who is a major hero not only to our world but to the Malakim. They got pissed. They don't trust us, and they think we'll break treaties with them, they requested a meeting with someone whose ancestors kept their word."

"You mean didn't break treaties they signed... Washington isn't exactly known for keeping treaties with the indigenous nations of this country," Midthunder said.

Jack looked chagrined, wincing at the irony. "Yeah." he rubbed the back of his neck looking extremely uncomfortable.

"So Washington is sending in the 'Indians' vers the calvary?" The old woman's dark eyes pinned Jack to his chair.

"Ah no, The Malakim specifically requested someone from the Lakota nation," Daniel cut in, saving Jack any further discomfort.

"Or the Cheyenne or a Samurai" Jonas finished.

The woman smiled. "Tell me, these Malakim, they don't expect me to be wearing buckskin, beads and feathers do they?"

Jack smirked, "If anyone is wearing leather and feathers, it'll be the Malakim."

The ambassador allowed a smile to find her lips. "I was told they were extraordinary people. Now if you don't mind I'd like to see where this meeting will take place."

"Actually Ambassador it will not take place on the base. The Malakim people are not fond of confined places, and being under several tones of rock gets them a little edgy." Jack said. "Believe me you, edgy eight foot tall, winged 'force' wielding aliens not pretty."

"Jack...." Daniel warned casting a wary look to the CO of the SGC.

"Oh what?" Jack glanced down at his watch before resting his gaze upon Daniel. "You've seen them seriously pissed off, and right now, I couldn't blame them. The shit Kinsey is pulling with Carter and Fraiser could serious hurt us."

"The negotiations" The ambassador made a leap of logic. "The whole reason they want me."

"No. I mean–" the general made quote marks–"hurt us. Daniel let you in on some of the things they can do? Well let's say they have the power to bring this whole mountain down about our ears, just by singing to it. No that's just one of them. A whole flock of them could seriously do some damage. earthquakes, hurricanes, storm of the century-ice age type thing. The negotiations are going to be more than just a treaty with us to trade technology, it's to stop them from wanting to go to war with us and waste our planet, by using our planet it against us. It's how they engage their enemy. You can't put a slug into a quaking earth and you can't nuke a flood. Whatever the Snakeheads could conjure up, the Malakim would top that with one wing tied behind their backs."

"You could always just give them Senator Kinsey," the ambassador gave a small bemused grin.

Jack didn't hide his shock at the woman's comment, but he was starting to like her a lot. "The thought had crossed my mind." His face became a little more somber, "The truth is we're going into a heated situation, and we kinda brought it on to ourselves. But they are willing to meet with us. But not here."

"I was briefed on that, apparently the Malakim are little claustrophobic. So where are we meeting them?"

"A locale designated as Alpha-site," Jonas said. "Actually on the surface of the Alpha-site, Once you see them personally, you'll understand why the Malakim insist on a more open-air space for a counsel meeting."

"Perhaps you should brief me a little more on the expectations," Midthunder commanded. "General, what do you feel about the Malakim?"

"The truth? I love those guys. Hell of a military, good sense of humor and they know how to throw a party." He grinned. "And they've taken a shine to Carter."

"General Carter, yes I read that she is tied to a prophecy of theirs..." the ambassador referred to some of her notes in a manilla folder, "the Nephalim, mortal born with all the power of the Malakim."

Jack nodded.

"Seeing what I've seen," this was Daniel speaking, "they might be right. Something happened to Sam, Queen Novalis and Janet Fraiser. They are able to do some remarkable things. Especially Sam. She's a mythic figure come to life for the Malakim."

"No wonder they are protective of her," Midthunder uttered softly. "Well then I think we should get things started. I'm ready to go now if you are, General."

Jack clutched his fists into a gesture of triumph "Yes! Finally!" He moved around the desk, past the Ambassador and the remaining members of SG-1 "Walter!"

"Starting dialing sequence now sir,' the disembodied voice herald back. Walter seemed to be telepathic and always a step ahead of his COs.

Jack turned back to the aged Midthunder, with a sheepish shrug to his shoulders. "He's good." he stood by the door ushering the Ambassador and the others to leave the office. "If you're sure you have everything Ambassador, the Malakim await."

By the time the men and Ambassador Ayana Midthunder made it down to the Embarkation room proper the fifth chevron was locked.

Daniel slid up along side Midthunder "Since this is your first time, Ambassador, a quick word of advice: it's better to exhale just prior crossing the event horizon. One's instinct is to inhale immediately upon arriving on the other side. Also—"

"I think I'll figure it out on the way," Midthunder gave a pleasant smile.

Over the PA speaker Walter's voice crackled, "Chevron seven, locked."

Jack gave a slight glance to the ambassador, it always amused him the reactions 'virgin' gate traveler's gave once they saw the activation. Carter's of course always remained in the forefront of his mind.

The rest of Colonel Jack O'Neill's team, and SG-2 had already gone through the Stargate to Abydos and awaiting him and the geeky but spirited Captain Samantha Carter to meet them on the other side. Carter had yet to move from her spot on the ramp.

He wondered if she really was all that tough if she was too scared to go through the gate, but as he took a second look, it wasn't fear on that oh so young and too beautiful face—it was awe.

"Captain?" Jack said in almost a demand of attention and questioning if she was alright.

"Don't worry Sir, I won't let you down." She said confidently.

He actually never had a woman on his team before, never in recon for Special Ops, he was willing to allow her the chance to prove her worth, a hundred hours over Iraqi airspace in a F17 had given her some credence in his eyes. A combat pilot was something he liked in his teammates. At least she could handle a plane. "Good, I was gonna say 'ladies first." he gestured with a hand but moved up the gate instead of waiting for her.

Her sparkling blue eyes looked up from under the helmet she was wearing. "You know you really will like me when you get to know me."

"Oh, I adore you already Captain." His voice held a biting sarcasm. He pushed down the fact he could so easily fall for her. 'Get a freaking grip O'Neill....she's a fricken officer! But god she's beautiful.' He looked at her, trying not to compare her to Sara. His ex-wife had the same exact blonde hair, the same shade of storm blue eyes. Carter might be younger, almost by ten years, Sara after all was only a year younger than he was. But hell Carter looked like a kid of twenty not thirty-one. 'god she's gorgeous—think unsexy thoughts-- think unsexy thoughts. She's a geek in desert bdu's for crying out loud!'

Carter stood rooted on the spot staring at the shimmering pool. "My God, look at this!" She sound as if she was going to have science-gasum right there on the spot. "I mean, the energy the gate must release to create a stable wormhole is…it's astronomical to use exactly the right word!" As if she were touching the holiest of holies Carter's hand reached out and touched the event horizon, and once he saw it Jack knew he was in deep trouble---a shimmering Cheshire grin that brightened her face with heart-stopping breath-stealing beauty. "You can actually see the fluctuation on the even horizon!"

'GEEK!' Jack's mind screamed. 'a beautiful, sexy...gorgeous... screw it!' She hadn't even acknowledged his presence when he was standing up behind her. His hand raised behind her back and shoved her through the fluctuating event horizon with all his strength.

Jack shifted his thoughts to the present, the woman standing at his side was not Carter, a handsome older woman not unlike Catherine, but she didn't have the forever captivating beauty his Carter carried with her.

Daniel, Teal'c Quinn stood back waiting in anticipation, Jack always stood just outside the caution zone, loving to push the limit even now. Of course when Carter was on the team or leading it she was always standing on the edge too. She was just as much an adrenalin junky as O'Neill, if not more so.

In a breath's instant the near patented kawoosh of the event horizon flashed to life mere millimeters close to Jack's shoulder in the blue-white eruption before it stabilized inside the ring.

Midthunder gasped, her hand covering her mouth, she stood rooted in shock. Her booted feet unwilling to move. "Oh my word!" she struggled to remain on her feet, then as if she remembered who she was, she composed herself into respectable image.

"That just never gets old," Jack grinned, as he fixed his ball-cap to his head.

Jonas of course was smiling. "It was like that my first time too, Ambassador." He put a hand on her shoulder, "It's okay really."

"Duty calls Campers, move out. I'll go, then Jonas, Danny help the ambassador, Teal'c bring up the rear."

"You weren't exaggerating, Doctor Jackson," Midthunder uttered, her eyes glued to the rippling water like surface. She took in a great breath of air, her face smiling "This has promise!" she was now almost disturbingly giddy. "And I wager it's going to be one hell of a ride."

'Yep defiantly like her more that stuffy shirt diplomat, Granger.'

Ambassador Debra Grander of course was already waiting for Midthunder and SG-1 at the Alpha-site coordinating with members of the Blue Wing to setup for the long awaited conference. The Blue Wing insisted everything be perfect for the arrival of the Prime Minister.

'Honor and valor.' Sam repeated to herself the creed of the Mercenaries. "This is how I serve Earth now, through the blades of hired swords."

"Yes, that is exactly how you're going to help both our homes." Janet said softly as she stepped up behind the woman she loved, her smaller body pressed tight against the lanky athletic form of her wife, her arms going around the waist that was still thin. "Why are you uncertain of this?"

"More like bringing old ideas with me. The Malakim see mercs not in the same light. or rather the shady view we do on earth. It's a little difficult to put the old views to rest."

"We're learning." Janet said warmly. "Isn't that why we're out here? Forget the general order of the SGC, focus on the other. Explorers. We learn about new people, new ways and learn what we can from them. The Malakim have a lot to teach us about tolerance, and adherence to a sworn oath. The mercenaries are not the soldiers of fortune we have on earth, certainly not terrorists. And besides, we formed our own Company. We did this so we wouldn't have to come in conflict with Earth."

"But we are in conflict with earth."

"The Crown is, Sam we're not apart of the Malakim Empire, they can't order you to attack Earth, if that is what they are going to do. And you're on your way to negotiate, I don't think attacking Earth is on the agenda."

"Well as long as our baby lives," Sam frowned.

"Which could be a very long time considering what the Nefrayu did to us. Not to mention our bond to Novalis. Sam, I've tested and retested us and now with an understanding of the Song of Healing..." Janet moved around to face her wife. "We age at the exact same pace as the Malakim."

"I know you said we're ..."

"Quasi-immortal?" Janet finished for her wife. "Yes, we are, and so is Rebecca and our unborn daughter."

"What about Cassandra?" Sam muttered. "You're telling me that what we could live to be a thousand years old, and we'll see Cassie become an old woman?"

Janet bit her lip. "For now....yes. But we don't know if that can be changed, or if she and Boudicca or Turelim become involved that a gestalt will happen, changing Cassie. She thinks she's hiding it from me, but because ...."Janet shrugged, "Call it mother's intuition or Healer's touch but Cassie's able to use telekinesis again."

"She's not sick." Sam's own motherly instincts went into hyper-drive.

"No. I suspect her abilities have come about because of our connection to the World Symphony. What enabled me to heal with a touch has allowed Cassie to tap into her telekinetic abilities. The gene manipulation Nirrti did on her is no longer inert. Cassie is in essence a hak'tar."

"But ...I thought Nirrti reversed it."

Janet visibly bristled at the mere mention of the Goa'uld's name. both Kha'antar and Elladan lifted their blue maned white heads. If there was anyone in the galaxy Janet loathed more than Anise it was Nirrti. "She sent the illness into permanent remission, but the manipulation had not changed. The gestalt helped evolve Cassie's abilities without the horrid side effects."

Sam kissed the brow of her wife, soothing the internal storm before it had a chance to rise to a full blown typhoon. "Well Nirrti is dead and Anise is long forgotten and out of our hair. Besides the Blue Wing will never allow her near us."

Janet just hurumphed her contempt. Her dark eyes rested on her wife, her hand going over the still very flat tummy. "You know it's only because of the Blue Wing, I'm even clearing you for gate-travel. I have serious doubts about that."

"You traveled when you were pregnant with Little Bit, up until you were five months pregnant." Sam protested. "Jan, I need to do this."

"I know. But why can't they come here? You're pregnant with our child, Sammy, I don't want to risk anything." Janet's hand became possessive over the area where the fetal form of their child lay nestled. "I worry."

"I know you do, and I'm not dismissing your concern. I'm concerned too, I don't want to lose our baby, you can't even tell she's there and I love her. I wont take any risks." She gave a look to the pumacia, "Besides I've got an idea that Kha'antar won't let me. All of a sudden he's Mr. Protect."

Janet smiled fondly at the massive winged feline. "You keep that up, Fuzzy. You keep a good eye on her."

The cat grunted, in acknowledgment if not contempt, 'like I'd allow anything to happen to the cub, or her dame.'

"Jan, this isn't a combat situation, I'll be safe on the Alpha site, the General and the guys will be there, the Blue Wing, Cassie and Four-foot-nine. I'll be safe."

"That is the only reason, I can allow myself to let you go." Janet said. "And don't you dare do the mind-whammy on any one from the Blue Wing to protect me, I want them all around you and our little one here." Janet gingerly squeezed Sam's abdomen."

"Who will protect you?"

"The Silver and Gold Wings." Janet offered the answer. "Rebecca and I are safe." The hand moved from the stomach to the blonde's heart. "I know why your fear is so pronounced. I know that day lingers in your mind, so heavily. But I'm alive, I'm here and safe. I share that fear. for you. I nearly lost you, Sammy-bear, if we hadn't found you in that cave, we would have lost you. Janet shivered, recalling the moment she found her wife.

"Over here..." Janet moved away from the party, to the back of the cavern to a small alcove. She had spotted the pallid figure of the fallen Colonel nestled in the small shaft that could have been her tomb. She fought dread and a black horror, kept her body moving forward, toward the alcove. Sam must not be dead she could not face that.

"My God! Mama!" Cassie shouted as she and Janet thundered into the alcove-chamber, outside the steps that lead to the headless monolith. Janet reached her first. Sam was laying so still, so white. Her finger went for her throat. Her eyes blazed in dread, as she could find no pulse. Death. The word rang through her, made no sense, and was gone.

"No! I won't let you die, Sam!" the doctor laid her down, knelt by the still body. Her head tilted back she breathed life into her Sam's lungs. A check for a pulse... nothing ... One. Two. Three. Pushes on her chest, over her heart, she breathed into her, waited and again. One. Two. Three ...breathe. One. Two. Three... breathe.

Cassie watched in baited anguish, blaming herself, blaming Janet, blaming Sam, blaming Malphas... blaming God. Praying to God... praying to her mother the physician to save her mother the Colonel.

One. Two. Three ... breathe. One. Two. Three ...breathe ... Janet felt the shock of that first convulsed movement, jolted to the core of her being as Sam's lungs drew in air, sucking it from her. Sam's hands were wrapped around her bloody vest; she could not have worked them loose even if she had wanted to. Somehow the doctor had managed to lift Sam up enough to wrap her mylar blanket around her wife's back and shoulders, covering them both as one so she could warm Sam's shivering body with her own.

Janet had to fight not to hold her woman too tightly, not too hurt her with her own need. Sam sagged against her, pressing her face against the healer's throat.

"Sam----" she began, and then froze because she could feel the life force of her lover, her wife fading dimly away. "Samantha respond to me Honey. Sam... Listen to my voice. Samantha..." Janet paused pushing past her fear, her dread her tears. ". It's so important that you fight. Please Sam, please don't leave me... I love you... oh god Sam ...not now....not now...Sammy come back to me ....to our children....Sammy they need their Mama."

Janet pursued, along the empathic bond, Sam's fading soul and retrieved her from the very border of death. Sam could feel Janet affirm their connection in away that would be a living bridge between wherever her soul had drifted and her body, this place...and Janet. Make the oldest and most primal comments, life's affirmation of itself.

"Sam! Open your eyes... I am giving you an order god damn it! You can't die on me! I won't let you! Do you hear me...not after all of this. Not without me! Not now Sam ... God Sam we found you...Samantha Carter you will not die you got that!"

In a place of a condition neither night nor dark because not seeing was possible, truly adrift in he dimensionless calm, Sam felt a touch. A very small touch, like the brush of a fingertip; but she had felt it. And feeling it, she couldn't help feeling what flowed from that touch what seemed to her the familiar summons. Janet wanted her, and was afraid. She remembered what it was to be Janet's Samantha.

"Not without me! You will not die! Not without me! Baby please Sam please open your eyes. I need you to fight! God Sam Fight! "Janet protested, leaning on her, holding to her. "Sam I can't lose you. There is nothing without you. Oh God Sammy... please...please...." She sobbed the refusal several times. "Come back to me..."

Bodiless, Sam tried to go to her wife as she had always done. And could not answer that expectation, that demand. The emptiness she was falling though was too far, scattering away on gusts of a cold, silent wind. Not enough of her remained to answer Janet's summons. She had already resigned herself to the falling, the emptiness, the silence.

"Sam...lover... Please my wife, please Sam.!"...What words she spoke were now beyond comprehension. She wanted to cry, she wanted to weep, but she couldn't afford that. She couldn't afford feeling sorry for Sam or for herself. If she cried then it meant giving up.

Those around her had given up hope, they ducked their heads their own tears raining upon the stone floor. They knew Colonel Samantha Carter was dead. Soldier, wife, daughter, mother, friend. She was gone, and only Janet believed other wise.

Sam had let go, yet her lover, her wife's touch remained, flowed through cracks and openings to all that was left of her that wasn't resigned, never stopped fighting, always reached toward the light. A part of Sam was still falling; but apart of her wanted to fly. Part remained inert; coldly the deeper part kindled to the warmth and wanted to be a star. Where she couldn't go, she was taken.

"Sammy.... beloved ... my own...Sam, don't make me explain this to our daughter. . Don't you dare make me a widow! Don't you dare! "

Through the slight connection held by that fingertip contact, the flow swirled and became a bursting flood of sensations. Cold and weight that was pain. The stuttering, beginning rhythm of heartbeat, that was pain. The first heave of breath, that was pain. And yet shook overwhelming sweetness that she couldn't wish for it to end.

As in a dream, Sam couldn't move. Couldn't think, only feel. Perhaps then be alright to float in the diffuse awareness of the touch that was happening to her, everywhere alike, all the skin waking to itself and to sensation. The generalized, comforting warmth that was affection, the love of heart for heart, swirled into caresses; had always been caresses. Smooth and soft, circling, or rough. A sharper awareness. Points of heat gathering at her thought, where Janet's lips touched and moved, where Janet's hair brushed and trailed, where her warm breath was at her chest and belly, where her finger tips stroked, every point of contact, throbbing like a burn, surfaced, aching. Maybe if she spoke the pain would leave her alone.

Something had changed. Janet wasn't sure what but was glad of it anyway because change meant life. She had reached her wife, touched her. Felt, in her breath and slight stiffing, some response. The bridge of touch and vivid sensation was there, between them now all she had to do was make Sam want to cross it. Come back to her.

"Babe?" Sam's voice was hoarse and so soft, not even Sam was sure she had said the words allowed.

Croaked and so soft the words spoke were well below a whisper but Janet grinned madly. Sam was responsive! "Sam you need to stay awake baby..." The medical shields slammed down. Janet knew Sam had a concussion and it would be lethal if her wife were to fall back into unconsciousness. "Sammy it's important you stay awake. Stay with me. " What she was feeling was barely contained panic. Janet's now shed, now afforded tears fell down her dirt-stained face leaving trails of clean fresh skin behind. Her hand feathered back the locks of wheat colored hair.

In that moment Janet assessed the rest of the damage, the seeping wound Malphas had give Sam, the multiple contusions, lacerations torn ligaments. She knew Sam to be hurting in a far stronger deeper ways, then the raw bleeding hands, the gash in her skull, the deep angry claw marks at her waist. Pulling on all of her medical skills Janet knew she would be able to repair the damage if she could just keep her lover stabilized.

The blonde tightened her grip on the smaller woman's jacket. She didn't care about the pain that shot through her as she grasped hold of her wife. After all Janet was there and murmuring her name with such love. Sam responded to it. "You're here." She said simply. "You're here." It was an exhausted whisper.

Cassie closed her eyes briefly, and swallowed hard. It didn't sound like Sam at all. Sam was curled in Janet's arms, shoulders sagging. She looked like a child's rag doll, with her life drained out of her.

After that was the mild form of madness, Sam had been so tormented, tortured that it seemed the very soul of the woman she loved had been syphoned. And there had been the horrific nightmares after. so many of them so tortured. the strangled cries in the night, the sheer terror in the so expensive blue eyes. The nightmares were so bad, Sam had to take a leave of absence for three months. And even how, she was still haunted by them.

That wasn't the first time Sam's mind was thrown into a multitude of images flashing through her mind in rapid succession. Fifth had had his time with Sam, his touch was agony, the essence of pain. No pain was too soft a word, agony wasn't strong enough.

One after the other, pain, torment complete abandonment, and sheer pain. It lasted forever. The pain increasing with each thud of her heartbeat, each wracked drawn breath of air. So much pain, death...her death over and over each worse than the other. A heartbeat hammering into her skull until she would go deaf from the sound of it. Each death felt. Fire, blood, snarling creatures, all of it flooding her senses. Sam screamed until her very voice was raw.

It had been something Janet never truly told Sam. but now that she had a Healer's Song, and perhaps it was because of the Nox-created empathic Bond, that allowed Janet to now see Sam's old fears, the dreams of Fifth's torture, and the torment her wife endured with the Servants of the Lambent Reproach.

What happened to Sam on the Replicator ship, burned in Sam's memories and now they lingered in Janet's. . The images, blood, screams, the jackhammer of beating hearts, bodies burning, death in a thousand different forms, each death she could feel, each death was her own. She could see and feel her flesh melting from her bones. Her screams filled the halls of the Replicator's ship. It was a sound that echoed in Janet's ears breaking her heart. Sam had never fully related the details of the dream, and Janet knew why. Sam would never wish to bring someone else close to the essence of what were in those memories.

Only in Janet's company, in her arms did Sam ever truly sleep soundly. She was safe with Janet and her guard was completely open. Janet was a guardian angel and Sam trusted it without question. On base of course Janet was unable to snuggle her beloved, but she was not without her tactics to soothe Sam's terrors, her pain.

"Be careful, Sam. And just trust I'll be okay. Go make an impression." Janet winked, 'Oh Nephalim of the Empire."

Sam winked, "Not to worry oh Nephalim of the Ancients." a little more somber tone too in Sam's voice. "You're sure you and Little Bit are going to be okay? Janet the Wraith are moving, and I ...I..." Sam stopped trying to find the right words. "Maybe I am becoming a Malakim, because I hear something in the World Symphony.... in the back of my mind like some half remembered tune, something....that's going to make Anubis look like Gandhi."

"Maybe you shouldn't go." Janet's expression became concerned once more.

"It's not where I'm going the Song I feel is directed. Its like the galactic speakers are pointed in this direction." Sam shook her head trying to dismiss the nagging vibrations she was feeling. "The mission will go on as planned, It could be nothing, just old memories."

Janet wasn't so sure. But she allowed for her wife to go on as she needed to. This mission was far too important to dismiss or pass on to another.

Midthunder felt as if her whole being had been ripped apart, every nerve had been stretched thin, her bones mangled, crunched and jammed back together again. It left her with a chill and about of nausea she didn't think she'd think she could ignore and push away.

"I think I'm going to be sick." She managed between clutched teeth.

"Airman!" Jack bellowed, "Take her to the head!"

A young woman snapped to attention and quickly scuttled the ambassador out of gate-room of the Alpha site. "This way ma'am,"

Jack watched her go, before turning his attention to the Base's CO. Colonel Cameron Mitchell. He had taken over the base after his brief four year tour with SG-1 as its 2IC. Sam had been offered the base first, but she was reluctant to be placed anywhere where it would take her away not only from her precious R&D at Area 51 but also her family. The Alpha site was not a base where one brought their families. Not yet. After six years of denying the opportunity to take command the Pentagon offered it to Mitchell who agreed albeit reluctantly. He wanted to stay with SG-1. Now he was glad he had taken the post.

"General," Mitchell greeted in an easy manner that had always been his way. "Good to see you here, sir. Everything is already to go." the man flashed a boyish smile. "I don't mind telling you, we could use a few engineers who can do the things our feathered buddies can do."

"How's that?" Jack pressed, though he had a fair idea what Mitchell was eluding to.

"Well it's hell of a lot cheaper and easier to sing a building into being than it is to bring all the material through the Stargate and erect one."

"Yeah, I've seen them do it. It's like watching crystals grow, la la and bam you've got a castle." Jack smirked.

"It is not as simple as that," the voice was lyrical almost lilting. The voice of a Malakim. Jack watched as tall gangly male approached, his iridescent green wings arched relaxingly along his back. Light blue hair and dark blue eyes, as a little familiar to the General but he wasn't sure with the Malakim with who was who any more than he was with the identical Asgard.

"Turlean." Jack attempted. "Teryl..."

"Turel was my twin sister, General." The male corrected. "I am Turelim."

"Turelim...right. sorry. Names and I..." Jack gave a helpless shrug. "So... things are arranged I take it." He let out a breath of air as he rocked back and forth on the heels of his boots.

"Yes. A more suitable place for the Prime Minister and Nephalim has been constructed, than this or your other underearth facilities. Where is the ambassador of the Tau'ri? No negotiations will commence..."

"Tokel niye,." Ayana Midthunder, announced that she was present. Even if she had seen pictures of the Malakim, nothing could truly prepare her for the sight of the winged folk and she couldn't help but think of Wank'tanka, the Great Spirit. So astounded by the beings presences she had naturally answered in her mother tongue as if she were speaking to an avatar of her Creator.

Turelim had been sent for several reasons, one of which was his Songs. Ecomancy and Linguistics. Using the natural talent of telepathy, the Malakim touched the mind of the aging woman, and almost instantly his mind was flooded with the knowledge of her language.

^I'm Turelim of the Grigori, first officer of the Blue Wing, servitor to the Nephalim, Samantha Carter, Archangel of Choir Grigori.>

<Long title.> Midthunder observed.

<You will call me Turelim, who are you called?>

Jack listened to the conversation, but the only words he could understand was Nephalim, Choir, Grigori, Archangel and Samantha Carter. Only Daniel with the knowledge of twenty-three languages knew what was being said.

<Ayana, is what you will call me. I did not know you spoke my language.>

<It was not until I heard the thoughts of your mind that I did. My Song is linguistics.> the Malakim said as if it explained how he came to the knowledge of the Lakota's tongue. When he saw the puzzled expression of the gray haired mortal, he explained further. <Through the World Symphony, the Great Song has composed the Song of Linguistics into my mind. I translate the words of others.>

<A useful gift,> the ambassador acknowledged.

"I hate the interrupt this little soiree, but could we all speak the same language here?" Jack said.

"Sorry, General I just found it fascinating that someone was able to speak to me in my mother's tongue so quickly."

Hell Jack was impressed, still he hated feeling out of the loop.

"Off world activation," a female tech-sergeant called out over the PA's speakers. "Malakim IDC, Sir."

"Open the iris." the order came not from O'Neill but from Mitchell. "Time to play ball."

Like the Malakim the pumacia's flight feathers measured five feet in length and eight inches wide but considering its wingspan was a little over twenty five feet it wasn't that unbelievable. Sam was mounted upon a powerful creature capable of navigating the wind like an F16, a beast that cruised at ninety to ninety-five miles an hour as a leisurely pace. In the Pen umbra the great beast reached mach one. While the great beasts were built for flight and fight, they did not enjoy the 'flying' of going through the Stargate. Sam had to force Kha'antar to enter the event horizon.

Even warned Ambassador Midthunder jumped when the gate activated. Around her the men of the SGC and Turelim waited with baited breath for perhaps the most powerful figure within the Malakim Empire.

The first thing they saw stepping out of the rippling blue surface was a large white paw. Everyone took a hesitant stepped forwards And took it back when the blue maned lions head popped out

"What the hell!" Jack muttered .

Kha'antar protesting at being kicked let out a massive roar.

Everyone took a large step back

Blue wings fanned out to their full twenty-six foot expanse. The rider sat proud upon back, garbed in blue and silver armor, a helm made to resemble the beast she rode hid her face.

"Behold the Prime Minister of the Malakim Empire!" it was Turelim who spoke, his gossamer green wings pressed so tightly about his body, it was amazing he could even move.

"Welcome...." Jack stopped then stopped when the rider took of the helm. His eyes bulged, "Holy...."

"Crap." Daniel finished.

Before them stood none other than General Samantha Carter. She smiled softly, a hand automatically running through her hair to free it from the unruliness wearing a helmet caused.

"Hey," Sam said.

Part 16

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