Nephalim's Gate
By Elizabeth Carter

Chapter Seventeen

The Calling

To some the Nephalim was a figure beyond legend. There were a lot of denizens of the Empire wary of her. Truth. There was always something about her that seemed remote, cool. Like she lived behind a veil. Like she could see you but you couldn't quite see her, not really her, just a shadow.

So she scared some people. But Janet? First time she saw her, Janet knew that everything that had ever mattered to her just didn't anymore. She could feel the course of her future suddenly swerve. She was like a planet drawn into the gravity well of a black hole. No escape. No desire to escape. She was not alone. With the few that feared the Nephalim, many more worshiped her. You have always have had untapped power within you Sam." Janet had said. "Now that you have accessed it you've changed."

But Samantha wasn't the only one to gather a following of devotees. Janet the Scion of Healing, the Nephalim of the Ancient evolved into her own singularity, many flung themselves at her figurative feet if only to be graced with a touch from her hand.

It was early. Gray dawn. More gray than dawn, really because the clouds were hanging low over the lake. It was chilly because the rain decided this would be a good time to start pouring. So down it came. The devastation to Grigori had still to be healed. It was nowhere near recuperating to hundred percent. Ecomancers and Elementalists drained themselves of their quintessence to the World Symphony. If they did not slip into torpor they fell into such deep lethargy, Janet was treating dozens of the Malakim for chronic fatigue syndrome. Truth was simple, the Malakim were simply not equipped to contain this level of devastation.

The decision was to uproot all survivors from the small planet and resettle on a neighboring planet. It was a simple fact that it was easier to rebuild then it was sometimes to heal. Celestial amputation as it were. As a physician and seeing the weakening Ecomancers, fatigued Elementalists Janet was inclined to agree.

The infection of the plague of Discord had spread so wide so quickly it reminded the physician of the Ori plagues set about the galaxy, a plague that only with the help of Sam's Ascended would-be suitor Orlan they had even managed to contain. Only this time it wasn't the populous that was dying. It was the planet.

The pyroclastic devastation of the fallout from the volcano at Katsau-Kogoro, with its megatons of ashen debris had perverted the continent into a new land. On the other side of the world, another continent was slowly healing from its atrophied state. The widespread flooding and quick-freeze of Kalevala the Capital city had devastated the land. When the land was hurt, people died.

Victims filled the hospital and overflowed it. Even the infirmary airstrip was now a makeshift outdoor emergency room; dazed patients sat or lay on gurneys, some of them had already received emergency attention before transport, their bandages already bloody. Some were unconscious. The patients, not active themselves, were the center of frantic attention. Healers, nurses, paramedics and interns darted around, bending over the gurneys, sprinting in and out of the hospital, stethoscopes flopping around necks. The sirens of the arriving First Response teams were incessant, almost irrelevant; every vehicle was an emergency vehicle was on call. Star ships continued to orbit the planet treating the suffering from the volcano's onslaught and aftermath, as well as those from the now thawed Capital.

It was left to Janet Fraiser, titled as Seneschal; Liege Healer, Nephalim of the Ancients to bring life back to the dying, the hurt and pain-filled. Her own exhaustion was slowly sending her into her own state of torpor.

"You stay at this pace, Seneschal, and you will Fade." The voice belonged to Kurak.

"That would suit you, wouldn't it?" Janet countered, she made no attempt to hide her contempt.

"You mistake my purpose in the World Symphony, Healer. I seek out and eradicate the virus that is Discord, acting for the Great Song as an antibiotic. I have no other vendetta, it's never personal. Do you understand? I am merely the Executer of Balance in the Symphony"

She did understand, the metaphor explained it all, Kurak had no more personal grudge against Janet than a vaccine she would create would have against a virus she was trying to contain. "Kurak, why are you here? You said Sam and myself acquitted ourselves."

"I am here on a personal matter Seneschal. My wife is in your care." A point with the chin indicated a middle-aged female with sunburnt hair and eyes to match. Her rosy wings were torn, tattered nearly beyond hope she would use them to fly again. Janet was struggling to save the precious wings of her patient. Along with several other Ecomancers, Mar'inan had gone to do battle with the volcano.

Samantha had originally ordered the Grigori Stargate Command to dispatch ships into a geosynchronous orbit above Katsau-Kogoro and to transport all survivors aboard and whisk them to the relative safety of the city of Kalevala. However because of the deep flooding the capital city was no longer as safe as it once had been even in its glacial state. Fire and Ice were both equally cruel and harsh to survive.

The Gregorians would not leave their Archangel, their Liege Commander, their Nephalim. And so they stayed and now they were dying. Such devotion had been a devastating blow to Samantha and to Janet alike. They did not desire any part of this.

Before she had left for the summit, Samantha had ordered all survivors to remain aboard the ships and transported to some of the neighboring planets until such time it was deemed safe. Only the members of the Grigori SGC remained behind. And because they would not abandon their posts, they were suffering.

"Mar'inan left behind the Elohim and became Grigori." Kurak said slowly. "She is a devotee to the prophecy of the Nephalim."

Some part of Janet wanted to grasp this information as a means to explain the harsh hold Kurak held over Janet herself and over Samantha. A Malakim revenge thing. But the Malakite would not cross such lines as their devotion to their resonance. No Malakite has ever Fallen. Revenge was to Fall, if not justifiable by the inner resonance to annihilate Dissidence where it dwelled. No Malakite would ever allow Discord to abound.

"Do you blame Samantha or me?" Janet still had to know.

"I have no motive to stand against the Nephalim, Mar'inan flies her own path. Her decisions are her own. She must as a Singer of Ecomancy stay her battle and bring order back into the planet's Song. She would do so even if she were not a Grigori. It is her resonance."

"Archangel Kurak," Janet resisted the natural urge to put her hand on the middle of the warrior's back, as the Malakim were highly sensitive to touch, especially about their back and wings. Instead the tiny woman put a gentling hand on the Malakite's arm. "She's going to live. Her natural healing is taking over, I used organ replacement treatment to save her lungs and air sacs, they were too badly damaged by volcanic ash. She was suffocating and the lungs had severe scarring, we are regrowing the four lungs and several air sacs as we speak for replacement. For now she is in medically induced torpor."

"What of her wings?" Kurak demanded, her voice a low resonating vibration, like the hum of the strings of a bass.

"Stem-cell therapy will stimulate new growth in the muscle masses and the air-sacs. She will need physical therapy to help her re-learn to fly. But with diligent effort she will fly again."

Kurak didn't question the prognosis. The word of the small featherling-sized Healer was enough. She was the Scion of Healing. "I thank you." Kurak's voice lightened in tone. "I will sing for my wife, so her Song knows that I am near."

Janet looked around her infirmary. There were others that would not be so fortunate. Damage to lungs, air-sacs and wings were too traumatic for full use of the great wings to hold anyone aloft for long. They might be able to glide at very low altitudes but more than that, a few of them would slip into the Fading. The only true way for a Malakim to die was to pluck out both hearts, otherwise they simply faded into the pen-umbra as disembodied entities.

The only hope Janet preserved for those under her care was the remarkable regenerative properties of the Malakim body. Years might pass before damaged wings became fully functional. But given the time-line and the passionate nature of the Malakim it was distinctly possible they would spiral into such a deep depression from not being able to take to the winds, they could very well Fade into the pen-umbra regardless of medical intervention.

Only moments passed between Kurak's arrival and a wave of discord following not the Malakite but still in her wake. It was enough to leave Janet lightheaded. She grasped onto the arrant notes of music to buffer her from the quicksilver of pain lancing in her heart.

Someone was in such pain, such hurt it threatened to eat away at Janet's heart. Summoning up the walls her mentor Rakrir had taught to build, until she felt as if she swam in an ocean of harmony. Using the pull of pain like a divining rod, Janet sought the source of such agony. Instinct took over, commanding her actions, reactions. The song pulled her, unleashing its might of agony she knew she could heal. It became so intense, so concentrated, Janet felt as if her whole being suffering from an earthquake.

The physician's mind warned her, reminding her of the words her mentor Healer Rakrir had told her. There were times when in the theater in Kuwait and Iraq that she had felt as if she herself had taken the bullets in the arms, legs, chests and again she felt the same on PX3-666 before she was indeed struck down by a staff weapon. Janet had felt every strike, every staff-blow, every bullet, every staff weapon burn, that either army landed, but distantly as if the pain were being felt by someone else.


His words brought Janet back to the moment he had said them to her. It had been not long after she had resurrected the dead in the village near Katsau-Kogoro.

It was what Rakrir had told her. 'Be the rock in the stream, unharmed by the water's flow. You feel more now than in the past, are aware more. This is why the Guild of Healers forbids any Healer with the Song of Healing to ever fly - in your case step into the theater of battle. There we are more of a hindrance than help. Healer's who have only the Song of Comfort may go. Instinct draws us, Janet, surely you have noted this even before the awakening of your Song - why you fight hard even to save the life of an enemy. We don't belong on the battle field."

Pacing his office the forever young physician was nearly ready to explode with pent up emotions. "I don't belong on the battlefield! I am qualified—"

"I speak not of qualifications." Rakrir's voice took on the notes of a parent chastising an ill-mannered child. "You resurrected the dead for Song's sake, and all without meaning to do so. You tapped into the power of the Ecomancer's songs of the storms and healed hundreds, restoring them back to health and life. How would it be then on the field when the Ecomancer calls forth the power of the earth, the weather and you use it to heal, you heal the enemy. One that your friends your warriors are attempting to neutralize. You restore them because you can't control the storms the Elementalists unleash and allow to run amok. What then, Healer? No we are more of a danger to our companions than help to then. This is why only Healers who do not have the Song of Healing are permitted into the battle fields, hard enough to shut it aside, the pain and agony of those you tender care, without adding the chilling suffrage our enemies face at the ends of our own warriors' strength.'

Rakrir had been correct then as he was now. Janet had to shut it aside so she might tender care to this new wave of patients. She concentrated on her shields, gritting her teeth and forced herself to shut aside the mass cries of pain – a crash of major chords, the high skirl of a piccolo, a deep booming of a chorus of horns… and focus on one voice, and not the mob.

'Music is magic. Whole worlds are made out of music, if you can just hear it. Shape the tune and you shape the thing... and yourself. Feel the music of the worlds. Hear it. Play it.' Rakrir had told her during many of their training sessions. This was how the Malakim used the World Symphony to shape their Powers, their Songs. It would be how Janet would shape her Song of Healing. She could hear the notes of the World Symphony, even on the fringes of melody she could hear notes of discord. It would threaten to cause dissonance in the harmony of the Great Song. Jarring and shivering strings of a violin drawn with an un-resined bow across out-of-tune strings. The music of a soul in pain.

The new shipment of wounded, that was the source of all this unrest, Janet had been bombarded with it. She was about to explode in frustration, and she took it all out on the driver of the ambulance. "What the hell are the Star-ships doing! They can't keep sending bodies this way. Don't the Wings know we have a full house over here? Patients all over the place, outside on the balconies, on the air strips. Not just victims of the hypothermia, but we got air-car accidents, massive burns victims, smoke inhalations, and flight crashes and chronic fatigue. We're doing triage on the damn sidewalks!"

"Forgiveness, Liege Healer, but the ships themselves are brimming with the same wounded. Theses victims are different they need your expertise." Young Jaye stammered trying to keep the wrath of the tiny woman far from her. The chartreuse wings slumped in helplessness.

Janet calmed herself. Just what sort of expertise did the physicians aboard the Malakim fleet need her for?

"What is it?" She demanded of the medic. "What do we have."

"Quarantine victims, Liege Healer." Jaye answered. "Truly, Malakim Healers are ill-equipped to hand such illness. Our kind do not suffer such things and we have not seen its like in the mortals of the Empire in a millennia. However your kin from Atlantis have."

Janet felt a wave of nausea strike her as wave after wave of shock induced adrenaline pumped from her glands into her heart. The pit of her stomach felt lead-lined. "Doctor Beckett had reported the plague that had taken down their trading neighbors. "

The victims of the plague were pockmarked with pussy white rings that seeped green ichor, leaving the faces sunken in, and deep, dark circles around the eyes. Respiratory and cardiovascular failure was immanent. The major organs would shut down one by one in rapid succession. It wasn't an easy death. Painful boils would form over the skin and internal cysts developed in the circulatory systems, blocking the veins and arteries creating serious blood clots. The end result was that the heart seized, the hemoglobin in the veins ceased to function properly. The victim slowly bled to death as the body turned against itself.

"Oh dear god." Janet heard her mouth say the words, though she didn't recall saying them. Her deep brown eyes fixed upon a child no older than Rebecca. A babe in arms really. Her tiny body laced with festering boils leaking green ichor, even as the tot struggled for air, her breath rasping and gurgling. Death was far too close to her.

Janet wept.

'Shut it aside, or it will consume you.' Rakrir's words echoed once more. The Song of Healing will take you if you let it. To close to the pain, you will feel each wound you heal, which is why you must never draw it in, the hurt, the pain must be drawn away and placed somewhere else, into something else and made to Fade. Shut it aside, and build walls to protect your own Song from being consumed by the terror and the pain of the wounded.'

Janet looked at the child and she could not look away. She could only visualize her baby, her daughter Rebecca lying there whimpering for a mother already dead.

Janet reacted.

She didn't have a choice. Just as she had when Her child Cassandra lay dying and Nirrti could heal her, Janet took a gun and with all intent would kill for her little girl, she would do what ever it took to heal Cassandra, even if it meant holding a gun to another's head and forcing them to comply.

"Mommy?" the child, a young voice, the girl cried out needing the reassurance of her mother.

"You're safe now." Janet said moving to the 'casket' containing the heavily drugged child. "You're going to go to sleep now, so you won't feel pain. I'm going to make it better.'

'I hurt.' the girl whimpered.

'I know, Sweety." Janet pushed away her own tears, it wouldn't do to fall apart now, when this child needed her the most. "I promise I'll make the pain go away."

It was dangerous but at the moment Janet didn't think she had many options left, she ordered morphine injections into the girl so she would not feel the pain the plague had visited upon her. The child's whole body conspired against her.

"How many?" Janet looked up to Jaye, what ever the number it would be a bitter one. "How is it communicable? Has Patient Zero been found?"

"There are at least twenty-seven cases reported within the Empire., all mortal. As far as communicability that has yet to be fully determined, but bodily fluids seems to be the key. And no, Liege Healer, as of right now there is no sign of Patient Zero."

Janet thought it was going to be too much to hope for. The plague had come from the Pegasus Galaxy. She had been assisting doctor Beckett via intergalactic communique in finding a way to cure it. So far their efforts only staved off the symptoms but not the cause of the illness. Janet possessed hope despite all odds, because at the very least she could offer respite for the victims even if she could not at this moment cure them.

"We're going to have to create a ward for them, I can't have these patients intermingling with the general populace or the rest of the wounded." Janet caught sight of her head nurse and waved her over to her.

Alicia had transferred from the SGC and joined her doctor not only out of loyalty but out of her own need to fulfill perhaps a better goal in her pursuit of medicine. She could only do this at Doctor Fraiser's side.

"Alicia, inform Grigori command we are taking over the infirmary and setting up an emergency isolation ward there. The Base is better equipped to handled the overflow. Tell them it's a priority one. Jaye, transfer all plague victims there stat."

The transfer of infirmaries would mean that Janet would leave the hospital in the very capable hands of her mentor Rakrir. Even as experienced as he was, the ancient physician wasn't proficient in such devastating diseases, after all such things were utterly alien to the Malakim physiology. Yes, he had dealt with diseases of other races, but nothing on this scale.

Janet had.

It would take very ounce of power the Scion of Healing possessed to battle this smallest of unseen foes, but it was a war Janet Fraiser was familiar with, and she'd be damned if she was going to lose it.

Her brown eyes looked down once more at the now slumbering child that could have been so easily been Rebecca. That one time had been Cassandra, and then there was the child in Sam's womb. For them she had to win. There was no other alterative.

Liegen Amaterasu queen of the Wraith closed her crimson eyes, her ears opening to the mists of Hive ships humid environment, swirling about her gaunt frame. Even the youngest hatchling knew the truth of the ancient words of the Speckled Serpent that old Wyrm Achelous. Achelous the Liberator. Achelous the Unmaker. 'You would do well to listen to the voices your feet leave in the dust, as they tell others a great deal about you.'

Was it ignorance or valor that these twin Songs had no fear of the Wraith?

The queen of the Wraith had pondered this question while deeply immersed in her meditations since the culling Quincunxian.

Liegen Amaterasu pursued the Song of the Nephalim. Her Song was as before the calm of the monsoon and its greatest gale. Elisabeth Weir's alliance with the hated forever enemy of the Wraith would bring about a war, the Pegasus Galaxy had not seen since the True Atlantians buried their great capital city beneath the waves of the ocean.

The Nephalim whom the Wraith now called the God-Slayer Scion of Balance, might have defeated both Achelous the Unmaker, Malphas the master of the Keepers, Usiel the First of the Fallen, but there was a deeper Song now in the shadows of the World Symphony.

Liegen Amaterasu feared the wielder of the blade the Nephalim. Who controlled her Song, was the true one to be feared. The Wraith had assumed and wrongly so that it was Novalis, but she was not powerful enough to still the Hurricane's gale and quiet the Harrowing. Amaterasu knew, Novalis was no where near strong enough. But a True Ancient was. This Seneschal that controlled the Nephalim's Song was the one to have concern over. Even still Amaterasu was looking forward to a battle with one such as the God-slayer. Long had it been since she faced such a formidable foe, long had it been since she feasted upon such succulent power.

Sub-commander Ujimitsu like his queen had been befuddled by the actions of the Quincunxian leaders, their decision to use weapons of mass destruction on themselves versus the brief culling. Kill thousands instead of lose dozens. What sort of resistance destroyed one's entire civilization? They were pitiful at best. Amaterasu was correct - the dead serve no one.

Desperation had been surmised that if the Quincunxian could not stop the Wraith from the culling then they would ensure they were not worth having. The truth was far more detailed. Plague had taken the Quincunxian people, they fled and Liegen Amaterasu like all opportunist predators followed. The humans would lead the way to new stores of food. The bodies of the victims of the plague were pockmarked with pussy white rings that seeped green ichor, leaving the faces sunken in, and deep, dark circles around the eyes.

Sub-commander Ujimitsu knew his Liegen was galled most by the fact that the Atlantians had been involved in this 'resistance' they could smell upon the wind. The Quincunxians were like dogs groveling in the dusty earth before the Atlantians' arrival. And the Atlantians in turn groveled before the Nephalim of the Malakim Empire.

Liegen Amaterasu had ordered the dead to be harvested. Whatever disease the Quincunxians were carrying they had more than likely brought it with them, even if the survivors were now immune. The toxic corpses however were not a means to strike out at the refugee Quincunxians, it had been a hard won victory over the Ancients, to allow even one to exist would bring more. The Awakening of Atlantis has been a herald of doom, and thus it was almost expected that the True Ancients would soon come perhaps to reclaim their Lost City.

The toxic dead would draw out the Seneschal who controlled the Nephalim, Liegen Amaterasu had intentions towards capturing this Scion of the Ancients. The melody of her Song dictated her resonance: she would have to stop the plague from reaching the Empire.

The Malakim! The bane of Wraith existence more so than even the Ancients. And now the Malakim harbored refugees already branded property of the Wraith. This did not bode well for the pale quasi-immortals, not at all.

Liegen Amaterasu had decreed war against the Malakim. It had long been a desire of Sub-Commander Ujimitsu to lay the hearts of the Malakim Nephalim at his queen's feet. Their life force would succor the new generations. Like his queen he too had felt the power of the Harrowing being summoned then suddenly silenced. He had theorized that the Awakening of the Ancient was due to the crashing cymbals and carillons of the Harrowing. The World Symphony vibrated from it. Somehow the Ancient had stilled it, stilled the Nephalim, as a hand stills the cymbals with the slightest of touches.

Sub-Commander Ujimitsu did not question why his Liegen pressed to siege the Scion of the Ancients. To have her was to have great power over the most powerful Song in the World Symphony. The Song of the Nephalim. What a feast lay before them, and the Wraith would gorge themselves upon such Songs

Amaterasu was roused from her meditations by the close proximity klaxon. A enemy ship approached. The Hive ship was running on cloak and like a crocodile waiting in the shallows of a river, it waited for the unsuspecting gazelle to lap at the water, to take it to its death.

"Report!" Liegen Amaterasu barked she stepped onto the bridge of the Hive ship.

"Malakim scout class vessel fifteen qell'qams off the starboard bow. Its marks match those of the Royal Fleet." Sub-Commander Ujimitsu answered without delay or flourish.

This bit of news perked the Liegen's attention. "Royal fleet?" the thin blue lips pulled back against the yellowed piranha teeth. "So far, so alone?"

"I will deploy a boarding party." Sub-Commander Ujimitsu answered the rhetorical question with what he believed to be the correct course of action.

"No." the Liegen shook her head, the stringy locks of pink-silver dreads hung almost unmoving around her head. "Remain as we are. I want to know why she's out here in the Outer-Rims without an escort." The Wraith queen hissed as she watched the radar blip move across the tactical screen. "Where is your Crimson Wing, Novalis?"

"Liegen," Sub-Commander Ujimitsu pulled the attention of his queen, "We have her in our sights, we should fire, neutralize her. Take her. She's ours?"

"This is why you remain a sub-commander. You lack foresight, and you are a fool. Their queen is alone, unguarded and not for centuries has she been in this system. I want to know why she is here now. The World Symphony has become a cacophony, Novalis must know why, I can hear her Discord from here." The queen's teeth gleamed in the dim light of the bridge.

They were ancient rivals. Queens on opposites sides of the Great Song, each with their own attunement to the notes of the World Symphony. Perhaps she was not so eager to end the opus their conflicts generated. Sub-Commander Ujimitsu recalled the last time Novalis Queen of the 'Birds' had come to the outer-rim. He served under Liegen Amaterasu then too. She had orchestrated a brilliant culling. The vile Hunger was pushed back for generations because of her foresight to engage the forces of both warring factions.

The Malakim 'Birds' had struck war with the Diabolicals and their Jaffa in their jackal and falcon heads. Liegen Amaterasu's plan of culling had harvested 'Bird' and Diabolical larva alike had Though the larval Diabolicals didn't sate the Hunger for long it was a powerful feast, enabling the young to mature into magnificent drones. Perhaps the foresight that had allowed the drones and several of the noble cast to waken from the hibernation would serve her once more. Ujimitsu admitted he too had felt the waves of the music in the World Symphony change pitch and change again and yet a third time. Something very significant was abound and surely Novalis Queen knew what it was.

Novalis Queen of the Empire remained heedless of the dangers lurking, even if the enemy vessel wasn't cloaked it was possible the warrior queen would not have taken notice. Her mind too focused on the pull of the tangled notes of the World Symphony drawing her to this place, to the outer-rim.

Here the Crimson Wing and several other legions of warriors laid waste to the Diabolical Jackals and Falcons, and it was where the one called Nirrti was vanquished. She had disappeared. At the time Novalis had assumed the diabolical had been harvested along with her Jackals, Falcons and brave Malakim when the Wraith had come like carrion raptors culling both Malakim and enemy alike.

Novalis at the time had almost allowed herself to laugh at the supposed fate of the Diabolical unmaker, let her feed the Soul-suckers, she was meat to be wasted. It was possible that Nirrti was in fact not Wraith food, but here now taking refuge in her old base thinking herself anonymous for what fool would return to a long abandoned stronghold once exiled from it?

'Oh I don't know, I might have.' Usiel piped up, invading the queen's thoughts. 'Well the 'me' this form represents.' Gleaming teeth showing in the pale light. 'As a matter of fact Usiel returned to one of his fallen strongholds after a mere thousand years of exile from it did he not and he nearly destroyed your Nephalim. The Keepers of the Lambent Reproach had even created small cities on that ancient planet of Chimera.'

Novalis inwardly seethed with the contempt from the Scourge dogging her wingtips, nipping at her flight feathers. The Scourge had a self-satisfactory grin on its face. "Oh look!" Usiel pointed with a clawed fingertip as he directed attention to the energy readings on the tactical screen. 'Looks like someone left the balcony light on.'

"Let's find out who." Novalis ignored the fact the image of Usiel had stolen the words from her mouth, or the fact she had used a plural form of words.

It didn't escape her tormenter's attention. "Oh you're accepting me as a part of you."

"If I am to be rid of you, I must." The Queen dismissed the voice as she would the sound of a biting gnat. Her hands danced over the helm interface, piloting her scout ship into the atmosphere of the planet Nirrti had taken over long ago. However she was not going in conspicuously, engaging the cloaking device she would be able to enter the system without detection and thus land upon the planet unmolested. Once on the surface of the small forest world she would slip into its Pen-Umbra and remain anonymous.

It might have been a thousand years since she had visited this tiny world in the outer-rim of the Empire, but her wings still knew the way to the stronghold of the Diabolical unmaker.

'You're right of course.' Usiel's sudden voice almost shook Novalis from her near meditative flight in the shadow of the planet' netherworld.

"Your pardon?"

'You should have slain this Nirrti when you had the chance. Now - well you have to face her alone.'

'I don't intend on confronting the Diabolical. I must restore balance the Great Song. Whatever this dark thing grappling for life is, I must help shape it. The uncreation of Anubis left a void unfillable save for this creature, this construct the Diabolical struggles to give life to. After I have done such I am redeemed and you go away."

Usiel actually laughed, 'Yes would it be so easy.' then in a mocking sing-song voice. 'I don't think so but you keep your illusions oh Queen of the Feather People, they are so much fun to frolic in.'

There was no understanding.

The eyes followed her with placid cooperation. The Chimera now ambulatory and conscious still gave no true sign of sentience, no not sentient that wasn't what Chimera lacked, she lacked cognitive reasoning. She was a feral child in an adult body. Even still, Anise was fascinated by the abilities, the capacities of her creation.

Anise glanced at the readouts. "Your ECG is normal. So why are you not functioning properly? You're in good health. You're lucid - so why aren't you responding?" The Tok'ra frowned. "Well I suppose it's of small concern. The Unas were little more than beasts when the first symbiote took them as hosts. You don't need to be fully cognitive to function as a host. Perhaps its better you're not cognitive. A Perfect template. Blank and thus Tok'ra philosophy is un-compromised."

Walking around behind her, Anise eased the tabard where it split up the back, and examined the joint where the wings met back and the uniqueness of twin clavicle bones. The wings where not quite feathered at the joints as Arian's had been. Remnants of the symbiote dorsal fins her body had tried to grow merged into the Malakim feathers. The slight formation of the fin had not compromised her development nor the wing's function.

"I did program my own raw materials to function without the full befits of genetic memory so this could be a side effect of it. You have no genetic memory of either of the other genetic raw materials. Still… It would be beneficial if you knew how to use the Malakim powers, before serving as a host. You truly are a chimaera. That's a perfect designation for you. Chimaera."

Anise touched the area perhaps not all together aware just how sensitive a section of anatomy it was. Then again perhaps she did but with such scientific detachment paid little care to the flexing rippling muscle spasm the touch had caused.

Anise came around front, aware that Chimera never stopped watching her, even when she was behind her creation. Anise had the impression that Chimera was ever alert, completely ready... for something. Taking blood, tissue samples through it all Chimera gave no reaction. She only watched.

Solid blue eyes watched Wingless One, learning almost everything about it that a warrior would ever need to know. She could see the color of its excitement, its emotions whether it was hot or cold, and whether it felt pain or fear. She was radiating the color of yellow, the color of pride, of accomplishment.

Anise shuddered despite her scientific bravado. It was more like working with one those big Abydosian Sand Cats than a child. Only her eyes moved. Her body stayed coiled. Occasionally the wings fluttered like a great fan, at least indicating a mood.

Chimera seemed as frustrated as Anise.

Solid dark blue eyes watched the wingless one, her mouth moved creating the strange noises that were not a growl, nor soothing purr but merely irritating. A toneless buzz that she wanted to flick away with her wing tips.

How long had she watched Wingless One, she knew not. She watched Wingless One watching her so intently. The hands of the Wingless One moved, performing their work, completing tasks she had neither asked for, nor wanted, nor understood.

With neither rage nor relief she struck, her arm darting out with the speed of a snake as she snatched the forearm of the Wingless One. With detached curiosity she gripped the arm with a modicum of strength and twisted it, just to see what would happen.

It was interesting. The Wingless One instantly stopped hurting her. That was good. She twisted more, and there was a strange cracking, grinding feel to the part of the being caught inside her own grip. The chittering stopped and the mouth of Wingless Open opened wide as if to bite at her, screaming. Her tiny eyes were open wide, as wide as they would go showing that strange white.

Her creation that had sat like a mannequin through physical after physical erupted into sudden violence. Anise screamed, writhing, flailing under the crushing grip of her creation. Yet her eyes never gave any indication of her thoughts, her emotions. The expression upon Chimera's face never changed, her solid blue eyes unblinking emotionless studied Anise's every movement.

It was unprecedented. It was unexpected. It was exciting! Chimera's face as impassive as a sphinx as she deliberately twisted.

"Let go! Let Go! You're hurting me!" Anise fell to her knees, white glowing eyes filling with tears streaming down her face, her arm broken, splintered apart, driving the weakness into the Tok'ra physically enhanced body until she could no longer stand. "I command you Chimaera! LET GO!" The voice was booming carrying the cadence of the symbiote's double voice.

Chimaera blinked lazily, still not releasing Anise. Her eyes moved, seemed to latch on to the Tok'ra's glowing orbs. She looked straight at her, into her, through her. Anise felt a chill. Then her lids closed slowly. Chimera opened her hand almost casually, as if she'd just lost interest in Wingless One

Chimera examined the badly broken arm. Bones pierced the skin and sterile gown in several places. The arm was mangled so badly the hand was facing in a completely unnatural direction. The warrior looked at her own arms, flexing her grip – opening and closing her hand so she might feel the tightening and relaxation of the tendons and veins pull. Understanding.

Blood pulsed from Wingless One's arm, flowed over the immaculate sterile gown, splattered onto the floor. In the sterile room tiled in gleaming whites and neutral tones, the blood's brilliant red was all the more shocking.

Only now did the enormous all seeing solid blue eyes change. Burning, enraged, predatory…

She felt something.



The puny Wingless One, its body so frail, so easily broken tried to dominate her. The warrior felt superior, stronger, she was alpha not this small thing cradling her broken limb to her chest. Discord rang painful in the warrior's ears for the contempt of Wingless Ones' attempt to dominate her. The noise she heard, it was coming from the shifting colors of Wingless One. Now more than ever before the warrior felt the need to vanquish this sound, this noise, this discord.

Chimaera's rage became boundless. Her golden purple tipped wings fanning in fury as she watched the prey stagger to her feet, clutching the soft mangled arm to her body. The color radiating now from the small Wingless One was the terror of Orange, Crimson rage. She reeked of it, reeked of her pain, even as she ran from the warrior, from the bloodied chamber.

Now she was alone.

As a great jungle cat, Chimera cocked her head to the side, watching, listening. Waiting. In the stillness of that moment, her eyes drooped, her body sagged, her wings hung limp. She longed for the music, the strength and safety of her own kind. the connection to the Great Song so distant, so close. She remembered a nothingness, it filled her with a crushing sadness. Sadness not because she had hurt Wingless One, but because of her isolation.

The sweeping pain of loss - sickening, irretrievable loss - flooded her mind, her entire body. It meant nothing, it meant everything. She searched for the connection to her own kind, and found the strength and safety of the music beyond her reach. She tried to follow the Wingless One, because she needed focus. But Wingless One's focus was not hers and she was floundering. Without a Song to guide her, she had no focus, no ambition, no purpose. Perhaps it was best to hibernate now, to allow the torpor to come.

It might have been hours before the Wingless One returned, her arm seemed restored. No matter. She knew how weak the small one was now. Clearly by the shifting colors of emotions Wingless One was upset, worried, nervous. Her colors flaring now, whatever was causing her concern still ongoing. There were strange sounds, loud meaningless noises, flashing lights. It was interesting, but it wasn't about to distract the warrior from her primary objective.

The driving need to rejoin the choir of the Great Song.
The strength and companionship of her own kind.
The power of her own rage.
The warmth and safety of the music beyond reach.

The images were meaningless and meaningful all at the same time. She recognized them on a level beyond conciseness, beyond learning. They were part of her, part of who she had been, were part of what she was becoming. Then she heard the inside sounds again, one stronger than the others. The one she always listened to. The one she tried so hard to remember. Slowly, she registered a dim sensation. Something outside herself.

There was another!
Another like her!
Close so close!

Part 18

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