Nephalim's Gate
By Elizabeth Carter

Chapter Twenty-One

Not Your Grandmother's Angels

The vein in Elizabeth Weir's neck twitched as her jaw set in frustration and worry. Earth was still recovering from the baleful retaliation of the avian race of warriors. Despite the fact the Nephalim had sent a contingent of offers of aid, Earth had suffered losses. Near devastating losses and all the result of one government's actions - her own government.

Bent on trying to make Peace with the foreign heads of state, the presidential body had forgotten just who was their sacrificial lamb to an alien nation. An alien nation that could with some small effort effectively annihilate entire planets by wreaking havoc on their ecosystems and let Nature do the rest because they deemed the actions of the US Government as an act of war.

Just sing your enemies into oblivion no need for arms, all you needed was a good set of pipes. For most of her adult career Weir had worked towards the ends where the necessity of weapons was nil. But however hard she worked how diligent her negotiation tactics were, Elizabeth could never make mute an entire race of people, if they wanted to 'sing' Atlantis into the Hereafter because of some slight against their lionized hero, Samantha Carter.

Fortunately General Jack O'Neill had the foresight to send a liaison the Malakim were familiar with and respected, Ambassador Ayiana Midthunder. The ambassador was more than helpful in how to deal with the moody avian people. 'Treat the Malakim with the respect one gave a Samurai of Ancient Feudal Japan, and the Nephalim/Prime Minister as their Shogun. Make no hasty moves towards their Nephalim unless invited by the Nephalim herself. Do not be overly familiar with her again unless invited to do so. The Malakim are capricious and high-strung when it comes to etiquette.

'Quick to anger it is not wise to approach the Malakim with antagonism and do not annoy them for they will retaliate quickly and within the traditions of their society they do not view their aggressive behavior as unwarranted any more than the ancient Samurai did with a peasant. On this note approach any of the 'Choir Malakite' and 'Kyriotate' with extreme caution. The former does not tolerate discord within one's mind and heart and like the Avenging Angel of dogma they will be swift in their judgment of guilt, while the latter is unpredictably impetuous which makes them just as deadly if aggravated.

'While they are able to forgive or may not even acknowledge a slight made against their own person as it may register as insignificant and irrelevant, it is deadly to assume they will allow any verbal slight or action to pass that stands against the Nephalim/Prime Minister. On this note acknowledge the title of Nephalim before Prime Minister even before the Queen.'

At the bottom of the notes sent by Ambassador Midthunder was Jack O'Neill's untidy scrawl in big bold red letters and underlined five times 'KEEP MACKAY THE HELL AWAY FROM THESE PEOPLE. DON'T LET HIM GO ANYWHERE NEAR CARTER!!!!!!!!!!! Unless of course you want to get rid of the little rat-bastard.'

Elizabeth pinched the bridge of her nose, closing her eyes to the headache she knew was building. Mackay - she'd have to get rid of Rodney for a few days. Of course she would have to come up with a plausible excuse to send him off-world when Samantha Carter was visiting. Mackay had it bad for the tall blonde astrophysicist, the only problem was Rodney was petty and argumentative and tended to annoy even the most patient Teyla to the point of exasperation. The Ancients that they had encountered had no fondness for the man. Rodney made enemies as quickly as he opened his mouth. Unless there was food in it MacKay's mouth was always open and rambling - always bragging on his superior intellect and his prowess as a scientist. It would shock him to find he was fourth choice to go to Atlantis. Samantha Carter turned it down and Steven Hawking wasn't fit for intergalactic travel and unknown dangers. After Dr Bill Lee also turned it down for family reasons, that left Rodney Mackay.

If Rodney stayed on Atlantis during the visit, it would leave Elizabeth without an astrophysicist, if what she read about the Malakim were true. Yes, Zelenka could step up to the plate and pitch-hit for the team, but Weir for reasons she didn't fully understand had grown a soft spot for the rambling scientist. She didn't want to see the 'little rat-bastard' come to harm if it was at all avoidable. More than a few times Weir had to intervene on her scientist's behalf because he had offended one diplomat or another if not whole villages of potential allies because the man knew nothing of discretion and modesty.

"May I help you with that?" Teyla's Athosian lilt seeped into Elizabeth's mind. She opened her eyes with a start not realizing that she had closed them.

"With what?"

"The burden you carry on your shoulders, Elizabeth. You are apprehensive of the visit with the Malakim?"

Elizabeth nodded, "We don't need another incident like we had with the Genii." At the young woman's confused expression Elizabeth side-stepped the topic for the moment by asking a question. "Teyla - the Athosians, have you ever had encounters with the Malakim?"

Weir handed her a photo taken of the Blue Wing and Samantha Carter. Teyla gasped as she stared in wonder at the picture of the winged warriors.

"These are the Malakim?"

Weir nodded. "I take it from your expression you do know of them."

The young woman sat down in a chair near the desk without seeing the need to ask. Her voice took on the lilt of a storyteller as if she were speaking to a gathering of tribes-folk around a hearth rather than in the base commander's glass office. "When I was young the eldest of our elders spoke of a time when the Athosians were young in the world and a great war was waged in the heavens. The Wraith have always been there, always a dark threat. They hunted, but they themselves were hunted. Athos became home to a small band of the Guardians. Winged beings with eyes of every shade of flower, silken hair with every hue of the rainbow as were the feathers of their great wings. They called themselves the Gregorian Wings.

"The Guardians rose up and fought the Wraith their ancient enemy and smote them down. The Wraith ever hungry culled the People; the Guardians in turn culled the Wraith for they were in discord with the harmonies of the universe. The Guardians banded with their allies the Ancestors. The War of the Heavens lasted generations and generations of generations. Only the Guardians could do battle with the Wraith in the Shadows, for even the Ancestors became confused by the chicanery of the Wraith.

"The Ancestors began to fall to a great sickness, and the Guardians pulled back their forces from Athos for the Wraith slipped into hibernation. At long last the only Guardians left on Athos were the wing of warriors that had first come from the stars. Through out the battle they searched for The One, always searching, this is why they so fiercely protected Athos. They feared the one they searched for the one called Nephalim would perish.

"They lifted their voices to the stars, waiting for the Song of the Heavens to answer their prayers, the revelation of the Nephalim. They waited generations upon generations before their plea was heard, and when the music of the Heavens reached their ears, the Guardians rose up to the sky and slipped into the Shadow-realm, their search called them to other worlds, and Athos has never seen the Guardians again."

"Until now," Weir's voice took a soft note to it. "Teyla, I think I'm going to need your help as a liaison with them. My own people have had encounters with them too, we called them Angels," her smile was one of irony, "Sometimes called Guardian Angels. Earth histories are filled with their icons and stories. They are one of the most identifiable images on Earth."

Teyla's hand traced over the features of young woman's face, one she knew to be Samantha Carter, "and they now have their own myth come to life, the Guardians have found their Nephalim."

"Yes, and they are devoted to her as disciples are to a prophet, which is why I said I need your help. You are still the leader of the Athosians, the Malakim will respect that for they are a matriarchal society and…."

"They will not respond well to Colonel Sheppard?"

"Not entirely, no. However they do like General O'Neill and he and John are cut from the same cloth so they might very well like him. Actually I was thinking more of General Caldwell and Rodney."

"Doctor Mackay claims he and Prime Minister Carter were an 'item'."

Weir couldn't help it; she burst out laughing so hard that in seconds her eyes were brimming with tears. "Gods no! She despised him; he grated on her nerves so much I'm amazed he is still intact." Sobering Weir wiped her eyes, "Actually that's why I'm worried. Rodney Mackay can make things very difficult sometimes with first contacts. Even though this isn't a first contact in the strictest sense, things could go very poorly very quickly if Rodney upsets them. As you said Samantha Carter is their myth-come-to-life, they have found their Nephalim. And if they think she's been insulted, they might become aggressive. We'd be fortunate if all they did was kill Rodney."

"Surely Prime Minister Carter will not allow that to happen."

"I don't think she will have a choice if they decide to make an example out of us." Weir stopped her words, and turned her expression into a false smile, "I'm sure it's nothing, to worry about as long as we keep Rodney occupied."

To this dark eyes twinkled in merriment and half amusement "Is it not time that a team was sent to check on the village of the Young? I believe Karas could use help with the generator maintenance and lessons on keeping it functioning for the new 'protectors'."

Weir smiled devilishly, "I think you're right, it's been a few years since we had a welfare check on the Kids."

"Karas is a twice blessed father, he in no longer the boy we knew."

"Even better, I'll send him out with a team perhaps with medics to make sure they're all healthy." Weir had taken it upon herself and therefore Atlantis as a whole to make sure the planet of children, the eldest of whom were now in their thirty-somethings managed to make it to their golden years. After all the 'elders' had no other adults in which to model their lives after, thus periodically Atlantis would go and insure all was well with the young village. They had no true name for themselves: 'The Kids' was all everyone ever called them. The 'Kids' themselves had decided to use it as a tribal name, and it stuck.

Feeling marginally better about the Rodney Mackay situation, Weir turned her attention back to her visitor. "I think it's time to get Atlantis ready for its Malakim Imperial visitors."

Sam had been to Atlantis more than a few times, and each time she felt a little out of sorts as if she had to find a niche in the well oiled machine the Atlantis people had evolved to become. On previous visits, Sam was greeted as a seasoned and well-respected Air Force officer and renowned astrophysicist who enjoyed seeing the smug face of Rodney MacKay falter in the shadow of her own accomplishment. This time, however, she was making the visit in her new role as Nephalim and Prime Minister.

MacKay once claimed he had one-upped her blowing up a sun by destroying a solar system, but Sam had said that was nothing as he had nearly done the same to Earth's solar system as well out of his ignorance. Give a child enough C-4 and he could blow up a city but that didn't make him a demolitions expert. Granted Sam despised the man but she did enjoy baiting him just so he could make a fool out of himself.

Rodney might have been a deterrent to go to Atlantis as much as seeing a furry black and white animal makes one think of a skunk and thus avoid the forest, but Elizabeth Weir was an attractant as much as the Lost City of the Ancients was. There was so much to learn, so many things to investigate and research and document. Elizabeth Weir had become a good and close friend, well as close as one could become a galaxy away.

Of course with a ZPM the distance wasn't that far to travel, nor was it with Malakim starships. In the latter case it was the choice mode of travel for the Nephalim, as her doctor and wife absolutely forbade gate-travel to a nine month pregnant woman.

Approaching by ship, Sam could see the splendor and wonder of the oceanic city. The spires and turrets held her breath as it had the first time she had seen it from the cockpit of a puddle-jumper.

In a lot of ways the Atlantian architecture resembled that of the Malakim, large open areas, open stairwells, crystalline lighting structures and cerulean hues dominating the stone structures. Like the Malakim the Ancients carried a fondness for spires and seemed to have constructed everything practical with aesthetics in mind, however unlike the winged race the Gate-builders seemed to enclose their balconies much to the chagrin of their avian allies.

Sam's lips curled into a mischievous grin.

"Whatever it is you're planning….no." Janet said not even looking up from the thick file she held in her hand reading. Her legs were stretched out, feet crossed and resting upon the coffee table in front of the velvet settee in their suite aboard the Samantha Carter-A.

"Who says I'm planning anything?" Sam asked innocently.

"That grin that makes the Cheshire cat look like he was scowling, that's what."

"I can't beam down for the same reasons I can't gate-travel. Demolculerization and reconstitution isn't good for Grace."

"That's why they have shuttles…dear." the 'dear' was spoken with a slight sarcastic lilt to it.

"Oh, I'm flying in but not in a shuttle…"

On cue as if the two had choreographed it, Kha'antar grunted a rolling purr.

"Oh for crying out loud!" Janet plopped the medical log she had been studying down on the table and pinned her wife with a disapproving glare before she turned the glare of ice to the massive cat, hating the fact she was put into a position of compromise. After all the back of the large pumaica was less hassle than manipulating a shuttle to land on the concourse of Atlantis. So many things could go wrong with the approach vectors, where as the great cat all he had to do was make a landing on one of the balconies. Very simple.

"Fine! But no aerial acrobatics. And you're not flying alone, myself and Cassie will be your wings. Of course I don't have to say it, but the Blue Wing and my own Medical Wing will be flying formation around you and Grace." The doctor's tone set the stage that she was in no mood for arguments. The word of the Napoleonic powermonger was final.

Sam continued to display her brighter than a supernova smile. "You know I love you."

"Just remember that when you're vomiting for Grace's air-sickness." Janet face was as impassive as she could make it. Picking up the file once more the tiny doctor pretended to study it, without success.

"She only did that three times," Sam's voice became as plaintive as Rebecca's when she desperately wanted something and tried hard to argue her point of view without whining.


"If I do you get to say' I told you so.' So we both win."

"There is that." The corner of the brunette's lips curled into a smile she was desperately trying not to show but failed miserably. "Now I know where Little Bit gets it from."

"Looked in the mirror did you?" Sam chuckled making her way to her wife's side to lower her girth down to the sofa.

"You ever want sex again?"

"You couldn't hold out a day without kissing me, I'm not worried." Sam nuzzled her wife's throat making the woman moan.

"Won't stop me from trying," Janet threatened without any power behind the words. Her hand automatically went to her wife's belly then hesitated.

The moan turned to a gasp of surprise.

Smiles of sensuality turned to giggles of parental delight.

"She's so active." Janet breathed feeling her unborn daughter move beneath her wife's flesh. "Sam… seriously be careful."

"Slow and easy, you have my word. Besides no matter how much I urge Fuzz-face, he wont go over seventy miles an hour if that. I've piloted biplanes faster than that."

Janet knew well her wife loved the greater speeds the pumaica could reach, up to mach-three in the Pen Umbra, mach-one with in the corporeal realm. And Sam loved speed. She was a thrill-seeker. Fortunately for them all Kha'antar had common sense when dealing with a very pregnant mistress. He was by far safer than either Sam's Indian or Harley. No amount of kicking, threats or urging could move the great cat from his course or speed.

"Sammy, promise me you won't overdo it," Janet said concern lacing her words.

"Jan, you have my word, besides this is more of a medical conference and a friendly chat than anything else. The GAA wanted a separate meeting with Atlantis to the one it had with Earth as it is a separate colony. Don't worry this trip is not stressful." Her hand went from stroking her rounded belly to stroking the eloquent lines of her wife. "Weir has been our friend for the last nine years, the Malakim are simply giving a courtesy call to let Atlantis know they are resuming trade negotiations in the Pegasus Galaxy. Given Elizabeth's expertise and experience we'll have the treaty signed before supper."

"Sweet Mother of God!" Carson's voice clamored above the drone of computer sounds coming from the main hub of Atlantis's command room. He moved as if pulled by an invisible tether to the balcony proper. His mouth opened wide in his astonishment, an emotions shared by others now massing around him.

What captivated them had captivated many; many people beforehand - an entire flight of angelic host.

Leading the double Wing of Warriors they saw a great white furred lion with wings and mane of azure blue, this great beast was not a singular spectacle but twin lions flanked this wondrous sight. Astride this terrible beast was a woman none had thought seen before for her remarkable beauty, and yet - no surely it could not be!

It was Samantha Carter!

Weir had not seen Carter since her unification with the Malakim; much had changed in the past few years. How had Sam grown so remarkably beautiful? To look upon her splendor was as orgasmic as it was almost painful.

Elizabeth turned her head to see other Atlantians gazing upon her with papal penitence. This was how it was done, why the Malakim were so enamored with Samantha. Something, some gestalt had taken place in the past three years turning Samantha Carter into a goddess of beauty. This was why the Malakim went to war. This was why Earth was ravaged because of the actions of the Trust and the United States Government. It was why Troy fought the Greeks - all for the sake of a beauty beyond breath.

What a terrible power to wield. Elizabeth fell in terrified awe. One word, misspoken or direct and the Malakim host would move mountains for this woman climbing off the back of the great white winged lion.

Dark eyes watched as eight warriors surrounded the two women, only one of the blue and silver armored warriors was human. A closer observation made the singular warrior to be none other than Cassandra Frasier. So she was a Malakim knight, now. Like her mothers before her, Cassandra had resigned her commission as an air force officer to become a Malakim mercenary and presumably a Guard of the Nephalim.

The other eight warriors bore the same gleaming armor, burnished to a glittering shimmer. Bands of thin metal impossibly woven together, like reeds of willow. Each strip of metal bore engravings of floral and zoomorphic designs, almost liquid-like. The eight that held back from the protective branch surrounding their charges bore the caduceus symbol an obvious influence from Dr. Fraiser.

Ever watchful of her bodyguards Elizabeth approached the very pregnant but still so sultry blonde, "Sam, Janet it's good to have you back on Atlantis." Weir said with all the familiar formality of two strong leaders. For the moment it was enough to disarm the immediate suspicions of distrust oozing from the winged guard. Weir could almost see them relax a bit in their leader's act of embracing her.

"Thank you Elizabeth," Sam smiled moving from the hug, "It's been a while."

"Apparently, I hear congratulations are in order a few times over. Prime Minister…..Brigadier General and a mom-to-be a lot of things have changed in three years."

Sam blushed slightly as she always did when given a complement, "Tell me about it." Sam was still smirking. "It's a long story."

"Love to hear it over dinner?"

Sam nodded. Janet on the other hand was anxious to speak with Carson Beckett over the Ancient/Ori plague that had reared its head in the Malakim space. "You go ahead Sam; I want to speak with Carson if it's okay with you Doctor."

"Be ma pleasure." The Scotsman ginned in his ever pleasant way.

Cassandra had never actually been on Atlantis was struck by the grandeur of the place. She couldn't help but mentally compare it to the places of the Malakim and the citadel of Grigori Stargate Command. Even still Cassandra was in awe not only by the architecture but by the sheer volume of wonder that this was the home of the Gate builders.

"Colonel John Sheppard," the man who had been standing to Weir's right approached, even as he did three of the Malakim moved forward, a warning he was not to come closer unless invited. Cassie gave a silent command to her troupe she was fine and viewed the colonel as no threat to her. "The rest of you are up for the nickel tour?"

"Yes Sir, thank you."

Sheppard grinned once more as he gestured for the warriors to follow his lead out from the balcony. "You were Air Force?" The question directed to Carter and Frasier's oldest.

"Yes sir, Lieutenant. I followed my mothers' into the Force; it seemed like the thing to do. Now I'm apart of the Grigori Wings."

"Military brat myself, I hear so are your parents."

"Yes Sir." Cassie answered as if she were still in the Force. Military protocol was a hard habit to break even today Sam called Uncle Jack, Sir. That name change had been the most difficult for Cassie to adapt to; calling those she considered family by rank versus familiarity. Sam had once said she had the same problem with Uncle George becoming Sir. Cassie stated her difficulty was much higher considering Mama or Sam was now Ma'am as was Mom. Sam said no one would fault her for the verbal slip if she called her mothers by the familiar after all Sam had done that with her own father before he became Tok'ra. Though Sam had warned that sometimes her father was Sir as well, she never had to use his rank. Cassie often used ma'am when addressing her parents when other officers were near, Sam was right that change wasn't too hard to switch too.

"Military brat?" Ronon questioned, his dark eyes keeping a close watch on the taller warriors. It seemed to the outside eyes the Malakim were doing the same with the large man.

"Yeah you know, kids whose parents are in the military. Move from base to base… often following in their parents' footsteps." Sheppard explained in his easy-going-voice.

Ronon considered the girl walking beside him, following family tradition was typical of many cultures. His own father, what he could recall of the man, was a Hunter of Wraith as well just like Ronon himself. His dark eyes cast a glance to the towering winged warriors. The shortest of them stood six feet tall with bright red-flame orange wings that seemed twice as large as she needed them to be, she would be very adept at speeds of flight.

'A scout of some sort.' Ronon's mind categorized the observation.

"From what Dr. Weir has told us the Malakim have been fighting the Wraith and even the Ori for a long time." Sheppard took hold of the conversation once more.

"Ours is an ancient quarrel." Boudicca interrupted Sheppard's inquiries.

"How ancient?" Ronon demanded earning him a warning glare from Sheppard and Teyla.

"Since your species have been waging wars with each other with clubs and living in caves hiding from the mastodons." Boudicca said. "I, myself have fought the Soul-eaters for three thousand years."

"Get out! You're three-thousand years old?"

Teyla's eyebrows rose, it was a galactic known you don't make comments on a woman's age. Ever. Cassie simply chuckled as did many of the others of the Wing.

Boudicca's white wings seemed to have shrugged without actually shrugging, "I am. Malakim age differently than your own people of course, I believe the ratio is equivalent to one hundred of your years we age one year. Malakim are quasi-immortal. Just like the Wraith. Hard to kill but not impossible. No Malakim has ever died of old age or disease if that answers a few questions."

"No actually it just makes more," said Sheppard.

This seemed to amuse the angelics. "Your kin is Jack O'Neill?" a large male with blue wings and tanned skin asked.

"Errr…no. Why?"

"You have his blunt humor." Turelim answered. "Humor is often a family trait."

Sheppard smirked. "Cut from the same cloth but no we're not related. Is this a good thing?"

"Of course blunt humor is appreciated. For it is honest." This time it was Malachi who answered. The Malakite's humor was as was his entire Choir a bit dry if not bluntly honest. "Both O'Neill and Teal'c are also considered to be adopted kin of the Nephalim."

"The original members of SG-1," John commented.

"Not all," Razeal piped up. "There is one who given the power and knowledge of the Diabolicals would have our Nephalim imprisoned, the Scion of Healing put to death as with the featherlings. He lives only because the Nephalim wishes it. But there is no Malakim that wouldn't put him to the sword if given a chance."

Cassie pinned the impetuous Kyriotate with a glare. "Daniel is a good man. Shifu gave him that dream so he wouldn't seek all the knowledge of the Goa'uld. He never did any of those things."

"It is enough Cassandra that he did it in the waking-dream therefore he is capable of it. Have you forgotten? When he was addicted to the Diabolicals' sarcophagus he made the Nephalim and her brothers as slaves on that bile-filled planet ruled by an idiotic fool. He physically injured your mother by crushing her tiny body into a wall and disparaged the Nephalim!" Razeal growled his blue wings fanned out from his body just an inch but already looking twice their size before resettling. "He is a Song to be wasted."

Sheppard looked to both of his teammates, the silent communication transmitting in their minds. 'Watch this one. He's reckless and overzealous.' "Doesn't seem very angelic to hold a grudge over someone for forced drug-abuse or a dream they were given by someone else." John said aloud.

"We are not your grandmother's angels." Razeal's voice dropped a few octaves, the growl scarcely above the range of hearing.

Weir's first reaction to the request was to raise a dark eyebrow but considering it further it was a logical move on the part of the Malakim Prime Minister. Tapping her earpiece Elizabeth summoned both Teyla and Ronon to the Briefing Room.

Both appeared with puzzled expressions of their own as they moved into the briefing room. If Elizabeth wanted to make a decision that affected Atlantis she often gained the input of Atlantis' Flagship team, so why then hadn't Sheppard been called?

Sam nodded her head with a slight disarming smile. "Thank you for coming, what affects Atlantis will affect the Athosians," Sam immediately went into the explanation to the question so evident on the newcomers' faces. "Teyla, you are their leader this summit cannot be held without you nor you, Specialist Ronon Dex for you are the only representative of the Seteda."

On hearing the information both sat down at the table, curious and eager to learn what the Malakim were offering and what they wanted.

"They really don't die from disease or age?" Carson couldn't help but keep the excitement out of his voice. "I know the Ascended are immortal but how is it that the Malakim are so?"

Janet grinned enjoying the sharing of knowledge with another human as passionate about medicine as she was. The small woman began telling Beckett of the regenerative properties of the Malakim physiology. The Malakim healed much faster than mortals did. They could regenerate large damaged or even destroyed areas of tissue and bone. "Cell regrowth is dependent on protein synthesis, which in turn, is dependent on ribosome synthesis. The RNA which participates in the synthesis of proteins within the cells plays a key role in cell metabolism as you know. The Malakim can control cell metabolism, specifically during the stages of division and protoplasmic growth which is so important to heal damaged tissue."

"Aye the Wraith are similar they can regenerate limbs and from my research organs as well. It's quite astounding actually. Their fast healing factor calls upon a cocktail mix of hormones, enzymes, and other growth factors. Platelet-derived growth factor, sermorelin, somatotropin, gonadorelin, to name a few the list goes on. "

"It doesn't surprise me that the Wraith can do so, they are after all descended from the Malakim." Janet said matter-of-factly.

Carson shook his head, "From everything I've seen the Wraith evolved from a creature called the Iratis bug and the bug began taking on characteristics of the humans it fed on. Over time, they became the Wraith that we know."

"While that may have some bearing, the Wraith were Malakim to start out with. One of their own, Achelous, a Fallen angel if you will, what they call a Remnant tortured and transmogrified captured Malakim. You see certain Malakim are able to change their forms. It's quite fascinating; I was able to see it first hand. It's a protean command of their own bodies, and some can force this protean-mitochondria change in others by manipulating their natural steroid levels.

"Achelous had forced transformation upon his prisoners of war and tormented them; it wouldn't surprise me that he melded their DNA with the Iratis bug. Protean alterations are possible Carson; the Goa'uld Nirrti was trying to do similar things with her machines. She nearly succeeded in killing Sam because she put my wife into that infernal contraption."

Over the course of two hours Janet had taken pleasure in showing her colleague the wonders of Malakim medical advancements. Bone-knitters and epidermal regrowth stimulants and the capability to regrow organs from the patient's own DNA contribution. She had even given him three gross Malakim military standard issue medical emergency kits from the Samantha Carter-A's own resources. She explained in-depth what the kits included and how to use the medicines properly.

"With all this technology their medicine for their own people is surprising low-tech. Most of the time they are resigned to have a patient fall into a torpid state until the body regenerates. Often times the injuries are so severe it takes years to regenerate fully. The Malakim don't worry about atrophy, slip into torpor and come out again good as new and if the body is too badly damaged they slip into a state of altered consciousness called the Fading. There was a case where the body was totally destroyed but the consciousness survived. Usiel was what we would have considered brain-dead, his body too badly damaged, but because he wasn't truly dead before he Faded, or in a way Ascended, he was able to survive in an alternate dimension, until his consciousness was downloaded into his original body which by that time had regenerated, except for the wings." She frowned as she never understood why the now dead enemy's wings had never been fully restored. Waving a hand in front of her face in a gesture of clearing her thoughts, Fraiser returned the conversation back to the reason for her visit.

"You can take a look at everything the Ancients left about the plague that hit them; it's a purer form than the one that hit the first Antarctic Research Team. From what I've seen the plague you've encountered sounds like the one the Ori sent to Earth that you and Orlan cured a couple of years ago."

"It is," Janet agreed, "but I recognized the disease's DNA strain and it nearly matched the Ancient Plague. You said the Wraith were responsible for it?"

"Aye, they had their hand in it."

Janet leaned over on the table, scanning through Carson's entire accumulated library on the subject. "If I can understand its matrix, I should be able to re-write it." She seemed to be talking more to herself than her companion.

"No disrespect Doctor, but I've been trying to develop a vaccine for this myself. I've come close but…"

"Carson," Janet didn't take her eyes off the screen for a moment. Even as she was speaking she was memorizing the matrix patterns of the plague's DNA strain. "You had to have noticed something far different with Sam other than her pregnancy since you've seen her last."

"Aye…she's like looking at a goddess of pure light." Becket couldn't have disguised his penitent awe in his voice even if he had tried.

"It's because of a gestalt… but what changed her changed me because of the mental and emotional link binding us that the Nox induced. Sam has a new presence and can easily dominate others almost as if she has the enzyme Hathor did or the Nishta Seth had. My alterations came with my first love… medicine. I can heal others, just as the Ancient could. I carry the Ancient gene; the gestalt awakened it and my latent gifts."

Carson frowned. "There are others with the gene, myself included. What makes you so different that you have the Ancient's talents when all we can do is activate Ancient technology?"

"As I said a gestalt. It's too long and too complicated to try to fully explain. What I can tell you, is that my will alone can heal others if I can draw energy from a source and redirect it to my patient their injuries vanish and they are restored, in case of an illness the malady is removed and placed into a benign object and treated as bio-hazardous material." Janet's expression softened as she regarded her disbelieving companion. "I suppose the best way to explain is to show you."

"What you are giving seems great compared to what you're askin' for, so… what's the catch?" ever the skeptic Ronon asked his arms crossed over his broad chest.

"I think the Rights to pass through Atlantis space is more than enough." Sam bottomed lined it. "Access to Ancient archives is another bonus."

"But Earth already has access." Teyla answered.

"Earth yes, Malakim Empire not so much. What they have is not complete."

"And if we don't comply?" Weir asked tentatively keeping in mind the devastation Earth had faced because of the Malakim's displeasure with the planet's government.

"Than I hope we can resume the same friendship we had before. The fact is The Malakim Empire had fleets of ships that are equal to any Hive ship the Wraith can construct and they have matched the Ori on a few occasions. You could use our support in protection when needed to defend against the Wraith, Genii and the Ori. It's only a matter of time before the Prior's find a beachhead in the Pegasus Galaxy. Novalis has already sent out ships from both the Science and Astro-geography-Exploration guilds to create colonies in this galaxy, setting up trade negotiations between the Athosians and Atlantis could seriously benefit both parties. This offering is a courtesy. We're on the same side here."

The weight of Carter's words sank in. Accept the Malakim presence in the Pegasus galaxy and benefit, or be ignored by them and gamble with the Wraith.

"You have given us a great deal to think upon. May we take a moment to discuss it with each other first?" Teyla asked. "I would also like to bring it before the Athosians."

Sam smiled once more disarming those around her of any suspicions as to alternative motives. "Of course take what time you need. If you will excuse me, I'm going to go see if I can't find my wife." Pushing herself up to her feet using the table as support, Sam managed to get to the door before Kha'antar was at her side, ever protective of her swollen belly.

"So what's the deal?" Cassandra asked Sheppard, "Your gate is so different from all those others I've seen?"

"Newer model?" John shrugged his shoulders.

"I would say older model." Boudicca commented. When both officers turned to her she extrapolated. "The Ancients are from the Pegasus Galaxy; therefore it is logical to surmise they explored this quadrant first. Planting their Stargates where they will. When they moved into your Galaxy and that of the Malakim and further still to the Asgard's they made a less expensive model to take with them, something they felt was easier to mass produce."

"That's makes sense I mean if something went wrong with the DHD you could dial our type of Gate by hand and power it with a dozen diesel engines or a naquada reactor or any number of power sources. And they don't require ZPM's either. You know I still like the spinning of our Gates but I like the blue chevrons of your SG-101."

Sheppard smiled at the youth's comments. "SG-101?"

"Yep, and we of course have the SG-102's" Cassie turned, "I can't believe the military didn't name them already. They name everything else. Planets are known by their binary codes; why not name the Gates binary-ish?"

Sheppard once more gave a lazy shrug. "I'll use it in my logs." If he was about to say something more his words became drowned out by a klaxon that was all too familiar to the former SG1 member.

"Warning unauthorized Gate activation!"

John spun around facing the young male Russian at the controls of the Gate, "Close the Force shield."

"Closed sir," the officer responded, "Receiving telemetry. It's Dr. MacKay's IDC, sir."

"Mackay isn't due back for another twenty-four hours. I wonder what the problem is. Open a channel and stand-down from alert." John ignored the young airman, turning to the communications deck, "Mackay what's going on?"

"What's going on? I've been sent on a bogus mission to the Planet of Juvenile Delinquents; they fed me something that might have had citrus in it! I'm deathly allergic to citrus! They dumped alien Pepsi on my laptop, destroying hundreds of hours worth of data. Luckily I'm brilliant enough to have several backups but that isn't the point, little beggars wanting chocolate, little urchins following me around begging for more like Oliver clones! They painted me up like some clown, did I mention the citrus? I could be dying here!"

"Keep your boots on, Mackay; I'm opening the iris now." At the nod of his head Sheppard gave a silent command to the airman to do just that. "For the record if you ate citrus wouldn't you already be dead?"

"Oh that's fine comfort Sheppard." There were sounds of rustling and grumbling, "I said it god-damn before you little heathens I don't have any more chocolate, I ate it to keep my blood sugar up, I'm hyper-glycaemic. Get away from that you little toad it's fragile! For fuck's sake Sheppard open the fracking shield."

Seconds later a very disgruntled Rodney MacKay toppled through the wormhole, his face a mottle of dull hued earthen paints, his clothing and hair muddied and decorated with bits of what could only be kindly considered straw, wilted daises and feathers.

"Is he molting?" Zephon asked her young voice innocent in her inquiry. The youthful Ofanim looked positively appalled at the thought of a molting humanoid.

John sputtered a guffaw. "Naw it's just the Kids' way of trying to make him fit in with local custom." His words meant nothing to the Malakim but they were reassured that they wouldn't catch any viral contagion that made them lose their feathers.

The commotion caused by the unexpected arrival of Rodney Mackay felt like a stone in the pit of Elizabeth's stomach. During the years she had worked with the man she had learned how to manipulate him. Someone once said that as far as Mackay was concerned the entire world—possibly entire galaxies –conspired to frustrate him. As far As Weir was concerned he brought it on himself by possessing the talent to bring out the absolute worst in people.

In her previous visits to Atlantis, Sam had sidestepped MacKay's advances, with her own sharp tongue reminding him frequently that she despised him; he retorted that she was only jealous of his expertise, his greater intellect and faster delivery of what others called techno-babble. Carter shrugged, what was the point of being faster speaking if you couldn't articulate and no one could decipher the speedy-delivery?

"Rodney you're not due back until tomorrow what happened? Where's the rest of your team?"

"MY team?" the voice was filled with indignant acid. "My team is here on Atlantis while I was sent off to play nice with those miscreants with some jarhead Marines and butterfingered medics who wouldn't know an anaphylactic shock if it bit them in the ass. They actually accused me of being a whimpering hypochondriac. How professional is that? A victim is at Death's door and they say it's all psychosomatic! Those kids tried to poison me and the jarheads did nothing; the apple the little reprobates gave me was orange and tasted like a grape and one of the Marines said it was the strangest citrus fruit she ever ate."

Elizabeth had long learned how to keep her smirk carefully veiled, but this time she couldn't help but chuckle at the scientist's rantings.

"As pleasant as ever I see." Sam said coming up behind Weir, the mirth clearly plastered on her angelic face.

Behind the Nephalim, Razeal was the first of the Blue Wing to flank their leader's side. His hand upon the hilt of the sun sword strapped to his hip. He could feel the waves of loathing for this male mortal wafting off of the Nephalim. This was not a male to trust.

For a moment Rodney was struck by how extraordinary she was. His eyes fell upon the swell of her belly and his urge to worship her turned to disdain, she was pregnant, and filled with a joy he would never possess. He resented the fact she was an artist in the field of science. Resented the fact all of her crazy-hair-brained schemes worked. He resented that she was sought after for her science and never had to prove herself. She never had to proclaim her intelligence or her worth. She was Samantha Carter goddess of all things scientific and alien. She might as well have been Athena reincarnated. God he loved her, God he hated her.

The Blue Wing moved closer, Ronon noted each of their hands lay on the hilts of their swords. His own hand moved to the butt of his gun, a nod to Teyla telling her in Team-silent-talk that they should expect trouble. The blue feathers of the one called Razeal plumed to twice their size.

"Always good to see you, General Carter," MacKay's voice dripped with saccharine.

"I could have gone the whole day without the need to see you Mackay." Sam said the disdain she held carefully hidden. How she despised the petty arrogant little sod.

Ronon noted that four of the seven winged warriors had rippled from view not unlike the Wraith when they moved into the Shadows.

"I hear you came to Atlantis needing my superior help."

"Rodney…" Weir warned now too aware of the movements of the winged warriors. What troubled her most was the very low rumbling growl coming from the massive cat on Sam's right. Something else bothered her; there was suddenly fewer of the Malakim present than there had been only a moment ago.

MacKay was oblivious to all of it, he ignored Weir saying in his most snarky of voices: "I suppose I could lower myself into aiding you but only if you promise not to take credit for my genius. Too bad you play the other team Sam because I still find dumb blondes so damn sexy. We could have…"

Something snapped - a pop of thunderous fury.

Anger enveloped Razeal, his mind exploded in rage. Snatching Mackay around the throat, the words spoken became spitted growling screams. "Spawn of the afterbirth of a miscarriage, slimy twisted petty Wraith sycophant! Songless Diabolical toe-licker you will pay for the disparagement of the Nephalim!" Lighting quick, faster than a striking cobra Razeal was in the air, his body unfolding into a dark aerial ballet, the words of the Nephalim - of the Atlantians nothing but wasted garbled sounds of static.

Rage. Venom. Anger.

Battle screams left Razeal's lips.

Red hate seeped into the angelic's heart consuming his mind; he knew nothing else, heard nothing else. His body quivered as dragon's fire loathing uncoiled within him.

Mackay who had been at the barrel of several guns over the years never felt fear so keenly as now. He had pushed once too often, and now could do nothing but feel terror and shame as his bladder released, the stink of his urine striking into the nostrils of the frenzying Malakim warrior. All his pleading, begging to be released, ignored. The grip on his throat tightened until the air was snatched painfully from his lungs. Razeal spun around in mid-air with such speed the human in his hands was but a discarded broken doll striking the hurricane glass of the command center, so hard, so fast the momentum shattered the glass into a rain of razor shards.

Screaming his venomous anger Razeal folded his wings against his body as an eagle diving after a rabbit darted into the control room past the broken hunks of computer console clearly marked with the impact of the human's body and then to the mangled shattered form itself. Mackay was hoisted once more by the throat but felt nothing as his body along with the winged beast drove across to the other side of the room, through the protective glass and was pile driven fifteen feet to the ground below. Something made a sickening wet sound like a dog tearing into a squirrel's neck. Bones jutted out from the mutilated body that lay in a twisted lump, limbs angled all wrong and backwards. The stink of copper-iron was sickeningly heavy in the air.

Rodney MacKay was a corpse.

Part 22

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