DISCLAIMER: See Part 1
By Elizabeth Carter
Chapter Twenty-Six: Convergence
Over their heads flew the Blue Wing. Perfect in form. Perfect in majesty. Dipping in and out of air currents higher and higher until one by one they dove from their lofty heights lunging for the vast ocean below only to pull up in time to skim the surface. Their wings causing sprays of water to jet out.
It was a wonder to behold. A greater wonder to be a part of it. Cassie not Sam rode upon the great Kha'antar who took the lead of the flight of angels. Faster and faster higher and higher they rose.
Below on the balconies the Atlantis spectators drew in gasps when their first heard the sound.
Crack and then four more claps of thunder.
But it wasn't thunder. It was the sonic boom of Malakim reaching their peak flight speed.
"You long to be up there with them don't you?" The question was asked by Colonel John Sheppard.
Sam gave him a knowing smile that only fighter pilots could possibly share. "It's like nothing else, I've ever experienced. In the open air mach three, nothing between you and death but a highly sophisticated flight suit. It's one hell of an adrenaline rush."
Sheppard looked on enviously. What pilot hadn't wished they had wings to fly? To be up there, like that was nothing short of orgasmic perfection. "The ultimate rush."
"Better than sex?"
Sam blushed. "I wouldn't go that far. My wife is exceptionally talented "
Sheppard thought of the firecracker of a tiny doctor and thought if he was married to her or hell even especially Carter, sex wouldn't be beaten either. "What's it like being connected to all of that?"
"Meaning being the Nephalim?"
A nod of the head was her answer.
"Truly, I don't remember not being the Nephalim. It's like it was always there, always a part of me. It has become a fact in my existence. I know it took my family longer to adapt to the changes in all of us in me. I can reach out and touch the voice of the universe, John. I can hear the music of the stars as they go nova, the birth-song of a planet. I can touch the essence of what it is to be," she nodded to the spiraling flight of angelic warriors. "They call it the Great Song. To them I've become its voice. Through me they can touch the World Symphony the essence that gives them their abilities."
John stared at her in wonder.
"The Nox have their own voice in the World Symphony. So do the Salish-spirit folk. And the Ancients certainly have their own."
"That gold glowie healing thing the doc did. Didn't General O'Neill do the same thing with that master Bra 'tack guy?"
Sam nodded. "Yep. At the time O'Neill was fully Ancient, but not Ascended. Because of the gestalt Janet underwent the same thing."
"Could this happen to me or Carson or anyone else who naturally has the gene?"
"Truthfully I don't know. I'm not a geneticist. But Nature has often without a reason we understand yet, spontaneously evolved certain species without heredity being a factor."
Sheppard nodded. "So what like the X-men?"
Sam should have known the man read comics just like Cam. The guy probably plays videogames as well. "Something like that, yes." Sam watched intently as the Malakim moved to another formation. "Sometimes other outside forces become a factor; such as alien influences. The gestalt which happened to Janet and I. First with the Nox and because of that empathic Bond I connected to Queen Novalis and started to evolve into the Nephalim. The Queen's connection to the World Symphony and further still her connection to the Great Song became mine. At the same time the Ancient recessive gene in Janet woke. The mitochondrion leaves re-wrote themselves in Janet's DNA thus she spontaneously evolved almost instantly. Janet is an Ancient. The Malakim call her the Nephalim of the Ancients; Scion of Healing."
"An Ancient without the benefit of their teachings, culture and ways."
"Exactly. Mortal born with all the powers of an Ancient."
"Doesn't she have the knowledge?" Sheppard asked. "You know suddenly super-genius like the General?"
Sam shook her head. "A great deal of it yes. But because of the Malakim influence she was able to stop its progression. The General nearly died twice because of the download. Being a Scion of Healing Janet somehow managed to control what was happening to her. I don't think it was fully intentional but instinctual. It's why she is called Nephalim of the Ancient, just as I am now Malakim without being Malakim."
"All of this talk is making my head hurt," Sheppard laughed dryly. "I can't imagine being in your boots there General, and just be able to accept it all."
"Oh it wasn't an easy path believe me." Guilt took over the expression on the young woman's face. Guilt over the destruction the rift in the gestalt had caused between herself and Janet. They had nearly destroyed two if not three planets because of it. Even with the ability to grow new life, to create structures, the affected planets were still recovering from the damage of the apocalyptic environmental upheaval.
"General, with Dr. Frasier's abilities to heal, hell bring back the dead, can she just make her angels sing and heal this plague the Wraith have unleashed."
"It's more complicated than that but in theory it will be something like that yes. In order for Janet not to deplete her own life-force she has to call on the forces of Nature. It's why her medic-wing sings for her. They sing to bring on storms. Janet taps into the fury of the storm and turns it into herself and she is able to direct that energy to heal or in MacKay's case bring him back from death. Janet's specialty is exotic diseases both in diagnosis and treatment. She was one of the best at the CDC, which was why she was recruited for the SGC in the first place. Alien worlds mean alien diseases. She cured the Ori plague, yes with the help of Orlin but Janet is a genius when it comes to epidemics."
"Carson's no slouch," Sheppard had a sudden need to defend the gentle Scotsman. Hell Carson was able to turn Wraith back to their more original form without the Iratus bug influence. Now that he thought about it. The Wraith in human form looked like shorter Malakim minus the wings.
"I didn't mean to infer otherwise." Sam amended her earlier statement. "You asked if Janet could simply heal this plague. She might be able to but not without understanding the nature of the viral infection. To do that she needs to know what she is fighting. She and Carson will no doubt be able to solve that just as they solved Chimera's Nishta."
The two had turned from the Balcony and were now headed back into the Gateroom proper. "Yeah about that. What's up with this Chimera person? Who or what is she?"
"Long story," Sam answered. "One, I would save until we are all gathered. Right now all I can say she is someone who thinks she is my enemy."
Sheppard cocked an eyebrow at the comment. "She thinks she is your enemy? What you don't know?"
"Never met her," Sam sighed heavily. "What I do know of her is that she is a construct - made in a Goa'uld lab by Anise of the Tok'ra. Oh. And she has my face and the powers if not all the songs of the Malakim."
"So if she is an enemy?"
"We have to try to find someway to defeat her. The Malakim are very powerful but they are swayed by their devotion to the World Symphony."
"What is that really 'the World Symphony'? I heard the others speak of it but I can't wrap my mind around it. It sounds like 'The Force''"
Sam grinned. "That is it pretty much in a nutshell."
"So the Malakim are like the Jedi and Sith. Hell they even have lightsabers only they are all the same color gold."
"Sun-swords," Sam corrected. "Simply put yes. They are like the Jedi and Sith. Chimera, I think right now is a 'Gray Jedi.' I don't think she knows what she is. I'd like to help her if I can. I blame Anise for Chimera's creation, not Chimera herself. It's like blaming a teenager for having hormones during puberty. We have to deal with the issue not condemn it. However I am not so naive as to think Chimera isn't out for blood. Anise created her, and the Tok'ra are not..." She stopped what she as about to say and revaluated her remarks to her own personal experiences. "When pushed into a corner the Tok'ra will even threaten the life of a child to escape, Jolinar did when she possessed me. She made me threaten my own daughter's life and she meant it. Anise is as amoral as they come without being Goa'uld. Or rather she was. Chimera will more than likely have the same set of values or moral understanding as Anise if the construct understands them at all. If I have to confront Chimera I will."
"So you're going with the 'Chimera isn't evil she's just misunderstood' approach?" Sheppard asked pointedly.
"Not at all," Sam answered. "I'm going with the 'where the evidence takes me' approach."
The Wraith was as pale as a corpse, his eyes black and lifeless. Like a dolls eyes. His breath stank of decay. Chimera studied it as she had when she first woke and had watched the Wingless One. This thing was strange. Connected to the World Symphony but where the others, those like her - with wings: were strings, reeds, thunderous drums and lifting voices, this was a sound she had never heard before. It irritated her, pulled her. A cacophony yet a defining beat. Like something straining to be music but which hadn't quite understood the process of making the notes harmonize. Beyond it was a drum as well but quite unlike the great takata or battle drums of the Malakim. Instead the five beat patterns were faster and almost dominating the notes of the screeching strings
"Your music is not cohesive." She said to the pale creature as if she meant to correct an algebraic problem of a student.
The Wraith fired its weapon, blasting Chimera across the chest. She stumbled back crumbling to the floor in a heap. Her purple-golden wings spread out from her body as if in flight. It stepped forward ready to take its prey before his queen.
A wing swatted out with such speed, the Wraith was sent hurtling back against the bulkhead of the Hive ship. "I did not appreciate that!" Chimera snarled. With a sweep of her hand she telekinetically willed the Wraith to his feet, he dangled as if on strings, his body became wrapped in a field of static blue energy. Chimera had tapped into one of the Songs of Battle to keep her adversary in a stasis field.
Curiously she picked up the weapon the Wraith had held and turned it over and over in her hands, before firing it upon its owner, not once but several times before casting it aside in disgust. "Clumsy and unwieldy, is it any wonder your music is discordant?" As carelessly as a two year old with a toy, Chimera dropped the now dead Wraith alongside his discarded weapon to move past the sentinel without further thought.
Chimera had no need to explain herself. She had come for explanations not to give them. Upon discovering the hive ship so close to Atlantis (a planet named for its lost city) Chimera felt compelled to investigate. Something about these creatures felt familiar. Having never encountered them before Chimera was compelled to seek out answers, to demand them. Why was the song of the Wraith known to her?
The Hive was a place of unending darkness, of indefinable sounds and unsounded voices. Screams of the dying echoed still off the semi-organic bulkheads demanding to be heard by some compassionate ear. They received Chimera's tenacious curiosity. It wasn't pride that propelled the construct, nor was it inhumanity that made her turn a deaf ear to the ghost-voices. It wasn't malice that drove her to her ultimate goal, it was unchecked inquisitiveness. She had to know.
Once upon a time Captain Carter had been so fascinated by the effects of time-lapse and the appearance of a black hole she had momentarily forgotten that SG10, good people were dying before their eyes in slow motion. Chimera didn't have a voice to pull her back from probing and seeking answers she simply acted. Impulsive or not Chimera was Sam Carter oblivious to the rights and wrongs, without moral understanding of her actions in her pursuit for answers.
Having learned quickly with her encounter with the Wraith warrior, Chimera wasted little time in conversation when she rounded a corner to come face to face with a small unit of drones. These things - these creatures - were like nothing she had ever encountered. Their dead eyes were like mirror glass, their skin was of the dead. Their piranha mouths, stinking of death and corruption, made her want to vomit. These were no Diabolicals, nothing like the Wingless One. Nothing like the Mortals. These Wraith were closer to beasts than mortals, cunning beasts that hungered. They existed only to hunt.
Chimera felt the fires building within her heart, bitter adrenaline laced her tongue. Slipping into the pen umbra before the drones spotted her, Chimera went on the hunt for the hunters. Not knowing true battle the construct pulled in the memories of the Awakening One, of the Tok'ra of the Great Voice. All of them whispered their battle secrets to her, how to kill without being seen, how to call on the Music of the World Symphony to fuel her will. She listened to the echoes of her ancestry to call upon the sounds of the Battle Song to make your enemy make mistakes, to leave gaps in their defensives as you grow stronger - indomitable.
Her hand reaching out, she saw only the will of the Song of Kinetics. 'Force them back, push them away, crush them as insects.' Only when she was directly in front of the unit of six troopers did Chimera ripple back into the corporeal realm the power of her will sent the drones from her with such cold velocity they smashed into the bulkheads with a sickening crunch of bone and metal. A veil of red descended upon the world. Those that survived the collision with the bulkheads clawed at their throats, but nothing was there their hands could reach.
They wanted to scream, to howl, to beg, but their locked throats strangled with the reality of death inside their heads, and the world-veil of red smoke turned toward black. The floor fell away beneath the six, and then a white flash of impact blasted them into darkness.
Chimera inspected the sprawled warriors with a sense of new understanding of the Songs. The World Symphony clamoured in her head, a resonance not her own became Discord. Shaking the dissonance off, Chimera staggered until her wings hit the same bulkhead she had sent the warriors into.
Such noise! It was deafening, unbearable why? She had taken their lives as she had the other that attacked her. These surely would have attacked her so why why the noise?
Attacked! One attacked the others had not. Was this the reason for the noise ringing in her mind? Why were the beating of the drums, the striking of chords altered so perversely?
Amaterasu felt the Disappearance ripple once more within the World Symphony. Someone close had used a significant amount of power to rip the life out of seven songs. 'A young bird has tipped their wing in the blood of Discord.' She whispered. She had known one of the Malakim had boarded her ship, who ever it was hadn't even tried to mask their presence fully. The power radiating off this particular bird was more than astounding.
Something was different about this bird. Something Amaterasu couldn't pinpoint. It was if she was more than Malakim and yet at the same time not quite Malakim.
'The Nephalim!" she breathed in with sudden clarity. The Nephalim here? On her ship? If that was indeed true then the Scion of Healing could not be far behind. The awakened Ancient was close. Corpse pale lips pulled back over dagger teeth. This had indeed proved to be a good day after all.
'Do not interfere, do not waylay the bird. She will come before me on her own. Stay back,' Amaterasu Sent to the others, to her elite warriors and drones. She didn't add that if they tried, they would mostly likely end up dead as the previous seven. Such waste was distasteful. Nor did the Queen admit she was a little afraid of the prospect of meeting face to face with a legend. The Nephalim here! Fear too was distasteful.
Amaterasu couldn't ignore her fear. Couldn't pretend it wasn't there, puff out the chest and keep going, because one day, right at the worst possible moment you'd falter and fall, and all that fear, that terror would come crushing down upon you leaving you trembling and defenseless. Fear could be turned against you, used to annihilate you. The Wraith knew this ploy well as they used it against countless lives on countless worlds. Now fear had turned on them as a rabid hound.
Amaterasu knew the only thing to do with fear was to embrace it. This was what gave the Satadaian Runners such strength; it was why they were used to train the elite warriors. Amaterasu understood the Runners. You had to know your enemy, you had to understand how fear made you think and feel, and how it twisted your mind and your reason. Once you understood it was impotent, unable to control you, you controlled it. Even now as the Nephalim made her way through endless echoing corridors, coming closer and closer to the Audience Chamber Amaterasu needed all the mastery of fear she could harvest.
It was a distaste to admit Amaterasu wasn't simply afraid of the Nephalim for there has never been any of the sort before, none who could wield 'all the Songs of the Malakim', she was petrified.
Chimera moved quickly through the labyrinthine corridors with nary a song to impede her progress. The stench of death ever constant, like the slow dull thumping of Discordant five-beat music now filling her mind. There was a deep connection between the stink of death and Discord but as yet Chimera hadn't reasoned it out. The equation lurked in the shadows like a cockroach afraid of the light of reason.
Chimera's thoughts were derailed when she found herself in giant open room. Its edges were lost in shadows that looked like cloisters, its cone-shaped ceiling soaring up almost too high for her to see and its honeycombed surface glowing a soft amber. All around, at the periphery of her vision, she could glimpse whispers of movement, shadows within shadows. Shapes slipping in and out of the pen umbra, she was not as alone as she assumed. Always the whispering, she could feel their eyes on her as if to bore holes in her song with their stares. She wanted to demand they make themselves known, to stop the lurking and face her, however she kept her tongue behind her teeth. Best to wait and see. She knew if she attacked first as she had with the six, the noise of dissension would consume her. No she could not be the aggressor here.
A phantom slipped beside Chimera, she spun around coming face to face with a nightmare. Chimera took a step back her wings fanned out from her body ready to deflect or to strike.
The creature before her was dissimilar to the drones and the lone warrior previously encountered. This thing this female this half life was power. Her song was not in Discord yet the stench of decay clung to her as a second skin. Her resonance was pure. 'She is a creature of death and acts as thus. A predator that does not feign being anything but a predator. There was no pretension here as there had been with the Wingless One.' The music though not fluidic was enthralling. Chimera needed to know why.
"What are you?"
"What, not who."
"You know my kind."
"If I knew your kind I would not ask the question. I will have the answer."
Amaterasu smirked. "We are the Wraith."
"Half-lives," Chimera accused. "This is why your music is strange to the ears for it is half written, half heard. Notes skipped and missed because you're not whole."
"WE are more alike than you think, Nephalim."
"No I don't think so," Chimera chided.
"Because you are the Nephalim?"
"Yet you are Malakim born."
"If mortal born made why are you Malakim? The Nephalim was said to be alike in appearance to Mortals, you are not. But you are more than Malakim."
"What is it to be Malakim? Do you know?"
"A Malakim who doesn't know how to be a Malakim!" Amaterasu laughed. How ludicrous to think only moments ago she had been terrified of this encounter and now now this creature - this construct - was nothing more than a lost featherling. "You are the Nephalim, yet you know nothing of the past, of the Songs?'
Chimera tilted her head not taking offence that she was the subject of ridicule. "How many Nephalim have you encountered, how many are supposed to have existed?"
"Then if there is but one and I am that one, why should I know all that there is to being the Nephalim of the Malakim if there has never been such as I before now?"
Amaterasu closed her mouth; her mirth vanished in the peculiar logic presented to her. Just how was the Nephalim supposed to act when there had never been a Nephalim before? Mortal born mortal created with all the power of the Malakim did not necessarily mean genetic memory or understanding of what it is to be Malakim. That was what made the Nephalim so very dangerous. The Nephalim didn't have the precarious connection to the Great Song as the Malakim did. She was freer to act and shape the Great Song to her will and all Malakim would follow her.
"And your mate? What of her? She is called the Nephalim of the Ancients by some, Scion of Healing by others. She is pure Ancient Awakened."
"I have no mate, Queen of half-lives. The tiny one you speak of is the mate of the Great Voice."
"Great Voice?" Amaterasu had never heard of such things in the dogma surrounding the Nephalim. The bird before her was not the person Amaterasu had thought her to be. Oh the face was right, but the wings this was not the Nephalim the Queen had expected. So who had she expected?
"The Great Song needed a Voice and it chose She who is as me though not. She is the Great Voice, I am the Nephalim. We are bound and separate as the Great Song is with the World Symphony."
This astounded Amaterasu. Clearly there was more to the ancient scrolls of the Birds then she has ever known to exist. The Wraith Queen's designs on the Scion of Healing, Ancient-Awakened needed to be re-strategized. Had the Great Song somehow manifested into a corporeal being? Was that even possible? If so, how so?
Unable to reach into Chimera's mind fully, Amaterasu was unable to decipher speculation from fact. What Chimera believed to be true and what was true were not exactly the same thing. Amaterasu could detect no falsehood from Chimera as she had first assumed it was some sort of elaborate trick. How could the Great Song manifest into the Great Voice? Chimera's strange grasp of what she perceived to be true became true to Amaterasu.
The World Symphony shifted, changed its notes to accommodate this new truth: The Great Song shifting to accept it had A Great Voice.
"I would have your name Queen of Half-lives."
"To know the face of a possible enemy."
"Possible enemy? You are a curious bird."
"Give it to me," Chimera demanded through the will of Song of Domination.
Amaterasu never felt so compelled to obey to yield her will to this one before her - to bend knee to her and promise fidelity. "Amaterasu was the name given to me."
"I took my name," Chimera boasted. "You will not know it until you have earned the privilege. You will instruct me to use death without the noise. You will show me how to rid myself of the noise your kind already infected me with. You will undo what your drones did to me. I find it distasteful."
Never had Amaterasu felt so much desire to give in completely not even when she touched minds with her own dame before she became Queen of her own Hive. She would vow herself to this song, to this power, to the Nephalim. Amaterasu gave her will to the bright life before her. The Hive would serve the Nephalim emissary of the Great Voice.
Chimera cupped Amaterasu's cheek as she had done with Razael before. "Serve me Amaterasu and you will be free of your Hunger, I promise you." Once more Chimera bound the Song of Domination upon Amaterasu enforcing her will over the other female. Amaterasu had become enthralled; she had no power, no desire to deflect the dominion of this Song over her.
"I will serve. The Hive is yours my Nephalim"
"Oohhh! Did you feel that?" The image of Usiel shuddered as if in sexual climax. "Something's hinky with the World Symphony. Oh I want to feel it again." He shivered once more as he allowed the elation of the shifting notes of the World Symphony to fill him and by proxy Novalis as well. "I know you felt it, you wanted to feel it and you used me to do it. Oh Novalis you dirty, dirty girl."
"Silence!" Roared the Queen of the Malakim, "I did not ask for your opinion Scourge."
"Of course not, this is why I gave it. Free of charge." the smirk remained. "Admit it Queenie you felt a rush just then."
Novalis head bobbed up and down ashamed that she had indeed felt a ripple in the music of the World Symphony and had enjoyed it. It was if someone reached out and turned the master score of the Great Song upside down, and began to play.
"The Nephalim," The form of Usiel commented.
"I don't know," Novalis admitted. Her eyes fell upon the portrait of her mother hanging in her office aboard her ship. For so long the image had been a form of comfort and at times a conduit to the deceased Malakim. Now however there would be no solace in the painted eyes. "There is so much we don't know about the scriptures that speak of the Nephalim, so much I don't know about her. And yet "she shook her purple mane. "I don't know."
"Oh yes you do. It was an echo of the Nephalim. It's that construct, that Chimera that caused the notes to change. We both know it."
"How is it a Scourge knows what I do not? Aren't you supposed to be the darkest part of me?"
"Well yes. But see I've evolved."
Novalis spun around facing the haunting phantasm she had been plagued with since the uncreation of Anubis. "You will clarify," she demanded.
"More than happy to my Queenie," Usiel took a hold of his tabard as if he were a professor grasping at the lapels of his robes. "It's like this. You found Chimera and awakened her consciousness, allowed her to touch her genetic memory not only of the Malakim but of the Diabolicals as well. When you allowed her to touch your mind and showed her the essence of all the Songs of the Malakim; something I might add you don't have but well you know what each Song does " Usiel coughed. "Sorry sidetracked well you touched her mind, she touched yours. And what she saw she didn't differentiate from what is real and what is Scourge. She believed me to be real but she couldn't quite 'see' me. She willed to see me, to know what this extra bit of you was."
"The Song of Chicanery! She made you real she gave you form!"
He snapped his fingers, titled his head and spun around on the balls of his feet in a little hop-skip tap dance, his arms held up, revolved around one another in a bizarre dance movement. "Cha. Cha" he grinned manically and continued to dance even as he explained. "Imagine the power! The essence of the Scourge given true form, now that's something. Cha. Cha. I'm not fully the true Usiel; he went into the Fading after you plucked out the poor fellow's hearts. What I am is the dream, the mad bit left over of what made Usiel, Usiel. And I am becoming more tangible," he smirked. But at least he had stopped his insane dancing. "Isn't that luvverly?" he batted his eyes lashes.
"I could think of a dozen different adjectives - that is not one of them."
"Oh you wound me Novalis," Usiel clutched his heart feigning a death blow and crumpled to the floor of the office his black wings spread out as if in flight, in an almost mirror image of when Chimera had been attacked aboard the Wraith ship.
"Your little band-aid on the rift you caused by un-creating Anubis is growing up, Novalis. Chimera isn't a featherling anymore. And she's growing to understand her powers: the Songs. Her place and her ideas are becoming more and more tangible. She is creating her own reality. We both know this. The Great Song is growing to accept it. The World Symphony shifts to accommodate the new Voice."
Novalis was horrified. "Only the Nephalim can do that!"
"Yeah, interesting isn't it?" Usiel still on the floor brought his black wing around to his face in the act of preening his newly formed feathers. "Hey! I have wings again." He stroked the long flight feathers. "These are my wings. I have pretty wings. Look at my pretty wings."
Novalis ignored him. "I must see her."
"Which her are we going to see?" Usiel bounded onto his feet, flexed his newly formed black wings in merriment. It was so good to have perfectly formed wings once more.
"The one I care about."
"Oh that one," He lifted his eyebrows up and down in a conspiratorially look of adolescent glee. He flashed a full toothed manic grin. "So um which her is that?"
"Something stirs." Chimera announced to no one in particular though Amaterasu chose to respond.
"I feel it too. This Great Voice is near her time."
"I wish to know this new sound, this new voice."
Amaterasu could only stare at the winged figure. Perhaps with great power comes madness. "That is impossible, we can not get near the Atlantian planet without them knowing. They will destroy this ship. The Dauntless is no match for the hive ship but there are Malakim ships out there now. They will blow us out of the stars."
"Not if they don't see us."
"Even cloaked we can not "
"I didn't say cloaked, I said unseen." Chimera chastised the Wraith Queen. "I intend to take this ship into the Veil between worlds."
Now the wraith knew madness came with power. Perhaps that was the very aspect of the Nephalim, madness and power.
"You can not take this vessel into the pen umbra."
"It is impossible."
"It hasn't been done before."
"Not ever having been done before is not the same as impossible." Chimera's voice became aloof. "The physics of navigating the pen umbra is the same as navigating hyperspace. I will it to be, it will be."
Amaterasu was beside herself "But this ship isn't designed for that sort of travel! It hasn't the capability to slip between the Veil!"
"But I do, and I can. So I will do."
"You mistress will take this ship and all of us into the Pen umbra."
Both knew it would take a massive amount of concentration and power to do such a thing if it were at all possible."
"And if I don't let you?"
Chimera's wings rose and fell in a Malakim shrug. "I will do so regardless. I have watched, listened to the minds of the helm, pilots and tactical officers. I know how this ship flies, what propels it; I know how to use your computers. The Hive ship also has biological components which I can control as I see fit. AS I said I have listened. I have learned. I will take this ship and crew or I will take this ship alone into the pen umbra."
Amaterasu lowered her gaze to the floor; she was unable to and unwilling to test the will of the Nephalim. "It will be as you desire, my Mistress."
"We've got incoming." Kavanagh announced from his position behind the computers in the Control room hub. "Two ships."
Elizabeth was on high alert. She knew and trusted her teams to do what was essential to cloak the city and if necessary submerge it. The Dauntless was orbiting above them, no doubt readying for a firefight if they were unfriendlys.
"They are of Malakim Register." Kavanagh let out a sigh of pent up anxiety. It had been a while since the Wraith or even the Ori had tried to invade Atlantis but there always a chance.
*This is the Lapis Wing Commander Ka'esaw: ISS Sachiel of the Malakim Empire requesting permission to land.*
"Atlantis Acknowledges. Permission Granted Commander Ka'esaw." Weir said meeting the gaze of Carter.
The Sachiel had been expected, it was the ship that carried the captive Tok'ra, amongst them Jacob Carter. The other ship now entering into a low orbit was a bit of a surprise.
"Commander, this is the Nephalim. I want to see my father; he is to be released into my custody. Hold onto the other Tok'ra in a comfortable manner befitting ambassadors until further notice."
*I heed and obey, Nephalim.*
"Sam, the other ship who is it?" Weir asked.
Sam closed her eyes as a mind touched hers, so familiar to her as if it were her own. "That is the Queen ." She grunted as a shock of cramping pain hit her. All morning she had been feeling it but she tried to ignore the pangs as another front of Braxton-Hicks contractions.
The Nephalim was near her time. Days if not hours from giving birth to her daughter; that miraculous fusion of herself and her lover, the Scion of Healing, Janet Fraiser. Had the family been on Grigori, Sam would have been moved from her home to the Birthing House, made comfortable, her family and her wing in constant attendance. As things were the Nephalim was traveling therefore new arrangements had to be adapted. The ISS Samantha Carter had been modified to accommodate such a place. One of the hydroponics bays had been turned into a Birthing House by the Acolytes of Great Song. Here the newborn would emerge with the same protection, serenity and ritual that would have been hers in the sacred place of the Birthing House.
As it happened Sam was in the command hub of Atlantis watching the ISS Sachiel coming to port when the first true contraction began. Janet was at her side instantly followed closely by Elizabeth.
"Oh I don't think it's Braxton-Hicks this time, Love." Sam grunted. Her body swayed as she tried to find support from the computer terminal lest she keel over. Janet half supported her body. "She's coming, Janet."
"Everything's ready, Baby don't worry about a thing." Fraiser started to rub small circles along Sam's back to soothe her. Already the Blue Wing was mobile and ready for their Nephalim. The word need only be given.
Weir touched her ear-piece, "Weir to Beckett, get the infirmary ready for ."
"Belay that." Sam shook her head. "No, it must be aboard my ship there is place it has to be there!" she grunted through gritted teeth.
Kha'antar always close at hand took the place of the computer terminal for support purposes. He lay down so Sam might mount his side saddle.
"Sam, Carson can open the infirmary to accommodate the medical wing." Brown eyes were glued to the image of the winged beast before her in speculation. Riding sidesaddle while pregnant on a monster cat wasn't her idea of a sound plan.
"It isn't that. I just need to be in the Birthing House. Please, it's a Malakim thing. I feel safer there, it has to be there!"
Weir knew it was futile to argue with a woman in labor much more futile then trying to convince Carter to do something she didn't want to do with out being a superior officer in the mix. There was no point trying to sway the Nephalim.
"Ship," she commanded the great cat. Before he stood Janet scooted behind her wife and held her in place. Gingerly the massive pumaica stood, and with liquid grace navigated the stairs, to the balcony so he might take the air. Behind him rose the Blue Wing with Cassandra on Elladan.
"Have Grandpa meet us on our ship one they disembark. Tell him he's about to be a grandpa again." The eldest daughter of the Fraiser-Carter household called out. "Oh and Queen Novalis too, she should be there for this."
Kha'antar had scarcely touched down four paws to the landing deck when he felt something hot, sticky and very very wet slide along his back.
"Holy Hannah!" Sam yelped half mortified her waters had broke on the back of her friend and half embarrassed that at first she thought it had been her bladder to release. It didn't help that her wife giggled.
"I know it felt like pee." She kissed her wife, not minding the fact her legs and lap had been soaked, it was a part of life. "It's okay love. Your waters just broke."
Sam moved past mortification into a spasm of pain.
"Definably not Braxton-Hicks," Cassie commented coming to her mothers' side. "Ughh.' She wrinkled her nose at the drenched pumaica and parents. "That's kinda gross."
"CASSANDRA!" Janet scolded in a noise that made all children cringe. "Not helping."
"Sorry Buddy." Sam affectingly touched her mount's mane. "You're covered in slime."
Kha'antar merely mewled. His Mistress was going into birthing. Being coated in the birthing waters, in her scent in the essence that touched the new cub he felt more akin to his mistress then he had ever before. She had baptized him as her own cub. He never felt such honour before.
"Sorry Mum," Cassie's head ducked in shame. She hadn't meant to 'diss' her mother, "it just popped out."
Sam smiled sheepishly, "You're right it is kinda gross." Another contraction contorted her face.
"Come on, we must hurry."
A flurry of movement of feathers overtook the corridors rushing the Nephalim to the Birthing House. Fortunately Boudicca had contacted all concerned that the Nephalim was in labor. By the time the party arrived all preparations had been taken care of, including the appearance of a very excitable six year old.
Rebecca could not wait to meet her baby sister, watching Sam all the time with such an intensity and asking so many questions about the whole process that Sam, much as she loved her daughter, could stand it no longer and persuaded Cassie and Boudicca to take Rebecca out to play in their quarters for a couple of hours.
Janet rubbed Sam's back for her, gently kneading the tense muscles at the base of the woman's spine. Sam had complained of backache for the last day or so, the strain of carrying her gravid belly telling on her as her body readied itself to give birth.
As she helped her wife get into a more comfortable position, Janet's hand brushed against her belly and she felt the pulse just as Sam gasped: she was going into active labour.
The staff of the Birthing House swung immediately into action. Sam was helped into the Birthing room where there was a warm pool of water, a bed and a couch as well as soft cushions: ready for whatever Sam needed to be comfortable. The high vaulted ceiling was bathed in golden light. At one end of the room behind a sheer curtain to give Sam at least a modicum of privacy a Malakim stood ready to begin the Song of Becoming, the Song that would welcome the Nephalim's child into her place in the World Symphony.
Both Sam and Janet had often likened the Malakim to angels but this particular Malakim seemed to have stepped straight out of a Russian icon. She was tall, even by the standards of that lofty race and fair, her skin pale, her eyes golden. Her wings were a rich buttercup yellow flecked with silver and gold so that when unfurled they looked like patches of frozen sunshine. Her name was Ashloden and she looked to be about twenty five years old though in human terms she was many centuries old. She was at the pinnacle of her craft. Novalis, when she described the ceremony to Sam and Janet happened to mention that Ashloden had sung the Song of Becoming for Arien when she was born.
Ashloden began to sing, a wordless soaring song full of joy and expectation, her range deeper and wider than could ever be achieved by a human voice. It was glorious, listening to her, Sam felt transported and at the same time reassured. Her child would be safely born and all would be well. No other outcome was possible.
Novalis arrived to witness the birth. Sam was sitting in the pool, Janet crouched at the edge, gently rubbing her back as the woman rode out another contraction. Sam would not allow Janet to take away or even share her pain. She wanted to do this as Samantha Carter, not as the Nephalim.
Cassie had taken Rebecca to another part of the ship. She had been with them up until Sam's first cry of pain when the young child had started to sob and they realized that the empathic bond she shared with her mothers might just be a little too much for the youngster to cope with at this time.
In the corridor outside the Birthing chamber, the Blue Wing waited patiently.
Usiel reached out to touch Sam's belly. Novalis stifled a cry of alarm as he drew back at the last moment, shaking his fingers as if they had been burnt.
"Quite the little powerhouse, this one," he snarled. "You absolutely sure you want this thing unleashing on your Empire?"
"Samantha's child will be a blessing on us all," Novalis said.
"She'll bring your whole world crashing down around your ears," Usiel said almost gleefully. "I can't wait to see it. All your hopes in smoking ruins. Quite fitting really, thinking that bringing this little mongrel into the world would solve all your problems. What a crock of sh "
"The World Symphony rejoices," Novalis said hastily. "Can't you feel it? All to welcome this little one into the world."
"The blonde's got a set of pipes on her I grant you, but what a travesty to welcome the get of an abomination like Samantha Carter. Human, Goa'uld, Tok'ra, Nox, you Novalis, Asgard they've all played with her DNA. So she's the next step in human evolution? Poor fucking humans I say. What does that mean for the Malakim? Diluting the bloodlines " He shook his head. "And as for the other one, the Scion of bloody Healing. There was a good reason the Ancients died out you know. Having this bastard spawn huge can of worms you've opened up here. Huge!"
Like some evil fairy godmother Usiel continued to mouth accusations and dire prophesies on the fate of the Nephalim's child and the Malakim Empire. Novalis tried to tune him out but it was almost impossible. His mental and psychic presence was becoming acutely painful for her and it was getting harder and harder to hide what was happening, particularly from Samantha and Janet.
Novalis could not help but think of that other 'child', the abomination that Anise had created, that she had healed and loosened upon the universe. Anise had created that which Novalis had once considered to make the bond between her and the Tauri more complete: a fusion of the Malakim and human genomes. However the child had been created as a tool for the Tok'ra, a blank template that the symbiote could inhabit, the perfect host. But when Novalis had intervened, something had awakened, a vital intelligence, already containing, like the almost mythical Harcesis, all the memories of the Goa'uld as well as the ability to access the World Symphony and all the indomitable will and driving curiosity that characterized the humans. Whether the child was for good or for ill Novalis had yet to determine.
And now her half-sister was almost ready to be born. Ashloden's song swelled to a glorious crescendo as Sam Carter's scream was joined by the thin cry of a newborn child.
Grace Ophelia Fraiser-Carter was born on sixth day of Voronewe' the sixth month in the Malakim calendar, the month serendipitously enough called 'the Birthing.'
Ashloden's song changed where the first was welcoming, this was reassurance and gathering. It served as a cue for Janet and the others to prepare for the Unity. A ritual centered on the placenta which Janet had harvested and placed into a ceramic bowl that had never been used before, and would be used only this once. Such life giving essence as the placenta could not be simply disposed of as it would have been in a more Human-Western society. The Malakim had children only rarely, each process of pregnancy from conception to birth was steeped in ritual and rejoicing. This included the afterbirth.
Rebecca, her face still red, her little eyes puffy returned to the Birthing House in the arms of her older sister. The little girl wanted to know her Mama was okay, that she wasn't dead or that the baby hadn't killed her. Seeing Sam's sweaty tired face did less to reassure her and more to convince her that Mama was far from alright. But Mama was grinning widely the bond between them told Rebecca Mama was exhausted but extremely happy.
"I know she looks like hell Little Bit, but Mommy did too when you were born. It's okay that what she is supposed to look like." Cassie explained.
"Becca!" Sam called out gleefully. "Come here, its okay sweetie. Mama is okay and so is your new baby sister."
Rebecca was still clutching at Cassandra when the two moved to the new bed Sam rested in rather then the Birth-pool.
Rebecca was far from impressed. The baby had a squashed-scrunched face, still a bit bloody. "I don't think she's done yet, Mama better put her back in."
Her parents and Cassandra burst into an explosion of giggles which made Rebecca mad; her face stared to redden as tears slipped from her eyes. She didn't like being mocked.
"Oh sweetie, come here, beside me." Sam's voice was blanket warm.
"No." Rebecca hid her face in the neck of her older sister.
"We didn't mean to hurt your feelings, Babe." This came from Janet. "And we know that Grace looks all squished but she won't in a day or so. You looked just like this after you were born and look how cute you are now."
Rebecca still holding a grudge could not deny the love she felt pouring into her from her mothers. It surrounded her, embraced her. "Okay." Her voice was hardily more than a whisper, just on the edge of hearing.
Now that Rebecca was nestled next to her mama, Janet returned to her duties as the sire-mother. Not only was she to harvest the life-giving placenta but she was to gather those of the family and friends she wanted in the Unity bond. She wasn't close to her medical wing as the Blue Wing was to her family. Partially because she viewed them as staff, the Blue Wing however had become an important part of the Frasier-Carter lives. They were chosen to partake of the ritual. Of course Jacob as the grandfather and (father of the Nephalim) and Novalis head of the House of Thrones as well. Both Sam and Janet wished that Jack O'Neill and the rest of SG-1 could have been there for this. But Jennifer Hailey was and she too like the Blue Wing as with SG-1 became a part of their lives.
Jennifer felt giddy when she heard her name being called out over the loudspeakers to report to the Birthing House when the General had gone into labor; she had been present during the whole process and was now more amazed at her idol then in previous years. Now she was called to became apart of the Unity, in essence, the extended family.
Kha'antar and Elladan. Protectors of the family pushed past the wings of the warriors gathered each lying down on either side of the bed as if they were impersonating the massive lion statues at Trafalgar Square: they would not miss out on this. Their pride was swelling in ranks and they were there to insure their new pride mates behaved themselves. Kha'antar was still damp from the water breaking over his back. He had tried to groom himself and even with his brother's help it was a dauntless task. Right now there were others concerns to catch their attention than matted fur, mane and sticky feathers.
Cassandra stood near her mother leaving a space for Janet when she returned assigning the order in which those to be included in the Unity were to stand. After Cassandra, came the Blue Wing, then Jennifer, who stood near Her Royal Majesty Queen Novalis, next came Jacob to close the circle as he stood on Sam's left.
Once Janet was back in place at Sam's right she took the ceramic bowl so that Sam might be able to dip her finger into afterbirth and draw a line down her forehead to the bridge of her nose. She then placed her hand upon Janet's wrist as she could not pass the bowl and hold the newborn at the same time. Janet likewise painted her forehand and nose.
"Little Bit I need you to stand near Mommy and Cassie for a little while then you can come back and snuggle with me okay. You must do the same Rebecca and help Mommy hold the bowl with one hand. That's right just touch the side of the bowl, and I will hold on to that same hand okay? And I need you to keep holding onto Mommy's hand and after she gives the bowl to Sassy I need you to hold your sister's hand too."
"Why?" Rebecca scrunched up her nose the stuff in the bowl smelled funny and looked bloody and gross.
"It's so that everyone becomes connected by the birth, okay? Just do as Mamma tells you okay?"
"Okay." A little finger went in and she painted herself just like she seen her Mommy and Mama do."
"Does Grace have to?"
"She already has, that's why she isn't cleaned off yet." Sam explained gently.
"Oh. How about Sassy?"
"Sassy too, Little Bit," answered the very person being spoken about.
This was the ritual of Unity. The members to be linked to the Unity don't clasp hands until after they were painted. The bowl was passed from one pair of linked hands to the next person in line with free hands. Once they had the bowl, the person before then held onto their left wrist as the right hand of the new person marked their face. Then they would hold onto the bowl and pass it to the next person in line, as before together they would hold the bowl right and left hand supporting it as the free right hand painted so on and so on down the line. As they did this they would announce their connection: Mother to Sire-mother to daughter to daughter to daughter to sister, to brother to sister to sister to sister to brother to sister to dame to sire back to mother.
Ashloden's voice soared above them in waves unheard before. Her wordless song embracing each heart, each songsoul of the gathered, they felt pulled together, unified. As static electricity travels trough linked hand the song of Ashloden rippled through them. Each felt bathed, in light basked in the glow of warmth of the unification. Their faces glowed with an inner light, the mark upon their faces faded.
Even the great cats Kha'antar and Elladan felt this. Their bodies had touched the mistresses of the pride, the pre-birth that matted fur, mane and feather vanished to because they had touched because they had been marked by the womb-essences of life they too had become bonded in the new union.
This was the Unity. This was the welcoming of the new life into the World Symphony. Grace mewled her voice now apart of the Great Song and it welcomed her.
Hands dropped but no one moved from the circle. They would continue their vigil as Janet reclaimed the ceramic bowl to properly dispose of the contents. As it gave life in the womb the placenta would be treated as one of the departed, in this sense cremated.
It fell upon the parents of the birth-mother to summon the fires for this purpose. Obviously being human and now Tok'ra Jacob couldn't summon fire from the World Symphony. Novalis however possessed Pyrokinetics it was she who called the flame into the brazier. Jacob was a little unsettled by whole ritual but for the love of his daughter he would endeavour to proceed, besides Selmac would not allow him to back away, He watched as Janet placed the ceramic container into the low flame fire... once it placed she took a step back thus allowing Novalis to increase the intensity of the flame. Everything was to be cremated.
Once it everything had been rendered to ash, it was Jacob's task to gather the remains in a blue glass jar to be buried. Considering they were on the ISS Samantha Carter this could not be done, so the jar was held in stasis until it could be placed in the Birthing House on Grigori.
Only after the ash had been collected did all save for Novalis and Jacob leave the exhausted family. Sam was dropping off to sleep, Grace was already there, she made no fuss as Janet cleaned her off. Of course as a new parent, Janet made sure the babe had all her toes and fingers, her heartbeat was sound and her breathing as it should be.
"She all there?" Sam asked sleepily.
"All there, Mama," Janet answered with a grin placing Grace in the crook of her wife's arm. "She's perfect."
Sam leaned over and kissed Rebecca on her little nose. "I said the same thing to Mommy when you were born, Pumpkin. "We're pretty lucky to have three healthy daughters." Sam winked to her oldest girl make sure that Cassandra like Rebecca knew they were loved just was deeply as the new arrival.
Usiel stepped out of the penumbra into the long corridor. Light from the windows on either side created pools of light like spotlights in the darkness. It was too much to resist.
He'd had to get out of that birthing chamber. There was too much raw power there, too much 'goodness' and 'togetherness'. He shook out his feathers, grimacing. Let them have their moment their little ceremony. It meant nothing in the long run. Chaos would still take them, one at a time in acts of quiet desperation or collectively in one glorious conflagration. He hadn't decided yet. He had all the time in the world.
One thing he did like about these humans was their music. Of course, beside the glories of the World Symphony it was nothing, but still
The one called Cassandra Fraiser had been instrumental in his musical education. Human songs dealt with such a range of emotions and beliefs, love, hate, despair, delight, obsession, death but they dealt with them in such basic terms.
This wasn't music to uplift, to send the soul soaring, this was music to get down to, down and dirty. And he liked it. There was a Tau'ri saying: the devil had all the best tunes.
His feet slid soundlessly across the stone flags into the first patch of light. He struck a pose. In his head, the music began.
It's not easy having yourself a good time
Oh but it was. Novalis was so worried now about his agenda, his plans. But he didn't have any other than to cause mischief and mayhem.
I can't decide
Whether you should live or die
Oh, you'll probably go to heaven
Please don't hang your head and cry
Such a delicious predicament. He pranced, stalking up the corridor, twirling and jumping from one patch of light to another. Strike a pose. He wished he had a mirror. He'd been a handsome devil in his time and thanks to his benefactor, that time had come again. She hadn't asked anything of him and he didn't expect her to. She was like him no agenda, a creature of the moment. She saw, she wanted, she took or in his case, recreated. A kindred spirit. A looker as well. Novalis certainly thought so.
It's a bitch convincing people to like you
If I stop now call me a quitter
If lives were cats you'd be a litter
The Song of Chicanery after this, probably his favourite piece of music. Bless the Thing. She didn't know anything about him, his history, his reputation, didn't seem to want to. She hadn't even asked his name. He was a puzzle to be solved, nothing more. To her, the past was another country, the future it would catch up with her eventually and she would deal with it then. Because it had never occurred to her that there was any other way to be. It was a good philosophy, he decided. Be in the now, enjoy himself. His reputation would take care of everything else.
I'm not a gangster tonight
Don't want to be a bad guy
I'm just a loner baby
And now you're gotten in my way
He wouldn't have to lift a finger. Between his 'good fairy' and the brat that had just birthed, the whole of creation was set and sweet to crash and burn.
Lock the doors and close the blinds
We're going for a ride
Usiel bowed and twisted, his wings flaring out at either side. "See my wings see my pretty wings Yeah!" He leapt into the air, fists clenched in victory, wings stretched to their fullest extent and hung there for a long moment, exulting. This was the life! This surely was the life.
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