Nephalim's Gate
By Elizabeth Carter

Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Devil You Know


Presence was everything.

The US military wasn't what one would call very open minded about interfamily issues. Women in the military when permitted were given soft jobs. If they managed to become a pilot they flew troop planes for deployment. In recent decades that had changed. The SGC had a slightly different distinction for its female compatriots. Sam had enjoyed the luxury rarely shown her sex in the military by active combat, defense and piloting war-craft. She wasn't given a soft job, the only desk she jockied was in her lab when not off-world. And face it; a rocket scientist had a far different view on what it was to be stuck behind the scenes.

For more than three hundred years the US military had banned sometimes outright violently the presence of homosexuals within their ranks, Samantha Carter being both a woman and lesbian her life in the US military was one of constant trial. Even if she had retired a full-bird colonel and been given a congressional promotion as well as the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The Malakim Military not only encouraged homosexual relations, it was a matriarchal society. It was the males not the females stuck with softer careers and jobs until they proved themselves in the line of fire. Where as a woman with a newborn even one of high rank she might have been ridiculed by her male counterparts in human armed forces, in the Malakim military such a thing was a mark of honor and greatness. This was because Malakim children were so incredibly rare. Any woman of the military with a child, and nurtured them in front of the troops was a mark of pride for that unit. Only a female of great strength could carry a child to term, give birth and mother it.

The Nephalim had a child.

So it came to be Nephalim Samantha Carter welcomed both Zegravius commander of the Obsidian Wing and Ka'esaw of the Lapis into her quarters during one of Grace's many feeding times. Sam had a soft blanket to cover the child and her bare breast for discretion but made no apologies for the necessity to be a mother.

Each commander pressed their wings tight against their bodies in submission to their Nephalim before tipping a head in acknowledgement to the suckling babe.

~I need to know what happened on the Tok'ra planet,~ Sam said, shifting the slight weight of her daughter. Sitting behind her great desk the forever young woman gave a small thought to General Hammond and his private briefings he held in his office when facing a potential political pothole those under his command had inadvertently created in the line of duty. Like Hammond before her, Sam enjoyed the luxury of trusting her troops. The Grigori were an honorable Choir, even if newly created. They were created for the Nephalim. Angelics had left their own birth Choirs and created a new one to follow the Nephalim. Zegravius was if anything very devote to her CO. Orders were carried out not only to the letter but to the spirit of the word in which they were issued. It would be the same with Ka'esaw.

Though of equal rank the chain of command fell to Commander Zegravius as the mission was under her Wing, it was she who spoke now. ~We followed trace presences of Discord to PX-04-333, a desert planet known to be a haven for Diabolicals in the past. There was indeed a base of hidden Fallen of the Diabolicals. Amongst their number was the familiar Songs of Remnant Arian as well as your father, the later was decreed no injury was to find him. He was to be unmarked when brought to you; no quarter was to be given the traitor. ~ Try as she might to conceal her emotions outwardly Zegravius's wings shifted from her body at the mention of Arian.

~The Diabolicals rose from the sands in hidden lifts and foxholes. We presented our reasons for infiltrating their planet. They resisted. One of their leaders was beheaded by Ka'esaw. We gave a demonstration of the Song of Ecomancy causing the sand to rise and swallow two more of their number. Still they would not answer the demand to surrender the enemy of the Nephalim and the Empire or state she was not there at the time. The Diabolicals began to open fire on my troops and those of the Lapis Wing. We sang to the sands of the desert. Seven more Diabolicals fell to it. Still they resisted and continued their volley of weapons fire. Five more of their ilk were taken when I sang to the boulders to rise above the sands, form spikes and impale those who possessed staff weapons. It was at that moment they asked for parlay and it was granted. Upon this time the leaders finally informed us, Anise was of their unit yet she was not present but took flight with her creature. They had searched for this Anise themselves though it was an act of futility. Your father mentioned he was going to contact you concerning this same subject of Anise. They had information that led them to believe she sought refuge in a former Diabolical laboratory once controlled by the fiend Nirrti. They gave me a list of bases one of which was in the outer rim of Imperial space. Your father was under the impression you would have allowed a contingent of Diabolicals to enter our space to hunt for their criminal.

~The remaining Diabolicals were rounded up under the truce of parlay and sequestered quarters on ship and I ordered the Sachiel to this region of space. Your father's INTEL and assumptions were indeed correct on this matter. It was here that we indeed find Anise: Fallen of the Diabolicals. Here we did call to her and gave sentence of Malakim Justice as decreed. She was quelled. The corpse was shown to her former people as an example of what befalls those who would tempt the Empire. The creature in the body is dead, though preserved in an alabaster canopic jar.

~With her demise I thought we had lifted the shadow on the World Symphony. I had thought the lingering sourness of the Diabolical's workings in forbidden sciences to be a figment of my imagination. Phantoms and nothing more. I apologize, Nephalim for not recognizing it for what it was the chimerical creature the Diabolical created lurking in the penumbra. I would surmise she had watched the entirety of the operation.~

Sam soaked in all she had heard. Each word sinking in her mind but did weigh her down. She had no regrets over the fall of Anise. The death of the Tok'ra on the planet was regrettable but avoidable had the Tok'ra spoke before they reacted with violence. When given an order by Queen or Nephalim the Malakim were not known for patience, the Grigori less so. They would rather lay down their immortal lives than shame or disobey a direct order given by their beloved Nephalim. The amalgamated Grigori choir were direct, swift and nothing would stop them from duty, even if Faded they would carry out the order to the last. One would think a species as old as the Tok'ra would know the Malakim ways if not personally at least by reputation.

~Thank you Commander Zegravius. I know I can reply on your briefing to be true and accurate. It will aid me when I have to confront the Tok'ra Leader Garshaw. Duty now comes to the Prime Minister of the Empire to quell the anger.~

Commander Ka'esaw spoke for the first time since her arrival in the Nephalim's reception room of her quarters. ~Nephalim, while I concur on what my counterpart has reported, I feel I must amend a point.~

Sam nodded her head, ~Go on.~

~During the encounter with the Diabolicals, I noticed perhaps it was in tandem with the impalement measures but they did not surrender until they witnessed the downed troops of our Wings rise from mortal wounds. Many suffered point black staff blasts either to the chest or to the wing joints in the back. Others received two shots of Zat'ni'katel energy disbursement including myself. Once they saw we were not so easily overcome they called for parlay. It was the Remnant Arian not their commander or even your father who called out. Knowing first hand the mightiness of Malakim Wing warriors, I have to wonder why did Arian not call for parlay from the beginning? Unless of course she wanted her new companions culled.~

This surprised Sam. The Obsidian Wing commander must not have been in a position to see Arian or the others to have neglected to report this fact. Of course ecomancy takes a great deal of concentration so she might not have seen it. No the commander hadn't skipped the detail about the other motive for calling parlay. It struck Sam odd as well that having been in a Wing herself why didn't Arian call for parlay as soon as the Wings landed? Or at least warn Garshaw of the odds of taking on two elite bands of warriors. It would be like taking on Special Forces armed only with a plastic butter knife with a broken arm and three crushed fingers on your weapon hand, damn near impossible.

~Duly noted thank you, Ka'esaw. I may need to bring that issue forward if things go south with the…Diabolicals.~ Sam was loath to call her father diabolical but there was no word in the Malakim tongue for Tok'ra.

Zegravius and Ka'esaw both watched their Nephalim take her babe from her breast and pat the child's back so she would not be plagued with indigestion. Indigestion was what would plague the seasoned commanders as they saw no reason to be politic with the Diabolicals. But this was why they were warriors and not a leader of an Empire. As Prime Minister, the Nephalim was both a great warlord and a leader, now with a newborn, one worthy of the greatest respect and admiration.

~Nephalim, the Obsidian Wing offers to extend our services to meet your needs.~

~As does the Lapis Wing,~ Commander Ka'esaw said.

Sam nodded, ~I want both Wings on standby. I might need your services for more pressing matters. Their have been reports of the Wraith massing in the sector that will no doubt end in a violent encounter. Take the ISS Sachiel and have it orbit the Atlantis opposite of the ISS Samantha Carter. The USS Dauntless is also in orbit, I want to triangulate this planet. It might not be an armada but it will give a presence for the Wraith to think about before they engage.~

Both commanders pressed a closed fist over their hearts, wings once more pressed firmly against the bodies. ~We heed and we obey, Nephalim.~

Sam held her baby close to her chest as she moved away from the monster of a desk. Meeting the Tok'ra wasn't something she wanted Grace anywhere near or privy too even if one of them was her grandfather. Tapping the decorative oak leaf pip on her collar Sam activated the small communication device it contained. ~Carter to Bethuel~

*~I am here, Nephalim. ~* came a young female voice.

~I need to prep for my next conference with the Diabolicals. I need you to take Grace to our quarters.~

Bethuel was like Jailil was a family nanny. The Malakim people held the belief that each child should have their own nanny. As a child had to share their parents, siblings and other family members' attention and love with a newborn, the slightly older offspring needed someone, something of their own to remain their own. That was the nanny, whose sole attention was for a single child alone. Rebecca didn't have to share her friend Jailil, just as Grace didn't have to have her care split with an energetic older sister.

Bethuel was actually the young man's twin sister, so she in the opinion of the mothers had the highest recommendations. Bethuel knew how to care for infants just as her brother knew how to cope with precocious seven year olds with an insatiable curiosity and intelligence. Cassandra whose new hobby it was to research the Malakim names in Tauri mythologies found that Bethuel was a name of a Hebrew angel inscribed into amulets to ward off evil. The very idea of warding off evil was welcomed by Grace's mothers, especially concerning recent discoveries of a dark angelic doppelganger of Sam lurking about. What was even more settling to nervous protective mothers was that Grace seemed to be comfortable in the girl's care.

A moment later a young woman appeared through Sam's private office entrances that lead from the residence to the office. She was golden haired and winged like her brother, and like him her appearance belied her age. Bethuel was several hundred years old but looked to be around twenty-four.

Bethuel's wings were already firmly pressed against her body when she entered the Nephalim's office, if she tried to pin them further Sam thought she might injure herself. But clearly the girl was still in the stages of star-stuck awe to be in the service of the Nephalim and trusted with a newborn. It was of one of the highest honors to be called into the personal servitude to the Nephalim. How much more so to be called to care for her newborn infant and trusted to it?

~Relax, Bethuel. Be at ease before you strain something,~ Sam flashed a full toothed mega watt smile that made the younger woman blush.

~I will try, Nephalim. It is my honor to care for Grace.~

Sam smiled at the mention of her daughter's name. She touched her nose to the infant's little button nose and kissed her softly upon the brow and cheeks. ~Love you my little darling.~ "Mamma loves you very very much." With tender ease she handed her baby over to the angelic nanny. ~She just fed so she should be fine for a few hours. But contact me or Janet if there is anything she needs.~

~I heed and obey, Nephalim,~ Bethuel bowed her head slightly. ~Jailil had just given Rebecca her mid-day meal in the Atlantian messhall. He is with her on a tour of the balconies before her play-date with the Athosian children on the mainland.~

~Janet told me,~ Sam nodded approving that information was shared even if she already knew and had given her middle child permission to visit other children. ~Thank you for taking care of my littlest.~

~As I said Nephalim, it is my honor,~ Bethuel was sincere. ~If there is nothing more, I will take my leave.~

~Mama will see you latter, Little Star.~ once more she kissed her child's brow before she had to turn her attention to other matters but no less pressing than the welfare of her infant.

Suckling a child while in conference with Malakim warriors might be a bold and becoming statement, it was not an image to be seen while in the presence of Tok'ra. Not to mention very angry possibly hostile Tok'ra. For this Sam needed another image all together different. She'd have to suit up and have Kha'antar at her side.

Once again Sam pressed her communicator in the oak leaf pip at her collar. ~Carter to Razeal, Report to my office.~

~Razeal here, Nephalim. I heed and obey.~ Like Bethuel before him it was only a matter of seconds before he reported to his Nephalim's side. His wings however were not so tightly pinned against his body though they were folded into the position of complete submission.

~Nephalim?~ he spoke softly his voice still held a bit of uncertainty. He was still trying to wrap his mind around the complete forgiveness his Nephalim had granted him over his errors in judgment with the chimerical creature and the silver nishta.

~I'm meeting the Diabolicals shortly. I want to be in my armor when I do. I also want you at my left flank. Kha'antar will be at my right side.~

~I will gladly assist. Nephalim, however would it not be prudent to have Commander Boudicca instead? She the Blue Wing's commander.~

Sam smiled,~ Yes she is, that is why she won't be here. I want a show force but not too much. I want my anthropologist and historian not my 2IC to be visible. In my experience everyone underestimates the geeky historian and often times they can be just was deadly as a Special-ops trained colonel given the right circumstances. Besides Kha'antar can be intimidating enough without resulting in presentation overkill. My father will be present during this meeting; I need him to see me not as his little girl all grown-up but as my rank and station. He needs to see the Nephalim and acknowledge me as the Prime Minister of the Malakim Empire. It is one of the other reasons I need to be in full regalia.~

~A prudent move, Nephalim,~ Razeal's voice held notes of approval for his Nephalim's strategy. He kept to himself the likelihood of a parent seeing anything but their child was not good. Parents never did, at least Razeal's were such. Ironically the Nephalim and defiantly the Scion of Healing were so with their eldest daughter. He felt a bit of pity for Boudicca who was actively courting Cassandra, the commander would have a very trying flight path before her. Still the theory of full dress regalia was a good one, Jacob Carter would be forced to see the station and rank of his child before he addressed her as… 'kiddo.'

The ISS Samantha Carter-A was a science scout class ship was comparative to an Alkesh class vessel. Both ships capable of carrying vast armies, however the Malakim ships carried not armies but a vast complement of the Sciences Guild. This was not a warship but one dedicated for scientific endeavors. Like Alkesh and the BC-303's it came equipped with a ring transporter, the same used to transport the Tok'ra prisoners from their base to the Obsidian Wings vessel and from their vessel to the Samantha Carter-A. Its shape Jacob gave a wonder when he first saw it from a porthole aboard the Obsidian's ship was that of a massive orange colored sting-ray. Why on earth the old general wondered why would anyone want an orange paint job? It was Selmac that gave him the answer.

*Perhaps you have forgotten it is your daughter's favorite color. Jacob, tread carefully. If they painted a ship her favorite color, a color contrary to Malakim military standards, and named it after her they are going to overly protective of her and will not accept any slight against her, even from her father.*

'What are you going on about Old Girl? They've accepted me into her life…'

*They granted you the gift of being present at your granddaughter's birth BECAUSE you are the Nephalim's father. But now…try not to be condescending when you meet with Samantha.*

'I am NOT condescending to my little girl!'

If a symbiote could laugh Selmac did at the irony of the statement. *Do not patronize her, nor deride her. Right now Samantha is the Prime Minister of a vast empire and their Nephalim. The Malakim do not simply admire her, they have lionized her.*

'Sam is not playing God. She would never do that or let others see her like that…unless well it was to save their lives and then only for a short time. She surely wouldn't bask in it.'

*Nephalim isn't a god, Jacob. The Nephalim is…* how to explain to a stubborn man the concept of what the Nephalim was? *Think of her in the same light as one of the Tauri apostles suddenly walking around Earth in this day and age in one of its more Christian regions. Samantha isn't playing, she knows now what she is to them and come to accept it and embrace it. Have you not noticed how much she has changed? There had to have been a gestalt similar to the Blending. Have you not noticed she feels like one of the Malakim?*

'I thought it was the pregnancy that made her all glowy,' Jacob said a little flatly.

*Jacob she is as much a Malakim as those who took us prisoner. She is as Chimera without the wings and of course the sociopath tendencies.*

'Holy Hannah!'

Garshaw and Malek knew that Selmac was internalizing a conversation with 'her' host. No doubt the oldest and wisest amongst them was trying to convince Jacob Carter from going into a parental mode when they finally faced Samantha. They too had to remind themselves they were not treating with the young Captain as they did whey the first met her. Nor was this the experienced Major or seasoned Colonel of the SGC whom they ran circles around with INTEL. No the woman they were to meet now was the Prime Minister of an Empire. An Empire who would like nothing more than to rid the galaxy of the Goa'uld and by proxy because they saw no difference between the philosophies: the Tok'ra. Samantha Carter was more than the Prime Minister she was the Nephalim, the Malakim messiah. Because of her anger over Anise's actions fifteen Tok'ra were slain, brutally. No this was not the young woman of the SGC this was a wingless Malakim warlord.

Human hosts wanted to bend to knees in the presence of such honest and pure majesty emanating from the figure before them. How wonderful and terrible was her beauty, it caused one to weep of the unworthiness to set a gaze upon her. Had the symbiotes breath to draw in they would have held it, for no System Lord held such awe and glory. Wonder too became the symbiotes thoughts: how could a mortal Tauri female become deified? How could she contain such glory? Selmac had academically prepared herself and Jacob for the Nephalim but she had underestimated the grandeur they would be facing.

Malek, unable to resist his urge to bend knee, did so. He wept and very nearly pleaded to be of service to this angelic being, he wanted to be in her company always. Earlier held anger for this woman melted away to devotion, he would gladly bend to her will. His host Ret'ebb wholeheartedly complied.

The Nephalim garbed herself in gold trimmed iridescent blue armour. Its cross pollination design of Samurai and Grecian lines was reminiscent of spring leaves woven together in fine Celtic layers of belied delicacy. The armour had a sense of harmony with nature accentuating the grace already owned by Samantha. It contained an ethereal quality of an organic nature. She wore a cloak of rich silk and velvet blue, it shimmered from the golden lattice running along its seams hung from the paladins at her shoulders making appear if she of human blood had sprouted magnificent wings. For the cloak's stillness was as Malakim wings at rest, it became a soft watery frame, luminous and biblical. At her left hip was the hilt of a sun sword held in place by deep blue leather frog with a distinct Nordic touch to the scroll work embossed on each of the interlacing thongs of leather.

Further back guarding the Nephalim's left flank was one of the Blue Wing Knights: Razeal. Like his leader he too was dressed in the iridescent blue armor though his was trimmed in silver rather than gold. The embossed decorative scrimshaw of vines and leaves was a twin to those that adorned the Nephalim's armor as to play homage to her. He wore no cloak but his wings of peacock blue hung in a relaxed position against his back. His gaze was anything but relaxed, he watched the three Tok'ra with such intensity and scrutiny it made them feel exposed and naked as they stood before the Nephalim.

More protective was the gaze drawn from the great beast at Samantha's right side. Malek had never seen a live pumaica; the sight of the creature terrified him. Its massive muzzle could all too easily snap head from shoulders without even putting forth an effort. The lazy way Samantha caressed the monstrous head was perhaps more chilling than the six inch incisors just peeking out of the square muzzle. Ret'ebb his host had always been petrified of cats, the fact this one was as large as a horse wasn't helping.

Garshaw had a healthy respect for cats since her encounter with the Goa'uld that called herself Bast. Her Jaffa had lion-head helms of almost the same light-reflective blue of the Malakim armour. Bast had even kept lionesses as pets but none of them were as grand as the white furred beast at the Nephalim's side.

As for Selmac she knew the daughter of Jacob had a fondness for felines and accepted the show of power for what it was. The woman before them was not General Carter's little girl. To even think of her in such a capacity was a mistake. A very big, very dangerous mistake. She wasn't here as a member of the Tauri, or the SGC. She was here as Prime Minister of an Empire, Nephalim to the Malakim. She wasn't playing at being their prophesized hero. She WAS their hero. The illumination shrouding her body was no mere trick, no chicanery. The glow was the essence of the Nephalim realized.

"Upon this ship you are on Malakim 'soil.' To the Malakim Empire I welcome you and give my condolences on the loss of life that happened during the incursion. My people had orders to extract Anise and bring her to Malakim justice. What she did was inexcusable and atrocious, even judged by your standards it must be so."

It was Garshaw not Jacob who spoke first. "Even if we found her experiments a hideous defilement on all we believe in we would not have moved against her if it meant fifteen innocents would die!"

"A surgical strike was necessary. We did not know where she was or what opposition the Wings that went out to hunt for her would face. As I understand it you were told twice to surrender Anise or at the very least give her locale, twice you refused to answer. Both Obsidian and Lapis wings had no reason to believe she wasn't amongst your number. They believed they had found her and you were hiding her when you refused to comply or tell them otherwise. They did give you warning before they moved into more aggressive measures."

"Sam…'more aggressive measures'?" Jacob scoffed. "They beheaded Jarek, buried alive two more under the sand, and that was just the beginning!"

"When the Wings sang to the sands to take two of your number it was an act of mercy, not force," Sam pointed out.

"Mercy!?" Garshaw spat incredulously.

"To demonstrate to you what they are capable of. Had you heeded them at that time no other Tok'ra would have fallen. Any sensible battle-tested leader…" Sam looked to her father with an expression of disappointment and disproval for his lack of foresight in a completely avoidable encounter, "would have realized the futility of battling both nature and a superior enemy. Malakim never carry more than their swords into battle, as they can call on the elements and Nature herself to become a weapon. No one not even the Super Soldiers, Remnants, Ori or their Priors can withstand the might of nature when it is called upon them full force. I say again I am sorry for your losses Garshaw, but repeat it was avoidable had you lain down arms at that time. Surely Arian told you this when Malakim Wings first arrived. She must have told you it is very difficult to neutralize a Malakim warrior and they are ecomancers and elementalists. She was once of the Blue Wing and an accomplished elementalist. Yet you resisted, because of that a further thirteen…no…twenty-six counting the hosts fell. Tok'ra stubbornness not Malakim aggression forged the end of their lives so needlessly. Nor will I will not apologize for the death of Anise. Her death was just."

"Your people were told Samantha, that Anise wasn't amongst our number and they refused to believe it." Selmac said trying to bring calm to the meeting while redirecting the blame back to the Malakim. "Garshaw told them 'Even if she were here we would not give up one of our own.' They did not ask were she was, they simply attacked. They had one objective in mind, an order they would carry out to the last because of who gave it to them. The Malakim warriors are more devoted to you than any Jaffa to a System Lord. In all my long years of life had I ever seen such devotion, surely YOU must have realized that when you gave that order to them, nothing would waylay them in their quest. Even after we surrendered they refused to believe Anise wasn't with us. The Malakim do not distinguish Tok'ra from Goa'uld to them we are all Diabolical and our words are not to be believed. That is from the mouth of that Obsidian leader. It fell on Arian to convince them they were told the truth." Selmac knew that if the Nephalim was personally implicated it would spell trouble for the Tok'ra. Samantha might have been the author of the directive that caused needless deaths but it was Malakim warriors who had sullied their hands with spilt blood. "The Malakim acted precipitously in the issue of Anise, I agree words should have been shared. Not between a unit leader to the Tok'ra Council but from this Office to the Tok'ra Council."

Sam knew Selmac had maneuvered the piece of the board to suit the Tok'ra's unique point of view that they were always blameless in all they did. Nearly more than a decade ago when Apophis and Klorel had tried to annihilate Earth there had been Tok'ra agents on board the two ha'taks. They died when the ships exploded. The Tok'ra blamed the Tauri for their deaths, nevermind that Earth was about to become space dust.

"The Tok'ra are not known for sharing INTEl. In fact their silence has cost Earth's defense much in the past. Even when the SGC and Tok'ra agents were working in tandem there was such a lack of communication it jeopardized the missions. Even when you knew what Anise was doing and she fled you did not see fit to contact the SGC or the GAA to get to me and tell us about her creation, her experiments. It is obvious to me the Council was going to keep silent on this as well and attempt to solve the issue yourselves despite it having direct connections to me personally. Anise stole my DNA and used it for her creature! The actions take by this Office were prudent measures. Anise and her creature had to be stopped. The Tok'ra Council was impotent in this matter, Malakim Wings were not."

"Her creature escaped," Malek spoke, his tone harsh and biting. "The Council is not the only impotent one. The Wings have failed in their mission and our people died because of it."

"The primary objective of the strike teams was a success," Sam returned. "Had Anise actually succeeded in blending with her creation there would have been far more casualties, Malek. The Malakim would have gone to war. One of the Fallen had already willing blended and it shook the foundations of Malakim patience. They wanted her blood for such sacrilege against…" Sam held up a hand forestalling her father's outburst. Her will and the Song of Presence stayed his anger "It is not sacrilege for a mortal to undergo the blending, but the Malakim have warred with the Goa'uld. Yes I know the Tok'ra are not Goa'uld but the Malakim do not see much of a distinction between willing hosts and those who had their life raped. They and I myself are attuned the harmonics of life as it flows around us. Everything has a resonance in the World Symphony. What Anise did proved to the Malakim there is no difference between the two sects of symbiotes. What she did caused a great disturbance of that flow; a noise vibrated so painfully everyone who had ears to hear the cacophony covered them. The Malakim were set to war against this racket, this disturbance unknowing where it came from, only that it had to be culled. When I discovered what Anise had done with my stolen DNA, I raged. I knew then what this noise was and sent my Wings to neutralize it. Tell me if Anise succeeded would you all now be asking for hak'taur hosts? Hosts created for you would be easier than trying to find willing people to blend with. Would the Tok'ra become orak?"

The three Tok'ra council members gasped at the insinuation. Orak…the unspeakable. Orak was what the kull warriors were. Primta and Tauri DNA gene-spliced together to create abominations by Anubis. Anise had created her own orak in the comely form of the woman now standing before them. Orak…it was a greater sin than a creating a hak'taur in the eyes of the Tok'ra. It was true. Chimera wasn't a hak'taur she was orak.

"Do not think the Malakim would not have taken measures to stop such a thing. Malakim, Tauri and Tok'ra DNA used for such measures boils the blood of these warrior people, with the death of Anise it has cooled. They will not rest until Chimera is confronted and neutralized one way or another. I am truly sorry for the loss of the fifteen…no thirty lives taken that day. It was Anise that brought that darkness to your doorstep. How is it she had been able to bring her orak to life? How it is the Council did not know what it she was doing? Your tunnels have no doors on the chambers, you claim to keep no secrets from each other, how is it Anise was able to have a secret lab and perform secret experiments. Surely there must have been several attempts before she came to a perfected form. How could she have carried out her experiments, her trials without anyone on the Council knowing about it? Was it a deliberate blind eye? She took flight and escaped into the outer rim sector of Malakim space in one of Nirrti's' old labs. How could she and her experiment and the equipment do so without some sort of inner help either from the Council or someone close to the Council?" Sam looked directly to her father. "She's a scientist not an operative, so how did she get a ship and manage to travel so easily?"

The three Tok'ra looked at one another perhaps to find the answer to these potent questions in other's eye. They found only further questions. Questions put to voice by the Nephalim.

"Are you so sure of Arian? Despite her blending she may not be as trusty was you might think. She lulled me into a false sense of trust with her and betrayed me and the Blue Wing. She betrayed the Malakim and her mother what makes you think she won't do the same to Tok'ra? What makes you think she wasn't at least on some level connected to this incident? I say again why didn't she cry for parlay sooner or tell you Garshaw to do so when you first went to speak with the Obsidian commander? Had you asked for parlay as soon as you confronted the Malakim Wings it would be granted. The Malakim are as paladins and would have obeyed the laws of war. If parlay is asked it must be given and no violence committed until parlay is lifted by the opposition's leader. Parlay isn't surrender it is a temporary cease-fire. She knew this law, lived it, why didn't she warn you sooner? Why did she not try to counterpoint the ecomancy of the Wings with her own? I said it before she is an accomplished ecomancer or did she lose that ability once she was blended. Even if she had why didn't she tell the High Council the tactics the Malakim use against their enemies? Yet she didn't say anything until there was a high casualty list. Why? The symbiote within her must have known what Arian knew, why didn't it take over and warn the Council? Look to your own if you want to blame someone. Arian had all the knowledge of the Malakim ways of battle yet she and her symbiote kept their silence. If I were on the Council, I would take a closer look into Arian and the symbiote and uncover this duplicity."

"Xad was once a trusted member of the Council who went deep under cover in the factions of the System Lords. Xad is my mate." Selmac said, the double voice held a melancholy note. "Arian willingly blended, she and your father share a relationship already. It was only logical that Arian accept Xad, she did so eagerly."

Sam winced at the news of hearing her father was having sex…that was disturbing…but do it with Arian was repulsive. The Remnant woman in Sam's eyes had no redeeming qualities. She might be pretty but she was as shallow as a mud puddle. Ignoring her revulsion of her father's late-midlife crises she said: "If Lantash and Martouf could become a Za'tarc what makes you think that Xad couldn't be one if he was so deep undercover and discovered. The Goa'uld could have used him as a Trojan horse. They have even infiltrated your own with Xad. They have done so at one time or another, the evidence I refer to is Cordesh. He was once thought to be a trusted member of the High Council and yet he was a Goa'uld spy. You thought the reason your base was infiltrated was because of the SGC. But it was one of your own numbers that betrayed you. Could it not be the same with Xad?

"He blended with an already traitorous song it would be easy to manipulate events to whatever ends Xad was ordered to do whether spy or Za'tarc. Even if Xad and by proxy Arian are not Za'tarc, their actions need further investigations. This is what makes me think spy, doesn't it for you? Ask Arian why she waited until fifteen Tok'ra fell before speaking out? Why wait so long before asking for parlay? Arian is discrete in her treachery at first you might not have seen it, especially knowing how close you two are. Dad, you too Selmac do not think for one minute Arian didn't use you even if she professes truth in her love. Her resonance is treason and she plays to it, it is why her actions do not create Discord because she is in harmony to that darkness of what she truly is."

It had been sometime, Usiel had given up counting the years since he had seen a Wraith vessel sail the stars. It had seemed to the First Fallen that the half-living soul suckers had gone into hibernation, or at least in far retreat. No food equals no eat, what was a thing to do but hibernate? Curse the soul whose ineptitude woke the things from their torpor.

Ah well what was done was done. What was more curious was that the one Song he sought was aboard the Wraith ship.

The Hive ship sailed through, regal, untouched. Unstoppable. Usiel was beyond impressed, he was beside himself in glee of the thought of all the possibilities a wraith ship could do, could have in the pen umbra. Let the party commence!

"Clever girl," he praised Chimera's forward thinking of sailing a Wraith ship in the realm of the velvet curtain. "But what do you mean to do with a stealth ship that sails the umbra with not but a half-dead crew to sail her? Humm? Me thinks it's time for a bit of introductions all around."

The laws of physics existed in the pen umbra but they could be manipulated in a fashion that was impossible in the corporal realm. One simply had to understand the mechanics of it. Manipulating the physical laws of the umbra was not unlike lucid dreaming but with true consequences of any action taken or made where as with dreams they are simply manifestations of the subconscious imagination at play. How could you walk through a wall and not sink through the floor was one such law or rather understanding of Umbra Physics. Another was the ability to encase a body in an oxygenated air bubble which acted as an environmental space suite (a vacuum was a vacuum after all), fly through zero-gravity of space and board a shielded ship.

Keeping shielded by the Song of Obfuscation Usiel found himself following a corridor into a giant room. Its edges were lost in shadows that looked like cloisters, its cone-shaped ceiling soaring up almost too high for him to see and its honey-combed surface glowing a soft gold. All around, at the periphery of his vision, he could glimpse whispers of movement. Dark shapes flittering around the edges of the chamber, shadows within shadows. Wraith were slipping in and out of their own version of the Obfuscation Song. They had no doubt sensed his presence and were now on the hunt for him. Indeed a close-by sentry sniffed the air several times, before he turned towards Usiel's direction.

A phantom dropped from the ceiling, right behind him. Usiel spun, his hand going for a weapon that was long gone. He had long ago lost his sun sword, and not yet made or stolen one to replace the lost blade.

"Hiding will not stop the inevitable." The voice said. A voice Usiel knew well, so familiar and yet so alien. His first thought was to utter some mockery to the Nephalim prowling Wraith's ship. But nanoseconds he recognized just who he was facing. Oh he knew there were similarities but he had not prepared himself for just how closely the songs of these females matched. The only difference was the woman before him had a hint of Dark Song about her, though not yet matured. It was if she was indecisive about the air ways she would fly.

"Yes, you're right, oh most powerful one." Usiel's voice dripped with honey. At once he stepped from the shadows into the light of the chamber. "I have sought you out, my liege to but offer you my services, my counsel."

"It is that I should know you. Why?" Chimera demanded not petulantly but a demand to the mysteries of something unknown to become known.

"That truly depends on which me you think you aught to know. The 'me' you pulled away from figment, from phantasm and gave form. Or the me that this form once was."

"What were you then?"

Usiel allowed a wry grin to twist his lips. "I was once called Usiel consort of The First Throne. Usiel the everlastingly Exiled. Usiel the First Fallen. Usiel the Scourge. Now I am only Usiel."

Chimera was intrigued. "Your Song is Dark, but not noise as of the Half-Lives or discordant as in Wingless One."

"That is because I am fulfilling my Resonance," Usiel simply explained. Such raw power but so little knowledge. This was going to be fun. "You call the Wraith, Half-Lives?" he jutted out his lower lip, nodding his head in agreement. "Not a truly accurate description but still apt. They are the design of the Twisted Unmaker Achelous. Fun minded if not a little strange. He's dead now." Black wings hunched up and down in a Malakim shrug. "He was so delightfully twisted. Oh not just his mind, his body too. See he had the Song of Vicissitude. He could not only change his own shape and form but the shape and form of others. Your maker…Aniseed would have liked him. He made abominations too."

"I am the Nephalim!" Chimera hissed. "Not an abomination."

Usiel's hands shot up in surrender. "How now, I make no offense my dear lady. Just telling you how others not yet prepared for you might see you. I know a thing or twelve about that sort of thing. Others called me Remnant. Me? I was just following the precept of my Resonance." He paused to lick his lips, "History lesson time, little Nephalim. There are a few things you should know about the people you indeed to 'Nephalim' over." He cleared his throat. "Now let's see if I can remember just how it's supposed to go…

"And there was War in the Heavens. To dwell in the past is to die in the present. To hide the ancient lore and call it forbidden is folly. In the time before light and dark there was the Knowledge, but the First One forbade its learning. And with the Darkness was lifted a line, a veil and the only light was in the First One's bright eyes. Looking at her consort Usiel, the First One knew he had Awakened. The energies first surged through Usiel and he discovered how to move like lightning, how to borrow the strength of the earth how to be as stone. The First then showed Usiel how she hid herself from the Diabolicals how she commanded obedience and why she demanded respect. Then, Awakening himself further, Usiel found the way to alter forms, the way to have dominion over the beasts, the way to make eyes see past the sight." He broke from the narrative as the weight of memory fell upon his shoulders. "I did you know. It was so…orgasmic. The only thing I felt like that since is being close to you my sweet Nephalim." He arched his eyebrows up and down in might have been charming on another individual.

"Your mate would not have approved of your doings," Chimera ignored the flirtatiousness of her companion.

"Nope. In fact she out right told me to stop."

"But you didn't."

"Why should I have had to?"

"You would have overreached your bounds."

"You know that is exactly what the old lady told me," Usiel frowned. "I think she was being deliberately unfair. As if I was threatening my very existences with my pursuits! Are you overreaching your bounds Nephalim as you explore the possibilities of the Songs? Are you threatening your existence?

Chimera considered the words. Was she? She didn't think so. But perhaps…NO! No she wasn't. How could she overreach her bounds she didn't even know what they were? He was only Malakim…not the Nephalim. She was meant to explore, meant to seize the Songs. Mortal made with all the powers of the Songs. That was what she was. Could there be bounds…limits to that?

"I started to sow the seeds of rebellion. She was holding me back and I wouldn't be held back. I fought. Just as you did against your maker, Wingless One. She wanted to hold you back because she was terrified of your potential. It was the same with me and Gabriel. She forsook me. And I turned from her to freedom. I was in the height of my power as a self-changer as well."

"Like Achelous."

"A bit. I opened myself up to the speckled serpent and saw the infinite possibilities in the stars and knew that a path of power, a path of blood was his for the taking. And so I awakened in me this Final Path, from which all other paths would grow: the path of Fear, the path of Inferno, the path of Spirit, the path of Vengeance, the path of Blood. The ways of Dementation this is the path of madness, Necromancy the path of the dead, Obtenebration the path of darkness and shadow, Sanguineous path of unwholesome vicissitude. I took from the Dragon Lords the darkest of rituals and here I did master them.

"From these newest of powers, I broke the bounds to the First One put on me, I left the Queen of the Firmaments that evening, cloaked myself in shadows, and fled the greatest Eyries and came at last to a place where not even her knights could find me. Here I gleaned the knowledge from the Dark Dragons, and I taught his Fallen, the Song of Thaumaturgy. I taught them the paths. He had found the Ancient's Stargate and lo I would flee further away from the sacred lands. The Gate of Stars lay hidden far beneath the mountains Forever Dark, in that place I called Achelous to me and we came to the Diabolicals and did lay with them. The Diabolicals hungered for my masteries.

"And Achelous the Unmaker did take to him captured Malakim and corrupted their bodies by the Song Sanguineous path of unwholesome vicissitude and he did change their form. No longer Malakim, they were cursed with forever Hunger and they must steal from life, that which gives them life. And lo came those that call themselves the Wraith. Translucent skin did cover their bones and their eyes gleaming in baleful fire. Their teeth snatching, catching like the beasts they became. And unto them they summoned the Dark of the Great Song and did master it. And did call to the them the wretched Song of the World Symphony, Thaumaturgy the hidden ways of Obfuscation, and lo they lost the Song of Ecomancy, the Song of Elements but greater still did they take with them Dementation, Necromancy, Obtenebration the path of darkness and shadow They carry with them the Song of Potency and Fortitude. And lo they are the scourge, greater than the Fallen.

"I called Gahanna and would bring asunder the war of the Heavens, but the knights of the Queen of the Firmaments cast out me and my followers to the land of Unmaking. And so we would come to the Mountains of Forever Dark. For my crimes I would never reach the heavens for my wings were torn from me. The bitch. She had her Crimson Wing surround me and they each took a swing at me with their infernal sunswords and my wings were nothing but stubs to remind me of what I was, of what my crimes cost me. It burned in me the hate from that day to this." Usiel pumped his new formed wings. "Thanks to you my sweet Nephalim, I have them back. I could let myself fall in love with you for that alone. I'm already half way there by being in lust with you." Once more he twitched his eyes eyebrows up and down in hopes to inspire a smile upon such face of beauty. It never appeared.

"What of the Unmaker Achelous?"

"Him? Why do you want to know about the old snake?"

"I would know it all, Usiel. The past so I might know what it is to be Nephalim."

"Fine." he gave a slight yawn of displeasure. Why be rooted in the past? Why now just live in the now of time? "The way the historical documents describe it, it's like this: 'Achelous was bound forever until the time that a mortal champion spirit born of a Malakim knight's heart, life given as sacrifice will resurrect the defiled serpent. And the Keepers of the Lambent Reproach with the Calabim mortal born will cast themselves to the coils of the illusions of the Serpent Kings.

'The Remnant Outcasts fell from the Virtues and were exiled and with them the Wraith. Banished for all time for seeking forbidden knowledge. They were cast out of the Eyries never to return and sent into the great wilderness, they chose the darkest mountains as a refuge. There it is said they found a Stargate, and learned its ways. They traveled the galaxies pretending to be something more then what they are. Spirits that lead evolving man to believe them descendants of Gods. Their temples are diabolical and they are a sacrilege to all Malakim.

"See the colossus of Ancient Stargate astride the world beheld the Wraith in their hearts, as the giant staggers, the Wraith rejoice, for there will be souls aplenty when the giant falls. See the broken chamber of three thousand years and the shattered crystal upon the floor. For the second Gate of Stars is not put asunder, and those of Usiel will be free. See the stones weeping blood and Achelous is free. Hear the howls in the night and the souls of mortals cast themselves into the Dragon's coils'."" Once more he paused to gain the woman's full attention. "Now this is the down and dirty, the real interesting stuff. It's all about you baby… and the fall of the Second War in the Heavens. Called the War of the Firmaments, The War of the Nephalim, it is the Queen that shall know the pain of the shattering of life." He stopped just sort of telling her the rest of the story. Sometimes it paid to keep things to one's self, especially if such things can bring one's self to an end.

"The Queen already knew the Shattering of life what with her uncreation of a half Ascended Diabolical. She got me the Scourge. But you…you my dear sweet lovely Song, gave back to me life. The Song of Chicanery. Gotta love it.

"War of the Nephalim?" Chimaera frowned. Upon whom was she to war? This Usiel? He had no power base. Who was left then? Who was this war to be against? The Wraith? The Diabolicals or those that are called Ori, that didn't seem to follow reason. No it was war waged by the Nephalim against a greater force. Was she to war against the Great Voice? A war between the Nephalim?

"Things get a little sketchy after that." Usiel lied. "Of course there is the Nephalim of the Ancient: Scion of Healing."

"Amaterasu wishes her demise."

"Fascinating," Usiel picked at imagined lint from his wings. In a bored tone of voice that hinted at so much more he added. "Of course there are the Grigori. The children of the Nephalim."

"A war between a newborn and a featherling? That dose not seem worthy of prophecy."

"Oh I don't know there are a lot of stories were lunatic megalomaniacs want the death of a newborn child because they bring a threat of…either conquest or intergalactic peace. At any rate the newborn is a threat to the already formed powerbase. There is an interesting human story about that. Guy named Darth Vader he was a bit like me, I think. Wanting forbidden powers and knowledge of Darker Songs… Anyway the story is that his gets with some Queen 'Armadillo' or was it Armada? Aldamma? It doesn't matter what her names was …it's about their newborns anyway. These little tikes were a threat to the vile-evil Emperor. So the brats were sequestered away by a bunch of monks in brown robes until they grew up to be even bigger brats and toppled the Empire. Good for the Rebellion, bad for Vader and the Empire."

"You are saying that the Great Voice's child will be a threat to the Malakim Empire?"

"Am I?" Usiel smiled. "I don't know but it will be interesting to find out won't it?" He touched purple-golden wings of his companion. "Consider your awaking Chimera and the birth of this new child of the Great Voice also called Nephalim are a little to close together to be coincidence. There is a bit I neglected to tell you about this prophecy. It is said that this 'voice' could still the hurricane's gale and quiet the celestial cacophony that brings the Sundering of worlds but for her presence before the Nephalim and her children the Grigori." Usiel neglect hadn't ended with forgetting to tell Chimera the fullness of the ancient scriptures but the fact the voice he was last referring to was in reference to the Scion of Healing: Nephalim of the Ancients.

"Harken to me she who would be Nephalim. I am the First Fallen from that I know forbidden knowledge, as you learned from my tale. What I teach you now the Wings of Malakim would have you deny. It can not be denied; their path is of the greater Light this is true but what is light without shadow? I ask you. Pretty damn boring. Oh do not think I mean to turn you evil. No. I mean to enlighten you. Give you knowledge. She whom you call the Great Voice already knows such things, do you think you can possibly confront her if you are ignorant?" Usiel stepped forwarded placing a tentative hand upon the joint of wing and shoulder of the young construct.

Chimera allowed the touch. Her face turning to her mentor, for that was what he had become. He knew things as Novalis but where she attempted to keep such thing silent, Usiel was more than willing to pass on the knowledge of good and evil. Chimera had to know, she had to be equal to the Great Voice.

"Good. Good," Usiel smiled feeling her succumbing to his needs. "Here then are the truths the Remnants know. "Peace is a lie, there is only Passion. Through passion I gain Strength. Through strength I gain Power. Through power I gain Victory. Through victory my chains are broken."

Chimera thought this through. Allowing each word to become planted into her mind, into her soul and take root. "Peace is a pretense only Passion is true. Passion is the heart's fire, burning the song within, feeding it, nurturing it. It is passion I feel for the Great Song. She is a warrior therefore peace is an illusion between battle."

Usiel smirked gleefully, "Exactly."

"From my passions I grow stronger, the passion I contain gives me strength. Only a true warrior knows this, feels this. The Great Song, Novalis, even the scion of Healing battles because of her passion for the Great Voice, for her Oath to heal. Passion births Strength. Without the passion of life there can be no strength to survive."

"YES!" Again the tone of approval was in Usiel's voice.

"My strength is my power. Those of weak cannot have strength. This is so. I have seen it in the Wingless One. She had no strength therefore she had no power. She was smote to her ruin by the Great Voice's warriors. She was even thrown down by me, her creation."

"Now you are beginning to understand."

"From my power I gain victory over the elements that attempt to waylay me. I have overcome the dimness before the Awakening. I have risen above the Wingless One. I have seen, touched and felt the Great Voice and know I am the Nephalim. This could not be so without the power. I am victorious. Victory can only come from power."

"Precisely. Look at this way, that little twerp Aniseed: the Wingless One…she had little power and was defeated. Had she true power…she might have not been so easily put to ruin."

"My victory over her allowed me to be free. My victory over the dimness allowed me to awaken and become aware. My victory over the unknown sound allowed me to be come free to know the Great Voice and my destiny."

"Now you understand my dear," Usiel soothingly hissed. "Of course 'they' would take this awake from you. You know this. Why else would have you attempted to use that delightful concoction of yours on the Great Voice? Hum?

"These teachings are contrary to the beliefs held by the Malakim? Perhaps by extent 'should' be by the Nephalim?"

"Biologically speaking the Remnants are Malakim." Usiel pointed out. "I understand your meaning, however. The Malakim hold true to passion for it fuels the Songs but they would not let it free as it should be. They hold to serenity is more potent than raw power. Peace is to be treasured and prized over war. They feel wars do not make one great, but they are blinded. Wars make champions. Wars make heroes. Look to the Great Voice. She battled years against the Diabolicals and the Ori; her people battle the Wraith is this not heroic? They would not be held so great in the eyes of the mundane populace if the odds were not so high against them. The Great Voice would simply be an intelligent soft-willed geeky scientist without the power of the warrior arising in her heart. Attractive package but easily overlooked. But give this person the song of a Warrior and she is undeniably the most provocative champion to clap eyes upon. With the passion of a warrior she has strength. The Malakim might have denied this and called this strength a simple matter of indomitable will, Remnants see it for what it is. Power. That power is yours Chimera, claim it!"

"Mama?" Rebecca gave a skeptical look towards the crib near her mother's desk before she moved to the blonde's side. Instantly just like she knew she would be, her Mama pulled her up into her lap. Nuzzled her for a moment and went back to work on her computer working around her small body. "Mama?" Rebecca asked a second time. She fidgeted with the seam of the cloak Sam was still wearing and pulled it over her body like a blanket.

"Yes Little Bit?"

"Am I still special to you even if you have Grace now?"

The typing stopped. Sam looked to her little girl, concern reflecting in the pale blue eyes. "Why on earth would you even ask that kind of question? Of course you are very very special to me Rebecca Marjorie Carter Fraiser. You are my special little girl."

"But I am not the littlest any more."

"No Sweetie you are not, but that doesn't make you any less special to me." Sam shifted the small weight of her daughter upon her lap so now they were face to face. Her long fingers hands cupped the child's face tenderly. "Babe, listen to your Mama okay?" she took Rebecca's hand and paces it over her heart. "Do you know that your sister Sassy asked me a very similar question once you were born? You and I and Mommy share DNA...the stuff that makes us who we are and connects us by blood," Sam explained. "She was worried because we do not share DNA that I would not love her as much as I love you. I told her that just because she wasn't born under my heart or under Mommy's heart doesn't mean a thing, she was born in it. We love her just the same as we love you. And Mommy gave birth to you and I gave birth to Grace. I love the three of my girls just the same. Tons and tons and mega tons. It's unquantifiable of how much I love my very very special girls-- the three of you." Sam kissed her little girl's forehead, each cheek and held her child to her tightly. "Sweetie. You each are very very special to me in three different ways. Just as you are three different people. You love Mommy and Mama just the same right?"

The child nodded.

"Sometimes when one of us has to discipline you, you like the other better but you love us both exactly the same. I may not like it at all when you are naughty or when Cassie is naughty even if she is an adult now. I won't like it when Grace is naughty but I will always, always love you exactly the same amount."

"A lot."

"Yes. If you ever manage to count all the grains of sands on every single beach of every single world and count every single star of every single galaxy you will know just how much I love my three special girls."

Rebecca smirked, fell into her Mama's arms and felt the warmth not simply of the bond that linked them but the true knowledge a child has when her mother loves her. "I love you the same away Mama." The child looked over her shoulder to the flat screen monitor then to the basinet where Grace was soundly sleeping. "How did she like Grandpa?"

"She hasn't seen him," Sam said gently.

"He will make her nervous I think, but not mean to. I kinda get roller-coaster jittery around him still."

"Roller-coaster jittery?" Sam wanted to hear this. Her child always had brilliant way of looking at things.

Rebecca once more fidgeted with the hem of the cloak, "you know when you're riding in a big one and you're on top of the big hill just before you plunge down. It's that sort of feeling not the fall but the….just before. Like you know it's coming and you know you're gonna scream and get a big tummy-bump. It's like right then you kinda wished you could use a ring transporter to get ya out, cus' you don't want to go down even if you laugh when you get to the bottom and want to go again."

Sam smiled. "Very good metaphor," she praised her daughter. "Yes I can see that. You're right I get that feeling around other Tok'ra...well any symbiote really. You are a very clever little girl to have thought about it."

The girl beamed in the high praise her mother bestowed upon her. "You are also right in that Grace won't like it. I'll let Grandpa see her when she's sleeping, maybe then it will be okay, and she won't notice."

"Did you do that with me when I was a baby?"

"A few times yes until you were about two then you could understand things better. You did cry and try to hide when Grandpa came to see you."

"I bet it made him feel sad."

Sam nodded recalling the incident. "Yes but he understood, my little Sunshine. Selmac reassured him it was her, not him that made the meeting difficult. You know he's here now of course, he would like to see you."

Rebecca made a face. It was the expression all children carry when they beg to go on that roller-coater, finally make it through the long queue only to baulk at the last moment when they see the big crest over which they will plummet to earth.

"Can't he just see me when I am asleep too?"

To Be Continued

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