Nephalim's Gate
By Elizabeth Carter

Chapter Eight

Voices in the Dark

Outside the wind galed angrily. It couldn't take a hostage with its biting touch. It was chilly morning after the night's rain, and the sun hung in the sky like a pale coin lost by someone high up in the clouds. In the yard a slight breeze had risen rustling the leaves of the naked elm and oak trees that dappled the lawn. The sky still wan and gray refused to clear.

It was oddly enough perfect for certain activities that led to traditions. Hot cocoa with marshmallows, sugar cookies, sipped and nibbled upon while crafting cranberry and popcorn garland for the Christmas tree. Two mothers sat upon the floor of their ranch style home making the strings with their children. Giggling and laughing as an random kernel of popcorn was thrown into the air, caught occasionally by an open mouth.

"Popcorn, cranberry, popcorn, cranberry, popcorn, cranberry, popcorn, cranberry" chanted little Rebecca as she threaded her own string of garland. "Like a candy-cane all white and red." As all children of three are want, the youngest of the Carter-Fraiser household loved to make up songs. Not that she could hold a tune particularly well but the point was enjoyment, not to be a virtuoso.

She would glance up with her unique eyes with a foundation of deep chocolate and a horizon of blue and found her mothers laughing and sitting near each other, sparkling warmly with the connection between them. Rebecca loved the warmth that fell from them filling her. She compared that feeling with the fuzzy cuddly safety she gained from her stuffed purple rabbit.

The whole day had been filled with specialness. Mama didn't have to be at the mountain doing Deep Space Tel'me'arty with her goliath telescopes. Mommy didn't have to make people better at the hospital. Even Sassy was home from the academy.

Rebecca was nearly finished with her homespun garland but she kept having to stop and admonish Schrodinger, the fat ginger cat. "You're a bad kitty Schrodinger! Santa isn't going to put anything in your stocking if you keep trying to eat my dec'er'eration!" She shook her tiny finger at the old tom. His glittering amber eyes blinked cutely as if it would gain him reprieve. In the end Rebecca gave up in lieu of the game that became of it. She would attempt to raise the string before the cat could bat at it. Her tiny high pitched giggles filled the air.

She loved these moments when everyone she loved special were close. She loved seeing the moms all cuddly, giggling and sneaking little kisses when they thought no one was looking. Rebecca watched as her Mama hugged Mommy from behind and rested her chin upon the smaller woman's shoulder. It was right, and perfect to her young eyes. And in her youth the child had no reason to believe it would ever be otherwise.

Rebecca stole away from her guardian Jailil in the playroom to the den where the central com-link was located. She struck the number three on speed dial which she knew would connect to her sister Cassandra.

"Fraiser." Came a husky near sleep sound.

"Sassy?" Rebecca uttered her voice verging on tears as soon as she had heard a warm voice. It had been so cold at home.

"Little Bit?" Cassandra now sounded more awake. "What's up."

"Can I come over? I want to be warm."

"Little Bit hit the visual button on the comm panel."

The child looked down and struck the indicated button making the screen on the kiosk blink to reveal a haggard bed headed Cassandra Fraiser, who was decidedly rumpled without her first cup of coffee. "You want to tell me what's going on?" she said through a yawn. The older sister ran a hand through her tangled hair grimacing as she encountered a knot.

"I..." A little lip pouted." I just want it back the way it was. I want it warm again."

Cassie jumped of course to the immediate assumption her baby sister was speaking of the temperamental storms. Hell she wanted it warm again too she was sick onto death with the below freezing temperature. " The Wings are doing all that they can, Sweety..."

"No nonononono. It's cold here! The Moms the don't feel warm anymore. I want it warm. I don't like it here. I want to stay with you!"

Cassie was more than aware that something more than the climatic upheaval was cooling the temperaments of her parents but she had never guessed either of them would ever allow it to touch her baby sister. The young woman knew her sister shared a micro empathic bond with their mothers, whatever came between them was now chillingly affecting Rebecca.

"Please Sassy....I want it warm, I want to be with you" the child was all but crying now, her heart broken "Please? I'll be good, I promise." she crossed her heart before making a hook sign with her tiny little pinky to indicate the deep honored bond of a pinky-swear which under no condition could be broken, not even if you crossed your fingers behind your back.

Cassandra swallowed back her anger for the mothers - how dare they bring their arguments into Rebecca's safe world. "Okay Little Bit." she returned the crooked finger gesture to satisfy her baby sister. " I'll come over and get you. Go tell Jailil your Sassy is coming for you."

"Jailil can stay too?" Rebecca held her threadbare purple rabbit tightly in her arms. Her large uniquely colored eyes watching her sister's every move.

"Sure, he's more than welcome, besides he'll need to watch you while I am at work." Cassie ran a hand through her tousled auburn hair. She would place a false face of the much needed warmth for her sister as much as she could, the girl had had enough chill in her life. Inwardly Cassandra was pissed for her mothers to despair Little Bit so. "Hang on Becca, your Sassy is coming. Okay?"

"Okay," a waterlogged reply.

"Madame President, if the United States is seen prosecuting two of its heroes, even if the public doesn't know why in truth they are heroes we will lose the public. They are both recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor. We can not sanction this trumped up charge of defection. They legally resigned from the military and now for all intents and purpose they are Ambassadors. Grant them diplomatic status. Kinsey is like his father Madame President, we charge them sure the Trust will be satisfied. And why not, they made the White House bend to their will. Our Allies who do know of the Stargate program will hold our position once they understand the significance of the global protection they are offering." Chief of Staff Charlie Young implored.

Since President of the United States Zoe Bartlett had considered charging both Generals Carter and Fraiser for treasonous defection she truly couldn't bring herself to do so. General Carter alone had saved the planet a hundred times over. Janet Fraiser had brought so many advancements in medicine. With all the technology and her intelligence she had been able to do what scientists and doctors had been trying to do for years and that was to cure Cystic Fibrosis, she made massive advancements in fighting Multiple Sclerosis a disease that had taken former President Jeb Bartlett.

Last year the Trust had sanctioned the assassination of several personal of the SGC, the President had suspicions that they had connections to Order of the Lambent Reproach, which had been an intergalactic cult led by the Overlord Morpheus worshiping a twisted 'Faded' Dragon and the Exiled Usiel. There was circumstantial evidence that proved it was so only there was nothing concrete. Kinsey was the son of a traitor there was evidence linking him to the Trust, just like his dead father.

"You said before they would save this country again by standing trial, Madame President we do that and we might as well give up to the Goa'uld and Wraith. We are all a lot safer with them in the field, even if it's a Malakim field." Charlie continued his argument.

When an archangel of the Choirs summons a Conclave it is typical practice to send a flight of silver owls to the Ofanim so that they fulfill their Resonance and disperse the messages themselves to the other members in Conclave. It had always been thus.

The Ofanim were angelics that were dubbed "The Messengers". Indeed their whole creation from the Great Song had been constructed for speed. Lighter smaller bodies with twenty-foot wingspans. They could fly longer and at greater speeds reaching Mach three in the penumbra . The Ofanim are the only Malakim who feel comfortable to sail the riptide winds of the Deep-Umbra that gave them this tremendous burst of speed.

What Khurdudius Archangel of the Seraphim had done was not only a breach in tradition, it was a direct insult to the swift fliers. The Ofanim Archangel wasn't the only one. Khurdudius had invited only seven of eight choirs, again something that would rack against every protocol of Conclave. Which was something an Archangel could ill afford to ignore or deny for the Discord it generated. Very dangerous in the presence of the Malakite who did not suffer deliberate Discord to exist.

The sun was already high in the dark gray sky. The air forever choked with frozen rain, pelting the wings, straining the feathers, and burning lung and air sacks alike with bitterness. Only the Malakim with their redundant four lungs, and twin eight-chambered hearts would dare take flight. Not even the great wyrms, the Dragon kings dare venture forth into the traitorous winds. The summons of Conclave even with the adversity of the Archangel who had forgone policy and protocol could not be ignored.

Hy-basil was far too close to the Queen and the eyes of the Wisdoms. Grigori was never in the equation. However the Empire of the Malakim was far reaching with more than thirty settled systems each one with nine or more habitable planets and countless livable moons, there was more than enough to choose from.

It was here on Rath (amongst the smallest of the planets in the Empire next to Grigori which were both the size of Pluto or Mercury, each orbited by a number of moons and rings) that Conclave would be called.

The Bastion possessed by Archangels of all Choirs was itself to the eye of a human Art Nouveau. An Earthling might even say it was Italian married to Celtic design. Those familiar with architecture of Prague would compare its style and be accurate. About the promenade were living statues of archangels from eons past, as well as dragons and pumacia carved from trees which had gone on sprouting. Adding to the uniqueness and majesty of each one. Facing one of these grand statues a Malakim would become a mere speck.

The Bastion offered the Malakim ease and peace with nature which was not so evident now in the broad reaches of the Empire. However the harmony of the Bastion still rang true. The elegant lines of the crowning seat itself was nearer to Japanese temples, with trees outside curving inward adding to the atmosphere of harmony the Empire was sorely lacking at the moment. Yet the tragedy of the climactic holocaust had yet to reach this far planet of Rath. The Archangels sang to the Great Song that the shadow of Dissidence would pass over Rath and leave her untouched. Here one could lose their thoughts in the mists that rose from the countless dozens of spectacular waterfalls that fell all about the Bastion whose splendour was the theft of breath itself.

"Be swift with your words Seraphim or I take the winds." Sizajabep of the Ofanim demanded. The slightly framed archangel of the Messengers was still slighted over the neglect of protocol. In her rage she had taken her sun sword and slain the silver owl that stolen the role of messenger. The small corpse now lay at the feet of Khurdudius, a clear message to her.

"Like the trickle of small stones that start an avalanche such is what now plagues our Empire," started the Archangel of the Seraphim. She pretended not to notice the dead owl or the scrutiny she was now under. Nor did her hand stray far from the hilt of her own sun sword lest Sizajabep not be content with an owl's murder.

"Not all are here Khurdudius." Tai of the Eloim Choir stated the obvious. "Where stands the Archangel of the Grigori?"

"Conclave is summoned without her. The Grigori are not to be welcomed here on this day." Khurdudius said, her great wings held passively at her side with some effort not to branch out in agitation. She would not be given away by body language so easily. "In all my long years I have not seen such calamity since the last Sundering and I was but a kit. Trouble always comes in the tailwind of coming of legends to life." Khurdudius Archangel of the Seraphim commented her wings out spread despite her efforts to still them. "Look now and see the turmoil the Empire lies in. Discord abounds, all after the naming of the Nephalim in to the House of Thrones. The Empire is Fading. What we saw as our hope is now our culling. We taste now the bitterness of mortality that no song will comfort." Her voice was strained with pain and fear. "We face now a new Sundering unless we fly swiftly against it and take action no matter how unpopular the Queen may find it."

"What say you Khurdudius we Exile the Nephalim?" Tai the Eloim Archangel quirked a teal eyebrow. Her green wings fluttering uncomfortably.

"We can not survive this Discord much longer. The power of the Sundering is growing. The Harrowing unleashed. Already three systems are evacuated to the outer reaches of the Empire in order to save them from their worlds that turned against them. How many more worlds, how many more systems will be wrought with Dissidence before we need do what needs to be done?" Khurdudius voice became formidable.

"The Grigori are as pumacia dams with cubs about the Nephalim you will not get near." warned Sizajabep of the Ofanim. Her massive copper wings ruffled she did not like where this secret conclave's conversation was heading. The Seraphim of course would blame the Ofanim archangel's flightiness to her Choirs hyperactivity but Sizajabep was merely cautious about creating discord when it could be avoided.

She cast a glance to the hard eyed Kurak, Archangel of the Malakite. In her marrow she was the coldest of warriors, the Huntress of all Discord. The Malakite where known never to suffer discord to exist. They faced it and smote it out as quickly as it was birthed.

Benti Archangel of the Cherubim nodded. Her wild green hair haloed her head like a pumacia's cerulean mane. Her Kith were the protectors, the guardians of the weaker wards of the Empire. "We must fulfill our obligations and protect the Empire. Our Wings fall, feathers frozen in mid flight, songs uttering from hoarse throats so worn they bleed, this can not continue thus."

al'Hmatti Archangel of the Mucurcians friends of Mortals shook her gray head, her ink-black wings wrapped around her body, she was shamed of this secret meeting, these words uttered in the dark where no other voices would rise in song. "She saved us from the First Fallen, now we turn Songs against her?"

President Bartlett heard the words of her Chief of Staff and once more thanked her father for his sage advice. Use your best friend one you count on to give you advice, to kick you in the ass when you needed it and always be supportive of your words. Charlie Young was that.

He had not feared to talk to the President and tell her she was wrong. Zoe admired that. "We will show Generals Carter and Fraiser they have THIS office at their backs. The White House will sanction their immigration to the Malakim Empire. I'll order General O'Neill to send SG1 as an envoy to the Empire. Relaying our support as well as their promotions prior to their retirement. Of course now the titles are purely Ceremonial but the US needs to see her heroes still loyal to her." President Bartlett declared.

"What are we going to do about Kinsey? He's still going to try to stir up noise with the Earth Allies of the Stargate and the Atlantis project."

"We'll remind him what he threatens is treason, I'll meet with the Allies myself in the Wardroom if needs be. We shouldn't have to publicly defend our National Heroes, Charlie."

"I know." the dark eyed man nodded. "Maybe we don't have too. If we have the Minister Namcheal of the Malakim Guild of Alien Affairs appear as Supreme Commander Thor once had it will give Senator Kinsey something to think about. And if she were to appear with the conference with the Ambassadors they were be very inclined not to go against the Generals if Kinsey still insisted on pursuing his course."

"The sudden appearance of an angel will frighten the bejesus out of anyone." Zoe smirked confidently. "Kinsey still doesn't know what to make of them other than the fact he was terrified of them."

"Use that to our advantage." Zoe ordered. "This union between our two nations was what the Stargate Program all about. The enormity of technology they are giving us, the defense against the Goa'uld. Hell with this treaty we might even be able to make the SGC public. Imagine it!"

Sisera's eyes fell upon Kurak. The Archangel of the Kyriotates grew nervous in the other's silence. How would the Hunter of Discord react, Sisera would take her cue from the strongest among them. Even Khurdudius would not dare face the warrior's wrath for it was venerable and always just.

"To do nothing is to damn our wards, our Kith and Kin to the Fading and Dark, you would do this? You would allow this?" The Seraphim Archangel pursued. "Can you?"

"All discord lays not only at the wingtips of the Nephalim. Lest you forget Seraphim, that our Queen called forth the Word of Unmaking. Such darkness has never been called upon in tens thousands of millennia. Not since the Unmaker has this been wrought and the creation of the Wraith. Lay you thus all Discord at the tips of the Nephalim's wings and you face the end of my blade, Khurdudius. I will say nothing more on the matter. I am done with this." Kurak's steel colored wings flared outward and then she vanished into the mists of the Penumbra.

"What will she do, do you think?" Tai asked hesitantly. "Warn the Nephalim?"

"Not her way." Benti said. "She hunts Discord. And as a hunter she waits to see actions carried out, Malakites are not Judges that lies in the wings of the Seraphim."

"What say you Archangels, we need to act swiftly before all is destroyed." Khurdudius pushed.

For a moment there was such silence it was deafening.

"Not I." Spoke Sizajabep. "I lead the Messengers, this is not the Ofanim's path of flight. I stand with the Nephalim and our Queen. The winds lead as they do, master the winds don't fight them."

"Ofanim always on the tail winds of the strong blades of the Malakite," scorned the voice of the Seraphim. "And the rest of you?"

"The Kyriotates are with the Seraphim." Sisera said though her voice held no conviction of her promise. She would follow Kurak but her concern over the many dying overcame her wisdom.

"The Eloim have your wing, Khurdudius." said Tai her words spoke with more steel than she felt in her heart. And she prayed to the Great Song this was the right course to fly.

"We are the friends of Mortals, we stay not with you but sail not against you. Our course is with those that call to our need. We fly to them." al'Hmatti said her voice as soft as a whisper.

"It has to stop!" Cassandra Fraiser ordered as she stomped into her CO's office. Sam turned her eyes never wavering from her eldest daughter as she walked around the massive desk of teak wood, past Minister Nachmiel of the Guild of Alien Affairs, her guards and past the com-system monitor which was displaying the face of director Elizabeth Weir of the Atlantis base.

"Lieutenant Fraiser," Sam Carter's voice was sharp and biting as any drill instructor. "I trust you have a cause for entering your Commander's Officer as you did?"

"Colonel," The young officer returned an equally clipped and cold tone of military professionalism. "With all do respect we need to talk." a moments hesitation. "Ma'am…"

Sam would not be badgered however her daughter's rampage was so abnormal it begged attention. She gave the young officer before her a frigid glare. "You...over there until I order your attention."

Cassie ground her teeth but did as she was ordered and retreated back to the bookshelves where her CO had pointed. Carter ignored the lieutenant and went back to her conference. "Elizabeth though our resources are stretched we'll offer what ever aid was can. The Wraith are a long standing enemy of the empire. I can offer three wings to relief aid. I am sorry but its all the Empire can afford."

Elizabeth Weir had been plagued not only with Wraith incursions but the near constant threat of the Genii which to the Atlanteans were nearly as bad as the Goa'uld. The Wraith had been constantly striking outlining areas of Atlantis alliance worlds. In fact they had struck Atlantis a few times and retreated under the defensive weapons but it wouldn't last for long.

The Wraith had a foothold on the Ancient plant and they would soon breach the shielded walls of the Atlantis stronghold. The Malakim were only too glad to strike war against a life long enemy. Since Achelous the Unmaker had created them, treating with the Atlanteans seemed to be more favorable to the Minister than with Earth if Sam was reading the woman's winged body language right.

"Sam," The brunette's _expression lifted from grave lined concern to relief, "Thank you. Tell us what can we do for you? Medicine we do have access to Ancient medical technology. In fact they left a great deal behind, what ever we can offer it is yours, or rather the Malakim Empire. We do have addresses to planets here that could offer sanctuary if needs be."

"I'll inform the Queen." Sam nodded. She had heard of the desperate actions of the Quincunxian armies who had poisoned their own, that they could not save. Elizabeth admitted the Quincunxian were insignificant at best, several times the Wraith had swept across the landscape easily felling all who stood before them. They thus decided they would not be worth culling. After all the dead serve no one.

The Queen of the Wraith Amaterasu had not taken kindly to the thought of the Atlanteans and the 'resistance' apparently the Wraith Queen liked the Quincunxians groveling like dogs in the dusty earth before the Atlanteans' arrival. Elizabeth had known her enemies name as Amaterasu. The dangerous part was that the Wraith knew much of the Atlanteans.

More than once Elizabeth had heard the culling warriors utter: "You would do well to listen to the voices your feet leave in the dust, as they tell others a great deal about you." It was advice Weir took to heart herself and she had studied the actions, the moves everything she could about the Wraith. The compilations she had she had sent to Sam, who was more than grateful to have the INTEL.

"Sam, you should know this as well, the Wraith are stirred up it seems they can feel something in your neck of the woods. I've heard from one of the captives we managed to take prisoner talk about the birth of a new Ancient. It's got them nervous."

'Nervous enemies make deadly enemies.' Sam said to herself. She could see the same reaction in Minister Namcheal. Her wings fluffed out and soon stilled. Even Cassie turned from her brooding at the words spoken by the Atlantis commander.

"They say anything else?" Sam pushed.

"Yes." Elizabeth shifted. "Be careful, they might be mounting a strike against you. Somehow Amaterasu knew about Usiel's defeat as well as someone called the Speckled Serpent that old Wyrm Achelous. Achelous the Liberator. Achelous the Unmaker. Apparently this thing is something of a god to them. So much so they call the Nephalim a god-slayer. They believe that the Nephalim has a connection to the New Ancient. Sam, even way out here in the Pegasus Galaxy the Wraith Queen could 'hear the song' of an Ancient still alive. And they think this new Ancient controls the Nephalim."

Sam paled. Cassie saw her mother look deathly ill, once more for a brief moment she saw terror in the blue eyes. It mirrored her own. She had heard what Dr. Weir had said about the Nephalim and the birth of a new Ancient. Namcheal's wings flared once more before she willed them to settle hard against her back.

She knew all too well that the Wraith would come in their great Hive ships and make war. Queen Amaterasu would not be easily stopped, she had before in the first Sundering brought a great plague to the Ancients, that had nearly destroyed them. Several had escaped, either to the Terran homeworld, Ascended or gone into deep hiding. So much so they had sealed themselves from the World Symphony. It was Malakim belief the Ancients had faded. Until Janet Fraiser awakened her latent Song.

"Sam?" Elizabeth called out a third time "You okay?"

The blonde shook her head, sighed deeply a heady breath. "I'm fine. Elizabeth.... I am sorry. Thank you for the INTEL, it means a lot more than you know. I'll get back with you concerning more details with our needs and meeting yours, or Boudicca my 2IC, will. There are a few people here that need to hear this about the Wraith."

Cassie couldn't agree more. Perhaps this news about the Wraith seemingly stalking her mom, would thaw the frozen divided that was erected between her two mothers. Something had to be done, and this more than qualified.

The younger woman had long since abandoned her spot near the bookshelves and approached the desk Sam sat behind. Their eyes locked this time not in a chess match of wills, but over the elephant Elizabeth had let in the room. At least for the moment neither Sam nor Cassie had to fear too much as Janet was well protected by the Blue Wing. Turel had died saving Janet's life the others would do the same without hesitation.

Janet laid her hands upon the back of an aging male Eloim. The great joints of his wings where his wings met his back were so frostbitten that he faced permanent crippling if not healed correctly. All the rejuvenation tanks were filled and even if he slipped into torpor or was likely the ancient Malakim would only be able to fly at half capacity.

He was in great pain; it was only his sheer indomitable spirit had allowed him to resist the comforting descent into oblivion where neither physical nor emotional anguish could follow. Instead he fought to stay alive, conscious, in control.

Janet inwardly winced when she had seen that both wings had also been broken close to the great joint that connected them to the musculature in his back; some essential arteries, sinew and nerve paths had been severed. Reknitting the cut connections would be time consuming and time wasn't a friend at this point. If there was no medical intervention he could not under his own volition unfurl his wings. Malakim wings were incredibly sensitive and even still he could not feel an anxious finger sliding down the mesh of feather and skin.

In her experience Janet has seen thus with soldiers who had had their backs broken in combat because of parachute malfunction or forced ejection from a cockpit. A warrior with a broken spin could not feel their legs, their feet, and became useless; these limbs could not be animated by the will of the soldiers who owned them. It would have been so with this Malakim, if not for the healing of a newly awakened Ancient.

"Can't....Can't.....Can't stop it!" Thadris murmured as he felt the Liege Healer touch his wounded back. "Too much...Great Song! It hurts, the worlds bleed! The Winds....can't....can't...."

"Shhhhhh. I am going to make you better. I need you to center yourself..." Janet looked up to the Ecomancer's Wingmate.

"Thadris." The green winged Kyriotate offered.

"Thadris." Janet almost purred the name. "You need to center yourself can you do that. Its going to be alright."

"It's all turned against us! The Noise! The Noise! Discord...no Voice!"

The small doctor knew she couldn't break through his tormented mind. It was the same with all the Ecomancers and Elementalists. All of them reacting with post traumatic stress disorder. Closing her eyes, Janet again lay her hands on the center of the felled warriors back, touching the wreck of wings. She made the noise of the ward fall away from her shed like some felines winter coat her soul would reach for the voices of the medical carolers, allowing the World Symphony to gain power. Her training had taught her to tap into the reserves of the Quintessence generated by the hymns others sang rather than her own or another's Song and depleting it.

The Great Song flew through her and into the wounded back of Thadris, in a great glow like the rays of a warm sun. Quicksilver the golden glow ebbed throughout the felled warriors body as if carried by his bloodstream.

What Janet touched was an essence of what this male had endured as he tried to heal the earth itself; biting, gnawing, hacking cruel ice tortured his body and still he pressed on. Until the ice drove him down and he could no longer fly. The crash landing into a grove of trees had shattered his frostbitten wings.

Driving past the mental anguish the doctor healed the broken bits of bone, sinew and nerves. The muscle reattached Thadris, with a bit of sleep, would be as he had never been injured. No. that wasn't entirely true. As an Ecomancer he felt what this climatic holocaust was doing to the worlds he sought to save. It was a wreck of his spirit, his Song. His mind would take longer to heal. It was the same with everyone Janet would heal. The torment would exhaust her.

Namcheal watched as the Nephalim ordered three volunteer Wings to be deployed to the Atlantis base, as well as three more Wings and any mortal ally in either the Military and Mercenary guilds willing to engage the Wraith.

The Minister caught herself doubting the wisdom of the Nephalim's choices but given the choice of freezing to death or baking alive in excessive heat or perhaps dying in a fight against the mortal enemy of the Empire, most would chose to chance the Wraith. At least with the Wraith there was a fighting chance against an enemy one could see, an enemy that could be predicted.

"Nephalim," Minister Namcheal said formally, her wings dipped low, "I will soon depart for Terra, furthering the negotiations. To Treat with a new world is not something we do without heavy thought. Trade yes, but an alliance is something different."

"Minister, what are you trying to say?"

"A treaty might not be possible, having reviewed the past treaties of several nations, including the United States. It is discouraging to discover they broken all with the indigenous populace already in dominion of the land. There are several instances with other nations with indigenous populace breaking their treaties, simply because they did not believe the aboriginal folk of value. If Terra breaks their treaties with others of their own race how can we trust them to treat with a race utterly alien to them? We know what has happened to the rebel Jaffa, the Terra government turned a blind eye to something called the Trust for lucrative reasons, and the Trust destroyed the Fifth Column Jaffa. The Guild of Alien Affairs is concerned that when it seems lucrative to the ruling government that they will break treaty with us as they have so oft in the past."

Sam could not deny it. Hell the early US government had broke nearly every treaty it had made with the Native Americans all for money, the Trust had done the same. If an alliance with the Malakim Empire was for trade goods only, the forever young Air Force officer knew it would have to do. That there wouldn't be any other choice. The Malakim had a similar trade agreement with both the Tollen and Asgard both of whom the Empire didn't have an alliance with.

Sam looked up her blue eyes steady with Namcheal's purple. For a moment neither woman said a thing. Carter knew Earth was protected from future Goa'uld attack, she trusted that. "Namcheal, Earth as an ally or a trade partner will benefit both of us. However, I would offer this, address the Atlanteans separate from Earth and consider them an ally. A direct connection to the Ancients' lost city can only be a benefit to the Empire."

"I agree, the Empire and Atlantis should gain much as allies. Their willingness to aid the Empire as a gesture of goodwill during this time of need shows great character. I know Terra would offer aid if it could but the fact your Stargate must remain secret hampers much. We are not accustomed to hiding who and what we are. It is one reason we are not allies with the Asgard as they are in habit to masquerade as gods and goddess to young worlds. Even if they are benign, they still pretend that which they are not."

"I will go with the three Wings deployed to Atlantis to enter talks with Doctor Elizabeth Weir, of course my presence is needed on Terra but that will not take long, the GAA meets with the President, after which my presence isn't necessary my assistants can handle any trade agreements." With that Namcheal rose and tilted her head, her silver wings fanned out. "Be well Nephalim, and guard ye well thy wife the Wraith will not so easily give up their prey. They are unlike anything you have faced thus far....." The Minister titled her head and reconsidered. "Perhaps not, fell them as you did Usiel."

Namcheal left leaving Sam alone with Cassie. Colonel to Lieutenant, mother to daughter.

"Want to tell me what 'your' problem is?" Sam snapped.

"It isn't mine, its Rebecca's." Cassandra suddenly recalled why she had stormed her CO's office.

Janet was past exhaustion. She had healed three score Malakim from their maladies. Broken wings, legs, arms, clavicles, sternums, wrists and skull fractures. Punctured lungs and air sacks. All of which the regeneration powers of a Malakim could heal but add a fall of 25,000 feet and frostbit and hypothermia or severe dehydration and massive second degree sunburns, infections and an angelic was fated to torpor at worst risk Fading.

The only true way to kill a Malakim was to remove their hearts. But they could Fade into the penumbra, disembodied for eons. Fraiser had saved many from such a fate, not by her knowledge of medicine alone but by her newly acquired Song of Healing.

Utterly spent the tiny lilliputian physician now slumped upon the back of Elladan under the watchful gaze of the entire Blue Wing. Boudicca hovered particularly close. Her oath to the Nephalim forever singing in her mind. An oath that all of the Blue Wing took deadly seriously: to protect Janet even to and beyond the cost of their own lives. They stood close to her, guarding her for the past three days without wavering. Janet had not truly slept the Blue Wing refused to.

Elladan touched down, grateful that in mere seconds he would be indoors out of the frigid cool. He wanted to spread out, next to the fireplace and sleep. The great white furred blue winged Pumacia padded lightly into the bedroom of the Carter-Fraiser bastion waiting for someone to take his precious cargo from his back.

During the three days of Janet's emergency care, it had been Boudicca that had been one regular contact with the command center of Incarna home of the Grigori Stargate. She had told her commander and chief the Prime Minister of the Empire every detail of what Janet was doing, where she was and to affirm that she had always the Blue Wing covering her six.

That guard split half in the penumbra half in the corporal world because of the threat of Wraith incursions. Janet herself had not spoken to her wife or daughters. Her dedication to saving lives was now paramount.

Sam having been 2IC and latter commander of the Flagship team of the SGC she knew that out in the field days even a week could go by without a proper communication save for SOP ( standard operating procedure) with the base. Even still Sam had since the warning from Weir been overly worried for her wife. A simple check in would have eased this tension. However that was not the case and Sam was left stewing in her brooding anger.

"She's overtaxed her Song." Razeal said softly with awe still in his voice over the great dedication Janet given and the great accomplishment she had achieved in saving so many lives.

"She always gives so much of herself to her patients, even her life if it called for it. She's the best."

Sam was in awe herself over her wife's never wavering compassion and commitment to those who needed her. The blonde also knew her wife would have had a poor diet over the last three days and grabbed maybe two hours of sleep the whole time. It was no wonder 'the Energizer Bunny' had burned out after running on high octane for so long without a respite.

Sam took her wife into her arms candling the smaller body tightly. Despite her anger, Sam's love for Janet was forever strong a confrontation could wait. Looking up to her Wing the blonde grinned proud to have them serving under her. "All of you thank you, I'll take it from here. Get some rest, there are more than enough rooms here, stay if you want." she added a smile of genuine gratitude for Janet's safe keeping. "It's too cold to fly into the city, stay, its warm, safe and the kitchen is fully stocked."

Boudicca touched Sam's shoulder concern reflecting in her silver eyes, "We'll be close at hand should you need us, Liege Commander."

The other seven nodded their heads before filing out of the bedroom leaving Sam alone with Janet. The blonde sighed, squashing down her anger, her frustration. Cassie had been right to take Little Bit for the past three days, the argument between she and Janet had grown steadily worse by the hour. Now they were as frigid as the gale force winds outside. Stoically Sam undressed her wife and tucked her into the bed. As she pulled the covers over Janet's slumbering form, Sam sat down on the edge of the bed, her clear blue eyes staring at the tiny woman she had fallen in love with.

"You're right Janet, we need to talk."

Part 9

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