Chains of Freedom
CATEGORY: Alternate Universe, Romance
Installment 2: Chapters 17-?
CHAPTER XV11: The Show Must Go On
Elizabeth Weir was on her tenth cup of the extra strength coffee she got from her grandfather, her sixth call to the head of the Lantea Parliament, third wave to the Tok’ra, and fifth call to the President. She was also trying to find out if the report they had heard was valid, because if it was it meant another call. And she really didn’t want to make that one.
“Peter, have we heard anything from out contacts with the
Peter Godin rushed in closing his miniature data pad. “It’s
what we feared,
* * * *
Vala stretched her deliciously sore muscles as she turned to face Daniel, who was still blissfully asleep. Here in this moment lay the danger and the fantasticness of being the first one up, throwing a leg over his thighs she sat on his hips and watched as he exhaled, inhaled and exhaled again. I’m going to be grinning all day, was the only thought that passed through her mind. Part of her wanted to lick, bite and kiss Daniel into waking, another just wanted to stay and watch.
Just as she leaned down to kiss him awake, her hair tickled the skin it came in contact with and right when their lips would have touched Vala let out squeak. Daniel’s hands had snuck up to her waist and flipped them over.
Vala laughed as her back hit the mattress.
Daniel’s eyes narrowed in mock reprimand as he loomed over her. “What were you going to do?”
“Nothing, just the best wake up call you’ve ever had.” Vala wiggled under Daniel to get into a more comfortable position.
“Really?” Daniel smiled wide, marvelling at the early morning beauty Vala held and the new feeling in his chest. A light almost feathery feeling that had him wanting to kiss every inch of her deliciously exposed body.
“Really.” Vala crossed her arms, bringing Daniel’s attention to her chest. “Hey, don’t think you’ll be getting that privilege now.” She grabbed hold of his chin bringing his eyes to hers and her lips stretched into a wide smile he mirrored.
“What if I pretend to be asleep again?” Pouting, he bent to kiss the area just under her ear. Vala squirmed in delight.
“Nope.” Vala moved to wrap her arms around his neck and Daniel brought them up into a sitting position. As Daniel moved to kiss her, she covered her mouth. Shaking her head, she mumbled behind her hand, “No way, not until I brush my teeth.”
Daniel rolled his eyes. “You were going to kiss me awake.”
“You would have been asleep until the kiss was over.” Vala now covered his mouth with her other hand and then kissed his covered mouth with her now free lips. She moved off his lap and the bed and went to the bathroom to brush said teeth.
Following, Daniel couldn’t help but smile at her antics. Even first thing in the morning she was the craziest, sexiest, and most extraordinary being he had ever come across. Inside the bathroom she was rinsing and he began his own morning rituals. Vala, examining her teeth, hopped onto the undersized counter by the sink with a peep –“It’s cold, darling.” – and then waited quietly until he finished. Rinsing his mouth, Daniel turned to then be caught up in a deep, opened-mouth kiss and Vala wrapping her legs around his waist.
The fact that they were both still naked had not escaped either of them, and Daniel brought his hands to her thighs, lifting her to him. Now with the thankfully dry bathroom floor he moved them to the shower.
“Wanna finish your original idea for last night’s shower?” Daniel managed in between kisses.
Vala’s answer was only a breathy mewl as the water began falling, her lips busy with other things.
* * * *
“Give it to me,” Jack said to Sam as they stood in the middle of the engine room.
Sam only raised a blonde eyebrow as she answered, “We now have cloaking capabilities without the ZPM and better shielding by 85. Next time we see the Daedalus, they will be very jealous.”
“Sweet.” Jack smiled, thinking of Steven Caldwell and the unofficial competition they had between their ships. “That’s what I like to hear.”
“Hey Jack?” Sam twirled her socket wrench.
“Yeah?” Jack turned a curious glance at Sam’s tone of voice, it was one that always ended with them tightening the ship’s purse strings.
“Have you seen Daniel or Vala today?” Sam’s question wasn’t the one Jack has been expecting but he took it in stride, shaking his head.
“Have you checked Daniel’s office?” Jack suggested. “Sometimes I wonder how they don’t go crazy locked up in there.”
Sam shook her head. “Yeah, they weren’t there when I checked.”
“That’s weird.” Jack pursed his lips pensively.
“The gym? Vala likes to kick
Chuckling, Sam shook her head. “Checked there too.”
“Huh. Weird. Is it an emergency?” Jack asked, now wondering even more about the couple. It was already 1000; they were usually up and about by now, days off notwithstanding.
“No, I just wanted to ask Vala something.” Sam shrugged and turned back to the engine room’s panel.
Jack paused at the engine room’s door, about to head out. “What?”
Sam sighed, “If it was possible to find another ZPM.”
At that Jack’s eyes widened. “Huh.”
* * * *
As the doors slid open,
“You know, people have been wondering where you two have
been this morning?”
“Oh…” Vala fought not to grin at what had just occurred.
“Yeah, Sam wanted to ask you something, princess.”
Chuckling, he motioned with his hand, as he took a sip. “You might wanna fix your top before you go though.”
With a bright laugh, Vala looked down and straightened her vest. “Thanks, Cameron. I’ll go talk to her in bit.” Daniel on the other hand stayed by the shelf, rubbing his mouth hiding his own smile.
In the med bay, Caro laughed the minute
“There is no way you can know what I’m about to tell you,”
“I wouldn’t take that bet.” Caro looked up from her paper
“Secondary effects.” Caro rolled her eyes at the look
“You can sense that?”
Caro nodded, “It’s like being able to smell the meatloaf on your clothes even after you left mess hall. And the stronger the smell, or in this case the emotion,”
“Okay, I got it.”
“Don’t even think about it. It’s bad enough what I get from
them in a non-post-coital aspect; I’m going to need to fortify myself on a
daily basis now.” As Caro turned back to her work,
“Walter,” Caro answered without missing a beat, going back to her charts.
Damn it, Walter always
wins the pools,
* * * *
Nodding gravely, Peter said nothing as he went to do as his friend and boss said.
* * * *
“Captain,” Jack heard through the speaker in the gym. Can’t even get twenty minutes to myself, this can’t be good for my cardio.
Walking over, he pressed the com button. “Yes, Walter?”
“I have another wave from Dr. Weir, sir.”
Raising an eyebrow, Jack did not like the feeling that was bubbling up in his stomach. “I’ll take it in my office.” Waving to Teal’c and Lou, he made his way to his office.
As Jack turned the vid screen on, he smiled. “Liz, twice in two days, I’m feeling loved.”
“Jack, I need you guys,”
“Why? What’s up?” Jack felt his spine stiffen at
“Osiris took Revanna.” Normally bright green eyes were clouded and Jack could almost see the weight on her shoulders.
Jack paled at
“Do you really think I would joke about something like
Jack sighed, running a hand over his chin. “No… I know you wouldn’t. I’m sorry. But why do you need us back? Did something happen to Jacob?” He asked the last question in fear of what the answer would be, mainly for Sam.
“But when they do…”
Neither had to finish their respective sentences, both with the deep knowledge that when the Goa’uld chose to go to Lantea it would signify a galaxy at war.
“Oh?” Jack did not think the reason would be a good one.
Licking her lips in worry,
“You’re mom still lives there, doesn’t she?” Jack spoke
softly, remembering the last time they had gone to the planet and Daniel’s aunt
had lavished them all with food the entire time they had been there. Athos was
“Her along with other hundreds of millions of innocent
Only nodding, Jack replied, “We can be at Athos in less than two days.”
Jack couldn't help but ask. “The Daedalus going to be there?”
“Good to know who we have from our side.” Jack hoped the
excuse sounded better to
“I hate those fu- asses,” Jack amended at the last second,
smiling innocently at
“I try, and we’ll be there. That bitch won’t know what hit her.” Jack nodded, determined, his hatred of the Goa’uld seeping through his voice.
“Thank you, Jack.”
“Yeah?” Looking at her, he could she how exhausted she was and hoped she would be getting some rest, but knowing her he had a feeling she hadn't slept at all, cooped up in her office, last night.
“Do you think I could talk to Daniel?” She asked, suddenly sounding much younger than she was.
“Yeah, sure. I’ll call him up.” Jack nodded softly and did just that.
* * * *
It had taken longer than either had planned but Daniel and Vala had finally gotten around to working on the manuscripts. They had most of the narratives catalogued and now they just had to separate the different and analogous elements of them all. Neither was looking forward to it, mainly for the simple fact that they knew it would be time-consuming, and both, along with the rest of the galaxy, hoped to find an answer quickly.
“How long do you think this will take?” Vala asked, eyeing her work.
“Don’t think of it like that because then it will feel like longer.” Daniel rubbed at his neck, “But hopefully not long.” He looked up at her finding her smile still matched his.
As he began to work, they heard, “Daniel?”
Pressing the com, Daniel answered, “Yeah?”
“Do you think you can come up to my office for a second?”
Sharing a look with Vala, he nodded. “Sure, what’s up?”
Now normally those words wouldn't worry Daniel, he loved his cousin and loved talking to her, but the way Jack had said them— Daniel now had a very uncomfortable knot growing in his stomach. “I’ll be right there.”
Moving towards the door, he was stopped by Vala’s hand on his arm. “Darling?”
“I’m sure everything is fine.” Daniel gave her a quick kiss and knew she didn’t believe him, especially considering he didn’t believe himself.
Vala sighed, kissing him back, “Tell me if it’s not.”
Nodding he made his way to Jack’s office. The ambiance in
Jack’s office was one of silent trepidation, and even via vid screen Daniel
could sense that in
“Osiris took Revanna. I filled Jack in, and I’m sending you
everything we know.”
“Yes, I know. Look, Athos is already mobilizing, and we’re sending ships too, but I need to know that if worse comes to worse, you’ll convince mom to go with you.”
Daniel nodded. “Don’t worry I’ll get her to come with us.”
“Thanks, Daniel.” Biting her lip, Daniel could see there was something else his cousin wasn’t telling him.
“Tell me, Liz.”
Bottle green eyes met sky blue, and just like they had when growing up, they wouldn't allow secrets between the cousins. “I need to know what the Priestess of Kheb contacted you with.”
In slight shock, Daniel turned to Jack, who shrugged and then turned back to his cousin. “Liz… if we tell you, this has to be between us. It’s too big and dangerous for too many people to know.”
“Always, Daniel, but I have to tell you, people have been asking questions. It’s been close to three months since you guys have been back, and with this new partnership you’ve taken up questions have been asked.”
“Why? We’ve always worked independently.” Daniel crossed his arm, not liking the idea of people asking too many questions about Vala and Teal’c.
“You might be independent contractors but you also use a
warship, and more importantly in the past several years you’ve all gained
yourselves quite the reputation. Whether you like it or not, what you all do
affects the planet and the way we work.”
Sighing, Daniel decided he didn’t want to get
“Exactly.” Suddenly a thought grabbed Daniel. Unguarded…
“Not yet, but soon.” Daniel shook his head, letting his mind follow another train of thought.
“Gods, Daniel, and my dad thought I would be the one giving
him and mom grey hairs.” The smile
Daniel smiled back, “I remember, Lizzy.”
“Be careful, all of you.” With a sigh,
Turning to Jack, Daniel asked, “How long will it take for us to get to Athos?”
“With the ZPM, two days. Why, Daniel? What are you thinking?”
Daniel sighed, “Revanna is about five days from Athos normally. We’ll use the ZPM to get there earlier, but I think me and Vala need to leave you guys when we get there.”
“Daniel?” Jack did not sound happy, but Daniel knew it couldn’t be helped, not today.
“I think I know a way to get some faster answers.” Thinking, that if he was right, then they’d be closer to The First much sooner than expected.
Jack stepped forward and rubbed at his chin, “Daniel I don’t
like this, you just told
“I know what I just told her but if I’m right and we get extremely lucky,” pacing the small office, Daniel turned to Jack arguing his point, “we’ll have our answers and be back to Athos in less than a day. Still before Osiris. This could be it, Jack. It could be over.”
Meeting Daniel’s eyes, Jack relented, as Daniel knew he would and sighed, running a hand through greying hair. “Tell Vala we need the ZPM again.”
With a short nod Daniel left the room.
“You still didn’t tell me where you are planning on going!” Jack called out.
“I know,” Daniel shot back, making his way down to his office. He need to talk to Vala. Now.
* * * *
“We need to go to Kheb.” Daniel walked into the room, shocking the hell out of Vala.
Without missing a beat Vala told Daniel just how she felt about that particular idea. “What! Darling, have you gone mental? Anubis has taken over the entire planet. No way.”
“Come on, tell me that since Sahal and Oma’s little appearance you haven’t felt the need to go there.” Vat sat on his desk and Daniel walked forward, stepping in between her legs as they swung much like a child’s would.
“I haven’t.” She avoided Daniel’s eyes, focusing a random spot on the ceiling.
“Liar.” Brushing her hair from her face, Daniel caressed her cheek. “There’s something there. We both know it.”
Vala sighed and rested her head on his shoulder, his arms going around her waist. “I know, but you’ll tell Jack this time.”
“I already did.” Daniel’s words drifted through her hair and Vala’s closed eyes snapped open.
Shocked, Vala leaned back to face him, one eyebrow raised. “Really?”
Giving her a half shrug, Daniel brushed their noses and lips together, smirking. “I might not have mentioned it was Kheb we were going to.”
Vala chuckled softly, “Daniel…”
He nudged her, “You should be proud, I learnt this move of selective truth from you. I just had a thought. Anubis probably has the planet guarded, which means that there’s something there he want to hide.”
“And we want to know what he’s hiding.” With a sad smile she ran her hand comfortingly through Daniel’s hair as he leaned into her touch. “What else happened?”
“I guess I can never call you stupid, now can I?’ He kissed her gently and moved to sit down. “Osiris took Revanna and is heading to Athos.” Daniel dropped his head back on his chair.
“That’s the Tok’ra rebel base. This is horrible, Daniel.” Vala stood, fury flowing through her veins, and began to pace.
Daniel reached out and grabbed her gesticulating arm, bringing her back to him. “That’s not all, in heading to Athos, Osiris is threatening one of Lantea’s most valued allies. Elizabeth, my cousin, she asked for us to go and help. We are a warship after all, even if it is an older model.”
“That’s understandable, when are we leaving?”
“As soon as possible, but we still need to go to Kheb.”
Vala nodded, “We’ll take my ship.”
“We can’t.” Daniel blushed.
Vala raised an eyebrow at him, “Why not?”
“Jack wants to use the ZPM to get us to Athos faster. I told him I’d ask you.”
“Oh,” Vala just grinned. “That’s fine, darling. We’ll use the ZPM to get to Athos, then we’ll just reattach it to the Sera and head to Kheb.”
“Yeah, your planet and Athos need the Prometheus for now. And theSera is perfectly equipped for a trip to Kheb or a probable scuffle. It’ll be fine, and believe me when I say you’re going to love it. A mini vacation of sorts. Just the two of us.” She was grinning wide, trying not to let the gravity overwhelm her, but both knew that after this – Kheb, Athos – after the outcome of either everything was going to change.
Like her, Daniel tried to make light of the situation with a not so ironic tease, “One where the fate of the galaxy hangs in jeopardy.” Grabbing her by her waist, he brought her down to his lap and rested their foreheads together.
“Well, it doesn't sound nearly as fun when you put it that way.” Vala brushed her thumb against his cheek with a thin smile.
* * * *
“Jack, what’s going on?”
Sam’s hand covered the gasp that escaped her, “My dad?”
“He’s fine, he was on Belote. But the Tok’ra base is pretty much gone, and from what I heard very few Tok’ra’s got out. And that’s not all.”
Jack met his brother-in-law’s eyes and sighed, “The she-snake’s on her way to Athos.”
“Of course we’re going?” Sam asked.
“Yes, we’re going to attach the ZPM to get there faster. Then…” Jack’s glance moved to Daniel and Vala.
Daniel turned to his friends. “We’re not going to stay with you guys when we get to Athos.”
“I think I have an idea where to get some answers and after we reattach the ZPM to Vala’s ship, we’re going to leave. We should only be gone a day or so.”
“Look, if we leave now we’ll be at Athos in two days. It will take Osiris five days to get to the planet from Revanna, and we’ll probably be back before anything starts.” Vala stepped forward. “Anyway, it’s not like you need me and Daniel to fight. If staying together was the smarter course of action, we’d take it, but right now it’s best that we all do what we’re best at.”
Lou stared at Vala, arms crossed. Vala rolled her eyes, “You lot go be the soldiers that you are, and me and Daniel will get the answers we need to stop Anubis.”
The room stood quite, until Teal’c broke the silence. “I believe it would be best for me to stay with the Prometheus. Athos will need all available fighters.”
Vala nodded, “I thought as much. Sam?”
“Let’s get the ZPM attached.” With a quick look to Jack both women left.
Jack turned to the remaining members of the group. “Okay,
The three men nodded and left to fulfil their duties.
Now only Daniel remained in the room.
“Jack.”It’s all starting.
Jack turned to the man that had become his brother. “I know, Daniel. I know.”
CHAPTER XVIII: Glycerine in the Space Above
Like they had predicted, the trip to Athos took only two days with the ZPM attached. In that time, Sam had contacted the Daedalus to learn they would be arriving only a few hours after the Prometheus would reach the planet. Sam had to admit she was thankful for that.
After a meeting with Jack she had convinced the captain of the ship to share the new upgrades with the Daedalus – cloaking and better shielding were always a good advantage to have over the enemy, and honestly Sam wanted to test the new systems on another Lantean ship.
Sighing, she went over the data for the systems and the intel Elizabeth had provided them. Hearing that Revanna had been taken had shaken her to her core. Having lost one parent to the Goa’uld was already one parent too many for her. Before she had gone to Lantea for school Revanna had practically been her home, Revanna and Belote. She had never felt such relief as she had when she had finally gotten in communication with her dad, who as head ambassador to the Tok’ra and widowed husband to a Tok’ra woman, was always on either planet when he didn’t go to Lantea for business. But thankfully after an emergency data burst and “I’m fine, Sammy, just worried. Be careful. Love, you whiz kid,” she had finally taken a breath and focused on the next problem – Athos.
Along with his brief message to her, her dad had also given them a detailed and off the record report of what had happened in Revanna. The news her dad had given them had not assuaged their worries, it seemed that Osiris had some modified and powerful weaponry, which the Tok’ra hadn't been expecting. Daniel guessed that it had to be from Anubis, and Sam concurred. Ever since Anubis had destroyed Tau’ri close to fifteen years ago, it was obvious that he had some superior technological knowledge. Knowledge he kept close and very rarely shared even with his second.
Jumping up, Sam looked to the com, where
“We just dropped out of hyperspace over Athos.” She could
hear the apprehension and tension in
“Okay, have Vala meet me in the engine room.” Giving one last look at the data that ran through the screen she bit her lip in thought.
* * * *
Vala inserted the ZPM back into the Seraphim she smiled as she could feel the ship come alive around her. All the primary systems were coming online and going over she went to her engine room’s console and placed her hand on it, letting the screen come up.
Vala turned to Daniel who was looking at the ship in awe. He had never actually been in the ship, much to both’s astonishment, but now his eyes kept wandering over the entire thing much like a child who had never seen the stars. He was completely and utterly enthralled.
“I know, and this is just the engine room… Wait till you see
the cockpit in space. Or maybe you’d be more interested in the knowledge base.”
“You have a knowledge base?” He sounded giddy.
“Well,of course, you can bring up any subject matter in the ship’s database, which hold the Tau’ri encyclopaedia and numerous other texts from my world, some quite extensive.”
“Not really, all ships had it.”
Vala disengaged from the engine’s screen and began leading Daniel back up to the cockpit. “We were a very learned people.”
“I see. And how long should it take us to get to Kheb with your ship?” Daniel asked, as he walked into the cockpit and Vala motioned him to sit down in the co-pilot’s chair. Teal’c sat in the pilot’s chair, starting up the ship and all its systems for Vala.
“It should only take a few hours, Daniel Jackson.” Teal’s stood and turned to Vala before giving her the chair, “The ship is ready. Be careful, my friend, and return to us soon.” He bowed his head to then be wrapped up in a hug.
“Don’t worry, Muscles, it will give you wrinkles.” Vala pecked his cheek and winked. “Kick some ass.”
“Indeed.” Teal’c smirked and, bowing to Daniel, left the cockpit and the ship.
Vala sat in the empty chair and Daniel watched the difference as the lights became brighter and another translucent screen, similar to the one he had seen with machine, came up.
Vala turned to him, “Ready, darling?”
“Yeah, ready.” Daniel nodded and waited as Vala started the ship’s engine.
As they got ready to leave the docking bay, they heard the line they had with the Prometheus come to life. “Be careful, you two.”
“Here we go.”
* * * *
“How long until the Daedalus arrives?”
“According to Colonel Caldwell’s last wave, they should be arriving in the next few hours. Sir?”
“The captain is still on his call with Lantea, but I have the High Commander of the Athosian fleet wanting to speak to someone.”
As the screen came on,
“As do we. Commander, am I right to assume you will be giving us ground and air support.”
“Very well, these are our preliminary plans for this conflict, I thought it would be best to coordinate as soon as possible.”
* * * *
When Jack signed off with Elizabeth, Bartlett and Richard Woolsey he was not in a good mood. No matter how many times he would work with or talked to man, Jack always wanted to give Woolsey a good neck ringing.
When Jack signed off with Lantea, the Daedalus dropped out of hyperspace. He was on his way to the bridge
With a sigh, Jack pressed the com. “Yes, Walter…”
“I have Colonel Caldwell holding for you.”
“Patch him through.”
As Steven Caldwell appeared on screen, Jack wondered what was it about all the bald men he knew and that look they always gave him.
“General,” Steven Caldwell addressed Jack, formal as always.
“I haven’t been a general in a long time, Steven, just call me Jack.”
“So far so good, but you should confer with General Satis for further measures, it is his planet we’re here to protect after all.”
“Of course. I heard that you wanted to talk to me for something concerning the ship.”
Rubbing his neck, Jack dropped his head, “Yeah, I heard about your run in with the Coalition, heard you took some damage-”
“Nothing we couldn't handle.”
“Never said you couldn’t, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some
extra hands, especially considering how this is looking to go and I want to send
Sam, Dr. Carter, over to,” Jack paused, because these the next words that were
going to come out of his mouth would be some of the hardest he would say all
day, “help you guys and give you better shielding and cloaking capabilities.”
Rushing the last words he watched as
“Are you serious?”
* * * *
Sam was beamed straight to the Daedalus’ engine room, data pad, keyboards and rolled up cords in hand. Blinking she had barely turned when she heard a terribly familiar voice calling to her. “Why hello, blue eyes.”
Shocked, Sam Carter turned to face Rodney McKay. “Rodney, what the hell are you doing here?”
Rodney rolled his eyes going back to what he had been working on. “Nice to see you too, Sam.”
“I’m sorry,” Sam moved forward to where Rodney was working and bit her lip, “I just wasn’t expecting you to be here – it’s not exactly your kind of place.”
“Not made out to be on military ship, she thinks… I’ll have you know that I’ve worked on several military vessels. Just because I don’t go off and kill Goa’ulds on a daily basis, which in some way has to be suicidal. I mean, who knowingly goes to a Goa’uld ruled planet looking for a fight?”
He just ignored her as he sped on, “And for your information I was on my way back from Tollana, Radek and me are working on upgrades for ship’s shielding. For all ships even, old military ships like yours and your crazy crew, because gods know you’d need-”
“Rodney…” Sam tried not to snap. “You know that’s not what I meant, and I thought we were over this.” With a sigh, Sam closed her eyes, not really wanting to get into it with her ex-fiancé.
Turning to her, a smidgen of remorsefulness flitted through his eyes. “Yeah, I know. I remember. I’m… I’m just trying to get this all working and nobody seems to able to keep up with me, even handicapped… Not that I should be surprised – it is a military vessel…” He mumbled the last bit and Sam smiled – it was good to know that some things stayed the same. Then she concentrated on one word. Handicapped.
It was then that she noticed him holding his arm in a sling, a gel cast covering his forearm. “What happened to you?” She asked worriedly.
“What?” Following Sam’s eyes, Rodney shrugged. “Oh, when we ran into the Coalition ships, well, the military always has to show how big its cannons are…and I got slammed against a few falling objects.” He kept working until he then looked back to Sam. “What are you doing here?”
Chuckling, Sam handed Rodney her data pad, “I’m here to give the Daedalus a shield upgrade and cloaks.” Sam would never admit it, but she said the last bit with just a slight amount of smugness.
“What!” Rodney snatched the data pad from her and began shifting through all the data.
“This is… This is amazing…” Rodney spared her a glance before focusing back on the pad. “It’s like what me and Radek are working on, but light-years ahead. Networking the separate systems to have them working in correlation to one another instead of independent systems.”
“Makes them work better and enhances the shielding abilities, I know.”
Rodney kept mumbling rapidly, going through the lines of data and then snapped his head to hers, “Where’d you get this from?”
Sam snatched the pad back and moved to start the work she came to do, “What makes you think I got this from somewhere.” With a huff, Sam opened up the crystal console.
“Don't think you can fool me, blue eyes. You're smart, a master I would say if I didn’t have my reputation to look out for, but you’re notthat smart. The last time we saw anything like this it was theoretical and with no hope to be implemented. We worked and lived together too long not to know when your hiding something.”
Sam exhaled through her nose and pursed her lips. “I had some help from a friend who has access to this kind of technology. So are you going to help me out or not – it was quite a battle for Jack to part with this advantage.” Glancing behind, Sam watched Rodney get his data pad and could see that he wanted to ask who the friend was, but like Rodney had said they had been in each other’s lives for too long not know when to question and when not to.
“Of course it was, that man is like a physicist with a new theory in regards to that ship. I’m surprised he even let you ring aboard to help us. I don’t think his mother ever taught him how to share, must less say thank you for anything. And why does he always give me that look when—”
“Rodney,” Sam interrupted his rant.
“What?” He looked at her rolling eyes and grabbed for the data pad. “I’m running the systems, you’re doing the analysis.”
“My work and I know it works, the Prometheus already has it.” Sam reached for the pad, but Rodney held it out of range.
“My ship, which happens to have a proto-type system of the new shielding technology I came up with, and watch the arm!”
“McKay!” Sam snatched it back, but silently acknowledging that the new shielding system Rodney had given the Daedalus might change the algorithms a bit, making this a tad longer than she had planned.
Rodney smiled crookedly already working on adjusting the systems, “And people thought we broke up because we lost our spark.”
“Just do your job.” Sam shook her head. And the ex-fiancés went to work, falling quickly back into an old rhythm that was haunted by the fact that in a few days they’d be fighting for their lives.
* * * *
The trip from Revanna to Athos normally, for all ships in the galaxy, takes five days, sometimes longer if the ship is damaged. With a ZPM the trip would take the better part of two days. Thankfully, Osiris did not have a ZPM, but like the Tok’ra had said Osiris looked to have powerful new weaponry and along with that power of new weaponry Osiris also had a fast hyperspace drive.
It was 0800 hours on the third day when Osiris dropped out off hyperspace over Athos. Immediately her fleet fired on the Athosian ships blocking her from the planet.
* * * *
Cursing, Jack sat at the bridge as he directed fire at the closest ship from Osiris’s fleet.
“Just got here. Ready to fly.”
“Go!” Jack ordered as he watched Gilders emerge from one of the Ha’taks.
“Going!” And just as
“The shields are holding at 80, and captain, we’ve just
gotten word that Osiris has started sending
“Send our ground troops down to back-up wherever the Athosians need us.” As the ship shook taking fire from one of Osiris’ motherships, Jack grabbed hold of his chair in an effort not to fall out of it.
* * * *
On the Daedalus Sam fell into Rodney and they both tried not to crash onto the engine room floor when the ship took a direct hit.
“Damn it, Sam, watch the arm!”
Before Sam could reply with an appropriately scathing
comment, they heard
“What’s the status on our new shields, because they would be very nice to have at the present time.”
Rodney rolled his eyes, vowing never to work for the man again, and went to the com, “We were just getting ready to test the new system when our friends popped out of the sky, we’re going to need a few minutes.”
“We don’t have a few minutes, Dr. McKay. Get me my shields.”
Intercepting Rodney from prolonging his tête-à-tête with
Rodney let himself be pulled by Sam back to the console, “Like we knew Osiris would get here a full two days early,”
“Rodney, we’re almost done, we just have too implement the program.” Sam steadied herself as the ship shook again. She grabbed the data and running over the programme one last time, “Everything checks out.” She glanced at Rodney.
“Okay then, here we go.” Rodney pressed the button to initialize the new systems.
“Did it work?” Rodney exclaimed, eyes wide.
As an answer
Sam smiled widely, “It worked, we have the new shielding, you just have to disengage the cloak now.”
Rodney turned his wide blue eyes to his ex. “Why in the hell would he want to do that!?”
* * * *
Gena, the capital city of
The Ring of the Ancestors, the Stargate, stood proudly in the middle of the main and expansive main plaza, which was encircled by the various merchant shops and stands that welcomed arriving and departing travellers. Usually there were scores of people milling around the area that was a staple in the city. The Plaza Argent was usually filled with families, businessmen, and children.
Today it stood empty. Desolate.
A stony calm shrouded the normally lively area. It had ever since the first attack in the early morning.
It had been barely 0600 in the city as the usual merchants and shop owners had begun to set up and open their stores when the Stargate had engaged, not an unusual occurrence. What had been unusual was who emerged from the gate.
To the shock of the many early morning passers-by,
But that had been hours ago and now Gena, along with many other Ahtosian cities, were being ravaged and turned into battlefields that the peaceable planet had never expected to see, let alone be.
On the ground Lou Ferretti found himself in a war zone similar to the ones he had left years ago. He watched as smaller Goa’uld ships and Gliders attacked and as the Athosian ships fought back. He watched as hundreds of jaffa troops were beamed or ringed down and began overtaking everything in their path. Leading his men through the streets of the Athos capital, he tried to take out as many jaffa as they could while trying to help the Athosians evacuate the area.
Moving forward he and his team shot at the firing
“Rylan, take the civilians and get them to a secure locations. Evans, stay with me.” As the groups separated, Lou rushed forward looking to take down the jaffa as well as diverting their attention from the group of formerly captured Athosian which Evans was leading away.
Fire from staff and guns covered the streets as troops from both sides fought for the planet.
Not so far away in the splendid granite Assembly House,
Senator Daris Argo Emmagan opened the hidden wall in his office and pushed his
young assistant inside. He could hear the approaching
From inside the wall Teyla Emmagan wiped the silent tears that fell from her brown eyes as she ran through the hidden tunnels, holding the documents her father had bestowed upon her, she ran as fast as her legs would take her. She ran with the deep, difficult knowledge that those moments in his office would be the she would ever see her father alive.
* * * *
In the space above, fire was being exchanged by a flotilla of ships. To an outsider the exchange of fire and explosions would look almost beautiful. The way the yellow beams would leave the ships, and how the weapons fire would hit and then be absorbed by the ship’s shields like drops of ink getting soaked up by paper or like paint covering a canvas. It was almost as if each ship, each movement, each blast was orchestrated. A space opera.
To most outsiders it would look such a way, but then again most outsiders would not be on the many battle scared ships, fighting fires or trying to prevent atmosphere from venting. Most outsiders wouldn't be ordering commands that would put others in harm’s way, they wouldn't later be dealing with cuts, bruises, and even deaths. So it didn’t matter how beautiful the exchange of fire was, because it was anything but.
This was not poetry in motion but destruction.
In the space above fire was being exchanged, lives were being lost and in the mist of it all Teal’c flew one of the Prometheus’ Blackbirds, wishing he didn’t have to kill so many of his misguided and duped brethren.
He flew smoothly through the ink of space and fired at the oncoming Glider. He tried not to worry about Vala and Daniel, whom they had not heard from since they left.
Instead he focused on the battlefield in front of him. Firing at a Gilder he watched as it tried to evade his weapon’s blast and turning the ship sharply to its left he moved to follow. As he followed the Gilder he was peripherally aware of Cameron who had performed a flawless lazy eight, shooting down his own Glider and moving to fire on one of the larger ships. More specifically the cannons of the Ha’taks, which at the moment were the ones causing the most damage to the Prometheus and the other ships engaged in the battle.
Pushing his fighter forward, Teal’c locked onto the Glider waiting for it to get into position and fired. Exploding, the Gilder and its parts spun in space crashing into another nearby Gilder, causing it to blow up as well. Teal’c then moved to help his friend in disabling the motherships.
“Nice shot, big guy,”
“Indeed,” Teal’c responded, as he raised his eyebrow in move #71 – I shall fight here, today, and all Goa’uld will feel my wrath.
Directing his fighter closer to
“I amreally loving
these new upgrades.”
And now due to the blast that just hit his ship, Cam spun in a slick and head-snapping 180 degree turn and fired at the enemy Gilder, hitting the ship head on and then ascending in a high arch before dropping like a dive bomber at the firing Al’kesh. He didn’t manage to blow up the ship, but it was obvious the Goa’uld fighter had sustained substantial damage.
“Teal’c, how long do you think we would have if we were to
engage the cloaks along with shields?”
Understanding where the young commander was going, the former first prime of Apophis looked at the closest mothership and reaching not so far down to the military strategist he had been, Teal’c did some quick calculations.
“If we were to time the attacks carefully and only turn on the cloaks at the correct time, disengaging the shield at that precise moment, we should still be able to withstand battle for several more hours.”
* * * *
Jack ordered more weapons fire at the mothership that had just destroyed the Athosian battle cruiser nearby. Jacob hadn't been kidding when he had warned them of the new and deadly firepower Osiris now had. The psychotic bitch must have done some major sucking up to her boss for the new arsenal, and there was nothing Jack hated more than a brownnoser.
“Yes, sir!” The head controller called out from his seat next to the captain.
“Give me some good news!” At Jack’s words the ship trembled almost as it was laughing in disbelief at its captains words.
“From our last communiqué with the Athosian ground troops, their troops have managed to gain control of the gate and have secured the majority of the Athosian Parliament and stranded civilians.”
“I meant good news for us, Walter!” He turned to the pilot, “Get us closer to that ship and show them what we’re made of.”
Marks nodded to his captain. Across from him Walter hoped the captain had forgotten about his question, because he didn’t have much good news to share. Sam was still alive and on the Daedalus, Cam, Teal’c and the rest of the Blackbirds were fighting with every last ounce of power they had, all their ground troops doing the same and the ship was still holding together, though Walter didn’t know for how much longer.
“Walter – where’s my good news?” Jack was focused on the space that was quite literally exploding right in front of his eyes.
“We’re still alive, sir.” The head controller watched as the shields fell down to 66, though I don’t know for how much longer, Walter Harriman thought, but did not dare say out loud.
“I guess that’s gotta count for something… How are the shields holding?”
“45 percent, sir.” He stated as they dropped again.
Again the ship shook, this time more violently than the last few times. “Any way to improve on that?”
“Taking power from the hyperdrive or sub-light engines.”
“Hyperdrive, we need the sub-light engines right now.” Jack ordered, hoping they would not need the hyperdrive later.
“Yes, sir, diverting power from hyperdrive.” Walter said, watching as the shields went back up to 66. “66 shielding, sir.” But as he said the words, Walter saw something on his screen and with alarm slowly turned once again to his captain. “Sir, I’m afraid I have some more news.”
Jack levelled Walter with a hard gaze. “Good or bad?”
Suddenly their speaker systems, along with most other speaker systems on all present ships, were interrupted with static and then sound. “This is Lord Yu, surrender and you shall be spared.”
Jack let out a very colourful string of curses. “Bad news.”
Then in a similar look of shock, he watched as not only the Athosian and Lantean began firing on the newly arrived ships, but so did Osiris’ ships. “Maybe a mix of both.”
* * * *
In working hard to keep to the Daedalus from imploding or exploding, Sam was only marginally aware
that all around her, people – people she cared about – were fighting to stop
Osiris and protect Lantea’s sister planet.
The motherships’ shields were good, but they weren’t invincible and she just needed to find a way to bypass them. If only it was as simple as uploading a virus… She then turned to Rodney. “McKay!”
Rodney turned from where he was stabilizing the ship’s thrusters, “What!”
“I think I have an idea. Is there any way to disable the shield for the Ha’taks?” Around her the ship shook as it was hit.
Rodney only looked at Sam as if she was crazy, “No, you know that. We’d need a pulse beacon to manage it from a distance and I’m sorry to tell you that we’re in short supply. Why?”
“I want to send a naquahdah bomb on board.” Sam’s eyes were glittering with cleverness; something Rodney knew was a great deal more dangerous than her normal glint.
“No way, it’s impossible with the shields up you can’t beam anything on board and we have no way of calculating when the shields would be depleted enough to manage it. You could maybe do it with the rings, but getting close enough would be almost impossible, and honestly I wouldn't want to.”
“But what if we can get close enough?”
“The Goa’uld could refuse the matter stream. We know that it’s possible, especially with the shields up, and in the middle of a battle they wouldn’t be stupid enough to let something unauthorized through.”
“But you can rewrite and rework the connection the rings make so whatever we send won’t be denied, can’t you?” Sam smirked, “It's like the virus you wrote to get back at Jeannie when she reworked your entire firewall, it never denied any electronic mail anyone ever sent her, virus, porn, anything… It would be the same concept. Nothing we send through the rings can be denied, even-”
Rodney smiled, “A naquahdah bomb.”
“Exactly, and with the cloak we could get close enough to a mothership to send it through,” Sam finished explaining her plan to Rodney.
Turning to his data pad he began to work, “You were always more wicked than anyone ever gave you credit for, Sam.”
“Thanks, I think.” Sam blushed as she left the room to get a naquahdah bomb.
By the time Rodney finished writing the programme,
Stepping up to the ring platform, Rodney went and opened the ring tray and began attaching wires to the crystal inside to rig the system for their purposes. “So you think it’s going to work?”
Now that the ship was being cloaked it was shaking less and Sam stood thankful by the bomb, not wanting to deal with the added pressure of keeping the bomb steady on a trembling ship. “It better, because we’re uncomfortably close to a Ha’tak.”
Nodding, Rodney called
With one look, Sam activated the countdown and walked back to Rodney. Together they stood and hoped and prayed and even bribed every god that might be out there, and then Rodney pressed the sequence to activate the rings.
In an instant the rings fell and then there was nothing where the bomb had once stood.
Sam went and pressed the com again, “Take us out of range, Colonel.”
“Will do.” In the bridge
Still cloaked, the Daedalus left the Ha’tak’s range as fast as it could. On the Prometheus, Jack watched approximately a minute and a half later how one of the motherships exploded seemingly from the inside out, and he smiled.
* * * *
Not far from where
He watched as Yu’s new Ha’taks fought and how they were disabled with much less difficulty, at least compared to what right bitches Osiris’ were to take down. And though he hated to admit it, it didn’t exactly hurt that Yu and Osiris were also fighting each other – so much for that rumour, Cam thought with a good deal of humour.
Maneuvering his ship he focused back on the approaching Gilder and began to fire in an effort to keep its attentions from Teal’c who should be getting in range of the ship’s main cannons. As he kept one eye on where Teal’c would soon have to de-cloak to take out the cannons, he kept the other on the surrounding ships, enemy and friendly alike.
Blackbirds were taking out as many Gliders as they could,
firing on Ha’taks and Al’keshs, there were even squadrons relegated to help the
planet-side Athosian fighters, the Copperheads. But even as the fight continued
Just then he watched as Teal’c’s still cloaked Blackbird
began firing on the cannon and as nearby Gliders began firing at the empty
space where they thought Teal’c was. One Glider got a lucky shot, managing to
clip Teal’c’s wing and the man was forced to switch from the cloak to the
Together, but with separate targets,
Dodging a collision with a fellow Blackbird who had a Glider
on its tail and a Copperhead in pursuit,
It then happened almost as if it had been perfectly timed,
* * * *
But even with the ingenuity of Sam and Rodney, the tenaciousness of Cam and Teal’c, the drive that every human in the space above the planet and on the planet’s surface had, and even with the stroke of luck that Yu no doubt had unintentionally given them all, Jack watched the space in front of him and knew they still needed a miracle to win this.
And even with that thought streaming through his brain, he only had one question for the universe:
Where the hell are Daniel and Vala?
Three Days Earlier
“You sure you still want to do this, darling?” Vala sat in the pilot’s chair, sending a worried look Daniel’s way.
“No, you?” Daniel sat down next her, his gaze lost in thought. “What if Anubis has ships in the space above the planet?”
Nonplussed Vala brought up a schematic of the planet, “No worries about that, we’re dropping out of hyperspace fully cloaked.”
Daniel nodded distractedly, “That’s where the Stargate is?” He pointed to the blue blinking dot on the planet.
“Okay, the temple is about five miles from that spot, there.” He indicated and then turned to Vala, “We should land a couple hundred feet away, here, just in case.”
Dropping them out of hyperspace, Vala nodded and avoiding getting too close to the Ha’tak in orbit around the planet, she lead them to their landing site. Daniel watched as Vala landed the ship and couldn't help but be impressed. Over the last fifteen hours of flight through hyperspace he had been astounded by various aspects of the ship, not the least of which how it responded to Vala – this was home to her – he had noticed it the minute she had left the ship on automatic pilot and laid down in her bed. And now watching as she landed the heavy craft so smoothly on the planet in an almost a reflexive action, it reminded him of just how much she had lived and survived on this ship long before she met him. Everything here to her was natural, an extension of herself, and he couldn’t help but noticed how much lighter, even in light of what they were doing, it made her.
Daniel snapped out of his thoughts and turned to her, “Sorry?”
“Where did you just go?” Vala stood, shutting down most of the primary systems of the ship but keeping the others at low power just in case they would need a quick escape.
“Nowhere, just thinking.” He moved to the door, grabbing his holster on the way out.
Vala only gave him a look that told him just how little she believed him, but said nothing slipping her jacket on.
Outside the cloaked ship they looked at the area and double-checked their weapons. “And here I thought Kheb was supposed to be a peaceful planet…”
Daniel rolled his eyes and leaned in to give her a quick but deep kiss, “Come on.” Vala smiled.
Quietly they made their way towards the temple. As they
approached the back garden, they were surprised to notice that there wasn’t a
“So why are we here again?” Vala whispered.
“Because there’s something here, something Anubis wants hidden, there was a back room that Oma never let me in, there has to be something there. If there wasn’t then Anubis wouldn't be guarding the planet.”
“Then why aren’t there more – any –
“Anubis isn’t expecting any ship in the galaxy to have
cloaking capabilities and we read the life signs, there was an entire
“I still don’t like it.” Vala bit her lip, “I will say it's quite pretty though. I’m almost sorry I didn't come here when I had the chance.”
Daniel followed Vala’s eyes as she took in the front garden and the starry sky. Yes, it was beautiful, of course now it empty of life thanks to Anubis. Taking Vala’s hands, he guided her to the entrance, “What do you mean?”
Vala paused and Daniel turned to face her. Vala faced him fully her eyes meeting his unflinchingly. “One of the many reasons I ran away from my planet, Daniel, was that I was chosen to become a future Priestess of Kheb.”
The shock Daniel felt at those words would only be rivalled by what he would feel in the next instant when he and Vala would step into the temple.
Daniel had been right about the temple – they would have found answers there, they would have understood what they would have to do next, but that wasn’t set to happen because as they set foot inside the temple the world exploded.
CHAPTER XIX: We Spin Among The Stars
Vala didn’t even get a chance to scream as the fire from the explosion consumed her and Daniel, all she was aware of was the mighty backwards force, the sensation of fire on her body burning her flesh, and of Daniel’s hand still in hers, clutching it tighter.
Vala didn’t get a chance to scream as she was, succinctly put, blown up and killed, but for that brief second when her body was suspended, held weightless as if gravity was a force that no longer applied to her, she foolishly hoped that Daniel had made it.
Vala didn’t scream as she died, but less than half a second later when her eyes opened she blinked at the brightest light her eyes had ever seen. Half thinking she had somehow made it to heaven; she lifted her body and then blinked again this time in surprise – if this was heaven then why in the hell did it look like her father’s old work room.
Standing and rubbing at her un-burnt skin astonished, Vala recognized that the bright light she had thought was the ‘light of heaven’ was actually her father’s old fluorescent work light. She looked around and biting her lip, she called out, half-scared of the answer. “Dad?”
From behind her, she heard an amused chuckle, “I’m afraid not, Vala.”
Sharply turning she found herself face to face with a dark haired woman in a white jumpsuit similar to the ones her dad would wear when working on the ships. “Who are you?!” Vala stared at the woman with a proper amount of shock; after all she had just thought she had died.
“My name is Ganos Lal.” The woman stepped forward, the jumpsuit dissolving into a long white linen dress. “I’m sorry, the clothes like the location are meant to be ease the transition, small comforts as it were, but they just don’t agree me. And frankly we do not have the time.”
Vala only blinked and then looked around at the recreation of her father’s workroom, noticing one thing was missing, “Where am I? Where’s Daniel?”
Ganos smiled, “You are Ascended, Vala. Daniel Jackson is as well. He is currently speaking to Oma Dessala; you will soon be reunited with him. But first we have work to do.”
“Oh, okay?” Vala paused, trying to process the information without falling over in shock. She was Ascended – okay, she knew from her early lessons with the Priests that Ascension was letting go of your physical body and finding a proper context for your existence. It was becoming pure energy. But how had she done that in the half second before the temple had quite literally blown up in her face? She also knew that Ascension came to one after proper meditation and lots of knowledge she knew she hadn't acquired in the last few years. And Daniel. Daniel was with Oma. Thinking over everything Vala turned wide eyes to Ganos. “Did we die?”
It was the only solution she could come up with. They died and somehow they got Ascended. The temple?
But Ganos shook her head softly, “Yes and no. You and Daniel Jackson have been given a small reprieve in the rules of planes of existence. Entering the temple you activated a fail-safe device Anubis left behind and we took the opportunity to bring you to our plane. You did die but you are not staying dead. You are still not fully Ascended either, if anything, you are currently half Ascended as well.”
Ganos took Vala’s hand and led her outside the workroom where Vala was presented with her mother’s old garden. “We needed to bring you here to give you extremely vital information about your quest.”
Taking a seat on the old lawn chairs, Vala pressed her lips together in thought, “Okay…”
Obviously, Ganos chose to ignore the scepticism in Vala’s voice and sat next to her. “I am here to give you give the knowledge for building the weapon.”
“Wait! What? I’m going to have to build this thing?” Vala exclaimed, her jaw dropping.
Ganos released a small sigh. “Yes, I am aware that is most inconvenient, considering the time frame, but the original weapon has already been used long ago.”
Vala was about to ask about the last time the weapon was used when she remembered, “The enemy mentioned in the machine.”
Ganos gave a sombre nod. “Yes, the Ori. Long ago people fought a war against Ascended beings that wanted to impose their dominion over the universe. Thankfully they were stopped.” Vala watched the Ascended woman as she spoke and had to wonder if this was connected to the legends of The First her father had told her.
Smiling, mostly to move away from the cryptic feel the subject gave her, Vala looked to encourage the woman. “Well, that’s a relief.”
“Is it?” Ganos’s brown eyes met her and looked deeply into them.
Vala shrugged, “Well, yeah, isn’t it? Now we don’t have to worry about those bad guys too.”
The woman across from her only turned and began to fiddle with a flower. A star lily if her memory served her correctly, she had never been too involved with her mother’s garden. “Evil, like the past, has a way of coming back. Nothing is every truly finished.”
“You’re a pessimist, aren’t you?” Vala smirked sarcastically.
Ganos met Vala’s smirk with one of her own. “Actually, I am considered an optimist among my peers.”
“Never would have guessed.”
“Yes, well, if we can get back on topic.” Ganos dropped the flower on the table.
Waving the apology off, Ganos smiled. “It is quite all right. I will be presenting you with the knowledge to once again build the machine, but for your own safety the knowledge along with this conversation and the majority of your time here will be stored in your subconscious until the right moment comes.”
“And when will that be?” Vala asked, not liking this at all.
“You will know,” was the only answer she got before Ganos continued, “But I will warn you now that this will be extremely taxing on your mind. This knowledge I am about to give you was never meant for your brain – the ‘de-evolvement’ of your people was done for a reason. But due to your heritage and the fact that you are, simply put, the last of our true race – though a much later and condensed evolution of it – you will be able to handle the information better than most.”
Vala nodded, understanding the gravity of what was being imparted upon her. “But it will still affect me?”
“Hopefully not as adversely as it has affected others in the past.” Ganos was honest with the young woman.
Vala swallowed the lump that had just grown in her throat. “Adversely?”
“I know this is much to ask.” And Ganos did, she truly wished there was a better way to accomplish this, but knew that right now their hope laid with this woman and her friends. There would always be the few that would do the work that others could not.
“No, it’s fine. I always knew this would be a one-way only kind of trip.” Licking her lips, Vala looked around the garden she had never thought she would see again. With the saddest smile and eyes Ganos had ever seen, Vala only asked one question. “Will Daniel know?”
Ganos reached out to hold the woman’s small hand, “Not if you do not wish to share it with him. The only way he will ever know is if you share it with him while you are here. The information would come slowly when you are returned, and with the proper triggers.”
Nodding, Vala then shook her head and for a second Ganos thought she saw a small tear. “I don’t. He… He’ll try to stop me, and that will just muck things up, won’t it?”
“I am sorry, truly I am. I had wished – ” Ganos paused for a beat of time, “We tried long ago to rectify our many mistakes and succeeded with several, but the devil is the details as they say.” Ganos gave a sad smiled and Vala patted the woman’s hands with her own sad smile.
“Like you said, nothing is ever truly finished. And evil forever chases good.”
“Indeed. You would have been a great Priestess,” Ganos shared with the woman, for a second truly sorry that Vala had chosen not to follow the path.
With a decisive shake of her head, Vala outwardly cringed. “I don't think so, love. I never really liked doing things the proper way.”
Ganos just smiled, “That is why I say it.” Then she looked at the woman and brought out a briefcase that Vala hadn't noticed before, placing it on the table she went to open it, just before looked at Vala. “Are you ready?”
The silver-eyed woman only nodded.
* * * *
Unlike Vala, Daniel found himself in the middle of an old Lantean diner. Looking around in ample surprise he wonder what had happened. The last thing he remembered was stepping into the temple, the rush of heat and fire, and then he was here, sitting in the middle of a diner.
Was he dead?
He certainly didn’t feel dead, but then again what did true death feel like? Maybe he was dead but hadn't remembered what it felt like, because the sarcophagus had brought him back to life.
Vaguely wondering how many times he had died, his thoughts were broken by the sound of a woman’s voice above him.
Oma smiled and Daniel wondered why she was dressed like waitress. Thankfully the questions that left his mouth were more relevant than that. “Oma? Where am I? Where’s Vala?”
Oma smiled and put down the drink she held in front of him. “She is fine. She has her own path to follow.”
Eyeing the drink, Daniel turned his attention back to his old mentor. “What the hell does that mean?”
“She’s with a friend,” Oma smiled a shadow creeping into her voice.
“Great… And where is that?” Though thankful for the news that Vala was relatively safe, Daniel still did not like the fact that she was not with him.
Turning, Oma seemed to go grab a plate and then came back placing it down on the table. She then took a seat across from him. “Eat.”
“When can I see Vala? And what the hell happened?”
“Last time we were here you asked a lot of questions. too.” Oma pushed the plate closer to him.
He turned wide eyes at the woman. “What? When was I here with you?”
“Don’t worry, Daniel; you’ll know when you’re meant to know.”
Daniel only gave his old friend a look that she chuckled at. “Don’t think I don't know what you’re thinking…” Oma then sighed and eyed the plate in a not so subtle hint for Daniel to start eating, which he did – listening. “Time, like the universe, is like an ocean, it all happens at once and sometimes the ripples intersect. The last time we were here is a ripple that has not yet reached us, well you.”
“What?” Daniel asked around a bite of waffle, taking a drink.
With an enigmatic smile, Oma shrugged. “Would you like ‘my time is like a ball of yarn’ metaphor? It works better sometimes.”
Daniel sighed heavily, “I want to know why I am here. I want to know how I got here.”
Oma finally took sympathy on her old student. “You’re half Ascended, Daniel. After the temple exploded, we saw an opportunity to bring you here because we want to help.”
“How?” Daniel asked and it was understood that he wanted to know how they would help him.
“The manuscripts from Sahal. The location is there, hidden in the text, and I am here to help you find it. But after we return you, you will forget what has happened here.”
“So, how can you help?”
Oma reached over and covered his hand, which was systemically shredding a napkin. “The information will be stored in your subconscious. When the right trigger comes, you will have your answer.”
“Okay.” Daniel knew not to question what Oma had just said too much, mostly because he knew she would only give him more questions.
“You are looking for what is there. You have to look for what isn’t there,” Oma stated and Daniel could only look at her in confusion.
“It’s actually very simple, Daniel. The location of the next planet is there along with the location of the first, but it’s hidden. The next planet is no longer called by the name it was once called, by the name you will find in the texts. Its new name comes from where the original is held. When you figure that, you will find your planet. And as for the weapon, you will find it when you find The First.”
“All right, find the Weapon, find The First. I already knew that.”
Oma shook her head. “You have to stop looking for the Weapon, Daniel. It can't be found.” As Daniel began to argue, Oma raised her hand and continued, “What you must look for is The First. The First will give the Weapon, not the other way around.”
Taking a napkin, Oma wrote something on it and passed it back to Daniel. “Remember these words. They are important and when you will see them again after you are returned you will understand their importance.”
Daniel took the napkin. “And this is all I need to know?”
“For now, the rest will come. After the true question is answered all other questions do not look like questions anymore.” Oma smiled, and the turned her head to the special’s board. “Do you want some pie?”
* * * *
After her lengthy session with Ganos, Vala rested her head on the table.
“I’m sorry, I know all this must be taxing on you.” Ganos began closing the briefcase.
“It’s just my luck that I have to be the last Tau’ri in the galaxy, can’t have anyone else do the work for me…” Vala mumbled leaning back on the chair.
“Something like that.” Ganos smiled, “Are you sure you have it all? We can go over it again, if you wish.”
Vala shook her head, “No, I think all that’s going to stay in here, is in here.” She tapped her temple with a smile and Ganos nodded.
Both women sat in silence of a few minutes, then they both spoke out at the same time.
“Do you think…”
“Would you like…”
Chuckling Ganos and Vala smiled at each other and Ganos waved Vala to continue.
“Do you think I could go to wherever Daniel is in this place?”
“I was just about to suggest the very same thing.” Ganos stood and extended her hand to for Vala to take.
“How precisely will we be getting to Daniel?” Vala asked standing, taking Ganos’ hand.
Ganos smiled, “Were you Ascended, it would only be matter of just going there; but as you are not, I will help facilitate things. Close your eyes.”
For a second Vala looked dubious, but then closed her eyes. “Why not? Might as well…”
Only feeling a small shift in the molecules of the atmosphere around her, in her, Vala fought a shiver because it sort of tickled. Then, she without knowing how she knew, she felt the distinct impression of Daniel and opened her eyes.
She stood in the middle of a diner with Ganos gone and right there in front of her was Daniel looking pensively into what appeared to be apple pie. The small part of her that forgot where they were hoped it was made of Athosian apples. Walking forward she stepped up to the booth.
“Miss me, darling?” She brushed her hand against his cheek.
Daniel’s head snapped to her so fast she was sure had they been in their regular bodies his neck would have broken. “Vala!” Grasping her hand by his cheek, he held it to him like it was part of him that had been missing and closed his eyes.
Vala smiled in relief at the simple fact that he was with her and slid into the booth next to him. Daniel’s arm went instinctively around her waist and she rested her head against his shoulder, turning to her he brushed away the hair that had fallen into her face.
“How are you liking our vacation?” Vala whispered.
Daniel pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Suddenly got better. What have you been up to?”
Burying her face in his neck, she avoided looking into his eyes, those blue orbs that she had never really been able to lie to, and she didn’t want to lie to him now, but the truth wasn’t his burden to bear. She mumbled into his skin. “Learning how to build the weapon.”
“What?” He cupped her chin to properly face her.
“Oh, yeah. I’m gonna to have to build the weapon when the time comes and somehow the knowledge will be a trigger. Rather easy, don’t you agree?” She gave him an ironic smile.
“Oh yeah, easy.” Daniel looked over to where Oma stood by the counter, suddenly understanding her words about the Weapon being impossible to find. Of course it would be impossible to find, it apparently didn’t exist. Yet. “Everything here is just so easy.”
“I want to go home.” Looking around, Vala suddenly felt uncomfortable.
Daniel kissed her softly and rested his forehead against her. “We will. They have to send us back for their plan to work.”
Vala only sighed, “You know, I’ve never been one for being used.”
Oma then walked over to them with another plate of apple pie in her hand. She set in front of Vala. “Hello, Vala.”
Vala mumbled a weak greeting.
Smiling, Oma took the less than enthusiastic greeting in stride, pointing to the plate in front of Vala. “You should eat, my dear, you’ve had quite the day.”
Vala looked at the pie and, feeling the hunger in the pit of her stomach, she slowly began to eat. Eating as much as she could, as her stomach currently felt like the size of a pea, she watched as Daniel played with a napkin. “What’s that?”
Daniel handed her the napkin and Vala read the words on it. “What do they mean?”
“I don’t know yet, but they’re important, they lead us to The First.”
Daniel ran a hand through his hair, “Well, since we’re going to more or less forget everything we learned and saw here until it’s triggered, I have to remember these words and wait for the trigger.”
Vala smirked unhappily, “Me too.”
Looking around at the silent and almost mannequin like patrons of the diner, Vala sighed. “Can’t we leave yet?”
“We will send you back soon but first we will need to align with your space-time. It will take a while, but you are welcome to wait in a more private place if you wish it.” Oma, who had sat with them when she had brought Vala’s pie, covered theirs hands. Like Ganos, Oma knew how difficult what was to come was going to be for Vala and Daniel, and like her friend, she wished she the burden hadn’t fallen on them. But it had. In some ways it always would have.
“I do.” Vala nodded.
Oma patted their hands, “Close your eyes.”
Closing their eyes, now both Daniel and Vala felt the expansive sensation of the molecules shifting around them and then nothing, but at the same time everything. They opened their eyes and saw they were in an apartment.
In front of them, Oma nodded and opened the door behind her. “I will come back for you when it is time.”
Daniel and Vala glanced at each other. “So now wha-” Daniel asked, but before he could even think up with a suggestion on how to spend their time in this Ascended realm, Vala was kissing him with a fierce desperateness he had never felt from her before.
“Vala?” Daniel tried to detach from her lips and look at her. Something was wrong, he could feel it. “Vala? Cara, look at me.”
Vala sighed heavily but did as he asked. He stroked her cheek, “What’s wrong?”
“Everything. Nothing. I…” Vala dropped her head to his chest and breathed him in, and even when she knew this wasn’t really Daniel’s body, but a manifestation of his spirit, of his energy, it was enough for her. She felt his hands drift across her back in worry and said the only words she could without breaking down. “I just want to go home.”
“We will.” He reassured her once again and she knew she loved him.Gods, I love him. She tilted her face back to his and kissed him sweetly, her eyes sad.
“Vala, talk to me.” His hands came up to cup her cheeks, keeping the space between their faces at a minimum.
“Anasa mou.” She whispered reverently against his lips and his worry increased.
“Please,” her voice was desperate and his heart clenched at her tone, “not now.” And again she kissed him. This time Daniel didn’t fight the fierce desperateness of her kiss, because he was rapidly feeling it too. They kissed, all lips and tongue and teeth, and began stumbling backwards across the apartment, until they hit a bed. As they fell to the bed, they realized they were already naked, not quiet sure how that happened they didn’t care, because they had all that was essential to the moment – each other.
Daniel held his heavier weight on his strong arms as Vala leaned up to kiss him, her entire body moving like a wave looking to touch every inch of him. They shifted together, Vala, sliding a hand down his perfect face, brought their lips together in one of the deepest kisses they had shared to date. Daniel lowered his body down to her silken flesh and groaned deep in her mouth as she cradled him in her thighs. He rubbed against her curls and Vala tightened her legs, pulling him closer to her.
Vala was never one for being held down, to be restricted, but at this moment with Daniel’s hard weight on her, she had never felt better in her life. She needed to feel him, all of him, and she didn’t care if she suffocated in the process for drowning in Daniel would be her first option every time. And there she held him, against her, with her, as their hands and lips clung to another.
They only felt each other, they only saw each other, they only smelled each other, they only heard each other, they only tasted each other. Their senses were full with everything that was them. They didn’t need to say the words because the moment was filled with them.
From the moment their lips touched to when Vala took him inside her, a hot push that threatened to unmake her, to when Daniel kissed the tears that gathered in her eyes, their bodies moved so in sync with one another that the universe and the planes of existences halted for them and this moment. Vala could feel everything that Daniel was, inside her, around her and she knew it was the same for him. Her legs were bent at the knees, one foot planted on the bed, the other hooked around Daniel’s thigh and as she felt him cup her shoulder blades to bring her chest against his, as they pushed into each other, Vala grabbed hold of his hair, pulling his lips against her roughly and rolling her hips, trying to take him in deeper.
This moment, them together, in a way that many could not even begin to comprehend, would resonate through time and space. And as time extended, the universe crashed around them. They were not sharing bodies but spirit, energy, the very essence that they were made of – it was as if they were made of the universe and the universe was made of them. And even if their bodies, their minds, never remembered, deep inside they would never forget. Their souls, their unique energy, would always know. It was sense memory that would forever remain with them despite anything.
This was a moment that transcended the physical boundaries of sex, fucking, or love making, whatever you wished to call it.
This was a moment about them on the most fundamental level of connection. Energy. Synergy.
It was white lighting rushing through and then striking the world that existed around them. And as they fell through the stars they washed up on the beach of a supernova once again together, in each other’s arms. Would she be the sea and he the sand, this moment would be the crashing of the waves into the shore.
* * * *
Somewhere else in the vastness of the universe attuned to
the same plane of existence Anubis felt something disturb the realm. It was
something so powerful that it would have made the hairs on backs of necks stand
had Anubis been more prone to alarm. Immediately ordering the Kull soldiers and
With an angry growl the electrical systems of the mothership were affected.
* * * *
As they lay worn out in the bed the apartment held, Daniel stroked Vala’s arm, remembering what led them to be here. “Vala?”
“Hmm?” She opened her eyes slowly, smiling at him, and Daniel was grateful that it was full and bright.
“What did you mean you were chosen to become a Priestess of Kheb?”
Vala blinked and then wrapping the sheet around her moved to sit up, Daniel following, “We just can't have normal pillow talk, can we?”
Daniel tried not to roll his eyes at her. “Vala.”
She sighed, adjusting to face him and rest her head against
the headboard, “
“Yeah, there are tests like that on most planets.” Daniel slipped his hand around her neck, thumb rubbing at the juncture between jaw and neck.
“Right, well I doubt that most planets use these tests to see who will be granted the chance to learn from and with the priests, priestesses, and apprentices of Kheb.” Vala paused and sighed, taking Daniel’s hand and idly playing with it, “Very, very few people are chosen, only two children every ten years, it was the only way for anyone on my planet, in the galaxy to learn the true ways of Ascension. And well, I just happened to be one of those few.”
“But you didn’t want to be?” Daniel asked, watching as Vala focused on a piece of wall seeming to look beyond it.
“I first heard of this when I was nine, my mother was over the bloody moon, my dad not as much, but he understood what an honour it was. They never discouraged me from doing anything or wanting to be anything else, but they both knew that the day I turned sixteen I would then go to Kheb. We didn’t talk about it and for the longest time, I really didn’t think too much on it. Then I turned fourteen and the two years I had left with my family suddenly felt too short. I began understanding how much of my life would be limited and I rebelled in any way I could. My teachers would tell my mum and dad that I would be fine, I was just trying to fill as much time with as much things as I could, and they were right.”
Listening to Vala, Daniel could easily understand how, for someone like her, such an obvious free and wild spirit, spending years contemplating her own existence would seem like a prison sentence. Vala had not been born to keep quiet and still, but loud and fierce. “But?”
Vala turned to him and smiled feral, “But…in cramming so many things in such little time just made me want to do more. I wanted to fly, and so my dad taught me. I wanted to fight and so my dad and brother taught me that too. I want to swim, to run, to drink, to smoke, to have sex, to see space, explore the galaxy. I wanted to do everything, and then the day I turned fifteen I decided.
“My dad was finishing the Sera and I spent every day after classes with him. He didn’t mind because I think he and my mother were beginning to understand how little time I had with them. I learnt every single thing I could about the ship, and the day before they were going to take it from the shipyard, I stole it. I left my parents a note and I left my planet. It was four months, one week and thirteen days before I turned sixteen.”
“You were fifteen when you left?”
“A babe barely out of the basket. Two years later there would be no more Tau’ri for me to go back to.” Vala whispered the words, her eyes growing grey with sadness and she gave a sad smile.
“Vala…” Daniel wrapped an arm around her and brought her to his side, kissing her softly. “Can I say I’m kinda glad you ran away?”
“You can.” Vala kissed him back and then moved off the bed, slipping her clothes back on.
“Though had you become a priestess we would have met years ago…” Daniel grabbed his own clothes.
Vala laughed, “True, but you would have never gotten in my pants.”
“And such a shame that would have been, but do priestesses even wear pants?” Daniel smirked.
“That was Jack-ish. I wonder how they are.” Vala giggled and then both of their thoughts turned to their friends on Athos, who were waiting for Osiris to descend upon them.
It was like a dam had burst in their brains, and Daniel and Vala gasped in unison as images began flashing behind their eyelids. Daniel's eyes snapped open and he turned to Vala who had paled as he had. In unison they called out.
And at once the two women appeared before them, both with grave looks on the faces.
Vala didn't even wait for either woman to begin or question why they had been summoned. “Something’s happening! On Athos.”
Ganos and Oma traded looks and the former stepped forward. “Your are quite right. Osiris has reached the planet.”
“But we promised our friends that we would be back to help before that.” Daniel ran a hand through his hair wondering how Osiris managed to get there so quickly. “How did Osiris get to Athos so fast?”
“She didn't.” Oma met Daniel's eyes.
“What do you mean, we’ve only been gone a day at most.”
“Time here works differently than on your plane, while it only seems that you have been gone for mere hours, almost three days have passed on your plane. Osiris has arrived earlier than you predicted, but because Anubis has granted her with faster drive technology.”
“Technology he learned from his time here.” Vala whispered, letting the gravity of the new understanding consume her. This was why they needed such an old and powerful weapon. Anubis had access to so much knowledge that to find something to stop him, to really stop him, ot would have to be Ancient and powerful and lost.
For a spilt second Oma looked ashamed, “Yes.”
“Then we need to be sent back now!” Daniel exclaimed.
“Yes, you have to send us back!”
Ganos shook her head, “It is not that simple, we have to wait for the precise time so your memories are not too adversely affected. And you are still several hours away, by the time you return the battle would have ended.”
“How do you know that?” Daniel exclaimed not believing that at this exact moment his friend were being attacked.
“We know, Daniel Jackson.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Vala brought their attention to her, “we still have to try. Anubis gave Osiris technology he picked up in his time as an Ascended being, well that’s a cheat so you can cheat too, and me and Daniel aren't even really Ascended.”
“It is not that simple,” Ganos whispered.
“Make it,” Daniel stated, Vala nodding next to him.
Oma dropped her head and then turned to Ganos. “They would have been on their way back, had the temple not been a trap.”
“That is a dangerous risk, Oma.” Ganos looked to her friend, her brown eyes apprehensive.
Daniel looked between the two Ascended women, “What do you mean? What’s a risk?”
Oma turned to Daniel, “It would be dangerous and, if not done properly, could mess with the timeline, but we could place you and your ship in subspace a mere two hours away from Athos.”
Vala didn’t need to hear anything else. “Do it.”
“Vala,” Ganos started.
“No, just do it. If Anubis can cheat, then so can we.” She met Daniel’s eyes and nodded at the shared resolution they held. “We are not going to let out friends down.”
Daniel nodded, “I’d listen to her.”
The foursome then heard a chuckle from the doorway. Turning, they saw a tall lanky man with thick brown hair and a wicked smile. “You two always pick the stubborn ones.”
Ganos just sighed, “Janus.”
Daniel and Vala only blinked in shock. “Janus? Like from the temple?” Daniel blurted out.
“The one and only.” Janus walked in the room with a small bow and turned to Oma and Ganos, “I heard, well, more overheard, about your little plan to send these two back, and if you’re planning to do it right, you are going to need my help.”
“Eavesdropping is a horrid habit.” Ganos let her opinion on this matter be known.
Janus gave a gesture of shock that Vala fought not to laugh at, “Who me? I was dropping no eaves… But you would need my help.”
Oma smiled, glancing at Ganos to stop the oncoming quip, “We would and do, so if you can…” She gestured Janus forward to Daniel and Vala.
The lanky man walked forward with a smile and wink, extending his hands. “Don’t worry you two, you won’t even feel it.”
Vala and Daniel looked at the three Ascended individuals and then at each other, nodding their goodbyes they took Janus’ hands.
* * * *
Vala blinked herself awake, feeling like a Tel’tak had run over her and reversed only to do it again. Groaning, she turned her body to get up, only to find her what she was using for leverage was a hard and very naked body. Focusing her vision she realized it was Daniel, and then with that same realization she remembered what had happened.
Sort of. She remembered what she was meant to do.
Kheb. The temple exploded. Daniel. Oma. Another woman—Ganos. Something else that was just out of grip, but important, very important. Athos. Athos!! Osiris was in Athos.
Shaking herself awake, she realized she was on her ship. Not even taking the time to figure out how she got back, she pushed herself off her bed and grabbed the first pair of pants she saw. Going to grab a shirt, she threw Daniel his own pants and succeeded in waking him up.
For a second he looked just as confused as she had felt and then “Fuck!”
“Too true, darling. Meet me in the cockpit.” Giving him worried look as she rushed out the door, she made her way through the ship. In the cockpit she saw they were about two hours from Athos, and sighing she tried to call the Prometheus but to no avail, cursing in Tau’rian. “Gamisi!”
“What’s wrong?” Daniel slid into the room, tossing her boots over to her.
“I tried waving the Prometheus but I can't get through.” Vala slipped her left boot on and looked at Daniel as he looked over the screens. “You don’t think-”
“No,” Daniel shook his head vehemently. “Osiris could be blocking transmission, the communications systems might have been damaged, but they’re not – is there any way to make the ship go faster?” Daniel stared at her, his eyes swirling in worry and determination.
Vala nodded, “There is always a way. Give me a minute.”
* * * *
Jack was not praying to the gods he had stopped talking to years ago, but he was cursing up a storm as his ship shook violently. Their shields were down to 20, they had lost communications, panels were exploding, fires were springing up all over the ship, they had personnel down, and Osiris was still advancing, both in space and on the ground. He had watched as the only other Lantean ship, the Orion had fallen, and two more Athosian ships. On the flip side Yu’s fleet had been practically decimated and Osiris had lost a couple of ships too.
All he could hope for now was that Sam,
He was about to start praying or cursing again, it was a toss up, feeling the ship tremble and hearing Walter yell out “Shields at 15!” when he saw it. Later had anyone confronted him, he would have denied the moisture that gathered in his eyes, but at that moment Jack felt a deep relief as the Seraphim dropped out of hyperspace, just outside the battle.
He doubted that any had noticed the comparably smaller, streamlined, dirty alabaster ship, but he had and then as the ship throttled forward he could only look on in amazement. Because he doubted that any had missed the small, brilliant, yellow firefly-looking things that emerged from it.
Jack, along with half of the other fighters in space, watched as the unimportant looking ship released small weapons that cut cleanly through the mothership’s shields. The drones, as they would later be known, cut as if they were knives and the shields nothing but skin or butter.
The Goa’uld ships were now rapidly turning their attention to the Seraphim, but it was obvious that superior weapons were not the only thing Vala’s ship had. Jack watched as the ship easily manuevered around the weapon’s fire and if hit, it barely seemed to notice it.
“I really love those two.” Jack smiled and ordered his ship to fire on the closest mothership by Vala and Daniel.
* * * *
“Yeah, it’s me. Look Vala has an idea, but we’re going to need you to trust us.”
Vala’s voice came in, “Look, I can’t exactly use up all my drones, but I think I know how to let you guys take some hits too. The big ships would take to long to shut down power, but not your fighters.”
“I see, my friend.”
“What do you mean?”
“We must shut power down, because Vala Mal Duran is planning to use a pulse wave.” Teal’c explained, knowing exactly what his friend meant to do.
“Tell all your other ships and give me the okay, the shields will only be down a couple minutes, but if we do enough damage,” Daniel added.
* * * *
Soon after the conversation
Everybody on the affected ships would watch in awe as the
pulse wave extended, blacking them out and then as space was lit up with fire
once again. The inhabitants of the Goa’uld ships would be panicking, some would
be dying, but Osiris would be seething and ordering her
On the battle cruisers everybody would panic for a second before seeing their fighter take up the battle and then they would half watch and half get ready to fight again. On the Daedalus, Sam and Rodney would be planning to send another naquahdah bomb. On the Prometheus, Jack would be ordering his crew to prepare to fire as soon as they got power back.
And that’s just what they did. After the couple minutes that extended and filled the darkened ships with hope and will, power came back on and the fight was restarted.
But the damage was done, the fighters and the Seraphim had done their jobs and done
them well. The Goa’uld ships had been severely damaged, some shields and
artillery completely taken out. And when the battle cruiser came back online,
it took only minutes before Osiris would direct her ships and the
No one would know but on Osiris ship, the Goa’uld would pace her room and punch through a wall. She didn't punch it out of anger, though she was, she didn't punch it out of hate, though she felt it. She punched it out of fear, because going to Anubis with this news surely meant the end of her life.
CHAPTER XX: Something like Life
Space is silent. Like death. And now the space over Athos was littered with both.
The Prometheus floated like a weak solider who had just braved a battlefield he had thought he would have survived. It was a strong ship, having survived many battles under many men and then it had, like most old things, been stored and replaced for more advance ships with better weapons.
Then one day a man and his friends – his family – had been looking for a ship to run their business from. It was a simple business. Find naquahdah and other desirable things in the galaxy and report back to Lantea. It was a simple job. A simple job that the old war ship could handle. Nobody had wondered why the man and his family had wanted a war ship; the story behind them was well known.
They had revived the ship. They had given it a new purpose, and in return it protected them.
It was funny, but out of all the battles the ship had gone through in its long life none could compare to the ones this family gave it. Because they were a strong family, and strong crew and they had very strong wills.
So the ship protected them and in return they protected the ship. They loved the ship. The ship had become home, and when it was broken they would always fix it.
Like they would now.
The Prometheus floated like a weak solider for who safety was far away, but it trudged on. It kept living because it knew when it got to safety it would be fine. It would be taken care of.
Jack was listening to Walter as the head controller listed all the damages the ship had endured. Shields. Beaming. Coms. Hyperdrive. Sublight. Thrusters. Fires. Circuitry. It seemed like everything that could be damaged was damaged in one-way or another. Jack sighed, “Walter, I need some good news.”
Walter nodded, slowly. “We have communications back. We can now contact the other ships.
“Good,” Jack nodded, “good. Get me Daniel and Vala, then the Daedalus.”
A couple seconds later, Jack smirked at the image of Daniel and Vala on the vid screen. “Nice entrance.”
Daniel smiled, nodding. “We try.”
“Are you all alright there, love?” Vala asked.
“We could be better. Just get back on the ship; we have a lot to talk about. Starting with where you two have been for the last three days.”
Nodding, Daniel and Vala signed off and Jack turned to Walter. “Are the Blackbirds heading back?”
“Yes sir and I have
As the vid screen flickered to life Jack noticed that the inside of the Daedalus’ bridge looked as bad as his. It did not make him feel better.
“Steven, how are you and your people?’
“Thankful that we made it. Yourself?”
“Ditto.” Jack breathed. “You wouldn’t happen to be able to send me my engineer back, now would you?”
For a second it looked like
“We’ve gotten word from the planet.”
“Most of the
“What does he want us to do?”
“Anything, we can. I’ve also been in touch with the Lantean
Ambassador on the planet and she has assured me that Lantea is going to be
sending support troops. But Athosians got hit pretty bad. Military, civilian –
the capital looks to be in ruins. At the moment what they need the most are
medical personnel. Doctors to look over the wounded.”
“Anything else, Steven?”
“No, uh wait, yes. The Lantean Ambassador wants to meet with us.”
Jack nodded, as he watched
“All the injured have been sent to the med bay, and Dr. Lam is there.”
“Okay,” Jack rubbed his face and stood, “I’m heading there now. When Sam rings aboard, tell her to come see me.”
“Will do, sir.”
When Jack got to the med bay he watched as Caro moved across the room looking over and treating all the injured.
“Caro?” Jack called out.
From where she was checking Teal’c out, the young woman looked at Jack. “Yes?”
Nodding to Teal’c, who looked to be in perfect health, Jack turned to Caro. “How are you feeling?” Carefully he watched the young woman ready to stop the lie in her eye.
Caro just sighed. “It’s mostly injuries, and thankfully not
that many fatal – I’ve already treated those and they are all resting or in the
re-gen tank. Everybody that was going to die did before they got to me.” Caro
looked dejectedly across the room where Rygel was looking over a grumbling
Looking at the brunette woman, Jack laid a hand on her shoulder. “That’s not what I asked. How are you feeling?”
Caro looked up to Jack, “I’m okay. It’s not too bad.” She then tilted her head, “Why?”
“Do you think you can handle going down to the planet? We finally got word, and they need more doctors down there.” Jack hated to ask this of the young woman. He still remembered the bad days she used to have.
Straightening herself, Caro inhaled deeply. “I can handle it.”
Caro looked over at Rygel, “Yes, Rygel can handle everybody on the ship. Send me down.”
Jack nodded once, “Okay then. I’m going with you, be ready in twenty minutes.”
“Jack, I don't need a babysitter.”
“I wish it was only that, I have to meet with some people down there.”
Caro looked at him confused and curious but only nodded.
“Stay safe, Sam.” Rodney murmured to Sam as he hugged her by the rings on the Daedalus.
Sam hugged back, “You too, Meredith. Say hi to Jeannie when you get back.” She could feel her ex roll his eyes and huff, but also she could feel him smile. Separating, she gave him a smile of her own and with a quirk of her lips she gave him a quick kiss before she stepped into the rings.
Rodney blinked wide-eyed, “Did you just…”
“If you tell anyone abou-” Sam pointed menacingly at Rodney, but he just waved her off obviously gaining back his wits.
“Yeah, yeah, you’ll kill me. Slowly. It was the same thing you said after I proposed and you cried.” Rodney smiled softly.
“Hey! I didn’t—” But Sam was cut off as Rodney activated the rings.
“Bye, blue eyes!” Was the last thing Sam heard from the Daedalus as she then saw that she was being transported back to the Prometheus.
As the rings deactivated back on her ship, Sam stepped out and surveyed the damaged. Her quick eyes saw the shot electrical panels and the many overturned objects. With a sigh she looked for the first person she could ask questions to. That person happened to be Bill.
“Bill!” She called out.
The short man turned and Sam saw the man had a nasty looking bruise on his forehead. Walking towards him, she gave him a quick hug, “Are you okay?”
“Oh yeah,” Bill nodded, smiling. “I was in my room when all this started and one of my plants fell and hit me on the head. I’m fine. A-okay.” He then looked at his surrounding area, “The ship however…”
“Yeah, I noticed. How are things looking?’
Bill sighed and rubbed at his bald spot. “Not good, Sam. Shields, engines, hyperdrive, cloak, most of the communicating systems, life support on a couple levels, thrusters; everything seems to be affected one way or another. To tell you the truth, I’m surprised we’re even standing.”
Sam nodded eyes trailing over the ship. Patting a wall she turned to Bill, resolute. “Our baby is tough. He’ll make it. Meet me in the engine room, I have to go see Jack.”
As the two engineers headed of in separate directions Bill called back. “Hey did you see what Vala’s ship did?”
Sam looked back, matching her friend’s smile, “Yeah, I did.”
It was half way between the med bay and the bridge that Jack found Sam. Both came to an abrupt halt and release small hidden sighs of relief.
Sam was about to answer in the affirmative when they heard their names being called out. Turning the look down the adjacent hall to see Daniel and Vala heading to them.
Vala rushed towards them, giving Sam a big hug. “Are you okay? We’re so sorry that we got here so late; we didn’t even know that so much time had passed. But the minute we found out…. Are you sure you’re okay?” As Vala spouted out, rushed and nervous, Daniel took the liberty to meet his best friend’s gaze. Jack looked tired, and non too happy. Daniel knew in part that the anger was directed at him and Vala and their three-day disappearance, but the rest, the majority, was directed to what had just occurred and to how the ship was.
Jack on the other hand met Daniel’s eyes with a hard gaze that he knew didn’t surprise the other man. He was angry, he wouldn't deny it and he knew the only reason he wasn’t going off everybody was that they had lived to fight another day. Somehow it always came down to that.
Next to the two men, Sam and Vala were unaware to what was going on between the old friends. Sam was nodding to Vala, assuring her friend she was okay. “I’m fine Vala. Just a little banged up.”
“Are you sure?” Vala asked again, reminding Sam of a mother hen.
“Positive.” Sam smiled softly, turning to the two men. “How is everybody?”
Jack looked at the small group and nodded to the closest empty room. Inside he sighed heavily.
“Jack?” Daniel questioned, quietly.
“We lost people. In the ground, in the air. The Athosian are going to have to rebuild cities and towns. They lost a lot of people.”
Biting his lip Daniel opened his mouth to ask, “My a— ”
“She’s fine, I’ve got Lou looking out for her.” Jack retorted, snapping his head to Daniel, “Something I didn't know he would have to do, since I thought you would have been back by now.”
“Jack…” Daniel sighed. Vala, looking between the two men, was about to step forward when she was stopped by Sam’s gentle hand on her wrist. Glancing to the blonde who softly shook her head, Vala drew back.
“Not that I’m not glad that you and your girlfriend here managed to get here just in the nick of time to help with these guys, but it would have been nice to know where the hell you two were. We’ve been transmitting to your ship for days with nothing, no answer.” Jack paced and then turned back round at them, “Now, I’m a go with the flow kinda guy, and I know how you two get when looking for answers about this weapon, but three days Daniel!”
“Three days! And we didn’t know where the hell you two were. Not only did I have to worry about fighting fucking Osiris’ fleet, making sure that this ship stayed in one piece, making sure that Cam didn’t die out there and Sam didn’t get blown up on the Daedalus, but I also had to worry about what to tell Elizabeth when your aunt, her mother, is on a planet under the threat of invasion, and I couldn’t find you!” Jack’s voice firm like the steel that held the ship together, but in it carried an agonized fear that was born of days seven years ago.
“I’m sorry.” Daniel spoke softly, “We didn’t- we didn’t mean to be gone for so long. I know we said that we’d be back in day, but by the time we realized how long it had been it was already too late. The battle was underway and we just tried to get back here in time.” Stepping up to Jack, Daniel laid a hand on his friend and captain’s shoulder, “And I’m sorry about my aunt, I’ll go down and relieve Lou as soon as I can.”
Jack turned to Daniel and sighed, the damn kid was giving him the “puppy-dog Daniel eyes”, and he knew it was over. Rolling his eyes Jack nodded, “You better, before I lose one of my best men to your aunt’s cooking.”
Daniel nodded. “Sure.”
Next to Daniel, Vala released a breath. “Well, though a bit anticlimactic, I’m glad I finally got to see a bit of the darker side of the Jack and Daniel dynamic.” She smiled and wrapped an arm around Daniel’s waist, pointed at Jack. “Next time I expect a few punches, maybe some blood.”
Daniel rolled his eyes, while Jack chuckled at the winking brunette. “Maybe.” He then paused, thoughtfully. “Where did you two even go?”
At this question, Daniel and Vala turned to each other, apprehension in both their eyes. “Maybe you spoke too soon…” Daniel mumbled and furrowed his eyes at Vala, but turned to Jack, head bowed. “Kheb…”
Internally, Sam, Daniel and Vala counted to five and then, “What!” Jack bellowed, “I- I can’t. I can’t bel— ” Jack seemed to lose the power of speech and then he threw his hands up in defeat. “You know what I don’t care. I don’t care… I don't… I do care as to why the hell it took you guys so long to get back?”
Again Daniel and Vala cringed, and Daniel once again spoke up, “Well when we got to the temple it kinda blew up on us and then we sorta got…”
“Ascended.” Vala finished stepping in front of Daniel as if that would save the man from the wrath that was to come.
It never came, because neither Jack nor Sam could really process the words for a second.
“Run that by me again.” Jack gave a look at the duo.
Vala cleared her throat, “We died and got Ascended, then descended to come help you guys.” She finished with an awkward half smile.
“You mean to tell me you died…again!”
“We technically didn’t die.” Daniel offered, but none of this was what Jack wanted to hear.
Jack’s voice grew edged. “You died, Daniel! Don’t sugar coat it.”
“Look, we’re sor—”
“You don’t say sorry for that, Daniel!” Jack snapped before Daniel could even finish speaking, “You don’t die!”
“It’s not like we knew that Anubis would blow up the temple.”
“It was Kheb, Daniel! What else would he do? Plant a garden!”
“We thought…” Vala now ventured forward and this time Sam wasn’t quick enough to stop her.
Jack rounded, face cold, at Daniel and Vala. “We! Ever since this started all I’ve heard is we didn’t, we’re sorry! Stop it with that.” His eyes met Daniel and turned back to Vala’s. “Why did you have to drag him into this!”
At Jack’s words, Vala’s silver eyes turned to steel. “Don’t you go blaming this on me, Captain Jack.” She spoke the name she knew he disliked with a coldness that made sound like the insult Jack usually pretended the name to be. “Daniel’s a grown man, I didn’t drag him into this, if anything, he wanted to join me!” Vala’s voice was as cold as Jack’s face, both standing showing just how equal they were.
“Vala…” Daniel stepped closer to his lover, placing a warm hand on her waist and drawing her towards him just a bit.
Vala snapped her head to him, eyes sharp. “Don’t you dare try and defend him.”
Daniel look from her and Jack and spoke heavily, “He doesn’t need me too.” He looked back at her, their eyes speaking in a way Jack had only seen with himself and Daniel, and then with a small nod she drew back and let him once again take lead when speaking to his friend.
“Daniel.” Jack started, knowing how he had just fucked up with Daniel and Vala, but just a little. He still knew he had a point. They couldn’t keep doing this, to him, their friends, themselves; they couldn’t keep playing with their lives so carelessly because at one point they might not be able to take back the mortality they lost.
“She’s not wrong, Jack.” Daniel interrupted, making his
stand, and not only to defend Vala, but to defend his own actions and
decisions. He knew that Jack still worried, that he saw him as the young kid
“I chose to follow this task. It was my decision to have Vala and Teal’c join up with us. They didn’t have to take my offer.” He paused and looked at the still woman by his side with a small smile, “Hell, Jack, they didn’t even want to at first. I convinced her, and I don’t regret it. You knew it was going to be an uphill battle. So please don’t make me regret that we trusted you to help us.”
“Because we’ll leave and do this on our own.” Vala finished, no argument in her voice, and Daniel didn’t dispute her statement.
Jack looked at Daniel and Vala and said nothing, did nothing. Not for lack of wanting, but because he was in shock. He was in shock over them. Daniel and Vala. It was funny, but even having known Daniel for years, here, in this moment he couldn’t picture one without the other. They lit the dark room with an unfathomable light that stemmed from deep inside them both and gods be damned he knew he was going to lose this argument.
“You two need to stop dying.” Was all Jack said, but meeting Daniel’s sky blue eyes he knew the younger man understood.
Daniel nodded, “We will.” He shared a sidelong glance with Vala.
But feeling left over frustration Jack then threw up his hands up and began to pace the small room. “And, that’s it! Castiana, Sahal, Kheb—you almost die, then you die, then you die and Ascend – no more temples for you two! I mean it. Next temple you two look the other way.”
“Technically, in Sahal I was grabbed at the b-” Vala trailed off at the look Jack gave her. “Never mind.” She smiled and stepped closer to Daniel.
“Jack…” Daniel thought to calm his friend.
Pointing his finger, Jack narrowed his eyes. “No. Captain’s orders. No more temples. Now if you’ll all excuse me I have a planet to get down to. Sam, you and Vala, get to working on getting this ship back in order. Daniel, go get Lou back. And when I get back we all have to have a long talk.” He directed that last bit to Vala, who just nodded.
As the other three nodded they left leaving Jack in the empty room. Alone he took a breath and punched the wall. Shaking his hand in pain, he left and headed back to the med bay to get some ice.
Sam and Vala sat in the Seraphim’s engine room, getting the ZMP detached before heading back to start fixing the Prometheus.
“Did it hurt?” Sam asked, not knowing how to approach the subject.
Vala paused in thought, “Only for a second when it was actually happening, but then no. I guess it’s because we got Ascended so quickly.”
“What was it like?”
“I don’t know, I can’t really remember all of it. But I guess it felt like you’re floating, every bit of you is floating, body, mind, soul but they’re not. But it’s not weird at all. It’s almost natural, but not… I think it’s better you ask Daniel to explain everything.”
Sam nodded, then asked the more interesting question. “What are they called?”
Vala only smiled. “Drones.”
“Like you wouldn't believe.”
After he dropped Caro off in the nearest hospital and made
sure she was okay, Jack stood with
Chancellor Jing sat in a battered desk in the temporary centre of operations of the Athosian parliament. He bowed his head at the occupants of the room, “Thank you all for meeting with me and for all your efforts in the last few days. But I want to discuss on what we will be doing now.”
Everyone nodded, all their eyes on Jack.
Jack wished he could say he enjoyed the rest of the meeting, but that would have just been the biggest load of bullshit he would have ever said.
Ringing back on to the Prometheus, Jack went over to the nearest com and called the bridge.
“Set up a wave to Dr. Weir for me in my office.” Jack ordered then paused, “Please.”
“No problem sir.”
Sighing, she went and accepted Jack’s wave. This wouldn’t be a conversation that either of them wanted to have.
“I know Jack. I’ve keeping up to speed with everything that
is happening on Athos. Have you already spoken with Madelyne and Caldwell?”
“I have. We talked about the support that Lantea will send,
which is good for us. We talked about how the support to help fix the ships,
give them stronger firepower, and everybody did a horrible but admirable job on trying not to rush into my ship and
study the Seraphim.” Jack sighed,
“I’m not saying he would have, but I think old
“I can imagine, but I can't blame him.”
“It’s not mine to give.”
“And that’s raising even more questions, because who in the
galaxy has access to that kind of technology. The last people to have something
even similar were the Ta—”
Jack for his worth didn’t out right deny her speculation. “Liz, don’t say anything. For anyone to know, well you can imagine.”
Jack met her eyes and nodded, “Yeah.”
“Well, people are starting to ask them, especially about the
ship and it’s weapons. And I think there will be more when you get here for
Jack leaned on his desk. “Are you telling us we can’t head back to Lantea to fix the ship?”
There was no doubt to what
“Be safe, Jack.”
“Always am.” Jack signed off.
Looking over at her waiting calls,
“Okay, good. I wanted
Sam leaned forward, “Why?”
Jack’s eyes took them all in. “We need a place to fix the ship and we can’t go to back to Lantea.”
Jack sat down, heavily. “We told
“Bloody hell, they’re not getting near my ship!”
Jack waved both exclamations off, “Yeah, so anyone got an idea for where we can go?
Sam sighed. “With Revanna taken, we can’t go to my dad. And Belote is already over run with surviving Tok’ra.”
Teal’c’s deep voice followed Sam’s. “Dakara would not be safe either. With all that has been occurring Bra’tac will not be able promise our safety.”
Jack shook his head in disagreement, “No, they’d be getting ready for war, Athos was one of their most important allies.”
Sam bit her lips in thought, “The only planets I can think might help us out right now without too many questions are Hebridan, Caldonia, or Tollana.”
This time it was Daniel who disagreed with the suggestion. “Forget Caldonia. They wouldn't want more trouble than they already have… And you know they’d want the same thing with Vala’s ship that Lantea does.” Sam nodded at Daniel’s point and racked her brain for another option.
“Hebridan and Tollana are too risky; most know they’re our allies. We need a somewhere were nobody would think to look for us.” Caro said, looking around the room and her eyes landing on Vala who had stayed mostly quiet during all the suggestions.
Vala met Caro’s gaze and mouthed fine. Biting her lip, she turned to Jack. “I think I know just the place.”
Jack tilted his head to the woman, knowing from experience that he would either love or hate the idea, but that it would probably work. “Do tell.”
Vala wrinkled her mouth with uncertainty but spoke, “Old friends of mine, I’ll need to contact them, but they’ll keep us hidden for as long as we need. You can count on that.”
“Great. Where can we find them and who are they?” Jack asked because he had just learned that with Daniel and Vala he better ask before he found himself in a Goa’uld ruled planet or something as equally…undesirable.
Vala only took a pen and wrote something down, sliding it over to Jack. “These are the coordinates in space.”
Sam leaned over Jack’s shoulder; ignoring the look the man gave her and wrinkled her brow. “Wait, I’ve know these coordinates, everyone that has gone there has said that there’s nothing there. A system with planets but no life.”
Vala just smiled, impishly. “Trust me, there’s life.”
They all looked at each other and Jack nodded, not completely convinced, but as much as he hated to admit it, he still trusted the damn woman. “Okay we’ll go.”
“After I contact them…” Vala interjected.
“After you contact them.” Jack acquiesced, rolling his eyes. “So mind telling me who these friends of yours are.” He prodded.
Again Vala smiled and everybody could see the amusement in her eyes. “Don’t worry, they’re sweethearts. Daniel’s probably even heard of them since he has studied about my people’s history and since you all know the Asgard. They are the third race in the Alliance of Four. The Nox.”
CHAPTER XXI: The
“T-The Nox?!” Daniel looked at Vala, stammering.
Vala spared him a look, rolling her eyes. “Yes, darling. The Nox.”
“But that’s—No one’s been able to find their home planet in over 300 years.”
“I know,” Vala sighed, as the still constant questioning of her contacts and allies was starting to get old and bothersome, “why do you think we’re heading there? If no one in the galaxy has been able to find the planet in the last three centuries, then I doubt they’ll find it now.”
Jack gave the woman a look, “Just how many more aces do you have up your sleeves there, Vala?”
Turning to Jack, Vala twisted her lips to the side, “More than you can imagine.” Her voice still measured with him, he was now sure she was still a little pissed at him from before. At least she was on their side.
Sam ignored the exchange and looked from Daniel to Vala, questioningly. “Then how do you know where to find it?”
Vala, fiddling absently with the loose string on her jacket, met Sam’s eyes for the briefest second. “Well because I used to live with them.”
Vala only nodded, “Yep, after Tau’ri was destroyed I wasn’t exactly in the best place, you know emotionally, and was very scared so I went to contact my people’s closest allies. The Nox answered first. They helped me get to Elyis, their homeworld, and I lived with them for a while. It was good for me. If it wasn’t for them I would not be the well adjusted person you see before you.” Vala spoke lightly, but Daniel could see there was something deeper to her words. He was becoming more and more certain, there always was.
Jack, also picking up on what Vala had left unsaid, the underlying tone of a past that still haunted her and more to the point the fact she didn’t want to elaborate, and took over the meeting again. “And are you sure they’ll give us refuge?”
Vala nodded again, “They give anyone refuge. They are very peace loving and have a strong code of ethics. I’m sure that even if Anubis went to the planet they’d give that arse sanctuary too…” Vala trailed off bitterly, lost in her thoughts and then snapped back to the room’s attention. “It’s not that they’re bad or anything. They just believe everything and everyone is sacred. They would just stand and smile even if someone was killing them. They’re not the most ideal allies in war, but they’ll protect us. They’re good at hiding things.” Vala smiled, brightly.
“How so?” Sam turned to Vala.
“Trust me, you’ll see.” Vala said nothing else leaving the room in suspense.
Jack just sighed and ordered everybody out, “Sam, try and
get us to this planet in one piece.
“I need to go and contact them.” Vala spoke quickly, interrupting Jack.
Jack met her eyes, they stood still for a second before he nodded, “Do that, but I want to talk to you and Daniel again.”
Vala glanced from Daniel to Jack and then back to Daniel. She gave a measured nod, “I’ll find you.” And with that and quick kiss to Daniel Vala left the room.
Teal’c was the one who addressed the tension that still lingered in the room, “What has happened with Vala Mal Duran?”
Daniel looked over at Jack, who sighed, “I pissed her off.”
“You were mean.” Daniel elaborated. “He was mean.” He turned to the room.
“I’m always mean.” Jack avoided most eye contact.
Teal’c only clasped his hands behind his back and moved to leave the room, at the door the tall man turned back, “If you were in the wrong, you should apologize O’Neill.” His deep voice dropping an octave. It went unsaid that if Jack further hurt Vala’s feelings, he would not be speaking for a long time, even if it were to apologize.
* * * *
Vala’s hand hovered in indecisiveness over the button that
would connect her to her friends. She sighed. She knew that even though she
hadn’t visited Elyis in years, Lya and the others would welcome her back
without question, but still she felt guilty. Ever since she had left that
spring, months after Pilar had left, she hadn’t contacted anyone from the old
They had helped her so much. They had brought her back from the broken shell of a person she had become when the Tau’ri was destroyed and the depression that had caused her to fall into.
Because even half a galaxy away, the destruction of her world had rippled outward to shatter the very core of who Vala had been. No longer would her trips be a whim of escape and adventure, no longer would she have a place to run back too should the obvious corruption of the galaxy get to be too much for her. But more so, the small, tickle of reassurance that a planet full of her people, her family, all connected in a cellular level thanks to the gene was gone. And the worst of all had been the loss of security, of the knowledge of home, of self. Vala knew the only reason that the overwhelming sense of loss had not destroyed her was because Lya and the others had taken her in and taught her, healed her.
Finishing the message she sent it and waited for the answer. It wouldn’t be long as the Nox had very few communications with other beings in the galaxy save for the Asgard and Furlings. She thought about Jack, who hadn’t even known what he carried inside. How that, above even whatever her and Daniel had become to each other, had shocked her the most. Vala knew he didn’t fully understand what it was to have the connection they did. He hadn’t even been inside the ship she mused, but she’d have to talk to him about it. She paused and flipped a couple switches on the consul, she’d tell Jack all right, after the man apologised, or at least tried to apologise. Vala was pragmatic after all.
The ATA connection was much more than just sensing someone’s presence, it was being aware of their entire being. Almost an empathic thread between minds that strengthened familiar bonds and devastated one when betrayal or death would occur. Leaning back in her chair, Vala questioned if that was why Caro felt so at home here. Neither her and Jack would have known of course, but that’s why Vala had been able to pick out the young doctor as an empath. She could feel her feeling her out and had no doubt that Jack could do it similarly, just unaware of it. Caro, of course, would just feel more comfortable in the presence of another empath and Jack and Vala were the closest humans to one on the ship. Wondering about the captain’s reaction to being told he was empathic to a certain extent, something that she didn't doubt would be memorable, her attentions was brought back to her ship as she received an answering message.
Reading through it she smiled quietly at Lya’s words of
welcoming and affection, feeling her guilt rise again. Vala was sure Lya
wouldn’t feel offended at her long time absence from Elyis, for to the Nox time
flowed differently anyway, but Vala felt it. Sighing, she sent another message
to Lya informing her of their arrival time and reassuring herself in the fact
that Daniel would no doubt enjoy her friends. Sam and Teal’c would too.
Grinning, she shook her head,
Heading out of the ship, Vala passed by her room and grabbed her mini-knowledge base. She and Daniel needed any advantage in deciphering these texts and this would help it go faster. When she reached the nearest com, she called the bridge.
“Yes, Ms. Mal Duran?”
“I’ve told you to call me Vala, love.”
Chucking, Vala rolled her eyes. “You’ll be getting a message soon, with coordinates. These are where we are heading too.”
“All right, thank you.”
“No problem, love.” Vala nodded even though she knew the man couldn’t see her and was about to head off when, “Vala, they are friendlies, right?”
Jack’s voice came through and Vala rolled her eyes, this time in less amusement. “Of course they are, captain. Nobody on this planet even owns a weapon and you’ll actually need to disable yours before we land.”
“Just read the instructions, they’ll come with the message.” Vala walked off and sighed. She might wait awhile before telling Jack anything, especially since if only hearing his voice made her want to punch him right now. Walking to Daniel’s office, she decided that yeah, waiting a couple more days would be best, by then they would be with Lya and the ship would be getting fixed, meaning Jack would be less inclined to hit back.
* * * *
The trip to Elyis, which would have normally been a thirty hour trip, would be almost two full days pushing their engines as much as they could and with the help of the ZPM. After Sam had attached the Tau’rian device she had sighed and not for the first time was grateful for the foreign device. Without she doubted they would be able to even use the sublight engines at all. Making her way over to crystal consul, she checked on the grav thrusts, life support systems and inertial dampeners. They had all been severely damaged during the fight and it was only due to the extra boost the ZPM gave, that Sam could worry about them a little less.
As her eyes wandered around her damaged engine room she felt tears sting in her eyes. Sighing, she closed them and shook herself from her sentimental thoughts, in the end it was just a room after all.
Except it wasn’t. Not to Sam. For as long as she lived on this ship the engine room had become an extension of herself. Even more than her lab, which she rarely used because everything she worked on was in this room. Here, her all her work was housed. The corner cabinets held all her data pads, tools, and plans for everything she ever thought of. Too see it like this, so broken, twisted her gut.
In the corner Bill was working on reattaching some panelling and Sam couldn’t help but think the mess of wires that spilled out of the wall looked like guts that were bleeding out from a body. She watched as the man wiped his brow and focused back on the wiring, a look of deep consideration on his round face.
“Bill?” Sam questioned as she headed over to where Bill was working.
Turning he exhaled a deep sigh and gestured despondently to the panel behind him. “It’s shot, Sam. Everything here is now useless.” He laid a tired hand on the space next to the panel, almost a soothing action, a gesture that made Sam want to hug the man. “One of the blasts must have damaged some of the outer sensors and it looks like circuit fired and burnt through this entire section. We’re going to need to replace everything here.”
Sam frowned, “Everything?” Bill nodded and she stared at the said section noticing how everything in the outward sections looked rusted, but were actually burnt black, and even glancing at the mess of wire, she could tell there was no salvaging this.
“What systems are affected by this?”
“Thankfully the majority our life support systems are on their backups now, but the heating on levels 20 – 25 are going to be affected. As well as the generators on level 14 and the water on levels 35-37.”
Sam went over the levels and sighed. “Okay, so the upper decks are going to have to be sealed off and we’ll transfer the remaining power from those levels to the levels that need it. Please call Walter and let him know.” Sam added the damaged upper decks to her ever-increasing list as Bill went to call the bridge. Checking on the gravity stabilisers, Sam let herself slump into her chair, still miraculously standing in one piece and dropped her head into her hands. She truly hoped that Vala’s friends, whoever they were would be able to help because even with her staff they couldn’t handle this all alone. They needed too much and gods, they didn’t have near enough, not for the energy requirements that would be needed to keep the ships floating during repairs and the ZPM as powerful as it was, wouldn’t work if it didn't have the actual Prometheus’ systems online, at least the majority of them.
Staring blankly at the screen in front of her, Sam jumped
when she felt a hand fall to her shoulder. Looking behind she saw
He nodded down to her. Sam could see the weariness in his
normally teasing blue eyes, “We’ll get this fixed, Sam. Spic and span.” He
squeezed her shoulder tenderly and at the gesture of comfort Sam let the first
tears fall. She turned to
When she felt the last muted sob leave her she wiped her
nose and frowned at wet spot on
Looking up at
* * * *
As Daniel and Vala walked in the room, both began shedding their jackets, holsters and boots. Walking over to the bed, Vala flung herself on the thin comforter, landing spread eagle in exhaustion. They had just spent hours working and helping around the ship, trying to fix as much as they could before getting to Elyis.
Vala had joined Sam in the engine room for hours as Daniel
had gone around and helped
It was only when Daniel left the room that Jack had said a word to Daniel, just as Daniel had clasped Jack’s shoulder before heading out of the room. Jack had turned to him, memories floating in brown eyes and nodded to Daniel with a quiet ‘sleep well’ and then turned back to the wide windows in front of him.
Daniel had only smiled in return and then walked with just a quicker step to where he knew Vala was in the engine room. He had picked her up from where she had been nodding off near Sam’s crouched figure and walked her to their room.
Now Daniel looked at her and smiled as he reached the foot of the bed and leaned on one knee between her legs. He watched as Vala undid the laces to her leather pants and lifted her hips in a clear gesture that he was to pull them off. Shaking his head, Daniel could see no reason to not to comply and pulled the dark leather off the alabaster skin it had been encasing. As Vala’s shin became uncovered he dropped a kiss to her left ankle and let his cheek rest against it for a minute before he let it fall to the bed.
“And we’re still alive.” Daniel sighed.
Opening her eyes and meeting his, Vala exhaled heavily. “After a fashion.” She smiled tiredly at him, thankful to their Ascended friends for the reprieve they had been given. Daniel dropped his head in exhaustion and then squinted at her figure, which nearly took up the entire bed.
“Comfy?” He let out a small smile.
“Increasingly so.” She added cheekily, knowing what his smile meant.
“Good for you, but you do know that you’re hogging the bed, right?” Daniel said, running a hand over a naked knee.
She just smiled and leaned up, tugging on his belt a little. “Really? I thought there was more than enough room for both of us.” As she unlatched his belt, Daniel felt her hands push down his pants, sitting up for second he helped along and pulled them off his tired body before he went back to Vala, who still took up most of the bed not having moved an inch.
With a teasing smirk, he leaned forward on both his arms, each on either side of her head, “I’m too heavy to sleep on you.”
“I like your weight.” She grinned tenderly, as she hooked a leg over his hip and locked arms around his neck, bringing him closer. Moving in to kiss him, she was met half way as he carefully rested his body on hers. Kissing languorously for several minutes, they just enjoyed the knowledge of this moment’s peace with each other. Lazily separating as the kiss dropped off naturally, he rested his forearms to frame her face and his fingers mindlessly drifted through her hair and memorized her face. They had died and come back and now everything felt as if it hung on the edge of a knife. Daniel shivered inwardly and pushing back the dread he felt crawling up his spine, he shifted and kissed her chin.
Tilting her face towards his fingers, she nipped playfully at his fingers, “I love your weight.” Her legs tightened and brought him even closer to her, the movement bringing their hips, groins, noses and eyes to the same level. The words were everything they couldn't say and wanted to say at the same time.
Daniel smiled perfectly as he moved and gathered her comfortably in his arms. Brushing her cheek with his lips, he buried his nose in her hair. “I love your weight too.”
Vala hid her smile in his skin and licked the spot. Daniel chuckled sleepily and awkwardly shifted the covers from under them, so they would be covered. Vala stretched her body along side his and slipped a leg between his, keeping him pressed against her thigh, her hand resting on the skin over his heart.
In each other’s arms they fell asleep, their bodies succumbing to the rest they craved.
* * * *
Far away Anubis and The First drew closer.
* * * *
Elyis was a green looking planet in a solitary system. The only planet capable of life, it stood out like a beacon to the approaching ship.
Vala had not let them speak with the Nox. She had only gone into the Seraphim and contacted one of the oldest races of the galaxy in privacy, coming out and telling them that they would be expected. She guided them to an open field that looked so empty that she felt Jack’s eyes shift to her in question. Instead of answering, Vala had only instructed that they set the ship down and that she would need to talk to her contact before anything happened.
As they ringed down to the planet, Jack gave another look at Vala who just rolled her eyes at the man. “Relax, they said they’d be here.”
“Who?” Jack crossed his arms, looking around. “There doesn't seem to be much life here. And why couldn't we bring down our weapons?”
“Because,” Vala repeated, “they don’t allow weapons. Just wait.”
Jack only huffed and Vala shared a look of amusement with Sam.
“You always did find the most interesting company.” Hearing a voice, the group of six looking for the owner.
Just as they turned to look at the gate they saw two figures seemingly appear from thin air. Both clearly female and smiling. One was short and pale with wild ashen hair that looked half made branches and flowers. She wore a long sleeveless dress also adorned with a great deal of flora and had a pale pixie face with wide eyes.
The other was her polar opposite.
The second woman stood at least six feet tall with long dark hair, reaching to her waist, which was tied in a long plait. But that wasn’t even the beginning of her differences; her true differences lay in the pale green pigment of her skin giving the impression she seemed to have been cut out of jade, and in her eyes. Dark eyes. Her black eyeballs giving her eyes an incredibly unnatural look, which was only enhanced by the fact her iris was a deep red and dark inky lashes rimmed both eyes. She also had no eyebrows, but had she had them she would have been cocking one at them.
Also unlike her petite companion her outfit held no flowery adornments. In tight dark leather pants and long tight top that almost seem to blend with her skin, she was all curves and muscle.
The woman had a quirk on her deep burgundy lips and was about to speak when she was interrupted.
Teal’c bowed his head in greeting, “Pilar Armot, it is nice to see you once again.”
Pilar, as her name was now revealed, only sighed, “You too Teal’c, though you sort of ruined the witty one-liner I had ready.”
Teal’c only quirked his eyebrow, #16 – I win. “I apologise.”
Vala raised her own eyebrow in question, used to the banter. “Pilar, you’re here?”
Pilar scoffed and placed a hand on one her leather clad hip, “Of course I am, I knew you would eventually need me. That ship certainly does. Dio, if I already didn’t know what you did to it, I would ask…” She walked forward, an appraising eye on the ship while the partner followed at a leisurely pace.
Lya stilled her head and smiled softly at Vala, cupping her chin when she reached her, bringing the taller woman down for a soft kiss on the forehead. “She arrived just days ago, told us we must wait for you. True to form, you contacted us only a day later.” Lya then turned to other and bowed her head in greeting, “Welcome crew of the Prometheus, I am Lya of the Nox.”
The others nodded in greeting as well and then Jack broke the silence, eyes still trained on Pilar. “And who’s she?”
Vala follow Jack’s eyes from Lya to Pilar and grinned, “This is my very friend dear Pilar, most know her as Pilot. Though I don't know how she ever got the name, and since she won’t share…”
“You mean like Pilot Armot, the bounty hunter? The famous
Vala grinned wider and winked at
Rolling his eyes, Jack interrupted the moment, “Oh how sweet. That doesn't explain how she’s here. You said nobody could find us, but if a bounty hunter can…”
“Oh relax, nobody can find us here, Pilar is just special.” Vala turned to Jack, exasperated. If anything she thought he would trust her in keeping her word about their anonymity in the planet.
Jack clearly wasn’t convinced. “Oh, how so?”
Pilar looked between the two and turned to Vala in question. “You didn't tell them? Not even,” she nodded to Daniel, a quirk to her lips.
Vala only shrugged, “You don’t like people to know. And how do you know about…you know what, never mind.” Vala stared at her friend with a silent question of that they were talking later in her eyes.
Pilar smiled enigmatically at her younger friend when Jack broke in, “Hello! Mind clearing whatever that was up.” He was looking between Vala and Pilar with question in his eyes, questions that were echoed by everybody save Teal’c and Lya.
“Oh no problem,” Vala turned to the group and grinning she paused with one last impish look at Pilar, “She’s Furling.”
Only Daniel’s mouth fell open in shock and both Pilar and Vala felt as if their moment was ruined.
“And what does that mean?” Jack rolled his eyes, waving his hand for further explanation.
Vala sighed and turned to Daniel, “Daniel…”
Daniel’s voice was quiet and awed as he explained what Vala didn’t, “She’s the Fourth Race.” At some looks of confusion he expanded, “Asgard, Tau’ri, Furling and Nox. The four races the galaxy was built on.”
Lya nodded in agreement, gently correcting, “Actually its Asgard, Nox, Furling, then Tau’ri. The Tau’rians came here and amalgamated themselves to our already existing Triad, but that’s a longer story.” Pilar smirked as Lya said this, giving the impression of holding a secret and one that they all wanted to know at that.
“But I thought the Furlings were long gone. You have all but disappeared in the all galactic archives.” Daniel stated, the questions brimming in his mind.
Pilar shrugged, “So were the Tau’rian. Except for one.” She turned to Vala and winked, a gesture that Vala returned.
“Wait, so you’re people are dead too?” Sam asked, sympathy filling her blue eyes.
Pilar turned to Sam and smiled kindly, her Amazonian warrior stature softening somewhat, “Oh no. My people have long along ago weeded themselves out of the functions of the universe. They are very much alive, and very much around, they just keep to themselves, a lot. Feel it’s too dangerous to mess with the development of the galaxy.”
“Why?” Daniel asked. He met Vala’s eyes for a brief second and squinted at the amusement in her eyes.
Pilar echoed that amusement, answering offhand, “Because we time travel.”
Pilar smirked at the reaction and titled her head back to the Prometheus, “It gets to be old hat after a while, in all honesty. But that’s how I knew how you would be here,”
“And at the temple.” Daniel added remembering Sahal.
Nodding, Pilar turned to the gather group, “And how I knew how to reach this planet. Even after my people and the Tau’ri separated themselves from the galaxy, the Alliance of Four still kept up sporadic communications. We like to touch base every once in a while.” Again she crooked her up to the ship, “How is Thor? He did help with these upgrades, didn’t he?”
The group just stared at the statuesque and intriguing alien woman, with several looks varying from wonder to shock and Vala had to smile. Pilar always liked an audience. She turned to her friend and grinned, “So you’ll help out too?”
Pilar turned a wide toothless smile at Vala, “Of course,” she then faced Lya again, “as soon as we get the materials we need.”
Lya stepped forward, her pale face roaming over the ship, assessing, and like Pilar she garnered looks from the crew and despite her smaller frame, she seemed to exuded an energy that made them take small steps back as she approached the ship. Standing once again next to Pilar, with Vala on her other side, she turned her head up and closed her eyes, “The ship does seem to in much distress.”
Vala faced Lya with a soft question, “But you can help us, right?”
Lya gave a glance to the crew, her eye resting on Jack and Cam for a beat, “You know we do not condone violence, in a shape or form,” Vala started to speak but was silenced by Lya’s small pale hand and smile, “but seeing has you have indeed disabled your weapons systems, I believe we can supply the material needed to repair your home.” She finished meeting Jack’s eyes and gave a small nod.
Vala grinned and bent to drop a kiss on Lya’s cheek, “Thank you, Lya. We truly appreciate this, don’t we?” Vala then gave a look over to the crew and stifled a chuckle, as they in turned stumbled over their own thanks. “Samantha love, I hope you don’t mind, but would it be okay if Pilar here helped out with this. She is after all, the best.” Vala looked between Sam and Pilar, knowing this would be the best option right now.
Sam’s eyes darted over to Pilar, apprehensive but curious and smiled, “No problem, if you don’t mind…”
“Not at all, I’m sure we’ll have a lot to learn from each other.” Pilar grinned wide and winked at other woman impishly, making Sam flush the tiniest bit.
“Good, now that this is getting all sorted out, we can get to it.” Vala nodded to Lya who turned to Jack.
“Captain O’Neill,” Lya stepped forward nodding solemnly to Jack.
“Yes?” Over Lya’s head Jack looked over to Daniel and Vala in confusion, the former who shrugged and the latter who rolled her eyes in response.
“If you would give my people a calendar day to acquire the necessary materials for your ship your people should be able to begin work in tomorrow’s sunlight.” Lya stared at Jack as if she was waiting for something and Jack could only nod, “That sounds fine.”
Lya smiled softly, “Very well then. We, the Nox, will do our best to assist you. I shall return with your materials at said time.” Turning to Vala, Lya walked over and gently held one of her hands. Vala bowed her head and smiled a misty grin when Lya touched her face, “Are you well, young one?”
Vala blinked at Lya’s words not really surprised at her old friends words, but only said, “Can we talk later?”
Lya brushed her hand over Vala’s face, “Yes, of course. I now have to inform the others of what will be needed for your ship.” Lya bowed to the group and then walked into the forest behind her, blending into it perfectly.
“What did she mean?” Jack asked as Vala shifted to Daniel’s side, arm sliding around his waist.
“She just meant that should she should have everything by tomorrow. The Nox don’t really have the same concept of time we do. Time to them isn’t merely counted in hours and day.”
“So tomorrow then?”
“Good,” Jack turned to
“Okay what was that about?” As
“The Nox are very attune with everything and everybody around them, she probably noticed I, we, Ascended.” Vala leaned into Daniel’s side as he wrapped an arm around her waist and let her eyes fall onto Pilar who was standing next to Teal’c, both seemingly having a conversation with just their eyes and postures. Vala rolled her eyes at their antics, but still grinned, “So Pilar darling, are you going to stay with us while you help or on that box you call a ship.”
Pilar put her hand on her hip and let her eyes stray over
CHAPTER XXII: Days of Days
Jack woke up to the sound of his head controller’s voice drifting through the intercom of his quarters. Groaning, he lifted his body up from his bed and palming the light sensor next to his it, he pressed the com to answer Harriman. “Yes, Walter?”
“Sir, it looks like we’ve moved.” Walter’s voice came in crisply through the intercom and Jack could hear the worried awe in it.
“Moved, Walter?” Jack asked, already standing and grabbing the closest pants and shirt to change into.
“Yes, sir. We do not appear to be in the same place where we landed the ship.” At Walter’s words, Jack snapped his head to the com, the screen wasn’t on – as it was rarely turned on automatically in the private quarters but Jack could only imagine the shock face he and Walter were both exhibiting.
“How in the – ” With no concern to his still unbuttoned shirt, Jack rushed out of the room, “I’m heading up right now!”
In the few short minutes that it took Jack to rush to the bridge he also managed to grab at his communicator and call Daniel. The order he gave the sleep addled and annoyed voice was a simple one, “Meet me in the bridge and bring Vala. Now.”
Entering the bridge, Jack paid little mind to his crew standing to attention, ordering them at ease almost an afterthought, and focused to Walter who stood by the captain’s chair, waiting for his orders.
“Walter, what happened?”
“Sir, I’m not entirely sure,” Walter fidgeted for a second, as if getting his thoughts together and then continued, “but everything was normal and then, faster than any of us could comprehend we seemed to have moved.”
“What do you mean, moved?” Jack stepped up to his captain’s chair, and rested his hand over it, waiting for an answer not sure if wanted to know it.
Walter stepped forward and directed Jack’s attention to the window of the bridge. “As you can see, sir, the ship is no longer in the clearing we landed in yesterday.”
Stepping to the window, Jack went to see what Walter was pointing out and saw what the man meant. They had moved from the small clearing at the edge of the wood, to a wider area, on what appeared to be a docking platform, next to a small cliff. The area was empty of anything, no trees, no animals, just wide expansive space with the hillside to the left. Jack was still staring at the new scenery in appropriate shock when the bridge doors slid open again and he heard, “What’s the big emergency, Jack?”
Daniel sounded grouchy as ever in the early Elysian morning, but Jack paid him no mind, turning to meet Vala’s own sleepy eyes with a less than amused gaze. “What the hell just happened?”
Vala blinked, confused, and Jack waved his hand towards the window to elaborate, “We are not where we landed yesterday.”
Again Vala blinked and as comprehension set in she bounded forward to the window. As she looked out a smile grew on her face and turning to Jack, a smug grin overtook her features. “Not to worry, we’re still in Elyis, we’ve just been moved so we can work on the ship in better conditions.”
“And that means?”
Vala rolled her eyes, “When we asked for help yesterday, it was obvious that we needed new materials and a proper place to work on the ship.” She waved her hand to the clearing outside the window, “This is it. We’re actually not that far from the gate, it’s just over those hills, but here we have better space and the…”
“How what?” Vala looked back to Jack, and if he were a man of a more suspicious nature he would have said she was baiting him on purpose. Actually…
Rolling his eyes, motioned with his hands, “How did we move? Nobody on the ship did it.”
Vala just walked back to Daniel’s side and leaned comfortably. “Well, the Nox did it. Obviously.”
“Obviously.” Jack repeated, talking a breath. “I gathered as much, Vala, I meant how did they do it?”
This time Vala gave a one shoulder shrug, seemingly unconcerned, “Telekinesis probably. They’re a very highly developed people. Even I don't know the extent of their abilities.”
Next to her, Daniel turned, curiosity building, “Telekinesis?”
Jack had a more pressing question. “You mean you never asked?”
Vala nodded to Daniel, and smiled innocently towards Jack, “It would have been rude to ask so blithely, they’re very dear people.”
“People! We’ve only met one and that friend of yours.” Jack scoffed, turning to face his chair, “And then they both disappeared like nothing happened.”
Right as Jack said the words, he knew they had probably been the wrong ones for Vala straightened at Daniel’s side and placed her hands on her hip, “Maybe it’s because your being rude and unwelcoming, when it’s not even your planet.”
“As if they would know,”
“Oh, they’d know.” Vala’s eyes gleamed at him and Jack was about to retort back when Daniel stepped in, full with an eye roll at them both.
“Now look you two,” he turned to the window, amused, “the Nox have given us all we needed and asked for, so we just need to be grateful and get back to bed.”
Lifting his eyes from Vala’s silver gaze to Daniel’s blue one, his arm still comfortably at Vala’s waist, but also holding it as he was ready to keep Vala at his side and from pouncing on Jack. Jack sighed. Daniel was at best unpleasant in the mornings and he was sure that Daniel was not up to mediating Jack and Vala, round 3 so Jack only gave Vala on last look, shaking a finger at her. “Everything we need better be there.”
Vala nodded sharply, answering, “It will be.” And with that she spun round and headed off the bridge, only to call back as she crossed the threshold, “The crew is welcome on the planet by the way, just remind them to be nice – unlike some others.”
Narrowing his eyes, Jack muttered, “Nice…” he breathed out through his nose, ready to call back when Daniel laid a hand on his shoulder, saying Jack’s name in that long suffering tone they had developed over the years for one another.
Biting back the reply, Jack faced Daniel and eyed his younger friend, “I am being nice. She’s holding a grudge.”
Daniel’s answered was an amused smile, complete with shrug and eyebrows raised, “Then be nicer.” He then also went to leave the bridge, hot on Vala’s trail and Jack repressed the urge to shoot them both (in a non fatal way, of course). He settled for turning to his crew – all trying to repress their smiles at what they just witnessed – and straighten, as a captain should.
“Well, you heard the lady, check the supplies that have been left and get to work!” He ordered.
The crew scattered and Jack smiled.
* * * *
By the time Daniel had followed Vala to their quarters he had managed to suppress the chuckles at the show she had just given on the bridge, knowing that despite some of it being real, a lot was just to push Jack’s buttons. As he entered the room, he grinned at the sight she presented. Laid up on the bed, she had shed her black top and the sweats she had slipped on for their trip on the bridge. Following suit taking off his top and with a quick look at the time – 0452 – he let his eyes trail over Vala, clad in her tiny sleep tops and panties. She had her left arms slung across her eyes and her legs were bent at the knee, her entire pose exuding tired wakefulness.
“Not the morning you expected.” Daniel said, as he moved forward, going to sit on the bed at level where her knees were bent. He covered one smooth kneecap with a warm hand, rubbing gentle circles with his thumb.
“Not in the least, darling. I had wished for at least one more hour and some morning sex.” From higher up on the bed, Vala pouted and let the weight on her knees drop, one to the bed, and one to Daniel’s side. Now he did chuckle at her words and lowered his head pressing a soft kiss to the small scar he had found one morning on the inner side of her knee.
Vala squirmed at the move and took her arm off from where it rested across her eyes, watching him with sparking silver eyes, “Daniel…” The tone was amused and just aroused enough that it shot through Daniel, encouraging him.
He said nothing as he rubbed his nose to the soft skin just above her knee and adjusted his body so he faced her completely; one hand pushed her knee down, opening her legs further to him.
“Want me to make it a better?” His smile and question made Vala laugh brightly and he grinned in return, happy he could excite that sound from her. Still, even as their eyes met in gentle laughter and lust, his hand had never stopped stroking her knee, the other skimming a path across her belly. Vala grinned wide and lifted her upper body, cupping his chin and brought his mouth to hers. Their lips met in equal readiness and tongues slicked against each other slowly.
Daniel still worked his hands up Vala’s thighs as she stroked the nape of his neck, massaging the skin there. He felt her arch up into him when his fingers skimmed her underwear and felt her breast press heavily against his chest. Breaking off the kiss, he pushed himself up back into a sitting position and look down at Vala, breathing heavily, her lips were swollen by his kisses and gathering his bearings, he lowered his lips to a cover breast and sucked it into his mouth. The reaction was immediate and Vala pushed her body up towards his, a deep groan escaping her. Her legs moved to bend around his waist again, but his hands, still on her thighs stopped the action and Daniel released the wet cloth-covered nipple and blew on it. Vala shivered and he smiled.
“Tease…” Vala went to press her thighs together, but his hands still held her legs open and he slipped between them.
Chuckling, Daniel licked at her navel before he hooked the teasing fingers into her underwear and pulled down. “The direct definition of tease,” he stopped half way down her legs to bite gently at an inner thigh, “is to make fun of or attempt to provoke in a playful way. When talking about hair it means to gently pull or comb into separate strands.” Now he moved his lips further up her body, discarding her panties, his nose brushing against her, “but I think you meant it as a noun, as in a person who makes fun of someone playfully or unkindly. A person who tempts someone sexually with no intention of satisfying the desire aroused.” His lips then closed over her clit and Vala arched with a gasp as he gently sucked. Slipping a finger inside her, he detached his mouth and grinned up, “Of course, you were wrong, because I always had the intent to follow through.” He spoke as he pushed another finger inside and from where her head was pushed against the pillow Vala narrowed her eyes at him.
“Ass.” Her aroused tone and the push of her hips to his hand definitely contradicted the reproach the word was to carry.
“Really?” Daniel raised an eyebrow and used his other hand to cup her ass and pulling her closer to him. The movement pushed his fingers deeper and caused a choked giggle to escape Vala. Curling his fingers inside, he dropped a kiss on each jutting hipbone, and pulled Vala to the edge of the bed, where he kneeled on the floor, and let her legs fall open on either side of him. He pressed one last kiss to the scar on her knee before licked over her sensitised flesh again. She breathed heavily, occasional words slipping out in Tau’rian, making him harder and so glad he had made her teach him her language, because she was pressing herself against his mouth and fingers, asking for more, for deeper, for him.
As her orgasm grew closer she wrapped one leg over his shoulder, her heel pushing against the base of his spine, the movement causing shooting sensations down his back and straight to his dick. Hardening even more, as Vala cooed his name, her accent heavy, he squeezed himself as Vala came against his mouth bittersweet and heady, “Fos mou” falling heavily from her tongue.
After as Vala lay limp, boneless, as she tended to after coming, Daniel worked his now wet hand into his sweats, to relive his own pressure, when he felt two soft hands grip his head. Coming back to herself, Vala was pulling him up to her, hooking one foot under his ass, pushing him up. Daniel grunted at the feeling, as her foot brushed against his balls in the best way and it was not lost to Vala either, as her lips sought his and pulled them up the span of the bed. Some shuffling later, Daniel found himself naked and pressed against Vala’s hip. He watched as she broke of their kiss and licked her palm, lowering her hand to wrap around him, never losing eye contact and smiling all the while. He watched as she squeezed him and kept him between her hand and her thigh, the rhythm exactly the same to the one he had just used on her. And he almost came right there.
Grunting against her hand, he pushed one hand into her hair and kissed her again. Clumsy and forceful, all tongues and lips, and he was losing all focus on everything except where her hands where and how her mouth tasted spicy and hot against his. Then she was hooking her other leg around his hip, rubbing against him and he had to cup her ass to keep them steady on their sides. Their lips broke apart for brief seconds to catch their breath, and her fingers squeezed just as he pushed into her thigh. He was aware of muttering her name and her catching his bottom lips between her teeth and biting a little too hard as she pressed her fingers against herself and came on his hip, but he couldn’t even form thought, much less feel guilty about it.
Spent, they separated lazily, resting next to each other, not touching, letting the air of the Prometheus cool their heated skin and then Vala let out a dirty laugh as she slipped off her now sweaty top. Turning on his side, Daniel let his eyes take in her smiling face and grinned in response, “What?”
“If this is what happens every time Jack wakes you up early, or ticks me off, we need to ask him to do it more often!” She turned to face him, brushing his lips with one finger with a sated smile.
He matched her smile and he pressed a kiss to said finger, sucking on the tip. “Definitely,” he pulled her closer to him and there they rested, quiet and satisfied for several more minutes before they got up to begin the day.
They showered and after Vala was slipping on her white tank top, when she turned to Daniel, “I’m going to help out Sam in the engine room until Pilar gets here and then I’ll join you in the office.”
Daniel nodded, fastening his black fatigues and grabbed some of the notes he had on his desk, “Sure no problem.”
Vala left the room, with a gentle kiss to his cheek and Daniel ran a hand through his hair, heading down to his office to work on the manuscripts. He had a feeling that their time with the Nox was going be to interesting at the very least.
* * * *
“I can help with that, you know.”
Lifting his head, he moved from under Aeryn and turned to the sight of Vala’s friend, Pilar, standing stoically in the flight bay. Blinking, the commander in him asked the most pertinent question, “How the hell did you get in here?”
Pilar tossed her hair back and lips pursing towards the open ramp leading down to the ground, “It was open.”
“Oh yeah, forgot about that.”
Pilar just smiled and moved to Cam, bumping him out of the way and looked up into his ship’s belly, then with clever eyes and quick hands, Pilar did something and then tossed to Cam what definitely looked like his reg couple and started at Pilar. “What the hell did you just do?”
“Fixed your ship,” Pilar grinned, red lips widening and
motioned to Aeryn, “That reg couple,
you don’t need it. With the new systems you have, it would just serve as a
nothing part and only sucks energy from your power cells anyway. So I just took
it out. It’s more efficient to plug the g-line into the grav boot and there you
have it.” The no nonsense way she explained her actions to
Pilar nodded, “Basically, unless you like using up extra energy.”
“Not a problem, Commander Mitchell.” Pilar gave him her own shark like smile back, her entire pose one of relaxed superiority.
Again, Pillar nodded lazily, her eyes trailing over the gathered
Blackbirds before falling back on
Sure that the answer was made to both confuse him and amuse him, and it did it in equal parts, Cam cleaned his greased hands on the dirty towel at his waist and motioned Pilar forward, “Come on, I’ll take you to her.” Tucking the towel back at his waist he strode forward, Pilar falling into step with him.
They were about to cross the threshold that separated the bay from the rest of the ship, when Cam called back to the ground crew, “Hey, when I get back I want all the reg couples from the ships removed and the g-lines plugged into the grav-boot.” He could feel the confusion from the crew, but didn't let it bother him as he caught a glimpse of Pilar’s smirk. Turning his own smirk into a charming smile he lead Pilar down the corridors of the ship to where Vala and Sam where working in the engine room.
The engine room was a flurry of movement, from Vala and Sam crouching by the crystal controls to Bill Lee bent over his data tablet and the half dozen other mechanics and engineers trying to get it back into Sam-approved working order, something Cam knew to be ten times better that the best possible conditions on any other ship. In the galaxy. Stepping over to where Sam and Vala were he greeted the two women with a smile.
“Hey, you two, the cavalry is here.” Behind
Vala stood first and walked over to Pilar for a hug. “Well finally! I’ve been looking at this mess, waiting for you to save the day.” Following Vala, Sam extended her own less enthusiastic greetings.
“Nice to see you too, Samantha.” Pilar smiled and then turned to appraise, or dissect, the room. Panels were open and wires where hanging from them like guts, frayed and damaged, waiting to be put right once again. “Now, where do we have the most damage?”
Sam faced the crystal controls she and Vala had been previously crouched over, extending her hand as if in an invitation to Pilar, “Most of the crystals were fired and everything from shielding to communications took a big hit. The only reason we have even made it this far is because we’ve been using Vala’s ZPM.”
“Yes, ZPMs are handy.” Pilar nodded, assessing, and then went
to strip her heavy leather coat off and tossed it to a chair, exposing an
athletic upper body and
“Very, gods know I wish I had one for the ship.” Sam muttered as she played with her socket wrench.
At that Pilar turned to Sam and winked, “We’ll see what we can do about that.” Then she gave Vala a smile, “and what are you still doing here? You have far more important things to worry about.”
Besides her, Vala grinned and patted Sam, whose eyes had grown wide ever since the ZPM comment, on the shoulder. “Oh, I’m leaving, just making sure you two will be fine. Sam, love, don’t be intimidated by her just because she looks smart, she really isn’t, and together you two will have the ship in shape faster than we would have ever done it.”
“No argument there.” Pilar quipped back and grabbed the tablet Vala had been using.
Sam, gaining back her voice, choked out, “Another ZPM?” She
looked so hopeful that even
“Now there, Sammy, let’s not get too excited.” Sam only shrugged him off with a don’t call me Sammy and her eyes began sparking with the new ideas filtering in her head as she went on to discuss the matter with Pilar in more detail.
Pilar just focused on the work before her, “Well, this should be easy?”
“Easy?” Again, Sam shot a look of confusion and excitement at her engine room’s new player.
“Trust me.” Pilar pulled Sam forward and motioned Sam to explain what she was seeing streaming on the tablet.
“Come on, Cameron, we both have other things to do than watching Samantha and Pilar geek out.” Cam hated to admit he couldn’t argue with her and followed her out, separating at the elevators as he headed back down to the hanger deck and Vala headed up to Daniel.
* * * *
In Daniel’s office, now hers as well by the simple fact that she had staked her claim on the second desk and the man, Vala walk up to where Daniel was hunched over several parchments. She bent and placed her hands loosely over his shoulder, smiling when he turned his head towards her and leaning into her palms. Vala took the hint and pressed down on the growing knots between his shoulder blades with the thumbs.
“Found anything yet?” Vala asked, leaning over Daniel’s shoulder, getting no answer but a grateful groan when she pressed down on a particular spot.
“I think I have all the analogous element of these quests categorised and I know I’ve seen certain elements I need to ask you about, but as for a set location… I can’t say anything.” Daniel once again bent forward hands shifting through the notes he had. Vala nodded and kissed his ear as she moved to her own desk.
Sitting, she gathered up her own notes and then switched half of them with Daniel’s as he handed her his half. Staring at the same texts for hours got tiresome and they had learned they worked better when they switched between their two set of notes and texts, often catching things the other missed, but more often finding the answers and thoughts that escaped them written in the other’s handwriting. The notes, like most other things between them, had become a cohesive effort – they had learned to easily slip and slide between the openings they gave each other and worked effortlessly together, fitting and filling the spaces between them.
The same thing happened now and Daniel took half of the notes Vala dropped on his desk handing his own back to her. They were both looking for a clue, any clue that would put them one step closer to The First and the end of Anubis. Vala could feel the answer itching at her fingertips every time she touched the parchments and the read the words. Hidden in turned about words and lost cultures. Looking over at Daniel, thoroughly engrossed in the writings before his eyes, Vala was glad of the fact that this was what Daniel excelled at. And while not her field, she had picked up on Daniel’s system quickly; her propensity for languages and details just aided her in working on the text.
The hours always passed either too quickly or too slowly when they worked, interrupted with small lulls when Jack, Sam or some other member of the crew would come in, with a request for Daniel or Vala, a reminder of dinner or to just remind them that outside the doors, there was an almost full ship of people. Today, with the repairs going on, they dealt with very few distractions, save one from Caro who brought in lunch for them because she expected them to eat, even if they didn’t leave the room all day. By now, Vala was used to Caro’s ever-present attentiveness of their well-being and had stopped trying to avoid and push back the empath awareness of her. It was actually a welcome change, especially since she and Jack were still too edgy with each other.
The hours after lunch, or any significant break, seemed to passed by Daniel and Vala slower than the early morning and Vala was being to feel the strain on her shoulder when Daniel voice broke her train of thought on the ancient ruins of Osric and the Parchment of Virtues.
“Vala,” Daniel spoke and right away Vala straighten, for his voice sounded too worried and too animated at the same time, “do you remember when you mentioned the legend about The First that your dad used to tell you?”
“Yes…” Vala turned herself in her seat to properly face Daniel, to find his eyes bright and curious aimed towards her.
“I think I need to hear it.” Nothing in his tone made Vala feel good and she stood making her way to Daniel and whatever brought on this line of questioning.
“Why?” She asked, giving a look, taking a seat across from him.
Daniel in turn only showed her a text from Sahal which depicted a glowing city with tall spires and then he pointed, “They called it Primoris,” then he show her a text from Castiana of a similar city covered in fog this time called Protos, and finally showed her a text from Langara of all places with a floating city which was said to be called Primeria. Three different words that meant one thing: First. “You get the translations, don’t you?” Vala did. They had been translating these manuscripts for weeks and while each translation varied its finer points they had tried to get them as close from ancient Tau’rian to modern Tau’rian or Lantean as possible.
Vala just stared at the cities, not believing they had missed this before, and then at Daniel. “Darling, I think I need to tell you the legend my dad used to tell me.” Daniel nodded and pulled his chair towards her to give her his full attention.
They both sat and Vala crossed her legs and faced Daniel fully. “I’m going to skip some of the more audacious bits that my dad used to add, because well, sometimes his bedtime stories had to be told in parts.” Daniel nodded and sat for the tale, only letting a small, amused look peek through at Vala’s description of her father’s tales.
“As it goes,” Vala started, “The First is not a person, it's not a weapon or a position. It's everything. It’s how human life came to the galaxy. Human life did not originate from this galaxy; in fact, nobody knows where or how it really originated. Humans came from another galaxy long ago and far away. From another part of the universe, and they came via The First – a ship so massive that it could hold almost an entire civilisation.”
Vala smiled softly at Daniel’s look of shock. “Now that I think about it, it’s not that crazy, Tau’ri had floating cities over its oceans…but anyway, the myth or legend, however you want to take it, said it was a group humans, the last survivors of their worlds, their galaxy. War had raged, ravaged and destroyed their home galaxy and they had nowhere left to turn, so they looked to find a new home. They travelled for years until they came here, until they found this galaxy, they found my planet and they settled. My dad used to say that they chose our planet because it reminded them of their old one. He said that The Command, a sort of Praetorian Guard, protected The First. Personally, I always thought he added that bit because he had it keep interesting for my brother.
“But according to my dad, The Command would always be connected to The First and they would wake when their time came, an old enemy reborn. I never quite believed it, it sounded fantastical and provocative, perfect for a bedtime story, but just too convenient and I’ve never been the type to believe that I’m not in control of my life. Plus the idea that everything is doomed to repeat itself until set right – that’s too much pressure…and well, silly. Just do it right the first time.” Finishing the summary of what she had believed purely to be a bedtime story Vala watched Daniel. He was processing everything she had just told him, separating and cataloguing her words to fit with what they already knew.
If The First was a city, it meant that the Weapon would be found in it. Vala sighed as she felt something in the back of her mind un-fog, acquiring the Weapon would not be an easy task. The certainty of the statement was not new, but the all-encompassing dread behind it was. Vala couldn’t precisely say what it was, but she felt it. Getting the Weapon would hurt. How she knew that, she didn’t know either.
Again, Daniel’s voice broke her out of her thoughts, “So we’re looking for a city. An ancient Tau’rian city. That either floats or glow.”
Vala nodded, turning her attention back to Daniel, “Which means we’re looking for a city on some planet. Probably hidden.”
Daniel dropped his hands back to the his desk, “What planet is the question?’
“Daniel?” Following Daniel’s eyes, Vala blinked trying to follow his thought process, “The Old Lore says that the names of the three guardian tribes of The First are written in the stars.” Vala breathed, the spark in her eyes mirrored in Daniel’s. “They’re planets. Or stars. If we find out what they were, then we have a chance to”
Blue eyes met silver and Daniel gripped her hand, “We need to find the names of the three clans then.”
* * * *
It was one of the few moments in Sam’s life where she could honestly say she was in awe of someone else’s knowledge on ships. Kneeling by Bill, Pilar worked at a pace that astounded Sam and most other members in the engine room – already she had managed to stabilise the inertial dampeners, which had been threatening to die out in the last few days. But only after an hour of reworking an almost completely burnt out system, Pilar had them back on track. It was almost as if she communed with the ship, asking and coaxing it to bend to her hands. It just about made Sam jealous. Thankfully, she was more focused on getting her engine room and the ship back in working order, so she could overlook it.
Going to kneel by Pilar and Bill, Sam let the older man take a break as she took over in helping, “So how are we looking?”
Pilar looked over her shoulder and gave a shark like smile, that Sam wasn’t sure was a good thing or a bad thing. “You still have about half your systems still shutting down, which I think might be more wiring damage than anything else.”
“Great…” Sam exhaled, made sense though, with all the hits the ship took it really didn’t surprise her. “So we have to rewire the whole ship, Jack is going to love that.”
Shifting to look at her, Pilar patted Sam’s shoulder, “I told you not to worry – all we need is to install circuitry relays now, prevent this all for happening again.”
As the idea filtered through Sam’s mind, she went through what needed to be done, “We’d still have to remove the wiring, but with the internal diagnostics we’ll be able to pinpoint the break in the system, instead of having to searching through the ship for the trouble.” She grinned at Pilar, “The onboard lifesigns detectors will have to be taken off line, same for shields, but we can piggy back the system onto security sensors until we set up the parallel system. How long do you think it will take?”
Pilar tapped on her tablet and then turned to Sam, “A week on the outside. And since you can reroute practically all your systems with this circuitry it can maintain all your critical ones at once.”
“Of course, since energy has no set direction, it just needs starting path and an arrival point.” Sam let her fingers fly across her tablet, “This could work – this could really work. Neural relays! This would allow the synaptic connections for the inner node to permit for a signal to jump and be re-routed. Brilliant.” Sam muttered, and then turned to Pilar with a bright grin, “This is how Vala’s ship works, right? You just gave me the basis of that system, didn’t you?”
The innocent look Pilar gave her was as convincing as one of Vala’s – the facial expression was the picture of innocence, but there was a gleam in the eyes that completely discredited it. Sam took it stride much like she did with Vala’s but asked another question, “Why?”
At Pilar’s look it seemed that Sam had not been clear enough with the question, but again, Sam had seen that look of faux naive confusion on several faces in her life, mainly Jack and Vala, both who looked to hide their smarts and Daniel, who looked to hid his cynicism. She let them get away with it – too often at times – but here she just didn’t feel like it.
“Why didn’t you just say it before, that you could help me give the ship circuitry like the Seraphim and so easily at that.” Sam laid it out.
Pilar’s sad sigh took Sam by surprise, but she met with bright red eyes that did not look away, “We do not like to mess with the timeline too much, because any single minuscule thing we do could have severe repercussion. The Furlings are mostly observers. We have given ourselves the roles of being only observers. Time, the future, the past, they are all more complicated than one thinks. It appears to happen linearly but that’s because the way we view it. Or I should say you view it.”
Sam heard the words and meaning, the ones she could understand anyway, behind them. “Then how can you be helping us? Your help could change everything we do.”
“The thing about the future is that if you see it, you always want to change it for the better.” Pilar turned to face her fully, her face, eyes, losing the amused twinkle it had held, “For your own personal better. To make it happen differently, for you, and that’s not for us to do. Even though I have the ability to help change I will not. It’s not for me to do.”
“But it can?” Sam had to know, if this all went to hell, she needed to know she could fix it.
“Noting is impossible, Samantha”.
Sighing, Sam knew this was the only answer she was going to get to the question, “So you won’t tell us what’s going to happen…”
“No.” The word fell firmly but not harshly from Pilar’s lips and she looked away from Sam, red eyes focusing on a far off point, “And not because I do not want to, but because there is always the possibility that you will fail.”
“But you already know if we do or don’t…”
Pilar turned to Sam with a heavy gaze, “And if I told you what was to happen that could change it all, cause a riff. If I told you succeeded then you all might half ass it because you’ll be so certain that you’ll succeed and in result you could fail. And if I tell you that you don’t make it, your spirit, your belief in this might be challenged and in the back of your minds you’ll be thinking that there is no point, since it is all predetermined. Or not. I don't know that’s the point. Free will. Knowing the answers takes the purpose out of life. Belief is so much more important than people think. Belief in their gods, themselves, anything. It’s what keeps you going.” Pilar only now let a small smile peek through the grim set of her mouth, “Time is always in motion; only the beginning and the end ever truly stay the same.”
“I see.” Sam turned back to her work, her words lost to what Pilar had just imparted on her.
“Really?” Pilar quirked an eyebrow.
Raising her head to the other woman, Sam smiled, “No.”
This time a full smile left Pilar’s lips and she bumped Sam’s shoulder, “Like I said Time is a complicated thing and you just have to let it happen. Over my many years I’ve learnt the loopholes I can work with, and I ask you to trust in that.” Sam nodded and they worked silently for a while. Until Sam broke it again.
“Did you know you would have this conversation with me?” She had to know.
Pilar didn’t turn back to her, but answered, “I did.”
It didn't shock Sam as much as she though and focusing on her work muttered, “Weird.”
With a bark of a laugh, Pilar patted Sam’s shoulder. “Yes, it can be at times. I got drunk once and almost ran into myself on Spira. Thankfully, that tragedy was evaded.”
“Theory that the same two masses can’t come in contact with each other in the same space-time?”
The shark like smile and gleam were back full on, as Pilar moved to start the re-wiring, “Something like that. I was with a gentleman that would have probably died if he had seen two of me…or really enjoyed it.”
Sam choked back a cough, eyes snapping to the woman.
Chapter XXIII: All Ours Tomorrows and Yesterdays
Vala thumbed through the texts, one thought playing on a loop in her brain. Find the names. Find the names.
Finding the three original ancient Tau’rian names for the planets was proving to be more difficult than she had hoped. After all, these were names that had even been lost to her people; the myth of the The First never mentioned the original three clans. The three clans that had been the first peoples to leave Tau’ri and look to settle elsewhere in the galaxy. Pilgrims of a new world expanding ever outwards, as the Old Lore stated. She hadn’t even known The First was connected to them until now.
Sighing, she began doodling, trying to clear her thoughts when she noticed what she had drawn. With slight bewilderment, Vala studied her doodle with wide eyes.
It was a doodle of the one of the depictions of The First in the text, a glowing city, but it was what was above the doodle of the city that had Vala’s attention. It was a tetrahedron with circles as the edges of each corner and one lonely circle floating in the middle. Normally the pyramid shape would have been disregarded as a random doodle, but today Vala couldn’t tear her eyes away.
I know this shape. I know this design. Vala focused on the small drawing, tracing over the image over and over with her pen until she felt a hand drop on to her shoulder. Jumping in her seat, she became keenly aware of how focused she had been on the design. Shaking herself out of her daze, she looked up at Daniel/ His hand was still resting gently on her shoulder but his eyes were staring at her intently and with a slight sheen of worry.
“Vala? You okay?” He slid his hand down to rub at her arm, his eyes focused on hers, “I’ve been calling your name, but it looked like you were a million miles away.”
He had been calling her and she hadn’t answered? Vala blinked again, the new information worrying her. She was always aware of Daniel, even asleep, and she had just zoned out on him? This didn’t comfort her at all.
Standing to separate herself from the doodle that had captured her attention so intensely, she turned to face Daniel, meeting his eyes only few inches from hers.
“Yes, sorry, darling.” Vala licked her lips and dropped her gaze on the doodle, “My thoughts just ran away from me.”
Daniel nodded, but slipped an arm around her waist bringing her close to him, the hand on her arm still rubbing reassuring circles on her skin. “Are you sure, you seemed pretty out of it. It’s not like you.”
“Yes, I’m sure.” Vala let herself lean on Daniel’s frame but kept her eyes on the small picture lying on top of her notes. It still bothered her. She felt as if she should know the image, the design was spinning in her head, taunting her and asking to be recognised. She could feel Daniel’s eyes on her, his hand warm against the small of her back and then as if slapped awake from a dream she was facing him. His hand held her chin gently, his blue eyes staring into her.
“Vala,” he covered the side of her face with his other hand and Vala took a breath. “You’re not okay,” he continued, “you just zoned out on me again. Now what is it?”
Keeping her eyes on Daniel and away from the doodle, Vala motioned to her notes. “Look at that drawing I just made.”
Still worried, but curious, Daniel let her go and grabbed the doodle, “Okay.”
“What do you see?”
Daniel studied the drawing and looked at Vala, wetting his lips before he answered, “I see a pyramid with circles on the edges and one in the middle.”
Daniel looked back down to the drawing, “A city under it. One like The First is supposed to look like.” Daniel furrowed his brow and blinked, “It sort of looks like that tapestry you took from the room on Sahal.”
At Daniel’s unassuming words, Vala’s back snapped ramrod straight, her eyes glazing over for a brief second, before she refocused on Daniel again. “Daniel, say that again.”
“What?” Daniel looked up at her, eyes holding a mixed gleam of worry and curiosity, “It looks like the design on the tapestry you took from Sahal?”
This time his words filled Vala with a warm glow and she laughed brightly, leaning forward to give him a quick, passionate kiss before she bounded out of the office, calling back for him to wait for her.
Vala rushed through the ship and headed to her old quarters, still unofficially hers, sending quick thanks to certain Ascended beings that this area of the ship hadn’t been overly damaged and was still accessible. She went in and searched through the sparse belongings that hadn’t yet made it to Daniel’s quarters. Finding what she was looking for rolled up and leaning against the dresser in the room, Vala lugged it up and headed back to Daniel, still not quite believing that they might have had the answers all this time.
When she returned to Daniel’s office, less than ten minutes since she had left, she was amused to find that he was still in a similar position, standing by her desk, looking at the drawing with a glazed look of concentration in his eyes. Moving to his side, Vala dropped the tapestry over her notes and unravelled the knot that held it together. As she finished, the tapestry begun unrolling itself and Vala laid it flat over the desk.
The design was the same. Well, similar enough, Vala thought as she looked at a more intricate depiction of what she had doodled. The wall-hanging itself was of a medium size. Nothing overtly ostentatious, done in muted blues, greens, yellows and whites with a mixed of a night sky and space-scape it showed an intensely beautiful glowing city resting gently on a dark turquoise ocean. It reminded Vala of her home city on Tau’ri, but the architecture obviously Ancient, more classical than what she had been used to, with it’s tall spires and towers. Shaking off the fit of nostalgia that overcame her, she turned to Daniel and smiled.
“It’s the same design,” she whispered almost reverently.
Feeling Daniel’s arm wrap around her waist once more as he looked over her shoulder at the design, she felt him breath against her cheek, “How?” he whispered, his eyes trailing over the design of the glowing city and the four planets placed in the shape of the pyramid in the spacescape above it. The fifth glowing in the middle, almost perfectly centred over the city.
Daniel blinked and faced Vala, “How did you know to draw this?” Then as if realising the question he asked, he amended, “what were you thinking about that lead you to draw this?”
Vala dropped her gaze to the tapestry and took her doodle
out of Daniel’s hand. “I’m not sure, I was thinking about the three tribes,
their names, the planet of The First, and then I was drawing this. I knew it
looked familiar but I couldn’t place it.”
“So do you think these planets are the guardians your myths talk about?” Daniel studied the tapestry in front of him.
“Yes.” Vala nodded, “I’m sure they are. Now we just need their names and co-ordinates.”
Daniel looked back at Vala, “And how are we going to find them?”
Vala smiled, “They’re written right there,” pointing she traced one of the planets, “this whole tapestry is a star map, and each of these planets has a constellation next to them. I’ll bet you that as soon as I input these images and constellations into the Seraphim’s computer it will give us the names and co-ordinates.”
Blinking, Daniel let out a small sigh, “That easy?” He didn’t sound convinced.
“That easy.” Vala assured.
Daniel and Vala just looked at other and breathed, feeling the weight of the moment before they headed to the Seraphim to get their answers.
* * * *
As Jack made his way throughout the ship, checking on the repairs, he ended his journey at the engine room where he could clearly see Sam and Vala’s friend, Pilar, working under one of the consoles, hands untangling wires and reworking them. It was still disconcerting for Jack to see the pale green tint of Pilar skin, especially against Sam’s pale complexion. He never really thought about the term “alien”, but looking at Pilar he couldn’t help but be faced by the fact of how different Pilar, and even Vala, was. If he thought about it, the differences even extended to members of his crew. Caro, with her empathic nature and unique position as a half-Helian with only one heart; Sam, with the naquadah flowing in her blood due to her Tok’ra mother, whose symbiote now lived on in her father; Bill, who hailed from Tollana where the population had more contact with machinery and computers than with people, but he loved his plants. There was also Evans who came from Hebridan, whose grandmother had been Serrakin and even Evan’s sister was married to a Serrakin, Warrick, a friend to the crew, and even Thor was more of family than “alien” by now.
Even himself, with that protein marker that apparently made him unique in Vala’s eyes, for reason that he didn’t even get. Even he carried something that separated himself from what was the norm for the galaxy. Jack had never really thought about it before, but his ship was a ship of misfits; of the ones that felt different everywhere else.
Especially him and Daniel.
After Abydos, nothing had felt like home, nothing had felt comfortable until the ship. He was sure any therapist could classify them as being scared to lay down roots anywhere, of finding “a home”, but it was the opposite for Jack at least. The ship was the only place he felt steady. Every other place in the galaxy was in the danger of being taken away, but this ship, his home, would stay with him, until both of them were destroyed.
With a grim smile he announced his presence in the engine room, smirking a little when some of its occupants were startled.
“Sam, how’s it going here?” Jack walked up to the main console of the room and looked over the reading drifting across the screen.
Sam got up from where she sat with Pilar across the room , exchanged a few words with the woman, and made her way to Jack, tapping her data tablet smiling widely at him. “We’re doing much better than I had hoped for. We’re lucky that Vala has a friend like Pilar, she understands the ship’s systems better than anyone I’ve ever met - even me! She even helped me figure out how to adjust our circuitry so that when we have an affected system it doesn’t affect the other systems in a detrimental way. Not to mention that it will decrease our energy output by 20 percent.” Sam grinned in a way that reminded Jack of Cam when he got upgrades for his ship - a kid in a candy store. “It’s really brilliant, when you think about it in the grand scale, we save power and the ship can basically lose every system and still fly if the engines are still operating.” Sam continued, clearing her throat at Jack’s look after her last sentence and gave a grin, “not that we’d want that to happen. I’m just saying it could.”
Chuckling, Jack nodded. “No, we wouldn’t want that to happen, but I guess that’s good news in a very morbid way.”
“It is.” Sam agreed.
“So,” Jack trailed his eyes lazily over the room, briefly pausing on Pilar, before coming back to Sam, “what’s the status on the repairs?”
Bringing up her tablet, Sam clicked a few keys and frowned in thought, “The rewiring will take about a week, levels 14, 20 and 22 should be back to operational status by the end of the day, levels 21, 23, 24 will take a few more days. Levels 25 and 35-37 by the end of the week. Life support will be completely online by the end of the day. The inertial dampeners weren’t too badly damaged, but they’ll be off line for a couple more days, so I can fully go over them.” Sam sighed, “Our outer sensors on the port side will have to be completely replaced and the upper decks, including the observatory will have be closed off for a few more days while everything else gets fixed.”
Going over his mental floor-plans of the ship Jack inwardly winced, they had taken a beating, but from what Sam was telling him, most everything looked to be fixable. Jack was sure a part of that was due to both Sam’s ingenuity and the help she was receiving from Pilar. Damn Vala and her friend, making it harder for him to stay angry at her.
Then almost as if Sam knew he was thinking about her, she straightened and pushed the crystal tray and wires she had been working on back into place. Jack watched as that side of the engine room lit up once again like a happy child, the whirring giving off a pleasant hum that had Sam turning to it and nodding.
“That side all done?” Sam asked.
Pilar just nodded and wiped her hands on her thighs pushing herself up from the floor, obviously satisfied. “That it is. Now, back to those shields?” She turned, smiling at Sam, when she caught Jack’s eyes. For a second Jack thought she was looking into his soul with her red and black eyes, seeing his past mistakes, the future ones he would no doubt be making, but for his life he couldn’t look away. Couldn’t move a muscle in his body and then the spell was broken as Pilar blinked, and Jack swore that for a second her eyes flashed white. Shaking the prickly feeling that had suddenly taken place in his spine he went to say good-bye to Sam and head back to overseeing the rest of the repairs when Pilar’s voice stopped him.
“Captain, can I have a moment?”
Pilar moved by Sam, smiling, and then planted herself in front of him. It was only now Jack noticed how tall the woman was. She stood at least a half-inch shorter than him, meaning she easily broke the six foot mark, and he could clearly see that every inch of her was corded muscle under jade skin. It took him a considerable effort for him not to swallow nervously, managing to nod.
“Sure, no problem. Sam,” nodding to Sam, he waved his hand in front of him, leading Pilar out. Behind him he could hear Sam say good-bye as the engine room’s doors closed.
Easily staying in step with him, Pilar didn’t say anything as they walked out of the engine room level and moved to the upper decks. Both of them knew this was to be a private conversation, so when Pilar turned left towards the Blackbirds hangers, and where Vala’s ship stood, Jack stopped short.
“I thought this was going to be a one-on-one thing.”
Pilar rested her hands on her hips patiently, “It is, but you need to understand.”
“Understand, what?” Jack forced himself not to roll his eyes, he had a feeling it wouldn’t be appreciated. That and Pilar could probably kill him with her pinkie.
“Why you and Vala keep clashing, even when you’ve already forgiven her. Why you have that fun little gene that almost makes you as close to an empath as your good doctor. Why you need to learn to fly that ship. Do you need me to go on? I have about a thousand whys.” Pilar smirked, and for a second Jack really hated her, unfortunately, he liked her style.
“No,” he shook his head, “those will do.”
“I thought so.”
They walked the rest of the way in silence, until they opened the hanger doors and their eyes fell to the Seraphim. Jack had never been able to deny it - it was a beautiful ship. The craftsmanship practically perfect, streamlined, and designed for space flight. The pilot in Jack couldn’t help but appreciate it. Admire it, even.
* * * *
In the Seraphim, Vala was inputting the image of the tapestry as Daniel watched, less than convinced. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust that Vala was right, with her luck, she probably was, but there was something else nagging at him. Not about finding the hopefully last clue in their little quest, but about what would happen after. Something told him that after they left the Nox things were going to change fast and he feared for the worst. Suddenly the tiny distance between them felt like a chasm that spanned more than just the room they were in, and almost unthinkingly Daniel crossed the five feet of space between them, wrapping an arm around her stomach, his forearm pressing just on the underside of her breasts.
Vala turned to him, eyebrow raised, questioning. “Darling?”
Daniel could only shake his head, embarrassed to tell her of his sudden and irrational need to keep her tethered to him. “Nothing, just curious about what you’re doing.”
“You’re the cutest geek ever.” Kissing his cheek, Vala tilted her head so he could have better view of the screen in front of her. Daniel, now genuinely curious leaned his chin on Vala’s shoulder as she worked, her fingers moved rapidly across the Tau’rian keyboard that appeared to be floating in front of her. “Here we go.”
He watched as the Seraphim read the image, and no sooner had the image been scanned by the ship’s sensors, than it came up on the holographic screen in front of them. Daniel and Vala watched carefully as the ship built the 3-D star map in front of them, the planet falling out of the neat pyramid scheme that had represented them on the tapestry into a much more realistic and still vague pyramid shape in front of them.
“Okay, now what?” Daniel looked over to Vala, curious as to the next step.
“Now, we ask the ship to translate the map for us, and give the co-ordinates that it reads from the planet’s placement in accordance to the constellations surrounding it.” Vala typed in the command, making Daniel smile.
“And you don’t call yourself a geek.”
“Treasure hunter, it sounds sexier.”
Just as Daniel was going to tell Vala how much he agreed with her statement, there was a ping and the image changed before their eyes. It wasn’t a big change, nothing they would have noticed if they hadn’t been looking intently at the map in front of them. Ever so slightly the planets had shifted and, right next to the four outer planets, words came up.
Tau’ri. Valos Cor. Taoth Vaclarush. Verus Gen Bree.
The fifth inner planet still remained unnamed.
Next to him, Vala let out a dry laugh, almost disbelieving like she couldn’t believe they had got the answers they had been looking for. He breathed her name and she moved towards the consul again.
“We have the planet’s Ancient names, I’ll just translate them and see if we get anything.”
“And the gate address’?”
“I’m getting those too.” She nodded, looking over her shoulder, her smile blinding him and he couldn’t help himself in that second. He leaned forward, stealing a quick kiss as she turned back to the consul.
It was then the screens went crazy.
* * * *
Pilar stood staring at the Seraphim next to Jack, when she sighed, “That ship shouldn’t exist.”
She could feel the good captain’s confusion next to her as he turned to her, “And what does that mean?”
“Vala. She should have never made it out of Tau’ri. The technology of that ship should have died along with it’s planet. So should have Vala.” Pilar closed her eyes for a second, the sensations of loss for that blue planet in it’s lonely solar system still strong in her heart.
“Well, I’m glad she didn’t. She’s been a pain in the ass from the minute we brought her on board, but she… Daniel’s hasn’t been this happy in years.” Jack voice was soft, letting Pilar know all she needed.
“Then why are you still acting so crossly towards her?” She turned to the man, looking into his eyes. “You’ve forgiven her for what happened on Kheb.”
Jack said nothing for a beat, looking at the ship and then ran a hand through his hair. “I don’t know. She’s easy to fight with,” he smirked, his brown eyes lighting up for a second and then just as quickly closing themselves off again.
“She is, but that’s not why you keep fighting.”
“Oh, so you’re telling me you know why?” he looked at her with a fair amount of disbelief.
“Yes. It’s because of the gene.” Pilar leaned against the bulk head, hiding her smile at the look that crossed the captain’s face.
Jack blinked, “You’re going to have to explain that.”
“The Tau’ri were a cool, unemotional race for the longest time, ironic that they would later become cold-blooded, but they were a people so hell bent on technological advancement that they grew to be very cold people, even to each other. Then in trying to better themselves, to better communicate with their machines, they eventually came upon gene therapy. It was…” Pilar felt the memories of Time drift through her and paused for second before continuing. “It changed them. For the better or worse, it can be argued, because the same gene therapy that allowed them to communicate with their machines also irrecoverably switched their genetic code. They now held a protein marker in their bodies they never held before, as well as an extra set of chromosomes. The chromosomes, as you’ve been told, are what caused the entire race to become cold-blooded, but they didn’t care about it, because the protein marker had given them everything they wanted.”
“And what was that?” Jack asked even though he had a feeling he knew where this was going. Sam had told him about how the Seraphim had reacted to her the first time she had sat in the ship.
“It allowed them to communicate with their machines. But, in my opinion, it gave them more than that. It warmed them as a race. Their mental communication didn’t stop with their ships and mech. The protein marker had for all purposes made them a race of empaths. Not quite to the calibre of the Helians and your doctor, but the closest any other race has come. It opened them up to each other. They became in touch with feelings that as a race they had weeded out in the pursuit of higher scientific knowledge, thinking they would be useless feelings.” She laughed then, a brittle laugh, and remembered the day Tau’ri ceased to be.
“They understood eventually of course that you need that passion to live, to thrive, but again, as time went on they fell back to their ways of superiority and well, the entire galaxy knows the rest. They cut of communication with the majority of the galaxy, and with the exception of a few instances in the last 700 years they’ve been quiet. Until fifteen years ago.”
“When Anubis destroyed the planet.” Jack stated.
Pilar nodded, “Everybody, even my people were in shock. Anubis had used a power that nobody had understood at the time. Now we understand he used his knowledge from being half-Ascended to take the planet by surprise, but at the time, well, you remember I’m sure.”
Jack nodded, he did. It had been at the height of the Goa’uld Purgings. Planets had died in a blink of an eye. The Asgard Protected Planets Treaty had saved many people but many more had died. Even to this day the Goa’uld were finding planets to Purge and the Asgard were finding more planets to sneak into the Treaty.
“What you don’t know is how it affected Vala.” Pilar stepped in front of Jack, her red and black eyes flashing. “In an instant she lost everything. Everything she had ever known and loved— her entire race eviscerated and she felt it all. It didn’t matter that she was away from the planet. Space is a mysterious place and the connection between Tau’ri, the Seraphim and Vala herself she held strong. She couldn’t have not felt the planet die. The only mercy she was granted on that day was that she had the strength to contact the Nox. With her mental connection alone she directed the ship to this planet. And when she arrived captain? She was barely san—barely alive.” Pilar looked away from Jack, pressing her red lips together, and Jack knew that look. Knew what she was remembering. When Pilar turned back to him, her eyes were hard as she looked into his, “She knows what she’s gotten herself into. And you, for all your big, bad, “I beat the Goa’uld” reputation don’t understand what losing Tau’ri did to her. Not in the slightest.”
Jack blinked, and for a second Pilar thought he was going to back down when his brown eyes narrowed, “You think I don’t know loss? You think I don’t understand what it’s like to lose somebody you love and feel everything inside of you die because of it! I saw my wife and child murdered in front of me. Their blood covering me and you think I don’t understand!?”
He was spitting fire at her and Pilar let out her inner shark smile.
“Why are you smiling?” He demanded, cold fury emanating from every pore of this body.
“That’s what losing Tau’ri did to her. What you felt that moment, she felt it too. A hundred fold.”
The words Jack had been about to unleash on her, Pilar saw dying in his throat. She looked towards the Seraphim again, “When Lya opened that ship after the Nox landed on the planet, since they couldn’t communicate with anybody inside it, you know what she saw? Vala. In the same fetal position she had been in since she felt the planet destroyed, and she was dying. With grief. She was also seventeen.”
“Tau’ri was destroyed fifteen years ago, captain, did you think she hadn’t aged since?” Pilar smiled sadly. “After Teal’c, you and your crew are the only family she’s known in a decade. Is it so hard to understand why she doesn’t play well with your rules? She’s had no rules but her own for fifteen years.”
Jack followed her eyes to the ship, to where Daniel and Vala were. “Family.”
“Go talk to her.”
Jack stepped forward.
Chapter XXIV: The Clock Winds
Jack walked into the Seraphim and the ship hummed. Literally. For a brief second Jack thought he had gone mad, because there was no way in hell a ship— no matter what Sam had told him — could hum. Pausing in the cargo hold’s entrance used to access the ship he slowly looked around and began up the ramp, wondering where the hell Daniel and Vala where in this ship and what the hell he was going to say. First thing though, he should find the comm system.
Then just as the thought filtered through his mind there was a small beeping noise and a set of blinking lights near the inner door of the cargo hold. Thinking it was better than nothing, he ventured to the door, but found no key pad or intercom. Still, if he was reading what these lights where trying to tell him right, and he hoped he was, Jack ventured and called for Vala, feeling only slightly awkward speaking to thin air.
“Jack!” Vala voice came in right away, worry and relief coating her voice in equal measure. “I should have guessed it was you…”
“And what does that mean?” Jack pursed his lips, crossing his arms over his chest.
This time it wasn’t Vala who answered, as Daniel’s voice came through the comm system and Jack had a small moment of jealous he would later deny at the crystal clear clarity of the system. The Prometheus’ comm system needed monthly maintenance and had a distinct warble of static to it. Giving it character, Jack thought, eyeing the blinking lights that highlighted the Seraphim’s own system.
“The ship, it responded to you. Life signs, security, the screen went crazy on us. Vala looked worried—”
“Hey! I was not worried.” Vala’s voice cut into Daniel’s explanation, making Jack smile. She continued, “I was just curious of a possible malfunction, but now that I know it was you, I completely understand why the ship reacted to you the way it did.”
Jack could practically hear the grin in her voice.
“She likes you, captain.”
Jack rolled his eyes at the nickname and at the statement, “Wonderful, now, where the hell are you two?”
“Follow the lights.” Was the only answer that Vala gave him and just as she said the words a stream of flashing lights flared up in the fibreglass piping by the wall next to him.
“Okay, now that’s just showing off.” He muttered under his breath as he followed the lights.
* * * *
In the cockpit of the Seraphim, Vala smiled at Daniel over her shoulder. “Jack’s on his way to us.”
“I never knew the ship could react that way to a person. It’s never done that with you.”
“Well, it’s used to me, darling. It’s had a good seventeen years to do so. Jack’s a new element.” Vala looked over the ship’s systems already reading Jack’s vitals and mental signature. “I had never realised he hadn’t been on the ship before now. He activated comms and security systems without even trying.”
“That’s Jack for you. Always trying to beef up security.” Daniel ran a hand over her upper back, resting it lightly at the nape of her neck.
“Clearly,” she rolled her eyes, and clicked on a few more keys on the console before her. “At least we have the names. Jack’s little trick didn’t interrupt that.”
Daniel’s eyes followed to where Vala’s was pointing at the screen and blinked at the newly translated names that had popped up there.
Valos Cor had become Sahal, Taoth Vaclarush had become Castiana. And Verus Gen Bree had translated into Vegonbrei.
The names blinked on the screen, almost mockingly, as if saying ‘we were right there the whole time and you never noticed’. Daniel pursed his lips, turning to Vala just as Jack entered the room.
“People.” Jack greeted as he ambled into the cockpit and leaned against doorframe. “Having fun?”
Daniel greeted him back, while Vala made a copy of the planet’s gate address to give to Walter on the bridge. “Something like that. We found out the next planet we need to head too. The key might be there.”
“Oh?” Jack raised an eyebrow, eyes flitting to the screen behind Daniel.
Vala nodded as she turned to face the two men, “Yes, it’s Vegonbrei. Shouldn’t be more than few days out after the ship gets fixed. Hopefully we’ll find the Weapon there, and finish this once and for all.”
“Good.” Jack nodded, and stayed there, leaning against the wall raising Daniel’s curiosity.
“Jack, is there anything you needed?’ He asked, glancing over at Vala, who have him a similar look of confusion back.
“I was wondering if I could talk to Vala for a few minutes. Privately.”
Daniel looked over to Vala, who shrugged, but didn’t seem to be looking for him to provide her with an out and nodded to Jack. “Uh, sure. I’ll head back to the office. Vala?”
Vala, already anticipating his question, pull out a small data disk and handed it over. “Everything I have on Vegonbrei and the coordinates.” Daniel stepped towards her, giving a light kiss and gentle smile.
“Thanks, and don’t kill him.” He whispered against her lips.
Vala chuckled quietly against his mouth, then leaned against her pilot’s chair as Daniel head out of the cock pit and ship.
* * * *
Vala followed Daniel out with her eyes, he really does have a lovely ass, only turning to Jack when she saw Daniel’s figure turn the corner—sorry to see you go, darling. “You wanted to speak to me?”
“I just had an interesting conversation with Pilar.” He breathed out, his arms crossed tightly across his chest, giving the impression of feeling very uncomfortable with wherever this conversation might head.
“Most conversations with Pilar are interesting, Captain.”
“Empaths?” Jack stared at her, forcing a sigh out of her lips.
“Not quite. Not like Carolyn. She reads emotions. The heart, if you’d like to romanticise it. Us Tau’rians, we bred ourselves to read machines.”
Jack tilted his head, meeting her gaze head on. “And how does that apply to you and me, I don’t see any wires poking out of us?”
“What is the human body, if not a complex machine, Jack?” Vala grinned sharply then sobered, fingers trailing across the wall of the Seraphim. “We just share a part that allows a fine wave of communication between us.”
Jack barked out a laugh, “I’ll give you that one, Vala. I don’t quite get it, but I’ll give it to you. So you can’t read my mind?”
“It doesn’t work that way.” She shook her head. “I can’t read your thoughts, but the brain holds everything, does it not? And when you have a particular strong opinion or emotion, the brain holds it as much as the heart does. I can’t read you like Caro, but it’s like a prickle on the back of my neck. I still feel it.” Vala settled on her chair, motioning to the co-pilot’s chair across from her. Jack eyed the chair and for a second Vala thought he would decline it when he moved, the tension in his body still curling around him so thickly Vala was surprised he wasn’t drowning in it.
The second he sat down on the chair though, everything changed as all the controls in front of him began turning on and blinking at Jack’s presence. Vala had to stifle a chuckle as Jack’s eyes widened at the sudden onslaught of noise and quickly quieted the ship.
“Is it going to do that all the time I’m in here?” Jack asked, eyes still on the controls before him.
“No, the Sera is just getting to know you. It reacts instinctually to the gene you carry. I could teach you to work it. It’s not that hard, and you already have a bigger advantage that anybody else I know.”
“Yes. You could say you were born to pilot a ship like this,” Vala gently stroked the ship’s controls before her. “For me, for you, it’s all in our heads, the ability to master this ship. On Tau’ri you would have never even blinked at even trying to make it lift off. I’ve heard it said about other ships, pilots —good pilots, that it’s all about connecting with your ships. Feeling it. It’s the same here, only in a much more literal sense.” Vala smiled, thinking about even now she could sense all the ship’s systems in the back of her mind. Looking over to Jack she didn’t know if he could sense it the same way she could, but she had a feeling he could feel something.
“Huh. Well, maybe you’ll just have to teach me one day.” Jack answered, his eyes met her for a second and he leaned back into his chair, expelling a heavy breath.
“I’m sorry about how I’ve been acting, Vala.”
Vala just smiled, “Don’t apologise.” The look Jack gave her was almost worth the tension that had been curdling between them since she and Daniel had returned from Kheb and death.
“Don’t apologise. Your anger was justified, just like I had every right to defend myself. You’re not sorry about worrying and caring about Daniel and I’m not sorry for standing up for myself. So we can just leave it at that.”
Jack’s grin was full of amusement and respect. “Okay. Deal, but Vala? I just want you to know, I was worried about you too.” His eyes softened for a beat and Vala knew everything with them was okay again.
“So, Captain, want a lesson?” She waved to the ship’s console in front of her.
Jack looked out of the cockpit’s window to the Prometheus’ hanger where the Seraphim rested. “Repairs are going good, I think I spare a couple hours.’
Vala was already radioing Walter on the bridge, letting him know where she and the Captain would be as Jack felt the ship rumble under him.
* * * * * *
A week and a half later
Sitting at her work station, Sam checked over the Prometheus’ systems noting with a smile that most were almost completely back online. As she heard the engine room’s doors slide open she looked up and was greeted with Daniel holding two cups of coffee.
“Hey,” he handed her one cup and settled in Bill’s seat.
Sam nodded back, “Hey, how’s your day been?”
“Not bad, just reading up on Vegonbrei. I don’t want any surprises like we found in Sahal.” Daniel’s eyes flashed, remembering, before looking back at Sam.
“It will be fine, Daniel.” She reached over and patted his arm also remembering that moment on the bridge when they had all beamed up without Vala. “Want some good news?” Sam offered with a smile.
“I never say no to good news,” Daniel smiled back.
“The ship’s almost 100% online. All we have left to fix is a few minor systems and some lighting on a few levels and we’ll be ready to take off again.” Looking over her engine room Sam couldn’t help but feel a small bubble of happiness in the pit of her stomach at how much everyone on the ship accomplished in the past few weeks. The engine room was practically returned to it’s former immaculate glory she had always prided herself on and thanks to Pilar, who she had barely seen in the last two days, all of the ship’s systems were either improved or running better than they ever had before. Sam didn’t even try to stop the smile that stretched across her face.
She was sure Daniel could see her giddiness because he was beaming proudly at her and draped a friendly arm across her shoulder. “You did an amazing job, Sam. Really.”
“Thanks, but it wasn’t all me you know. Vala and Pilar really helped out with some of the upgrade, and remind me I owe Bill some new seedlings for all his hard work.”
“Sure, no problem.” Daniel said even though both he and Sam knew she wouldn’t need any reminding and that he’d forget anyway.
“Where is Vala anyway? I’ve barely seen her or Pilar these last few days.” Sam asked, turning a curious eye to Daniel. It had been shortly after Jack had begun his lessons in piloting the Seraphim that there would be large time period of the day when Vala would disappear as well as Pilar. It usually happened after the lessons and then both women would be back helping with repairs, but Sam couldn’t help her curiosity at where the two women went.
If Daniel had felt uncomfortable answering the question it didn’t show when he lifted the shoulder of the arm not resting across hers before speaking. “I think she’s off with Lya. She’s been having, I guess, the equivalent of the Nox’s high tea with Lya and Pilar, sometimes, these last couple of days.”
“Is anything wrong?” Sam felt she needed to ask, even if Daniel seemed perfectly okay with it. Operative worded being seemed.
He shook his head. “No, nothing like that. I think Vala just missed being home. And Lya appears to be the closest thing to family she has left in the universe, beside Teal’c.” Standing he offered one last smile before leaving the room.
“Hey, Daniel. Lya isn’t the only family Vala has now. She has us.”
Daniel’s eyes softened at her words, “I think we’re both getting used to that.” At that Daniel left the engine room and Sam turned back to her workstation. Her fingers drifted over the keypad of the console, her eyes reading and storing the information in front of her almost subconsciously before she backed up her files and stood, closing her files.
Writing a note to Bill about the running a systems check, Sam left the engine room heading up to the bridge. She might as well test the long range communications by sending her father a message letting him now she was still alive.
Encrypted, of course.
* * * *
At Lya’s small hut in Elysian forest, Vala set down her cup, smiling as Nafrayu finished braiding her hair. “I think Pilar is hiding something.”
“Child?” Lya gave her a look that clearly said she knew what Vala meant, but wanted Vala to say the words. Probably to show Vala how wrong her was.
Vala sighed. “I think she’s seeing something happen. To me, to Daniel, to the crew. And it’s worrying her.”
“The burden of the Furling is knowing all the possible way leaves might fall and having to wait to see which one actually occurs.”
“I know this. But I can’t help feel that if something is going to happen to Daniel or the crew that she should tell me. It’s selfish, but if I can prevent them harm I want to. I don’t want him— them to get hurt, but I don’t think I can’t stop it.”
“Selfishness is the burden of the young.” Lya smiled. It was the same smile she had given Vala when she had decided to leave the planet all those years go.
“Yes, well. It’s served me well so far.” Vala set her cup down, fingering the rim.
“It has, but it will not always do so.”
“I know.” Vala closed her eyes as Nafrayu began another small braid. “I don’t want to die, Lya.” She opened her eyes and look straight into Lya’s gentle eyes. Next to her she felt Nafrayu pause, before sharing a look with his mother and continuing braining her hair.
“Do you fear death, child?’
Vala had always found it amusing that even though Nafrayu was Lya’s only child (that Vala knew off) Lya only always seemed to call Vala herself child. “No. Not death, not after Tau’ri.” Vala paused because she knew that Lya understood that seventeen years ago Vala had effectively die and only lived now because of the Nox and Pilar. “I don’t want to die, because… I want more time.”
“Love is dangerous that way.” Lya moved to sit next to Vala and gently took her hands.
Vala scoffed. “Tell me about it.”
* * * *
Jack walked into the bridge for Walter’s progress report on the ship when he saw Sam at Mark’s normal station. Better. “I hear we’re almost flight worthy.”
Sam’s head snapped up and blinked at Jack. “Ran into Daniel?”
“On the elevator. Gotta say though, as glad I am the ship’s almost flight ready, I rather be heading back to Lantea than what ever planet Daniel and Vala feel the need to go to next.”
“What? Cheese?” Jack smirked.
Sam rolled her eyes clearly telling him that she was humouring him because she knew he wasn’t that stupid. “The planet. Vegonbrei.”
“Yeah, that one. I have a feeling I won’t be putting it on my Places To Vacation list.”
“What planets are on that list anyway?” Sam asked, amused.
“I don’t know. Walter?”
“Boros, sir.” Came the answer, which then had Sam chuckling.
“So about the ship?” Jack asked again as he seated himself at his chair.
At Mark’s station Sam brought up some of the ship’s specs on the screen. “We only have a few systems still down at the moment, all which should be ready to go online by the end of tomorrow. Then I’ll do a complete system’s check, but we should be ready for departure by the week. At most.”
“Very nice, Sam.” Jack nodded as she continued explaining some of the particulars of some of the systems. He was proud, he couldn’t deny it. In these last couple of week his crew had proven themselves twenty times over at the brink of their sanity and strength. He wouldn’t trade one of them for the galaxy.
* * * *
For once Cam didn’t find Caro in the med bay, but considering how little drama the crew had had since landing on Elyis and the Nox, well, Lya, having helped out with some of the more serious injuries from Athos, the med bay had been pretty quiet. Instead he found her drinking her afternoon tea just outside the hanger doors, Teal’c sitting (or mediating) a few feet away. He had noticed that while Sam and Pilar had bonded over the engine room, Caro had spent time with Lya learning some of the healing methods of the Nox. She now had a new collection of herbs that Bill offered to grow for her and to be perfectly honest
Caro turned her head, her lips quirking. “Hey, done with the Blackbirds?” She looked behind her up the ramp where she could hear some of the fighters humming.
“Only the best for your baby?”
“You know it. So, how long do you think we’ll be stuck on this planet for?” Stretching his legs, he scuffed the ground with his boots.
“On the ground too long.”
“The gravity isn’t that different. Plus, it’s nice.” Turing to Caro,
She turned to him, breathing in the Elysian air as she did so. “Yeah. It’s peaceful here.” She sounded almost giddy and then bumped his shoulder. “Don’t worry. I’m okay.”
“It’s the Nox. They’re not burdened by pain, death and hate like so many people I come across.” She closed her eyes and titled her head to the side, a move
As her words sunk in
* * * *
The halls of the Prometheus were quiet, something that Teal’c had become unaccustomed to in the last couple weeks of repair but as the repairs were steadily finishing the crew of the ship began catching up on the sleep they had forgotten about in the first days of repairs. He had done his kelnoreeming earlier in the day so now he allowed himself to patrol the ship, making sure everything was fine.
Making his was through the ship’s levels he would run into a random crew member still working on something or who was just on the night shift, several stopping to speak with him for a spare minute before they went to work and he continued his walk. Despite his less than welcome arrival on the ship now many, if not all, of the crew member were used to his presence. There were only a few he hadn’t spoken to more than once. While Vala had immersed herself in her quest Teal’c had found that while it was still important to look out for his friend, he had been given more free time that he had had since Apophis. He still kept up with the on-goings of the rebellion on Dakara, but he had become almost stationary on this ship. He and Vala did not need to be travelling between Dakara and whatever new job she lined up for them, they had acquired a place and people that welcomed them, even if reluctantly at first, into their home and they had even given him quarters to call his own.
The Prometheus was a family and Teal’c could say he now felt part of it. It had been a long time since the thought of family didn’t hurt him.
Slowly making his way to the bridge he waved his hand against the door sensor when he reached it, stepping in to see that Captain O’Neill stood in the room looking out at the Elysian night sky.
“O’Neill.” Teal’s stepped up to the man, nodding his head in greeting.
“Teal’c.” O’Neill acknowledged, not looking away from the window. “Can’t sleep.”
“I completed my required kelnoreem earlier in the day. I do not require sleep.”
He heard O’Neill’s quiet breath or chuckle as he tucked his hands into his jacket pockets. “Lucky you. I don’t sleep more than four hours anymore.”
“Kelnoreeming does not take more than a two hours for most jaffa.” He knew that O’Neill doesn’t care for the comparison, but he offered it anyway. Vala had taught him the value of small talk.
They stood for a few more minutes when O’Neill spoke again, “The ship is almost flight ready again. We’re leaving in two days and Daniel and Vala have co-ordinates for us.”
Teal’c can’t help the sigh that escaped him, these last few weeks of repose and peace will be ending soon.
Everything begins again.
To be continued…
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