The stone shifted against the lacerations crisscrossing Anne’s upper back as she kept her place beside Jack and the followers of Na’onak continued their efforts to infiltrate Bynarr’s quarters. Her eyes narrowed as she felt the familiar presence of a symbiote and she grabbed the colonel’s arm to pull him safely from the door’s implosion.
They stumbled forward as several of the citizens of Netu moved to entrap the escape party. Anne arched a brow as they neared her and she watched them slow; hesitate to treat her indecently even if their new ruler wished it.
Sam frowned as Anne’s subduers merely grasped her arms and turn back toward the inverted door. Several of the men surrounded the major and Daniel as they held up her father. Jacob was steadily growing weaker and his head lulled to the side as one of the men reached for the arm supported by Daniel.
Jack stepped in front of the trio in an attempt to block them from the threat entering the red-lit room. A futile gesture that did not go unnoticed by Anne as she ignored the humans flanking her. The overpowering heat rose with the influx of bodies into a confined space and Jack winced as Martouf was subdued and brought forward, far from the rings controls. His jaw tightened as he was turned toward the entrance by a mountain of muscle and the slim form of Na’onak walk forward, his stride arrogant.
A human male stood behind Bynarr’s murderer the staff weapon held at ready as he motioned to the men holding the SG-1 and it’s allies. “Kneel before Na’onak!”
Jack felt the pressure on both shoulders and his knees collapsed into the stone beneath him with a sharp jab to the back of his leg. He ignored Jacob’s groan of pain behind him. They’d have to wait for retribution as Na’onak turned his oddly covered head to look over the intruders of the previous lord’s domain.
“You shall call me Na’onak no longer. From this day forth I shall reclaim my real name.”
Anne’s frown became more prominent as she watched the Goa’uld remove his mask and share his deformed features with Jacob’s people. She saw them stiffen, become increasingly uneasy as he finished with, “Apophis!”
The only one whose expression did not mirror complete shock was, blue eyes. Instead Daniel was looking toward the new ruler of Netu as if wishing for a few moments alone with him. Anne would gladly allow him to beat on the idiot, hell she’d sell tickets but rather than allow the bastard his moment of triumph—no matter how small—she snorted.
“My God, are all of the Goa’uld such drama queens?”
Jack flicked his gaze to her. “Unfortunately, yes.”
She kept her voice flippant even as the men holding her arms began to inflict pain. “Huh
, you’d think a superior race wouldn’t need to constantly whip it out to measure whose is bigger.” She leaned into one of the men holding her and mock whispered, “Smart moneys on Sokar.”
Apophis' still intact eye flared. “His whore, speaks.”
Jacob stiffened under Sam’s support and pulled himself straight while Anne inclined her head as if in thought. “If I’m Sokar’s whore, does that make you his bitch?”
The Goa’uld’s eye narrowed and he dropped his chin signaling the men to either side of Anne to take a step back. Kintac strode slowly behind her, the staff in his hands moving in an oddly gracefully figure eight. She ignored the pathetic excuse for a guard and kept her gaze on Apophis.
Anne paid for that mistake as the flattened end of the weapon struck between her shoulder blades with enough force to topple her balance. She caught herself with her forearms and winced as the wounds along her upper back reopened.
Jacob frowned at the quick forming stripes of blood seeping through the rough material of his savior’s top. Selmak added her own hissing whispers of rage to his mounting horror. Sam caught his arm as he made a move to aid Anne. His dark gaze hardened as Kintac flipped the staff and placed the opening tip to the back of her head.
Daniel shifted beside Jack and called out in an attempt to distract the Goa’uld. “Your mate, Amaunet, is dead. Sorry to ruin your day. ” The shock on Apophis’ face spurned him into adding, “No, actually. I’m-I’m wrong about that.” He met his gaze, defiant. “I’m not sorry.”
Apophis eye flared again and Anne noticed the ravaged socket on the right side of his face gave off a faint glow as she pushed herself to her knees, still insolent. Still striving to do the right goddamned thing.
The Goa’uld ignored the tidbit of truth given to him by the Tau’ri; he would repay the linguist after he made an example of their ray of hope. Anne’s eyes narrowed as she watched him silently stand above her, his palm rose and the hand device connected with her psyche.
Her jaw clenched with pain as flames engulfed her mind and sent her nervous system into spasm. Her body’s heightened abilities only adding to the torment as her sense of touch multiplied and Apophis blocked her body’s instant response of releasing endorphins and enkephalins, natural pain relievers as grey clouds fogged her vision.
Anne didn’t cry out.
She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of him hearing her scream. Instead she welcomed the darkness as it opened its chilled arms and collapsed forward. She heard Jacob call her name and Jack swear but as much as she wished to reassure them, she couldn’t. Anne was weightless and for a few hours she would be free.
The world came back in patches of memory that filled her with confusion as she shifted, feeling something far softer than rock beneath her head. For a moment she gave into the urge to ignore her surroundings. Welcomed the small comfort of the hand gently using a coarse cloth to wipe away some of the grit from her exposed cheek.
The other cheek was held to a well-muscled thigh by the effects of Netu’s gravity and she stiffened, beginning to rise only to feel that hand move from her cheek to her shoulder. She frowned when the movement pulled at the tunic she wore and shifted it forward exposing more of her upper back in the process. Her top had been sliced open across her wounds and the sweet numbness of the rock’s fungus eased the burning of her injuries. She swore, eyes opening fully as she rolled away from the small comfort and placed her back to the nearest wall.
Her eyes scanned the small area of the Pits cataloguing that Jacob and his daughter sat against a nearby gate, exhaustion stamped onto their features and Jack lay sprawled at their feet his face contorted in pain. The others in the Pits stayed far from the interlopers as they still reeled from the loss of Bynarr. Her lips thinned as she slowly brought her gaze back to met blue eyes’ who had rolled onto his knees and held his hands up to either side.
“I was trying to keep you from moving and reopening your wounds.”
Anne shifted and continued her study of one of the more secured caverns of the Pits. “Where’s my bag?”
Daniel eased forward and pulled it from behind him. His face remained impassive even as she watched a flicker of curiosity behind his neutral gaze. “I’m still not sure why but the guards allowed it to go with us.”
She glanced at the hand that offered it and rose steadily to her feet. His gaze tracked her movements and Anne had the strangest feeling he was waiting for an opportunity to help her. Ignoring the glimmer of reassurance his calm features invoked, she grabbed the bag and sat.
Daniel watched her a moment before allowing his hand to fall to his side. Her head ducked down and one side of her tunic slipped as she rummaged through the pack. She gave a cry of triumph and pulled out a worn spaghetti strap top. The once black had faded to a muted gray and Daniel frowned at the Earth style clothing before he reminded himself that she came from Earth—just not his.
Anne raised tired arms to grip the front of the tunic she wore and pulled it down. She heard the slight inhalation and looked up to see Daniel averting his gaze, a faint blush staining his cheeks. Belatedly she realized the reason for his discomfort and quickly donned the tank top, wincing as she was forced to raise and lower her arms.
“Sorry, Sokar kinda beat the whole modesty thing out of me.”
Daniel turned back toward her and flinched at her apology. “Its…its fine. Some people are just more comfortable than others while nude. Nothing to be…ah,” He paused to clear his throat before adding, “ashamed of or…”
She interrupted him, “Do you always ramble when you’re nervous?”
He coughed and sighed before filling one word with a lifetime of regret. “Usually.”
“No. Its sweet, reminds me of better times.” She smiled, the sadness in her gaze made Daniel want to break eye contact.
He reisted the urge. “How long have you been here?”
She blinked at the sudden change in topic and shrugged. Then winced as the movement pulled along her back. “Too long.”
He took the answer as what it was, a dodging of his question. Undeterred Daniel pressed on, but instead of a question he offered her something far better. “We’re going to get out of here.”
She sighed at his unwavering hope and was interrupted from having to answer by Jacob’s weakened call. “Anne?”
She offered blue eyes a halfhearted smile. “I hope so. For all of your sakes.”
Daniel frowned as she rose and corrected her. “Our
sakes, Anne. We’re don’t leave our people behind.”
Her eyes widened as they witnessed the expulsion of a Stargate’s event horizon for the first time. Anne watched it fold outward and devour the matter and molecules that lay in its wake. It inverted back into what resembled a puddle of rippling water and she waited for it to fall forward out of the circle. When it mocked the laws of gravity, she couldn’t help the smile that appeared.
The Colonel moved to stand beside the little blonde as she stared up at the flickering waves of the Gate. “Cool isn’t it?”
She nodded and turned toward him. “Indeed, the coolest.” She kept her face blank as she flicked her gaze toward the other member’s of his team and whispered out of the side of her mouth. “And you’re sure this time it won’t kill me?”
Jack smirked. “Almost a hundred percent.”
“Almost?” Her brows drew downward.
“There are no absolutes in life.”
She shook her head. “Except that phrase.”
Jack looked down at her. “Huh?”
Daniel stepped forward and placed himself on Anne’s other side. “She’s right.”
Jack flicked his dark gaze to his best friend. “How’s that?”
Anne answered him. “The only absolute in life, is that there are no absolutes.”
She frowned; didn’t the other half of that phrase negate the first? With a shrug of thin shoulders she moved closer to the event horizon and absently trailed the tips of her fingers through the bending light. It shimmered with the applied pressure, the wrinkles formed by the movement fading back into each other.
She wasn’t feeling all that trustworthy of the sideways puddle and she tried to stall her moment of having to pass through it and according to Sam be torn into thousands of tiny molecule sized pieces. That in her humble opinion could become lost in the vast nothingness of space—easily.
Her movements were trepid as she backed away from the towering ring, down the few steps of the platform and onto the soft dunes of Vorash. Her only indication of nervousness was in her hurried stride as Anne moved toward the man who had freed her from Netu.
Jacob stood between his daughter and Martouf; they each held an arm in support. Even in his weakened state he had insisted on seeing her off and she frowned at the small lines of pain appearing around his eyes.
“You should be resting.”
He laughed weakly. “Said the pot to the kettle.”
She grinned and closed the last foot that separated them to embrace the older man. Her right shoulder tightened after having been used as target practice for Na’onak’s… Apophis’…whatever’s First Prime, Kintac.
Lucky for Anne he was a suck shot and had only managed to strike her with one out of the six staff blasts he managed to fire before being subdued by Martouf. Though the one that did manage to score a hit had just missed her heart. She winced at the burning sensation that spread from its point of contact, but ignored the pain to stay in her sanities presence for just a few moments longer.
Jacob pulled back and traced the contours of her features with his knowing gaze. She hooded her eyes against the small intrusion, but the damage was done and Selmak hissed at him to offer her the same comfort that she had given them.
“You need a shower, kid.”
A surprised laugh fell from her as Anne jerked her head up to meet his gaze. “Ditto, old man.”
He snorted and raised a hand to cup her cheek. “I’ll be seeing you in a week. Try to play nice.”
She didn’t want to leave him but continued on with the banter. “I make no promises.”
Jacob turned to his daughter. “Keep on eye on her, will you?”
“Sure, Dad.” Sam suppressed the urge to roll her eyes and grinned when Anne failed too.
Jacob shifted back to his savior and his head fell to his chest for a moment before rising to meet her gaze. Anne frowned at the sudden drop in the pit of her stomach and her eyes widened at the echo in Jacob’s voice.
“We owe much to you, Anne.”
Her breath eased out with a small gasp and she pulled him back into her arms. “Selmak!”
“You are incredibly strong.” Her grip loosened with the soft laugh that eased across the top of her head.
She pulled back and looked into the eyes of someone she had never spoken with but was already immensely fond of, “It’s about damn time I met you.”
The Tok’ra smiled softly. “I was feeling well enough to come forth and I wished to meet you before we parted.”
Anne grinned. “I’m glad you’re better.” Jack cleared his throat and she turned to see him nod his head toward the Stargate and tap his watch. “I think that’s my not so subtle hint to wrap it up.” She paused and studied Jacob’s face, how his features appeared less hardened, more approachable. “Make sure the old man doesn’t back out on his promise.”
Selmak smiled and inclined Jacob’s head. “I am intrigued by his memories of this, Disneyland and I would like the chance to experience it for myself.”
Sam snorted and met Anne’s amused gaze from her vigilance beside her father. She nodded to the other woman and began to turn giving the family a moment of privacy when Martouf spoke.
“Anne, I hope you will give my suggestion some thought.”
She met the other Tok’ra’s neutral gaze, offered him a small smile before she nodded and made her way toward the three members of SG-1 watching them from the gate’s platform. Jack stared down at her, his attractive features pulled tight with a frown and she knew he was repressing the urge to ask her about Marty’s suggestion. Her lips quirked at his nickname for the noble Tok’ra and she ducked her head avoiding the colonel’s questioning look.
She recalled Martouf’s quite but steady voice, as he offered her a position among the Tok’ra. The elegant way he had spoken for his and Lantash’s people. She sighed and shook her head at thoughts of the future. To Anne freedom had been vapors of a forgotten dream. Lost to her subconscious not long after falling into Sokar’s never ending torment.
She lifted her head and watched Teal’c step across the threshold and disappear from all of her senses. Anne frowned up at the flickering water and took a deep breath. With her spine straight and fear compressed into lead weight in the core of her being she pushed herself forward and into the unknown.
As she passed through the cool horizon her senses of sight and touch were bombarded with light and ice. She felt her insides compress before her boots made contact with a metal walkway that lead down into a cavernous room of concrete and armed men. Anne flinched as a violent shudder wracked her body and she shivered as she made her way deeper into the nameless throng of human life.
With her teeth chattering and her lips spread wide with a grin that she was in fact cold, Anne followed Teal’c’s massive form down the plank and toward an important looking bald man. His kind eyes swept over her face with open curiosity and barely veiled trepidation.
“Hello Anne, I am Major General George Hammond of the United States Air Force. Welcome to Stargate Command.”
She studied his offered smile and let a gentle but false one, grace her lips. She ignored Jack’s presence as he came to her side as she took the general’s hand in her own to shake it up and down once.
“Thank you for having me.”
The guest quarters of the SGC lay quite and dark with an airman posted just outside the door incase Anne ‘needed’ anything. She sighed and pressed her face upward into the shower's spray as she contemplated the fact that she had been assigned a watchdog. Though she couldn’t fault the general or probably more precisely the colonel, for seeing the need for one. She had proven to the members of SG-1 during their escape from Netu that she was dangerous and helpful to have around—or at least she hoped that she had proven herself helpful along with the dangerous.
Anne was tired as she pushed her face past the cool spray of water and pressed her forehead to the smooth tile. She had washed the stench of Netu from her form with the first cleansing but its presence still clung to her. It had burrowed under her skin and nested. Eyes falling closed as she felt the choking presence of fear coil in her chest. Tears burned the back of her throat as she held herself rigid against the wall until the she could feel just how rough the grout was.
Mentally she was still trapped on hell, Sokar was still alive and a smaller part of her was still striving to be the white hat, the Slayer. A Slayer that had left her people behind on Netu and was still so exhausted she just wanted to sleep for a week.
Pulling herself from past regrets, she tried to focus on the present and after her physical with Dr. Janet Frasier and subsequent crash course in how abnormally healthy she was for being trapped on a moon full of poisonous gases and deadly temperatures. After having to explain to the other woman that her diet had mostly consisted of fruit, water and the occasional piece of unknown meat product, her bone density had baffled the nice doctor and the fact that it was ten time that of a normal human. Explaining to Anne—as if she were a child or Col. O’Neill—that she should have shown at least some signs of deterioration and possibly osteoporosis. Her muscle should have been weakened by the lack of protein in her diet, not following her bones in their unusual health and vitality.
Anne shook her head and blinked away the water droplets that had merged with her lashes. There had been an excited gleam in the petite woman’s eyes at just how healthy she was and people wondered why she hated hospitals. What with their winding corridors and needle happy people just wondering about. Though Janet had been understanding of her reluctance to share how she had gotten her scars and more recent wounds and the compassion in her brown eyes had been just this side of sympathetic—Anne had rebelled against the pity.
She hated the fact that she was slowing when everything around her seemed to have leapt ahead. Forcing her to keep diving forward into the unknown making a part of her miss Netu. At least there she knew where she stood, how to live. If she were still on Netu it would mean she hadn’t left any of those she declared hers to die when the core exploded.
She jerked back from those thoughts and the wall, traced her hand down the smooth tile and pressed the knob upward to bring the shower to a trickle. The water beaded along the smooth planes of her skin as she pulled back the plastic curtain and stepped out. She shivered in the damp air and reveled in the fact that she was chilled. Teeth chattering as she stepped forward to gaze at the mirror above a less than adequate sink, her eyes distant, vacant.
She knew what her features had looked like before she leapt to her second death and her time with Sokar had not changed Anne’s outer appearance other than a hardening to her gaze, but she still saw a stranger. Anne frowned and ran her hand through her hair shaking loose the droplets of water that joined their brothers as they traveled from her shoulders downward.
With a small sigh she grabbed the towel from the metal pool spanning the wall behind her and opened the door leading back into the living section of the quarters the SGC had loaned her. With quick swipes of the coarse cloth she wiped away the remainder of the water from her body and wrapped the towel around her slim frame as she stepped from the bathroom into the colder bedroom.
She listened to the steady hum of the air conditioner and smiled. The simple white noise brought with it a calming over her strained nerves as she draped her towel across the back of a chair that was part of a laughable dining set. With her mind frantically trying to grasp the concept that she was free and this whole scenario wasn’t just another mind fuck courtesy of Sokar; Anne donned the clothing Janet had sent to her quarters.
Amusement flared at some of the little bulldozer’s better qualities. Her hand reached up to run her fingers through her hair that now fell to just below her shoulder blades rather than her hips and was a warm honey color compared to the bleached days of her youth. The length had been an unexpected gift from the good doctor when Anne had mentioned that she hadn’t had a cut in years—literally. Janet’s eyes had widened and she had left the room only to return moments later with a pair of scissors and the words, “Relax I trim my daughter’s all the time.”
Anne smiled at the pleasant memory and moved back toward the small dinette in the center of the room. As her fingers reached to pick up the towel—she had haphazardly draped over the back of a chair to dry—her left shoulder constricted and the muscles in her chest convulsed. With a small groan she pulled the limb into her body to ride out the cramp as the tissue tightened, knitting back together as they healed at an alarming rate.
Anne wasn’t sure if it was the many trips to the sarcophagus or being in an alternate dimension, but she had changed. She was different from the woman who had leapt through Glory’s portal and the jury was still out on if the revision had been for the better. Her eyes fell closed as the pain lessened and she was able to lower her arm to brace it against the chair.
Her hand tensed as Anne recalled her first experience of her abilities becoming sharper, more in tuned with the changes of her environment. The memory of Sokar’s utter delight in the fact that she had a heightened sense of touch pulled a low moan from her throat. His experiments to see how much she, her sanity, could be pushed before her entire nervous system went into spasm. Sometimes her body would become locked in a fit for hours. The wood beneath her hand groaned as her grip tightened and Anne’s mind became lost in a hell of her own making.
She had been the hero for so long and to have her responsibilities stripped away. To have everything that made her unique stripped away. She had become a victim. Naked. Weak. Pathetic.
Buffy had died.
She winced at the thought of her old name and with the fact that she was terrified to try and be her again. To take on the mantel of Buffy, who was the hero and dead. Anne was the survivor and had taken a human life.
Several human lives had ended with their blood covering Anne’s hands beneath the surface of Netu. It had been necessary for her survival. They had attacked first, had beaten her so badly. Logically she knew she had killed before, being the Slayer, saving Dawn’s life but that had served a greater good. She had been protecting an innocent and that made it different.
The men of Netu had been prisoners and they had fallen quickly beneath her rage after—her hand flexed and the wood fractured. A breath hissed past her clenched teeth as she jerked arm up and her mind free from the past.
Anne flinched at the broken chair and her eyes flew toward the door at the light knock. A somewhat familiar voice called her name from the other side. The slight pain was forgotten as she moved toward the door and hesitantly opened it.
She blinked, startled by the sight of blue eyes on the other side. He offered her a tentative smile. “Hello, Anne. Can I come in?”
Her head cocked to the side and she stepped back using the door as a shield while he entered. His gaze swept over the room with a neutral look and he turned to her.
“You cut your hair. It looks nice.”
She raised a brow. “It looks wet.”
“That too.” Daniel’s attention shifted to her thin form and looked over it with a far too perceptive eye and she shifted under the scrutiny. A frown lowered his brows as his attention shifted to her left hand and the blood trickling from it. “You’re hurt.”
She stared at him uncomprehending until she followed his pointed look and shrugged. “I broke a chair.”
Her arm moved to place the hand behind her and he reached out, catching her wrist. The muscles in Anne’s arm bunched in anticipation of attack as she swallowed her unease and allowed him to raise her hand for a closer inspection. She tried to remember that she shouldn’t beat on people trying to help her—it was rude.
Daniel frowned at the splinter that speared through the fleshy part of her palm. He flicked his gaze up to see her watching him hold her hand with guarded curiosity. Contemplating how long she would allow him to touch her Daniel cleared his throat and green eyes slowly rose to meet his.
Anne cocked her head in question. “Can I…” He trailed off and tried again. “You need someone to clean this.”
She shrugged. “It’ll heal just fine on...”
“Let me help you.” The hand in his stiffened and he quickly added, “Please.”
She frowned at his neutral stare and wondered if he practiced it in the mirror. After an initial hesitation and a searching look that Daniel couldn’t comprehend she nodded.
He offered her a smile that brightened his face in way that made her want to return the gesture. Anne abstained, smothering the urge to connect with him as he led them to the bed’s edge and deposited her.
She watched him move to the bathroom and return a moment later with a damp washcloth. The bed compressed with his weight as he sat beside her and cautiously picked up the injured limb. His movements deliberate and slow, as if afraid she’d bolt or attack with the slightest provocation.
Daniel removed the wood embedded in her palm and applied light pressure to staunch the blood flow. Anne watched someone care for her without the thought of compensation and felt the presence of tears as they threatened to humiliate her. She blinked, trying in vain to push them back. Her throat constricted and she inhaled before harshly whispering.
“Is this real?”
Daniel’s hands stilled and he raised his head to see tears making her eyes bright in the dim lighting. “What?”
She averted her gaze. “Is this real?” She swallowed and brought her focus back to his face. “Are you real?” A tear fell to trace the slope of her cheek.
Daniel’s brows drew downward, his voice quiet, certain. “Yes, Anne. I’m real. This is all real.”
“So why am I…” Still so terrified.
The linguist caught her meaning without the words being spoken aloud and reached out to brush away the next tear that fell with his thumb. As his touch registered she pulled back and removed her hand from his. Daniel watched her retreat, reconstruct her walls right before his eyes and he tried to salvage the connection.
“Have you been given the grand tour yet?”
She shifted back on the bed and shook her head. “I’ve seen the infirmary and this room.”
Daniel stood. “Okay, so let me show you the rest.”
Anne looked up at him a moment before nodding. Struggling to distance herself and erect the walls that had kept her sane on Netu she switched her voice to flippant, desperate to ignore her shortcomings.
“Alright, but I just have to ask. Do you guys have any Double Meat Palaces in this dimension?”
Daniel stared at her, somewhat horrified at the image that question invoked.
“I’ll take that as a no.”
Jacob lay in his darkened corner of the Tok’ra’s tunnels beneath the surface of Vorash. The healing effects of Martouf’s most recent batch of glowing liquid had him punishing his upper body with a little movement, so that he could glance around his quarters. He felt strangely lonely even with Selmak within him.
His symbiote whispered a name and he sighed letting his body fall back against the forgiving cloth of his mat. They would travel through the Stargate and visit Anne as soon as they were both physically able. He felt Selmak’s displeasure at leaving her alone in the care of the SGC, even if they trusted the members of SG-1 and General Hammond. The knowledge that not everyone who had access to their files were honorable and the fact that virtual strangers surrounded Anne caused them both more than a little discomfort.
A shadow crossed over the entryway of his quarters and he lifted his head to see Martouf step over the threshold.
“Am I disturbing you?”
Jacob motioned his fellow Tok’ra forward. “Not at all.”
He bowed his head. “I wished to speak of Anne with you.”
Jacob shook his head. “The High Council wants her to join our ranks.”
“Do you not believe she would be a valuable ally?”
“Hell yes, she’d be valuable. I just don’t think she’d agree to becoming a host.” As Martouf opened his mouth Jacob added, “Under any circumstances.”
The other Tok’ra inclined his head with Jacob’s understanding of the young woman. “She is most passionate.”
The older man raised a brow. “She can be a pain in the ass.”
“She saved both yours and Selmak’s lives.”
“That she did.”
Martouf watched him silently for a moment. “Will you speak with her in regards to joining our cause?”
Jacob coughed. “I can try.”
Martouf nodded. “That is all I ask.”
“You like her.”
The younger Tok’ra paused at the notion as he pondered the words. Anne was remarkable and a fierce warrior, similar to Samantha but comparing the young woman to Jacob’s daughter would not be in their best interest was silently conveyed by Lantash. Martouf settled for a neutral tone and answer, “She is a captivating woman.”
Martouf raised an amused brow at his friend. “She has a certain charm.”
Jacob laughed at the sidestep and nodded. “Will you be coming with me when I visit her in a few days?”
The younger Tok’ra stiffened, startled by the offer. “I believe I will.” Jacob propped himself up higher against the crystallized wall and Martouf shifted forward, “I am uncertain of one thing though.”
“When I was conversing with Anne she informed me that her motto was ‘seize the day’. I am unfamiliar with the term, motto and how exactly does one seize a day?”
Jacob smiled as he tried to explain American slang and Latin proverbs to Martouf without laughing—he failed miserably.
General Hammond’s eyes narrowed on the colonel sitting across from him. The neatly pressed blues covered the man from neck to perfectly polished wingtips. Harry Maybourne’s smile stretched a fraction wider as the general slowly lowered the red telephone receiver and forced his face into neutral lines.
“I did tell you General, I have the full backing of the President.”
Hammond’s shoulders rolled back as he pulled himself straighter in his chair. “I wouldn’t know, he is unattainable at the moment.” His eyes flicked down to the thin manila folder holding the relocation request for the SGC’s newest guest. Anne was to be transferred to the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, tomorrow at 0700.
Maybourne cleared his throat and brought the General’s attention back to him. “I have read Dr. Frasier’s report and find her discoveries fascinating. I’m also well aware that Anne has already been through quarantine so there will be no need to delay her departure.” He rose and offered Hammond his most charming smile. “Good day, General.”
The older man nodded to his subordinate and watched the bastard stroll casually from his office, smug in the fact that he was going to turn a young woman into a lab rat. His gaze narrowed as he reached for the black phone across from him.
“I need SG-1 in the briefing room as soon as possible.” He replaced the receiver and sighed while dragging a hand down his face. His shoulders rolled back as Hammond reached for the red receiver once more.
“This is crap, sir.”
Hammond sighed and nodded to his second in command. “I know, Colonel.”
“Just so long as we’re in agreement.” Jack’s voice lowered and he slumped back in his chair in frustration.
Sam sat forward in her seat across from Daniel and Teal’c. “Anne is a citizen of the United States. How is this even possible?”
Daniel frowned, remembering the lost look in her hardened gaze. How she had clutched the bag of her belongings from Netu as he showed her around the base. “How is this even moral?”
The general agreed with the outrage of his best team from his seat at the head of the large table in the briefing room of Stargate Command. He meet the major’s gaze and offered her the same explanation Maybourne had given him.
“She is from an alternate reality, Major. Therefore she has no rights under our laws.” He turned to the linguist. “As for morality, I am unsure if Colonel Maybourne understands the concept.”
“Or compassion.” Daniel’s voice filled with contempt.
Jack shook his head. “She saved our collective butts on Netu and this is how the President repays her?”
Hammond turned to Jack. “The President has remained unavailable through all of my attempts at contact and Maybourne has the proper documentation to have Anne transferred tomorrow at 0700.”
The Jaffa inclined his head as the General’s words registered with the others of his team and they reacted, some worse than others.
“Son of a bitch!”
Sam shook her head. “Sir, can I ask why the NID want her?”
Jack arched a brow. “Other than the obvious reason?”
Daniel frowned. “The obvious reason?”
The colonel’s voice was dry as he answered, “She’s hot.” He shrugged at the looks he received. “What?”
The major tried to quell the spark of irritation at the Jack’s casual remark and redirected the discussion. “The reasons behind Maybourne’s inquiry?”
“He believes that Anne’s natural abilities deserve further investigation.”
Daniel’s eyes narrowed, “Don’t you mean experimentation?”
Hammond flicked his gaze around his people. “Any thoughts as to how we can stop this?”
The members of SG-1 sat back and their brows drew downward in thought. Teal’c inclined his head and turned his chair toward the general. “If Anne of Netu were a representative of the Tok’ra would she not fall under the guidelines of the alliance between your two parties?”
Jack blinked and a slow smile spread his lips. “T, you’re a genius!”
The Jaffa raised a brow and dipped his head to the colonel in thanks. Hammond turned toward Sam and watched her eyes widen. “Major Carter…”
“I’ll go try to contact Dad.” She pushed her chair back and began to rise.
“Major, we have less than 14 hours to relocate Anne or have a representative of the Tok’ra here before Maybourne returns.” She nodded at his tactical way of telling her to hurry and left the room.
Jack turned to his CO. “Should we let her know?”
Daniel leaned turned his chair so he faced his friend. “We have to. If we fail, then she’ll be in Maybourne’s hands.” The linguist flinched at the fact that Anne may have escaped one hell only to land in another. One created by a world that mirrored her own.
Hammond nodded and Jack sighed. “I’ll do it.”
Teal’c pushed back from his seat and rose. “I will accompany you, O’Neill.”
Daniel nodded to the general before he followed the other men from the room. Hammond leaned back in his chair and swiveled it to stare out at the Stargate, his face drawn into grim lines at the thought that he and his people had unknowingly placed a young woman within Maybourne’s far too long reach.
Janet Frasier offered her newest patient a warm smile. “Thank you, for allowing me to take more samples.”
Anne inclined her head and watched absently as the doctor extracted blood from her artery. The dark liquid filled the vial and the needle was removed from her flesh. “Not a big.”
Janet smiled and nodded as she readied another thin tube. “I got some of your test results back.”
The blonde offered her a vague smile. “So doc, am I gonna live?”
“Apparently.” Janet raised a brow and added, “You’re not a host to a Goa’uld and you never have been.”
“I could’ve told you that,” She paused and cocked her head, “No. Wait, I did tell you that.”
Janet shook her head and watched as the blood filled another glass container. “I did come to the conclusion that you’re between the ages of twenty-seven and thirty-two. I know that’s a large gap but your natural healing ability made some of the results inconclusive…” Her trailed off as she watched the muscles under her hands stiffen and Janet glanced up.
Anne’s eyes darkened with horror as she averted her gaze and yanked her arm from the doctor’s grasp. “Twenty-seven to thirty-two?”
A broken laugh escaped her as she pushed herself from the hospital bed and yanked the needle from her arm. The plastic capping separated and blood trickled across the concrete as the petite woman flicked her gaze frantically around the room.
Her ‘escort’ moved his hand toward his tazer and froze at the harsh shake of Janet’s head. “Anne,” the woman ignored her call and Janet raised her voice, “Anne, what’s wrong?”
The blonde stopped and glanced down her body to stare at the vial in her left hand. The smooth unblemished skin stared back at her. Her shoulder was completely healed and the place where the splinter had been was just smooth scar tissue that would fade with time.
Faith had been right—they all fade.
Her hand clenched and the glass shattered, piercing her flesh, spilling more of her blood. The pain made it real. Her freedom was real.
It had to be.
Janet moved forward her as the other woman fell to her knees. The doctor squatted beside her and caught her fist, meeting those pain filled eyes head on.
“I was twenty.”
The softly uttered words stilled Janet’s busy hands. “You were twenty?” The CMO felt shock begin at the back of her mind and move its way forward as she realized what those three words meant. “You were twenty when you fell into our reality?” Janet asked the question, her subconscious begging Anne to deny it, shake her head. Do anything that would quell the horror of the smaller woman’s life.
“And into Sokar’s waiting arms.”
The hollow edge to the woman’s voice frightened her. “But you’re not there any longer.”
Anne looked up and Janet watched the tears fill her eyes. “I’ve lost a decade.”
The blonde looked back down at her hand and stared at the glass lacerating her. She didn’t want to hurt anymore. She didn’t want to need the pain. She wanted to be whole again. Couldn’t she be whole again?
“I don’t think I’m fixable.”
Janet’s head fell to the side in understanding and she reached out—ignoring the flinch—to brush the hair falling into Anne’s face behind her ear.
Her features crumpled and thin shoulders began to shake with silent sobs that compressed her chest. Janet pulled the blonde forward and into her arms, ignoring the blood now spreading across her jacket and hose. Anne pressed her uninjured hand to her face, trying to hide the pain, the terror. The doctor’s arms tightened as Anne’s cries became vocal and she began to gently rock her.
Jack raised his arms stopping Daniel and Teal’c from entering the infirmary as he heard Anne’s broken words. The two men winced at the sobs now coming from inside as Teal’c’s brows lowered in what Daniel assumed was concern. Jack only ducked his head in long enough to motion the airman ‘escorting’ Anne around, out of the room.
He dismissed the junior officer and made himself comfortable on the floor as he waited for their guest to calm herself and to block anyone else from interrupting Janet’s remarkable healing ability. The End.