Title: Beyond Hope
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and all related characters are copyright Brad Wright, Jonathan Glassner, Showtime and the SciFi Network. No infringement intended. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all related characters are copyright Joss Whedon and ME. No infringement intended.
Author’s Note: I broke down and wrote the quintessential Buffy falls into Glory’s portal and ends up elsewhere. My take is Glory was a Goa’uld and the consort of a certain System Lord that caught my interest. ~*~
Buffy Summers, the Slayer and surrogate mother to her teenage sister, swung her arm in a smooth arch and brought Olaf the Troll God’s hammer up and into a Hell God’s face. Glorificus fell back under the blow and stumbled over the broken concrete that adorned the base of her tower.
Her hazel eyes briefly flickered close as the Slayer pushed her further from her goal. She could feel her blood trickle down her chin, drip towards the dirt beneath her feet. She was a god and this world sucked. The hammer struck her chest and her ribs bent inward knocking her breath from her lungs in an explosion of air.
She glared at the Slayer, the human cow who understood nothing of pain. Nothing of sacrifice. “You’re just a human. You couldn’t understand my pain.”
Buffy cocked her head to the side and offered her a mocking smile. “I’ll just have to settle for causing it.” She brought the hammer up and under Glory’s chin. The hell god’s body reeled back and she nearly fell but caught herself against the broken ruins of a wall.
“He’ll destroy you for this.”
Buffy frowned at the sudden change is subject, but shrugged and slammed the hammer into Glory’s hip. “You really need a brain drain if you think Ben can help you.”
She smirked as her knees gave out and she fell to the ground. If her love where here the floor beneath her would be drenched with the little bitch’s blood. She would bathe in it. Bask in the beauty of his destruction. “Not Ben,” she paused, her eyes flaring with light, “Sokar.”
Buffy pulled back slightly at the sudden echo in Glory’s voice. “Nice name.” She rolled her eyes, trying for flippant as she brought the hammer across her face again.
Glory’s neck arched with the blow but she remained kneeling. In this dimension her knowledge made her power infinite. “You can’t kill me.”
“No…” Buffy brought the hammer up with both hands and shoved it forward into her face full force. “But my arm’s not even tired yet.”
The Hell God fell to ground her body lost to a cloud of dust and as it settled she looked up at her enemy, gave flaring with light. She was going to be stuck in a useless human world. In a worthless human shell. “Stop.”
Buffy glared down at the creature that had tormented her for months and her rage rolled over her, through her. “You’re a god.” She brought the hammer down and it crushed the bones beneath it. “Make it stop.”
She brought the weapon up and over her right shoulder with such consistency she lost count of the blows. Her shoulders screamed in protest, but she continued to crush her enemy until Glory’s body shuddered and Ben emerged from within.
His eyes met the Slayer's, grief and pain apparent in the soft shade of blue. He would never be free of her. “I’m sorry.”
Buffy swept her eyes across his broken form and could not find the strength to lift the hammer and end her torment. To take a human life. “Tell her its over. She missed her shot. She goes. She ever, ever comes near me and mine—”
Ben coughed, interrupting her words. “We won’t. I swear.”
Buffy looked down at his bloody face and knew she should end it, stop any chance of Glory reemerging, she couldn’t. A delicate scream that send a shiver of fear tripping down her spine had Buffy dropping the hammer and running toward the tower. She never saw Giles emerge from the shadows and kneel beside Ben’s broken form.
Her body moved with the grace of a triathlon runner as she decimated the space and metal standing between her and her sister. She skidded to a stop at the top of the rocking tower and watched a small man pull a blade across her sister's left side. She could already see another cut as it seeped blood into the night sky, underneath the platform.
“Dawn,” She whispered the name horrified.
The demon spoke words to her, but she ignored them as he tried to keep her from the only thing that truly mattered. She threw her arm into his side as she passed him on the plank and she faintly heard his dull scream as he plummeted, hopefully, to his death.
“Here.” She gripped the bindings around Dawn’s wrists and snapped them.
“Buffy, it hurts.”
They both stumble from the edge as the tower groaned and she pulled her limping sister further inward, toward the platform entrance and the stairs that would lead them towards better place to make a last stand. Dawn stopped and it jerked her back, brought them face-to-face, as her sister argued, “Buffy, its started.”
The Slayer looked back, Lot's wife turning to sand, to watched the light from the portal shimmer beneath the platform. It spiraled outward, lightning arcing from the center to engulf a nearby building. The warehouse dissolved into incubation chambers for the withering embryos of demons and she watched as one disfigured beak pressed against the amber glass housing it’s emaciated form. Buffy winced as that glass cracked and its piercing shriek was heard by her world for the first time.
She turned back to her sister the growing portal hypnotized Dawn’s horrified gaze as it ripped the walls between all dimensions, tour the fabric of all realities and harnessed that power to one focal point of destination. “I’m sorry.”
Buffy shook her head. “It doesn’t matter.”
Dawn tried to push past her sister and Buffy caught her around the waist pulling her back. “What are you doing?”
Their gazes locked and both saw their mother’s eyes looking back at them. Dawn’s face crumbled around the edges and tears began slow tracks to her chin. “I have to jump. The energy—”
“Will kill you,” Buffy uninterrupted, tugging her sister closer.
Dawn smiled down at her hero and wondered when she'd grown taller. “I know. Buffy, I know about the ritual. I have to stop it.”
“No.” Buffy shook her head even as tears began to well.
Dawn swallowed her terror. “I have to. Look at what’s happening.”
More lightning crackled along the outside of the portal. It tore through the unstable dimensions and pulled more creatures forward. A sleek body of armor and muscle rippled across the sky and around the tower. Buffy tracked the dragon as it gave a cry of freedom and flapped its massive wings to gain altitude.
“Buffy you have to let me go. Blood starts it and until the blood stops flowing, it’ll never stop.” She turned back to her younger sister as her voice cracked and the tears that she had been fighting fell freely. “You know you have to let me. It has to be the blood.”
Buffy reached out and traced the delicate sloop of her sister’s cheek. She could feel the press of daybreak at her back as pieces of the puzzle fell before her minds eye and settled into place. She turned back to look past the portal and the lightning’s deadly destruction to watch the first rays of sun seep out from the Earth’s horizon. The brilliant orange blinded her for a moment and she smiled into the promise of tomorrow. The sun would always rise and the sun would always set again, at least for Dawn.
Buffy angled her neck and met her sister’s gaze resolved. Dawn’s eyes widened and she shook her head in panic. “Buffy, no!”
“Dawnie, I have to.”
Buffy reached up to grip her sister’s shoulders. Her words were hushed as she tried to comfort her as best she could. As they met their mother’s gaze one last time Dawn began to sob and Buffy spun. She ran down the plank and leapt into the void of light and clouds.
It wrapped its tendrils of light around her form and shifted to compress her body with the force of its power. The lightning folded inward and danced through her falling form as the portal stretched open beneath her. She felt herself pulled forward into a spiraling darkness flickering with silver waves. As the last arch of lightning bit through her flesh and into her chest she felt death reach out its formless arms to embrace her.Peace.
The Chappa’ia rose proud and tall in the invocation room of Sokar’s palace on the planet of Delmak. Its carved inner circle began to move sluggishly counterclockwise. Opposite from its normal beginning rotation and quickly picked up speed as the few Jaffa placed to welcome his consort, shifted and glanced at one another in worry. None of the chevrons flared with light but the steady hum of the gates activation filled the room.
The explosion of the event horizon folded and shimmered out from the center farther than any of them had ever seen before. White lightning danced along the edge of the Chappa’ia and trickled outward to skip across the walls. The center of the circle was darker, more ominous as the ripples of light bent inward and a small form was thrown from the center of the gate and into the room.
The lightning dispersed as the Chappa’ia shut down with the hiss of burnt ions. The Jaffa flicked their hesitant gaze to the delicate body. One stepped forward and nudged her with his staff. She moved boneless with his probe and they saw she drew no breath.
He turned to his brothers in arms. “Our Lord would desire her alive.” He flicked his gaze to one of the other men. “Take her to the sarcophagus.”Rebirth.
Buffy winced against the harsh glare of light through the membrane of her eyelids. She raised her arm to cover them and flinched when she hit a wall. Her green eyes flew open and she frantically looked around the enclosed space and found herself surrounded by a coffin filled with light as her breath rattled in her chest she shoved at the lid.
Her hands touched the strangely cool surface and she watched the top slid apart from the center to reveal the cavernous room above her. She sat up and her gaze traveled around the darkened walls that rose smooth and Spartan around her. The vibrant blue was molded with black trim that flowed with the arches of the massive ceiling. She shivered in the cool air and wondered why she wasn’t dead. She had felt her life end. A frown drew her brows downward. Hadn’t she?
She lowered herself to the tile floors outside the golden coffin that had housed her body. She let her eyes slide over it’s polished surface and she frowned at the symbols carved into the setting around the base. She knelt and traced a few with her fingers they resembled those Egyptian thingies. What did that history channel call them? Hieroglyphs.
She stood and her gaze narrowed in on the top of the coffin where a falcon had been depicted soaring above a large eye. She shivered in the cool air and whirled at the sound of footfalls heading her way. She glanced around the room and realized there was only one way in or out and her only hiding place would be back in the coffin. She shook her head at that thought as she moved to the side of the entrance and waited for her greeters to enter the room.
The door opened into the hall and Buffy pressed her body closer to the wall. She held her breath as two men entered the room and her stomach crammed with the force of their presence. Definitely not human. She grabbed the one nearest to her and pulled him back before shoving him into his partner. Their bodies collided with the sharp rap of their breastplates and she leapt over them only to run into three more. She frowned at the use of primary colors and the metal skirt like things around their waists.
“Matching outfits. Cute.” She sighed as they lowered staffs towards her. “Okay we can do this the hard way or,” she trailed off as the top of the staff’s opened and blue lightning arched across the tip. “Crap.”
The one in the middle aimed his staff for the center of her chest. “Where do you come from?”
Buffy frowned at apparent head guys accent. “Uh…America?”
He inclined his head in confusion. “I am not aware of that planet.”
Her mouth dropped open. “Planet?” Huh?
The two guards she knocked together stepped forward and grasped her upper arms. She turned to give them a hesitant smile. Her attention was drawn back to the ringleader as he spoke.
“Our Lord wishes to speak with you.”
Without a word her two escorts pulled her forward down the hall. She stumbled and tried to free her arms from their grasp but encountered more resistance than she had anticipated. Apparently they were only easy to fight if you got the drop on them and now they knew she was neither weak nor helpless. Damn.
The three ahead of her led them through confusing twisted corridors and she knew that even if she did manage to escape she would have one hell of a time trying to find her way out of this fortress.
The leader stopped outside a large wooden door and grasped the gold knocker in shape of a three intertwining circles. He raised it up and allowed the weight of the object to bring it back to the door’s surface. The dull thump echoed in the silent hall and the leader stepped back to allow the door to swing outward. Another badly dressed man stood in the entrance and his eyes traveled disdainfully across Buffy’s form.
He stepped back and they entered the room whose walls rose higher than the room she had awakened in. Its doomed ceiling was carved from marble that glittered in the muted lighting proved from half circles of lights scattered across the walls.
The only furniture in the room was throne that sat along the far wall raised up on a dais. Their Lord, who seemed to like his space, was currently seated on said elegant throne. His face covered by a thick hooded robe of crimson, his presence made her stomach tight and she shuddered at the feel of him crawling over her skin. The nonhumans around her went to one knee and the ones holding her arms pulled her down with surprising force. Her knees hit the tiled floor without brace and she winced at the ache that stretched up into her thighs.
“Lord, this is the one that fell through the Chappa’ia.”
The hood rose and Buffy flinched at the translucent face that appeared between the folds of fabric. His eyes flared briefly and her stomach sank as she recalled Glory’s as having done the same.
“Where is my consort?”
His voice echoed and thrummed up her spine to settle in her chest. The one that had addressed their Lord stood and moved to stand behind her. Buffy gave him little thought as the essence of the other one swarmed her senses.
“She couldn’t make it.”
The yellow of his eyes was clouded as he rose from his throne and motioned all but the two holding her arms to move from his path.
“Where is Glorificus?”
Buffy swallowed and met his glare with one of her own. “She had an accident.” Without warning a cylinder tube with two prongs pressed to the back of her neck and Buffy felt flames begin to eat away at her core. Light speared out from her eyes and mouth as she cried out in pain.
“She was to come through on this date. You will tell me what has become of her.”
The fire flickered out and Buffy sagged in the arms of her captors. Her breath was ragged as she looked up to meet his gaze. “You’re Sokar.” At her words the tube was pressed into her neck once more. She withered in pain and tried to free herself from the two men holding her arms. As the fire engulfed her chest and spread outward she screamed.
“How do you know my name?”
The torture device was removed for a moment and Buffy tried to catch her breath. She had never felt anything like whatever the hell it was they were shoving into her but she’d be damned if they broke her that easily. She shuddered and turned a defiant stare on the false god before her. Buffy’s face fell into grim lines as she spoke.
“She told me it as I was beating her to death.”
The flames overwhelmed her insides as the tube pressed into the flesh of her neck, Buffy screamed until her throat was raw and she could no longer draw breath. She awoke in the light filled coffin. Despair.
Anne sat, her back pressed against the heated cavern wall. Her gaze filtered through the assembled prisoners of Netu or hell as most came to calling it. She had been to hell before and while this setting was horrible it lacked the demons beating on the innocent populace.
Not that the people found in Sokar’s death trap were innocent. Not by half. They were however tough, violent and mostly males making it not the best combination for a young woman to be thrown into. All right, all of them were males except her and once upon a time Jolinar. Her gaze narrowed at the thought of the Tok’ra and Anne refocused her attention on the newest edition to the Pits.
His body was boneless as he careened into the heated wall and slide down. The cage door slammed shut and pieces of rust floated to the floor in a red cloud to decorated the older man’s body and resemble dried blood.
Anne rose from her perch in the corner and shifted forward as he groaned and rolled onto his back. Her head cocked to the side in perusal as she felt the same tingle she got when she was around Sokar or Bynarr. It flitted across her consciousness and told her he was a Goa’uld or possibly Tok’ra.
The others in the Pit crawled forward to inspect him for anything they could steal and use for their own survival. At her presence they shrunk back from their scavenging and she sent them a warning glare.
Her green eyes had once been as warm as fresh spring grass now more closely resembled cut emerald. They narrowed as one of the men became bold and still searched her newest interest.
.” Her voice crawled out low and steady from the deepest recesses of her throat.
The man stilled in his movements to glare up at her. He was new, barely in hell longer than seven cycles. He didn’t know better than to challenge the only woman among them.
Anne’s eyes narrowed and she stepped forward while drawing the small knife of flinted obsidian from the side of her pants. The curved blade glinted in the flickering light of the few torches adorning the walls. Her boots slide across the rock floor noiseless and light as she moved closer to the barely conscious man and his defiler.
“You can walk away from this right now.” He seemed stunned at her use of English but he rose and took a step toward her. One of the other prisoners, she thought his name was Malicha stood and gripped the man’s arm while shaking his head. They conversed, their voices low until her challenger glared at her again.
“Didn’t you just call me that?”
He spat at her feet and she threw the blade. The force behind her thin arm imbedded it into the wall beside his head. He looked back at its hilt eyes wide before he spun and made his way deeper into the Pits. Her eyes shrank to slits and she sent a challenging glance toward the others in her way. They slinked back to their corners of hell and left her new project in peace.
She ignored the curious glances of the other men and knelt beside the wounded one. Her hands were gentle as she lightly traced his check with the back of her knuckles. His dark eyes flicked open and they stared at her confused. He tried to speak only to begin coughing fiercely.
She rolled him to his side to ease the pressure on his chest and waited as the spasms of pain subsided. His eyes tried to focus on her but she could see the telltale signs of Sokar’s torture along his the back of his neck and the fatigue carved into the character lines around his eyes and mouth. She felt her brow draw downward at the tug of her conscience and allowed him to roll onto his back.
She rose and pulled her blade from the coursed wall with ease. As she placed it back along her hip in the sewn sheath she walked back to her small corner and grabbed the worn bag that she had created to hold her few belongings.
Her movements were as graceful and predatory as a lioness protecting her cub as she placed her self on the other side of the wounded man. Her back propped against the wall her body between him and any idiot with not so bright ideas.
She hadn’t been the Slayer for sometime but her ingrained sense of right and wrong screamed at her to help him. So she offered him the only things she could, her companionship and protection.
The others stilled in the dry air and watched as she placed herself between them and him, a wounded nothing. She was the strongest among them and yet she always seemed to attach herself to the most pitiful.Weak.
Jacob Carter winced at the pain radiating from everywhere in his body at once. He sighed and that one small expulsion of air caused him to convulse in pain. A warm hand was pressed to his fevered brow and he opened his eyes to look into the face of an angel.
She offered him a hesitant smile. “Nanb’tu’qua
He winced at the use of Goa’uld and answered her in English even as Selmak was correcting him in his head. “I’ve been better.”
Her eyes widened but she nodded. “I should hope so.”
He frowned at the Tau’ri sounding retort. He tried to push himself up and she grasped his shoulders helping to steady him. When he was pressed against the harsh rock wall he allowed himself the opportunity to assess his currant situation.
The other men in the Pit were avoiding his gaze and seemed to be finding numerous reasons to leave this portion of the caves beneath the surface of Netu. His brows drew downward and Selmak weakly urged him to speak with the woman beside him.
He angled his neck to see her better. She sat beside him ankles crossed and giving him the same intense study. He offered her a weak smile and she frowned.
“You were unconscious for half a cycle and your symbiote didn’t heal you.”
Jacob stiffened and gave her a more thorough once over. The face looking back at him appeared young probably in her mid to late twenties and thin. Her face all angles with large eyes that dominated her features and appeared older than her years. She narrowed them with his searching stare and he saw a shadow appear across her gaze. Selmak hissed a warning and he tried to shift away from her and pulled at the wound on his right side. He grunted and began to slide down the wall.
The dark emotion in her eyes vanished as she caught his shoulders and helped him to regain his perch. He marveled at the strength in her frail arms but even as he noticed their thinness the muscles working beneath the skin became visible. His gaze traveled down her form and were her skin was exposed he saw only fine muscle and sinew beneath her movement.
“Do I pass inspection?”
He blinked and focused on her faintly amused face. “Sure, kid.”
She raised a brow at his casual use of the term ‘kid’. “Thanks, old man.”
He laughed and then began to cough raggedly as his chest compressed. She winced and braised his shoulders allowing him to work the reaction out of his system.
He frowned again at the slang but choose to ignore it in favor of a more pressing question. “How did you know I had a symbiote?”
She shrugged and turned to her bag that was sewn together out of her last pet project’s shirt; with a shudder she repressed the thought of her new challenge dieing. She began to rummage through her spare pieces of cloth and flint until she came upon her best acquisition. A canteen.
Uncapping the lid she offered him her most prized possession. He took it gratefully and raised it to his parched lips. She watched him take a hesitant sip and wince at the temperature of the water, though it was soon forgotten in his thirst.
“I can feel it.”
He paused in his eagerness to gaze at her. “You can feel it?”
He coughed and took one last drink before offering her the canteen back. She took it with a small smile and sip for herself. The water pushed back her unending thirst and helped keep her sanity in check. She remembered the old joke that if you ever went to hell you’d get yourself kicked out for selling bottled water. She shook her head, whoever had made up that joke had never meet Sokar; of course Sokar hadn’t existed in her dimension. Or at least she hoped he didn’t.
“Anne.” She offered the wounded man her hand.
He blinked at her and took the peace offering weakly. “Jacob.”
She smiled. “And your symbiote’s name?”
Jacob inclined his head. “How do know I’m not the symbiote?”
“I just do.”
She whispered her for him to answer. Her name could offer the possible spy nothing useful, nothing that Sokar did not already know. “Her name is Selmak.”
Anne blinked at him startled. “Your symbiote’s a girl?”
“Symbiotes are sexless but she prefers female hosts.”
Her brows rose. “Interesting.”
“You could say that.” His chin dropped toward his chest and he tried in vain to keep his focus on the woman beside him.
“Rest. I’ll keep you safe.”
He blinked and felt his body sag along hers against his will. He felt her place a comforting hand on his cheek and he couldn’t help answering her statement with, “Isn’t that suppose to be my line.”
He lost his battle of wills with sleep to the sound of her amused snort of laughter.Reprieve.
Jacob awoke with a small wince and cough. His right side was burning in the dry heat and he gently pressed a hand to the fevered flesh. He hissed in pain as he reluctantly opened his eyes and was greeted by the sight of a small man watching him.
He pressed his back straighter against the wall and groaned at the tightening of his side.
“No, no, no! Don’t hurt yourself! Anne told me to keep you safe and if I don’t keep you safe she’ll take away her protection. I can’t be unprotected again. I can’t!”
Jacob winced at the ramble as his mind tried to understand half of what the man had said. “Anne offered you protection to keep me safe?” At the man’s frantic head nodded he frowned and asked, “Why?”
He inched forward and lowered his voice to a whisper. “She protects the weakest among us.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
He moved forward more and knelt beside the wounded man. “She says it’s the right thing to do.” Jacob sighed as his side began to radiate pain to his entire body. “Don’t worry she’ll be back soon.”
As the words left his mouth there was a small thump of cloth hitting rock and both men looked up to see a pair of boots followed by calves, wiggle their way through a small hole in the wall near them.
Anne let her body fall the twelve feet to the ground, her legs bent to absorb the shock of the landing with ease. She straightened and grasped her bag on the way up. She turned back to the two men to see Toran’s smiling face and her newest projects frown.
She walked forward and opened her hand for the small man to return her blade. He laid it gently onto her palm and bowed his head. She rolled her eyes and pulled an apple from inside her bag and tossed it to him.
He gripped the fruit, eyes wide before he ran off into the darker recesses of the Pits to devour it. Her amusement faded when she gazed down to see the sweat beading Jacob’s brow and the flush that filled his cheeks. She knelt beside him and removed her newly filled canteen.
He blinked at her and took the offered water. “Can I ask why you’re helping me?” She shrugged her shoulders and began rummaging through her pack again. “You’re friend said you do it because its the right thing to do.”
She stiffened and her head came up to meet his gaze. “Toran talks too much.”
“Is that his name, Toran?”
She nodded. “He was a scientist and Sokar didn’t like how some of his experiments turned out. So he was sent here.”
Jacob winced and shifted to a more comfortable position. “Why are you here?”
She glanced up at him and pulled out an orange from the bag in her lap. She pressed the blade along the outer skin and drew a line the length of the center. With deft fingers she peeled the skin back from the fleshy center and offered Jacob a piece.
“Thank you.” She was ignoring his question so he let it drop for now.
He paused in chewing startled by the question. His turned to watch her pull off another piece and offer it to him.
She nodded and glanced at his side. “When you’re done eating I’ll look at your side.”
He raised the piece of orange. “How did you get this?”
“I stole it from Bynarr.”
Jacob coughed around his bite. “You stole it from Bynarr?”
“What like its hard?” She rolled her eyes at him. “That Goa’uld couldn’t catch a cold. Loser.” She looked Jacob’s face over. “Avoid his First Prime if you can.”
Jacob nodded at the advice and took the next offered piece. “Aren’t you going to eat?”
“Later.” Her gaze watched him closely. “You’re Tok’ra.”
Selmak hissed a warning into his mind. “What makes you say that?”
She blinked. “Polite conversation.” She shook her head. “I could be wrong though. I’ve only met one before.”
His own surprise over threw Selmak’s, “You’ve met another Tok’ra?” At her nod he verified, “Here?”
Jacob swallowed around the sudden lump in his throat and he felt Selmak whispering to find out more. Damn the woman was pushy.
Her eyes narrowed and she pulled away from him slightly. “That’s the one.” Her face clouded and Jacob frowned at the sudden withdrawal. She flicked her gaze around the Pits with barely concealed anger. Her eyes focused on a point beyond his sight and she took a deep breath before turning back to him. “I don’t want to talk about her.”
She looked startled by his easy drop of the subject. She flicked her eyes around the depressing surroundings and turned back to him. “Wanna play anywhere but here?”
He coughed and hissed at the pain that pulled across his chest. “How do you play?”
Her eyes retained some of their spark and she smiled softly. “Well first…”Amusement.
She winced as Jacob began to convulse into a fit of coughing in his sleep and she tried her best to comfort him. She knew he only had a few more days before he left her alone again. She shook her head at her the ability to pick the worst people to become attached to.
Though she gave him points, he was one hell of a fighter and she knew with the fever and broken ribs he had to be in horrible pain but he never complained. Well only when he thought she was only feeding him and starving herself. She rolled her eyes at his ease of making her feel like she was fifteen again and being reprimanded by her father. When her father had actually cared.
His eyes flicked open and he gazed up at her, “Hey kid.”
“I need to get more water and possible something for your ribs.”
He coughed and shook his head. “Don’t put yourself in danger.” At her arched brow he amended. “In any more danger than usual.”
She smiled and gave into the impulse to brush a feather light kiss across his brow. “Bye old man.”
Jacob watched her leave his side to leap up and grab hold of the small opening and pull her body effortlessly through. Another fit of coughing had him withering in pain and he heard the other occupants of the Pits shift forward to await his death. Like vultures circling a wounded animal they scented his demise was eminent.
His gaze was drawn to the far corner where several of the prisons huddled reminding him of herring. Packed tightly together to avoid the few true predators located inside the caves. Safety in numbers. They darted within their class never quite standing still long enough for someone to grasp them, unless they lay asleep.
Jacob shifted against the heated rock beneath his wounded body and wondered at his luck. The only female in a moon full of predators and scavengers and she managed to hold onto a shred of decency. He had didn’t know why god was giving him a reprieve from the full effects of Netu but at the moment he didn’t have the energy to contemplate it. He did however have the energy to ponder her position here.
She was well respected, nearly feared by the others in the Pits and with her ability to sneak so easily through the rest of the caves she was either being given special treatment or she had been here long enough to build a reputation. Jacob winced at the thought of her being in hell for any length of time. Though Jolinar had escaped Netu nearly five years ago, which meant she had been here for at least that long.
Jesus, the kid had survived the worst destination this galaxy had to offer for probably over five years and still managed to retain some of her humanity. Jacob winced as another coughing fit seized his chest and constricted his thoughts for a few minutes until the pain subsided.
He eased himself further down the wall until he lay still and staring up at the crimson colored ceiling. Stalactites arched down toward him like frozen icicles and he reminisced about iced tea and fall nights. The kind that wrapped you in the bitter chill of a near winter and danced around your body with the fallen leaves of oak trees.
He pulled his thoughts away from distant memories and back onto the enigma of Anne. She had some family, a younger sister named Dawn who in her mind was the sweetest and most annoying sister known to mankind. He smiled at the way her eyes had lit up when recalling memories about her. He knew his savior’s real name wasn’t Anne but she had refused to reveal the truth. He recalled with a wince how her eyes had darkened and told him that Dawn’s sister and the girl she had been before had died during one of the several deaths at Sokar’s hands. When he had probed her for details she had flinched changing the subject back to him.
She was strong willed and broken enough to be distrustful of all those around her except for him. When Jacob had asked her why she trusted him with her secrets and stories she had gazed at him silently. Then with the green of her iris vivid with unshed tears she had told him his eyes reminded her of her mentor’s. Someone she had cared for deeply and respected above all others.
He had questioned the wisdom of trusting someone just because they brought forth cherished memories. She had met his gazed, grinned, though he was unsure if a feral bearing of teeth could be considered a grin by any societies standards and she raised an obsidian blade with a hilt that looked suspiciously like the radial end of a humerus. Her voice had been devoid of any real emotion when she said she could handle herself.
God help him he didn’t believe her. Sure she could protect her body and to some extent her sanity, but she was slipping away from the person she had once been a little more each day and she had been in this hell for probably thousands of days. He caught glimpses of a vibrant personality that thrummed with excitement every so often as they spoke and his chest compressed with his anger at her youth, her life being wasted in this place.
Another coughing fit worse than before seized his chest and he withered in pain. His brow broke out in sweat as he rolled to his left side careful of his ribs and tried to ease some of the tension in his torso. With his brow wrinkled in pain he allowed sleep to claim his mind.Pain.
Anne gently stroked one of her collect scraps of cloth across his fevered temple. She risked some of their water and wet the course material and draped it around the back of his neck. His eyes flew open at the cooling sensation and he frowned up at her with his head propped in her lap.
“Anne.” He winced at how relieved his voice sounded but the frown smoothed out when she offered him one of her rare smiles. “You shouldn’t waste the water—”
His brow wrinkled and he felt slightly dizzy looking at her upside down features as she leaned over him.
“You know I’m right.”
He blinked. “Did you just agree with me?”
She frowned. “Maybe.”
His brow rose and he couldn’t help the small gloat. “You agreed.”
She rolled her eyes as she helped him rise and brace himself against the wall beside her. She replaced the cloth at his neck and offered him the canteen. He took it with a grateful nod and began to sip.
She asked him that same question every time he woke but it still amazed him that she cared and could separate the two beings inside of him so easily. He felt her weakly send her thanks to the delicate woman keeping them alive.
“She sends her regards.”
Anne met his gaze and raised a brow. “In those words?”
“No I’m translating.”
Jacob coughed and pressed his back tighter to the wall and her gaze traveled over his wounded side with a frown. She turned to her pack and began to rummage through the contents. She pulled out a bundle of grapes and placed them in his lap and then continued to shift through until she gave a small cry of triumph.
She raised her gaze to meet him and pulled a small rock from her pack no bigger than her fist. One of its sides was covered in a pale blue fungus and he felt his brow rise in surprise.
“What is that?”
“A cure all.”
He stared at the slightly glowing plant life with apprehension. “Are you sure?”
“It will help with the pain and hopefully the infection.”
She rolled her eyes and answered his question with one of her own. “Are you scared?”
His male pride was pricked but Selmak kept him in line. “What does it do?”
She sighed at having to repeat herself. “Make pain and infection go poof.”
He glared at her simplifying of the answer. “I meant how.”
“Do I look like a doctor?”
His breath pushed out of his nose with a frustrated snort and he glared at her. “No.”
“Then stop asking me questions and lift your shirt.”
He was frowning even as he raised the tunic that covered his upper half. She caught the grapes that he dislodged and placed them back in his lap.
She bite her lip to hold in her chuckle as he continued to glare at the side of her head as she leaned over him and gently began to apply the spores to his bruised ribs. She smeared the colored fungus across the lesions decorating his side from seventh rib down. His eyes widened as the pain began to lessen and his skin fell numb.
She gazed at him out of the corner of her eye and sat back rewrapping the rock and placing it back into her pack. With a flick of her wrist she threw the thick braid of her blonde hair back behind her and let it fall to brush her hips.
“You’re welcome. Do you have family?”
Jacob smiled at her change in subject and took another grape before answering. “Two kids…”Relief.
Anne watched the steady rise and fall of his chest and smiled, as his body failed to wither in pain during the motion. Her head angled and she studied the peaceful expression on his weathered face. He was fast becoming a liability to her safety and sanity because when he died she would be alone.
Her eyes slide to the far side of the cavern and watched Toran pedal his resent findings to the other men. His brilliant mind wasted on the petty extortion of the other inmates. Inmates? Is that what she had become? Nothing more than another of the lost in Sokar’s hell, a pathetic twisted version of her former self. She frowned and focused her attention outward onto her projects health. Even with the healing properties of the fungus he probably wouldn’t make it more than two cycles past Delmak.
She shuddered at the price she had paid to Na’onak for a few more days of Jacob’s presence. The First Prime of Bynarr was ruthless, disgusting and power hungry, a trait that all Goa’uld seemed to possess and she had used to her advantage more than once. With Bynarr it was easy, he was a fool. The king with no clothes. A petty follower of Sokar who prided himself on his ability to please his Lord.
Na’onak saw the advantage of having her at his side broken or by choice should he ever over throw the Lord of Netu. Anne shook her had at the thought of him controlling the hundreds of lives beneath the moons cratered surface. He was a tyrant and a sadist. Enjoying the pain of others as if it were an aphrodisiac. She winced as the lashes on her upper back constricted when she reached to brush dirt from Jacob’s face. He had been careful to avoid the mark of Sokar and only decorated her shoulders with multicolored bruises and a few open wounds that wouldn’t scar. The muscles beneath the lacerated and swollen flesh protested as she pressed them into the stone behind her.
She knew the back of her threadbare shirt was becoming thoroughly soaked with her blood. She had managed to keep it from Jacob’s notice while she cared for him but she needed to change before he woke and asked questions she wasn’t comfortable answering.
Na’onak had given her a choice, lashings or seduction and Anne’s preference would be lashings every time. She was not a whore but with each favor she asked the beating took longer to heal. The markings would spread closer to the mark at the base of her spine and showed Na’onak’s contempt for his Lord. The fact that he toyed with Sokar’s wrath made her think he had once been one of the powerful, the false gods that ruled over her race with superior technology and chaotic minds. Screw him.
She had been in this dimension for years and yet she still couldn’t comprehend the scale of their power, how they kept it. They were as fragile as any human, used their bodies as host like a vampire but by using the humans in that way it gave them all of their weaknesses. Sure that damned sarcophagus gave them ability to regenerate and bring back the dead. She shuddered at the memory of waking in it over and over until Sokar had appeased his rage. Her eyes fogged with the memory of her deaths and not for the first time she was thankful she had not let Dawn leap to the same fate.
Closing her eyes she pushed back the image of her sisters face and locked it away to keep it untainted and beautiful. She winced and pulled her pack to her side and removed a worn sleeveless tunic. Her callused hands gripped the material of her shirt were it lay across her hips. She pulled it away from her back and realized that the blood had dried to a sticky paste. The cloth stuck to her wounds and she gave a none too gentle tug to dislodge it. Her breath hissed from clenched teeth and she closed her eyes against the sudden ache that chased its way over her back.
Blocking her mind against the pain she pulled the new shirt over her form and tucked the stained one into the bottom of her pack. She contemplated switching her pants for the only pair of shorts she had but nixed that idea quickly. Anne had learned soon after being sent to Netu that her fellow prisons assaulted her less if she kept her legs covered. She had worn them for a few hours the cycle before and Jacob had jokingly commented on the smooth texture of her skin. She had fallen silent and he had gently probed her for the reason. In a rare moment of openness she had told him in a clipped tone that Sokar had permanently removed all the hair from her form that he found unsightly. Jacob had closed his eyes a moment and then gently touched her hand.
She had been startled by the contact and didn’t immediately pull back but met his enraged gaze with her bleak one. He hadn’t been in hell long enough to lose all hope, except the one that kept you alive. She had seen a glimmer of Xander’s knight complex and smiled at the thought of anyone willing to fight for her honor. Her head then lowered at the memories of her first year as Sokar’s favorite toy.
She jerked herself up right and pressed her back to the wall and scrapped it to the side. The sharp pain brought her forth to the present and out the darkness and shadows. Jacob shifted in his sleep and she moved to press her hand to his chest in a comforting gesture. She stared at the extended limb as if it had moved of its own accord. A small smile flickered across her face as she squeezed the slop of his shoulder before returning the appendage to her side.
She was broken inside, of that Anne was certain but Jacob brought back the hope that she wasn’t dead. She felt with him. He lit the spark of her humanity and her smile spread as his chest rose with another breath.Hope.
Jacob tightened his face against the steady increase in pain as he came back to consciousness and angled his neck. He wished for a feather down pillow and would have settled for sand beneath his head rather than rock. At least sand had some give.
A nagging voice urged him more fully awake and he hissed at Selmak to shut up. The familiar presence of Anne was missing and he opened his eyes to see her side of their corner vacant. A small spurt of worry was dashed by his memory of her defeat of Glorificus. The only Goa’uld to be banished by the other System Lords, her crimes being heinous enough to have Ra, Apophis and Yu band together and force her into another dimension over three thousand years ago.
A dimension that was supposed to have been ruled by creatures even more fearsome than herself and void of human life. Apparently they had been wrong and Anne had been pulled into a confrontation with a creature that was both powerful and insane. A terrifying combination that she had managed to over come only to be thrown into Sokar’s clutches. She was from Earth just like him and he had found himself in his weakened state telling her of his origins even as Selmak told him to be silent.
A familiar voice broke through his muddled thoughts and had him gasping out his daughter’s name. “Sam? Sam?” He winced at the weakness in his tone and the raspy coil to his voice.
“Dad?” Her voice cared from behind the outcroppings of rocks that surrounded his form and he groaned trying to sit up under his own power. The small exertion cost him but it was worth the pain when he saw the bluest eyes this side of heaven. “Dad! Dad…”
Major Samantha Carter rushed forward and took the position at his side usually reserved for his savior and stared down into his face, searching him for illness. She winced at the fatigue etched into the lines around his eyes.
He stared up at the face that reminded him more of his wife with each passing year and smiled up at her confused. She shouldn’t be here. Sam was to good for this place, like Anne.
“Am I dreamin?”
She offered him a concerned smile, “No, no we’re real.”
His brows drew downward as he glared at her. “Are you crazy?”
Jacob angled his neck to see Colonel Jack O’Neil take a step forward and nodded to him. His dark brown eyes hooded and his face carefully neutral as Jacob felt his frown pull further downward due to Dr. Daniel Jackson stepping out from Jack’s shadow to offer him a tentative smile.
Before he could speak Sam cut over him. “Are you okay?” She then winced at how absurd that question was.
“I’ve been better.”
Martouf moved to kneel beside Sam and Jacob glared at the fellow Tok’ra that had dragged his daughter into hell. Selmak was for once in complete agreement with him but she had a more elegant way with her thoughts. Then he winced at a particularly nasty notion that came from the symbiote that had Jacob rethinking the idea of her having the cooler of their two heads.
“How is Selmak?”
Jacob blinked and had to force himself to be truthful with the other man. “She’s dying.”
Martouf nodded and reached into the pack at his waist to remove a small vial of green liquid that reminded him of the glows ticks Sam and Mark had used whenever they had gone trick or treating as kids.
“This will help.”
He offered the liquid to Jacob who swallowed it weakly and wondered why the healing substances from other planets had to glow. Was there some rule that Earth had never been taught?
“Hang in there. We’re going to get you outta here.” Sam helped Jacob ease back onto the hard rock beneath them her face carefully blank except for the concern peering out from her gaze.
“Marty?” Jack watched her his own features neutral as he motioned for the other Tok’ra to rise and join him.
Daniel walked over to Sam as the two men moved from the same corner of rock and heat. He pulled the standard military issue jacket from his body and offered it to her. She took it with a grateful smile and loosely folded it to place beneath her father’s head.
He nodded and moved to join Jack and Martouf his gaze sweeping the barren cavern around them. He was confused by the lack of other prisoners and caught sight of a small man watching his group warily. When he saw Daniel had spotted him his eyes widened in fear and he scurried from his perch to run further into the caves. The linguist frowned at the thought of anyone being terrified of him but pushed it back as Jack asked Martouf a question that had been plaguing him.
“He going to make it?”
Martouf watched Sam and Jacob his blue eyes saddened. “Not here. Unless we get him out of this place soon, he will die.”
Jack and Daniel winced together and turned to watch Sam run a soothing hand across her father’s brow. “It’s okay. I’m here.”
Her voice was strong but the pain in her eyes made Jack’s jaw tighten and he moved forward with the others but stiffened as a pack arched into the room and landed at their feet. He glanced up to see a small hole in the rock wall twelve feet above the ground and about two feet around.
A pair of scuffed boots pushed their way through followed by a set of tattered pants that encased a female derriere. The Colonel felt his brows draw further down as a small woman shoved herself all the way through and land with her back to them with practiced ease. He felt Martouf and Daniel move to either side of him and she spun drawing a nasty looking stone knife from a sheath at her waist.
The weapon was held by her right hand at shoulder level with the sharpened half of the blade facing outward. Her left arm rain the length of her tiny body and her hand was balled into a tight fist. She eased back onto the heels of her feet, legs slightly bent and thigh muscles coiled in anticipation of an attach.
Jack watched her fall into a fighting stance and stiffened at the hard edge to her green eyes. He winced at how young her face appeared beneath the grit as she flicked her gaze between the three men and spared a glance at Jacob and Sam.
Daniel stepped forward his hands held to either side in a show of peace. Her gaze narrowed and her voice a steady growl.
The linguist eyes widened at her use of Goa’uld but he forged on. “Uh…hello.” Her head inclined at his use of English and her brow wrinkled in confusion.
Her gaze slid to Jacob at his weak call and the blade lowered a fraction. “Are you okay?”
He coughed and turned his head to look at her. “Yeah, kid.”
She nodded and let the blade fall to her side but Jack noticed she didn’t sheath it. Her gaze moved back to the three men her eyes traveling over them gauging their potential to cause her harm. The one in the center seemed to pose the largest threat and she kept her guard up as she moved to stand beside Jacob.
Anne’s eyes widened. “Sam?”
He nodded and she knelt to help ease the strain on his neck. His smile was small and grateful as she pulled the recently filled canteen from small of her back. She had filled her pack to the bursting point in Bynarr’s chambers earlier and been forced to relocate the object. She kept Sam within her peripheral vision as she helped her friend take a few sips of water.
The Major watched her confused by the feeling that she knew this woman. Her face and the concern she showed for her father seemed achingly familiar almost as if she had offered her the same comfort. The Tok’ra memory technology that Martouf had placed behind her ear connected with her subconscious and she winced at the small electrical charge. She was suddenly drowning in the shouts of the other prisoners in the upper chamber that they had first arrived in. Bynarr stood above them all, with the young woman strapped to the wall behind him, her head hung to the side and she appeared to be unconscious. Sam felt her terror for and betrayal of this woman like a vise wrapped around her chest compressing tighter with every breath she took.
Bynarr raised his left arm and showed a dull blade that reflected the minimal light. His voice rose proud and strong above the people.
“This is the price of rebellion!”
The blade slid into the Anne’s abdomen and he pulled it across. Her flesh gave with a sickening tear and she came back to awareness with a cry of pain. Sam felt her stomach roll and she pulled out of the memory as Bynarr reached inside his captive’s wound.
Anne turned to Sam her face confused as she took in the ashen color of her features. “You don’t look well.” She directed the canteen toward her a question in her eyes and Sam winced at the offer.
“She betrayed you.”
Jacob stiffened beside Sam and tried to stop the information that he knew she was about to reveal but Anne beat him to speaking.
“Who betrayed me?” Her voice filled with confusion.
Anne stood and backed away from Sam her eyes wide. She raised the blade up and spun to keep the entire group in her sight.
Sam winced and rose, her eyes filled with pity. “You had an escape plan that would free the both of you but she betrayed you to Bynarr. He made an example of you and Jolinar escaped alone.”
Jack swore as he stepped forward to pull Carter back from the nice woman with the sharp knife. Anne’s gaze was becoming frantic as she moved farther from the woman who made her stomach ache like the others. The ones who were different Tok’ra, Jaffa, Goa’uld but she wasn’t like them Anne didn’t feel other presence in her form like she did with the others.
“You’re not a host.” Her voice was certain as she met the blonde’s gaze.
Sam nodded. “I was.”
Sam paused but then nodded to the woman’s right to celebrate the Tok’ra’s death. “She thought you died.”
Anne winced and lowered her blade to replace it in the sheath at her side. “I did. Sokar has a sarcophagus.”
Jacob began coughing violently. Sam and Anne moved to his side both wary of the other but unwilling to leave the older Carter. Anne turned to the three men who had remained silent for their little show and tell.
“Blue eyes, can you get my pack?”
Daniel and Martouf looked at one another before the linguist shrugged and moved over to the discarded wrap of cloth. He offered the hand-sewn bag to its owner with a hesitant smile that she ignored.
Her head bent as she rummaged through its contents and pulled out a small lump of cloth that she unwound to reveal the rock with its healing fungus. She turned to Sam and offered her the prize.
“Put this on his ribs. It will help with the pain.”
Sam nodded and met the other woman’s gaze. “Thank you.” Anne quickly averted her eyes and stood.
Martouf stepped forward. “Do you know how Jolinar escaped?”
Anne shook her head. “Did you miss the part about me dieing?”
The Tok’ra sighed and moved to sit beside Sam and Jacob. Anne shook her head and moved away from the others to lean back against the far wall her face confused and disoriented. Jolinar was dead. A small part of her was saddened and she ruthlessly shoved it back. Smothering it with the fact that the Tok’ra had betrayed her and left her for dead. An annoying voice asked her if she would have done the same. Closing her eyes she allowed her body to slide down the wall until she sat on the heated ground with her legs pulled to her chest. Her upper back protested the misuse but she ignored it in favor of slaking her thirst.
Anne placed the canteen to her lips and took a few tired pulls of the tepid water. It chased away her dry throat for the moment and she let her head fall back against the wall behind her. The cavern’s heat began to eat away at her ability to control her temper as she watched Sam and the two Tok’ra conversing with the threatening male towering over them protectively. Her brow drew down as she realized that they clothing was military issue.
Blue eyes moved to her side hesitantly as she watched him closely. “I’m Daniel.”
She raised a brow. “Anne.”
He nodded flicked his gaze to the spot beside her. “Can I sit?”
She shrugged and winced as the movement tugged at her wounds. Once again silently cursing Na’onak in her head. “Sure.”
As he lowered himself beside her she offered him the canteen and he took it hesitantly. “It’s water.” He took a sip and grimaced. She smiled. “A little warm.”
Daniel cleared his throat and agreed. “A little.”
They fell into an awkward silence and Anne began to rummage through the pack at her side. A small smile graced her lips as she wrapped her hand around the dimpled skin of two oranges.
As she began to pull them from her satchel Daniel spoke. “So you speak Goa’uld?”
She nodded. “Way better than I ever spoke French.”
“Oh.” Daniel’s mouth dropped open. “I’m sorry, what?”
She ignored him. “Sam!” The blonde turned at her call and Anne tossed her, an orange that she caught surprised. “For Jacob.” The other woman smiled and nodded.
Daniel shook his head and turned to gaze at her form in profile. She was using her blade to cut the thin line around the fruit’s peel. When she was finished she replaced her knife and peeled the skin from the orange with a twist of her wrist and a dig of her thumb. Both sides fell away and she tossed them to the ground beside her.
“What did you just say?”
Her breath eased from her lips with a sigh. “You ask a lot of questions.”
“I’m inquisitive.” He said for way of explanation and then added. “Did you say French?”
“Did I stutter?” His eyes widened at the phrase and she winced. “Sorry went through a whole ‘Breakfast Club’ stage when I was younger.”
“Breakfast Club?” He stared at her in disbelief.
“Best movie Molly Ringwald ever made. Next to Sixteen Candles, of course.”
“Of course.” His voice remained shell shocked.
Her smirk spread and she glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. His brows were raised above his glasses and his mouth hung open just a little. She bit the inside of her lip and couldn’t remember the last time she teased someone and they actually got her pop culture references. It felt nice and kinda fun.
“You might want to close your mouth before one of the other inmates takes you up on your offer.”
It closed with a snap and his eyes flicked across the room before he turned back to her with a frown. He looked ready to say or ask something else so she offered him a piece of the fruit’s flesh.
His brows drew downward but he took the peace offering. “Thank you.” She nodded. He spoke. “You’re from Earth.”
She inclined her head and bit into her own piece before adding. “But not your Earth.”
“Again I ask, what?” Daniel pondered on how she was from Earth but not theirs. His eyes widened as his agile mind wrapped around the idea of alternate dimensions and then he shook his head at the absurdity of it. That couldn’t be right. Could it?
She smiled at the thoughts racing across his face like a free for all and finished her slice. “How do you know Jacob?”
Jack moved towards them as Marty contacted Teal’c and informed him of Sokar’s army size and other things that didn’t pertain to them getting the hell out of here. He moved to stand before Anne and looked down at her calmly eating an orange. The Colonel shook his head at the absurdity of their situation.
“Jacob says you know your way around the caverns.”
She raised a brow. “Why?”
“We may need that intel when we escape.”
She blinked confused by the word. “Escape?”
“Yeah, wanna come?”
Anne looked up past his sarcastic smirk to meet his gaze and saw something that she had not seen since losing her Earth. Within the brown depths of his eyes she saw determination and the intelligence to back it. She saw a champion.
When she rose her body was fluid graced it had once been and she met his gaze with one of her own. Jack nodded at the spark that he lit behind her eyes and prayed that he had the ability to back up the silent promise he had just made.Trust.The end.