Godless Provenance: Chapter 8
See Chapter 1 for disclaimers and ratings.O o O o O o O
With a blossoming smile, Jack stumbled towards the shielded doorway, his steps rocking with each roll of the ship until he was positioned right before the invisible line between his cell and freedom. Tentatively he reached forward, only to curse loudly as the intact shielding rebuffed his attempt with a sharp spark of electricity.
"Damnit, come on," he muttered, his eyes darting to either side of the empty hall. This
was the opportunity that he and Buffy had been waiting for all of these weeks. He knew it deep inside that the time had come, and while it was inconvenient that Buffy wasn't technically with him at the moment, this fact did little to dampen his burgeoning hope. All he had to do was avoid the guards, find Buffy, and then find the ring room so that he and the small slayer could relocate to whatever ship his team had managed to dig up - the ship that, no doubt, was responsible for the current bombardment against Apophis' mothership.
-If he could only get the hell out of this damn prison cell.
He staggered as the ship rocked again, but this time he didn't miss the flicker of energy that marked the shielded doorway. Slowly, he once more reached a finger out - but this time he couldn't help the joyous flash of teeth as he encountered nothing but air. "Bingo," he muttered, and for a brief moment, elation buoyed him as he stepped into the hall on his own power for the first time in... hell, too long, but even that moment passed as his mind instantly shifted gears. There would be time for celebration later. Right now he had to concentrate on finding Buffy and getting the hell off of this ship.
Turning in the direction that the guards had taken the small slayer, Jack hurried down the deserted corridor on silent feet. He had been out of commission for a long time, had been without proper food and water for even longer, not to mention his poor sleeping patterns and the harsh beatings he had endured, but Jack refused to allow any of these problems to affect him now as adrenaline burned his weariness away and sharpened his thoughts, bringing him a clarity that he hadn't even realized he had been missing. It was the clarity that came with the soldier at war, and he welcomed the change as his features became hard, his movements quick and silent, and each action premeditated.
He was a ghost, and those Jaffa guards that he was unable to avoid were taken down quickly and permanently. Within minutes of leaving his cell he was in possession of a staff weapon - more cumbersome than his preferred P-90, and most definitely that of a zat, but a weapon nonetheless, and one he held with easy familiarity. The ship was in chaos, explosions filling the halls with blinding, fiery light as Jaffa soldiers thundered past, their straight, proud lines broken, the shrieks and screams of the human slaves echoing down corridors filled with greasy smoke. It was madness, and Jack couldn't help the pride that filled him at the utter devastation his team was wreaking upon the crippled ship.
Yet it was a pride that was fleeting when Jack overheard a snippet of goa'uld modulated tones over a feminine voice that he knew all too well. He was in a random corridor, wide and silent - yet untouched by the devastation that was throwing the rest of the ship into chaos. The words had been a softly issued command, drifting from a nearby room, yet instead of racing, he felt his heart grow heavy and still as he slowly moved to an open doorway and stepped fully into the small room beyond. He had never been in the chamber before, but he easily recognized it from Buffy's fractured descriptions.
A golden, empty void - save for the golden altar that sat in the middle of the room.
Always this room had been filled with armed Jaffa and priests, and this time was no different, but Jack didn't even spare the others the smallest of glances as instead his eyes locked upon the young woman that stood with her back to him. She was naked, but her body had been cleaned - the grime scrubbed away to reveal skin that was regaining its vibrant, healthy glow before his very eyes, her hair a cascade of shimmering gold that fell mid-back. She was standing without assistance, all beautiful curves and dimpled skin, with bare hints of the weakness that had plagued her petite form for so many weeks - and the sight alone nearly undid him then and there.
"Buffy?" he whispered, his newly acquired staff weapon forgotten as her face turned towards him, the fractured light flickering over familiar hazel eyes, smooth cheeks, upturned lips, a long, slender neck and the curve of one small breast. "Buffy-" he began again, his voice cracking as her hazel eyes flashed a violent gold, stunning him into taking the smallest of steps back as once more he was thrust into that place where all that was as it should be was torn away and turned to dust. It was Skaara and Kawalsky, and even Carter - everyone who had ever had their lives stolen or tainted by the Goa'uld, all mixed into the small blonde that eyed him coolly before waving to the guards that filled the small room.
"Take him," she ordered in the same goa'uld modulated tones that had summoned him into his worst nightmare. Numb, defeated, Jack allowed the guards to do exactly that - his eyes never once leaving Buffy's naked back as a Jaffa priest dressed her in pants that were of a deep burgundy material that was both loose and flowing, sitting low over her hips and revealing smooth skin between a shirt that clung to her like a second skin. As she turned to the open doorway, and him by default, he saw that she was stunning - beautiful, self-confident, poised, and now clothed in an outfit made for royalty. She even had a friggin' cape.
Buffy would have hated it.
As the ship rocked once again, he watched dispassionately as the goa'uld's eyes narrowed in annoyance. "Jaffa, what is the meaning of this disturbance?" it demanded, and by the way that it held itself in Buffy's body, and by the clothing that had been selected, Jack thought that the snake usually preferred a male host - that it was trying to adapt to the curves that went with the fairer sex.
"My Lord Haremakhet," one of the priest's interrupted as he held out a hand device and bowed before the goa'uld. And yet with that simple address, Jack felt his heart grow cold.
As the priest dutifully helped his lord slip into the golden device, Colonel Jack O'Neill reeled. He knew that name. He remembered the goa'uld who had dialed onto Apophis' ship just in time to provide his team with a means of escape. He remembered the host's handsome features, his self-assured poise, and the arrogance that could be found in all goa'uld - and he was smart enough to understand the role that this particular goa'uld had played in whatever the snakes had done to Buffy while he had been recovering in the sarcophagus.
This was the creature that had tortured Buffy without mercy or compassion, and as Jack turned to take in the room one more time, he found that same host - now nothing more than an empty, quivering man - lying in a forgotten heap in the corner of the room. And in that moment, he knew that he had been right. The goa'uld that now inhabited Buffy's body was indeed used to a male host.
And it was in Buffy.
It was sharing her body.
It was sharing her mind.
It had access to her memories, her experiences, and all of her strengths and weaknesses.
It now knew her better than any friend, parent, or lover - and the fact that it was this
goa'uld that had finally conquered the slayer made more sense than Jack was willing to admit. This creature had done unimaginable things to Buffy's body, and most likely to countless others - and now all of its thoughts, memories, and horrors were in Buffy's mind as well.
She was a prisoner in hell.
"We are under attack by the forces of Sokar," a Jaffa guard explained, answering Haremakhet's question and breaking through Jack's dark thoughts and realizations that had flashed by quicker than lightning - and bringing him only deeper into his depression. In that moment, once more all hopes were dashed beneath a harsh reality.
His team hadn't come, after all.
His team was never coming, for in his fucked up world there was no such thing as the cavalry.
Or a slayer. Not anymore.
Hazel eyes narrowing, Haremakhet glared at the guards - its eyes flashing with something that resembled fear - before pushing one edge of the cape over a shoulder that was narrow and small. "Bring me to our Lord Apophis," it ordered in a voice that was so torturing in that it was close to the one Jack remembered, and yet so wrong; especially when the eyes once more flashed that hideous gold.
With a curt nod, the Jaffa guards moved forward, Haremakhet sweeping after without another glance in Jack's direction. For a brief moment, Jack thought about trying to follow. Even though Buffy was no longer in control of her body, she was still in there - trapped, hurting, and helpless - a place that she had never wanted to be. Yet after two years of working for the Stargate program, Jack knew that there was nothing that he could do to help. He couldn't help Skaara when the boy had been taken over by Klorel, and he couldn't help Charlie Kawalsky when another unnamed goa'uld took possession. No, he was as helpless as Buffy, and so in the end he did nothing but watch as Haremakhet swept into the hall in Buffy's body. Jack only turned away when he stumbled back a second later as the hallway erupted in the bright flare of staff fire.
In that moment of chaos, Jack was forgotten as his guards released him in favor of the bigger threat. Ducking a stray staff blast, the colonel quickly backpedaled against the far wall, his eyes never once leaving the open doorway as smoke billowed into the room. Haremakhet was out there in Buffy's body, and he found himself fighting the urge to run to her rescue. Seconds later the debate was ended for him as Haremakhet ducked into the room, Buffy's long golden hair fanning around its slender form.
The goa'uld retreated until its back was pressed into a far corner. Hazel eyes gleaming gold, it raised its personal shield just as a troop of Jaffa poured into the small room. Instantly Jack found himself trying to become one with the lurid golden wall behind him as he saw that these Jaffa weren't wearing the serpent heads of Apophis' guards, but instead something else that looked eerily demonic. There were six of them, men who were bedecked in armor of a burnt metallic, with hellfire-red edging and caps that were seamless with the skin of their hairless scalps. Their foreheads were inked with a black pentagram that had three lines jutting out from each corner, almost giving it the image of a distorted sun.
In the few seconds that it took for Jack to make his initial appraisal, he already concluded that these guys had to belong to Sokar. If Daniel was with him, no doubt the archaeologist would have had plenty to say about the matter. In a flurry of jumbled words, Daniel would have explained what myths Sokar was affiliated with, what the symbols stood for, who he was related to, how much of a pain in the ass he was going to become to the Stargate program, and maybe even what he preferred for breakfast. Teal'c would have also added in his two cents with some more relevant information - like what Sokar's position was in the grand scheme of things. Of course Teal'c's input would have been concise to the point of leaving him hanging. Carter would be quiet but indulgent, enjoying every moment of his exasperation at Daniel's babbling. In the end, though, Jack didn't have his team with him, and thus he was forced to make his own conclusions based solely on the ominous-looking armor and the way that Haremakhet cowered in Buffy's body.
"I am Lord Haremakhet," Buffy-turned-snake stated in a voice that sounded a lot less sure than when it was barking out orders a few minutes ago. "Ally to Lord Sokar," it added in something that was obviously supposed to be a confident statement, but came out sounding more like a question. "You will take me before your god."
Jack wanted to add a mental 'please' to the end of Haremakhet's tentative demand, but his smirk became frozen when one of Sokar's Jaffa finally noticed the aging colonel who was still trying, unsuccessfully, to become one with the wall. Jack quickly raised his hands before him, demonstrating the fact that he was, once more, without a weapon, and therefore absolutely harmless. He felt a giddy laugh bubbling up from somewhere deep inside, and he had time to wonder if he was finally losing it when Haremakhet once more barked out an order - one that actually sounded like a real order.
! The Tau'ri is valuable to our Lord Sokar," it stated, surprising Jack enough that he turned away from the glowing tip of the staff weapon to meet with Haremakhet's eyes - eyes that were still undeniably alien, and yet which seemed troubled. Confused. "He is important... somehow."
In that moment, Jack felt hope. Both for him not dying, and also for the small slayer that had to be fighting in there somewhere. Haremakhet had taken over Buffy's body, and everything that Buffy knew should have been at the goa'uld's disposal - and yet the goa'uld was obviously hesitant, unsure. Buffy was keeping something back from the goa'uld - maybe everything - and while he had no idea how she was doing it, he was thankful all the same. Earth wasn't a threat to Sokar, at least not yet, and he knew his value was nonexistent. But if Buffy could somehow convince Haremakhet to somehow convince Sokar to...
The next thing Jack heard was a guttural command, most likely the goa'uld version of "Kill the human," "Take out the trash," or perhaps even "Have at it," or something else as equally mundane. Regardless, the result was the same as Jack turned back in time to witness his death come flying his way in the shape of a burning bolt of energy that slammed him back against the wall.
He was dead before he even hit the ground.