Bloodstains meandered in jagged trails, contrasting with the pureness of the shimmery, translucent white silk draped across her body.
Her soft skin was taut over the muscles her life as a Goa'uld host had yet to subdue.
Her luminous, brown eyes gazed at the Chaapa'ai.
Her lovely face became angry, cold, and pained as the stone ring majestically shadowed the barely wooded meadow.
Shae'ris ducked her head, unable to look at the bright sky above her.
Hurt gave her eyes a watery innocence, belying the dark thoughts clouding her mind.
*You will never be free of me now. Death will take you should the Tau'ri try to separate us.*
*Be silent, old demon. You have plagued me, taking your time. Now mine has come.*
*You believe you have won. My mate used you. You are nothing but a golden whore.*
*Your words no longer anger me. I know who I am. I have accepted my path.*
*You are not his wife. He will not take you back.*
*Even as I gave birth to your demon spawn, he loved me. True, I am no longer his wife, but in time, I will earn the right to his love.*
*You did not earn it the first time. He pitied you.*
*He did not understand. He knew, later, that he could reject me. He did not.*
*He suspected you would be passed over by others as defiled.*
*No. My father showed me mercy many more times than he should have. He would not have allowed me to be harmed or shamed by the ignorance of a traveler.*
*He called you Sha're.*
*He did not know. He does not know. If I have my way, he will never know.*
*Your father would not call you by Sha're, a wife's name. Your brother continues to call you Shau'ri.*
*Brothers are allowed to overlook the married status of their sisters. For Skaara to call me Sha're would be seen as odd.*
*Your status is gone, Shae'ris. You are dead to your husband, degraded, and foul in your people's eyes. You can never go back to your world. By taking the name of a widow, you acknowledge this.*
*Your status is gone as well, demon. Now, you will never rule another as you did me.*
*You were blessed by my sharing of your body.*
*I was made impure. Now, though, my freedom will lead to the freedom of others.*
*I may die. You caused much damage. If so, you will die with me.*
*You will not die. My fortune runs too shallowly for that possibility.*
Shae'ris eased herself onto a large rock.
She ignored the bits of white thrown up at her as the rapidly flowing brook parted around sharp rocks in its path.
With a slight fascination, she held out her left arm above the water, still not feeling anything with it, but watching the last of the blood leave, splashed off by the relentless clear liquid.
She knew Amaunet would not be able to replace the severed hand, but she had already begun healing the scarred skin across the back of their head and the stump of their left arm.
*Your defiance will...*
*Be silent, demon. Your mate is dead. Your small empire will now crumble into the waiting hands of those as evil as you. I have no pity or fear of you.*
Her hair had tangled around her shoulders in the struggle, but she would not let him take her...Amaunet had always been the one he'd taken, but this time...they had tried to befoul and cheapen her in humiliation.
Now, her only regret was not having a brush to tame the wildness her hair tended towards without the herbs Amaunet kept to smooth the dark tresses.
*You should not have fought him.*
*He is nothing but a poor man, trapped by another demon like you. I freed that man and killed his evil torment.*
For a moment, Shae'ris considered washing her garment in the water, but decided removing the blood would take more energy than she had at that moment.
*You are unable to overpower me?*
*I will find a way to put you where you belong.*
*Your desire to debase me by having your mate take me instead of you against my will was your undoing. I do not believe you will ever regain power over my body again. I will see Daniel before you would succeed and he will save me.*
*He will not be able to bear touching you, knowing another has had you whenever he wished. He will not want an unclean primitive.*
*You do not understand love as Daniel has taught it to me...as my father and brother and friends taught it to me. You know only of power, possession, selfishness. Apophis would give you power so you stayed with him, but you would have betrayed your own mate for another who could give you more. I would never betray my Daniel that way.*
Amaunet's answer was drowned in a pained scream and Shae'ris was surprised to hear her own voice cry out as the demon shifted inside her body.
*I cannot move! I am...attached to you. Melted.*
*Impossible! You said you were unharmed.*
*I have been feeling your pain and did not realize my lower parts were now one with you. The Tau'ri and their pitiful technology will not be able to remove me without killing you. I do not believe even Goa'uld technology would save us from your folly this time.*
Shae'ris rose quickly, hope dimming as the possibility of being completely free of her demon seemed less and less likely.
Her feet stumbled a bit over the empty shell of a Goa'uld ruler, still fallen where she had left him.
The memory of his hands clutching her shoulder, his breath on her neck, enjoying his mate's choice of allowing her host out for this part of their game.
He had actually thought Shae'ris had become docile enough to simply acquiesce to his advances.
Her eyes froze with shards of iced hatred as she looked over a man who wished to rule her personally, to avenge her former husband's ability to tear apart the plans of a would-be god.
She deliberately stepped on him, ignoring Amaunet's horrified shriek as she ground her foot until she heard each bone crack and then give way.
Until Apophis' body lay completely broken, Shae'ris refused to cease her almost sadistic enjoyment in the rhythmic percussion her action provoked.
She had surprised him, lifting her hand before Amaunet had time to realize her intentions.
She had quickly powered the metal, sending all of her mental being through the crystal until it had shattered, ripping away both the back of her neck and the face of Apophis.
Aim had been a secondary thought.
Damaging Apophis had been her goal and she had succeeded.
She had turned to him then, surprised Amaunet was still screaming, but was not pushing her back and taking over.
He had fought and so had she, her left hand gone with the gold and naquadah.
The disgust in his eyes and fear of his imminent death had strengthened her spirit and she had refused to die, holding his neck until his breath stopped.
She had slipped his still powered hand device off him, praying her fumbling right hand could finish the task alone before Apophis would be able to revive his host's body.
By the time he again drew breath, her determination and slow movements had placed her right hand in direct power over him.
Another strong pulse and Apophis himself lay exposed, easily seen from the missing front of his host.
Blood flow would start and then surrounding tissue would cauterize.
He was a wreckage of perverted, solidified liquids.
The smell was making her lightheaded and she continued past him toward the tents her demon's Jaffa slaves had erected only two days before.
Shae'ris hoped she would never see another die in such a manner, but she cherished the fact that she had been the one to kill him and to conquer her demon.
Now he was dead, she had only one hand, and would never be free of the trap fate had laid for her.
Daniel had said that until she was free of Amaunet, his people would keep her into a cage.
She could never go to his world now.
Jaffa parted for her, their eyes both fearful and angered.
She knew they would immediately go and find their master dead.
They would either assume both of them were attacked or they would know she had killed him.
A small part of her was curious at how they would deal with such behavior from a Goa'uld Queen.
*Silence. I have your knowledge as well as that of Heru'hur. Perhaps in exchange for this information, the Tok'ra will allow me sanctuary.*
*They will kill you before you reach them. Heru'hur did not reveal all of his secrets, though he might, should you choose to lay with him as he wished.*
*Even now, your mate newly dead, you think only of power. I will not lay with him any more than I would with Apophis.*
*Was to take both Apophis' queen and Daniel's wife. I do not know what my husband has done to inspire such hate in him, but my heart sings for it.*
*You are not a goddess. You have no special powers that I do not give you. You would die on your own.*
*Heru'hur has only had that one host. He has never been forced to change. He is more powerful than any of the other System Lords, though they do not seem to realize this.*
*Nothing of his host has survived.*
*We should all be so fortunate.*
*Demon, he will not keep you. He simply wished the one time in his bed to salve his pride. You would not replace his Queen. Even his ire with her over their children turning to the Tok'ra has not caused him to take a hand to her.*
*She is weak...*
*No more. We must sleep or we may still die. I feel new blood.*
*I am already healing the wound on our leg. You will have to be more careful. We will have to wait for my secretions to reach each wound as I am no longer able to move closer to decrease the time necessary to repair this body.*
Shae'ris gazed at the uneven skin, her fingers tracing the small lines as the sloped ending slowly continued to heal.
She tried not to think, staring at the stump of her left arm, unwilling to close her eyes and only see what her demon chose to bring forth from their collective memories.
* * * * * *
"Bob, you okay?"
"Yeah, fine. Just...tired. Oh...you're heading to America?"
"Yup, got the ticket right here. I can't wait to get back to Ohio."
"I hear it's nice there this time of year."
"In the Fall? Gorgeous."
"Is it already that late in the year?"
"Man, you okay?"
"Yes...just would you look at my throat and make sure it's not cut? It feels raw."
"Sure let me get a torch and see."
"Thanks. I think there's a flashlight over on the counter."
"Here we go. Open your mouth...man, you gotta say "Ah" if you want me to see."
*Who...what...who are you?*
*Don't panic. I wish I didn't have to do this, but I have to get to the U.S. You are my only way there now.*
*What are you?*
*I am a Shifter, a descendant of Isis and Ra who used to rule this world thousands of years ago. My children and mate will be looking for me and I must stop them from doing anything...drastic.*
*Isis...Ra...I want you out. Now. Sheesh. What about Bob?*
*He was ill. I didn't have time to heal him. He'll die of natural causes anyway, so I just extended his life a bit.*
*You're not real. You're not here.*
*I am here. I am real and since you're babbling incoherently, I'll have to be in control lest you reveal my presence to those hunting me.*
*Hunting...you...what, to eat?*
*No. To kill. Three Ashrak have been travelling this world for three decades, unable to leave until they have killed me or have died trying. Ra sent them once he knew my mother had given me his most secret password as well as the location of...a very important place. One of the Ashrak almost killed me in Iraq.*
*I don't want to talk about that...pitiful excuse for a...*
*You're way too loud. I'll have to leave you, too, once I'm strong enough.*
*I'll tell everyone about you.*
*Why? So they'll think you're insane? Or did you say that to let me know you're a liability and should be killed? I have never understood why people who agree to do something then allow the person with the power to kill them know that they've changed their minds. It's so stupid. They should at least wait until they have a chance of surviving.*
*My plane leaves tomorrow.*
*Then tomorrow, we'll get on the plane.*
*Please don't hurt me.*
Neris rolled her eyes upwards, wishing she could find an American with a brain.
*If I say I won't hurt you, will you believe me?*
*No, but...it would make me feel better if you said it.*
Neris didn't reply, wondering whether she could safely jump to another person while on the plane or not.
*Why's it so important you get there?*
*Kaden is not above hurting humans to get me home. He's proven this in the past and will prove it again if necessary. As long as I'm with him, he'll have no reason to hurt them.*
Her host's fear was nearly choking her mind now.
Neris sighed and carefully pushed him back, taking full control.
She would go through only as many memories as she had to later on to get his flight information and to act enough like him that there would be nothing more than passing annoyance if she forgot something.
The last thing she needed was another close call.
* * * * * *
George settled into his chair, smiling a bit as Jacob slid into his, not missing a word.
"Unfortunately, I don't know how long we'll be able to stay. Heru'hur's forces have been rerouted with no explanation given."
Garshaw's eyes snapped at him even as she sat.
"What world would be important enough for him to cease his campaign against the Nox? He was most certain he could defeat them this time."
George's eyebrow raised at that, wondering for a moment if they had said it deliberately or if it had been another slip of the tongue.
"It has to do with Apophis, but that's all I found out before I came here. As I said. We may not be able to stay."
"I will be leaving as soon as you and Martouf depart to collect...General?"
George lowered his hand as he spoke.
"Col. Jack O'Neill is dead. I have people on their way there and, well...they'll be here by tomorrow evening. There's no need for any of you to go to them."
Jacob sat back, watching Garshaw's face as she heard the news.
He'd only heard that O'Neill was dead before Qesir had literally hauled in an unconscious man with fangs displayed in his gaping mouth.
*Her refusal to wait for Lantash to awaken is amusing, though understandable.*
*Considering how efficient Lantash is on the battlefield when called on partly because of how lethal and ruthless he is after waking from a single small hit...kicking him unconscious means he'll nail her hide at first opportunity.*
*He might pause due to the youth of her current host.*
*Maybe, but somehow I doubt that'll earn her much leeway.*
"Then, we will depart when they arrive."
"Very well. They're going to be...fragile. To be honest, I'm not sure how to help them. I can't send them on a mission, but I obviously can't send them on vacation either."
"What has Dr. Warren concluded about the creature Qesir dragged into your office?"
Jacob smiled grimly.
"Garshaw, that was a vampire. They suck blood, etc...I just had no clue they actually existed here on Earth."
"Neither did we and we intend to find out how they could have been here the whole time without us knowing."
*Perhaps members of the SGC are vampires. You should ask.*
*If there are any, they probably wouldn't appreciate my asking around and we have enough trouble as it is. Besides, I'm sure George'll be handling that.*
*He may have other things on his mind once SG-1 returns*
*Can't wait for Sam to be back. I really miss her.*
"Well at least we know there was a real vampire Morhs was collecting blood for..."
"Jacob, there's something you should know about that whole business. I wasn't...exactly ignorant of what was going on."
"The blood drive?"
"Well, I don't know details, just that the President started the Grapevine and that multiple levels of spywork have been going on in the SGC. Implants of some sort were placed in Col. O'Neill and Dr. Corvores. Now, we have reason to believe Dr. Corvores' implant was removed, but they think the implant exploding is what killed the Colonel."
Jacob just sat, his jaw slightly gaping.
"And you let this happen?"
"I didn't know what was planned. It was a simple information swap that Maybourne didn't have access to. At least...that's what it was supposed to be."
"I saw him in the halls. What's he doing here?"
"He's been sticking his nose into my office every chance he's gotten, hoping to figure out what's going on. I'm tempted to send him with SG-4 later today."
"Why don't you?"
"Technically, I'd need authorization to send someone not currently assigned to the SGC."
"Where are they headed?"
"A dead planet as far as we can tell. No atmosphere of any type around the dome the Stargate seems to be situated in."
"What's there that you're willing to send in a team?"
"Oh nothing much...just about fifteen stacked Stargates less than fifty meters from the one the MALP emerged from."
"That's our assumption. Even if they're malfunctioning Gates that were essentially thrown away, the amount of Naquadah we could harvest from them is incredible. So we're sending a team to check out any potential threats."
"So Maybourne accidentally finding his way out of the dome...?"
"Actually, I was hoping that by sharing something of such import with him that he'll stop sneaking behind us and maybe start working with us. Especially since I think he may have an idea what's going on with SG-1."
"You know, you could always send SG-1 with us."
"You've asked me that before."
"You didn't listen and now one of them is dead. You know because of this other alien threat that Jolinar brought to our attention that all visitors are scanned at least once a day in case the parasite is too small for detection when first introduced to its...host. We would have detected the implant in O'Neill."
George looked at his friend before closing his eyes and just laying his head down on the cool, smooth surface of the table.
"I'm sorry, George. I just really want my daughter and her team back together in one piece and I think coming with us might at least help them out."
"You do realize that Jack isn't dead like most people would be. He's like your daughter was before she entered Dr. Fraiser."
"Good. Then as long as someone can see or hear him, he's not completely out of the picture and we may be able to access technology that would benefit them in their growing process."
Garshaw released her jaw, having held it too tightly in place for long enough.
"General, I believe sending them with us would be beneficial. As long as they are here, memories of normal operations will haunt them. At least with us, they will be in a new situation with friends and will have to regroup anyway. It will help them find their balance."
"There's a flaw here. There are only two living members of SG-1 left."
"My daughter is in..."
"My chief medical officer. I was already planning to remove them from SG-1 due to the fact that there's a specific reason I handpicked Janet Fraiser for this post. I need her here. Her daughter needs her here and she did not sign up to be part of an SG team. She was given that option and declined. She only goes through the Stargate on rare rescue missions and medical emergencies that need her knowledge and capabilities. I think if I send them out, they'll get used to the new team layout and it'll be that much harder to reintegrate into the SGC."
Jacob glared, knowing George was aware that Sam was the main reason he'd made the suggestion in the first place.
Garshaw realized her friend was not going to continue and spoke quickly.
"I believe the rest of them as well as whoever else you wish to send to replace the downed members should still come with us for the reasons already set forth."
George ran a slightly trembling hand across the bridge of his nose.
"I'll take it into consideration. Let's just get them here first and see how things are."
George turned to see Dr. Warren entering the briefing room.
"Doctor? What's the status of the...patient?"
"He's Goa'uld, sir, but the Naquadah in him is...almost non-existent."
"That would explain why I did not sense the symbiote until after I was very close to him for an extended period of time."
Lantash's words were deceptively casual as he entered the room, passing the doctor and taking a seat.
"Now. Explain this...vampire to me. I have never seen a human who has sharper teeth that extend and retract."
Alan tried to look as casual as Lantash had as he took a seat at the table.
He was rarely invited to the briefing room, much less asked to sit and address those present, so he hoped the sliver of excitement he felt wasn't visible to those now staring intently in his direction.
"Vampires were considered myths, though there have been patient cases scattered over the United States that indicate perhaps those myths had some basis in fact. Perhaps a mutation thousands of years ago that spawned bigger and more horrific campfire stories later on until the myths were totally out of proportion to the actual event. Now, this patient is slightly different from most of what I've seen and heard. His teeth are cosmetic, with no means of extracting blood actually present in the canines themselves. However, there is a small membrane attached to the top of his mouth that apparently extends down the curve of the incisor and into the puncture wound to extract all of the fluid present in that area. We believe that the...fangs...are actually only there to cause the wound. This tube of sorts would be able to suck, for lack of a better term, on its own from anything already flowing with liquid."
"This species still resembles no race I have previously encountered."
Lantash watched the doctor's jaw work as he formulated his answer, allowing his thoughts to drift slightly.
*That will not work. She is alerted and will expect your attack.*
*Perhaps if you were to stand before her, nude, we could arrange for those large metal shelves the Tau'ri use to fall on her.*
*I do not appreciate her staring when I am clothed. I believe her eyes would become attached to me for all eternity should I do as you ask.*
*Perhaps if the Chaapa'ai were to misdial and she were to accidentally fall through...*
The phone ringing cut off the private thoughts and conversations at the table.
A moment later, George stepped back, his voice grim.
"We'll need to go get SG-1 after all. It seems NID has decided to help us. We need to get there first."
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