Chapter Thirty-two Summary: Lantash and Malek talk, and Malek's insight into Lantash's problem helps him to decide that he is ready to go through the Sevesh. He goes to ask Daniel where Kataya is, and Daniel decides to go with him to talk to her. As they approach Daniel's room, they see Merdwin and Janet entering it at a run. Knowing that Kataya is in there, Daniel and Lantash dash after them only to be brought up short by the sight of Kataya lying in Sam's arms and covered in blood. Interaction between them develops rapidly. Sam berates them, and Merdwin takes Kataya and heads for the gate and Avilion. The principal players head for Avilion, the Sanctuary, to try to save Kataya. Jack, Teal'c, and others follow.
Igisadonis Animowyn – Beloved of My Soul Aima Coeurawyn - Blood of My Heart Sevesh Lok Twin - Rite of Release of an Entwining Adorato Coeurawyn - Adored of My Heart Amat Wyn - My Love Coeurawyn - My Heart Sevesh’en Twine Coeuramator – Entwining of the Heartmates “Italics” – Symbiote-Host or Telepathic Communications
Kataya walked quickly down the hall towards her room. This was most definitely not a good sign; no, not a good sign at all. She would have to go to Avilion today, unless Merdwin could manage to slow it down again, which while it was a possibility, it was also a stopgap measure at best. The entire situation was proving to be harder on her than she had anticipated, and consequently, she was unprepared for the swiftness with which the bleeding had increased. Her heart, already deeply lacerated, was not holding up well to the ever-increasing male tensions caused by the hostility growing between Daniel and Lantash. That tension and hostility was increasing the stress on her already overburdened system. It was essential that she take action to mitigate the effects it was having on her, and it was exigent that she do it very, very soon.
Using the bottom of her tunic, she opened the door after first making sure she used a piece of it that had no blood on it. She was using it to contain the bleeding so that it did not leave a trail of drops down the corridor. Planning her next moves as she entered the room, she realized that she would have to go into the bathroom and release some of the blood through her fingertips. It was the only way she would be able to wait for Merdwin without leaving blood everywhere, which was not an option. Therefore, that was the first order of business.
As she stood over the basin, she looked up and into the mirror. The face looking back at her was very pale with almost no color. Looking down into the sink, she realized there was a great deal of blood, but at least it had finally slowed. It would probably be enough to stop the seeping, at least for a short while. She took off the blood-smeared tunic and rinsed it in the sink until the water was clear. She would have to dispose of it, or take it to Avilion, for she would not be able to remove the bloodstains here, whereas at Avilion it would be a simple matter. If she was not so depleted, she could do it here with little problem; however, in her present state it would most definitely not be wise to attempt it. She hung the tunic up to dry, and then turned to clean the sink and make sure that no blood remained to alarm Daniel should he find it. Back in the bedroom area, she put on a clean tunic, and was just about to attempt to contact Merdwin, when Daniel opened the door and entered the room.
“Hi,” he greeted her softly. “Why did you take off in such a hurry? Are you all right?” He asked her, as he walked farther into the room. A small lamp was casting the only light, and so she stood in shadow. At least he would not be able to discern how very pale she now was.
“I am going to have to go to Avilion soon, Daniel. Perhaps later today, although I am not yet sure of that,” she told him softly, trying to keep from causing him too much alarm and worry, although she knew that he would worry anyway. Until, that is, he wrapped his mind around a manuscript and translation.
“Kataya, if you need to go now, I will go with you. They can do without me here,” he assured her quickly. “Please, don’t take unnecessary chances. It will be a simple matter to go to Avilion.”
“That will not be necessary, Daniel. I am going to contact Merdwin shortly and have a session with him, before I decide what I should do, and then gather what little I will need to take with me.”
“You need a session with him before you go to a healer? Kataya, if you are having that much trouble, you need to go now, not later,” Daniel said firmly.
Equally firm, Kataya answered him, “Daniel, I need to rest, and I need to have a session with Merdwin. Then, I will decide if I need to go to Avilion or not. I suspect I will, but I am hoping that Lantash will agree to go with me. Once we have completed the Sevesh Lok Twin, the bleeding will stop, and I will very quickly regain the strength I have lost, I assure you. Please, Coeurawyn, do not worry so. I truly believe he will agree by tomorrow, at the latest.” She went to him and kissed him. “You know I love you, Igisadonis Animawyn, but please, let me handle this myself. You know I will not do it without his full consent, and you know why. So please, do not put me under anymore stress, my love,” She pleaded with him softly.
“All right, I will leave it for now, but I will be back after while to check on you. Okay?” He asked gently, as his hands made slow soothing circles on her back.
Leaning her head against him and enjoying the feel and scent of him, she agreed, “All right, my Dayillon. I will see you after while.”
He gave her a sweet smile, saying softly, “It always sends a shock of awareness through me when you call me that. It is as if I recognize it on a very deep level.”
She nodded, “It was the name your soul was given at its first living. I believe that you will always respond to it in this way.” Looking up at him, she said, “Now, go and work on your manuscripts or something, Daniel, while I work on myself.”
Kissing her swiftly, he agreed, but when he reached the door, he looked back at her, “You will call me if you need anything? Promise?”
“I will do my best to do so, yes.”
She stood quietly for several minutes after Daniel left, while she mentally appraised her situation. She needed to contact Merdwin right away and have him do a healing rite for her, she thought. Looking down, she realized that blood had begun to seep once more from her fingertips. Not yet, she thought, not yet, he is not ready. As a tear crept down her cheek, she brushed it away angrily with the back of her hand. It was blood. Time had run out.
Thinking logically about her options, she decided to go to Avilion right away. She would gather a few things and head to the control room. She must contact Merdwin before she left, to let him know where she was going and why. He could help to calm Daniel, who would, she surmised, come apart at Lantash. Perhaps she should take Daniel with her. No, probably not a good idea. They might need him here and besides, she intended to return very soon. Spinning around to put thoughts into action, she crumpled onto the floor as the room went black.
The groups working on target practice were taking a break. One could hear general conversations taking place throughout the area, but he and Lantash were near the end of the room, and therefore, they could not catch much of it. This was a very important point, because it also meant that the others could not hear them, and he had something he needed to say to Lantash. As he stopped to reload his sidearm, Malek turned to him.
Speaking softly as an added precaution to ensure that no one could overhear them, he said, “Lantash, we have been friends and comrades for a very long time. We were born in the same clutch, and until I moved to another base, we were…closer than the brothers that we are. I realize that does not give me the right to ask you this, but I must admit that curiosity is a failing of mine, as you are aware, and you seem to be,” he paused, looking down at the weapon in his hand, as he slammed the clip home, “somewhat distressed about something. I must assume it has to do with Kataya, and I must admit that it was a great shock for us to see your mate with Dr. Jackson. All of us are quite aware of the love that, we all assumed, still exists between the two of you, and I will admit to being somewhat confused, as to your response to what has occurred. I believe I am also somewhat angered at her for treating you in such a way, however, since you are treating her in much the same way, by your actions with Samantha Carter, I suppose I should spread the anger between the two of you.”
“That is not the point of this conversation; however, I readily admit that none of us understand the situation between the four of you. Nevertheless, and this is the point I am attempting to approach and state, if it is going to have a detrimental affect upon our mission, I believe you owe it to us to either explain it, resolve it, or remove yourself from further participation. I realize that the complication of Kataya and Major Carter being the Dragons means it is imperative that they accompany us, so that they may complete their portion of the mission, but you and Dr. Jackson do not have to assist us; neither of you are required to be there.”
As Malek faced him and made plain his feelings, and no doubt, the others were feeling the same, Lantash picked up his side arm and proceeded to examine it closely, as if it was the most interesting thing he had ever seen. After a few moments of quiet contemplation, as well as advice from Martouf encouraging him to explain what was occurring, he looked up into his friends eyes and, keeping their contact steady, he stated softly, “You were present when Kataya and I were joined by the Sevesh’en Twine Coeuramator. You are aware that it is the Entwining of the Heartmates, a very profound and binding joining. You also know that the Furling have both Heartmates and Soulmates, and that I am Kataya’s Heartmate,” he added quietly. His voice turned brittle, as he continued, “What you probably do not know is that Daniel is Kataya’s Soulmate, and she has asked me to sever our ties, and thus revoke our vows, thereby freeing her from our joining.” Lantash paused once again, looking down at the sidearm in his hand before glancing back up, and continuing tensely, “I am having difficulty reconciling the breaking of my vows and the feelings in my heart. I know that it is inevitable and that I must give her that which she seeks from me. Both for her, and for Samantha,” he stated, as he once more looked directly at Malek, “for Samantha, is my Soulmate, mine and Martouf’s.”
Momentarily shocked by Lantash’s last statement, Malek nonetheless managed to ask, “What is it you fear will happen if you break your vows, Lantash? Why do you wish to hold to them so tightly, when you are aware that you have found your own Soulmate? When you know that Kataya has also found her Soulmate?” Malek asked.
Sounding tired and discouraged, Lantash answered him, “I do not know, Malek. Merdwin thinks that perhaps the threads of Dominic’s soul are causing me to refuse. That is another thing of which no one was aware before now. I have Dominic’s soul within me, for he chose to join with me rather than be reborn of the All. I have no way of knowing if that is truly affecting me, but it would not surprise me, and Kataya, also, believes it to be so. Whatever the reason, it appears to be growing less important, and I have begun to believe I can soon go through the rite of Sevesh Lok Twin. I have promised both Samantha and Kataya that I will do so, as soon as I can do it without guilt,” Lantash explained, speaking quietly.
It was obvious that Malek was giving his words some intense thought. Finally, he shook his head saying, “Perhaps Dominic’s soul is an influence, Lantash. I agree and believe that it very possibly could be so.” He paused once more, evidentially again mulling the circumstances over in his mind, before making a decision, and abruptly returning to the discussion, asking, “Still, could it not also be that Kataya is the only woman you have known, in over two thousand years of living, mating, and loving, who would choose you over the human host?” As he awaited Lantash’s response, he turned and looked at the targets, before shaking his head and putting down the sidearm. The others were taking a break and would be back soon; he would finish his practice then. This conversation could be important to all of them, and he meant to finish it. Turning back to his brother, he watched, as Lantash’s hand gripped the weapon tightly.
Lantash took in a deep and somewhat jerky breath, before blurting out to him, “But, she did not choose me, Malek, because Dominic was too badly injured to survive. She killed him, removed me from him, and sustained his soul and me, until we reached Avilion. All of those years, she was telling the truth. She did everything she could, as you know, to the point of almost dying herself,” Lantash said, his voice clipped, hard, and strained.
Malek stood still, discernibly shocked, before gathering his composure and replying, “Perhaps she had no choice, but I do not believe that she would have chosen Dominic over you, otherwise, you would not have believed for so many years that she had chosen you. Furthermore, I believe that you are as aware of that as I am, and that is one of the main reasons you are having so much trouble giving her up. Yes, I believe that Dominic’s soul is very probably causing the parting to be more difficult than perhaps it should be. However, the truth, of which we are both very much aware, is that she would have chosen you, a symbiote, over Dominic, the human host. That is a very deep and abiding love, Lantash, one that you do not wish to surrender. I do not blame you,” Malek admitted. “I do not know one of us that would not give much to have that kind of love. I know I would be willing to give a great deal for it. The Tau’ri believe us arrogant.” He stopped speaking and laughed, but it was a self-derisive sound, with nothing of happiness about it, before he finished stating his opinion. “If they only knew how human emotions, love more than any other, can bring us to our knees,” he said, and this time, his voice was tinged with sadness.
Lantash nodded his agreement, as they stood in silence, each contemplating Malek’s remarks, and each of them accepting how very true his words were. He sighed, as he brought his thoughts back to their original conversation, before telling him, “I was upset, when I thought she chose me over Dominic, for I loved him deeply, and I would have chosen to have him live rather than myself had there been the choice I always assumed there was. It is a choice that no one should have to make, Malek, and in my heart, I am glad that, in truth, Kataya did not have to do so.” Once more Lantash paused, as if discussing something so personal was difficult for him. Unmistakably gathering his thoughts, and perhaps his courage, he took a deep breath, and said, “She says that she will love me even after the Sevesh Lok Twin; that nothing will ever change her love for me, and that it will remain within her heart, her very being, into eternity and beyond.”
Malek frowned, as he thought that through, and then asked, “If that is indeed so, then what is the point of going through the Sevesh Lok Twin, if her love for you will remain? This is not making any sense to me, now that you have informed me of that. If you remain in love with one another, then you gain nothing as far as I can discern.”
“It is to break the tie of passion that binds us, so that we will not be drawn to each other so deeply in a physical sense. She says we will retain the love for all time, but that it will change. It will remain as deep as it has always been, but it will not pull us to one another so strongly that we cannot deny it. Do not make the mistake of thinking this pull between us is a small matter, Malek for it is extremely strong, even though our Soulmates are with us. It is very near to being impossible to deny.”
“Do you believe her?” Malek asked him bluntly.
“When she vows that the love will remain between us? Yes, of course. She was very emphatic about it, and I do not believe she was lying to me.” After some thought, he shook his head, saying decisively, “No, she was not lying to me about that or anything else.”
“If you truly believe her and what she has promised you, then in reality, you would be losing nothing, for you will have both the passion and the love of Samantha, your Soulmate, and that love of Kataya’s that sustained you and placed you before all others,” Malek pointed out firmly.
Slowly, Lantash’s hand eased its grip on the weapon he still held. He looked at Malek, and smiled slightly, “It is really very simple, is it not? For one space in time, I had a love that held tight to me, placing me before all others, and I will never forget that as long as I live. Because I will never forget it, and because she will love me, and I her, forever, I can give her up to the mate of her Soul. Moreover, Malek, the love we share indeed goes both ways, for I would have chosen her over Siesha; I was relieved that she was the one that survived. Kataya never questioned me about my feelings when that happened, and I realize now, that it is because she knew. She has always known. She has always realized what lies between us, and now, thanks to you, so do I.”
“Perhaps that is why she can also give you up to the mate of your soul, Lantash. Deep as the love you share is, I believe that she knows, as do you, that the love you share with your Soulmate is deeper yet,” Malek pointed out.
Lantash nodded, as he said, “Thank you, old friend, your counsel has helped much.” He then handed his weapon to this man who had just proven, once again, that they were indeed friends and brothers of the heart, as well as comrades in arms. “I believe I will leave this with you. I need to tell Kataya to arrange to have the Sevesh Lok Twin performed as soon as possible,” he said, as he turned to leave the practice range. Jacob and Selmak could manage what the Tok’Ra required here. He had something far more important to accomplish, and he felt that as soon as it was practical to do so, they should go through the Sevesh.
Wondering where he should look for her, he was startled when Martouf said, “I would suggest you go to Daniel’s office. He will know where she is; therefore, talking to him first would seem the most sensible plan to follow.”
“You are correct, Martouf. Thank you,” Lantash agreed with his advice.“I believe you should take over, at least at first, until he finds out why we are there. He will, perhaps, be more forthcoming with you.”
“Perhaps. I will try, but do not be surprised if he questions me.”
“If he does and you are uncomfortable, I will take over. Do not be concerned about that,” Lantash assured him, as they walked toward Daniel’s office.
“Hey, Daniel,” Sam smiled at her friend, as she entered his office.
“Hey, Sam. Didn’t we just have this conversation yesterday?” He grinned at her as he asked the question.
Sam laughed at him, as she said, “Nope, not this exact same conversation, but one very similar.” She sat down in the chair that was still, amazingly, clean from the day before.
“How are the Tok’Ra getting along? Did you manage to get them all set up with their respective guides and instructors?” He asked her as his curiosity came to the fore.
Sam made a somewhat derisive noise that resembled a not so delicate snort, before saying, “Yeah, some of them seem really fascinated by the primitive weapons. Those that had never seen them used, were surprised to see what they could do, and I think they have decided that such primitive weaponry might have its place.”
Daniel’s eyes laughed at her, as his grin widened, and he commented, “So you already have them started in training. That is good, Sam. It will keep them occupied; give them something to think about and to do, other than wander around the corridors wondering what to do.”
“Yeah, and it helps that Dad and Martouf are helping them with the instructions and stuff. Having another Tok’Ra telling them they are doing it all wrong sure helps. All our people are really doing is demonstrating and letting their own people tell them they are crappy at it,” she replied. “Of course, not all of them are bad at it. Some of them are catching on fast, and I expect to see them on the practice range a lot. They will not want to be shown as being inferior to the Tau’ri,” Sam sounded amused, but there was also a tone to her voice that said she was not joking about this subject.
“Yeah, they do still have an arrogance problem that they just can’t seem to get rid of, although I was pleasantly surprised at their attitude today,” Daniel commented.
“Actually, I think some of their arrogance is just a cover. I know that Lantash is not the least bit arrogant with me,” Sam said quietly.
“That is because you can think rings around him, Sam,” Daniel teased her.
“You can say that if you like, but I don’t think so. I think they come off that way because they don’t want to be seen as weak. That, of course, means that instead, we often see them as jerks. Either way, they lose, until you get to know them better, and realize that they are not that way at all.”
“Yeah, I guess you are right. I like Malek, Lantash, and Jocasta anyway, and of course, your dad,” He said solemnly.
Sam threw a wad of paper at him and stood. “I came to find out if you knew where Kataya was. I wanted to talk to her. Have you seen her since the briefing?” Sam asked.
“She went to our quarters right after the briefing.” He sighed tiredly, telling her, “It is getting worse, Sam. She said she thinks she will have to go to Avilion, perhaps even today. She was going to contact Merdwin and have him do another healing rite first, but Lantash has to agree to go through the Sevesh Lok Twin soon,” Daniel added, his voice exposing his feelings of urgency.
“I know, and I really believe he will, Daniel,” She paused, and sent him a puzzled look. “Did you say she was going to contact Merdwin? When exactly was that?”
“It was directly after the briefing. She seemed to think he could help, but if not, she was definitely going to Avilion today.”
“Daniel, I just talked to Merdwin, and he did not mention doing anything with her.” Realizing that might alarm Daniel needlessly, she added, “Of course, he had no reason to mention it, either, which is probably why he didn’t.”
“Well, it was just a little while ago, so they may not have gotten together yet,” Daniel, said. “I told her I would be back to check on her and make sure she was okay.”
“I will go and see her, Daniel, if you think she is still there. The briefing was over almost three hours ago, you know,” she told him realizing he had no idea how much time had slipped by since the briefing.
“What?” Daniel yelped, as he looked at his watch. “Crap. I wanted to check on her in an hour. I became wrapped up in this manuscript and its translation and didn’t realize the time.”
Sam looked at him indulgently, “So, what else is new, Daniel? Listen, just stay here, and I will go, because as I said, I wanted to talk to her anyway. That way you will not have to leave your translation, and I will check on her as well as talk to her.”
“Okay, Sam, but you will let me know if she is okay?” He asked, a little anxiously.
“Sure, I will let you know, promise,” Sam answered, as she waved on her way out the door. She was worried, but she did not want Daniel to know. Kat was not answering her link and suddenly Sam had a vision of the scene she saw in the mirror. She broke into a run; she had a really bad feeling about this.
Reaching Daniel’s room, she gasped, catching her breath, and knocked. Receiving no answer, she opened the door and went in. At first, she didn’t see anything; only a small lamp lighted the room. Flipping on the light switch, she gasped and ran forward. Kataya lay on the floor surrounded by a pool of blood. It was playing out exactly as it showed in the Mirror of the Mysts; however, Merdwin was not there, and Kat had promised her that Merdwin was in her vision of it.
Well, he could be found and he could get here. “Merdwin,” Sam searched frantically. “Merdwin, damn it, answer me,” Sam said desperately, as she knelt down beside Kat and drew her into her arms.
“Merdwin!” Sam yelled as loud as she mentally could.
“Samantha, what is wrong? I have never heard you sound so desperate,” thank the All, suddenly, Merdwin was there, on the link with her. She was not alone in this nightmare anymore; Merdwin would be there for them, as he always had been and always would be.
“You have to come, and you have to come now. Merdwin, it is Kat, and I think she is dying,” Sam’s voice was no longer loud, but it was very urgent and shaky. “I don’t know what to do. Should I call Janet?”
Sam could feel the jolt of pain and anxiety that hit Merdwin before he pushed it aside, burying it away from them both. “No, it would do no good to call her. I am on my way. Samantha, does she have her circlet on?” Merdwin asked her quietly.
“Yes. The yellow topaz stones are barely glowing. The diamonds, too. What does it mean?”Sam asked, but she was afraid she already knew.
“It means she has not yet died. Samantha, until I get there, you must sustain her as well as you can. I know you have not yet learned to sustain another; however, I believe you are capable of doing so. I will guide you; simply do as I tell you. Put your hand on her heart, and then concentrate on pulling in energy and transferring it to her,” Merdwin instructed his voice peaceful and soothing.
“I don’t have my circlet,” Sam gasped.“Oh, but I have my armband on.”
“Your armband will do. I am almost there, Samantha; do the best you can. Concentrate,” Merdwin told her, calmly and gently.
Merdwin realized that Janet was right beside him, as he strode swiftly down the corridor. “I am afraid there is nothing you can do in this situation, Coeurawyn,” he said to her.
“I don’t know that, since I don’t know why you took off like that,” Janet responded.
“Samantha just activated the link. Kataya is bleeding to death,” Merdwin said bluntly. Janet gasped in surprise, but Merdwin did not have time to explain, as he was busy making arrangements, assuming he would be taking Kat to Avilion. He, too, was aware of the scene in the Mirror of the Mysts.
“Sergeant Davis, this is Merdwin.”
“Yes, sir,” the Sergeant replied. “What can I do for you?”
“On my mark, you will initiate a wormhole to the coordinates I will send you,” Merdwin swiftly and concisely explained what he was going to need him to do.
“Yes, sir. Awaiting your mark, sir,” Sergeant Davis answered, calmly.
Seeing the Sergeant’s hand hovering over the dialing computer, Lieutenant Simmons asked, “What is up Sergeant?”
“I don’t know, sir. Merdwin just contacted me to start an active wormhole on his mark. He said he will send the coordinates, and I am waiting for them,” the Sergeant replied.
“That is unusual. Problems?” The Lieutenant wanted to know.
“If Merdwin sounding really grim and serious on a link means anything, then I would say yes, but I don’t know what it is,” he answered.
Lieutenant Simmons nodded his acceptance of the Sergeant’s statements. They would know before long, he was sure.
A knock sounded on the doorframe of Daniel’s office door, and Martouf entered the room, “Good afternoon, Daniel. Do you know where I could find Kataya?”
“The last I knew she was in our quarters. Why?” Daniel asked bluntly, his tone conveying his distrust and suspicion.
Martouf’s eyes glowed, and Lantash came forward to say, his voice firm, “I wish to speak to her about performing the Sevesh Lok Twin. I am ready to do so, whenever she wishes it to be performed.”
Daniel looked at him for a long moment, and then nodded, “All right. I will come with you. Let’s go.” He bit his tongue to keep from telling him it was about damn time.
As the two men headed down the hall towards Daniel’s quarters, the tension between them was palpable. As they rounded the corner, they saw Merdwin and Janet enter his quarters at a run. Daniel and Lantash sprinted after them.
Skidding to a halt just inside the door, both men were in time to hear Merdwin say, “Do not bother to call your medical team, Janet, it will do no good.”
The tableau unfolding in front of Daniel was his worst nightmare come to life. Sam held Kat in her arms. Her hand was on Kataya’s heart, her eyes closed in concentration. Blood covered them both, as well as the floor, and all of it belonged to Kataya. Merdwin knelt across from Sam, and he was looking at Kataya’s hands and eyes. There was blood on her face, her hands, and her body. It pooled underneath her and her tunic was completely soaked with it.
Turning on Lantash, Daniel drew back his fist and hit him as hard as he could. Following him as he fell backwards toward the wall, he grabbed him and pulled his arm back to hit him again. Lantash’s eyes flared, but he only used a defensive maneuver that sent both of them crashing to the floor and into the table and chairs turning the table and two chairs over and sending one flying, luckily not in Kataya's direction.
Rolling off Daniel, Lantash attempted to get up, only to have Daniel grab him and hit him again. Grabbing him again, they rolled on the floor for a moment, before Lantash managed to throw Daniel off him. As he attempted to regain his footing, he heard Daniel saying, “Get up, so I can hit you again. If you had listened to us, this would not be happening. If she is dead, or if she dies, I swear, I will kill you.”
As Lantash gained his feet, and Daniel came at him again, Lantash grabbed him, shoved him into the wall, and held him pinned there. “—If—she is dead, or—if—she dies,” he hissed, “then you may kill me, but not until I have left my host. He is not to blame, and I will not allow you, or anyone else, to use him as a vent for your feelings of helplessness and anger.”
Suddenly, Sam’s eyes flew open, and she shouted at them, “Stop it. Just stop it, both of you.” Catching her breath on a sob, she continued, “How can you two still be arguing when that is probably the final thing that caused this? If the two of you had not been so uncivil and tense with one another, she probably would not have felt the stress so much, and this would not have happened so quickly.”
Daniel allowed his head to fall back against the wall, as he sighed. “She is right,” he said. Then, looking straight at Lantash, he continued, “And so are you. Martouf had nothing to do with this. He is an innocent bystander and is in no way to blame. You can release me; I won’t hit you again,” much as I would like to, his tone of voice said.
As Lantash slowly let him go, he said, “I was on my way to tell her I was ready to go through with the Sevesh Lok Twin, as I told you. I wanted her to make the arrangements today,” he said bitterly. “Please believe me, Dr. Jackson,” he said formally, “I did not realize that this was happening to her. I knew she was in pain, as was I, but I did not know about this. I did not see it when I looked into her heart. I only felt the pain.”
Looking up from where he knelt, Merdwin asked him, “Did you finish the link, or did you pull away before it was over?”
Lantash looked stricken, “I pulled away.”
Merdwin nodded, “Then you had no way of knowing, Lantash, and Kataya would not have told you, for she was adamant that you make your choice with neither undue influence nor outside interference affecting your decision. You have nothing to feel guilty about, I assure you.”
“She did tell me that her time was growing short. I thought she meant the pain would continue to worsen. Had I known, I…”
Merdwin cut in, “Lantash, you are truly ready to go through the Sevesh Lok Twin? You are sure? Kataya would never forgive us, if I let you go through it before you are sincerely ready to do so,” he said, firmly taking charge.
“You are correct—Amat Wyn,” Kataya whispered, startling them all.
Merdwin smiled down at her, “So you have decided to stay among the living for the time being, Coeurawyn.” Then he said to her, even more gently and softly, “You worried us, Amat Wyn. How do you feel?”
“I must go, Merdwin. I was getting ready to—contact you to—tell you. I am sorry, I…”
Quickly kneeling down beside Sam, Daniel said, “Hush. Do not try to talk to us. Conserve your strength, please.” Taking her hand in his, he looked at it and felt the anger mount again, but he smiled at her. Then he looked to Merdwin, “What do we do? Surely, she needs to go right away. She can’t go through the Sevesh Lok Twin in this condition.”
“I will be able to do it as soon as—I have had a session—with the priestesses at Avilion. Do not worry so, my Dayillon,” Kataya said, in a soft whisper.
“Merdwin, I feel—very tired. Have I lost a—great deal of blood?” She asked him.
“Yes, I am afraid so. I have given you a little and done some minor healing, but it will not hold for long. Samantha has been helping to sustain you,” Merdwin said.
“I told you she had power in her—own right.” Kataya gasped, as the pain intensified.
“Yes. You did and you were correct. Lantash has agreed Kataya. Do you wish to speak to him?”
Merdwin motioned Lantash to approach her, and he knelt by her side to be close enough to hear her whispers.
“Lantash, Adorato Coeurawyn, are you now truly willing?” She asked.
“I am, Adorata Coeurawyn.”
“Then I, too, am willing,” she said softly, as her eyes closed once more.
“Merdwin!” Sam again caught her breath, refusing to cry now, not when Kat needed her.
“We must go. Now,” Merdwin said tersely. “Samantha, get her sword and dagger.”
Sweeping Kataya into his arms, Merdwin headed towards the door. Mentally sending the coordinates to the waiting Sergeant Davis, he said over his shoulder, as he began to stride towards the gate room, “Lantash, you will come now, as will Samantha.” Daniel was keeping pace with him, and he looked as if he wanted to, and perhaps would, take Kataya from him.
Seeing the intention written on Daniel’s face, Merdwin said gently, “Do not, Daniel. I am sustaining her with my own life force. If you take her from me, she will die. I am sorry; I know you wish to hold her, but you cannot right now.”
Daniel nodded his understanding, and said, “I am coming now.”
Seeing the stubbornness in the set of Daniel’s jaw and knowing that in truth, he belonged by his mate’s side, Merdwin agreed, quietly, “Of course. I would expect nothing less.”
“Merdwin, what can I do?” Janet had been so quiet that Merdwin had almost forgotten she was there. He was relieved to hear her voice, however, for he knew he could depend on her to carry out his instructions.
“Contact Jack and Teal’c right away, if they are not already alerted by the gate being activated that something is wrong. They will need to come to Avilion, as soon as possible. Also, Garshaw, Selmak, and Malek. Lantash will need someone to stand witness and to help sustain him through this. Because of Kataya’s weakness, I will attempt to convince her to let him bear some of the pain. If he does, he will need support.”
“Who will be standing for Kataya?” Janet asked softly.
“That will be her daughter and probably several of the priestesses. There will be a great deal of pain involved, Janet. I know you would like to volunteer, but you have no idea what you are volunteering for, and I cannot let you do that. But, Kataya would thank you if she could, as do I,” he said firmly.
“I would still like to be there,” she said, with a stubborn look.
“Very well.” Nodding his head, he acquiesced to her request. “Come through with the Tok'Ra, Jack, and Teal’c. Thank you, Aima Coeurawyn. Also, you should probably have someone clean up the blood, my heart. We are leaving a trail behind us, and Daniel and Kataya do not need to return to a room covered in it.”
As they entered the gate room, she stopped, and said, “All right. I am going to contact those you want to come through.”
“What is going on?” General Hammond walked quickly into the gate room accompanied by Jacob. “Good Lord,” he breathed, “What happened?”
Looking over at him, Merdwin said, “Janet will explain, George. I am sorry, but I must go.” Turning, the group walked swiftly up the ramp. Just before he entered the event horizon, Merdwin paused, and looked up at Sergeant Davis. “Thank you. You still have the coordinates?”
“You are welcome, and yes, sir, I do,” Sergeant Davis assured him.
“Excellent. There will be another small group to send to this location. Dr. Frasier will be with them, and she will tell you when it is time for them to go. It should be quite soon.”
“Yes, sir,” the Sergeant responded.
Nodding, he turned and stepped into the event horizon, accompanied by the others. Soon they would be at Avilion, where the priestesses should be waiting for them. He had contacted them as soon as he realized what Samantha was telling him. Gwennetha would be amongst them, waiting. They would not fail them. Thinking of the vision in the Mirror of the Mysts, he was relieved to see that it had not been changed; therefore, the portends, also, still stood, unchanged.
Left behind in the Gateroom of the SGC, George Hammond looked at the puddle of blood on the floor and the trail leading down the hall. “What in tarnation is going on?” He asked, of no one in particular.
“Well, George, I would say that the bleeding Merdwin told us about has become worse, wouldn’t you? I just hope she is all right, for all our sakes, as well as for Lantash’s piece of mind. He will never get over the guilt, if she does not survive this. Of course, if the Dragon of the Fire doesn’t survive, none of us may be around for it to matter, either,” Jacob finished grimly.
“True, but since there is not anything constructive we can do about that, I think that in the meantime, I better get someone down here to start cleanup,” the General murmured, as he looked around the room again.
Nodding to the airmen with the buckets and mops who were entering the room, Jacob said, “I think someone is ahead of you, George.”
“Good. I am glad someone already knows what is going on and is doing something about it.” The General walked out the door following the trail of blood, until he came to Dr. Jackson’s quarters. Looking inside, he gave a quiet whistle, “I don’t know about you, Jake, but that looks like a lot of blood to me. I think this room needs some attention before they return. I doubt if Dr. Jackson is going to be in any condition to be able to handle seeing this.”
“I gotta agree with you there, George. Not only that, but it looks like there was a brawl in here. I would guess that is where the newly forming shiner Martouf’s sporting came from,” Jacob commented, as he looked at the overturned table and chairs.
As the two men turned to leave, an airman walked up with cleaning supplies, and said, “General, sir, Dr. Frasier sent me to clean this area up, sir. She also said that if I saw General Carter, I was to tell him that she needed to see him ASAP, in the infirmary.”
“Very well, airman, go ahead. We will head to the infirmary.”
As the two men walked toward the infirmary, Jacob said, “I wonder what Janet wants with me?”
“If I had to guess, I would say it has to do with Lantash,” George answered.
“Yeah, you are probably right,” Jacob said.
They walked in silence, each busy with his own thoughts, until they reached the infirmary and entered it. Waiting there, were Malek, Garshaw, Jocasta, Brialek, Jack, and Teal’c. Jacob and General Hammond stopped short at the sight of the group, all waiting on them.
“Dr. Frasier, could you tell us what this is all about?” General Hammond asked.
“Yes, sir. Before Merdwin left, he asked that I inform you all that Lantash and Kataya would be going through the Sevesh Lok Twin, if—if she survived. It seems that Lantash will need witnesses, and if he elects to share the pain with Kataya, then they are to be there as support for him. Merdwin asked that I find you, Selmak, and find out if you were willing to do that for him; at least, he said I was to take you there. He didn’t say so, but my guess is that the witnesses must be willing. So, if any of you are not, then I will ask some of the others.”
“I will go,” Jacob said at once. “I don’t have a problem with it.”
“I, too, will go,” Malek spoke up immediately.
“Perhaps it would be easier to ask who is unwilling to go. I imagine that number will be smaller,” Garshaw stated calmly.
None of those requested, refused and the extra Tok’Ra there now evinced a desire to be included.
“Merdwin didn’t say that anyone should not come, so I suppose it is all right. They can always send those of us that are not supposed to be there, back. I am going, too.” Turning to the General, she said, “Merdwin didn’t say that you were to come, sir. I imagine he felt you would not be able to leave the SGC.”
“Which is true, Dr. Frasier, however, if I am needed, I will make arrangements to go. I can always come through later; just let me know as soon as possible, so that I can make arrangements.”
“If you are needed I will, General, but I think Merdwin would have said so at the time. He was very specific about who he felt he needed, and it was mostly the Tok’Ra. If you want to know, I think he included Jack and Teal’c for Daniel, more than anything, because her daughter will stand witness for Kataya.”
Looking relieved that he was not going to have to arrange to be off world, the General agreed, and then said, “Well, I guess you folks should get started.” He turned back to Janet, and said, “Did Merdwin say how long they would be needed?”
“No, sir, but I think he was planning on the Sevesh Lok Twin to be done today or tomorrow. Although,” she paused and cleared her throat, “I don’t know how Kataya could possibly be recovered enough to take part in anything, but then their methods of healing are so far beyond ours that I can’t say she will not be. For all I know she might be up and walking around by the time we get there.”
“You are correct Dr. Frasier, we have seen them do amazing things, things that should have been impossible, therefore, like you, I believe that anything is possible in this situation. I also believe that we should gather a few things in case we must remain; then we shall all meet in the gate room,” Garshaw stated, decisively.
As they all turned to go and gather what they needed, O’Neill turned to Teal’c, “You suppose someone should get Carter and Daniel some stuff? Maybe a change of BDU’s or something? A toothbrush? Sounds like there was blood on everyone by the time they left.”
“An excellent idea, O’Neill. I shall leave that to you and meet you in the control room in a few minutes.”
“Yeah, sure, great, thanks a lot, buddy,” O’Neill called, to Teal’c’s retreating back. However, he turned and saw Jacob heading toward Sam’s quarters. “Jacob, wait up,” he called, as he loped up to walk beside him. “Hey, listen, can you gather some of Carter’s stuff that she might need, as well as Martouf and Lantash’s? I am gonna go get Daniel a change of clothes and stuff. Maybe a couple of them.”
“Yeah, I will take care of it, Jack. Don’t worry about it,” Jacob said.
“Great, see you in a few,” Jack said, relieved of one chore. He headed off toward Daniel’s quarters.
“Sure thing, Jack. Don’t mention it,” Jacob shook his head, and continued to do what he had to do. He didn’t know how much time they had, but he would just as soon get there and find out what was going on, so the sooner he gathered what he thought three people would need for a couple of days, the sooner he would be ready to go. It took very little time to accomplish his tasks, and he met the rest of the group in the Gateroom. He was anxious to arrive and not only because of the situation in which they found themselves. He could feel Selmak’s emotions every time he thought of Avilion, the Sanctuary, and they were an odd mixture that encouraged him to wonder what was so different about the place that would put him in such a seesaw of emotions. He was swinging between elation and excitement and an almost unbearable longing to arrive…and it was not because of Martouf and Lantash. After being bathed in these emotions repeatedly, he finally broke down and asked, “Sel, what has you in such a dither? What is so special about this place that would put you into such wildly swinging emotions?”
Selmak did not answer at once, but he did calm himself somewhat, before saying, “There is no other place like it within the Universe that I have ever seen, Jacob, and I have been to and seen many diverse cultures and civilizations from the primitive to the highly advanced. I do not think that I can explain it to you; you will simply have to experience it for yourself, which, as soon as the dialing sequence is completed you will. It is,” he paused as if searching for the right words, even knowing there were none that could convey his meaning, “It is unique and wondrous, but even that cannot tell you what you will feel as soon as you set our feet upon the earth there. Never will you ever be able to reconstruct the curious sensations that it engenders. A complete and utter sense of peace is only one of them.” Once again, he paused, gathering his emotions and thoughts about Avilion, the Sanctuary. As the last chevron locked into place and the pool spun outward towards them he told Jacob softly, “There will be awe, wonder, and excitement, as well as a sense of completeness. The feelings of well-being and…rightness…are such that you have never encountered before, nor will you ever encounter again, in any other place, of that I am very sure. Never again will you doubt that you have a purpose, a reason for being, for the very air there tells you that you are important, in your own unique way, to the fabric of what is and what is yet to pass. Come, the others are entering the event horizon. We must go.”
Jacob took a deep breath and reaching out he touched the fluctuating pool of blue, something that, in and of itself, always awed him. Now Selmak was telling him that he was about to encounter something that would engender that emotion in spades. Well, he enjoyed being awed. It proved to him that there were still more wonders awaiting his discovery within the Universe, and that they were quite often only one short step away. Looking forward to what he was about to experience, he stepped into the event horizon and allowed it to speed them on their way.
The group that stepped through the event horizon stood and stared, arrested by the beauty and peace surrounding them. It did indeed fill them with a sense of wonder and awe.
Turning to those for whom this was a new experience, Garshaw murmured softly, “It struck us the same way when we were first brought here to the Sanctuary. I have never seen anything or been anywhere, before or since, that rivals this place for peace and beauty. Once here, one almost wishes never to leave,” she almost whispered her final statement, awe apparent in her voice. The peace of Avilion gave the impression of being a living entity as it settled on, and then appeared to enter, each of them. And each of them experienced it as only they could.
Selmak was correct and Jacob hugged him close. Everything he told him before they left the SGC was very true and yet it was more. It was more, it was deeper, it was…indescribable. Sel was correct about that, also.
Jack broke the silence, “How did they build those ah…buildings…like that? They look like they are a part of the mountain they are built on.” Jack, it was obvious, was not sure he liked what he was feeling, and he was damned sure he did not understand it. It was…impossible to explain and things like that always made him nervous. Besides that, P''90s were not the accepted or needed accoutrements here, and that often left him at a loss as to how to proceed.
“They are,” Selmak came fore to explain what they were seeing. “They used the mountain as the foundation and in many of the rooms on the bottom floors, the walls and floors are uneven and rocky. There are even bounders still embedded in the rock that you have to walk around because they are quite large. In fact, a lot of those have been carved into seats and tables in order to make them useful, instead of dangerous.”
“They look as if they are sitting on clouds part of the time,” Jack answered, perceptively distracted and perhaps even a little suspicious, of everything he was seeing and feeling. You could almost see him shake his body and head as if trying to awaken.
Malek, standing quietly beside him, said, “Wait until you are inside one, Colonel. Standing on the battlements and looking down, you will swear you are on the clouds, until they part and you can again see the fields and meadows below. It is a truly glorious place.”
It sounded as if Malek sighed with yearning, which seemed so out of character to O’Neill that he stared at him. Then, recovering some of his usual aplomb, Jack blinked at him and cleared his throat. “Yeah, well, a great place for a sanctuary, I guess,” he said with just a hint of unease in his voice. He was almost back to normal now that he was becoming acclimated to the sensations this place was generating. It was, he thought, some very weird responses.
“This is a sacred place,” Teal’c stated, suddenly. “It was built with love and dedication and christened with blood and tears. Those whose footsteps we follow were very probably great Mystics and Enchanters. Men and women have come here for millennia to study and grow strong and wise in the ways of the worlds and the universe that they might understand it, accept it, and go forth to conquer the evil that would destroy it. Many hearts have come here for healing, which they received, just as Kataya and Lantash will. For Lantash’s heart is heavy with sorrow and pain, also, we should not forget that.” For a moment, no one uttered a word. Teal’c being this loquacious was unprecedented, as normally, though an articulate man when he did speak, he seldom gave voice to so many words at one time.
Jack was the first to recover. “Now ya see, I don’t get how you know all that stuff,” Jack said to Teal’c.
“One senses these things, O’Neill; it is not something one knows with the mind, but with the heart and the soul,” Teal’c replied quietly.
“What the young one speaks is truth, thus his heart is truth and truth, his heart.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Jack spoke to the member of the approaching group that had spoken. It was Gwennetha, and she assumed the Furling-greeting stance and stepped forward to greet Garshaw.
“I give greetings and welcome to thee, Garshaw of Belote and Yosuf of the Tok’Ra,” Gwennetha bowed her head in respect as she extended her hands.
“We answer thee with greetings and gratitude, Gwennetha, Lady of Cadwaellon and Wiccadia.” The formal greeting over, the two groups exchanged names, and the people of Avilion soon understood who was here to support whom.
As Gwennetha turned, she said, “If you will all follow me, please.” Each person in the Avilion group took up a position near one of their guests, speaking pleasantly to them, as they followed the path that wound through the lovely, lush garden.
As they walked along, Gwennetha said, “I am glad you have come. My mother is still in danger; her Beloved and her Heartmate are both in a great deal of emotional pain. Her sister is in deep distress, as she is extremely concerned for my mother. Nevertheless, she is giving support to each of my mother’s mates, and it is draining Samantha badly. They will no doubt welcome your arrival, since it will relieve her of some of those responsibilities.”
Teal’c suddenly stopped and gazed at an animal that was grazing along the stream, a look of pure delight upon his usually stoic countenance. “I have never seen such an animal,” he said, “although I have heard tell of them in legends.” He spoke softly, so as not to startle the beautiful animal.
“It is the unicorn,” Gwennetha explained. “Only those who are pure of heart may feed them, and only those whose hearts intentions are pure may see them.”
“Well, that can’t be right,” Jack, exclaimed, “because I can see them, too, and no one ever said my heart was pure.”
“Perhaps, perhaps not, Colonel. The heart changes daily. Today your heart’s intentions are pure, and you can see the unicorn. Tomorrow, perhaps it will not be so pure, and you will not see them, though they stand beside you. Beauty cannot dwell in a place of true deep darkness, nor can darkness dwell in a place of true bright beauty. For now, we know that you have only the best of intentions in coming here, and that is what matters, is it not?” Gwennetha answered serenely.
“Well, if this is a test, shouldn’t you check to see if everyone can see them?” Jack glanced around to see if everyone appeared to see the same thing that he and Teal’c were seeing.
“They can, Colonel, one can see the unicorn reflected in their eyes. To ride the Unicorn is to ride the wind, and to see it is to see pure truth. When the sun is high, the shadows fall away, and one sees clearly that which the wind might hide.” Gwennetha answered him, then turned and began to walk again, toward one of the castle-like structures looming in front of them.
“Are you related to Oma? I mean, she is downright cryptic, and that sounded a whole like her,” Jack said, as he glanced over at her.
“Actually, I studied with Oma during one of my livings. It is an enlightening experience, even for us,” Gwennetha told him.
“I knew it,” Jack muttered, under his breath. Raising his voice, he said, “You and Daniel should get along great. He is really into all of that,” he waved his hands around, “cryptic, mystical stuff.”
Nodding her head in agreement, Gwennetha said, “Yes, I believe we will get along quite well, Colonel O’Neill. He will be an exemplary step-father, and I look forward to knowing him much better as time passes.”
Not having thought of or even realized that Daniel was now a stepfather to not one, but four Furlings, he found himself somewhat dumbstruck and left with nothing at all to say. To distract himself he turned his mind outward, looking for something else about which to think. It didn’t take him long to find it. As the group continued walking, Jack studied the buildings that appeared to be their ultimate destination. He couldn’t decide if they were like castles or churches. Maybe a cross between the two, he thought, as he remembered a church in France that looked very like some of these. What did they call it? He couldn’t remember; Mount Saint something. Michael? Yeah, only that didn’t feel quite right either. Well, it was in France, so no doubt, they spelled it differently or something. He gave a mental shrug and returned to his contemplation of the buildings they were rapidly approaching. Several of them reminded him of that place, but the remainder looked more castle-like. They appeared to be walking toward the largest of the Cathedral-like buildings. He had to admit it was impressive.
He sighed. He just hoped they wouldn’t have bad news waiting to greet them once they finally arrived there.