Chapter Six Summary: The group returns to "camp" as Jack calls it. Valynara greets them and then Sam and Kataya take a short rest followed by a meal. Afterwards, Sam and Kataya explain what happened both at the end of the Battle and since then. They assure them that they are fine now and they all accept that...except for Janet who has arrived with Merdwin.
Coeurawyn – My Heart Amat Wyn – My Love Carusawyn – My Dear One, My Dearest One Sevesh – An Ancient and Archaic Rite of some type, either of Joining or Release, depending on the usage and context in which it is used.
The smell of freshly baked pies wafted toward them as they once more found themselves at their ‘camp’. The group of young people of Valdellon had been busy.
Stepping forward to greet them, Alys’yat said, “Valynara told us that you would be returning earlier than would be your usual time, and that you might want to have your evening meal somewhat earlier than usual, also. We can begin to prepare it, if you tell us when you wish to eat.”
“Not for a while yet, Alys’yat,” Jacob, said to her. It’s still fairly early. A few hours from now would be fine, I imagine.”
“As you wish. We will prepare it to be ready in three hours. Will that be acceptable? And in the meantime,” she stopped for a moment and looked towards O’Neill, with a slight smile, “there will be ‘snacks’ set out in the lounging area.”
Jack sent her one of his sweetest smiles, murmured, “thank you, they were delicious” and handed her the basket she had packed full of ‘snacks’ for them, just that morning. It was empty.
The group nodded their acceptance of that plan and then began to disperse to their various rooms. Martouf and Daniel realized that one of them would have to move into another room. As Daniel turned to Martouf, to tell him he would move his things, Valynara appeared.
“There is a large room right next door to Martouf and Samantha’s room, Daniel, that was open. I had Alys’yat move your things earlier. Also, Samantha, Gwennetha, and Kataya’s things have been taken up and put away.”
“Thank you, Val,” Daniel said. “I appreciate it very much. Even if you do seem to be reading my mind, still,” he said, with emphasis.
“Nonsense, Daniel, I merely gave the matter some thought and put myself in your place to see what I would wish to have done. Once I felt confident that I understood the situation correctly, I simply had the plan carried out, that is all,” she said, in so reasonable and straightforward a manner that he couldn’t continue to disagree with her. Therefore, he simply gave in gracefully, as he shook his head and sighed.
As Kataya and Valynara greeted one another, it was obvious they had known one another for many years. Embracing her, after a short formal greeting, Kataya said, “It is good to see you again, my friend, and I wish you to meet Samantha, my sister and spirit twin. I understand Artereos has filled you in on who and what she is to us.”
“In detail, Kataya, and I honor you both for what you have done for all of us, but mostly, of course, for my dear Egeria’s offspring. Samantha, I am delighted and honored to meet you. Your coming has brought forth a great day not only for the Tok’Ra, but for the people of Valdellon as well, as they have waited millennia for the lost of Egeria’s children to be found, and for the grandchildren of Egeria to be born. They have waited patiently and long, that they might join with them and help them in their battle against the evil of their brethren. They truly are waiting anxiously for the time when you bring them to the heart- home of Egeria, which will hopefully also become their heart-home. And, of course, hopefully the new Queens offspring will be born here into the birthing tanks that are awaiting them.”
After the two women greeted one another, Samantha asked Valynara, “Are you saying that there are birthing tanks ready and waiting for the new Queens to give birth? Wow. You are that sure that there are Queens out there?”
Valynara nodded. “Yes, we are. Egeria would have brought them here, but by the time she realized that she was being hunted, she did not want to take the chance of giving away the worlds on which she had left offspring. She was also afraid of being caught or followed and she did not want to take the chance that she would have them with her. And last, but not least, she wanted to be sure her offspring were what she hoped they would be, before allowing them to give birth.”
“I know she hoped to be able to give birth while she was here, but as far as I know she never managed to do so. Preparing a symbiote and nurturing it to become a queen is a somewhat drawn out and difficult process; however Egeria seemed to have the ability to do it fairly quickly and successfully, so we must hope that at least one of her daughters have inherited her abilities.”
Valynara sighed deeply remembering those last days with her friend, then continued, “That is the impression with which I was left, anyway. She was afraid to tell us very much about those she spawned, or her ability to produce them, in case we were taken and tortured. I tried to assure her that it would not happen, but she was too afraid of what the Goa’uld could do, to truly understand that this was a protected planet and a full-scale attack would be launched at the first hint of a Goa’uld invasion. I could not get her to understand,” she finished sadly.
Hoping to cheer her friend up, Kataya changed the subject, to something much less sad, “Have you spoken with Merdwin?” She asked her.
Valynara smiled widely, “Yes, I have. I was given all the instructions on how to care for the two of you, most of which I will ignore. I think you will know what you need to do without me telling you,” she said, her amusement obvious. Sobering, she continued, “I know the ordeal took a great deal out of all of you. Even Merdwin looks extremely tired, and I can sense his depleted energy reserves. An unusual happening for him, but he seems to be handling it well.”
Kataya nodded her agreement, saying, “He has been through a great deal. It was not easy on him and he is loath to let go now. He needs to go into some deep meditation himself, but I think he will wait a while longer before doing so. I believe he is still living in the fringes of the nightmare we all shared. He will heal perhaps more slowly, than either Samantha or I, for his injuries were of his mind as well as his heart.”
“Because of that, I cannot become angry with his over protectiveness, so I surrender as gracefully as possible and with as little fuss as I can, yet still maintain the ability to do things in my own way. And besides,” she continued, her own amusement coming to the fore, “I know that once he is with Janet, he will have other things to think about, and therefore, he will not hover over us quite so much. I think she will get him to relax and perhaps do some much needed meditation.”
“Yes, I can see that it was difficult. I am sorry you had to endure that, and I know it would have been hard on Merdwin, having to inflict that on you. He has always had a deep love for you, Kataya, and nothing will change that. Having to inflict that particular rite on you would have hurt him deeply. It is well that he is such a strong-willed person.”
“I have thanked the All every day for that, also, Val. Without the tireless efforts and determination of not only Merdwin but of everyone involved, I would not be here, today.” Changing the subject to something less disturbing to talk about, she said, “To think that all these years we simply thought you did not wish to leave your, ah, retreat, with Caldathor, while in truth, you were safeguarding the future of an entire race. You have no idea how happy the news made Samantha and I, Val. I am so proud of you and what you have done for the Tok’Ra.”
Valynara smiled at her saying, “Even without the promise to Egeria, I believe I would have been perfectly happy shut away with my Cal. We have been very happy here and still have no wish to leave and return to the bustle of life at Cadwaellon. However, now that the prophecy has come to pass and they have taken part, it is time their numbers begin to grow again. You will see to it that happens, I know.”
“I understand how you feel and there is no need for you to leave here. In fact, the opposite is true, for now it must be safeguarded even more stringently, to be sure the Goa’ uld do not inadvertently find out about it, and if they do they must be stopped from coming here. We must remain vigilant and you will no doubt need to remain here to guard the people of this world. I am glad you have kept your own fleet to help you, Val, for ours is spread very thin, as you know.”
“It was a wise choice of Artereos’ when he decided that each protected planet would have their own fleet, however small. It makes for a formidable array against which the System Lords do not wish to venture. Moreover, I will be content here for as long as that is needed. The Battle Cruiser that Merdwin has offered will be a welcome addition until I can get my own built. It had not occurred to me that I might need a larger Cruiser now, but he is correct and I will see to it.” Sensing the tiredness in the two women, she said, “Both of you are tired. I should not keep you here talking when you should both be resting.”
“I must admit to extreme fatigue, but I also am glad to talk to you again. Of course, if we end up here for sometime, and it looks like we will, then we will get to have a much longer visit later. I do not know about Samantha, but I am very tired. I believe I will take the time before our meal to rest. Thank you for everything, Valynara, especially for taking such good care of our family.”
“I am sorry about the damage I did to Lantash and Martouf. I should not have been so quick to take action.”
Shaking her head, Sam said, “I would rather you used your abilities first and asked questions later. Although we have all said it, it bears repeating that it is imperative word of what is on this world does not leak out. You did him no permanent harm and you were doing what you had promised to do. It did not hurt him in the long run and perhaps it gave him a better insight into the host/symbiote dynamic.”
“That, it did, my love. Never do I want to experience that or anything even remotely like it, again,” Lantash confirmed. “However, I agree with Kataya and I think you should both rest for a while before we eat.”
“Only if you will rest with me, Coeurawyn. Now that I have you with me again, I don’t want to awaken without you there beside me.”
“I will lie with you and hold you until you awaken, I promise,” Lantash said. “Now, come and rest.”
As Daniel opened his lips to add his pleas to Lantash’s, Kataya also bargained, “Yes, my Dayillon, I too will rest, if you will come, also, and lay by my side.” Placing his arm around her, he turned toward the stairway. “You’ll get no argument from me, Kataya. Nothing would please me more right now, than to be lying with you wrapped securely in my arms.”
As she slowly came awake some time later, Kataya lay quietly and absorbed the wonder of being in her Daniel’s arms. Wrapped in the warmth of her lover’s arms, feeling the solidness of him, and knowing she was exactly where she wished to be, filled her with a sense of wonder. It was a pleasant change from the hastily snatched naps of pure exhaustion that had been the norm for Sam and her for the past several months. For Kataya, the feel of Daniel’s strong arms cradling her was pure bliss. She had woken for so long to the bindings that held her lashed to the stone of the altar that she reveled in the way his arms held, yet protected her, strong, but gentle and loving.
Coming more fully awake, she sighed. There would be explanations to be made, and it would bring painful memories. Thank the All; Samantha had been with her throughout the entire ordeal. She had been a tower of strength, as they had known she would be. No doubt, she would take much of the explanations upon herself. But, not too much. It was painful for both of them, and she could not let Samantha handle it all alone.
Soon, they would gather downstairs and it would begin. However, once their curiosity about what had happened to the two of them was satisfied, they could begin to find out more of what Daniel, Martouf, and Lantash had found here. Artereos had told them what he knew which was quite a bit and Valynara had added more information, but still she wanted to hear what her mates had to say. They had been working on the translations already, and she was sure that Daniel would be forming theories.
She was looking forward to parts of the coming evening and the hours of darkness were not the least of them. She smiled softly to herself and trembled slightly at the thought of once again loving her Daniel. Yes, it would all be worth it, as the darkness enclosed them, and she could lose herself in his love once again. Taking an advance on the coming darkness, she allowed her lips to rove over the planes of his cheek and neck and felt him smile before he moved to catch her lips with his.
Sam came slowly awake, groggy and disoriented, until she leaned back and recognized her mates. Smiling to herself, she sighed, deeply thankful, to be in his arms once again. Breathing in his scent, she realized that Lantash was holding her. She turned around and snuggled farther into his embrace, feeling his arms tighten around her.
As he began to slowly stroke her back, she tilted her head back to look at him, whispering softly, “I’ve missed you so much, Lantash, you and Martouf. I’ve wanted and needed the feel of your hands on me, the look in your eyes for me, the firmness of your muscles under my hands, your scent; dear universe, how I’ve missed the scent and feel of you. Did you know that each of you has a slightly different scent, and I love both of them? I used to wake up aching for the scent and feel of you.”
“I don’t know if we would have survived if you had not come to us in your dreams. It helped to keep Kataya holding on, and that helped both of us. I wanted you so, and yet, we both tried, so many times, to get Merdwin to stop your coming. He knew, of course, better than we did, just how much we needed you there. I’m so sorry we allowed you to be there and see those things. Especially Daniel, I know it was a terrible thing for Daniel to see, but she needed him, Lantash. I hope you understand. And you were there for him, and he for you, just as you promised us, weren’t you? You kept your promises.”
She watched his chest rise and fall as he took a deep breath before saying, “Eventually, we kept our promises, my Samantha, but I am afraid that at one point I almost did not. Nevertheless, we did help each other as we promised. I helped Daniel and Martouf at the very beginning and then they helped me later when I was almost overwhelmed by your loss. Soon, we became closer than brothers are. I would do anything for either of them and I believe they each feel the same.”
Sam nodded, and smiled softly, “Yes, we felt that.”
“Samantha, I wish to ask you something.”
“About the time we were gone? I think that explanation should wait until we can tell everyone at once. We will not wish to speak of it again.”
“Not exactly, it is about the end of the Battle when you were - when you were taken.”
“All right. I’ll answer if I can, Amat Wyn.”
“I could not tell exactly what was happening. It was all I could do to keep the pain away from Martouf so that he could continue functioning. I could hear what you said to us and I knew you were badly hurt.” He stopped speaking, to better control the tremor in his voice, then continued, “and I was aware that you were probably not going to survive, but I was unable to do more than enable Martouf to-” his voice gave out and he closed his eyes against the memories that had tormented him for so long. “I believe in the end we both passed into unconsciousness,” he finally managed to say.
“I know,” Sam said gently. “I knew before the battle that all three of you would be hurt. We couldn’t do anything to change that, without taking the chance of changing the outcome of the battle. I am so sorry.”
“You have no need to apologize, Samantha. We are not upset that you did not tell us. We always understood that you could not, any more than Gwennetha could tell Malek, or Kataya could warn Daniel. We knew, Coeurawyn. I am simply saying that I did not know for sure what happened at the end.”
Sam watched as Lantash swallowed almost convulsively, before clearing his throat and saying, “Martouf said, that you stopped breathing. He swears you were gone before we lost consciousness. Of course, we know that Thor took you, even though we were not aware by then. Were you truly gone from us, Samantha, or was something else going on?”
“Ah, I understand,” Sam said, and then she smiled slightly before continuing, “I think we will probably answer this question later this evening, but I will give you the short answer for now, and the explanation can come later. Would that be acceptable?
“Yes, I believe that both Martouf and I can live with the short answer for a few more hours,” he agreed.
“Okay, well, I guess I was dead and so was Kataya. At least, if Janet had been there she would have said we were.” She stopped speaking, and a far away look came into her eyes for a moment, before she began again, saying, “The Furling priestesses were brought for Kataya and I. Their sole purpose was to be there to sustain us after we had ‘died’. It is a very hard thing to explain, as I said, but I promise to try later, all right?”
“Yes, you have told me enough that I now know that Martouf was correct. I-I allowed my grief to almost overcome me at one point, Samantha, for all I could think of was that I had not been there to tell you how much you meant to me, how very much I loved you. Finally, when I had almost driven Martouf insane with my sorrow, he and Daniel forced me to face my feelings about everything. Daniel was a lifeline for us, Samantha. He was the one that forced me to talk of you and the sorrow and pain I felt at your loss, as well as the guilt and pain I was feeling, because I did not get to tell you how I felt.”
“I knew you were or would be feeling that Lantash, and I tried very hard to make you understand that I loved you both and knew you both loved me. I am so very sorry it caused you so much pain and anguish, Carusawyn.”
“It is in the past now and you are here. It was not your fault, and you could do nothing about it. We came to understand that and we have accepted it. In fact, I think it is time to put it behind us and begin anew. Tell me, my Samantha, do you wish to feel my lips once again on yours, for I am feeling an over whelming urge to kiss you.”
“I think that is something I could give a definite yes to, Lantash. I think a few kisses would be wonderful right now. I hear people walking around in the hall so I suspect that we’ll be called to eat soon. Let’s make the most of what little time we have,” she said softly as she drew closer to those beautiful lips that she had missed so much.
As they joined to hers once again, she was lost in the wonder they always brought her. The evening meal might just have to wait a little longer.
The three couples that made their way languidly down the staircase, shortly before the evening meal was served, were markedly more relaxed and rested looking, than the three that had gone up that same staircase just a few hours earlier. Obviously basking in the sense of well being that they were enjoying, they appeared to exist, at least for the moment, in a world that was made up of them and their mates, and no one else could truly understand or enter it.
It was soon apparent that they did not intend to be separated from their mates by anything or anyone for any reason. Hands entwined, it was all they could manage to do to eat the meal set before them. And while they seemed, on the surface, to be aware of what was going on and being said, it didn’t take long for the others in the group to realize that they were almost certainly not really cognizant of any of the many topics of conversation that were being bandied about the table.
Once they finished their evening meal and the Valdellonians cleared the table, their demeanor changed to one of suppressed tension. Leading the way into the lounge, they found comfortable seats and waited for everyone to pour a drink and find a comfortable place to sit. Sam sat comfortably between her father and her mate. Martouf and Lantash had an arm around her cradling her against their side, while her father held the hand of the daughter he had always believed would someday return to them. Daniel and Kataya sat close by them, as if the four of them needed to stay near one another, so that all of them were in close proximity to each of their mates.
Sam began, knowing without anyone asking, the questions for which they were all wanting and needing answers. “I assume that the question on most of your minds is what happened to us after Thor took us?” She asked, of the group in general.
“Well, yeah, Carter, that’d be a nice place to start,” was Jack’s somewhat laconic reply. “I mean, Martouf and I saw you stop breathing. I held you in my arms after Martouf collapsed and Thor took you out of them. So, yeah, I wanna know why, if you weren’t breathing, you’re here now. Not,” he added, “that we aren’t really glad, we are, but, well, what the hell happened?”
“Those priestesses that were brought along were brought for us, Colonel. We were aware, before ever going in, that if we were going to survive the battle at all, it would be a close thing and they were our insurance. I don’t know how to explain it to you exactly, except, maybe,” Sam frowned for a moment and then began again. “It would be similar too, well, if we were brought to Janet, and put on life support. We would be dead if you took us off, but as long as we were on it, we were still ‘alive’, so to speak.”
“Well, those priestesses were our life support. When we stopped breathing, and our hearts stopped beating, they took over and sustained us with their own breathing and heartbeats, their life force, their energy is all that kept us alive. That is why being a priestess trained in infusion, sustaining, and healing is such a high-ranking member of that order. It is a very difficult thing to do for any length of time and they had to continue to support us until we could reach Avilion, where there would be others to help them. Of course, they also had Merdwin’s truly immense abilities to help, as well, and in addition, although Thor’s medical bay did not have the ability on its own to sustain us in our dragon forms, it did have the capability to help them all in their own endeavors for us. It was a catch twenty-two in a way. The only thing that allowed them to keep us “alive” was our dragon forms, for without them, we would have died before the battle was half over, and yet, our dragon forms stopped Thor’s technology from being able to heal us.”
“So you weren’t dead? You never died?” Jacob asked his daughter. “Why didn’t they tell us you were alive?” He was frowning darkly, and it was obvious that he was a very unhappy camper at the thought of the anguish they all lived through thinking the two women were dead.
Sam squeezed his hand and smiled at him very lovingly before telling him the why. Softly she told him, “Because technically, we were not alive. Not, that is, as you know it. The priestesses and Thor’s technology took over our body’s functions for us. As soon as we were on the Biliskner, Merdwin and Thor began to work on the injuries to our bodies. While Thor’s medical bay could not sustain or heal a Katteri Dragon on its own, Thor could use it to help Merdwin. Between them, they managed to stop the bleeding, which was one of the main problems. From then on, it was a matter of replenishing our blood supply, and then beginning the long process of, ah, rebuilding our human and Furling bodies, while the priestesses sustained us.” Turning to Lantash she said, “You’ve been on the receiving end of their healing techniques, Lantash, so you know what I am talking about, I’ m sure, although nothing needed completely rebuilt for you, as it did for us.”
“Our spirits were ready to enter the All, while our bodies were being worked on. As soon as we reached Avilion, the All greeted us, and our spirits went there, to wait to see if we would survive.”
“Yes, I believe I do understand what you are saying, at least to a point, Samantha,” Lantash agreed, then smiled slightly, saying, “So, you are telling us that you were dead, but you were not dead. I find that…difficult…to comprehend in a purely intellectual way, and yet, I believe I also experienced that state of being, did I not?”
“Yes. When Kataya took you from Bastet’s torture chamber, you would have been dead before they left her stronghold, if Kataya had not sustained you. Just as Merdwin sustained Kataya the day you went through the Sevesh. He kept her alive, as Kataya kept you alive, and in the same way, the priestesses kept Kat and I alive after the Battle.”
Smiling softly at Gwennetha, she said, “The priestesses worked tirelessly day after day sustaining us, infusing strength into us, so that our bodies would only have to contend with healing, not their normal routine functions. Of course, along with Merdwin and Artereos, they helped in the healing processes, too, particularly where the damage was too severe for our bodies alone to repair it, and as they usually do, they made sure there was little or no scaring. They did an excellent job, and we would have been back after about three months, but something happened at the end of the Battle that put the survival of Kataya’s spirit in question.”
Kataya decided to take up the story at this point. Nodding to Sam, to let her know she would take over, she said, “It was at this time, that is, during the healing process, that Merdwin realized something was wrong. I began to heal much too quickly. I knew already that Morgasha sent part of her soul into me. I also knew that the All took the remainder of it, and that, when he was not helping with healing us, Merdwin was working on binding it deeply within the All. He knew as early as the first few days that something was not as it should be, but until I could visit him and impart the information as to what he needed to look for, he did not know what was wrong.”
“I allowed her to help heal me before I began to fight her. The part of her that she managed to send into me was strong, but not excessively so. Only in moments when I was overly tired, could she take complete control, and I was easily able to override her when I gained some rest and strength. I allowed her to take control quite often at first, because she fought them, and that made her weary and easier for me to control. And keeping her from entering Samantha was not a problem, either. My skills were a match for hers, and more, in every way, thanks to Merdwin and his instruction over the millennia, which was something she did not know, and it worked to our advantage.”
“The problem, I knew, and so did Merdwin, would be to separate her from me. As Sam said, it took around three of Earth’s months for us to heal completely and gain some of our strength back. I needed to start the separation process soon, or it would be too late. We could not wait much longer, so when Daniel, Martouf, and Lantash, decided to get on with their lives, we felt they no longer needed us to watch over them. By then, we felt we were well enough and strong enough to endure what we knew we must do. Therefore, we began the process of separation and removal of Morgasha’s spirit from me. It is, as our mates could tell you, a very bloody and agonizing ritual. They were often there with us, and for that we will be eternally grateful, for their support and faith in us helped us immeasurably.”
“You mean Daniel and Martouf knew what was happening?” Jack asked, his voice showing his surprise and perhaps, shock. “And they didn’t tell us?”
At this point Daniel took over, saying, “Well, not exactly, Jack. We didn’t figure any of it out until last night, and then we were just beginning to realize that something was going on.” He paused, considering his words before continuing, “You see, it wasn’t until last night, that Martouf and I were in the same room when I had the dream again, and we talked about it. I mean, we both knew we were having nightmares, and we’d sit up with one another, but we never actually discussed the dreams contents, what they were about.”
“Last night, Martouf was right there when I had it. He came over, and I said something about not thinking I could stand to watch Merdwin kill Kataya one more time, and he reminded me that after he stabbed her, he always worked very hard to bring her back. That was when we realized that we were dreaming the same dream and that it actually had to mean something. We compared notes on it and found out we were seeing the same thing. Exactly the same thing.”
“For what reason did Lord Merdwin kill Kataya?” Teal’c asked quietly. “I must assume this was a ritual killing of some type to expel the evilness of Morgasha from Kataya’s person.”
Kataya answered him, “Yes, Teal’c, it was. I had to allow Morgasha to take over and then Merdwin would hold her in place with some rather arcane spells from the Myst-time. Once he held her there, he would drop some fluid from the Mysts onto my body. As it burnt into me, it drew her spirit even closer to the surface and when he stabbed me, it would kill even more of it than just the stabbing alone would have. It was the ritual I chose to have performed, as it is much more accurate and deadly to the spirit in question, and more likely to dispense with all the evil, leaving behind no trace. Furthermore I am happy to say that it worked exactly as it should.”
“I would guess, however, that it is also more dangerous to the body it was being used upon,” Teal said, his voice calm and quiet, as he looked at her with respect.
“That is true, but I would rather have died than be forced to live with that evil within me,” Kataya answered, just as firmly. “That knowledge and the knowledge that it was the best ritual to use in this instance is, I believe, the only thing that allowed Merdwin to continue doing it day after day,” Kataya’s voice sank to a whisper, as she recalled the anguish performing the rite had caused Merdwin. “He is still feeling a great deal of remorse and guilt over what happened, even though he could not have prevented it.” Suddenly she smiled, saying, “And that is the reason he is being so overbearingly protective of us now, and it is the reason that we are allowing him to be so…um well, up to a point.”
“You finished it last night, didn’t you?” Daniel asked. “Martouf and I both dreamed that you were ill once more, then the binding holding you snapped and first you, and then you and Sam were washed in some type of fire, energy, with Merdwin. Then you both dressed in your uniform and left.” Daniel frowned for a moment, and they could tell that he had something else to ask. Finally, he said, “The fire, energy, whatever it was; neither Lantash nor I have ever seen it before. It looked as if it would completely consume you, but you all came out of it looking stronger and better. What was it and why did it help so much?”
Sam looked at Kataya, who nodded her head for her to tell them. “Well, do you guys remember when Artereos told you about the star that was named Kata’Csilla Bellawynara; the Star of beauty and great strength?” As they all nodded, she blushed a fair shade of red and said, hesitantly, “Well, it seems that the All of the Universe gave birth to it and gave it to us as a, well, as a kind of reward for a job well done. It belongs to Kat and I, so the energy from it will never hurt us, or anyone we have with us, and it will always give us strength, if we call on it. It, um, was the last line of the prophecy, too. I mean the last line of the prophecy foretold the coming of that star and our rebirth. 'And the blood of the Dragons shall be shed upon the soil, and from the fire we shall rise again and shine’. The All used the flame from our blood to ignite the star. And the power from it is part of what the priestesses were able to access to sustain us and help us to heal, so, anyway, I can’t really explain it, just trust me that is what the line meant.”
“You don’t have to explain it, Sam,” Daniel said quietly. “It’s very plain. Kataya started the fire from your blood, the flame ignited the gases of the star, therefore, ‘and from the fire, we shall rise again and shine.’ I think we all understand the most important part. You and Kataya are back with us, and the lights of our lives are shining once again,” he finished, his voice soft and low, intense with the emotion he was feeling.
Jack spoke up, lightening the mood a little, when he looked innocently at Sam and said, “So, it’s kinda like a cosmic Medal of Honor?”
Laughing lightly, Sam nodded as she said, “Yes, sir, I guess you could call it that.”
“So what happened to you after that then? After the energy bath?” he wanted to know. “You went somewhere else before you came here, right?”
“Yes. We traveled into the All to gather strength and to finish our journey as sisters, so that we could release our blood tie to one another. We can always join again if the occasion arises that we must,” Kataya took back over to answer Jack as Sam had turned her attention to something Martouf had said to her.
Having Kataya’s attention once again, he asked her, “So, you’re sayin’ that Merdwin would stab you? And you would die?” Jack seemed to be fascinated by that particular portion of the ritual she had undergone and couldn’t seem to keep himself from going back to it and dwelling on it.”
Kataya answered, “Yes. That is what we are saying, although I did not necessarily completely die each and every time. Of course, after he performed the ritual, a portion of her spirit would die and to expel it, I would be extremely unwell. Do you wish for more detail?”
Realizing what he was doing, Jack shook his head and said, “Ah, no, I think I get the picture now. Sorry.” He sent her an abashed little grin that asked forgiveness, and then asked, “So, Carter was there with you then? She couldn’t leave either because of this spirit thing?”
“Not could not, Colonel, would not. Sam refused to leave me and she was, in fact, the rock I depended on most. I would not have survived without her,” Kataya said, in a voice full of conviction.
“I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that Merdwin looked so tired, then,” Jacob said. “I’ll bet it was a really hard thing for him to do. You and Sam though, you’re okay now, too, right? I mean, you both look, er, that is to say, you seem, um, tired, so I’m just, well you really are okay, right?” He questioned, as if wanting to hear again that everything was indeed, as it should be.
“Yes, Jacob, we are truly fine,” Kataya answered him. Then smiling wryly, she added, “We realize we do not look as if we are well, but believe me it is simply from the, um, situation we were in. We will both need a great deal of rest, meditation, and good food, but I believe we will find all three of those things here in abundance.”
“And, we will find the one thing we have missed and wished for the most, during the past six months.” Looking at Daniel seated next to her, and Martouf, Lantash, and Sam, who were seated very close to them, she continued, “Our mates are here and being reunited with them will prove to be better than anything else for us, I do assure you. Even Merdwin had to admit that we were probably correct about that. And,” she smiled brightly, at everyone present, “Artereos agreed with us, so in the end Merdwin had no choice but to give in.”
“Well, perhaps Merdwin had no choice,” a voice said from the doorway, “but I do, and I wish to make sure for my own piece of mind that you are all right and,” the voice became husky with unshed tears, “really and truly here, alive and well.”
“Janet!” Sam and Kat exclaimed in unison. Jumping up, they met their friend halfway across the room, and found themselves in a group hug that included both laughter and tears.
“After Merdwin told me, I tried to be patient, but in the end I just couldn’t do it. I had to see for myself, and I admit to using my rank as your doctor to get my way and be allowed to come.”
Merdwin sauntered into the room and stopped next to the three women, saying, “And I will admit that I used her shamelessly in order to be able to come and check on you also. Lanwin and Taesha, along with the warriors who had already been assigned to the SGC once, are doing fine in getting the newest ones acclimated, so George saw no reason we could not come for at least a day or so. As he said, he can always recall us if we are needed for any reason.”
The look on his face was so smug, that Sam groaned aloud before saying, “Merdwin, you have Janet to cosset now. You will allow Kat and I to let our own mates cosset us.”
“Certainly, I will. I will just be here to be sure they are doing everything that needs to be done, that is all,” he agreed, his voice all innocence.
“I think that is an excellent, idea, Merdwin,” Kataya said, with a self-satisfied smile.
Merdwin frowned. “Why do I feel that I have just fallen into a trap?” He asked of no one in particular.
Kataya simply smiled and returned to her seat by Daniel, as Sam laughed and sat back down by Martouf, motioning Janet and Merdwin to take a seat within the group.
“Now that we have finished our explanations, it is time for you to tell us everything that has happened to you in the last couple of days. I understand you have a very exciting discovery that you are working on and that we may be able to help. So who wants to tell the story from the beginning?” Kataya asked.
“From the very beginning,” Sam said. “Don’t leave anything out. I especially want to hear about Lantash taking the part of a Goa’uld’s host and his reactions. I’m thinking that perhaps that is something all Tok’Ra should be subjected to,” she added. “What? Why are you all looking as if you are appalled? Don’t you think it would be a salutary lesson?”
“I’m sure it would, Sam, but I think it’s unnecessary,” Jacob explained, before he saw the twinkle in his daughter’s eyes. “Someday, that dry wit of yours is gonna get you into trouble, Sam.”
“I know, Dad, but it’s just so much fun to watch you jump for the bait,” she answered.
“Yeah, well, if you had to listen to Selmak, you wouldn’t think so,” Jacob scowled. “He’s worse than a wife. Hey! Quit thumping me in the back of the head,” he continued as his head dropped forward. “That’s not funny, Sel.” And perhaps it wasn’t to Jacob, but the rest of the company found it to be extremely amusing.
“Okay, enough teasing, someone needs to tell us the story,” Sam said, as she leaned over and gave her dad a swift kiss and a sweet smile. He rewarded her, as she had known he would, with a smile that said I love you, too. This was what it was really all about; it was about having all of their friends and family, here, and together.
After a few minutes of passing the buck, Jack finally spoke up and said, “Well, Daniel can probably tell the majority of it, cause Teal’c, Stevenson, and I were held captive somewhere and didn’t see what happened. Your Valynara was almost as unhappy with Teal’c as she was with Lantash. If he hadn’t been with Stevenson and I, who are obviously not Goa’uld, but are warriors, I think she’d have turned him into a spot on the floor. The way it was, she left us in some room we couldn’t get out of, until she found out for sure who and what Martouf and Lantash were, and affirmed that we were friends of Artereos’s. It wasn’t the most pleasant thing we’ve ever had happen to us, but at least we didn’t end up being tortured. Which I am guessing, is kind of what happened to Lantash.”
“I believe you would be safe with that guess, Colonel,” Lantash came forward to say. “I definitely think we could pass it off as such and I know that I have no desire at all to ever go through that again. However, since I was somewhat incapacitated quite a bit of the time, I too, believe that Daniel should tell the story and Martouf can fill in where it is needed.”
So Daniel told the story of Martouf, Lantash and Valynara again, and then proceeded to tell them how he and Lantash had been sitting and talking, as Lantash recovered somewhat. As they sat there leaning against the wall, he had looked over to see a slight crack at the base of the fountain. One that somehow just didn’t look right to him. He told them how he had gone over and looked at it and pulled the stones loose. Then he let Lantash and Martouf tell them what the message under the stones said. Between the three of them, they managed to inform the women and, Janet, who had known none of what was truly going on here, of the latest happenings and findings.
An hour or so, and a lot of information later, Janet suggested a quick once over from her, and then an early night for Sam and Kataya. Looking at Gwennetha, she advised her to have an early night, as well. She wasn’t as run down as the other two women, as she had been only one of several priestesses, but she had spent a great deal of time caring for her mother. She, too, could use some extra rest, Janet told her. No one was surprised when the women did not object. It was obvious that they were very tired. It was just as obvious that Martouf, Daniel, and Malek would be glad when Janet was finished with her exams so that they, too, could catch up on their, um, sleep.
As the three men fidgeted, Jacob and Jack grinned. Maybe the long dark months were about to come to an end and from now on the smiles would actually make it from their lips to their eyes. Life, they decided, was good.