If Aisha had ever held a moment's doubt that her god put her on the First World for a purpose, it had long since left her. Blood of Apep, she hadn't just come to document and bring the word of Nekheb's god. She had been sent to demonstrate the fire and fury of her god's might with her own flesh and blood if such a thing was necessary.
The god of Nekheb had said that he was not worshiped through word and prayer, but through great deeds. Many great deeds had already been done this day. And many more were to come.
Blood thundered in her ears as she felt the ensorcelled marks along her flesh ripple with ambient magic. Small sparks flashed from the gold piercings along her body, shimmering static arcs dancing along the delicate decorative chains. She'd been forced to cast aside the garments provided to her by the demon Thor's Chosen warrior to protect them for precisely that reason. In the priestess' judgement, the Tau'ri taboo on nudity was subordinate to an invasion of crustacean monsters and it appeared they agreed.
The Tau'ri warriors regarded her with interest but it was admiration rather than suspicion in their eyes. Even the lust of the younger men seemed tempered with a healthy appreciation of Aisha's lethality. She regarded the Chosen of Thor, staring at the seasoned man's stern expression. His brown eyes smoldered with a flickering hatred acerbic enough pass for one of the gods, sending shivers down Aisha's spine. She could feel the innate strength that allowed a man to truly slay the divine and the diabolic with only his own mind and mortal sorceries to his name.
The rumors of Tau'ri attacks on the pantheons had seemed wild fantasies at first. The First World was a story one told to scare children, a place so terrible that the divine beings had left it to rot in its own festering violence. It had lived up to its reputation thus far – given the day to day dangers of this world it was really no wonder that it had bred warriors of such caliber. Even in the face of absurd violence, they maintained a degree of decorum and discipline that would have been worthy of a Jaffa.
The Tau'ri man next to Thor's Chosen, the older one with the bits of glass in front of his eyes, seemed to be the Chosen's immediate subordinate. The Chosen issued directives to the man with the glass over his eyes, who in turn directed the collective of Tau'ri warriors around them to various tasks in support of the Chosen's attempt to recover the Tau'ri fortress in which they stood. The Dragon had conveyed some, though not all, of the Chosen's intent in their brief conversation. She'd mostly understood declarations of territory, property, and intended violence upon those below.
The brood of Ferrovax was not renowned for their conversational nature with "lesser" beings, they found mortals to be petty and ephemeral things concerned with trivial vagaries. A matter that was further complicated by the tongue of the Gods, which had only limited crossover with the preferred lexicon of the great Wyrms. But she understood enough to realized that she'd been correct in her initial assessment of the whelpling's spell. It was a pact between the dragon and the mortals of the mountain, an exchange of aegis for aegis. In exchange for allowing the beast dominion over the mountain and those who reside within it, the priests who traded blood with the dragon would be granted long life and vitality so that they might ensure an orderly procession of events within the dragon's dominion. It was a practice that effectively only retained popularity within the Celestial Bureaucracy of Lord Yu given that Yu was essentially the only Goa'uld who still remained able to negotiate with the great Wyrms on even footing.
The whelpling was an infant by the standards of its race. It was barely large enough to fill the corridor of the Tau'ri fortress, and its magical powers were insufficient to heal the ensorcelled wounds across its back. The great dragons were larger than most warships and held enough power to destroy entire fleets of warships when the mood took them, which was part of the reason mortals enacted pacts with the creatures to begin with. Though they were capricious and materialistic, dragons detested sharing their territory with any sort of lesser predator. Well, frankly they just detested sharing at all. The whelpling had decided that Aisha fell within the purview of "hers" which at least meant she wasn't going to find herself down the gullet of a dragon in the imminent future.
The dragon child's meaning had been largely lost upon her. The beast struggled with mortal concepts like language or time, and conveyed meaning in short bursts of possessive declarations as a result. The Goa'uld language seemed easier for the dragon than that of the Tau'ri had been, but it still seemed to limit the child's ability to express herself beyond "you are mine" and "do not betray me." She wasn't inclined to dispute either under the circumstances.
The great lizard was currently engaged in the process of burrowing down through to the level beneath them. The Tau'ri fortress seemed to have been built sturdier the deeper one went within it, while the level above them had been separated by several feet of stone and rebar, the dragon had already gouged out five feet of sheer rock and they hadn't managed to pierce the barrier. Let no man be foolish enough to accuse the Tau'ri of insufficiently protecting themselves from a would-be invader, there were cities with less of a barrier to protect them.
The whelp occasionally emerged from her burrow, snorting up powdered stone shaking herself free of debris. The warriors of the Tau'ri had, in surprisingly short order, delegated some of their more junior warriors to the task of brushing her clean of dust when she emerged. They brushed across her with mops and brooms, prying the rocks and debris from between her thick scales. The dragon seemed to enjoy the process of greatly, flipping on her belly to ensure that they removed all of the larger detritus before going back to kick out more stone with her diamond sharp talons.
She scrubbed away the purple blood from her body with a soft towel that had been offered to her by the man wearing glass lenses, a man she'd surmised to be the equivalent to a first prime to Thor's Chosen. The man identified himself as Master Sergeant Siler, though when she attempted to address him by his apparent first name he'd quickly corrected her by pointing to himself and just saying "Siler" as the Tau'ri all got a fit of the giggles. She quickly corrected her use of his apparent first name, deciding that it was overly familiar to use it rather than the family name of Siler.
The man had made some overtures as part of a well-intentioned campaign to get Aisha to wear clothing, but Aisha demurred. Any garment she accepted would just end up soaked in ichor or burned away from magical discharges from her tattoos. It was a waste of time and perfectly serviceable garments. The man was not easily dissuaded from his intent to clothe her, but eventually just gave up on the attempt in disgust given the array of more pressing concerns.
Many men and women became casualties or fatalities as a result of the conflagration between the Tau'ri warriors and the crustaceans. And while at least some of the living were trained in triage, their current capacity for healing the wounded was greatly limited. Aisha was not a healer within her own people's traditions, and she hadn't even the faintest clue how to help the methods of healing favored by the Tau'ri. Men and women were administering treatment to their charges with strange implements and arcane fluids whose purposes she didn't even begin to guess.
What she could do, however, was comfort the living and see to the souls of the dead. The largest point of triage was a communal space just adjacent to the main corridor. There were several tables lined with green felt that had been turned into makeshift operating tables and a number of chairs positioned around altars topped with black boxes built around a glass panel. Those still capable of sitting were perched atop the metal chairs before the altar. Those less lucky were either on the felt tables or lying next to them as treatment was attempted.
She was immediately drawn to the sobs of a young man clutching the hand of his fellow warrior as a healer did her best to keep the fellow warrior alive. He sat next to his friends, shaking with fear and confusion. The young man had skin like a shadow that stood out in stark contrast to the pale skin and ginger hair of his wounded compatriot, especially given that the already pale skin had gone deathly white from blood loss. The dark man still held baby fat in his cheeks, having just barely reached manhood. A fact that was punctuated by the way he was pleading with his friend to live. She didn't have to speak his language to understand his meaning.
The boy was pleading with the universe not to take his friend, and Aisha knew quite well that the universe had no intention of listening to him. The fair-haired boy had taken a wound to the abdomen. Based off of the smell, the wound had ruptured his bowels. He was not long for this world, no matter what the young woman trying to heal him did – he would die. The man begged with tears in his eyes as his friend's face clouded over into stillness, taking the first steps of his final journey to Duat.
He broke down completely as the healer stopped trying to heal the corpse and moved on to another wounded man, stripping off her purple gloves and dropping them on the bloodstained table. They were unapologetic sobs of agony, the sort of emotional pain that couldn't be suppressed or diverted – they could only be endured. Aisha had spent enough of her life comforting the living to recognize that pain, it was the sort of hurt one could only feel when one had been only exposed to death in its rawest form in the most limited capacity imaginable. But this was a grown man – surely he'd lost someone, hadn't he?
There was scarcely a soul on Nekheb who hadn't lost several siblings or cousins by the time they reached puberty, let alone into adulthood. How could a child of the First World, the mythical home of nightmares, have reached majority without experiencing death? People always dealt with grief to different degrees, but unless these two men had been lovers it stretched the bounds of credibility. Perhaps they had been lovers, Aisha knew basically nothing of the dynamics of romance on the First World. Maybe the Tau'ri had adopted a similar culture of fraternal love to the warriors of the Hellenic Pantheons. Perhaps the boy had just been lucky enough to have avoided death's sting. The universe was too large and too amazing to ever conform to Aisha's expectations.
But while she couldn't necessarily understand the man's pain, she could at least share in his grieving process. She leaned down to hug the man as he was blinded by tears, letting him sob into her bosom until he'd sobbed himself into exhaustion and stained her chest wet with tears. She kissed his forehead and wiped the tears from his eyes, cooing softly as whispering words of comfort to him. "It will be alright. The gods provide for us, even as they take from us. You will find meaning in this even as it brings you pain."
The man sniffled, rubbing at his eyes with the sleeve of his uniform before stiffening as though someone had run an electric current through him as he realized how close he was to Aisha's naked flesh. He practically fell over himself as he stood up, trying to put space between himself and the naked woman before him. He knocked over the chair in the process, stumbling across it as he repeated what sounded like the most emphatic apologies imaginable – to the uproarious amusement of the other warriors in the room. They whooped and cat-called the man who'd been held by Aisha only moments prior, whistling and clapping as the man's already dark skin flushed with embarrassment.
One of the men cat calling the loudest walked over to the blushing man and gestured lewdly at the priestess. Aisha gave the men cat-calling her the most withering glare in her arsenal, snarling in fury as she grabbed the hand making the lewd gesture and twisted it, putting the main on the floor in agony as she put her foot in his armpit to pin him in that position of pain. "You arrogant little children, are you actually so puerile as to be unable deal with a woman respectfully unless she's been wrapped in seven different layers of preventative barriers to block view of her body? I am not some bit of flesh for you to congratulate your compatriot for having been given access. I am here to help his pain, not feed whatever sexually misinformed pathos you are currently indulging. Do we have an accord?"
The man jabbered animatedly in his language, in what didn't particularly sound like an apology to Aisha. She looked to the nearest woman, arching her brow in question – implying rather than actually saying "Was that an insult?"
The woman met her gaze and shook her head once, snorting dismissively. Ah, an insult then, Aisha wasn't going to let him go if she'd been insulted. She twisted the man's hand harder, earning a scream from him that brought Siler in from the hall. He looked from Aisha, to the man she had pinned to the ground, and back. Aisha shrugged. "He was rude."
Siler asked a quick question to the man on the ground, to which the man sputtered out an answer that was a bit too quick to be honest under the circumstances. The dark man interrupted the other man's lie almost immediately, repeating the words spoken by the man currently pinned by Aisha in a much more respectful tone than the man had done. They had been about as bad as Aisha suspected judging by Siler's expression. He let loose on the man, snarling with a degree of vitriol worthy of a god's fury.
He spoke a curt request to Aisha, pointing down to the man on the ground. Aisha let the man go and was briefly treated to a front row seat to what was presumably the chewing out of a lifetime. She didn't know much of the Tau'ri language, but she was quite certain that "fucking moron" and "court-martial" were the most vitriolic of insults one could muster based off of the emphasis put behind them. The last one in particular seemed to put the fear of the gods' wrath in the man's heart. The man started spouting an endless torrent of apologies to Aisha, only stopping when Siler dismissed him – though, expelled him from the room was perhaps a more accurate description.
The seasoned warrior watched the man scurry away with contempt, turning to the dead man on the table. Siler's lip curled up in anger, his hate for the invading forces a tangible presence in the room as he pulled a pair of silver tags from the man's neck and pocketed them. He balled his fist, turning to Aisha and shaking his head as he shouted out into the corridor, summoning yet another man that Aisha hadn't previously seen.
Another man in uninform walked in to the communal space, a sad expression upon the new man's otherwise kind face. He carried a leather-bound tome in one hand and a small gold icon attached to a length of gold chain in the other. There was a similar icon of intersecting lines stitched above the man's heart. Whatever the man had been summoned to say or do, however, was lost when the man caught sight of Aisha and his brain seemed to briefly cease functioning entirely.
He went a bit cross-eyed as he sputtered out half-words, trying to reconcile the tattooed flesh, pierced body, and freshly growing stubble of the woman in front of him with the Tau'ri expectations of modesty.
Once he'd reconciled himself to the fact that the woman before him wasn't a hallucination, he literally removed the shirt from his own back in an effort to clothe her. There was a brief but awkward moment as he attempted to wrestle her into his blouse that ended in her putting it back on him and buttoning it shut before grabbing by the ear and holding him out to Siler. "I am being remarkably measured with these interruptions. But your people will stop trying to touch me without my permission."
Siler gave an emphatic apology, putting himself between the man and Aisha and returning the man's discarded book and pendant to him. There was a brief exchange between them in which Siler seemed to convey at least some of why Aisha was disrobed to the other man. It was at least enough that he stopped trying to force clothing upon her, though he made no attempt to cover his disapproval for her state of disrobe.
He held out a meaty paw, speaking with a long drawl that seemed to lean each word up against the next as he spoke. There was a measured lethargy to his manner of speaking, he used words sparingly but luxuriated in those few he actually chose to employ. She felt an immediate rush of power as she shook the man's hand, energy rippling across her tattoos as they reacted to the belief flowing around him. She arched an eyebrow quizzically, realizing that this man was a practitioner of the local cult. What god had already found purchase within the ranks of the god slayers? She didn't recognize his choice of iconography, but he held himself with level of dignity that she found fitting of his station.
She steepled her fingers in prayer and gestured to the dead man in invitation. "Shall we send the child to Duat? I would welcome the guidance of your patron in seeing to his journey."
The priest, eager for familiar ground in the face of such a peculiar woman, immediately took her meaning. He wrapped the chain around his hand and dangled it above the boy's chest, flipping open the leather-bound tome to start reading from it. Aisha, cupped her hands around the man's fist, speaking her own prayers of guidance to the dead. Her tattoos, still empowered from the blood of the crustaceans, glowed green and sent sparks of static light across Asiha's body. Her power intermingled with the ambient energies of faith projected by the priest, bolts of static arcing from her many piercings to the dangling icon of the Tau'ri's patron god. The spiritually conductive icon cast bright light across the room, empowered by their shared prayer to guide any remaining shades to judgement.
The man's drawl took on a fevered tone as his icon glowed with divine light, his eyes bulging with astonishment as he spoke prayer after prayer after prayer. Once their prayers had finished Aisha wrapped the still glowing icon's chain around the man's clenched fist, resting the icon atop his quivering knuckles and kissing it gently as she bowed to him once again. The man clutched his book and the icon against his heart, a mix of wonder and fear in his eyes before he made a gesture of warding in front of himself that was quickly mirrored by Siler.
While the ritual had been admittedly showy, the degree of fascination felt like an overreaction. But perhaps her religion was just showier than most. In fact, the entire room seemed to have decided that her prayer was very much worthy of interest.
"Well woman, you came here to get their attention." Aisha smiled, looking at the gaping faces of the Tau'ri. "Now lets work on getting their faith."