'Owwww' Willow returned to consciousness slowly, finding that her body was not a happy camper at the treatment it had been receiving.
'So you are finally awake.'
Once she managed to push aside the pain in her head long enough to decipher the words Willow had to resist rolling her eyes, it was straight out of some movie, with the deep-voiced evil villain attempting to be intimidating by stating the obvious.
'Yeah, and I might even become coherent, if you could just tell the midgets clog dancing on my brain to take five.' She tried to move her hand up to hold her pounding head, not that it would actually reduce the pain, but it might have been comforting. It would definitely have been more comforting than discovering that her wrists were firmly attached to the surface she was lying on, and after some rather feeble tugging, showed no signs of moving.
'So what's this?' She tried to relax her body and appear unconcerned as her mind raced, trying to sort out what had happened. 'Because if this is supposed to be some kind of bondage fun, I feel I should warn you, I'm into girls.'
'You will worship me as your god.' The owner of the voice stepped into her line of vision, proving to be a man dressed in what looked like a costume of an Egyptian pharaoh, he seemed human at least until she saw that his eyes were glowing brightly in the dim light. 'You will be exalted among my servants as you use your power to serve me.'
Willow barely had time to register her disbelief at his words before the events leading up to this came flooding back. In panic she tried to pull magical energy from the planet but came up against the same barrier she had encountered before. She desperately pushed against it, trying to force her way through but only succeeded in exhausting herself. As she grew tired her rational mind pushed its way forward demanding that she calm down and examine the problem scientifically.
She studied the barrier and soon came to the conclusion that it was set around her own ability to use magic, not around the planetary power source as she had first thought. As the realization dawned on her she vaguely remembered feeling something put around her neck, she had discounted it at the time but she had a sinking feeling that whatever it was, was connected to her sudden disability.
She quickly tried to suppress her rising hysteria and studied her captor. 'So is this servant thing going to involve being tied to a table on a regular basis, because I'm fairly sure my union will object to that, and you just can't beat those unions, they'll come out on strike and then where will you be, you will have no servants then who will do your laundry, you will have to walk around in smelly clothes for weeks on end, and no one respects a guy that smells bad.' She realized she was babbling and snapped her mouth shut abruptly.
'The collar around your neck allows me to control the use of your considerable power, you may not use your power without my permission and any disobedience or disrespect will be severely punished.' Waves of pain were suddenly radiating from her neck, she felt like her entire body was being burned and torn apart simultaneously. She opened her mouth to scream but her vocal chords were paralyzed and all she managed was a feeble croak.
After what seemed like an eternity the pain disappeared, leaving Willow a quivering wreck with tears streaming down her cheeks as she cried in relief.
'Good', her new god sounded very satisfied with her reaction, 'I believe we have an understanding, you will be released and taken to your chamber where you will remain until you are brought to me.'
She broke down then and screamed 'GET IT OFF ME! Please, please take it off.' She was begging and pleading before a second pulse of pain ripped through her.
When she opened her eyes she found the impassive features of her captor looking down at her. 'The only way to be free of this collar is to touch it with this control,' he briefly showed her a plain looking gold disk. 'Perhaps if you serve me well and faithfully then I may release you. Until then you will be silent unless you are commanded to speak.'
Her restraints were undone and she was pulled from the table and, was practically carried from the room by one of the armored guards after her knees gave way. She was taken through a number of corridors which all looked the same as far as she could tell, and finally deposited on the bed of a little one room cell. She heard the door slam as the guard left and she collapsed back onto the rather solid mattress.
She lifted her hand to examine her collar but as soon as she tried to pry it off she was treated to a milder dose of the pain she'd been subjected to earlier. She felt tears running down her face again as she gave up and tried to think.
As Jack exited the Stargate moments behind his team he barely paused to breathe a sigh of relief before shouting up to the control room. 'Close the iris.' He'd be damned if he got his team out of there only to let the enemy in behind him.
He quickly looked over his team checking for anything life-threatening before heading toward General Hammond who was standing waiting for him.
'That was a lot closer than I even want to think about, they got us pinned down in the control room and I am not exaggerating when I say we almost didn't make it, if it hadn't been for some kind of distraction in the corridor behind them we would be snake meat.'
Without pausing to allow the General to comment Jack swung back around to face Teal'c. 'How are you doing Teal'c, I saw you take a hit from a staff weapon, it looked pretty bad.'
'I am well O'Neil, my wound has healed fully.' Teal'c prepared to leave the gate room without saying anything else about it.
'Junior must be working over time,' Jack spoke while eyeing the Jaffa sceptically, trying to detect any sign of injury in his movements.
Teal'c looked at him steadily for a moment before saying, 'I do not believe my symbiote is responsible for my accelerated healing.' He touched the crystal around his neck significantly but said nothing as three men in suits marched up and stood beside General Hammond.
'Where is Miss Rosenberg?' One of the suits demanded of Colonel O'Neil in a voice which indicated that he was used to being obeyed.
Jack simply rolled his eyes and turned to the General, 'Who's this guy?'
'This is Senator Adams and his associates, they were here to meet Willow, however she left prematurely and went through the Stargate. She informed us that your team was in trouble.'
The Colonel turned to look at the rest of his team who all briefly shook their heads. 'We didn't see Willow.'
'Okay,' Hammond impatiently waved his hand to silence the suits, who looked set to begin an interrogation, and gave his orders to the team, 'I want you in the debriefing room as soon as Janet gives you the all clear, understood?'
Seeing the team nod he turned and marched from the room, taking the suits with him.
As they walked to the infirmary Jack began to question his Teal'c, 'Do you think she could have known we were in trouble, and I know you were implying that that rock around your neck healed you.'
'Indeed O'Neil, my wound closed with unusual speed and there were times when I appeared to be protected by an energy field.' His expression did not change as he related the facts but Jack got the felling he was leaving something out, but before he could continue to question him Daniel spoke.
'You don't think she had something to do with that very convenient distraction, if those Jaffa hadn't practically ignored us when we got to the rings things could have been very different.' Daniel sounded a little surprised that he was suggesting that Willow had saved them, of all people he had the most reason to be suspicious of her.
'But if she was there helping us, where is she now? Why didn't she come back through the gate with us?' Carter voiced the questions that they had no answers to.
'I don't know what's more worrying,' Jack spoke into the silence, 'that she came through the gate to help us and now she's lost or been captured or something. Or, that she just went through the gate out of curiosity and now she's bouncing around the universe telling people she's from Earth.'
Willow stood on the viewing deck looking through the energy field that acted like a window, at a small village surrounded by fields and woods spread out below her. It hadn't been until the first time she had been brought here that she had realised that she was on some kind of plane or spaceship and not in a building on the planet surface. That had been a week ago at least, and now she dreaded being called to that room.
'Do you see that village?' Her captor, tormentor and until further notice her God, was standing to her right, also focussed on the view.
Willow had learned not to give that question the answer it deserved which, considering that the village took up more than half the visible landscape, was extremely disrespectful.
In general disrespect led to pain. What kind of pain depended equally on the severity of the transgression and the mood of her torturer, it could be anywhere in the range of 'dammit I stubbed my toe' to 'oh god my limbs have been cut off.' All in all Willow's life had taken a fairly huge turn for the worse.
So when the idiot man asked if she could see the bloody village she just nodded and hated herself quietly for her weakness.
'You will destroy that village, they have disobeyed your God, and you will wreak my vengeance.'
Willow almost fainted in relief, 'terrorise' was an infinite improvement on 'destroy that village' or 'kill that child'. Terrorising was something people lived through and eventually got over, this was an order she could follow through on.
She had refused to carry out her other orders and had spent four days in almost constant agony praying for death. She didn't now if she had the strength to say no again.
It had been two weeks since Willowdisappeared through the Stargate to help SG-1, or at least that was the generally accepted version of events. It had been verified that she had definitely gone to the planet they were on but no one seemed to care what had happened to her.
There had been a half hearted attempt to find out if the Tokra had heard from her but efforts had stopped there and there had been very little interest in discussing the subject.
Or at least that had been the case until Teal'c disclosed the full range of gifts that Willow's crystal had given him, from instant healing, to the energy shield, and finally the small bout of telekinetic ability. There was now a lively debate as to whether the strategic benefits of Willows gifts outweighed the problems she could cause.
Only SG-1 really seemed to care whether she was alive or not, and for once Teal'cs emotions were clear, his anxiety over her safety was obvious. As far as he was concerned the little red head had saved his life and possibly the lives of his friends and he wanted to be back through the gate looking for her.
Willow was exhausted, she had spent the last twelve hours using magic to allow large numbers of people to pass through solid metal barriers which they could quite easily have walked around, she had no idea what the point of it was, all she knew was that they were testing her for some mission. To be honest she didn't care, no one was dead and there was no pain involved, all in all this was possibly the best day she'd had since her capture.
The guards led her out of the testing room and her heart sank as she recognised the route to the viewing deck.
As she entered she saw her captor studying a scene of yet another village, the control to her necklace was sitting on a consol behind him. He waved casually towards the village and said, 'You will destroy this place.'
Tears ran down her face, she was tired and desperate and she couldn't stand another four days of agony so she stepped forwards.
The look of satisfaction on his face finally spurred her into action and she leaped towards the control knocking his godliness off his feet in a desperate bid to get to the control. All she had to do was touch it to her collar and she would be free.
She seized it with a feeling of triumph and tried to raise it to her neck.
When she woke up she was hanging by her arms from the ceiling, her feet barely touching the floor.
'Oh good, I'm glad to see you are awake, I was getting tired of waiting.' The voice came from behind her and she tried to strain her head around to see who was there.
'Where am I, what's happening?' she was confused, the last thing she remembered was getting hold of the control and then….nothing.
'You assaulted our God, and you are here to be punished, physically until you repent your evil ways.' The man came round to face her and there was the unmistakable look of a fanatic about him, he truly believed. 'I cannot understand why you would wish to leave the service of the one true God but it is lucky for you that you cannot use the control to your collar yourself, otherwise you would be forever damned in the afterlife.'
She watched in silence as he pottered around her, adjusting things in the room until they were to his liking, all the while talking away about her wickedness and how he was going to save her from wickedness. Willow suddenly felt a close connection to her witch ancestors as she listened to the insane little man and waited for the pain to begin.
Apparently her illustrious master had decided that simple pain was not having the desired effect, and so she had been sent to this man, Nallor, he called himself, for some physical therapy.
And she could tell he enjoyed his work.
She screamed as he pressed a hot iron to the sole of her foot.
Within a day she could barely manage to flinch as he methodically broke every bone in her right hand. She had screamed herself hoarse and she had been hovering on the edge of her pain threshold for so long all she desired was to enter into the blissful state of unconsciousness.
Two days later she was roughly carried to a small windowless cell and unceremoniously dumped on the bare stone floor. She had no way of knowing how long she lay there, the only light came from small spaces around the iron door and she had no way of calculating time. Eventually she braved the increased pain that inevitably came with any movement and managed to pull manoeuvre her body so she was sitting with her back against a wall. The effort drained her severely and her world dissolved into a haze of agony which was becoming almost familiar.
Eventually she gathered herself together enough that she could begin to examine the damage done to her. Her body was a mass of bruises, cuts and burns but as painful as they were, they didn't worry her half as much as the state of her hand, it was a useless mess, broken bones were sticking through the skin in places and her fingers hideously deformed. She knew that if the bones weren't set properly she would probably never be able to use it again.
She'd had practice setting bones in her years of fighting with Buffy but she'd never had to do it to herself. She spent the days she was left in that cell alternately passing out and trying to set and immobilise each of her fingers, tying them with strips of material torn from the linen shift she had been given to wear.
They fed her occasionally but mostly she was left alone, lying naked on the floor, trying desperately to avoid re-opening any of her wounds.
Eventually she was summoned forced to dress in a shift made of some kind of coarse sack cloth. She felt it stick to the places where her cuts and burns were oozing fluid and she knew that any healing would be undone when she had to rip the cloth from them.
Every step was agony due to the extensive burns on the soles of her feet and she was leaving smears of blood and pus in a trail behind her. She staggered into the viewing deck and collapsed on the floor at her master's feet, unable to stand any longer.
Once again she saw a village spread out below them, a picturesque scene of carefree country living with children and animals roaming around while adults worked busily around them.
'Destroy that village.'
She made an effort and gathered the remains of her will together to look up at her master in defiance.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw movement and she turned her head to focus, and there was Nallor, with a twisted look of glee on his face, caressing his favourite knife.
Her heart broke, she could almost hear the pieces shattering and hitting the ground. She dropped her head in defeat, she'd thought she had no tears left but as she sent out a wave of destructive magic there were tears streaming down her face.
She squeezed her eyes shut, she couldn't see the look of satisfaction on her masters' face and she couldn't see the empty black space where the village had once stood.
'Tomorrow you shall be taken to a new planet.' Was all that was said before she was returned to her cell with her mind and heart as broken as her body.
SG1 were gathered in the briefing room with the General and representatives from various Government agencies, once again discussing Willow. It had been almost a month since she disappeared and the only reason it was still under discussion was because General Hammond refused to let the matter be forgotten. O'Neil was becoming pissed as they continued to talk about her in terms of strategic value instead of as a citizen of the United States. He was just working up the energy for a good rant when the warning sirens sounded around the base. The General got to his feet instantly and apologised to the gathered officials while motioning for SG1 to follow him to the control room.
'Well?' he asked as he reached the top of the stairs.
One of the men looked up from his consol long enough to answer his superiors question, 'It's the Tokra sir.'
'Open the iris.' He commanded as he stepped closer to the window where the metal barrier was retracting to show the blue, water-like surface of the Stargate wormhole.
Seconds later three of the Tokra appeared at the head of the ramp, not moving any further until the order was given for the soldiers aiming at them to stand down.
When General Hammond and Colonel O'Neil went to meat them they did not even waste time on greetings.
'We have had word that one of the Goa'uld is transporting a highly destructive new weapon today. As far as out operative has been able to determine, this weapon has been specifically targeted to nullify the effects of your planets protective iris and cause massive damage. In an hour it will be moved to a secure location to complete testing. This may be the only opportunity where a successful strike may be possible.'
Immediately the General began questioning the Tokra while almost simultaneously shouting orders to marshal as many SG teams as possible.
Forty minutes later six SG teams were strategically placed to ambush anyone using the Stargate of the planet where a certain red headed witch had recently gone missing, and Jack was beginning to get a bad feeling about the exact nature of this 'weapon'.
Half an hour later and the teams were just beginning to get restless when the signal cam that someone was approaching. It took only another couple of minutes before twenty fully armoured Jaffa came marching into sight, and there in the centre of the formation was Willow. Jack had only a moment to take in her wretched condition before all hell broke loose.
'Come with us.' The order was given by two guards and Willow knew better than to disobey so she once again forced herself to stand on her abused feet and headed out of the door.
Ten minutes later and she had acquired a few broken ribs as an incentive to behave on the journey. If she hadn't been in so much pain she would have been tempted to laugh, they obviously had more faith in the strength of her body than she had if they thought she could walk anywhere without either passing out or puncturing a lung.
She found herself staggering along in the centre of a group of guards, the only thing keeping her going was the fear of further punishment as she clutched her side which was threatening to make her pass out.
They were just in view of the gate when Willow heard the old familiar sound of gun fire coming from virtually every direction. She was forced to her knees by the guard in charge of her and the control for her collar was waved in front of her menacingly. He shouldn't have wasted his time since the sudden movement caused by dropping to her knees disturbed her ribs and sent her straight into unconsciousness.
When she woke up she could still hear vague sounds of fighting, but it seemed further away. She managed to move her head a little and saw her captor dead on the ground a few feet away with the control for her collar lying in the dirt beside him.
She didn't know how long she lay there staring at the device which had stolen her life away from her but eventually her attention was grabbed by the sound of voices coming nearer and suddenly someone appeared, hovering over her. 'I've found the girl you were looking for sir, quadrant three, she doesn't look too good.'
Willow didn't know if she blacked out or just didn't pay attention but suddenly the soldiers face was gone, replaced by Teal'cs.
'Willow Rosenberg, can you move?' That's why she liked Teal'c. No fuss, no daft questions, straight to the point and …. and still waiting for an answer.
'Don't know, ribs are broken.' Talking was painful, se almost decided not to do it again until she remembered about the control. 'Get control.'
Teal'c looked at her without comprehension and with a supreme effort she managed to flutter her hand in the general direction.
Taking the hint he moved to look where she was pointing.
'Small, gold, beside the dead guy.' And with that final effort she once again passed out.
Overall Jack was almost satisfied with the outcome of the operation, only five casualties and a host of minor injuries, no fatalities on his side and they'd retrieved the weapon, which appeared to be Willow, so that was the end of the 'do we save Willow' debate. All in all a good days work, or it would be once he found out how someone as powerful as Willow allowed herself to be captured and, from the looks of her, tortured.
There was a field medic with her now, preparing her for transport back to Earth, strapping her ribs which had miraculously managed to avoid her lungs so far.
Teal'c was alternating anger and anxiety, which was the most emotion Jack had seen from him since the incident involving his son a couple of years back. Daniel seemed to have forgotten he had ever been angry or scared of her and was ranting about the inhumanity of it all, and generally being his usual soft-hearted self.
The poor girl had definitely been through hell, the injuries he could see were horrific and he was fairly sure her dress was covering up a whole lot more.
When they stepped through the Stargate they found Janet and her medical staff waiting with trolleys to take the casualties to the infirmary, which they did as quickly as they were brought through the gate.
Jack went to give a quick report to General Hammond, 'We retrieved the weapon, sir, it is of fairly standard design but massive power and it goes by the name of Willow Rosenberg.' His speech was really aimed more at the men clustered behind the General who were the same guys that had been debating Willows value.
Hammond took Jack to the side, 'is she a threat to the base?' I need your honest opinion on this. If the Goa'uld were referring to her as a weapon I need to know if she is an enemy, no matter who's fault that may be.'
The Colonel sighed knowing it was a valid question, 'She's unconscious at the moment, they'll be bringing her through soon, I've left Teal'c with her and the medic just needs to finish strapping her ribs before he can move her. It looks like she's been tortured which suggests that whatever it was they wanted her to do, she wasn't cooperating. Beyond that, I can't say for sure. Teal'c found a device near her and Carter's looking at it but she doesn't know anything yet.'
As he finished Willow was brought through on a spine board, still unconscious with Teal'c hovering at her side. General Hammond stepped forward but only got a quick glimpse of her before she was whisked off to the infirmary.
One of the government officials stepped forward, 'General Hammond, we demand that Willow Rosenberg be placed under armed guard and released into our custody as soon as she is well enough for transport.'