On Condor Wings

I wrote this for fun. I made no money and I know that these characters do not belong to me. Feedback is always welcome.

Her nose was itching. An odd first thought. Her hands and feet were numb: she was bound spread-eagled. Her shoulder was throbbing - right, a staff- weapon burn. She tried to raise her head and open her eyes against the brilliant light. Oh wow. Bad idea. Concussion.

What? -Someone was taking off her boots.

"Hey!" she muttered.

A shadow fell across her face.

"Didn't think you'd be needing these." There was a woman crouching over her, bouncing lightly back on her heels as she spoke. She placed Sam's boots on the ground before she casually flicked a large ant from Sam's nose. "It won't be long now. "

"What?" Sam really wasn't following this conversation.

"The ants." The woman watched her intently. She reached out again and brushed another ant from Carter's forearm.

Sam still didn't understand - My god. She pulled her head up sharply to look around - to see a steady stream of ants- army ants streaming past her head. They were a mere two feet away.

Sam frantically fought the ropes, looking up at her captor in panic.

"I distracted them with some fruit but with that wound I don't imagine they'll be fooled for long. They like meat - and the Jaffa like to keep them supplied with fresh food."

Sweat was pouring from her forehead into her eyes - running down between her breasts and back soaking her black t-shirt, pooling in her wound - sweat generated as much by panic as by the relentless heat. Sam had seen mice carried off by the army ants - the rodent still struggling as the ants tore it apart - until all that was left was a seething pile of ants. It had taken seconds. Ants went for the eyes first - or a wound.

Sam closed her eyes in an effort to calm herself and gain some control over this situation. The woman wasn't Goa'uld. She wasn't a Jaffa. Maybe there was some bargaining chip she could use. "Look" she said, "if you want the boots, take them. But let me go" she closed her eyes briefly before adding: "Please?"

The woman sat back, crossing her legs and making herself comfortable. "I already have your boots. And socks" she said, holding them up and dangling them in Sam's face "Why would I annoy the Jaffa just to free you?"

Sam was not a little desperate: "Damn it! Because I don't want to die like this!"

"No one wants to die. But it happens."

This was getting her nowhere. Sam tried again. "Yes. But not today. I have to find my friends. And bring them home with me. Three men - did you see where the Jaffa took them?"

The other woman stood and looked down at Sam "You really don't know?"

"Know what?" Sam closed her eyes to the pain in her head and shoulder. Her desperation and pain carried in her voice. "Look, - I just want to find my friends and leave."

The other woman pulled a knife from her belt and crouched again over the bound air force officer. She toyed briefly with the knife, the honed steel glinting brightly in the sun. She then ran it tentatively, and ever so gently, down Sam's throat, down her chest and her belly. The knife stopped at her belt. She tapped the tip of the blade on the metal buckle in a slow tattoo. Sam had to strain in order to stare into those hardened eyes. She had no doubt that this woman knew how to gut a human efficiently. Sam tensed, barely breathing, certainly not speaking. But she met the woman's gaze without flinching.

"Where are you really from?" The knife wielder barked the question.

"Not from here" Here she paused to find the right words but the knife sliced through her belt and pressed into her belly. "No. Listen! Do you know the Stargate? The Chappa'ai?" The other woman nodded, withdrawing her knife slightly. "We, my friends and I, are travellers, explorers - enemies of the Goa'uld - When we came through the.Chappa'ai we were attacked. " She paused. "I was hit with a staff blast, captured and that is the last I remember."

The woman nodded and withdrew the knife: "I saw. The Jaffa do not take damaged merchandise, especially women, so they left you here for the ants. They took your friends as slaves. Had I thought you were a friend of the Jaffa, I would have gutted you and left you- awake- for the ants." The woman stood and walked around Sam, staring down at her intently the entire time. "Still." She hesitated, and then came to a decision. "You are a warrior." It was a statement, not a question. "The Gods, the Jaffa, do not tolerate such.. strong women. " She grabbed her knife in her fist and plunged the knife into the rope binding Carter's wrist. She quickly had the other woman freed.

"What is your name?" Sam sat rubbing her wrists wincing from the pins and needles in her feet: not trusting herself to stand just yet. "Sam Carter. And yours?" She asked squinting up at the other woman.

"My name is Glory."

Glory pushed the boots, towards Sam with one bare foot. "Here". She pointed with her knife at Sam's feet. "Those soft feet will be useless without them." She barely gave Sam the time to tie her combat boots before turning and striding away. "Come."

Sam stood and stumbled after Glory, stealing a backwards glance at the ants. They had finished with the fruit and now they covered the ground, searching for more food. ***************** Sam had been shoved into this small hut, fed, and given water. A healer had treated her wounds but had refused to answer any questions. She had then been left locked in here for what seemed like hours.

"Here" Glory said as she threw a knife, a machete, a water gourd and a bundle onto the bed at Sam's feet as she entered the hut. She grabbed some bread, meat and cheese from the table in the middle of the room before hopping up on the bed sitting cross-legged beside Sam.

"So.what's going on?" Sam finally asked when Glory showed more interest in eating than talking.

Glory eventually looked up, and said, without a flicker of expression "I managed to convince the council not to have you killed." She returned to her meal.

Sam watched her for a moment: "Good, good." Then after a pause "And why would they?" Off Glory's look: "Kill me. Why would they?"

Glory wiped her hands on her tunic and finally gave Sam her full attention. She spoke as if to a child. "Because you could be a spy. Spies mean our men being found in their hiding places in the forest and taken as slaves to the mines. Spies mean slavers and we kill slavers. And we kill spies. "

OK. That is why she had seen only women, old men and young children when she had been escorted here. "They don't take women?"

"Why would they? The women keep the villages and produce more slaves without any effort on the part of the Gods."

Sam nodded, then picked up and opened the bundle as she spoke "And all of this?" Glory picked up the knife and pulled it from the scabbard, testing the sharpness "Are you really going after your friends?" Sam nodded as she re-tied the bundle of food and then said "Of course." Glory nodded in return, as if satisfied. "Then I will take you where you will find them. But " she said raising a hand to forestall any interruption "Only I will go with you. And I will leave you there. You may never return to my village. No Jaffa can ever know you were here. I will slit your throat myself if I think you are a danger to my people." Of that Sam had no doubt. Still, and perhaps because of that knowledge, she trusted this woman.

Glory grabbed the food bundle and strode from the hut. Carter attached her knife and water gourd to the rope that now served as her belt, grabbed her machete and followed Glory into the afternoon sun.

********** It was hours before they reached their destination. Carter stumbled several times over her boots on the narrow trail that had been worn into the jungle floor by generations of bare feet. Finally they came to a ridge overlooking a slow moving river and a waterfall cascading from the mountain opposite.

"Here." Glory turned and looked at Sam expectantly. Sam, however, could see no sign of the Goa'uld and had no idea why they had stopped. Glory stood and looked out over the valley and towards the mountain, saying nothing. She was lost in her own thoughts. Carter sighed and concentrated on the terrain before her. Miles of forest - jungle- stretching so far that she could see the faint curvature of the planet; and silence; deep turquoise sky - and condors. Soaring, dipping and riding the air currents, huge birds that owned the sky. Sam tilted her head back to watch the birds, caught up in the beauty. "There are none left on my planet." It was a mere whisper, carried off in the wind.

Gloria had been watching her companion. Now she nodded and squatted on her haunches, and began to draw in the ground at their feet. "The Gods take water in on the other side - here. It leaves through the waterfall," She pointed to her diagram "here. You can get in by climbing the rocks and back tracking the river into the mountain. Our children do this so that we can keep track of the men who have been taken to the mines as slaves." "And the Goa'uld don't know?" Sam asked. Glory shrugged. "The Jaffa do not care. There is always a black market trade in the mines. It can be used to the Jaffa's advantage. But be careful. Most of the irrigation flumes are too high along the rock walls to for anyone inside to be visible, but there are places where the conduits are worn through. You could fall to your death." She pointed again to her drawing. "The prisoners are kept here, the slave quarters here and the mines here. I hope you find your friends." She stood, scratching away her drawing with her bare feet. She reached into her own pack, pulling out a dark knit cap. "To hide that bright head of yours." Carter smiled as she pulled it over her head and turned to the other woman. They stood watching each other for a space of about five heartbeats.

Finally Carter broke the silence. "Why are you helping me?" The other woman looked off to the distance briefly before replying: "Because in your place, I too would ask death to wait until I had brought my friends home."

Sam smiled and simply said "Thank you." "Good bye Sam Carter. I will not see you again. But I hope you find your way home." With that Glory turned and walked back into the jungle without a backward glance.

Carter turned and made her way down the ridge. She was on her way to find her team. *************

Rock climbing without a rope and crampons and with an injured shoulder is slow and hard work. She slipped several times. But she finally hauled herself over the last boulder and lay beside the thundering water of the falls. She had stayed there, exhausted, watching the first few evening stars emerge. Then she started searching for her way into the mountain. She had almost missed the tiny opening behind the falls. But in the deepening dusk, she had wormed her way over the slippery rocks and into the mouth of the mountain - and into the dark of the river.

Light danced in crazy patterns on wet rock. She was easing her way slowly through the tepid water, crawling through a narrow channel of rock. She had learned to minimize her splashing: noise echoed and was amplified against the dripping rock walls. Her shoulder was throbbing where she had scraped it. She had had to squeeze her way through several narrow places. The guys would never make it out this way. They had to find another way out. One step at time, she reminded herself. Just one step at a time.

The water was about a foot deep, and she had to keep her head high to avoid breathing in the water. She had lost all idea of time, but she clung to the mantra in her head that drove her on - just a few more feet, just a few more feet.

Then - she was coming out the other end.

Noise. Heat. Men. The smell almost gagged her.

The noise came as an assault: a constant rumble, a grinding of metal against rock, of wheel against rail and the din of shouting men. Incredible heat, even this far in the mountain - it shimmered, and distorted - hiding any clarity her tired eyes may have drawn from the scene below. The warm fetid air carried the smell of thousands of unwashed bodies and poor sanitation. There were hordes of men moving in lines moving cars of rock along tracks; men in chains hammering at rock; men pouring molten metal; Jaffa with staff weapons shouting, other Jaffa whipping the slaves along. But nowhere could she see Daniel or O'Neill.

Nothing for it but to keep looking. She slowly inched her way along the channel towards the prison cells. **********

She had found Teal'c. He was in a small cell isolated from the main body of the mine and he was guarded by two Jaffa. She had found him about an hour ago and had spent the time observing and waiting for an opportunity. Teal'c appeared to be in Kelnore'em.

One Jaffa had his back to her while the other turned away to watch the prisoner. Now.

She leapt from her rocky ledge and landed squarely on the Jaffa's back. Her legs, wrapped around his waist, gave her leverage, even as she drew her blade across his neck. The blade dug deep as she hurled her weight against the knife. She could feel the steel grinding against his spine even as he tried desperately to yell. Still she hung on, warm dark blood pouring over her hands, making the blade handle slippery and then sticky as it dried. She braced herself against his back, pulling back on the blade until he fell to his knees. Then she fell forward, rolling over his head, narrowly missing the staff blast aimed by his partner. Sam had meant to grab her victim's staff weapon as he fell, but the other Jaffa had been too quick. She found it now as she came out of her roll but she was too close to her opponent to use the weapon's firepower. Instead she lashed out with the weapon, using the long staff to trip up her opponent. But he merely fell to one knee in front of Carter. They were both now on their knees.

Carter discarded the unwieldy staff weapon, hearing it hit the metal bars as she hurled it towards Teal'c's cage. Then she launched herself with a bellow at her opponent. He had not been expecting such a tactic and was caught unawares. She caught the man full in the chest throwing him backwards with her momentum. Then she struck downwards with all her strength, her blade catching the man in his eye. She straddled his chest, twisting the blade to finish the job. But Jaffa do not die easily. This one roared and twisted, throwing himself on top of his smaller assailant. She couldn't disengage before his weight pinned her, but she did keep worrying at the blade. Blood poured from his eye socket and over her face and hands. He had his fingers around her throat and his huge hands were squeezing the life from her even as his weight crushed her. He was dying, but he would not die alone.

She was barely conscious when the staff blast rang out and the Jaffa finally died on top of her. She didn't hear the second staff blast as the cell door exploded and Teal'c freed himself from his prison. He raced to his teammate and pulled the Jaffa from her. Her eyes were closed, her hand still grasping her knife. She was covered in gore and blood. But she was breathing. He knelt at her side.

"Major Carter!"

She gasped violently as she pulled air back into her lungs. She opened her eyes - a feral thing, leaping to her feet and, falling back as Teal'c reached out to her. She snarled as she raised her knife and circled Teal'c as she would a deadly adversary. Teal'c dropped his staff weapon and raised his hands to his sides. "Major Carter, do you not recognize me? It is Teal'c."

Her eyes lost her hunted look as she backed away, one hand on the wall, the other clutching her knife, watching the large Jaffa. Then she began trembling violently.

"Major Carter. It is OK. You are injured and in shock." He slowly lowered himself until he was sitting cross-legged on the ground. "Please sit and talk to me Major Carter." As he spoke he held his hand out to the major. Such shock was not uncommon in warriors after such violent and intimate killings. He could help her through.

Sam leaned against the wall, slowly lowering her knife hand. She slid down the wall to the floor, holding her head in her hands, still clutching her knife. "Teal'c" she said through her violent trembling "Teal'c."

"Yes Major Carter. It is I." He slowly stood and made his way over to her, crouching in front of her. He reached out ever so slowly and removed the knife from her hand. He then sat beside her, eventually draping an arm over her shoulder and pulling her close. Her trembling stopped. She sat up and wiped the blood from her face, staring at her blood stained hands as she said: "We have to find the Colonel and Daniel, Teal'c, and find a way out of here." He took her gently by the chin and turned her head towards him, drawing her eyes from her bloody hands. "We will make a plan Major Carter." She smiled a little as he helped her up and handed her back her knife.

********* Daniel grunted "What." as he was tackled and pulled down behind the cart he had been loading. A hand over his mouth silenced him. The shadow of a Jaffa loomed over him. His assailant whispered: "Daniel, it's me " - and pushed a zat gun in his hand. Simultaneously his manacles were unlocked. He stared hard at.Sam. "Sam!" "Shh.. Get back up there and act like nothing has happened. We'll get the Colonel. Wait for us. We might have to run." Then she was gone - with Teal'c? The Jaffa was geared up like the local Jaffa, but he had a black wool cap hiding his gold insignia.

Daniel stood and went back to loading rocks. He left the manacles in place, but he was ready and waiting, a slave no longer. Sam was alive. He had last seen her staked out to die by the bastards that had brought them here. She was alive and working on getting them out of here. Life was definitely looking up.

******* Damn rocks. He hated rocks. He raised the sledgehammer and took aim at some offensive granite. Or basalt, or goddamned slate. Where was Daniel when you needed him? The shock of iron on rock reverberated through every joint in his upper body. He looked up surreptitiously to see if the damned Jaffa were still watching. Yep. Damned Jaffa. He hated the Jaffa. Yep, especially the Jaffa. He took aim again and took small satisfaction from the sparks flying from the contact. Nothing like cracking a few Jaffa skulls to give real job satisfaction. He looked at his companions in rock busting and shook his head. One grimaced back and turned back to his labour.

Great. The Jaffa was not paying attention. Time for a wee break Jack me boy. He nudged his nearest companion in misery who took the opportunity to drop the cursed sledgehammer for a moment. Jack kept his eye on the proceedings. Another Jaffa was talking to "his" Jaffa, holding a manacled prisoner by the collar. Poor bastard couldn't be more than a boy.or - Carter! Well damn my eyes. And Teal'c. Looking good kids. Looking good. Jack turned to his fellow slave and said, "Get ready. Something good is going to happen here boys." Soon the cadre of chained slaves was alert to whatever opportunity the fates chose to present them.

The Jaffa on guard was looking suspicious. He was to be on the lookout for an escaped Jaffa and this one was certainly acting the part. Teal'c started arguing in Goa'uld and suddenly gave Carter a shove, inadvertently hitting her wounded shoulder. She cried out and fell forward to her knees. A female? It wasn't the distraction they had planned, but Teal'c moved quickly while the other man was distracted and shot twice and then a third time, vaporising his opponent with the zat gun.

Sam was already on her feet, forgetting her pain, shedding her open manacles and hurrying over to Jack, leaving Teal'c to keep watch.

"Carter - glad to see you're alive." She threw him a cheeky grin "You betcha, sir" as she unlocked his manacles. She moved on down the line, releasing all the prisoners while Teal'c handed Jack the staff weapon from the fallen Jaffa.

"Come on - you're coming with us." Sam said as she freed the last man. One of the "slaves" stepped forward. "Why should we trust you?" Sam hadn't expected resistance, but before Jack could reason with his former chain gang mates, she said: "Because Glory saved my life and I owe her one." It was the right thing to say, apparently, because all three men grabbed their sledgehammers. The man who had asked the question nodded and said: "I am Victor. We should leave."

"Yeah, about that Carter, where are we going?" O'Neill looked at Carter and then Teal'c for an explanation.

"Well sir, don't lose those chains just yet. We have to pick up Daniel and then.

********* OK. Things weren't going too badly. They now had Daniel in tow. Everyone shuffling along with heads bowed being driven along by Teal'c for the main entrance to the mine. Talk about surreal. Smoking torches reflected the sweat on Teal'c's face even as they threw weird twisted shadows on the wall. Sam could feel her heart beating in her throat. She was a bit faint- headed. She had last eaten in the small hut in Glory's village.

Teal'c calmly walked his charges through the stinking throngs of workers, through the carts of ore and through the other chained gang of slaves waiting to make their way through the gate as though he were again First Prime. It couldn't be this simple. They were in the blessed fresh air and sun when a Jaffa came running up from behind shouting at Teal'c. Teal'c stopped and turned regally, answering in Goa'uld. This was not good. She cautiously wriggled her wrists to open the manacles without dropping them and eased her hands until her right was above her hidden zat.

The other Jaffa turned his head and called to his companions as Teal'c roared, "run!" and blew a hole in the other man's chest.

"This way!" and they all followed Victor who ran headlong down the steep scree and towards the forest. It was a nightmare run, sliding and rolling as they lost their footing on the lose gravel, but they all made it down the steep slope to the first arm of the forest on the mountain.

The Jaffa were shooting down on them, pouring down the slope and sounding their horns. There was no point in returning fire - it would be suicide. They kept running. Almost all were under cover when one of the villagers fell face first into the rocks. Sam stopped and helped him up, shoving him ahead of her as staff blasts shattered the trees ahead of them.

O'Neill and Teal'c were now returning fire just inside the forest, giving Sam and the villager cover as they tore past and continued running. O'Neill and Teal'c followed close on their heels.

Sam was stumbling and racing headlong down the narrow trail that had been beaten into the forest floor when she was grabbed from behind and hauled into the dense undergrowth. A hand was clamped on her mouth as she was dragged backwards and then forced to the ground. Her captor's weight pinned her to the ground. She could hear the Jaffa thundering by, their armour clinking and the horns sounding.

Glory waited until they had passed before whispering in her ear "Stay still. All your people are safe."

********** They had waited until the Jaffa hunting parties were further a field before dispersing into the forest. Everyone had met up here on this ridge, further down on the mountain, but hidden from the mine entrance.

Sam stood enthralled. Victor and the other two villagers were harnessed into three kites. The two personal gliders, made from bamboo and paper, had been hidden in the forest for just such an escape. They were about to launch from this ledge, ride the convection currents above the river and find their way home. From there someone from the village would find SG-5 at the rendezvous, or wait until they showed up to deliver a message. SG-1 is on their way.

A perfect plan - if Hammond had managed to clear the gate of Jaffa and allowed SG-5 to come through.

But Sam was caught up in the beauty of the moment as the three men ran from the ledge, dropped and then caught the currents riding up, up and then away over the river. They were hidden from the Jaffa hunters by the forest canopy.

The remaining party: Glory, two more women from the village and SG-1, watched the kites grow smaller in the distance until they could see them no further. Then they turned to make their way down the mountain to go home. ********* They were safe for tonight in this clearing. No major trails led to the site and they would light no fires to attract the hunting parties. They could keep watch on the whole valley from a nearby ridge and mount a second watch at the camp itself. Hopefully the hunters had given up once night had fallen. A few escaped slaves did not warrant excessive effort - they could be re-captured in one of the routine raids of the villages. But Teal'c, and perhaps even the rest of SG-1 had challenged and made fools of the Jaffa. And honour was everything to a Jaffa. They would have to be careful. But they were going home.

********* He couldn't sleep. He had something he had to deal with, and it couldn't wait. O'Neill made his way to where Sam was standing watch. She was in silhouette against a star-filled sky. He cleared his throat softly as he settled on a log near her. He hoped there were none of those goddamned ants around.

"So Carter, Teal'c told me what happened back in the cell." There was no answer, and he couldn't see her face. Damn, she was not going to make this easy. He soldiered on. "He was his usual talkative self." She had bowed her head, but still hadn't responded. "Care to give me some details?"

She sighed. "Not really, sir." She paused and continued: " There were two Jaffa. I slit the throat of one and had stabbed the second in the eye when Teal'c finished him off with a staff weapon." Her voice was controlled but husky. Fine, Jack thought, his second in command would rather die than cry in front of her Commanding Officer. He could understand that. But he had seen the blood soaked shirt, the blood clotted in her hair, the blood- encrusted knife - and the bruises on her neck and face. Teal'c had mentioned her shock reaction only out of concern for her. Who would want to talk about it? But she had to come to terms with what she had done or it could destroy her. He should know.

"You know Carter, the first time I killed a man with my own hands - with a garrotte, by the way - I vomited until I thought my stomach would come out my mouth." She hadn't moved, but he could tell she was listening. "I've never forgotten his face. My nightmares won't let me. But maybe that's OK, Carter, because it means I can let it out now. When I couldn't it damn near ate me away."

"Sir."

"What I am saying here Carter, is that you need to talk about this, about how you feel, because if you don't, it will kill who you are. Not necessarily to me, but I am here for you - but to someone. You have to talk about this."

"Yes sir." He could barely hear her.

"Sam, as your friend, I am asking you to see someone. As you CO I will make it an order. Am I clear?"

"Yes sir." Clearer this time, and he could sense her anger.

"Most soldiers recommended for a commendation end up speaking to someone, Carter."

A pause: "Commendation, sir?"

"Hell, Carter, you found and freed your team - practically single-handedly - while wounded and while under fire." He stood up, brushing what he suspected were ants from his pants. "I just hope I don't lose you to your own command as a result."

He could hear a soft snort and then: "Thank you, sir." Her voice was husky again.

He placed a hand on her good shoulder "Good work Carter - I have to go get some shut eye now."

"Good night sir." She tilted her head to the stars. No one was there to see, but Major Samantha Carter, Ph.D., USAF, was softly weeping.

************* "It is almost time for my watch." Sam stretched and made to get up, but the other woman placed a hand gently on her shoulder. "Come Sam Carter, tell me about your life." And she did. And Glory talked of her own life.

Dawn found them alone on the ridge. A huge sun rose, casting dancing shadows on the waking land. A breeze played with her hair, lifting a blonde strand from her forehead before teasing a leaf into a dance that took it over the ledge and over the valley below. Sam gasped at the beauty. Glory turned and smiled.

Sam looked into deep brown eyes and grabbed the hand offered to her. A buzz, like an electric current - and the world shifted. A constant, mesmerizing beat reverberated throughout her body. Glory's voice was low, almost a drone until it faded and Sam was aloft. She had wings that stretched to the horizon and eyes that could see to eternity. She soared high on her fire-tipped wings and soared to the stars, power surging through her newfound muscles. A cool wind ruffled her feathers; she was riding ecstatic on its tide, hearing the whispering and murmuring of others like herself. She was free; she was wild and she was flying.

She came back to the ledge as the sun broke free of the horizon. She was still staring into deep brown eyes. "A shaman?" The other woman smiled. "Maybe someday."

They turned from each other to watch the sunrise. But they still held hands as they watched the condors riding the dawn.

************* "Ferretti! You are a sight for sore eyes! So.how are the Wild doing?" "Hate to tell you sir - out in seven to Anaheim." "Anaheim! I swear, they can't print "Mighty Ducks" on the Stanley Cup, Ferretti. It just wouldn't be right." "No, sir, it wouldn't".

Sam smiled to herself. The general had come through. He'd sent the search and destroy missiles through and cleared the Jaffa out. Then he'd sent SG- 5 to come and find SG-1. The villagers had played their part and delivered the message. SG-5 was still waiting for them a day and a half after the agreed rendezvous time. The Jaffa had not shown their faces.

She would have a talk with the general about keeping an eye on the villagers. They should be OK, considering the Jaffa would have no idea that they had helped the strangers, but still, they owed these people. It was only a mining outpost for the Goa'uld, barely worth maintaining a detachment of Jaffa. But she meant to see that no harm came to these people. Or to this land where the condor still flew.

********** Carter was the last one to go through the gate - except for the Colonel, of course. He waited impatiently at the event horizon. "Hurry up Carter. I can hear that steak calling my name."

Glory was also the last of her people to leave. She held out a flute to Sam. "Here. It is made from condor bone." Sam reached out to take it reverently. "Because there are none left on your world." Sam bowed her head and looked up, catching the other woman's eye "Thank you. Thank you for the gift. Maybe you can show me how to play it someday." Glory smiled and nodded.

With that Glory turned and walked into the forest. Sam watched until she disappeared. She tentatively blew a note on the flute and then climbed the steps to the event horizon. "Geez Carter, took you long enough."

***********

Sam sat bedraggled and filthy on an infirmary bed, dressed in a hospital gown and gently swinging her legs while she waited for Janet to return. The curtains were snatched back and Janet stared down at her and then at the clipboard in her hand.

"Well.. your shoulder needs time to heal and then some physiotherapy. I've stitched your head wound but your concussion needs at least two more weeks downtime to heal." She put down the clipboard and crossed her arms before fixing Sam with a stare and adding: "as for the rest, we really need to get you cleaned up before I can take a good look at you." "Ah, ah!" This last as Sam made to hop off the bed and head for the showers. "You're not going anywhere just yet - I'll get a nurse to clean you up - I don't want that shoulder dressing to get wet, Major. And.you need to rest. You aren't leaving until I am satisfied you are well on your way to leaping tall buildings again." Sam smiled at her last statement, looking down at her hands.

Janet watched her for a moment, drawing the curtains again and then sitting down beside her patient. She spoke quietly. "Sam, Colonel O'Neill has already asked me to refer you to a doctor- a post traumatic stress expert - I. Sam. I am here for you, as a friend and off the record, any time you need. You know that don't you?"

Sam still seemed fascinated with her hands. Then she raised one to wipe her eyes. Suddenly she turned to Janet, burying her head in the doctor's shoulder and sobbing quietly. Janet gathered her close with one hand while stroking the filthy hair with the other. "It's OK Sam. It's OK."

Some time later, Janet left and intercepted the nurse heading for Sam's bed. "Let's let her sleep for a few hours, Lieutenant, then we'll clean her up."

Behind the curtains, Sam slept on, clutching the condor flute. She was soaring, flying and gliding through turquoise skies. Soaring with the condors.