See chapter one for disclaimers.
Author's Note: Silly me. 'Beloved' is coras, not corus. This is why writers need editors. Also, thank you for all the wonderful reviews! Talk about day-makers! I hope this chapter lives up to expectations.
Forta looked to the heavens and smiled as the universe began to breathe again. It is done, she whispered, moisture lining her deep brown eyes as she felt the stars shudder in place. And then she focused on the pinpoint, its light gently ebbing, laying prostrate in the City. The Priestess―the Priestess and the knowledge of eternity. She was still burning.
Silently she beckoned her sisters and together they banded around the still, silent form. As long as her light still glistened, the Priestess was not lost. As the Ferra gathered, the great barrels of their bodies began expanding and contracting in unison, their breath forming a translucent cocoon around Sam, protecting her, fortifying her as they were able.
She must not be lost, Forta told them and they sighed as one. Her Coras will come, as Perseus to his Andromeda.
He willed her to breathe. Dammit, Sam, he shouted. Get the hell up!
She wasn't listening. She couldn't hear him. She wasn't breathing.
He had seen her destroy the Ori―such a harsh word for their gradual, gentle lessening. He had seen her eyes roll back in her head, her limbs fall limp and her body sink lifelessly to the floor. He had seen her chest still.
He had heard her heart stop beating.
He had felt a part of himself die.
But she was in his galaxy, he knew.
She had yet to die.
Her ring glowed, a hazy outline encapsulated her and he remembered. Time and space meant nothing.
"General O'Neill?" Doctor Lam called, crouching in front of him. "General, can you hear me?" His eyes were open and unblinking, his pupils unnaturally dilated. "You can't hear a word I'm saying, can you?" she muttered.
"He was calling for Sam earlier," Daniel told her as he watched his friend's unmoving form.
"He also said that she was there," Teal'c added. "Though I am not certain to where he was referring."
"The City of Celestis," Daniel said. When Teal'c, Lam and Mitchell glanced sharply at him in unison, he shrugged, his palms open. "Logically that's the place she would go. The sanctuary of the Ori, the―the belly of the beast, so to speak."
"Get the hell up," Jack muttered, his forehead creasing, his eyes fluxed with agony. "Get up."
Daniel's stomach twisted. "That can't be good," he said quietly and Teal'c nodded.
"You said he's in contact with Colonel Carter," Lam said, her eyebrow cocked.
Mitchell nodded. "Yeah, but don't ask how."
Lam frowned. That had been her next question. "His vitals are weak, but stable," she told them and rose from the general's side. "However, I don't know--"
"Oh, hello," Daniel interrupted and unconsciously stepped away from Jack's body; Mitchell and Teal'c followed suit.
Lam's eyes widened when she looked back at the general. "Oh my god," she gasped. While his body was still apparent, his outline―his substance had faded. Looking down at Jack, Lam could see the wall directly behind him, as if the general had been reduced to fog or a fine mist. Hesitantly, she stepped towards him and reached a hand out to touch his shoulder.
"Doc," Mitchell said quickly. "That may not be a great idea."
Lam nodded. "Probably not," she agreed, but kept moving anyway. Unconsciously wincing as her fingertips made contact with fabric, she sighed in awe. "Fascinating," she muttered, the texture of his shirt muted under her skin. "It's as if he's--"
"Not really here," Daniel said, his eyes distant and heavy lidded.
"You think that ring thing the general was talkin' about earlier has something to do with this?" Mitchell asked.
"Not something," Daniel told him. "Everything."
Jack gasped and the air he gulped like water sent waves of nausea spiraling through his system. "God," he muttered, ramming his eyes shut as he willed his stomach to still.
We knew you would come. Your Coras is well.
He spun as quickly as he was able and found himself staring deeply into Forta's eyes. "Got here fast as I could," he sputtered, a hand lingering on his stomach. "You guys do this often?"
Forta smiled. Space and time mean nothing to us. This, you are just beginning to comprehend.
"I don't know how much comprehending has to do with it," he admitted. "I just..." He trailed off, his eyes wandering to Sam's fallen body and the hazy barrier surrounding her. He took a tentative step forward and then stopped, suddenly afraid to intrude.
It is all right, Forta assured him. You are the only one able to enter the Priestess' Curata.
Jack frowned. "Why me?"
You are Coras, Forta said, her surprise evident. That is why you have come, why you were able to come.
Jack considered this a moment before turning back to Sam. "Is she―is she going to be all right?" he asked softly and was not surprised when a warm muzzle brushed his shoulder. Forta's breath immediately flooded him with comfort.
We have preserved her body, Forta told him. There is little we can do for her mind. That is up to you.
Jack blanched. "Me?" he asked, his voice shaky in its disbelief. "God, she's screwed."
The walls of the chamber shook when Forta indignantly stomped, and Jack automatically leapt away from her massive form. She pegged him with an eye brimming with fury and he could not meet her gaze. You doubt your power.
"I―well, I'm not really--" Jack began, but Forta cut him off with a sigh.
Tell me your story of Andromeda and her Perseus. She said.
Jack frowned. "Uh, Perseus flies in and rescues Andromeda from a big, nasty sea monster." Silence followed his telling and he realized that Forta was waiting for him to continue. "That's it," he told her, somewhat shamed, but not knowing why.
What? Forta looked aghast. That is all your story entails?
Jack shrugged and unconsciously backed up a pace. "Pretty much," he mumbled. "I got a friend who could probably tell you more."
Forta shook her head, her mane flying like silk, and gently pawed the ground. Andromeda, she said, was the very first of the great Priestesses. A powerful woman, revered for her wisdom and control of mind.
"An Ancient?" Jack asked and immediately regretted it.
No, Forta scoffed. Those you call Ancients are weak and feeble-minded. They know eternity, yet do not know their place in it. They're mere children.
Jack's lips pursed, forming a thin line, but he did not speak further.
When the city of Atlantis was under siege--
"That's an Ancient city," Jack interjected. Forta looked at him askance and he had the distinct impression she was glaring at him. "Sorry," he muttered.
Forta whickered softly and then continued. When the city of Atlantis was under siege by the Kraken, a race of monstrous beings not unlike the―the "nasty sea creature" you mentioned, Andromeda fought to free the Atlantians. But no army or battalion could accompany her, and no weapon would penetrate the Krakens' thick shell. Forta paused, gazing at Sam, and Jack did the same. Her chest rose and fell steadily now, her face free of lines carved by worry and fear, her hair boldly gleaming under the dim yellow light.
Andromeda went alone, Forta told him. And alone she defeated over one hundred thousand Kraken with the power of her mind.
Jack whistled softly. "That's quite the mind," he mumbled.
Forta nodded. Not unlike your Samantha's mind or the feat she has accomplished here. Forta paused and looked at him, and Jack shifted uncomfortably when he felt her looking through his skin, through his skull and into his thoughts beneath.
The battle sapped all of Andromeda's strength and she lay at the bottom of the sea for hours, barely breathing and hardly alive. Perseus, her Coras, found her, and though he did not have her power, he rescued her and nursed her until she was well again.
Jack frowned. "Question," he said. "How exactly did Perseus 'rescue' her?"
He brought her to himself, Forta answered, smiling slightly.
"Right," Jack sighed and scrubbed his hands across his face. "He didn't drown?"
"Then how did he--"
He found a way.
"You could at least try to be helpful," Jack groused and again regarded the hazy pod surrounding Sam.
Forta chuckled and nuzzled him affectionately. I do not have your answers because I am not the Priestess' Coras.
Jack sighed. "Again, not helpful."
Bring her to yourself.
Forta whickered and began to turn from him. Perhaps, she said, if you stopped questioning and began acting you would discover the answers you seek.
Jack stopped, his chest heavy. Gazing at Sam's face, he felt drenched in his sorrow and fear. "I don't―I don't want to hurt her," he whispered and the import of his admission weighed heavily on him.
It is possible for her to remain here, unharmed and unchanged for eternity, Forta told him. She would become myth and then legend and eventually be forgotten until the next great evil arises. Forta paused and watched as Jack ran his fingers through his hair, sighing. But I doubt she would want that. An eternity apart from you is not the eternity she had in mind.
Silence erupted in the space between them as Jack stared at his Coras, his eyes openly searching, struggling. God, Sam, he thought, a little help would be appreciated.
And then he stopped, silent, afraid to breathe lest he miss it again. A breeze ruffled his hair and his eyes widened.
His eyes slipped closed as a smile overtook his lips. Turning to Forta, he whispered, "Thank you," before moving to Sam's side, slowing only when he contacted the haze surrounding her. He met with no resistance and immediately swept Sam into his arms. He turned back towards Forta--
But she was gone. And Doctor Kierken appeared in the chamber doorway, stopping suddenly when he saw Jack.
"General," he said, his eyebrows bowed. "This is a surprise."
Jack nodded. "For you and me both."
Doctor Kierken frowned and approached, his eyes never straying from Sam's unconscious form. "Is she all right?"
"She's alive," Jack told him. "That's more than I was expecting."
The doctor nodded. "The Doci has gone to spread the word of the Ori's defeat." He smiled, his green eyes twinkling. "When he learned of the false gods he served, he was rightly shamed. But he is eager to make up for his past wrongs."
"Excellent," Jack said. "That'll definitely save us some trouble."
"So, what?" Mitchell asked. "He's out of phase?"
Daniel shook his head. "No," he said. "I think this is more than that."
"You think." Mitchell sighed and hefted himself onto one of the infirmary beds.
"This is outside my area of expertise," Daniel protested and crossed his arms over his chest.
Mitchell frowned. "I dunno. You're pretty much an expert on all things strange, mysterious or abnormal." Jabbing a thumb towards the general's place on the floor, he said, "I think this qualifies as all three."
Daniel sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Sam would know more about this than I would."
"Yeah, well, she's off kickin' Ori ass," Mitchell said. "Think she's kinda busy."
"Actually," Jack began, but Daniel's startled cry, combined with the clatter of medical instruments tumbling off of a bedside table, precluded his continuation. Jack stood by the far wall of the infirmary, Sam cradled in his arms and Doctor Kierken standing next to him.
"Jack!" Daniel exclaimed, his eyes bulging from their sockets, his glasses slightly askew. "You're―you're here." He absently heard Mitchell call for Doctor Lam as he watched Jack carefully lay Sam on the nearest bed, Daniel's jaw flexing as he absorbed her condition. "How is she?"
"She's alive," Jack told him softly and tenderly stroked her cheek.
"How'd you--" Daniel began, but Jack dismissed his question with a quick wave.
"Don't ask," he said, peering around Daniel as he visually scoured the room for the doctor. "No idea how I got there or back."
"Well, you are Coras," Doctor Kierken said.
Jack sighed. "So I've heard."
"And she bound you through the ring, didn't she?"
"Yeah," Jack said, his impatience seeping into his tone. "The implications of which are still lost on me."
"It's very simple," Doctor Kierken told him. "She has bound your minds together. As long as both of you live, you will be able to communicate if you so desire."
Jack pursed his lips and was silent a moment before turning to Daniel. "We must have different understandings of the world 'simple.'" He drew a breath and turned back to Doctor Kierken, but was interrupted by Doctor Lam sweeping through the door.
"All right, people," she called, charging towards her unconscious patient and manhandling Jack from Sam's bedside. "Outta my way! Yesmin! I need..."
She continued to speak―her mouth moved―but Jack's vision had blurred, a small smile flitting across his lips.
He heard her yawn and felt her breath sail across his skin.
Mornin' you, she said after a moment.
He grinned as Doctor Lam's voice swept closer to him. "...vitals are stable...matter of time...general?..."
But he wasn't paying attention.
I love you, he said.
She smiled and his memory saw her eyes sparkling, her head tilted back, her hair curling delicately around her face. Amata si, she told him. Coras, amata.
This is the end of My Andromeda, but this story is not over. Look for a sequel entitled My Perseus in the coming week. I'm planning on using this story as one of my NaNoWriMo pieces.