Chapter 57

For a millisecond of time she felt nothing as if she suddenly had ceased to exist. A millisecond of time she felt peace then she was torn back into consciousness surrounded by a bright light that pulsed violently like a slowly rotating strobe light. Somehow she had a physical body again or better said a mental manifestation of her body. A manifestation that was lying down curled defensively around itself in a fetal position. Her eyes were still closed, but she could still see the pulsing light through her closed lids, she could hear a sizzle and crack when the lights pulsed, felt it echoed in her imaginary muscles and limbs and she yearned to return the peace of oblivion.

"Samantha."

Samantha? Her name? She was not sure. She searched her mind, but all she could find was fragmented images of people she was not sure she knew. Pieces of life events she did not recognize and faint feeling of something scratching at the back of her mind trying to push its way out. She felt wrong, as if she had been pulled apart and put back together with the wrong pieces in the wrong order.

"Please, Samantha. Open your eyes.

She felt the faintest of touches against her face when the voice said her name. The touch coaxed her to open her eyes. The image of young man came into focus. She frowned at him. He seemed familiar. He smiled faintly at her, but his soft brown eyes reflected his worry as he gazed at her.

She pushed herself up into a sitting position and glanced up to a white sphere of energy surrounding her. Black and blue lightning strikes of energy shook the barrier creating the strobe effect and she gasped as she felt the energy like a physical blow.

She felt a brush of fingers against her hand and her gaze flew back to the young man kneeled next to her. Eyes wide in fear she stared at him not understanding why she was in this place or what she had done wrong to have been taken from the peaceful darkness.

The barrier shook and her body jerked back as a pulse of white energy broke through the barrier and hit her in the chest. She gasped as it burned through her body.

"I know it hurts, Samantha. You must be strong."

She shook her head. "I want to go back to the darkness." Her voice barely a whisper. "Please."

"I'm sorry, but you cannot."

"Why?" She cried out. She was not sure who she was, but somehow she knew that coming back only meant unending sorrow and pain.

"You do not belong to the darkness, Samantha Carter."

Another bolt of energy pulsed through the barrier a brilliant blue that sizzled across her mind.

The burning began to fade only to return when another burst of white light passed through the barrier holding the black energy at bay.

"Stop this!" She gasped.

"You must endure." The young man touched her shoulder. She slapped his hand away and scrambled back as another burst of white light entered and hit her. She grabbed her head as the burning scorched through her brain. An image of a pretty blond woman with large blue eyes was staring at her from a framed moving picture, no not a picture. A mirror and she knew that it was her. Samantha Carter. Other images began to form and with each one she recognized the people and events in them. Her father, her brother, her mother and others in a disjointed movie played out before her unfolding her life in confusing jumble of images. She saw her friends, Daniel and Teal'c. Another strike of white light and a man with salt and pepper hair and intense brown eyes burned across her brain and with it came a whirlwind of conflicting emotions. The Colonel. Jack. She smile faintly at the image, but another jolt hit her and a different image took his place. It was herself again, but it was not her. It laughed at her, a cold mocking laugh that terrified her.

The scratching in the back of her mind intensified and she shrank away from it. She realized it was a part of her that it was evil. The laughter became louder and Sam realized it was no longer coming from the image, but from within her own mind. It tore at her mind ripping through her memories superimposing itself over her. Her body began to thrash as she fought against the terrifying presence.

"Help me!" she screamed at the young man, his name flashing across her mind. "Marcreat! Don't let her take me!"

Strong hands grabbed and shook her. "Fight her, Samantha!"

Sam felt the horrifying shadow of Sekhmet's consciousness pass over her mind wrenching her control from her. Panic seized her and she mentally clawed at the evil presence fighting for dominance. "No!" she screamed.

The maniacal laugh surrounded her.

The primal scream coming from Samantha's form was the most terrifying sound Marcreat had ever heard. He jerked back as she began kicking and screaming twisting her body and clawing at her temples trying to tear out the invading entity.

He reached for her again yelling her name over and over again, but she did not hear him trapped within Sekhmet's grasp. He tried to still her thrashing, but she was strong in her tormented state and lashed out at him throwing him back.

He hit the barrier, felt it crackle against his mental hold on it. He strengthened the barrier solidifying against the barrage of Ascended knowledge hitting against it.

He had been able to pull back Samantha's life force and with it the Ancient DNA and knowledge he knew she would need to survive returning from the unnatural attempt at Ascension. Marcreat regretted having to bring her back from the peaceful arms of death, but he had no choice. Somehow Sekhmet had figured out how to ascend, but it had been done wrong. The black burst of power pounding against them was evidence of that. It seemed a bastardized version of the wondrous experience that was all white light and peace.

He had no choice. Samantha's life force was too weak to make the transformation leaving Sekhmet to ascend. The only way to stop Sekhmet from ascending was to bring them both back trapping Sekhmet back within Samantha's mind and body. Better to have Sekhmet in a human host than with the power of an Ascended Being. The decision tore at him. He had almost let it happen anyway. Samantha deserved the peace of death.

He had felt the Others trying to stop him and pull him back just as he reached Samantha's dying life force. He knew why they pulled back. Joined so intimately with Samantha's and the goa'uld's consciousness they could not take the chance of pulling Sekhmet with him.

Samantha shrieked again and Marcreat reached out gathering her thrashing body into his arms holding her close speaking softly to her. Telling her she was not alone and to keep fighting. After what seemed an eternity her thrashing stopped and she became still. He continued to hold her stroking her hair and whispering gentle encouragement. He remembered doing the same to his daughter when she had awoken from a childhood nightmare.

He felt her stir in his arms. She raised her face opening clear blue eyes to gaze at him in confusion.

"Samantha?"

Her lips twitched slightly and a cold smile formed.

"Hello dearest, did you miss me?"

Jacob Carter ran toward the sounds that rocked the corridors of Sekhmet's palace searching for his daughter and her team.

He rounded a corner in time to see Teal'c's son, Rya'c, he twisted his body to the side almost colliding with the young Jaffa warrior. Rya'c's eyes widened in surprise at the sight of him, "Rya'c, where is Sam?" Jacob demanded.

"The last I saw her she and SG-1 were in the Sarcophagus Room."

Jacob pushed the young man down the hall. "Go find help and hurry!" He watched the boy go then asked Selmak where the Sarcophagus Room was. Selmak told him and he took off.

Sekhmet let out a cold cruel laugh as Marcreat shoved her off his lap and jumped away. She smiled at him amused at the wary look he gave her. She looked at the barrier holding back the Ascended knowledge impressed and irritated at the power it took to control it.

She slid her gaze back to Marcreat. "I don't suppose you would be willing to release this little bubble of yours and let all the wonderful knowledge in here."

"No." He growled at her. "With nowhere to go it will soon be gone."

"Now, now my dearest, don't be…how do the tauri put it…such a sore loser." Her former host glared at her. "Yes, I know. You were hoping the tauri female would be strong enough to fight me." She waved a chiding finger at him. "Tsk, tsk…you should have known better. " She turned toward the barrier and trailed her fingers over the translucent surface as she walked around the barrier toward her former host. He did not move out of her way standing his ground and glaring at her with hatred in his brown gaze. She stood within inches of him gazing up into the face of the host she shared for so long. "If it makes you feel better, she is still in here." She said tapping her temple. "I have decided not to completely destroy her after all."

"Let her go, Sekhmet. At least give her the peace of oblivion." Marcreat said in a low voice.

Sekhmet's brows raised in surprise, "Are you asking me to be merciful, Marcreat?"

He glowered at her. "Yes, I am."

She smiled at him. "Ask me nicely, dearest."

Sekhmet delighted in the struggle she saw on the Ancient's face. She could see him warring over his hatred for her and his concern for the tauri female's soul. He closed his eyes for a moment and when he opened them the hatred was gone replaces with sadness.

"Am I truly your dearest, Sekhmet?" he asked.

Sekhmet studied him as he gazed at her. Of all her hosts, he had been hers the longest and in her own twisted way she had cared for him. He had brought control to the chaos that had ruled her for so long. He had given her the ability to guide her own life and not be subject to the madness that comprised her early years. She slowly nodded in answer to his question. "In many ways you are still a part of me. If I were to believe myself able to feel anything it would be for you. "

"Then please release her." He whispered. She reached up and touched her hands to his chest pleased that he did not jerk away when her fingers brushed against him. He looked down at her. "Please, Sekhmet."

"You truly do care for the tauri female."

He nodded placing his hand over both hers. "It is because of my actions that she suffers."

Sekhmet smiled. "Yes. It is your fault and I believe that her continued torment will be a good and proper lesson to you for seeking my destruction," she glanced at the darkness surrounding the barrier the Ascended knowledge had faded away, "and robbing me of chance to ascend." His grip on her hand tightened at her words. "Also, her continued existence will keep you and those of her team, should they survive my wrath, in my control. Hurt me and I will make her suffer." He glared at her. "You have only delayed the inevitable, Marcreat. I will ascend" she tapped her finger to Samantha's temple "the Ancient knowledge is in here. I almost accomplished it this time."

…..

Marcreat felt cold at her words. If Sekhmet did find a way to ascend The Others would be ruthless in response. They would not care that Samantha was an innocent victim she would be utterly destroyed along with the goa'uld.

"Come now, my precious host, do not look so desolate. Perhaps in another thousand years or so you will come up with another plan to destroy me. I do so enjoy this game of chase you have created for us."

Marcreat could not handle another thousand years of dodging in and out of the Ascended Beings laws trying again and again to kill Sekhmet only to fail because he could not take direct action.

"The tauri female hates you, you know that don't you." Sekhmet let out a cruel laugh "She curses your existence then screams for you to save her at the same time. Such a pathetic creature." She leaned into him and smiled up at him. "Pity you could not find the loophole the tauri female ask you to look for. What ignorant creatures humans must be to believe such a thing could exist in the laws of a race of all-knowing entities?"

Sekhmet's words blistered his soul. Even knowing that the Ascended's Laws could not be manipulated he had searched through his mind for some way around them. Tried to find a way to kill Sekhmet and save Samantha Carter. At least by bringing both of them back to corporal life Samantha survived and a chance to save her might still be found. He ignored the sensible part of him that said it could take thousands of years before it was possible and by then Samantha would be lost to the insanity of being a host to Sekhmet for such a long time.

He felt a faint, testing pull from The Others. He shrugged it off confident they would not act until he released his connection to the insane goa'uld. When Oma helped him ascend before it was only after Sekhmet had been removed from him by the goa'uld, Ra. In those first moments of freedom before his physical body died she had offered him the chance to ascend and he had taken it. Given the chance to do again, he would have chosen oblivion. Ascension had become his torment, a sentence into an eternal hell of never fading memories of his family's death and the horrors he had witnessed while host to the monster standing before him.

The darkness would be a blessing now. Perhaps that would be his punishment once he released his hold on the goa'uld and the others pulled him out. He knew could not hold her here much longer. He needed to stay connected to Sekhmet long enough to give Samantha the chance to awaken and use the syringe.

Unaware of his thoughts, Sekhmet cooed at him, "You will not believe me, but you will always be my preferred host. This tauri female is not as strong as you. We could join you and me. Come back to the living, my dearest and we will rule this universe! They will not be able to interfere if you are no longer Ascended. Do this and I will release the tauri female and her team without further repercussions."

Marcreat stared at her in disbelief. Take human form and rejoin with her? She was truly insane to think he would ever allow himself to enter that hell again. He would choose complete oblivion before doing that. Wait, could it be that simple? His mind whirled with the possibilities of the thoughts that flew through his mind.

Marcreat tightened his grip on her hand then smiled at her. "Stay close to me" he said, "whatever you do stay connected to me."

Marcreat released the barrier.