Author's Note: I forgot to say this last chapter, but from Chapter 2 Janet Wells was the daughter of Senior Airman Wells that Janet Fraiser saved before she was killed in Heroes Part 2 (Season 7). Most of the folks that reviewed got that, so congrats. I'm loving all the reviews, thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. I've enabled anonymous reviews so let me know what you think. Thanks. -Bixata
Warning: brief mention of torture, non-graphic
My people gained their freedom from the Goa'uld many years ago, and we have all heard the stories of the difficult times the free Jaffa faced in those first few tumultuous years. The overthrow of the System Lords was a quick and decisive victory when one considers how long their kind had enslaved my people as their warriors.
Many believe the rebellion was instigated by Teal'c, former First Prime of the Serpent God Apophis, who turned against his master when he discovered the warriors of the Tau'ri: Colonel Jack O'Neill, Dr. Daniel Jackson, and Samantha Carter (who had many ranks over the years and confused many of my people with her constant change in status). Teal'c joined the Tau'ri and became shol'va, a traitor, because he believed that the Tau'ri would one day be able to help win the freedom of the Jaffa.
Although we hate to admit our reliance on the Tau'ri in taking the necessary steps to free ourselves from our dependence on the False Gods, we cannot deny that had it not been for their assistance in eliminating many of the dominant System Lords and revealing their inherent weaknesses then my people might to this day still be enslaved as warriors to the undeserving Gods, rather than as warriors for ourselves.
Instead, though we may be free of the Goa'uld, we still have many other challenges to overcome, which is why I find myself chained to a cell wall, a Goa'uld pain stick pressed against my naked chest, my eye swollen closed by the several beatings to my face, my right knee bent at an awkward angle from the blow to my kneecap.
My captors are what we now refer to as the rebel Jaffa, those who still believe in the old ways and are waiting for the Gods to once again reclaim their rightful status as commanders of the Jaffa armies. The Free Jaffa Nation is still in its infancy but our mindset is still that of the proud warrior and we are quick to rid the galaxy of the Goa'uld sympathizers. But sometimes they escape our detection and are able to capture the nonbelievers in an effort to turn us back to their cause. I do not believe any of their attempts have been successful. The Free Jaffa still believe in the adage established in the infancy of our rebellion: Shel kek nemron. I die free.
And that is how I suspect I shall meet my end, very soon.
I do not mind this death for I am firm in my beliefs that the Goa'uld are false Gods, and for the most part, dead false Gods, but that does not mean that I am particularly fond of dying at this moment in my life. I do not wish to die, but given the circumstances, I find this to be an acceptable death. My brothers are free and I am faithful to my beliefs.
"You will not die today, Brother."
The voice startles me and I look around the room suspiciously. The voice is strong and deep, the voice of a true Jaffa warrior, but there is a sense of peace about it and for some reason I feel more at ease than I would like.
"Indeed, it is not your time yet." A different voice, older, a higher tone, but just as resonant and peaceful.
Moments later three men appear before me, two with the gold emblems of Apophis on their foreheads, the third with a strange appliance over his eyes, two round circles of clear material over each eye. I recognize them all from the descriptions of long ago, and from the few recording devices we have kept safe over the years. All three were instrumental in our rebellion, and all three died several years ago.
Teal'c, Bratac, and the Tau'ri Daniel Jackson.
I close my eyes and open them again to reassure myself that they are indeed there, that I am not seeing things that are unreal. But they remain in my vision and I wonder if they have returned from Kheb, if their souls were ascended and continue to roam the galaxy, fighting the same battles they fought in life. For truly they are here with me now.
"You must not lose faith, Brother." Teal'c and Bratac step toward me, the older Jaffa reaching out to gently touch my face.
It is an odd sensation, for I can sense that he is not standing beside me in the physical sense, and his touch is not solid against my cheek. However, there is a realness to it, it is nearly tangible and I can feel within my soul that he is indeed standing there, offering me his strength, the strength of a warrior.
Teal'c's hand covers my wrist where the shackles hold me in place and the pain in that hand seems to dissipate. Our eyes meet and he bows his head a little, lowering his gaze in a sign of respect as his other hand joins Bratac's on my head.
I can feel a strength I never knew I possessed build up within my body and I pull at my bonds, my muscles rippling with the new power of my beliefs. I look over at Daniel Jackson and he smiles at me reassuringly, then joins the other two and adds his hand to my forehead as well.
The blood is coursing through my veins now and I thrash and pull on my bonds, the ties to the old beliefs, and I know these must be vanquished before my people can be free. These three men before me, Jaffa and Tau'ri together, faced many challenges and always they emerged victorious. They won the freedom of my people, and it is my duty to maintain and protect what they fought to secure for us. I will be free, in spirit and body. I must honor the way of the warrior, of my brothers who stand before me and offer their strength of spirit and heart.
With a mighty yell I heave forward and the shackles tear from their fixture in the walls and I stumble forward, free of the shackles that bind me to slavery. Bratac and Daniel Jackson step away and they smile broadly at my victory, pride and honor evident in their expressions and reflected in the face of Teal'c, who stands before me, his hand on my wrist.
"Our battle is not yet won." He tells me solemnly. "You must ensure that we know in our hearts that we are to be free. Never doubt the strength of your will, that spirit which is in all Jaffa. We are honorable warriors, but we must fight to live as surely as we fight to be free. That is our way now, Brother."
He bows his head, then, his hand clasped over his chest in a salute. He steps away then and Bratac moves forward. "The way to the Stargate is clear but you must be cautious. Your knee is weak but your spirit is strong and you will find your way home."
He performs the same salute as Teal'c and is joined by the other two, who salute me then fade into the darkness of the room.
As I make my escape I can still hear their voices echoing around the vast corners of my soon-to-be former prison.
"Man, Teal'c, what's with the melodrama? You know how much Jack is going to tease you about that?"
"What O'Neill does not know will not inflict harm upon him."
"Uh, Teal'c that's…never mind. You're saying I can't tell him?"
"Oh come on, you can't say something like that and expect me just to forget it. That was deep, profound, I wish I had come up with it. What do you expect me to tell him when he asks how it went?"
"I expect O'Neill will be otherwise occupied." Bratac's voice this time, sounding amused and perhaps a little concerned. "I believe he is preparing for Samantha Carter to join us. Is that not why he did not join us this day?"
Daniel Jackson replies sadly, "Oh right. He hasn't left her side all week, she's in a lot of pain. You know how he is. He's happy he can finally be with her again, but the transition is always hard, leaving everybody else behind. But they'll be together soon, and she belongs with the rest of us. She's the last, you know. It's hard to imagine that. The last of SG-1. But we'll finally be together again."
There is a moment of silence as I finally stagger into the clearing where the Stargate stands, beckoning me home. As I strike the symbols on the DHD Bratac's final words float on the wind. "I now have two speeches to relate to O'Neill. He will be most pleased."
"Don't you dare!"
Perhaps a warrior needn't always be stoic and brave. Sometimes he needs others to remind him what is really important in life. And perhaps that faith in one's friends and family is what makes a true warrior.