"You made a contract, Little Man, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not. Since the moment Nidhogg recognized it, Maa-chan has become you're responsibility."
Silver brows furrowed together in confusion. "My responsibility?" Jack asked. "What are you talking about? You're speaking in riddles, Lady, jumping from one thing to the next like a hyperactive squirrel-none of what you're saying is making any sense."
An ominous laugh. "What it means, dear child, is that somehow, I entrusted on to you one of my best agents. Everything she does, anything that happens with her, is and will be reflected upon you. She is one of your officers now, after all-and as Maa-chan's superior, you need to make sure she isn't handling something too big for her."
Like she is now.
Jack fell silent, musing over Hild's words carefully. "Who are you?" He finally asked. "No more bullshit-I want a straight-up answer. Who are you? Are you a demon? A little girl? A woman? What? Who are you and what are you trying to get from me?" The colonel was tired of this game Hild was playing with him. It felt like a wild goose chase, running after a non-existent tail that he knew wasn't there. "What the hell do you want from me?"
Slowly, a smile dawned on the woman's face, and Jack was certain her next words would damn him, if Mara had not already done so. "I am the Leader of Demons, Daimakaicho Hild." She said, crossing one leg over the other and rising in the air, reclining in a chair that was non-existent. "And I want you to make the god of this world suffer."
One who knew too much.
And had been driven to the brink of insanity and beyond for his knowledge. One of Heaven's dirty little secrets, they'd thrown him down to the third-dimension, sealed his rank, let him stay hidden on a planet that was little more then a pile of dirt. They'd watched him, sure, but so long as he showed no signs of trouble, they let him be-rambling and mad, creating one ward after another in preparations for an incident that might take generations to be ignited.
And still, they'd let him be. They watched as he destroyed a false god and returned to his former glory as a true god, if only within the eyes of the people he'd claimed as his own.
Yet where mortals go, demons are sure to follow, and so the infernal realm came upon his discovery.
They could do nothing. The wards on the planet were so thick that it was near-suicidal to attempt to stop his progression.
He created an imbalance, tipping scales that should have stayed balanced with an ease of holy magic that tainted everything it touched.
Forced to use some sort of catalyst of a human origin, the infernal realm could do nothing but watch in anger as, little by little, the planet and it's denizens slowly tipped the scales in Heaven's fortune.
The Lord of Terror
The destruction of a dependency for catalysts.
It was only a matter of time before the Daimakaicho found a means with which to once again even out the scales on the planet.
SG-1 and the demon in their presence was her answer.
After all, there would be consequences for a demon's involvement with a god, even one as insane as the one banished to this dirt hole of a planet.
But that said nothing for the mortals who'd accompanied the demon to the world.
Staring down at the man who'd wormed his way into her precious Nidhogg database, Hild smiled.
It's time to put an end to this imbalance.
A thump, a smash, and Daniel and Teal'c burst into the room Mara had claimed held their military counterparts, a look of worry on Daniel's face as he sought out the man who was his friend. "Sam?"
It was the Major he first laid eyes on, propped up in a corner of the room and nursing her head as though she had a bad headache. There were no signs of any sort of physical abuse on her end, and two pairs of blue eyes lit up as they met.
"Sam, are you alright?" He asked, making his way toward the woman as Teal'c moved to cover his six, back turning to the archaeologist and gaze turning to the newly destroyed door, staff weapon dropping to focus on the world outside.
Mara had been more reliable then Daniel had initially believed, it seemed. The spell she'd cast on the duo was claimed to have been a locater spell, but the scientist hadn't been sure he believed it until the strange glow that Mara claimed was supposed to represent Jack and Sam's aura had wafted into his view. The second, less impressive spell of inattention allowed them to pass through the village Jack and Sam were locked up in unnoticed and unhassled.
Actually, Daniel thought that spell was more useful then the locater spell. Jack would have given an arm and a leg for such an ability several times over in the past, when SG-1 had angered one local population or found themselves being chased by another group of hostile Jaffa. Yet the location spell still had it's use, though the archaeologist was more then a little curious as the second, almost unnoticeable aura that arose on several areas of Sam's body.
I wonder if that's the supposed 'taint' that Murtha was talking about.
They were dark areas, where it looked as though the blue that was Sam's natural aura had been bathed in some sort of shadow, darkening the usual bright areas into a murkier shade. He'd already noticed several such areas on himself and Teal'c after Mara had let the spell go into effect, his own aura a shade of blue perhaps one or two shades of blue lighter then Sam's, while Teal'c's was an odd shade of purple. Mara's had been a deadly red when he'd looked over at her, and closer inspection of both Teal'c and himself revealed small areas where the two individual auras had been tainted with Mara's red, something the demon claimed was typical of any mortal that stayed within the presence of a demon or god for an extended period of time.
Sam's aura was no exception either. However, unlike Daniel or Teal'c, the officer's aura had a second, underlaying darkness to it that Daniel couldn't associate with Mara. And the way it seemed to constrict Sam's aura, rather then simply blend or meld into it the way Mara's did on his...it looked like the woman had been poisoned.
Carter's smile was more then a little constrained as she slowly rose to her feet, her hand still attached to her head as though the area caused her pain. The major looked pass the young man and towards Teal'c, and a look of relief passed across her features. She turned her gaze back to Daniel, an unspoken question in her eyes.
The archaeologist shrugged. "Mara said she wanted to stop Murtha." He said. "She claimed the guy was going to be trouble, and that we need to head back to the 'gate ASAP..." The man felt his voice fade as the color drained from Sam's face. "Sam? What is it?"
The major's mouth opened and closed several times, and a look of despair rose on her face. She placed a hand to her throat and shook her head, a look of panic rising on her face. I can't talk!
The constricting darkness, Daniel noted, seemed especially present around her neck.
Daniel stared silently at the poor woman for several seconds, then released several curses, none of which existed in the English language.
"Jack." He decided. "What about Jack? Do you know where he is?" If Sam couldn't talk, maybe Jack could? At least until they got Sam some sort of writing material, or had enough time where she might be able to tap out a message in Morse code.
If anything, the color that had drained from the young woman's face disappeared entirely, turning Sam as white as a ghost. Daniel felt a knot tighten in his stomach as slowly, Sam nodded her head, pointing to an area somewhere behind Daniel.
The man twisted his head, looking behind him as best he could without turning his body and finding no sign of the silver-haired man that was SG-1's leader. He turned back to Sam, finding the woman still looking past him, staring at something only she seemed to see. The archaeologist turned, actively following the pointing finger to a crate before pointing to the object in question as well. He looked back at Sam for confirmation. She nodded, slowly, cautiously.
He approached the box.
And that was when the labored breaths reached his ears, tired and struggling, sounding almost as though they belonged to a dying animal.
"Jack?" A weariness he was starting to become all too familiar with rose within him, and Daniel slowed his step, something screaming in the back of his mind that what was behind the box was not something he was going to want to see.
He purposefully ignored it.
A mass of darkness laid behind the crate.
Daniel withdrew, a gasp escaping his throat as he head whipped behind him to Sam. Sam nodded her head, and Daniel swallowed the lump in his throat. He looked back to the creature behind the crate, his hands instinctively moving to his weapon. "Jack?"
Another strangled gasp from the writhing mass of darkness, and Daniel pulled away, his eyes feeling like they were about to pop out of his skull as he fought tooth and nail against a sudden, instinctive urge to flee.
Closer inspection revealed there was, in fact, a person within the mass of darkness. So heavily tainted with some unknown poison that there was nothing left of Jack's original aura-a color Daniel wouldn't honestly be able to say he knew with the amount of darkness wafting from the poor man's body.
Jack lay twitching in the middle of the mass, the strangled gasps and wheezes of a man fighting for his life the only sound that escaped him as the colonel tried to bury deeper into himself. Curled into a fetal position of pain and suffering, the officer seemed blind to the world around him, incapable of focusing on any one thing, let alone the scientist calling his friend's name.
Daniel swore once more-something he'd later realize he'd been doing more often with the arrival of a demon in their group, and looked once more to Sam. "What happened?" He asked, fear for his friend making his words biting.
Yet Sam could do nothing but shake her head, a look of regret in her eyes. I know more, but I can't say what.
A grunt caused all present to divert their attention once more to the crate, and a hiss, one that sounded like the melting of acid through steel, permeated the room. A hand rose to grasp the top of the crate for support, and the digits connected penetrated the wood as though it were little more then paper. Jack's figure slowly, painstakingly lurched to its feet, and despite the initial concern for his friend, Daniel felt himself take a step back, fear racing up his spine.
Bolts of violet electricity raced across his arms, and eyes that had once been a familiar brown seemed to have been submerged within a pool of red. He looked as though he'd been bathed in a never ending shadow-one that seemed to move with his actions, following him wherever he went. His steps were staggered, as though the man bore some unobserved weight that burdened him with each step. The singed print of a military combat boot trailed after his walk.
The man-was he still a man? What had become of his friend? It felt as though nothing but darkness remained.-Turned his gaze to Daniel, and from within Daniel saw something that could only be described as 'infernal' within the gaping red pools that had once displayed brown eyes.
The word came out an incomprehensible snarl, only understood by the recognition of the word his mouth formed.
"Where is Mara?"
He was making his way to the door, and around him the rest of SG-1 found no desire to stop him, moving out of his way, almost jumping away from the man lest they catch whatever strange power that had possessed him. Even Teal'c, stoic as he was, was more then intimidated by the creature that had overtaken his comrade, moving outside and keeping his staff weapon lowered and leveled at the man that was Jack, lest some great ravenous beast burst from the man's form and rip his throat out.
Jack looked to the Jaffa, but otherwise made no motion towards the warrior, showing as much interest at the weapon ready to blow him apart as one would a tree.
He walked-staggered?-past the larger man, leaving the rest of his team behind in the silence of terrified animals locked in the presence of a predator.
And then Sam was chasing after him, a wild, near-insane smile on her face as a noise that Daniel could not pass off as laughter erupted from her throat.
He ran after her, entering the hallway with Teal'c and watching in horror as Jack came to a halt in front of a wall. The duo watched as Sam slowed her pace to a stop behind her leader, watched as a shadowy tendril rose from Jack's body, latching on to Sam's aura and further darkening it. Watched as the monster that had once been a man reached a hand that sparkled with violet energy out to touch the wall.
Daniel screamed as a hole blew outwards, his cries mixing with the horror filled shrieks of those outside who'd been caught in the blast.
The two military members paused, watching in a frightening curiosity at the chaos the hole had wrought, and then turned as one towards the remaining half of their team.
Sam's smile was insane.
Jack's smile was bloodthirsty.
And then the two were gone, through the hole and to the world outside, where the screams of villagers only seemed to rise, mixing with a laughter no sane man could ever utter.
The massacre had begun.
She'd stopped breathing. It was too much of a mental strain to even bring forth the effort to fill her lungs with the substance that gave the creatures of this plane the ability to survive. She didn't need it. She'd only done it to fit in better with the image of a regular human, and after a while, it had become habitual. But now, her mouth tasting of dirt and something she was dimly aware of as her own blood, she found that the habit had died with the human she'd been hiding as. The world was incomprehensible to her senses. Half of consciousness with the third-dimensional body residing on the planet her contract was on, the other half having left for a higher plane of existence.
"First-Class demon Marller requesting emergency acquisition of Special Class Goetia level spells." Gone was the SG uniform that had been issued her. Such an article remained with her other half, the part of her that allowed for interaction with the mortals of the third-dimensional plane. The woman in it's place, standing before the great serpent that was Nidhogg, was dressed in a more tradition garb-one of foreign silks and feathers, speaking of her position within the infernal realm.
An eye that was twice her size flashed an angry red several stories over her head, and a soft, gentle feminine voice filled the atmosphere. "First-Class demon Marller, requesting for acquisition of Special Class Goetia level spell; initializing..."
Mimir slowly approached the fallen demon, a tired, victorious smile on his face. "Do you see now? How pointless it is to fight for life, knowing death awaits you?" He towered over the woman's fallen form, eyes of a madman meeting the darkened red eyes of his opponent. Blank, dark, lifeless, like so many souls he'd seen in his well. This was the fate of his kind. Once Ragnarök was initiated, nothing but the peace This One now felt awaited them. "I am almost envious of you, demon. To finally feel the peace of death...I wish I could join you, almost."
The god shook his head. "Nay, nay such a thing is not possible yet though. I most live, to ensure the rest of my kin reach the same peace you have been granted." A booted foot shoved the demon onto her back, little more then a rag-doll to his motions. The man kneeled down, moving a stray lock of hair from the demon's face, revealing a face muddied with the fresh damp soil of the earth. He wiped the soil away, shifting to stand once more.
"You remind me of someone I knew, once upon a time." His sigh was wistful almost-his bright eyes dimming for a brief moment of time as the man recalled a time long past, a time when he'd been younger, ignorant of the fate that was to accompany his type, be they divine or damned. A brief moment of sanity returned to him as he looked to the heavens. "She was a beauty, That One...I never did learn what became of her though..."
With a groan he moved to his full height once more, the foot he'd used to roll the woman onto her back moving once more over her head. Gently, he rested the appendage on the side of her face. "I suppose, when Ragnarök comes to claim me, I shall find her once again and inquire what ever became of her..."
He paused, the foot about to destroy her head rising off the woman's face. He frowned. Something was not right...
Around him, the runes he'd engraved in the trees, once upon a time long long ago, began to glow uneasily.
Yes...Something was very wrong...
He removed the boot from the woman's head, instead moving to brush one of the wards engraved into the trunk of a near-by tree. He narrowed his eyes. What was causing such a disturbance?
His fingers touched the old gnarled wood, and-
-and his smile was cruel, pointing at another man, one unfortunate enough to have made eye contact with him. The Daimakaicho's magic raced through his body, leaving him in favor for a victim which it hungrily devoured. The villager shrieked, The Daimakaicho's magic diving in and out of his flesh like a hungry worm, leaning nothing but large, singed gaping holes in it's wake. He looked to his side, where his Second launched a fist into another victim's chest.
Possessed in a manner different from him, there was a sickening crunch as her fist impacted, penetrating the villager's body and destroying the organs inside. She withdrew a hand black with blood. Having not been possessed with the magic that currently resided within his body, she'd come to rely on the natural weapons that made a human's body such a dangerous weapon. And with a residual strength left to her from a possession by one other demon, she used her abilities to the fullest.
She looked over at him, her eyes wild and dancing, an expression of insanity on her features.
Somewhere behind them, horror driven screams-ones from his comrade, not The Enemy, reached his ears, begging with him, pleading with him to stop. A burst of energy struck his back, and he turned, barely aware that it had come from the Jaffa's staff weapon. He tilted his head to the large dark man in curiosity, as though silently questioning the reason why his comrade decided to shoot him in the back.
The Jaffa and scientist both shouted something to him, the vision impaired man waving his hands in front of him as though trying to reason with him. But the words made little sense to him-a sacrifice for the temporary use of the Daimakaicho's power.
Not that it mattered. The Daimakaicho had given him and his Second orders, and it was his duty to follow them out. Anything else would have to wait for the time being.
"Where are you?" He asked, speaking in a language not his own, hunting for a prey he could not kill. "I know you're here somewhere. Where are you? What have you done with my demon?"
He paused, sensing the gaze of the one watching him, and a devious smile aligned his face. He turned.
The possessed red eyes of Colonel Jack O'Neil met the insane divine blue eyes of the banished god Mimir.
"I found you."
She laughed as well.
Their massacre continued, a purpose, a goal in mind as the two demon-possessed Tau'ri officers began slaughtering a path that would lead to the mad god and the demon in his clutches.
Slowly, he withdrew his hand, a look of rising horror on his face. The demon...He looked back to his fallen opponent, a rage filling him as he stared down at her fallen form. He was going to destroy her.
"You..." His voice was quiet, a whisper barely above the wind in the trees. "It is because of you!" He snarled, grabbing his ax from where he'd rested it on a tree trunk, for all the world about to cut the demon's body up into bit's and pieces.
"I'll destroy this body."
He raised the ax over his head.
"And feed it to the mortals you and your ilk have brought to my world!"
He brought the ax down.
"May the fools die from the poisoning of your flesh!"
"Initialization complete." Nidhogg's voice rang throughout the Infernal Realm, deepening and broadening into Hild's more distinctive tone. "Make him suffer for me Marller. I want him to remember us for when Ragnarök begins. We may not be the ones who end him, but we will damned well be the ones who make him fall to his slayer."
The eye that was Nidhogg's shifted, and Hild's smiling face replaced it. "Go out and have some fun, Sin-Mara." She cooed. "Show him what a demon with a first-class license is capable of."
Mara's body rolled out of the way, the ax embedding itself in the area her chest had been mere seconds ago. A crater arose from the strength of the impact, chunks of dirt and small rock impacting the demon-woman's uniform. Yet if it affected her in any way, shape, or form, Mara showed no indications, her body instead wrapping around the man's legs, a vicious looking blade appearing in her hand.
With a laughter that brought forth memories of why hers was a race called 'demons', she sliced into the back of the man's heels, feeling metal slice through metal and cloth, muscle and tendon and to the bone underneath. The hamstring muscle supporting the rest of his body severed, the man screamed in pain, the wounded area unleashing a spray of blood that would not have been possible had Mara been using an instrument of the third-dimensional plane.
Mimir collapsed on top of the blond, writhing in a pain so great his eyes rolled to the back of his head. Mara grinned beneath him, his cries a sick and twisted melody that graced her ears. "You were going to feed my flesh to the rest of my team?" Her voice was a soft coo-had he not fallen atop her in a position that brought both their heads close together, it was doubtful Mimir would have even heard Mara's words. "Are you sure you aren't really a demon?"
Nothing but more pained screams answered her, and Mara snickered, crawling out from under the fallen deity with an unnatural ease. The spray of his blood had coated her uniform with a fine red mist, and she looked down at herself in disgust. "I'm going to need to shower when I get home." She muttered to herself, blood-soaked dirt clinging to her body like a second layer of skin. "But I suppose that's neither here nor there, now, is it?" She asked, sitting down beside the fallen deity before her.
The soiled officer crossed her legs, examining the blade she'd withdrawn from her inner pocket with a bored expression on her face. "Do you want to know a secret?" Mimir's screams and cries had faded to little more then pained gasps by now, the wound she'd inflicted on him slowly starting to heal.
That was fine. Hild had said to make him suffer, and she'd yet to feel the acquisition of power needed for the spells she'd requested permission to use. It might take a few seconds, judging by the strange mode of transportation it seemed to be riding on at the moment. How it'd arrived in the village itself, where SG-1 resided, she wasn't sure. A small part of her was even curious what sort of means it was using to reach her.
"I think I'll tell you a secret while we wait." Blood red eyes met pained blue, a furtive smile displaying her fangs. "I'll tell you something not even Urd knows about me. Because once this is all over with, you, my friend, will be a long-term guest of the Goetia demons." Mara tilted her head off to one side and regarded her captive audience in curiosity. "How does that sound?"
Mimir's eyes had widened at the mention of 'Goetia', opening to the point where they looked close to falling out, if given half the chance.
"You see, I'm know by a variety of names, the most common being the one Urd and her kin-divine or damned-are so fond of calling me. 'Mara' is a different person from the person gracing your presence at this particular moment, Mimir." She moved to rest her elbows in her lap, head resting on her hands as she stared at the deity. "I'm still one person, you see, but I've found it's easier to act differently under various different names."
Mimir grunted, a pained expression on his face as he fought through the fog of Mara's words. "Wh...wh..."
"Who am I? What am I? Is that what you're trying to ask?" She shifted, nudging him non-too-gently in the cheek with her weapon. It broke skin, causing the man to hiss once more in pain. The woman frowned. "Come on, it's not like I slit you vocal chords or anything. I only do that to those I intend to kill."
A whimper. She laughed cheerfully before continuing.
"You see, the name I'm most known under is a fool, one who does not seem to be competent in her job area, who is sidetracked easily, one who is little more then a pawn for others." She tilted her head off to one side, as though in thought. "But then, that leads to the question, 'How did one so incompetent gain such a high position?' I tell you now, it is not because I am a favored demon of the Daimakaicho or her kin. Such creatures are useless to the Daimakaicho and have no place in Niflheim, where the unwary can find themselves devoured, or worse. No, it is far greater then that. You see..."
She kneeled down, bringing her face mere inches from his own. She brought her free hand up under his chin, tilting the deity's head to whisper in his ear.
Mimir's resulting scream was great enough to have been heard even above the shouts and cries that enveloped the village of Eldenroth.
Deep within the land of Niflheim, where the true Daimakaicho resided, Hild's face broke out into a smile.
Her laughter was deep and terrifying.
The forest had gone eerily silent with the invaders approach. The crunch of boots upon fallen branches, the shuffle of clothes, and the soft grunts that escaped the throats of the Tau'ri every so often were the only sounds evident in the forest. Not even the songs of the local insects were audible-all the native inhabitants had gone quiet in the wake of the possessed.
Where were they going? Their destination was unknown, only that something was guiding them, tugging at their guts like a leash on the collar of a dog. There was no choice but to follow the hand that held the leash-not unless they wished to choke.
Daniel and Teal'c had been lost in the aftermath of the chaos the duo had created. If the duo were smart, a cold, rational part of Jack reasoned, they'd head back to the 'gate rather then wait around the village tending to damage control.
It had been some time since the colonel and the major had departed the wreckage that had once held a village. Teal'c's actions against Jack had been brave, but foolish, in regards to the man's current state of mind and temporary abilities. A shot in the back with a staff weapon had lead to what would one day lead to a legendary 'flying Jaffa', as the possessed Jack had sent the poor alien flying through not one, but several buildings with the power lent to him by Hild.
Such an act would have easily killed even the hardiest of Jaffa, let alone a human.
Yet by the time Daniel had finally reached the building that had finally ended Teal'c's undesired flight, he'd found the large man damaged, but still alive, not even a single broken bone showing the fact he'd been thrown through various hard-wood buildings.
It was then that Daniel realized the true extent of just what had resulted from the time spent in Mara's company.
And by then it was too late.
The military half of SG-1 was gone, leaving nothing but a trail of fire and brimstone in their wake.
And that trail had finally led them to their destination.
A battlefield lay before them, and from it, a lone figure rose from where it knelt close to another entity, turning to regard the duo with inhuman red eyes. Searching, it devoured the officers in it's burning gaze, hungrily searching and seeming to grow as it found the power it sought.
Jack's world became a dazzling array of dark lights, brightening and dimming and spinning chaotically around his mindscape as Mara withdrew the power that Hild had lent him.
And reality returned to him with the iron hammer that was sanity.
A wail of despair weaved itself into a malevolent laugh as an ungodly energy ignited Mara's body. A fire that did not burn, with a demon at it's heart, the infernal being tilted her head to the heavens, as though in mockery of the very beings she found herself against time and time again. Her arms spread wide as the binds that withheld her abilities as a first-class demon were unleashed, leaving behind the humanity she had learned from her extended tour of the third-dimensional, mortal level.
The creature that remained was one such beast that Jack would not wish on even his most hated enemy.
Now! Now you shall see true power! The demon that had once been disguised as a young, blond, fanged woman roared, before the creature crouched, pouncing on the figure Jack dimbly became aware of was a person.
The color of freshly drawn blood.
And Jack's world exploded into oblivion.
Deep within the SGC, a little girl raised her head. Had anyone been accompanying the child, the smile she wore would have driven them deep into the throws of insanity had they been unfortunate enough to catch her expression. The deep laughter of a woman escaped the throat of a child, and with an energetic yowl that could not be produced by any human vocal cords, the avatar of Hild vanished from the living quarters granted to her.
Several levels further down, one General Hammond sat at the head of the briefing room. In front of him, various papers of different classifications glared up at him. He glared back, before shifting his glare to the others unfortunate enough to share his breathing space at that particular moment. "There must be something we're missing." He rumbled, a small part of him taking a certain amount of pleasure from watching his intelligence branch squirm uncomfortably off to either side of him. "What dot have you forgotten to connect?" The large man demanded, slamming a hand down upon the papers that were SG-1's latest mission report. "There must be something in here, some small, minute fact that you missed, something so big that you missed it entirely. But what? What was left out of the mission report?"
It was a woman's echoing laughter that answered the General, rather then the haunting silence that normally accompanied the intelligence branch whenever he called them in for a verbal lashing.
And his was not the only head that whipped from one corner of the room to the next, searching for its owner. The small unit that made up his best intelligence gatherers were all frowning, expressions ranging from mild annoyance at the interruption to down-right angry that someone dare take away from the tongue-lashing General Hammond was distributing to them all. A small part of him found it more then a little disturbing that there was not one ounce of concern for the odd experience on any one person's face.
He'd heard on several accounts that a career in the intelligence field often jaded people, sometimes to the point of appearing near-emotionless, but this? Even with past experiences with intelligence units under his command, he couldn't recall so little emotion in any action.
That small part of him decided to find a way to boost moral within the small group as quickly as possible, come a later time and date, when the SGC was not currently undergoing yet another, sometimes daily, strange phenomenon.
"Do you really want to know, Oji-chan?"
The papers in laying on the table rose with a sudden and mighty wind, only to be crushed back down upon the table as the producer of the wind appeared several feet above the table, somersaulting in the air once before seeming to dive down upon the table. An impact crater appeared underneath Hild's small body, the papers unfortunate enough to be caught underneath the silver-haired child's landing bursting into a flame that reeked of brimstone and rot. Slowly she rose from where she'd come to crouch kneeling, raising her eyes to meet the general's.
They were glowing.
"Hild! What is the meaning of this?"
Off to the side, General Hammond watched as one of his subordinates, Captain Vasquez, rose from his seat in alarm. He watched as pupils an unnatural shade of violet darted off to the side of where the man stood.
A small, dark hand clenched.
The Captain vanished in a scream.
Those same eyes returned to the general's, and as the room erupted into chaos, General Hammond found himself unable to look away from the creature he'd once thought a child, the world that consisted of a small briefing room disappearing and leaving nothing but the girl-child standing on a table and the SGC general standing before her.
The red glow illuminating Hild's eyes faded, yet Hammond still found the eyes somehow inhuman. "Your SG-1 team may not be the golden group you so often view them as, my dear general." She said, her voice an unusual pitch that portrayed a woman twice the age of the child on the table before her. "Even now, as we speak, your old Colonel and your little Major are butchering an innocent population, guilty of nothing but the association of a target-my target." The child leaned in close, and the large man was more then a little intimidated to find himself paralyzed and unable to maintain some sort of distance from the child. "And you haven't even learned the best of it yet. Your people are doing it on their own accord. And to think, all I did was throw a little nudge here and there to push them in the right direction. Little more then reigniting the flame of the volatile tendencies that dwell within all mortals."
The man fell to his knees as the power that once possessed him vanished, watching in horrified awe as the demon attacked the god with a renewed, terrifying vigor. The god's screams were haunting, reaching through to him even as he brought his hands to his ears in a futile effort to drown out the noise.
Hammond's mouth parted open, and whatever force paralyzing his body dissipated, allowing the general to find his voice once more. Slowly, against everything withing him telling the man to turn and run, General Hammond leaned forward, drawing on all his discipline as an officer to keep his feet rooted to the ground. He placed his hands on the table, gripping the edges hard enough to turn pink flesh white.
"You're the one, aren't you?"
A landshark's smile grew behind the glittering eyes of a snake.
"The one what General Hammond?"
With the final bit of magic requested, the demon sealed the god in the very same weapon that held his position in heaven captive. It fell to the ground with a muffled 'thump', and with it, so too his cries, leaving the forest eerily quiet. With a smile caked with blood and soil, she felt the last of her temporary strength leave her, and without so much as a sound, she crumpled to the forest floor beside the weapon that held her enemy captive. A wheeze that might have been a sigh, had it been stronger. Her role was complete. Hild would be proud. Red eyes closed, and the demon released herself to the void of unconsciousness once more.
His thumbs, hidden beneath the cover of the solid wood that was the briefing table, began feeling along the edges of the table's rim. After several past incidents alone that had started between an alien nation and his people within the briefing room, he'd had it installed at his usual seat at the head of the table. A panic button, just when it felt like things couldn't get any worse in whatever current predicament he'd found himself in at that particular moment-usually at the hands of SG-1.
The younger of the two lead the way through the forest, following the path of destruction the older man had wrought on the surrounding area. Behind him raced his darker half, staff weapon in hand, growing tense at every foreign sound the forest sang. With the chaos and destruction the rest of their group had brought down upon the planet, not even the trees, not even the animals, could be trusted. The entire planet had become their enemy with the assault of it's designated god.
"The ring leader in all this." He said, keeping his voice steady with a strength that he'd not initially believed he'd owned, keeping and holding his gaze with the demon in disguise. "It would make sense though, wouldn't it? The Goa'uld siblings appearance, your return with SG-1 from The Trio's ship, hell, even the odd way they've been acting since you're arrival-I'd been hoping against hope that it wasn't true-I had my suspicions, we all did in the long run-but I suppose your exposure confirms it. You're behind this whole incident, aren't you?"
He froze as the destruction spread out into a battlefield, the source of his chase in the center, backs to he and his companion. "Jack!" He cried, running to the man sitting on his knees, even though the action must have caused him pain. "What happened? Are you okay? Sam? What's going on?" Slowly, as though not fully recognizing the voice that called his name, Jack turned to Daniel. The gaze that met Daniel's blue eyes sent shivers down his spine.
Hammond's thumb grazed something unnaturally smooth. He pressed it.
And with the speed that would have done any cowboy proud, he drew an M-9 with his other hand.
One was not foolish enough to walk around the SGC in such a high position without some sort of weapon on hand.
"Daniel...what did I do?" The voice of a broken man exited the colonel's throat, mixing with the despair that darkened the older man's throat and twisting into Daniel's heart like the coils of some great snake. "I can't believe...how many people did I kill? How many innocent people did I murder?" Jack buried his hands in his hair in frustration. A mournful howl tore from his throat. "WHAT THE HELL DID I DO?"
"In a manner of speaking..."
The void that had engulfed the two converse vanished, leaving the two in the chaos that had engulfed he briefing room with the initial destruction of the innocent captain. A displeased snarl appeared on the child's face, and the only sign that the room had once been filled with several SGC military members was a puff of smoke.
"...I suppose you might say I am."
"Now isn't the time for such things." Sam's voice seemed distant and cold, her back remaining turned to her comrades as she stared down at the fallen demon. "Judging by what we have done, our first priority should be to get off-world. Whatever strange power that was with us is gone now. There's no telling when the locals may decide to come back at us for revenge."
Above their heads, the klaxon's had begun to blare, though be it for an unscheduled off-world activation or for an unexpected cry for help from the briefing room, Hammond wasn't sure. What he was sure of, however, was the fact that the disappearance of his intelligence branch at Hild's hands had transformed the fear in his gut into something far more lethal.
"Sam? What are you...Jack is...and what about Mara?" Something was wrong-still wrong, if Daniel paused to think about it. "How can you simply expect us to leave after everything we've done?"
Anger drawing his lips into a thin straight line, General Hammond clicked off the safety of his weapon.
Hild raised an eyebrow.
The major turned to stare at the archaeologist. Her glare was frightening and not an expression he'd ever once seen on the woman's face before. "Colonel O'Neil is not in his right mind at the moment, in case you haven't noticed. Mara is unconscious, and a couple of hours ago, every native on this planet has become a potential enemy." She stated. "I'm taking over command. And I say we get the hell off this dirt hole."
"Give me my team back." the general ordered.
Daniel turned his gaze from Sam to Jack to Teal'c, a look of worry, suspicion, and fear mixing into a stony gaze of question. Teal'c's only response was a small frown, one that spoke volumes in the forms of a distrust and suspicion all his own. A small nod, near-impossible to notice to those who did not know him well. Despite the suspicions, there was reason to her words. For the moment, it would be best to follow her instructions.
An amused smile curved upon the child's face. It was not kind. "Are you sure you're in any sort of position to make demands?" The Daimakaicho asked, tilting her head off to one side in curiosity. The fingers on the dark skinned child's left hand began to dance, and a ball of red light steady grew in front of her, bolts of a strange violet hue dancing about the orb.
Jack's world became a blur of shapes and colors as he stared into a world shaped by tears. At either side, his arms had been lifted, bringing him to his feet. Shouts, orders, grunts, and two someones were on either side of him, supporting the legs that had become dead weight. Dead...like the people he'd killed in the village...The memories returned, and Jack gagged as the taste of fresh blood entered his mouth, the smell of burnt flesh entering his nostrils, and the horrified looks of all his victims surrounded him. Drowning in the terrified gazes of the fallen, he let the tears fall.
General Hammond narrowed his gaze, aiming the gun at the demon's head.
Their progress was slow. Jack wavered in and out of semi-consciousness, supported on either sides by Sam and Daniel. Behind them, Teal'c followed at an equally slow pace, an unconscious Mara cradled in his arms as he carefully chose his steps, taking care not to jostle any undiscovered injuries. "Sam, are you sure we're going in the right direction?" Daniel asked, his voice thick with worry as his head tilted from one side to the other, finding nothing familiar. Sam wasn't using any traveling gear, not with how full her arms were just supporting Jack and her weapon.
Hild continued. "After all, by now they should be making their way back to the stargate by now." Her fingers continued to dance. Her eyes stayed glued to his. The smile did not leave her face. "...Though you may want to send a medical team down to the 'gate before their arrival. A psychiatrist might be a wise idea too.
Sam's initial response was a grunt. In front of her eyes, a small, impish creature with a frightening resemblance to the child that awaited them at the SGC darted in and out of her vision. "Trust me." She said, slowly chasing after the miniature Hild, watching as small arms signaled one way, then waved away another as the tiny Daimakaicho avatar guided her to safety. "I know where we're going."
And that was when the doors to the briefing room burst open, Security Forces barging in screaming orders, their own weapons drawn as they found themselves in not so much a hostage situation as something more then a little disconcerting to those who caught sight of the event about to unfold. The sudden intrusion startled General Hammond from his conversation and the entity calling itself 'Hild', and with a startled shout, the general pulled the trigger.
The bullet flew to the child, and the older man watched in horror as rather then make an attempt to even dodge the projectile, the little girl brought her hand up, flicking the bullet away from her with her fingers and sending the small munition back towards the general. Frozen in shock, the bullet brushed by him, slicing into his cheek before burying itself in the wall behind him, a small crater rising from the force of impact.
Hild frowned, one that spoke more of disappointment then displeasure. "It seems I'm growing tired of this game we play, General." She cooed, eyes drifting from the older man to the SF's that had taken to surrounding the duo, weapons drawn and waiting, yet suddenly paralyzed with an odd fear at seeing one of the very projectiles they used on a day to day basis reflected back at the one who fired the short.
Hild's face alighted with a grin. "I'd say it's time to play a different game now."
Above their heads, the klaxons that had just died down returned to life with a fresh vigor, the words unscheduled off-world activation droning from the speakers located all throughout the SGC.
"I call it 'Chaos'." With a movement too quick for any human eyes to follow, Hild grabbed the orb of energy that had been forming at her fingertips, whipping it towards the general and cackling as it hit home, sending the man flying into the wall behind him before crumpling to the ground, a pained howl that sounded more animal then human escaping his throat.
She turned to the surrounding military members. They drew back several steps in fear. The child flashed them all a toothy smile. "Enjoy boys..." Her body began to fade, and one brave soul rose and gave to order to fire. Bullets rippled across the Daimakaicho's form, yet nothing but laughter greeted their ears above the roar of gunfire. "...and remember, I'm always watching..."
A call for a cease fire as the demon-child disappeared from sight altogether. "Someone check on the general!" Several people rose and darted to where the general had fallen.
One of them screamed.
"What is it?" The commanding officer demanded, fighting his way through the rest of his people to where the general rested.
His mouth dropped. "Holy shit..."
Where once a man had fallen, now a wolf lay unconscious. As more approached, illuminous red eyes opened, and the beast rose unsteadily to its feet, lips pulling back against a cheek marred with blood in an ugly snarl.
Above their heads, the klaxons continued screaming.
From the heavens, a great beam of light shot down from the sky. She emerged from the light gracefully, hefting the heavy ax that was her weapon of choice over one shoulder carelessly. Light blues eyes stared with all the emotion of a statue-something ingrained into her from an early date.
Nothing but destruction lay before her.
The ship descended upon the planet, and those left alive found themselves once more fleeing for cover. They knew the ship well. And where one demon had departed, now they once again found themselves in the company of Hell's residents.
Carefully, she walked through the remains that had once been a village, senses open for any signs of life that might help or hinder her quest. She paused, brushing a stray strand of hair and odd shade of blue that matched her eyes behind an ear. She kneeled, allowing her weapon to rest gently against her shoulder. A gloved hand gently grazed across the charred remains of a mortal's face, and through his eyes, she saw more.
From the ship descended the demon herself, followed by the three underlings who called her 'master'. They walked away from the rings that had brought them down planet side, and those hidden watched and waited, fearing what other misfortune would befall their simple village. Where was their god? Why did he not appear to chase these invaders away? Had he abandoned them?
Blue eyes hardened as a feeling of unrest stirred within her soul. Be still. She thought, listening to the other portions of her being grumble in discontent before falling silent once more. She rose to her feet.
More departed the ship-those tainted by the demon, those who'd once held a place in the heart of the community they now sought to eliminate.
A woman exited from the area she used as a hiding place, cautiously making her way to the group with a look of disbelief on her face. "Shindou, is that you?" She asked, her eyes focused on one Jaffa in particular as she made her way towards him.
It was only a simple gesture from the Daimakaicho that prevented a premature death on the woman's part.
"It..it is you...you've returned home to me..." The woman's voice trembled as recognition grew on her face, and finally she broke down crying, running to embrace the Jaffa. "Husband, you have returned to me!" She cried into his armor, voice ringing high against the metal that adorned his body.
She countinued her tour through the ruins, following one trial of destruction after another, the incidents behind such brutality flowing through her mind.
Her actions seemed to spark something in the rest of those hiding. One by one, villagers slowly began their approach to the group-demon, Goa-uld, and Jaffa alike, before moving to embrace their kin, crying in joy over the ones they'd thought long lost. Their minds in shock over the very recent horror that had been brought down upon them, the sight of a long-lost kinsman seemed too much for their minds to handle, breaking down and running to the enemy with open arms.
It wasn't until every last person was out in the open that Hild gave the order, sliding behind the trio of sisters who watched on with frowns of mixed negativity.
She paused, blinking back the sudden tears that assaulted her vision, surprised to feel them mark a trail down both her cheeks. An unfamiliar spark of rage, and the cramped pain of something desiring to burst from her chest. She brought a hand to her breast, feeling a rapid pulse. "Calm yourselves." She scolded, hearing two echoing screams in the back of her mind. "You will have your time."
It was the middle sibling who approached Hild, ignoring the carcasses that now littered the ground, staining the earth black with the blood of those less fortunate enough to have been executed by means other then a staff weapon. "Daimakaicho?" She spoke drawing the woman who had given them power's attention. "For what purpose is this mindless slaughter? Many of the ones my Jaffa slew would have made excellent hosts. And one can never have too many slaves. Why such waste?"
She froze, a look of dawning horror rising in her eyes as her gaze was drawn to a small dip in the village. Nothing but bodies littered the landscape, their faces-those that still had them-all the same look of terror.
Her eyes alight with a bloodlust unique to the Daimakaicho, the silver-haired woman smiled. "Dear Child." She said, an elegant ax lined with various runes twirling at her fingertips. "The Jaffa I have supplied you are all you need in regards to slaves. I'll not be giving you any more without exception something else in compensation." She continued to toy with the odd weapon, tossing it from one hand to the other freely, her smile as mischievous as it was cruel. "No, what I want to accomplish is to send a message to someone-an old friend if you will."
Her feet lifted off the ground, and slowly she rose above the skeletons of the village buildings, eyes a shade of blue ice remaining glued to the bodies littering the floor below her. Even with all her prior training and experience, nothing could prepare her for the sight that truly laid before her. She gasped, bringing a white sleeved arm to her mouth, fighting down the urge to vomit.
"The contracts I've made on the Tau'ri homeworld are more then enough to make up for Heaven's little secret." Her chuckle was dark. "I've finally been able to restabilize the balance that has been steadily tipping in Heaven's favor for the past several decades, what with so many gods making themselves cozy on the third-dimension." She stopped her toying of the ax, listening with glee to the resulting screams that met her ears. The Daimakaicho dug the butt-end of the ax into the soil, wrapping her arms around the top end portion of the ax and resting her chin atop it, giving the appearance of a woman embracing her lover. "Are you happy now, Mimir?" She whispered to the ax. "Is this the Ragnarök you saw in your well?"
It was a message. The corpses had been used to spell out a message, visible only from one who took the time to rise to the heavens. Torsos had been twisted, limbs had been bent, all in ways a humans body was not ment to bend. Bone protruded from flesh, Heads lay bent and broken, and eyes, oh so many eyes, stared up to the heavens in question, in terror, in horror and pain. Staring as though asking the heavens 'why?' Staring at her in question.
"We demons are not here to clean up Heaven's mistakes. The very fact that we had to intervene at all is a matter of questions. The gods are growing to arrogant, it seems, with their positions. They are forgetting themselves, and need a reminder. I believe this will serve that purpose."
The wave of negativity wafting from the fallen victims assaulted her, and, unprepared for the covert attack, she lost her concentration, the magic holding herself aloft vanishing and sending her plummeting to the ground.
She landed on something with too much give to have been the ground.
She looked to the object she'd impacted, blue eyes meeting cold dead eyes that might have been a reflection of her own, when the soul that once resided it still dwelt within the land of the living.
Scrambling to her feet, she bolted away from the execution zone, rage and fear and horror over what had befallen the residents of the planet weighing down upon her chest like an iron weight. It wasn't until she entered the clearing in the forest that she stopped. Dimly aware of the tight grip that remained upon her weapon, she kneeled once more.
One word escaped Lind's lips.
A/N: And so ends the first volume of Devil's Hotline. Have I scared away any of my readers yet?
Recently I've come to realize that my stories grow intensely more violent depending on my current job situation, to the point where I'm starting to wonder if I'm not using the poor character's I've kidnapped and thrown together as some sort of stress relief. Despite that fact though, more or less, the story has remained true to the initial plot line I had in mind for the story, If one or two minor things were added or changed for story benefit. I've known I was close to finishing this portion of the series from the get go, which is one reason why you haven't seen me with any updates to my other series-though for those reading both, they may stumble upon several hints as to a relationship between both series that I'd been originally bantering with to keep separate or include. Either way, sorry these past chapters have become so long and difficult-it feels like there was too much conversation and not enough action, one of my major weaknesses, it feels, as an author.
Character-wise, I realize that several people may be acting a little OOC, but the way I see it, it's to be expected when spending several days in the company of the Daimakaicho herself. The next story is only going to grow worst from there, as more elements of AMG slowly work themselves into the SGC, while, likewise, a certain member of SG-1 is going to find themselves in a rather odd position in regards to Keiichi and Belldandy.
I'll leave you with that tidbit for now. Next update should be either Origins or Angel Biter. Be on the look out.