Thanks Nance for proofreading and reviewing, and IcarusLSU for being a sounding board. Also, thanks to FeedtheFlames for reviewing! (Glad to see the Buckaroo Banzia reference wasn't a total bust ;D ), and to Matthew72 at HoC for being such a wonderful reviewer!
I'm going to be working on my next installment for Shadow of the Goddess this coming week. So...it might be next weekend before another chapter of this is out. Have a hoppy holiday weekend, I hope you all find lots of colorful eggs!
Merlin had to laugh to himself at the situation. He'd never imagined he'd once again be standing in this meadow, watching a gigantic form descend from the air. Long ago, it had been Kilgharrah. This time, it was Leon's ship.
The three people on board could have beamed down easily enough, but Leon wanted to perform some maintenance on the vessel's exterior that couldn't be completed in the cold of space.
It had taken almost three days for the ship to return to Earth. Although Gwaine was stable, a severely broken arm and rib fractures made Leon reluctant to move his friend without medical assistance.
Martha was ready and waiting the moment the door to the ship opened. Gwaine was awake and coherent; griping about being handled with kid gloves, as she started to look him over. Finally relenting to his pleas to get off the ship, she instructed Percival to assist him to a waiting SUV. "I don't know why you wouldn't just let Leon beam you to the SGC. Carolyn has access to more than I do for this type of trauma."
"A couple of problems with that idea." He said, drawing shallow breaths against his obviously pained ribcage. "I managed to check my messages when we got in range...and I think she'd be more liable to kill me than heal me, at the moment."
"...And the other problem?"
He sighed as melodramatically as he was able to. "I'm probably considered AWOL. So, facing an angry girlfriend, or her father - who happens to be one of my bosses... I'm not really feeling up to it, especially, when I could be facing jail time for it."
Merlin shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I can make some phone calls to Landry and Woolsey; tell them you were acting under my orders or something. The stuff with Carolyn, however, you're on your own for. Please tell me, other than saving your sister, that you managed to get something resembling recon intel that I can give them to help smooth it over?"
Gwaine grinned, and then grimaced as he was put into the backseat. "Oh, yeah. Trust me, I earned this broken arm."
"...And the other injuries?"
"Oh, please. You say that like you assumed I'd be able to shut my mouth once in a while."
She was pacing in her private chambers. If even one of the Priors had been nearby, she would never have indulged in such behavior. Her hands were wringing in a way that seemed very much outside of herself.
She had found herself completely irate that the Jaffa would dare try to use such a weapon against the Followers of Origin. Yet, there was something else niggling in the back of her mind. Her mother had been there, along with Daniel Jackson, which meant the rest of SG-1, as well.
The voice...she knew the voice that had entered her mind, while she stood addressing the crowd. A long forgotten memory had been stirred from the depths of her cellular structure. It was not that of any of the members of SG-1, but instinctively she knew that whoever the voice belonged to, had been with them.
She had gone back to the planet after leaving Dakara, even though she knew there was no one left alive, and searched through the remnants of clothing left from the people who had lived there.
There was nothing; absolutely no sign of who it might have been.
One of the Priors from another ship had approached her shortly afterwards, and conveyed some new found information of a planet that was discovered. It possibly held the one thing that could either destroy them, or in her hands, could be used to destroy the Ancients. Thus, paving the way for the Ori to take complete control of the Milky Way Galaxy.
She had ordered her followers to head there, straight away. Unfortunately, they were not the only ones to arrive at the planet, seeking the fabled weapon. Attempts had been made by both parties to get beyond the defenses set up to protect the location on the planet, but to no avail.
Adria stopped her pacing, finally reaching a decision. 'Perhaps,' she thought. 'It is time to bring Daniel Jackson into the equation.' As the most knowledgeable member of SG-1, he was the perfect answer to her problem. Not only might he be able to get her to the weapon, but if that other voice...the one that had invaded her mind...was with them, the Orici felt she could kill three birds with one stone.
Daniel would lead them to the weapon, and then fulfill his place in the plans of the Ori. As well, Adria's own curiosity could be sated concerning the owner of the voice. Quieting her mind, she sent a brief message to the one person in the galaxy who still meant something to her.
Vala Mal Doran, her mother, received a dream that night, guiding her to the answer of finding the planet.
Battered and bruised, but walking upright with as much confidence as he could muster, Gwaine made his way into the kitchen. His left arm was in a sling, and the binding around his ribs made his movements a bit awkward. His right eye was finally able to open fully, though it still hurt when he blinked. A chance look in a mirror earlier, had shown him just how badly Ba'al had tortured him.
He accepted it all in stride. The physical torment had been nothing compared to the mental shredding that Morgana had done to him. Plus, he'd managed to acquire a key tidbit of information from a slip of the Goa'uld's tongue.
His arm had been severely broken in two places. It took both Merlin and Martha working together to straighten it and reset the bones. Amidst protests that it would heal on its own, Merlin had added a bit of magic to help speed Gwaine's recovery.
He found a coffee cup sitting on the counter waiting for him, and was thankful that he wouldn't have to reach up to get it out of the cupboards. Pouring the hot liquid into the cup, he glanced out the window to the garden patio. Merlin was sitting alone, reading his tablet. There was no sign of anyone else around.
Gwaine recalled overhearing that Arthur, Gwen, and Martha were heading to town for a check-up and ultrasound. Percival and Mickey were working on researching the theory behind the triskelion in the stars. Snorting into his cup, Gwaine mused how it was like something out of one of those far-fetched conspiracy shows. Then, he paused for a moment and realized that most of the stuff from his life could make an entire series.
Leon was off working on his ship and, as far as Gwaine knew, had taken Toby with him. Greg had attempted to run away, after Laney had sat the boys down to talk with them about the changes between her and Leon.
She had told them that Leon had helped rescue her, and that the two of them were dating. Laney didn't get much of a chance to say anything more before her middle child had a complete meltdown. Toby was all for the idea. Randy was still a bit confused about the situation, especially where his real dad was concerned. His simple question - asking if Leon was going to be their new dad - had torn Greg apart.
After a frantic search, they had found him in the middle of the night, about three miles down the road with his suitcase in hand. He was determined to get to the airport and go back home to find his dad. With Martha's help, a family therapist had been found in the nearby town, and Laney had decided it would be best to just have some time alone with her two youngest sons to see if it would help.
Gwaine worried about his sister. She appeared to be holding up well after her imprisonment, but he wasn't sure if it was just another wall she was putting up. Greg needed his mom's strength right now, and Gwaine hoped whatever arrangement she and Leon had come to would give her the strength to deal with it all.
Taking his cup, he made his way outside and sat down near his friend. "Taking the day off?"
Merlin smiled and nodded, "Yeah. I promised Martha I would take it easy...especially, after healing you. I'd like to go help Leon with his ship, but..."
"Naw," Gwaine cut in. "He needs time to get to know the boys better."
Recalling his conversation with Toby, Merlin couldn't agree more. "How's the arm feeling?"
"Better! At the rate it's healing, I should be good to go soon."
"...Wherever the hell Percival and Mickey decide that clue of their's leads. I kind of wonder if he got a bit of help of the ethereal kind, if you know what I mean." Gwaine hinted, "We haven't seen him around much, at all."
"No, we haven't." Merlin agreed. He took a sip out of his own cup, which had gone cold from sitting mostly untouched on a nearby table. "Have you spoken with Carolyn, yet?"
Gwaine shifted uneasily. He had finally gathered the courage to make the phone call, and the response was pretty much what he had been expecting. "She was pissed as hell. Not only did I make her worry, I also left her car at the house and had her keys still in my pocket."
"Yeah. I like her. Hell, I think I more than like her, but everything's so up in the air."
"It's hard when you're so far apart. If it's meant to be, it'll happen." The older man assured him.
"Yeah, I suppose you're right. I should probably just give her some time to cool off. Don't suppose you've talked to the higher ups for me?"
"Was I supposed to?" Merlin asked, the look on his face was filled with concern.
"I'm joking! Of course, I did. Everything on that end is taken care of, including Woolsey. You're welcome, by the way."
Gwaine snickered, "Thanks. I owe ya one."
"Oh, you owe me a lot more than just one. So, tell me, what did you find out from Ba'al?"
"Well, I was on the planet, while Leon was over on Ba'al's ship..." He began to recount his adventure of playing hide-and-seek in the sand dunes from Ba'al's men. He'd heard, through Leon's open com, when his sister had been found, and he recalled making some snarky comment. After that, he had been cornered, and a single shot from a zat had rendered him unconscious.
"When I first came to, I don't think Ba'al realized it. He was talking to another Ba'al about the sword. I think they had realized it was a phoney. He'd managed to find a Gate address, probably the same one we're all looking for. I heard him say something about the various protections on the planet not allowing for anyone to beam down or land close to the area...almost as if he'd already tried it. They would have to take the Gate, since the sword wouldn't get them through like he thought."
"So, something about the sword is the key to getting on the planet?" Merlin questioned, turning the information over in his mind.
Gwaine shrugged and cringed from the movement. "...Could be." He took a breath and steeled himself. While he had told the others that what Ba'al had done was nothing, he realized just saying it was one thing...going into detail was proving to be a bit more difficult. "I was on some sort of metal bar. My hands were chained out to the sides, like some alien version of the stocks. He...uh...When he noticed I was awake he started questioning me about the sword and Leon. 'Told him, I didn't know anything.
"A few slaps across the face with a baton; some weird taser thing to the body...Ba'al had plenty of toys at his disposal. It was when he heard that my sister was no longer in her cell that he decided to quit playing games. He had one of his Jaffa...'an expert in torture'..." Gwaine hooked his fingers in the air. "...have fun with me. I don't really remember much except the pain, until the door opened and Leon shot the guy. By that time, the damage had been done, ya know?"
Merlin nodded quietly. He hated seeing Gwaine in distress, especially for what seemed like such a small amount of information. Although, he knew Gwaine would have suffered much more to save his sister.
Reaching over, he squeezed Gwaine's forearm. "I understand. I was with the party escorting King...Something-or-other...to Spain in the seventeenth century-"
"'Something-or-other?'" Gwaine parroted, trying not to laugh. "Can't say I've ever heard of that one."
Merlin gave him a look that warned not to push the issue. "Do you have any idea how many kings I've served under? No? Well, then, just drop it. Anyway..." He continued, "We were over in Spain trying to formalize an arranged marriage for the king. The fact I could speak Spanish was about the only reason I was brought along. I was supposed to pretend to be an idiot and spy for the king, as well as confirm some translations.
"The only reason I went along with it, was because I had been promised some land. This land." He swept his hand out across the gardens to clarify. "For a price, of course, but it was considerably less than what it was worth. So, I used a bit of magic to help persuade the king.
"Anyway, I was caught as a 'spy' and handed over to a Spanish Inquisitor. I was in his custody for nearly a month."
"Ouch. Now, I feel bad about some of the Spanish Inquisition jokes, I know I've made."
"Eh...it's alright." Merlin said, brushing off the apology. "My point is: I know first hand, what that stuff can do to a man."
"But, you got free, came back and bought Camelot."
"Yes, although the price had changed. For my services, I was also gifted...more like ordered...by the king to marry the daughter of some pinched-faced, little lord. I was not in a good mental state. It had been nearly eleven centuries since Camlann, and to have been reminded of the things Uther used to do. Well, needless to say, she and I didn't exactly get along together."
"What was her name?" Gwaine asked, enraptured by the story.
"Bloody hell if I know. I'm not sure I ever even bothered asking, at that time. I focused myself on securing what was left of Camelot. She hated living in a cottage, instead of a castle, and the manor wasn't built until sometime in the eighteenth century. After a couple of years, I sent her back to London to serve as one of the Queen's Ladies. Never heard from her after that."
"I thought you said you loved all seven of your wives?"
Merlin stared out at the gardens, and was silent for a few moments. "Hmm. I guess I lied...I've been married eight times. Don't tell Martha. She likes to think she's lucky number seven. I'll never hear the end of it, if she finds out that I forgot about one."
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