Disclaimer:  Stargate SG-1 and all mentioned characters are the
property of Showtime & Gekko film Corp.  All other themes, events, et
belong to MGM world-wide Television  Glasner/Wright Double Secret
Productions and are meant solely for entertainment purposes. None of
which are mine. Some info based on the Gate Guide  Takes place after
the first season episode, "Thor's Hammer." 2) Highlander: The Series
and all related characters etc.; the concept of Immortality belong to
Rysher Television William/Panzer Productions. Ref: events from Season 5
episode "Little Tin God" with adapted Gabriel Lorca's lines  about the
Moche culture. Jeri Mckenna is a character I created. She's made
appearances in my Highlander crossover stories  (Lightning Never
Strikes Twice) "Footsteps in the Sand) "Games Without Frontiers).  But
it isn't necessary to read the others to understand this one.

Note: This is my first try at writing a story using two characters
of view. In this case Daniel Jackson and Jeri Mckenna's.  So bear
with me.


                        "Echoes"  by Karen 

Odd, is it not,? When one is told to expand your horizons, you never
think farther beyond a few thousand miles or across an ocean.  With the
convenience of modern technology vast amounts of distance can now be
crossed in a matter of days   As a moderately successful anthropology
researcher, my reality revolved around museums, libraries, and dig
sites.  Be honest with yourself, Daniel;  the discovery of the Stargate
changed the lives of   everyone it touched; and the idea that entire
civilizations could be taken to other planets, ....   Those people
enslaved by Apotheis,  had no idea that he wasn't really  a  'god.'   I
really should count  my blessings, this experience has been like a
gigantic roller coaster ride.  And we still don't have all the pieces
to the puzzle of the those who  built the Stargate.  Even with what
little we have  learned, these 'Immortals' left versions of the Gate
scattered around the galaxy.  I have  a working theory that these
aliens left them behind  perhaps hoping that these societies eventually
would have the scientific know-how to use them. Intel has just report
they found another dial-up location,  a place called PCX 1153, hence
our upcoming mission. 

"Daniel," I heard Carter call from the hallway adjacent to my quarters
as the rest of the team waited for me to finish recording  my field
notes. As usual, I was running behind, making the everyone else late
for our next briefing.  Through the open door I saw Jack adjust his
uniform lapels, and Tilk shuffle his feet.  I stuffed my pen and
journal into my jacket pocket, and went to join them. 

"Glad you could make it," Jack  remarked over his shoulder. 

"Sorry," I mumbled, and we headed for the conference room. 

"So, where's this person SG1 Command sent over," Carter asked. 

"We'll soon find out. But I heard a rumor that she's got a degree in
military history," Jack said. 

"Great. She's either a university professor or a museum curator,"
"Carter remarked, as the door  signal chimed and we entered. 

"Indeed," Tilk rumbled softly, the measured inflections in his bass
voice made it hard to tell  whether he was referring to Jack's or
Carter's comment. 



I had  been with the team for a relatively short period of time, and as
a former civilian, saluting a superior officer was not ingrained into
my system.  I was slightly taken aback by the crispness of O'Neil  and
Carter which made my salute was a few beats behind the others.   Tilk
was not  into saluting, but he occasionally used a stylized hand over
his heart gesture that would not  have been out of place in some
samurai clan. The formalities out of the way, we took our seats  around
the rectangular table. General Hammond stood up and strode over to the
situation screen mounted on the far wall.  Beside that was an easel
where they had pinned a star map dotted with pinpricks of colored
lights which indicated the dial-up locations we'd been able to reach so

"People, I would  like you to meet our newest recruit, Gerladine
Mckenna," Hammond began. 

This was the first time we had seen our newest recruit, aside from the
photos circulated to the  various teams and support staff.  She wore
her hair in a simple braid, and was dressed in  standard military
fatigues. Her eyes were a warm brown. I had not heard her speak yet,
but she looked European, maybe British, Welsh, or Scottish. She smiled
and nodded as Hammond went around the table introducing everyone else. 


As I gazed around the room,  I struck me that it had been a while since
I had been surrounded  by so much brass in one  place.   At least since
I'd worked as radio transmitter with the RAF in  England during World
War II.   General Hammond was a quite solid presence, vividly
triggering  one of those odd flashbacks Immortals had from time to
time.  He made me think of 'Bear'  Winston Churchill.  Hammond  had the
same mannerisms as that  hard-line career officer. The  General still
called me 'Ma'am' when he had brought me over by helicopter, since they
had not  worked out my military rank yet. 

Carter was harder to read, she wore her hair in weave that was feminine
enough, but also gave  her an  aura of a woman who belonged in the
military. In a way she reminded me of Amanda,  whose dark hair was
often dyed when she wanted to remain incognito.  You know you  can
never be too sure about first impressions,  but I  had a feeling she
and I would get along just  fine, and not just because we were the only
women present. 

I expected folks to be reasonably suspicious of a newcomer and just
having been in the Colonel's presence, I could  just tell his trust
would be hard to earn, but worth it. The man was a study in in
suspicion. But given the nature of the place, perhaps not without

"Where did you earn your degree in military history?" O'Neil demanded
as he leaned forward with his elbows resting on the table.  He laced
his fingers together and looked me in the eyes. 

"Glasgow University. I majored in  military history, with a minor in
art. I was there for two  years,  then finished up at the   Sorbonne in
Paris.  After that I did some teaching at the Tate Museum in London,
before I signed on as a procurer of rare antiquities." 

"What's your area of speciality," Jackson asked. 

"Daniel, you can compare notes later," O'Neil said. 

"Celtic and Meso-American."    I wondered why Jackson had been so keen 
on that subject. I made a mental note to check the personnel files when
we got back from the mission. 

"Let's just hope you can turn all that military theory into practice,"
Carter remarked. 

"Sounds like a challenge." 

"If you are up to it," Tilk commented. 

As I shook hands with Tilk, I immediately focused on the gold sigil
tattooed on his forehead. I caught myself mentally sorting through a
catalogue of languages to place the marking, and coming up blank. For a
second I wondered if he'd been a nightclub bouncer in a former life.
Sometimes being Immortal had its drawbacks, since I'd been frozen at
late 20-somethng, If I'd tried to get into a bar with him as the door
warden, he would have undoubtedly pegged me for being underage.  Rather
amusing, when you stopped to think about it. 

"Now that we're all acquainted," O'Neil said. 

"Patience, Colonel, I'm getting to that. Here's the situation. As you
know, we periodically send probes through the gate when a new dial-up
location is discovered," Hammond said. He picked up a sheaf of papers
and ruffled through them for a moment then sent them down. 

"According to the intelligence people, a planet in near the Tarantula
Nublea, has a binary star, they've discovered a planet designated PCX
1153.   There's an access point there, and perhaps another transplanted

I had received briefing on the Gate's specs, including its discovery in
the Valley of the Kings beneath Egypt's desert sands.  I could imagine
Methos kicking himself, and not just mentally, for missing that one.
Given the man's irritating habit of engineering disappearing acts,
there was no way of telling where he had been during the 40's and 50's.
In any case, I felt like a kid in a candy store just learning about the
Gate's existence.  This was an experience of a life, or for me, one of
many lifetimes. 

"Could they provide any details about the culture, their technology
level?" Jackson asked. 

"Nothing concrete, Dr. Jackson," Hammond said as he swiped his palm
against another console which replaced the star map with that of the
Tarantula Nubela in the Magellenic Cluster. 

"I thought  it was just a speck on the monitor," Carter said. 

"That fits the description of PCX 1553," O'Neil replied. 

"That's what Intel thought, too. Until the star Sandulek went
supernova.  The event was only visible from the southern hemisphere,
the blast came from  a hot blue star with 20 times the sun's mass.  The
event itself took place relatively close, only 17,000 light-years away.
The first that could be seen by naked eye", Hammond said. 

"What causes a supernova," I asked. 

"Stars generate energy either by gravitation or by nuclear fusion.
Stars evolve from hydrogen burning youths to end in one cosmic blast,"
Carter said. 

"Some fireworks," Jackson commented as he pulled out a battered spiral
notebook and began taking notes. 

"Indirect evidence that most Type II supernovae are red super giants
when they explode. Since they with more frequency outside of the Milky
Way, their reserves  of heavy elements is  less. According to Arnett's
calculations stars may be blue all their lives, however red super
giants give off stellar winds. When the winds hit the dense shell of
matter...."Carter said. 

"It goes boom; which brings us back to the the planet that showed after
the dust settled," O'Neil  finished. 

'Exactly," Carter nodded. 

"If that star hadn't 'gone boom' as the Colonel so succinctly put it,
we would never have come across this dial-up location.  Be careful out
there. I don't need to tell you to be prepared for the unknown,"
Hammond advised. 

"Way ahead of you." Jack grinned as he led the pack to the Gate room. 

Treading on O'Neil's heels,  the first thing I saw was the electric
blue glow that surrounded the gigantic iris of the Stargate. It was
like the nimbus around the moon. or the eye of a blue whale.  At least,
that is,  before they were hunted to extinction.  I'd seen computer
models and diagrams, but those were nothing compared to he real thing. 

"Chevron 7 engaged," the technician announced as she inputted the final
cartouche into her  console. 

That was the last thing I heard as walked up the ramp. As soon as we
stepped through the iris. We were surrounded by a gigantic bubble that
reminded me of being underwater,  but I was not even aware of having
trouble breathing. The water, or whatever it was, was so buoyant.  It
just  effortlessly held you in place. Then suddenly a  whoosh of air
came out of nowhere. 

We were wrapped in concentric blue rings of crystalline blue and white
which expanded like the parabola from the outer rim of a dying star
then closed behind us in a brilliant burst of silver light.... 


We emerged through the wormhole.  I half expected Mckenna to bend over
and retch from the inevitable nausea the first time travellers
typically suffered.  I was disappointed on that  score because she
survived the trip without so much as a sneeze  I glared sidelong at
her, but no one  else noticed, and we continued on our way. 

"Daniel, you're the anthropology expert," Jack began, interrupting my
train of thought. 


I didn't mind, I did have a habit of rambling on. Taking a 360 degree
inspection of surroundings the first thing I noticed from an
anthropology perspective were the similarities to some of the other
planets that we'd visited that supported a huamnoid-friendly
environment. The air was breathable, and there seemed to be an adequate
water supply. The climate was hot but not humid, almost mountainous, if
the peaks in the distance were any judge.  As for being inhabited, the
first thing which drew the eye was a large cylindrical shaped pyramid a
few kilometres from the Gate's position on this side. 

The first thing that drew the eye like a compass drawn to magnetic
north, was  a pyramid shaped, multilevel structure almost 100 feet
high. It had smooth sanded sides;  probably from erosion than from
human handi-work. The wind her was very fierce here and I  spent most
of the time it took us to walk towards the compound with my hands
clasped my hat. 

In front of the main structure, the inhabitants had constructed a flat
concrete platform and scattered around were adobe dwelling places. 

"I'd say it resembles a pre-Columbian civilization. Maybe Chibua, or
perhaps Moche, they were a highly stratified people made up of rulers,
warriors, craftsmen, and farmers. It was one of the largest , and they
were presumably ruled by a god king who gained and kept power through
human sacrifice." 

"The condensed version," Jack got a little irritated whenever I started
in on what he called 'lecture mode'. 

"Great, just how many of these cultures are there, who believed in
ritual human- sacrifice," Carter asked. 

"Quite a few, and that belief can be found in other cultures around the
world, as well," Mckenna replied. 

"Lovely," Sam remarked in tones she didn't believe for a minute that it

"O'Neil, I have been studying the cultures of your world since my
arrival. If I am not mistaken, is not said, that those who were offered
up as sacrifices, were often prisoners captured in battle?" Tilk

"Right, " Mckenna said, "However, they reached a point when sacrifice
wasn't enough to hold  back a series of natural disasters which led to
the eventual collapse of the powerful Moche  empire." 

"These 'natural disasters," Tilk interrupted, his curiosity peaked,
"What form did they take?" 

"After constant environmental changes, the people lost their faith in
the Moche deities, and  the social structure crumbled," Mckenna added

"Evidence from the changing pottery style during this period points to
foreign influence taking hold.  Eventually the Chimbuegan began to
dominate the area and the accomplishments of the Moche were all but
forgotten until the present day," Mckenna replied. "Conquistadors
looted and pillaged the settlements." 

"One such monument, the Huaca de Sol, the largest adobe structure in
the Americas, was looted and nearly destroyed by Spanish treasure
hunters.  They accomplished this by diverting  a nearby river,  in
order to erode the walls and gain access to the gold inside. Over half
the structure washed away along with most of the Moche's history." 

"Do you think the aliens who created the technology that created the
Gate, somehow knew the fate that was about to befall the Moche, and
transported them here, like they've done with other cultures we've come
across?"  Carter speculated. 

"It's entirely possible, that's what they did the people we discovered
when we freed them from Apotheosis, and they've done that with over
civilizations, long thought to be extinct," Jack replied, then  looked
towards the far side of the compound. 

We noticed a group of people approaching. Their apparent leader was a
woman dressed in a  white linen robe, her only ornament a beaten gold
belt. She wore her pale blond hair was held back from her face with a
simple leather headband.  As she came closer, we could make out a pair
of piercing blue eyes. 

"Check out the 'royal progress,' Jack commented. 

I heard Mckenna muttering to herself, from what I could pick up, it
sounded like 'Another one? Here? This I do not need right now,' Mckenna
started like a deer surprised by a hunter, or a horse spooked by the
report  from a gun being fired. 

"You okay," Carter asked, as Mckenna did a quick look around, and
nervously brushed her  hair out of her eyes. She smiled and laughed

"Yeah, fine. Why?"  I'd felt the 'Buzz' but that was impossible,
Another Immortal? 



Whatever response Mckenna would have made was lost as  the silkiest
tenor voice I had ever heard rang out, " Bienviendos, extranjeros,
welcome to Huaca del Sol "You are strangers far from home, however your
arrival is timely for a feast is about to be laid. As our guests, you
are more than welcome to partake in it. I am Lorna Selenith. Might I
have the honor or your names?" 

"We'd be honoured." O'Neil dipped his head slightly in acknowledgement
of her greeting and invitation. "I'm Jack O'Neil,"  that' Samantha
Carter," hooking a thumb at us as he rattled off our names. "That's
Tilk, and Daniel Jackson, and Gerladine Mckenna,"  finishing off the
round of introductions. 

"Excellent," Selenith replied. Then turned to those following behind
her and rattled off something in language I didn't recognize  but
sounded rather curt, she clapped her hands together and men and women
came forward. All of them wore their black hair down to their waists.
They clasped forearms with each us and jabbered words that sounded
kind.  We were forced to smile and nod and pretend we understood. A few
moments later they led us to a long, low concrete table that apparently
served as the banquet table, and began bringing around platters and
bottles of clear water.  We sat on the ground at the far end and found
empty gourds set before us. 

Selenith took a seat at head of the table, then gestured towards the
spread, "Begin" she invited. "She speaks English rather well, doesn't
she," O'Neil muttered. 

"Daniel, you'll miss out of the meal the locals prepared for us."
Carter nudged with an elbow. 

"I guess it's buffet style," O'Neil muttered as he reached for a bowl
and began pouring it into his gourd, and started eating. 

"Sure," I agreed,  not at all against taking part in the feast, which
consisted of a variety of  beets, rice, squash,  chilli peppers,
peanuts, shrimp, and crab.  I couldn't identify the meat filled dishes.
I couldn't name the sauce they had been cooked in, but they were

Water was served in large clay jugs many of which depicted animals and
stylized human figures. I was also tempted to pocket some of the
ceramic figures lying scattered about. The one I had picked was of a
half woman half owl healer treating a patient.  I had no idea why she
held her hand over her mouth, perhaps to summon the spirits. 

"It's toquil," Selenith replied, as one of the servers held out a
steaming mug of  a brown liquid to me. "It's quite savoury. You really
should try it." 

"Okay," I replied, accepting the cup and drank it. "Ugh, it tastes like
turpentine mixed with muddy water." 

"Here's a question for ya,  the secret of making good coffee," Carter
laughed, "has plagued mankind for  a very long time." 

"You think we could borrow the recipe for this crab," Mckenna said
wistfully, as she dipped a forkful into the rice and stirred it around
before she popped into her mouth. 

"Like that would ever happen, it's probably some trade secret," Carter
replied, as she reached for the water jug, and gasped as tears sprang
involuntarily from her eyes.  "Too hot! Shouldn't have eaten that last
chilli pepper," she said as she gulped down a healthy swallow of water.

Selenith spent the meal regaling with us some local tales about deer
hunts and the some tale involving a hunt for sea lions, in  quest of
their furs and and the round pebbles they coughed up as they pursued
them with nets, and lines, and harpoons.  The pebbles, we learned where
used for their medicinal properties.  Selenith was a born storyteller.
Her voice droned on, sometimes rising and falling, sometimes pausing at
different points in the tale, then picking up again. With the amount of
food we'd eaten, and the heat, it was enough to make fall asleep. 

"Where did Mckenna go?" Tilk suddenly asked, having finished eating
before everyone else. 

Now that Tilk mentioned it, Mckenna had been oddly quiet throughout the
meal. She had  hardly touched her food, although she had loaded it with
just as much as the everyone else. 

"O'Neil,, I must speak with the woman' gesturing towards Mckenna,
"alone, on  matter of some  urgency," Selenith announced, rising from
her seat at the head of the table. 

"Anything you have to say to Mckenna, you can say in front of the rest
of us," Jack countered. 

"I cannot."  You would not understand," Selenith said. 

"Try us," O'Neil demanded. 

"Do not force the issue," Selenith said, it was a hint but it sounded
more like a order. 

"I'll come," Mckenna replied as she stood up. 



"I am Lorna Selenith," the blond woman said, touching hand to her
heart, then gracefully seated  herself on top a pile of satin cushions
next to a glowing fire pit. A hole in the ceiling allowed the  smoke to
seep out.  Inside, the place was draped in woven textiles of every
color, all with geometric designs. Stacked against the far wall were a
collection of ceramics that had so fascinated Jackson.  On top of a
niche  created by woven rattan baskets, was a knife and a pitcher of
water. Wrapped in oil soaked rags were a collection of gold hairpins,
bracelets, and tiaras. 

"Gerladine Mckenna," I replied in the traditional fashion Immortals
used to greet one another. as took the seat opposite her. Right now
having my sword in my duffle bag with our supplies  did not seem like
such a good idea.. 

"They called me a goddess. Who was I to refuse?" Selenith began as she
stirred a reed straw in  her cup of the local brew that Jackson had
said tasted more like turpentine mixed with water. "I would not poison
a guest." 

"The thought never crossed my mind. No offence, I just didn't like it."
"I suppose you're not the first Immortal these people have looked upon
as a god. That doesn't make it right,' as I set my cup aside, I
couldn't stand the stuff 

"The Moche are an ancient people. Their arts and sciences rival the
best of the Inca. Yet, they preceded them by a thousand years.  Some of
their traditions go back ten generations.   What makes a god, Mckenna? 
The faith of his/her followers. And they do need faith, and in return,
I protect them," Selenith exclaimed dreamily. 

"Faith? You've taken advantage of their 'faith' to place yourself in a
position of power." 

"What if I have?  Would you have done any less if you'd been in my
place?  Back on Earth the  Moche civilization only thrived due to a
combination of three things:   Their remoteness, their own skills, and
their freedom. It kept them strong, and safe from butchers like Cortez
and  Pizzarro," Selenith insisted, holding up a finger to emphasis each
of her points. Her pale blue eyes blazed with her fervour until they
glazed over and the whites showed. 

"Everyone thought the Moches died out, but somehow they were brought

"Yes.  Since you are here, you know that the Stargate exists. Have you
heard of the Gou'ald?  Do not bother to answer. I can tell by the look
in your eyes that you have.  It does not matter if you choose to
believe me or not. I did not seek to become the Moche's goddess. I am
their protector, from butchers like the Gou'ald." Selenith finished. 

"Protector? From the Gou'ald. You'll forgive me if I find that a little
hard to swallow." 

"It was either that or let the Moche be enslaved or invaded by those
thrice-dammned parasites. I've kept them safe for hundreds of years. I
may not be a goddess in the strictest sense of the word, but
Immortality has given me...." 

"The semblance of god hood.  What about the Rules, if they even apply

"You do understand. The Guls themselves think I am rebellious Jaffa,
perhaps.   I do not care  what they think. The  Guls themselves do not
have a body, so it forms  a symbiotic relationship  with humanoid life
forms, wherein the adult Gul controls the body and takes them for its
host,"  Selenith continued, ignoring any mention about the Rules
governing Immortals. 

"You don't have to explain the Guls. The host's entire personality is
subsumed and the Gul is the  dominant life-force.  I understand why you
wouldn't want that to happen your people you've adopted for your own.

"Pretending to be  a goddess,  Immaterial. What matter if it happened
on Earth or here? Either  be the power behind the throne, or be the
power.  What matter that many of our kind have  done so in the past.
People are like sheep, Mckenna, they need a shepherd. Selenith
dismissed  the argument with an airy wave of her hand. 

"A good question, just wish I had a good answer." 

"The Moche worship another god..."  Selenith continued. 

"If you don't mind sharing the throne, " I interrupted. I knew it was
probably the wrong thing to say, given that Selenith was probably to
far gone to listen to reason, but it was worth a shot. 

"I have no quarrel with having a consort.  Their god holds a sword in
one hand and a severed head in the other. He is called the Decapitator.
At the festival of the Moon, they shall see his  power, " Selenith

"I diid not like the turn the conversation had taken, and that last bit
about the the Decapitator  more than likely meant Selenith was
challenging me.  From the moment I'd met Selenith face to face,  I'd
felt the tell-tale "Buzz' that signalled the presence of another
Immortal. That she'd set herself up as the divine ruler didn't surprise
me.  And she was right about one,  thing, it had happened before. 

"Can't you see that fate has played a part in this.  I have chosen a
successor. In almost every culture on Earth,  the ruler serves his/her
people, and at the end of his term must return to the earth from which
he came, 

"Which means?" 

"Accept the challenge or your friends die, for I shall reveal our
location to the Guls," 

"I don't understand. If you've been their protector for all these
years, why would you betray them like that?" 

"Because tradition demands it, "Selenith insisted. 

"You intend to force my hand," I demanded. 

"No less," Selenith said, her blue eyes staring into my brown ones. 

"Agreed, " I replied as I clasped hands, my heart hammering in my


Mckenna and Selenith have been locked up inside that domed building for
the last three  hours.  Without so much as hinting what they planned to
discuss when Selenith pulled  her aside.   O'Neil, not the most patient
of men at the best of times, has not stopped  cursing a blue streak
ever they disappeared inside.  Even the stoic Tilk  can't remain his
unflappable self for long.  Ordinarily, the calm in the eye of the
storm, I figure there  had to be a maelstrom below the surface.  Carter
has been pacing around the  dome. 

About two hours later, Selenith pulled aside the flap to the dome with
Mckenna standing behind her.  The drone turned into a full-fledged
roar. Selenith gathered her robes  around her and  ascended the steps
leading to the concrete platform in front of the pyramid. 

The villagers formed a loose semi-circle around the platform.  Some
stood, some sat. A low, respectful throbbing started up. They were
chanting.  Since the Moche back on Earth  had not developed a written
language, except what could be deciphered from the pottery they had
left behind, I had no way of understanding what they were saying. But
it couldn't be good. I suspected they were chanting Selenith's name. 

"My people, my beautiful, loyal followers, ' Rejoice for as foretold in
my our most ancient and revered legends, once every 500 years when the
gibbous moon waxes in the east. the time of Cobar Rhi comes nigh.  The
time when in appeasement to the Decapitator; a  sacrifice must be made.
A challenge has been offered and accepted.  Be with me, shield me in
spirit as I have shield in body,  for the time has come," Selentih
shouted to be heard over the roar of the crowd, her white arms, bathed
in the shimmer radiance of the moonlight above, raised to the  sky. The
movement made her arm bangles clang together. 

"I don't like this," O'Neil muttered as he tugged at his uniform

"You and me both," Carter replied as she wiped at the sweat clinging in
droplets to her forehead, then tore a strip of cloth from her sleeve
and used it  as a bandanna to keep her hair out of her eyes. 

Meanwhile, Mckenna quietly walked to where we had stashed our
belongings and began  digging through her bag. She disappeared from
sight for a minute and then came back dressed in a black outfit with an
antique Scottish Claymore in her right hand. 

"What the hell is that? And where did it come from?" Jack demanded. 

"It's a sword," Mckenna absently replied as she ran a thumb down the
cutting edge. 

"I know it's a sword. The question is, what are 'you' doing with it?" 

"Fighting Selenith," Mckenna replied nonchalantly. 

"No, you're not. That's a direct order!"  Jack shouted. "Now put that
thing away before you poke somebody's eye out," O'Neil shouted. 

"Shouting at her, very effective, Sir," Carter muttered. 

"Colnel, the challenge was extended to Mckenna. It would not be
honourable to for her to requlinsh it," Tilk offered helpfully. 

"Hang honor," O'Neil replied. 

"Perhaps a  proxy then?"  She may select another to fight in her
place," Tilk asked. 

"I'm sorry, Colonel, but that's one order I can't obey, "Mckenna
replied, then took a few experimental swings with her sword. "And I'll
ask no one else to take the risk that I'm not willing to take myself." 

"And why not?" O'Neil demanded. 

"I know what I'm about to say is going to sound completely insane,"
Mckenna said, leaning on the blade, as she perched on the edge of the
banquet table. 

"Oh, wonderful, I'm not going to like this, am I?" 

"Well, it seems Selenith has entrenched herself into the mythology
quasi religious traditions of the Moche.  She's their divine protector.
Part of her responsibilities include protection against the Gou'ald,"
Mckenna said. 

"And what's that got to do with you?" Carter asked. 

"Just how does she protect them?" 

"I don't know." 

"You don't know.  I feel so much  better now," O'Neil muttered to

As farfetched as that sounded to us, Mckenna wasn't going to back down
from the fight,  direct order or not. 

"There must be some other way," Sam protested. "I mean, isn't there
some diplomatic protocol to deal with situations like these?" 

"Give a me a moment, Carter, maybe I can come up with something,"
O'Neil muttered. 

"Think faster," I griped." 

"What do you want me to do, Jackson?" March up there and tell both
women to drop this insanity, and the drag the bodily into separate
corners and tell them to find some civil way to resolve their
differences?" O'Neil complained. "We'd likely find ourselves thrown in
there or a spear in the back." 


Her speech completed, Selenith gathered a train of followers around
her, what O'Neil had referred to as 'the royal progress' and marched

O'Neil suspicions about a spear in the back proved to be unfounded, as
we were gently but firmly escorted to the far edge of the village
towards a giant fire pit. 

"Maybe we can still reason with her," Carter offered as we went
wherever they were taking us. 

We kneeled or sat along with the villagers, and watched as both women
ascended a ramp that led to the narrow catwalk that spanned the fire
pit. We watched them take their positions  opposite each other.  From
the size of the  fire pit, you could have successfully held a barbecue 
for the entire village and then some. Below the pit was a forest of
wicked- looking stakes. 

Apparently the Moches had held ceremonies like this before, because
grooves had been worn into the sand for spectators to have an excellent
view of the fight. 

"Okay, people, anybody remember to pack the the marshmallows?' Carter
muttered as she took a measuring inspection from her vantage point. "If
anyone fell in there they'd be either quickly burnt or impaled." 

"I think that's the general idea,"  I said. 

"They are beginning," Tilk said. 

Both opponents brought up the hilts in the time-honoured salute of
sword fighters throughout  history. Then lowered them, with the points
horizontally about five feet off the ground. 

"Anybody want to give the play-by-play," Jack grimaced. 

"Affirmative," Tilk replied as he rose to his feet. 

"That was a rhetorical question, Tilk," O'Neil said. 

"Not that this should be billed as a spectator sport," I remarked. 

"Mckenna handles her sword right-handed, using her center of balance to
draw a tighter grip on the hilt. She uses a series of thrusts, using
its length to dart in for arcing cuts at Selenith, while dancing back
to stay out of the taller woman's range, "Tilk  commented. 

Selenith hacked at her torso, tearing a long gash through fabric and
flesh, using the pposite edge of the blade to protect her hand from
slamming into Mckenna's," Tik continued. 

Mckenna just parried a thrust made with the flat of the blade and used
its cross guard to block and trap the opposing weapon. Interesting
technique," Tilk said. 

"Yeah, like she's done this before?" O'Neil said. 

Mckenna narrowly missed another slash at Selenith's ribs." Who
countered with another blow to the back of the knees, a move intended
to ham-string an opponent, Tilk said. 


I darted into range and locked up Selenith's weapon, swivelling around
my sword, and locked up Selenith's weapon,  She teetered for a split
second struggling for her balance. I decided to try something I'd
picked up from Methos. I grabbed the pommel and tried a high arcing
thrust at her exposed left flank, then struck close in.She parried the
blow, then went for the knees. I had to concentrate on keeping my
footwork so I wouldn't be caught with one crossed over the other.  Not
having a lot of room to work with was not helping matters any. Out of
the corner of my eye, I saw Selenith make that mistake, it was only a
split second before she corrected it, but enough to get in a few

Suddenly Selenith stumbled, and brought  her left hand to wipe at a
droplet of blood from a cut on her cheek. She bite her lips and smiled,
the madness in her eyes knocked me for a loop.  "Finish it, Mckenna,"
Selenith whispered. 

"There can be only one!" then relieved Selenith of her head. 


"This can't be good." 

"There can be only one? What the hell does that mean?" Carter demanded,
shouting to be  heard  over the roar of the crowd. 

Whatever else she may have said was lost in a smothering white fog that
appeared out of nowhere. You've heard about pea soup so thick you
couldn't cut it with a knife, well this was worse. Carter and O'Neil
were standing right next to me, Tilk ahead of me by only a few paces,
but it was as if the fog had swallowed them up. That's when we heard a
clink of metal on something solid, and the fog began clearing.  When it
finally cleared up,  I kind of  wished it hadn't, because Mckenna's
entire body was sheathed in lightning bolts. 

"Oh my God,' was the only thing that came to mind. 


The Quickening contained memories, talent, and knowledge of its
previous owner. It was all there for her to tap into, both the good and
the bad, and all that entailed, bound up into the Quickening. Floating
in the storm wind, the other woman's essence flooding into my own.  As
much as a rush as the Quickening was, as it hit, I had a sudden flash
of insight into why Selenith had pressed me to accept her challenge;
the traitor she had feared was not among her own people, but herself. 

Decades of keeping the Guls away, of leading raiding and scouting
parties against scouting parties had finally come to an end a mere five
months ago; when a Gul had taken her captive and made her a host.  She
fought, of course, but eventually it had taken over. Not completely,
but enough for it to drive her insane. In a way, I felt sorry for her. 

Then all rational thought was swept away, as sparks of energy swept
over my entire body and struck at my ribs, upper arms, and legs.  I
tried to remain upright and hold onto my sword, but I lost my grip, and
fell to my knees, screaming as the Quickening ran its course. 


"Tilk," O'Neil urged in an undertone, nodding his head towards where
Mckenna  crouched like a wounded animal onto of the walkway. 

"Understood," Tilk replied,  and began climbing up the ramp to the
walkway. When he reached her, he picked her up bodily and backpedalled
back down, Her brown hair had come loose from the braid she wore it
one, and her face was coated with sweat, dust. Despite that, she still
stubbornly clung to her sword. With the other she wearily beat at
Tilk's muscled chest. Who ignored her half formed protests. 

"You look like hell," Carter greeted. "What the hell was that?" when
they reached us  and Tilk set her down. 

"The Quickening," Mckenna gasped. 

"The what?"  O'Neil demanded. 

"Give me a moment," Mckenna gasped, as a flash of light came from the
the wounds sustained in the fight, and they closed. "Okay, you might
have a little trouble with this. Just warning you ahead of time.  You
see, Selenith and I belong to a race of beings that have longer life
spans than regular folks. I'm really not supposed to be to telling you
this, but under the circumstances you deserve to know." 

"Let's rewind, what's the Quickening?" I asked. 

"I'm getting to that.  You see there are others like me, some good,
some evil, about as many shades of grey.  You're probably going to have
a hard time with this, but you see, we're Immortal.  And for the last
6,000 years , give or take a decade, the forces of good having been
squaring off against the forces of darkness." 

"There are rules that govern us, the most important rule is that there
can be only one, 

"Only one left in the end. What does the winner get?" Carter asked. 

"Legend has it the last Immortal left standing at the end will have the
memories and power of every Immortal who ever lived.  Enough power to
rule the world forever. 

"Looks like Immortality isn't all its cracked to be, it didn't do
Selenith much good.," O'Neil griped. 

"We can die, we just don't stay dead, unless we lose our heads,"
Mckenna replied. 

"That's what the swords are for," Carter guessed., 

"Exactly, " Mckenna smiled, but the smile was not reflected in her

"Which leaves us with another small problem, the natives are without a 
leader at the moment, since you so oh so conveniently dispatched their
'divine' protector, and they don't look happy about it," O'Neil said. 

"I'll take care of it," Mckenna said, and rose to address the crowd.
She began rattling off something in the Moche's language. Which made me
wonder if she had known how to speak it all along.  Whatever she told
them seemed to have worked  and she began walking back to the village. 

"Immortals, bah humbug," O'Neil muttered to himself. 

"Let' put it another way, Selenith term as ruler was almost up,
according to legend, every 500 years the ruler must appease the god
known as the Decapitator with a ritual   sacrifice or select a
challenger. If she had succeeded in defeating said challenger her rule
would have continued." 

"Why didn't she?" Carter asked. 

"I only learned this during the Quickening, about five months ago
Selenith was taken prisoner by a Gul platoon, they made her a host. She
was able to fight off the mind controlling effects of the parasite, but
the experience left her mind shattered. If I hadn't fought her she or
the Gul inside her would have sacrificed you instead, and then revealed
our location to the Gou'ald." 

"Okay, now I understand why you had to fight her, but that does not
explain how you know that she was a Jaffa," I said. 

'The Quickening is like a transfer, most of what happens during it,
includes a  great deal of the memories and talents of the previous
owner," Mckenna explained. 



Mckenna accompanied us back to Gate and had changed into one the white
linen robes everyone wore her, minus the golden bangles and necklaces. 

"I have to stay, they expect it of me, " Mckenna trailed off. 

"You must do whatever one's destiny obliges one to do," Tilk offered. 

"You're not helping, Tilk," O'Neil said, then turned and ordered me to
dial home. Nodding in acknowledgement, I began pressing the
corresponding cartouches carved in relief on the granite slabs that
made up the Gate. 

"Look, I understand  the per regulations, you're gonna have to put
everything that's happened her down in your reports, Mckenna said. 

"That is standard procedure," O'Neil replied. 

"Do me a favor, I kinda broke one of the unwritten rules by telling you
as much as I did, so could you maybe keep the number of people you tell
about the existence of Immortals to a minimum?  I wouldn't anyone else
to get into trouble because of me." 

"I promise,"  O'Neil. 


When we returned to SG 1 Command, Hammond hadn't taken kindly to having
'lost' our newest recruit, some of what Mckenna had told us about
Immortals sounded like the Jaffas, but even so....they only gained
their regenerative  abilities and expanded lifespans from the symbiotic
and the nature of the host. If the little we had learned from Tilk was
any guide.  The Immortals that Mckenna had told us about, the idea of
an entire race of people, some good, some evil, living for centuries,
..was so farfetched, that it almost sounded like some sort of fairy
tale on an acid trip. 

But it was too late to do anything about it now.  I never knew whether
Jack had made good on his promise to keep the existence of these
"immortals' or  not, and he wasn't taking any bets. In any case, it
wasn't as if we 'lost' her, even if we did have to list her as MIA in
the SG commands records."  When I  first met, I had the feeling she had
an 'old soul.  Guess I was right. 

Excerpt from John Donne poem