BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

EMMARIGBY

Winding River: Chapter 8
Friday, May 5, 2006

Just thought I'd give you one more chapter of this Stargate crossover fic.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2202    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Disclaimer: See Chapter 1

AN/ I'm very sorry folks, I'll not be posting for a while. I'm going away for a week (plus I've run out of pre-written chapters!) but I promise to have something for you when I get back! Go look up the history that’s in here, it’s pretty cool (and some of it’s even true!). I’d love to know people’s interpretations as to what has, is and will be happening here! I might even let you know if you’re right!

Chapter 8 Lost

“Janet!”

Sam’s voice echoed hoarsely around the eerily silent infirmary. She hesitated at the threshold, her eyes lingering on the small, shrouded shape of River’s unconscious body at the far end of the room.

“Dr. Frasier!” she called again in the rasping half-whisper of someone trying to attract attention without making too much noise. Frowning at the lack of response, she stalked quietly into the room, heading for the door of Janet Frasier’s cramped adjoining office. She knocked perfunctorily then swung the door open, sticking her head into the room for a quick surveillance. She froze in surprise as she registered that the room was occupied. The doctor sat hunched over her desk. One hand rested heavily on a thick bundle of typed notes, deep creases cutting the rumpled fabric of her lab coat. The other hand propped up her bent head, the fingers buried in her thick brown hair. Long strands had escaped from her neat bun to twine around her wrist or hang limply in front of her down-turned gaze. Sam opened the door a little wider and stepped into the office, calling out again in a gentle voice.

“Earth to Janet!” The dark, tousled head snapped up and deep brown eyes focussed on the blonde woman in surprise.

“Sam! I’m sorry; I must have been miles away.” Janet leant back in her chair, washing her hands over her face and pressing weary fingers hard into the corners of her eyes. “What can I do for you?”

Sam hesitated, casting a troubled glance over her weary friend. “Um … I just wanted to check on River’s condition. The mission to get her back to her home planet, via P1X-701, is scheduled for tomorrow morning.”

Janet blinked owlishly at her for a second before giving a slow smile. “Oh, she’s doing just fine. She’s sleeping normally now, I only gave her a mild sedative. She calmed down almost as soon as Jacob was out of the room.” The doctor’s voice sounded stretched and thin, and there was a dull film over her normally vivacious eyes.

“And how about you?” Sam asked in concern. “You look exhausted! Was the autopsy as tough as you expected?”

“What?” Janet gazed blankly at her for a moment before tossing her head as if shaking off a daze. “Oh that! No, we haven’t finished that yet. My assistant wasn’t feeling too great so I sent him home. We’ll get onto it tomorrow.”

Sam frowned down at her sternly. “In that case what are you still doing here? It looks like it’s you who could benefit from an early night!”

Janet scrunched her nose at her friend in amused derision. “Isn’t that usually my line? And how many times do you actually take my advice?” She held up a hand to forestall Sam’s protest. “Alright Dr. Carter! I appreciate the diagnosis. I am feeling tired, actually. I’ll head home just as soon as I’ve arranged for someone to come and keep an eye on our patient.”

Sam smiled, appeased, but before she could respond a soft moan sliced through the still room beyond, causing both women to start. Sam whirled and wrenched the door wider as she leant out, her body still as she listened. Another choked whimper prompted Janet to drag herself to her feet and follow Sam out into the infirmary.

The two women hovered uncertainly at the foot of River’s bed. The young girl’s face was flushed and her breath came in rapid, rasping gasps. Her arm lay thin and pale above the thin cover; the bulky patch of the sterile dressing appearing incongruous against her porcelain smooth skin. She made a small gesture, as if warding off spectres, and the arm slid from the bed to dangle limply.

Sam’s brow furrowed in sympathy. “Scary nightmares! Should we wake her?”

Janet shook her head as she gently lifted the injured arm and placed it across River’s chest. “Let her sleep. They’ll pass. Tomorrow you’ll take her back to her family. I know that you and Jack will make sure she’s safe and happy.”

Sam frowned, glancing at the doctor’s distracted face. Her voice had held a remote, lilting quality, as if she were telling a story. Sam would dearly like to believe in the happy ending Janet had painted but there was something in the atmosphere of the quiet room that caused the hairs on the back of her neck to prickle uncomfortably. She mumbled an excuse and, with a final uncertain glance at River’s face, made her escape.

--O--

The wind whistled forlornly around the barren hillside, moaning as it probed the hollow places of the stone ruins. The leaden sky, heavy with twisted clouds over the jagged points of broken slabs, created a picture of desolate menace that would do credit to any horror movie. The sense of gothic melodrama was heightened by the giant stone circle, carved with arcane symbols, which crowned the hill and framed the darkened sky like a baleful eye.

With a flash of amber light from the faceted crystals set about its rim, the Stargate groaned into life. The clunk of each chevron settling like tumblers in a lock echoed eerily over the barren landscape above the whisper of the wind. The explosive kerwoosh of the quicksilver plume ricocheted from the skeletal buildings before silence fell once more. Low, wide ripples pierced the undulating film as an unwieldy machine emerged to trundle on caterpillar tracks a few meters down the dry grassy bank where it ground to a halt. The MALP sat with machinery strapped on at odd angles, its bulky form looking bizarrely out of place beside the ancient curved lines of the Stargate.

The expectant silence was shattered as four figures burst from the bubble, claiming the open land with confident strides. River followed softly, seeming to barely touch the ground as she slipped away from the group to meander slowly down the hill, arms wrapped tightly around herself. Colonel O’Neill cast an eye over the view laid out in front of him, glancing around uncomfortably for some sign of the shocking struggle that had occurred here just a few days ago.

“Gosh, I’d forgotten how nice this place is.” He exclaimed in a wry tone. Leaving no more time for sightseeing, he swung to face his crew. “Let’s get this done, people, so we can get out of here. Carter, get started doing whatever it is you have to do to the DHD. Teal’c can help you.”

The large warrior arched an eyebrow at his friend, obviously dubious at this idea. O’Neill shrugged at his expression. “Well, at least you can hand stuff to her.” Jack’s attention shifted to the retreating figure of the distracted young girl. “Come on Danny, let’s go and round up River. We don’t want to be losing her before we can get her back to the land of the pyramids.”

Daniel fell in beside the older man, shooting him a bemused look. “Pyramids?” he queried.

Jack glanced across at him uncertainly. “Well, yeah! Aren’t we working on the theory that River’s descended from the slaves that Aten grabbed? I was picturing another Little Egypt, like on Abydos.”

Daniel shook his head as he walked. “Nothing that Jacob said gives me reason to think that Aten took all of his breeding stock from one place. In fact, since I’ve heard River speak a variation of Mandarin, I’m thinking at least some of her people were taken from Ancient China.”

Jack allowed a wash of scepticism to flood over his face. “Really! ‘Cos I can see that she looks very Oriental!”

Daniel scowled, unable to refute the sarcastic logic. “Well, obviously I don’t have all the answers yet.” He muttered irritably.

“Because you’ve not been listening! You’ve not got eyes to hear the truth.” Both men pulled up in surprise. As they’d been talking they’d pulled closer to River, and had been unaware of her quiet scrutiny.

“What do you mean, River?” Daniel asked gently.

“I think she was calling you stupid!” Jack supplied helpfully.

Daniel shot him an annoyed glare, then walked softly closer to the enigmatic girl. River was no longer looking at them, but staring mournfully over the tumbled foundations before them.

“They’re screaming to be heard. Stolen by chaos and left for the ghosts and the nightmares. Time pressing in. Running to the black. All lost…” her voice trailed off in sad resignation.

The two men exchanged a baffled look. Jack was the first to break the silence. “Okay Daniel, you’re the one who’s good at riddles. Care to translate?”

Daniel Jackson just shook his head helplessly. He drew breath to ask a question but before he could speak River had suddenly sprung into fluid action. She sprinted the few steps to the bottom of the slope in long rapid strides. She didn’t hesitate as she reached the low wall that was all that remained of a narrow building at the foot of the hill. Placing one narrow hand amidst the rubble she vaulted smoothly over into the deep ditch beyond.

Both men started in shock at the unexpected movement then ran forward as one, united in their concern for the young girl.

“River are you okay?” Jackson called out, peering over the waist high barrier. He blinked in surprise at the sight of the headless torso stretched out on the ground beyond. River’s slim form was spread face down in the dust. One leg was bent at the knee; the foot, in its thick sock and heavy boot, waving in the air in effort as she stretched. Her head and shoulders were cut off from sight, buried under a large slab of rock which had fallen diagonally across the ditch, leaving a dark recess beneath.

“River! Come out of there! That doesn’t look a safe place to be.” Jack called out in exasperation.

If she heard him, she didn’t respond. She did, however, begin to wriggle out of the hole, inching backwards with small movements of her hips and elbows. She emerged, flushed and streaked with dirt, clutching a skeleton. Her fingers curled almost caressingly around the flaking mottled grey bones of the ribcage.

Jack stared for a moment, then spoke calmly, in a deadpan voice. “Oh look, Daniel! She’s brought you a present.” Daniel crouched down and leant over the crumbling stones for a better view of the uncovered remains. River beamed proudly at him, then gently pushed the skeleton to one side to dive her head and arms back into the small cave.

“River!” It was Daniel this time who called out in alarm. The two men both held their breath, unsure of what exactly the girl would emerge with next. There was a simultaneous sigh of relief as River shuffled out again, dragging nothing more ominous than a dark, mouldering satchel. She rolled over to sit amidst the rubble, and pulled the ancient bag into her lap. With quick, sharp movements her fingers tore the strap from the corroded buckle. The brittle leather cracked as she levered the flap open to peer inside.

“Oh River, don’t!” Daniel called out in anguish at the rough treatment. “That could provide valuable historical data!”

River didn’t pause until she had worked loose a blackened lump, the size of a large brick, from its crumbling leather confines.

She paused for a second to stroke this object then looked up at Dr. Jackson with a moue of impatience. “This could provide valuable historical data.” She flicked herself nimbly to her feet, both hands still clutched around her prize, then abruptly turned and threw it up at the anxious archaeologist.

Daniel was caught off guard and almost fumbled the catch, just managing to scoop the artefact out of the air with one forearm and press it protectively to his chest. Looking down excitedly, he recognised the familiar shape.

“It’s a book! And remarkably well preserved.” Using one tentative forefinger he eased the front flap ajar to peek underneath, trying to avoid damaging the fragile spine.

Colonel O’Neill stepped forward to peer at the find over his friend’s shoulder. Daniel broke off his examination to glance around in annoyance at the looming presence, only to jerk his head back in surprise as he caught sight of a flash of movement below him. River had climbed out of the trench without making the slightest sound and was now sitting cross-legged at his feet.

She peered up at him, her head cocked. “Tell me a story.” She demanded in a satisfied voice.

Jack grinned. “Yeah, Danny. Can you put that big brain of yours to use in translating that thing?”

Daniel dragged his eyes from the pale face staring up at him to look back at the book. His eyes widened in astonishment as he looked inside once more. “I don’t have to,” he breathed. “It’s in English.”

He cracked the book open a little wider to read the faceplate. “This is dated 1588. It’s the journal of Dionyse Harvye, Assistant to the Governor of the Cittie of Ralegh, Roanoke Island.”

Jack leaned back, his eyebrows rising almost to his silvered hairline. “Roanoke Island, Virginia? That was the site of the first colonisation attempt of America.”

He paused, unsettled by the blank look of astonishment that Daniel levelled at him. He shrugged uncomfortably. “What, I can’t know stuff?” The look didn’t waver. “Look, I happen to have done a report on early American history when I was back at the Academy, okay? Some of it stuck, especially the stuff about the Lost Colony. I can’t resist a good mystery.” He gave a malicious grin. “So, you don’t know the story, huh?”

It was Daniel’s turn to shift in embarrassment. “That period’s not really my area of expertise. If you wouldn’t mind filling me in…”

Jack hesitated for a long moment but decided not to press this small victory. At least not just yet! “Well, back in the late 1500’s a friend of Sir Walter Raleigh got a bunch of people together to try and make a go of settling down in the New World. There’d been a colony built on Roanoke Island a few years earlier but it had been abandoned due to lack of food and frisky natives. The new group weren’t doing much better so they sent White back home to England for reinforcements and supplies. Took him three years to get back to the island. He found it deserted, with no bodies or signs of a fight. Nobody’s been able to find out what happened to the over 100 colonists left behind.”

“Until now.” Daniel’s attention had been drawn back to the weathered book. “Listen to this!” He began to read, his voice animated with the thrill of discovery.

“Ambrose Viccars, the most devout in our company, is of the conviction that our present tribulations, and the strange events leading thereto, are retribution from the Almighty as a consequence of some sinful actions. I remain hopeful that God has turned not utterly his countenance from our plight. This new land into which we awoke is much barren, but in several intances about our camp abound remains of once mighty peoples, who would need provision from the land as much as we, although our scouts have found no trace of victual as yet.

Margery is lost to a fit of despondence. Despite my best entreaties my good wife did very particularly inform me of her conviction that we have been condemned to Purgatory by the Devil in his own person. She claims to recall vividly the marvellous and most strange translation of our company, which to most is as but a bright dream, and the diminutive demon, impotent in his limbs but with unnatural large eyes, who transported us thither.”

O’Neill cut in with a whoop of surprise. “Whoa! Back up! Doesn’t that sound suspiciously like the description of an Asgard? Why would Thor or his people be stealing whole villages of people and bringing them half way across the galaxy?”

Daniel closed the journal and stared off into space, frowning in thought. “It could have been Loki. We know that he’s been responsible for centuries of abductions to obtain subjects for his cloning research.”

Jack shivered in recollection. “Believe me, I remember! But didn’t he usually take individuals, not people en mass?”

Daniel shrugged. “I think it was about 500 years ago that the Asgard became really concerned over the breakdown of their genetic material. He could have been intending to set up some sort of laboratory on a conveniently deserted planet.”

Jack quirked an eyebrow. “So why didn’t he? Go on Danny, skip to the end and tell us what happened.”

Dr. Jackson carefully cracked open the book again and levered over a thickly clumped mess of pages to find another legible passage of the damp, faded script.

“In efforts ever more desperate to discover living people whom we could have some doings with, either in friendship or otherwise, our party was rent into pairs to search this land. Having travelled but but two hours’ journey towards the east, I was resting in the lee of a huge carven circle when the said structure commenced to move and sprang forth with a most violent stream. The spectres that issued from its depths did cause to make my very soul to quake.

Ananius Dare, who was also at that time with me, did make ready his musket to fire upon the armoured savages but fell lifeless with a grievous hurt in his breast from a great bolt of light. They paid me little heed but surveyed the lands as returning lords before addressing me thus. I was betook to now serve allegiance to a divinity by the name of Chronos. I was to stand upon as good guard of this place as I could until their return with a great many of men. Having falsely accepted of their charge to deliver presently unto him the remainder of my company they made some motions which caused the river to issue once more, the very hand of God as it seemed, stretched out to take them thence.

I took a resolution with myself that the next morning, before the rising of the sun this land would find itself absent of our presence, which at my first motion I found my whole company ready to assent unto. As one mind were we most desirous of any slim chance of escape and, having got their liking and consent thereto, our modest supply of victuals, munition, and clothing was gathered and removed to this place.

William Dutton and Thomas Smart even now labour over the workings of the foreign pedestal. My wife despairs of us leaving this place but I am convinced that God is pleased not utterly to suffer us to be lost, and pray my small daughter Verbena will have cause to walk the green grass of England’s shores once more.”

Daniel looked up with a small sigh. “That’s all there is.” He murmured finally. The still silence was broken as River knelt to peer over the low wall.

“You escaped the gods but not gravity.” She gravely informed the sad pile of bones.

They held that tableau for a long moment, each lost to their own thoughts, until Carter’s eager voice called down to them, breaking them from their reverie.

“Sir! We’ve got it working!”

Jack clapped a hand to Daniel’s shoulder. “Come on. As fascinating as this tale has been, it’s got nothing to do with our current mission.”

Heated denial flashed across the other man’s bright eyes but O’Neill cut off the objection before it could be made. “You can always come back to have another poke around, but do you want to be the one to tell River she has to wait to go home?”

Daniel let out a breath and inclined his head in reluctant assent, but kept the book clutched possessively to his chest as he started up the hill. By the time the three of them reached the top Carter had the Stargate active and was positioning the MALP at its mouth by means of a remote control. At a nod from the Colonel she sent it trundling through. Peering into the small screen of a palm-sized device, she waited for a moment before declaring “The Stargate is situated in a large cave. It seems clear, sir.”

O’Neill nodded and ushered his team forward. Turning, he laid a gentle hand on River's back and gave her a nudge toward the gate. She took a last look around the desolate plain before stepping firmly through the mirror bright surface. The ripples of her passing were soon lost in the waves from Jack’s larger frame.

As the event horizon collapsed the planet settled back into silence. Little evidence remained of the intrusion of living beings into the ancient place, and once more the wailing wind was the only sound to disturb the dreams of the dead.

AN/ Well, what do you think? For those getting impatient for our two groups of heros to meet up, sorry it’s taken so long. You can’t rush a good confrontation! At least they’re on the same planet now!

COMMENTS

Friday, May 5, 2006 2:49 PM

BOOKADDICT


Yay! Loving all the interconnection stuff and that Jack knew something that Daniel didn't. I can't wait for the confrontation between the two crews.

Friday, May 5, 2006 7:50 PM

REAVERMAN


Very cool! I'm looking forward to the next one!


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