EXT. LADY OF SLAUGHTER – DAY
A new day has come to this side of Abdju, and along with it all the people of Nagada. Summoned by Faizah’s emissaries, they have left the shelters of their inviting city and travelled in the thousands under the hot desert suns to come to the pyramid, where they have amassed before the entrance ramp to bear witness to the upcoming execution of O’Neal and his men. As for O’Neal and the remaining members of his team, they stand midway up the ramp, facing the entrance, guarded by a pair of armed Haru Guards.
Upon the ramp, a long burgundy carpet has been unfurled, leading up to the entrance which, in turn, has been festooned with a canopy of matching burgundy fabric to shield the empty throne sitting beneath it from the harsh sunlight. Emerging from the entrance, accompanied by her Ubaste Guards and servants, is Faizah, once again attired in full Sekhmet Guard armour. Upon sighting the silver demigoddess, the Nagadans all bow to the ground, prostrating themselves before the lioness-helmed woman and her entourage.
FAIZAH: (raises her arms; subtitled) Arise.
At her command, the Nagadans return to their feet.
As Faizah takes her seat upon the throne, Sihathor steps out of the pyramid, Daniel in tow.
KAWALSKY: (to O’Neal) You told us he was dead.
The two Haru Guards leave their posts to join their mistress at the entrance as Sihathor positions Daniel at the head of the ramp.
SIHATHOR: (addressing the crowd; subtitled) This one has come before you, bearing the seal of Atum. (takes hold of the gold pendant and holds it up for all to see) He sought to take the mantle of the god of gods as his own, but there can be only one Atum. (pulls the pendant free of Daniel’s throat) It is Atum who commands him to kill these men, (points at O’Neal and the other captives) his friends, his brothers. He will obey him unto death.
One of the Ubaste Guards leaves Faizah’s side and approaches Sihathor. Bringing forth her staff weapon, the cat-helmed warrior presents it to the green-black Haru Guard. Accepting the long weapon, Sihathor then thrusts it out to Daniel, silently commanding the smaller man to take it, his mechanical turquoise eyes blazing. Tentatively, the scholar takes hold of the sceptre. Getting a feel for the ungainly ceremonial weapon, he steps away from Sihathor, descending the ramp towards his companions, and brings the pod-like barrel of the staff weapon to bear on O’Neal; running his hand along the underside of the staff weapon, he opens the flanges, priming the weapon for fire.
As Daniel gathers the resolve to pull the trigger, bright light shines into his eye, distracting him. Looking away from the colonel, past all the Americans, Daniel spies what has caught his eye; standing in the crowd beside Sha’ure, using O’Neal’s lighter as a mirror, is Skarra. Squinting his eyes, Daniel sees the boy draw aside the folds of his long coat to reveal the M4 carbine he has been hiding beneath it.
As everyone – the guardsmen of the Imperium, the Nagadans, and the airmen – stand or sit in anticipation of the first energy blast, Daniel spins around, training the staff weapon on one of the Haru Guards. Pulling the trigger, a bolt of superheated plasma lances out, striking the falcon-helmed guard in the breastplate, knocking him off-kilter and reeling. The loyal band of palace servants then whip out their M4s, opening fire into the sky.
The light and noise of the staff weapon and M4s assaulting their unaccustomed senses, the thousands of Nagadans erupt into panic, fleeing in droves in all directions to put as much distance as they can between themselves and the weapons of gods and men from unfamiliar stars. Taking advantage of the chaos, the Earthmen break off in a run, sprinting down the ramp and blending into the morass of Nagadan bodies.
Bringing forth their weapons, Sihathor and the other Haru Guards begin firing into the crowd. While his subordinates are content to utilize the stun beams to avoid needless slaughter, Sihathor has no such qualms; he releases a steady stream of decimating plasma bolts upon everyone within range of his rifle. One such bolt manages to strike Freeman, catching him between the shoulder blades and blasting through his sternum, dropping him instantly.
FERETTI: Freeman! Freeman!
There is nothing the technical sergeant can do for his fallen friend.
The Earthlings meet up with Sha’ure and the others and are led to a waiting group of mastadges. Climbing atop the hairy beasts, they make their escape, galloping off into the open desert and evading Faizah’s forces for the time being.
EXT. DESERT – HILLS – DAY
After hours of travel, another fierce sandstorm has picked up, and the Terrans and their Nagadan accomplices have come to a series of caves set in a range of low, craggy hills. Dismounting the mastadges, they corral the creatures inside a shallow cave; leaving a pair of girls and one boy to keep watch over the beasts, the rest then set off again on foot, deciding to put as much distance between the mastadges and themselves as they can should the former ever be found by Faizah’s people.
After nearly another hour of trekking through the howling, gritty wind, they finally decide to stop and set up shop within one of the deep caves nearby.
INT. CAVE/MAIN CHAMBER – DAY
The Nagadans and Terrans file inside, and we see that all the Earthlings’ weapons and ammo have already been stashed inside. Apparently Skarra and the others already had this cave picked out as a hiding place before their escapade at the pyramid.
As torches are lit and fixed in makeshift sconces, casting light throughout the shadowy reaches of this dank place, the travellers all collapse to the stone floor, weary from their journey.
As the kids go about inspecting their borrowed guns, O’Neal studies them with cold eyes.
KAWALSKY: (grins) What do you think, Colonel? They’re not exactly Special Forces, but they sure were eagre to join up.
O’NEAL: (wrenches a gun away from one of the Nagadans) Take these guns away, Lieutenant Colonel, before they hurt themselves.
KAWALSKY: (frowns) Sir?
O’NEAL: You heard me. Send them all home.
KAWALSKY: There isn’t anywhere for these kids to go. If they showed up in the city, they’d be killed for helping us. Besides, we sure could use their help right now.
O’NEAL: (enraged) For what, huh?! To do what?!
This outburst from O’Neal catches everyone by surprise. Everyone, that is, save for Daniel.
DANIEL: Why don’t you just tell them everything? Why don’t you tell them about the bomb?
KAWALSKY: What’s he talking about?
O’NEAL: (sighs) My orders were simple: Track down signs of any possible danger. If I found any, blow up the stargate. (beat) Well, I found some.
KAWALSKY: (angry) Why wasn’t I told of this?
O’NEAL: It was strictly need to know.
KAWALSKY: (dumbfounded) Need to know!? Don’t you think this is something I would damn well need to know?!
O’NEAL: (flustered) You weren’t even supposed to be here! None of you were. You were all gonna go right back through with Daniel.
DANIEL: And this great plan of yours would leave you here with a nuclear weapon? Well, your bomb is Faizah’s now, and soon she’s going to send it back to Earth, along with a shipment of the crystal the stargates are made of. And when that thing goes off, it’s going to cause an explosion a hundred times more destructive than that bomb alone is capable of.
O’NEAL: She told you all this?
O’NEAL: Alright, then. I’ll intercept the bomb and destroy the stargate before she can send it through.
DANIEL: (frustrated) Destroying this one gate won’t accomplish anything! There’re bound to be more!
O’NEAL: You have a better idea?
DANIEL: It’s the gate on Earth that poses a threat. As long as that one is up and functional, they’ll always have access. That is the one that we have to shut down!
O’NEAL: You’re absolutely right. But with the enemy controlling the gate here, we may not have that option.
INT. LADY OF SLAUGHTER/FAIZAH’S CHAMBERS – DAY
Faizah is standing in her quarters, looking out the simulated bay window which provides a holographic view of the swirling brown winds of the sandstorm billowing beyond the ship’s hull, when Sihathor, his falcon mask retracted, enters the chamber.
FAIZAH: (turns to Sihathor) Where are they?
SIHATHOR: They vanished.
FAIZAH: (frowns) What do you mean, vanished?
SIHATHOR: They are nowhere to be found – not in Nagada, not in the old ruins. My men have searched both thoroughly.
FAIZAH: Then they are somewhere out in the wilderness. (beat) Send forth the udajeets. They will scan the hills, the sands, the entire face of Abdju if need be until the First Worlders are found.
SIHATHOR: (bows) As milady wishes.
EXT. DESERT – HILLS – DAY
As the sandstorm continues to sweep across the desert, a sole udajeet – a crescent-shaped, one-man fighter craft with downward curved wings – flies on through, heedless of the elements buffeting it.
INT. UDAJEET/COCKPIT – DAY
Within the small cockpit, the pilot – a young man barely out of his teens – scans the landscape below him for human lifeforms. As he studies the readouts he is getting on his helmet display, however, he frowns. Something is messing with the craft’s instruments, giving him readings which are all over the place.
EXT. CAVE – DAY
Nabeh is stationed outside the cave opening, standing guard, when he hears the whine of the approaching udajeet. Dashing inside, he drops down, taking cover in shadow as the glider passes overhead, clear over the cave and the humans dwelling within the stone. Once the noise of the udajeet’s engines have faded into the distance, Nabeh crawls back out, keeping a cautious eye out for more gliders.
INT. CAVE/O’NEAL’S ALCOVE – DAY
Away from the main chamber, sitting away in his own private alcove with only a lit torch to keep him company, Col. Jack O’Neal just stares straight ahead at the wall, all but a zombie.
DANIEL: (O.S.) So, you’ve accepted the fact that you’re never going home?
O’Neal’s gaze remains fixed straight ahead; never once does he turn his head or otherwise give any physical indication that he’s aware of the Egyptologist standing behind him.
DANIEL: (cont’d) Don’t you have people who care about you? A family?
O’NEAL: I had a family. (beat) No one should ever outlive their own child.
With this revelation, Daniel clams up. Although he’s known plenty of pain in his own life, he still doesn’t know how to respond to the pain of others.
DANIEL: Colonel, listen … I don’t want to die.
With those five words, the colonel finally turns to face Daniel.
DANIEL: (cont’d) Your soldiers don’t want to die, and these kids helping us don’t want to die. (beat) It’s a shame you’re in such a hurry to.
Daniel’s words punch O’Neal straight in the gut. He then gets ready to respond, to say or do whatever it’ll take to get Daniel out of his face, but the renegade Egyptologist turns and walks away before the colonel can speak a single syllable.
As the Egyptologist disappears around the corner, Skarra comes around from that same corner, carrying a full bowl of stew in his hands. Approaching O’Neal, he holds out the bowl.
O’Neal turns away from Skarra, ignoring the boy in the hopes that he will soon depart and leave the colonel to his troubled thoughts. Perplexed, thinking that maybe O’Neal finds the food abhorrent, Skarra gives the stew a sniff. Finding nothing obviously wrong with the concoction, he sets the bowl down on the ground, just past the colonel’s reach. When the Earthman continues to ignore him, Skarra decides to make a game of the situation. Playfully he slides the bowl slightly closer to the older man, then slightly closer more, then closer once again. He then begins trying to invite O’Neal to eat, making comical faces and gestures to entice the colonel into taking a bite. In spite of himself, O’Neal finds this whole display incredibly goofy, and he feels his stoic resolve weakening. When Skarra finally resorts to flapping his arms and clucking like a chicken, O’Neal completely caves.
O’NEAL: (laughs) Chicken, right?
Grinning, O’Neal musses up Skarra’s hair. Then he accepts the bowl of stew.
INT. CAVE/MAIN CHAMBER – DAY
Daniel rejoins Kawalsky, Brown, Feretti, and the Nagadans in the main chamber. As he accepts sits down beside Feretti, accepting a bowl of exotic alien fruit from one of the Nagadan boys, he steals a glance at Sha’ure, who is eating her own dessert in the company of the other girls.
BROWN: (smirks) There she is, Romeo. Why don’t you pay her a visit?
DANIEL: (turns to Brown) I don’t know what you’re talking about.
BROWN: Wouldn’t be so bad, would it? You two could honeymoon back at the pyramid. Rent an apartment here in the caves. Find yourself a job in town. Maybe teach Greek and Latin to pick up money on the side. Start a little family.
Clearly not in the mood for Brown’s jocular remarks, Daniel stands up and leaves the chamber.
BROWN: (puzzled) What’d I say?
INT. CAVE/ENTRANCE CHAMBER – DAY
Leaving the main chamber, Daniel steps out into the low-ceilinged chamber which leads outside. In no mood to be with any company, he takes a seat midway between the main chamber and cave opening, far enough away from both those inside and Nabeh outside.
As Daniel slowly begins eating his bowl of fruit, Sha’ure slips inside, joining him.
SHA’URE: Daniel. I ….
Sensing his desire for solitude, the young woman clams up and turns to go back.
DANIEL: Sha’ure, wait … don’t go. If you want to stay, you can stay.
Deciding to accept his reluctant hospitality, Sha’ure takes a seat on the cave floor, directly facing Daniel.
SHA’URE: (half-smiles) When did you become so fluent in my tongue?
DANIEL: It’s a complicated story.
Daniel resumes eating.
SHA’URE: A thought for a thought?
DANIEL: (sighs) It’s my fault we’re here – my fault and my fault alone. (beat) I hadn’t told the truth when the general asked me if I could bring the team back. The pictures of the stargate the MALP sent back to Earth were clear enough; there was no cartouche in the room, no way of establishing a new address for the trip back home. I’d assumed West was going to send the team through whether I went with them or not, and I was willing to risk myself to satisfy my curiosity. I failed to consider the consequences of my actions on other people, now thousands may have to pay for my goddamned selfishness. (beat) That’s just like me. It’s no wonder my love life sucks.
Absorbed in his own self-loathing, Daniel absentmindedly picks a piece of fruit which resembles a hairy strawberry out of his bowl. As he gets ready to bite into it, Sha’ure seizes his wrist in a strong grip, hold it back.
SHA’URE: No more looking back, Daniel. (takes the fruit from his fingers) The future lies ahead.
The girl peels away the hairy, papery skin of the fruit, exposing the soft green flesh beneath. Raising the fruit to his lips, she very gently feeds it to him.
There is more tenderness in the gesture, more intimacy, than either of them would normally be comfortable with. Yet they cannot deny what they are – literal star-crossed lovers, brought together over vast gulfs of time and space by whatever gods may be to fulfill some untold destiny – and so they loose their reticence, surrendering themselves to the moment.
INT. LADY OF SLAUGHTER/FAIZAH’S CHAMBERS – DAY
Faizah is seated at her table, absorbed in holo-recordings from the tumultuous times of the First Days, of the uneasy years of excess and corruption which led to the bloody uprisings on Nebwat and Oannes and the coup which saw Earth cut off from the stargate network. That is when Sihathor opens the doors to her chambers, admitting the udajeet pilots who had been dispatched to track down the escapees.
Deactivating the holo-projector, Faizah leaves her table and approaches the pilots.
One of the pilots – specifically, the young pilot who passed right over the escapees’ hideaway without discovering their presence – takes a step forward and gets down on one knee.
UDAJEET PILOT: They are dead.
Turning to the young man, she walks up to him, her stride full of grace – grace and menace. Crossing in front of him, she looks down on him, examining him as a housecat would a mouse.
FAIZAH: Bring their bodies to me.
UDAJEET PILOT: The naqahdah deposits in the surrounding terrain interfere with our scanners. We could get no positive readings of their presence. (tries and fails to make eye contact with Faizah) They are still in the sand. Surely the sandstorm will have killed them.
Faizah sighs, her disappointment evident.
FAIZAH: You tried.
Resting her left hand on the man’s head, she begins to stroke it, petting him as lovingly as a master would his ever-loyal dog.
FAIZAH: I know you tried.
The demigoddess then tightens her grip and pulls his head back. Raising her right hand, she exposes the round, red jewel in the centre of her palm. Held in place by loops of black metal wire, the jewel comes alive with baleful light as she presses her hand down upon the crown of his head and keeps it there. Immediately, the pilot’s arms and legs shoot out stiff, his whole body beginning to spasm violently. His head itself then begins to vibrate at an unnatural rate, going suddenly still as his facial features begin to distort radically, the skull losing the integrity of its shape, swelling and constricting like a thin bag of water.
Once the punishment jewel has worked its dark magic – rearranging the pilot’s molecules, transfiguring him into a grotesque Picasso of hideously misaligned flesh and bone – Faizah closes her hand, deactivating the weapon.
FAIZAH: (sighs) Let this serve notice. I will not accept failure.