I AM LEGION
I am a wanderer.
I live in the night, live for the night; I am Legion.
I thrive among the halls of darkness,
For I alone darest gaze upon these walls.
I am haunted,
My eyes hallowed,
My soul degraded.
I am damaged, but I will not give in.
Turning, spinning, waltzing, flying, moving down another empty hall.
Looking, searching, crying out.
Beyond lonely, beyond spent, I have not the strength to fall upon my knees,
When my tired, tired, lonely eyes do chance upon a dream.
A dream, yes.
That and nothing more.
I do fear not.
But of course- it is only to be expected-
This cruel and tedious world sent me a dream,
Hardly a dream at all,
But a dream stripped of all life, a soulless dream hardly a dream at all.
A ghost stood before me,
In tattered, ripped, papery cloth, its frail, thin body was more of nothing then of
anything at all.
The cloth whispered around its starving body,
The dirty cream-colored fabric several shades darker then its ashen face.
The tears it wrung from its lifeless body were pitiful, dehumanizing.
It trembled as it turned its face towards the lifeless sky,
And raised its limply hanging arms as an offering,
Offering its wrists, offering its blood, offering its life.
Invisible blades sliced its skin, drew blood from where none should flow.
Its face remained expressionless, its eyes closed as if asleep.
The red blood pooled around its feet, flowed in rivers down its arms and legs.
It fell to its knees, its barely present life-force depleted.
As it faced me, and opened its eyes,
I was staring into a void, an insurmountable nothingness.
Its empty stare pierced me, even as its body flickered in and out of existence.
And as the last of its improbable blood drained from its body, it rasped at me, “I know you.”
And in that moment, I knew it too.
I knew it as I stared into the abyss,
And I would have cried out in recognition as it flickered out of existence had sky not exploded.
And so it has become that I live in this world without love, without light, feeding on
But I am Legion. And I am not afraid.
I dreamed of Daniel again. Forever Daniel. Dead and dying Daniel. Always Daniel.
I never dream of Sam or Teal’c or any of the others - - despite their horrible deaths. I think it would be easier for me if I did dream of them. Dreaming about Daniel just kept my anxiety level up in the stratosphere.
He came to me every day, wrapped in tattered rags, his pale skin sliced open, impossibly pouring blood from a bloodless, nearly lifeless body. His eyes, empty and dead looking, but leaking tears nevertheless. And his voice, raspy, saying the same phrase over and over, every damn day.
“I know you,” he says, sometimes once or twice, sometimes in a chant that doesn’t end until I wake, sweating and shaking.
Seeing Daniel like that in my sleep was bad enough, but I’d sometimes see him as I walked. I’d see him just out of the corner of my eye, not really there – my mind conjuring him out of shadows, fueled by my fear.
I’d left Daniel nearly two months ago, sick and weak from a seasonal flu bug never expecting it would be months rather than days before I saw him again.
We’d kept in touch at first by phone and e-mail and later, when things went to hell and back, by ham radio. But Daniel hadn’t answered my calls on the radio for two days now. I was sick with worry and fear.
I had been on the road for six weeks and still had another week or so before I reached the cabin. I was making at least twenty five miles a day, pushing myself and cursing the massive traffic jams that made it impossible for me to do anything but walk. Unfortunately, I was forced to travel at night, making the trip days longer.
I’d left Daniel with three weeks of fresh food and a months worth of canned and dried food. I always kept a good supply on hand because getting snowed in was always a possibility.
Days into this fucking nightmare, I’d told Daniel to start rationing the food. I didn’t want him going to town for any reason. Even somewhere as isolated as my cabin might not be safe. I knew he had enough ammo for the guns to hold off an army.
It didn’t make me feel any better.
The sun was setting when I ate a tasteless MRE. I’d been lucky I hadn’t had to forage in any towns for food yet. Between the MRE’s I’d taken with me and the food I found in the thousands of abandoned cars and my lack of appetite, I was set.
I packed up my gear and walked out of the thick brush I’d bedded down in, my every thought focused on getting home to my lover. I hefted my pack and began a slow, steady jog, every step bringing me closer to Daniel.
The phone rang at 06:00 hours, just as Jack was frowning at the thermometer he’d just removed from Daniel’s ear. His temperature read 103 degrees and Jack was considering getting Doc Jasper to come by and have a look at his lover.
Jack picked up the phone with some trepidation knowing nothing good ever came from such early morning phone calls.
“O’Neill,” he snapped into the phone, not bothering to hide his annoyance.
“Jack, I’m sorry to bother you and Doctor Jackson on your vacation, but I need both of you back here ASAP. We have a situation,” General Hammond said, with no preliminaries.
“A situation? And of course you need us to deal with it,” Jack bit out. He’d only been ten days into a three-week vacation and was angered it was being cut short. Daniel had been run down and exhausted and Jack had taken him to the cabin and away from all the distractions of Colorado so he could rest. He became ill the morning before.
“Colonel O’Neill, I can’t get into details over the phone, but I can assure you, if this weren’t an absolute emergency, I would not be bothering you,” George explained. He’d been turning a blind eye to Jack and Daniel’s relationship for years and was thankful he’d done everything in his power to protect them. They might very well be Earth’s best chance for dealing with the new threat speeding toward the planet.
“I understand, Sir, but you’re going to have to make do with me. Daniel’s pretty sick and he’s not going anywhere for awhile,” Jack told his commanding officer.
“Understood, Colonel. A car should be at your cabin within the next ten minutes, you’ll be taken to a helicopter and then to the airport. There’s a plane waiting and Major Davis is onboard ready to brief you.”
“Ten minutes, Sir? That doesn’t give me a lot of time,” Jack complained.
George laughed, “Hopefully you’ll be back in a few days, Jack.”
“Let’s hope. I’ll see you in a few hours, Sir,” Jack said, resigned.
Jack went into the kitchen; put up the soup he’d made for Daniel yesterday and threw a case of water in the fridge. He then gathered a few bottles of chilled water, bottles of aspirin and cold and flu medicine to deposit by Daniel’s bed.
Sitting on the side of the bed, Jack took his lover’s hand in his, thumb slowly stroking. “Daniel, I’ve got to go. There’s an emergency at the mountain.”
Daniel started to get up, groaning with the effort. “Let me get dressed, I’ll come with you.”
Jack gently pushed him back down. “Not this time, Daniel. If we need you, we’ll come get you when you’re better.”
“You sure?” Daniel asked.
“I’m sure. I’ve got soup up on a low flame and some stuff on the nightstand. I’ll call you as soon as I know anything and to make sure you’ve eaten. Do you want me to call the doctor for you?” Jack said, his voice soft.
“No, I’ll be fine. I just wanna sleep,” Daniel murmured sleepily.
Jack gave him a rough one-armed hug. “Okay, babe. I’ll call you in a few hours,” Jack said. He slid off his sweats and put on jeans and a tee, followed by a heavy sweater. Looking at his lover one last time, he quietly shut the bedroom door and went to get his coat and wallet.
Hoping the emergency wouldn’t keep him long, Jack locked the cabin and entered the car already waiting for him.
In little under an hour, Major Davis was briefing Jack.
Paul was drinking a cup of much needed coffee when Jack showed up. He’d been up for twenty-seven hours, catching only a couple of short naps since this emergency had begun.
“Good morning, Colonel O’Neill. Sorry to interrupt your down time,” Paul began. “Where is Doctor Jackson?” he asked.
“Daniel’s sick. I’m sure we can do without him for a few days,” Jack replied, irritation clear in his voice.
“Begging your pardon, Sir, I’m not sure we can. Thirty hours ago, long-range telemetry detected an armada of ships at the outer edge of our solar system. We waited to see where they were going. Five hours ago, it was determined they were on a direct course to Earth,” Paul explained.
“Do we know who they are?” Jack inquired.
“No, Sir, we don’t. They’re not Goa’uld and so far they haven’t responded to any of our communications.”
“Estimated time of arrival?” Jack barked.
“At their currant rate of speed, we estimate they’ll be in orbit around the Earth in forty eight hours. We may need Doctor Jackson to translate for us.”
“Translate what, Major? You just said they’re not responding to any communications. I’ll evaluate the situation as soon as we get to Cheyenne. We can always get Daniel if need be.” Jack decided. As much as he wanted Daniel by his side, if it meant he would be in the middle of a warzone, he was just as glad he was in an isolated cabin in the wilds of Minnesota.
“Very good, Sir,” Paul answered looking troubled. He really thought Daniel would be needed but was loathe to openly disagree with this particular superior officer. He had his suspicions about the relationship between Doctor Jackson and the Colonel and had no desire to cross O’Neill. His reputation preceded him and Paul knew he wouldn’t stand a chance against a Special Ops trained Colonel.
The rest of the flight was passed in silence as Paul couldn’t help nodding off. Jack let him sleep, not knowing what the next days would bring and needing some quiet time himself.
After landing at Peterson, Jack and Paul were swiftly conveyed to Cheyenne Mountain.
They immediately went to General Hammond’s office where they found him on the phone, talking with the President. He motioned for them to sit while he finished his conversation with the President.
“Good morning, gentlemen, let’s begin,” Hammond ordered, after he’d hung up the phone.
Ten Days Later
Jack and Paul said goodbye to the last of the base personnel who were still healthy and unaffected.
Whatever weaponry the alien armada had used to destroy every major city on the planet also caused a plague of insanity. There hadn’t been enough time to find a cure or even to determine why some people were unaffected. All that was known was if an infected person touched someone unaffected, the insanity was spread.
The aliens had attacked with no warning, no demands and no communication of any kind. It was unlikely they knew about the Stargate as Colorado Springs hadn’t been attacked.
Jack, anxious to get to Daniel carefully packed, taking more ammo than food along with Teal’c’s staff weapon. He took two changes of clothes, not giving a crap what he would smell like by the end of his journey. He was interested only in reaching Daniel.
He wished again he could fly, but the aliens destroyed any and every plane in the air regardless of size.
Jack, his face harsh and determined, finished packing the rest of his gear while Paul looked on.
“Are you sure you don’t want to come with me, Paul?” he asked.
“No, Sir. I’ll try and keep the Stargate secure until you get back with Doctor Jackson.”
“It might be months before I’m back and we have no idea what those bastards will throw at us next,” Jack said. “Use the ‘gate if you have to, Paul. Get to the Alpha site if you can’t keep the base secured. And, Paul… ,” Jack continued, his eyes deadly serious and grim, “if you need to - - terminate with extreme prejudice.”
Jack took a moment to look into Paul’s eyes to make sure he understood exactly what he meant. “That’s an order, Major. Man, woman, child, friend or enemy, if they come near you, zat ‘em or blow their fucking heads off. Don’t wait, just do it,” Jack grated out, wondering if Paul had the balls to kill a woman or child if he weren’t there, and hoping like hell he did.
“Yes, Sir. I’ll do what needs to be done.” Paul moved to help secure Jack’s pack, wishing he could go with him, but knowing he’d slow him down. “Good luck, Sir,” he said.
Paul didn’t give Jack any meaningless platitudes; the truth was the thirteen hundred miles or so he had to travel would be difficult and fraught with danger and there were no guarantees Doctor Jackson would still be alive and unaffected by the time Jack reached his cabin.
Jack reached out and gripped Paul’s arm for a brief moment. “I’ll be back as soon as I can be. If you’re not here, I’ll expect to find you at the Alpha site,” Jack vowed. He turned to leave without looking back.
Memories flashed in Jack’s mind; Janet and Sam being torn apart by a dozen insane airmen, Teal’c falling after he’d been forced to shoot him and the panicked look on General Hammond’s face as he left to see about his family. He’d never returned and Jack could only assume he was dead.
By the time Jack reached the surface, the sun was setting. The night was quiet and cold with hundreds of stars shining overhead. Jack had to walk at night because the infected came out during the daylight hours. They seemed to fear the dark and so the dark was now the realm of the unaffected.
At least that was one of the few conclusions reached by Janet. Jack wasn’t taking any chances though. He’d already decided he wasn’t stopping for anyone and would kill anyone who approached him. It was the only way to be sure he could get to Daniel alive and healthy.
With one quick glace at his surroundings, Jack began his journey.
After what seemed a lifetime, I was within ten miles of the cabin. The snow was still piled high in some places even though it was nearly spring and the days were warming up some.
The only thing I had heard from the radio over the last week was static and every so often a stray voice that would suddenly come in clear and rapidly fade out. I wasn’t even able to make out a clear word.
I would listen for a few minutes, try to raise Daniel and then shut it off for a time, unable to stem my fears for him. Yesterday, before I fell asleep I kept imagining people screaming just below the static. It scared me in a way I haven’t been scared since I was a child.
The dreams after that were very bad. I awoke after only a few hours of sleep and shivered in my sleeping bag, glad the days were shorter than the nights. I dreamed I was the last person on Earth, alone but for the ghost of Daniel.
I went as fast as I could those last miles, my legs growing leaden the closer I got. I was anxious to see Daniel and terrified that he’d be dead.
When at last the cabin was in sight, I finally ran. A flat, all out, run, screaming at the top of my lungs.
I’d seen him through the window; a candle burning on the table as he moved around cleaning up after a meal.
This was Daniel as I would dream of him the rest of my life.