"Incoming traveler sir, it's the Tok'ra," the Technician said.
"Here to share squat with us no doubt," O'Neill grumbled.
"Open the iris," Hammond ordered.
The iris opened and Freya/Anise stepped through, followed by two other Tok'ra, carrying a long box covered with a piece of cloth.
Teal'c ran to the gateroom, very worried something may have gone wrong with Shau'nac after she had received a new, almost too young symbiote larva. The rest of SG-1 followed.
"Teal'c... it is with great sorrow that I return," Anise began. She nodded at the two guards, who walked to the side of the room and placed the large container on the floor.
"Shau'nac!" Teal'c exclaimed, looking at the casket with a grieved expression.
"We found the body just outside her chamber." Anise looked towards the two other Tok'ra, then at the shocked members of SG-1. "The symbiote she carried was also dead. If we had found a more mature larva…"
"She appeared well!" Teal'c insisted.
"Shau'nac's death is simply the unfortunate result of waiting too long," Anise said. She hesitated for a moment. "I have... further matters... things I need to discuss with your healers. Some research unrelated to this sad event. Could you have my two companions sent back where we came from, so they can bring some things here that I will need?"
"What are you talking about? Research? When you've brought a dead Shau'nac back?" Jack looked disbelieving at her. "Are you going to test more crap on us? Like those damn armbands! I knew the Tok'ra were unfeeling about others, but this!"
"Please, it is very important research..." Anise urged.
"Sure, of course it is..." O'Neill waited for another few moments, then shook his head in disgust. "Okay - have them sent back."
"Thank you." Anise bowed her head gratefully.
Teal'c moved to pull the sheet away from the box containing Shau'nac, but Anise looked at him and almost imperceptibly shook her head. He gave her a strange look, but did not remove the sheet. Instead he bent down and put his hand on top of it.
"Shau'nac... tell mah veriunte shree. Tell mah," Teal'c said, the emotion strong in his voice.
"Our love does not end in death," Daniel translated.
"I wanted Teal'c to have the body for whatever spiritual ritual he may wish to perform," Anise explained, as behind them, the Stargate activated again, and the two Tok'ra left through it. "Please, can we take this box to your healers?"
"Why? She's dead?" O'Neill exclaimed.
"I will explain. Please," Anise repeated.
"Why not?" Sam said.
"Okay." O'Neill nodded.
They had carried the casket to the infirmary. It had turned out to be equipped with some sort of anti-gravity device, making it much lighter than they had expected.
"We're here. Explain," O'Neill demanded.
Behind them Teal'c waited, an unreadable expression on his face.
Anise nodded. "We do not have much time. We cannot be overheard here?"
"No, we're fine. Out with it! What's this all about?" O'Neill said angrily.
Anise lifted the sheet, showing them a box with a transparent lid. Shau'nac could be seen through it, and along the side of it was a control panel and a display showing Goa'uld text.
"This is a portable stasis chamber?" Sam realized.
"Yes. Shau'nac is not dead, though she would soon be, if we removed her from it. Teal'c, I cannot promise we can save her, but there is a chance. I must go now and receive the equipment I have asked to be brought here. When the other Tok'ra have left, I will explain. It is of utmost important that no one knows Shau'nac is alive."
"There are some Tok'ra who have been compromised. Who, or how many, I do not yet know."
"Okay, we'll keep your secret, but we expect a full explanation as soon as the others have left," O'Neill said, looking confused.
"You will get it - as much of it that I know," Anise promised.
SG-1, Hammond, Janet, and Freya/Anise all sat around the table in one of the meeting rooms.
"All right, let's hear what you have to say, Anise," Hammond said.
She nodded. "Earlier today, I went to talk to Shau'nac... Freya wished to ascertain she was doing well. We found her outside her quarters - or more precisely, in the short corridor leading from the main corridor to her rooms. She was alive, but unconscious and very ill. She awoke when I touched her, and told me what had happened. Tanith is not a Tok'ra - he is a Goa'uld, and he had crushed her symbiote larva, and injured her in the pouch in such a way that the symbiote's blood was mixing with hers."
Teal'c gasped. "It is a slow, and immensely painful way of killing Jaffa - used when they have failed their god in some way."
"That is correct."
Teal'c got a furious expression. "I will kill Tanith!"
"Teal'c..." Anise sighed. "I understand your wish for revenge, however, we cannot allow that right now. We intend to use Tanith for misinformation."
"His host?" Daniel asked.
"It is regrettable, but he volunteered for this. What he will have to endure is beyond what any of us can imagine, but it could be of an immense help to the Tok'ra. We will remove Tanith when the time comes, but for now he must believe we do not suspect him."
"As soon as I found her, I had her taken to the healer's chamber, and I removed the dead symbiote, and its blood from her pouch. However, much of it had already entered her bloodstream, and even had it not, I did not have a new larva for her. She was dying, and I decided to place her in a stasis chamber, hoping a new symbiote larva will be able to save her, if we can find one that is more mature."
Teal'c hesitated for quite some time, then bowed his head, accepting what she said. "I will refrain from taking my revenge. For now. We will procure such a symbiote as is needed for Shau'nac."
"Okay, all well and good, but why all the secrecy?" O'Neill asked.
"Yes... surely you can't be afraid Tanith will hear about it? None of the Tok'ra will inform him, will they?" Sam asked. "Especially now, when they know he's a Goa'uld."
Anise hesitated. "Normally, that would be the case, that is correct. However, during my talk with Shau'nac, she told me that Tanith is not the only danger. Apparently, Tanith he gloated to her, before crushing her prim'ta - telling her how he had been approached by Tok'ra working for the Goa'uld with the goal of destroying the alliance between our people, and killing all the Tok'ra."
"Traitors?" Sam frowned.
"That is certainly a bold plan. Did Shau'nac mention any names? Is there a way to corroborate any of what she said?" Hammond said, looking almost shocked.
"She said Tanith had mentioned one name, the name of one of the healers. According to what Tanith said, there was at least three more, and they were working at the behest of a Goa'uld - which one I do not know, as Tanith did not feel Shau'nac was 'worthy of knowing his name'. Their plan is to destroy the Tok'ra - and the Tau'ri - by spying, causing our people to be captured and killed, turning Tok'ra against Tok'ra, Tau'ri against Tau'ri, and Tok'ra and Tau'ri against each other."
Anise made a long blink, transferring control to Freya.
"They had just received technology with which to achieve this... with which to create zatarcs, I believe. Victims of Goa'uld mind-control technology," Freya said.
"What?" Sam asked.
"A mission is programmed into the victim's subconscious. That programming is covered with a false memory. I will admit it is still only a theory, and when I recently presented it to the High Council, they were... sceptical. The existence of the technology to create zatarcs is thus far unconfirmed. However, I have documented three incidents within the last two months. Otherwise healthy Tok'ra operatives suffered sudden extreme behavioral episodes, each ending in suicide."
"Why have we not heard anything of this? Who is responsible for making these... zatarcs?" O'Neill demanded.
"As I said, the Council were unwilling to listen to my theories. I do not know who is responsible for creating them, but all the Tok'ra affected had recently visited worlds owned by Apophis. Moreover, if the technology to make zatarcs are now accessible to traitors in the tunnels, anyone is at risk. Worse, I do not know who are involved, with the exception of the one healer, and now Tanith. I cannot move against any of them, when I do not know who I can trust. Shau'nac may be able to help - if she lives. Just before she lost consciousness, she said she had seen Tanith with two Tok'ra she did not know the names of, but I hope she will be able to recognize them. They came to his room while she was there, just as she was losing consciousness. She heard them say they would help him hide what he had done, and that they had received orders from their master."
"All right, so we get a new symbiote for Shau'nac, she tells you who the traitors are, problem solved?"
"Partially, at least, though I would wish to perfect my detection equipment for finding zatarcs, as well as find a way of reversing the programming before the problem can be solved. I have brought the equipment here partially as a ruse for why I am staying, but also because I need to be able to detect zatarcs. I was hoping you, Doctor Fraiser, could help me with my research."
"Sure," Janet said. "I'll do my best to help."
Freya nodded. "Good. Since I do not know how many are involved, I will attempt to get the ones we suspect to come here, for examination. When Shau'nac has named them, of course. I also need some Tok'ra I can trust, to help me bring the guilty ones to justice. Right now that has to be Tok'ra who have not been in the tunnels for about a week, and who have not been to any world owned by Apophis. Major Carter, your father is currently on a mission to a planet known as Ta'honna, which belongs to the minor Goa'uld Enlil. He has been away for more than a week, so he should be clean."
"Great!" Sam looked relieved. "We'll go get him, and then he can help us find a symbiote for Shau'nac!"
"Yes, you should retrieve him, but not yet. You must wait until he has sent at least one report, or the Council will wonder, and the traitors may suspect something is amiss. He will most likely have sent his first report in a few days, and then he should be contacted, and made to come here, so as not to risk him being compromised in the tunnels."
"Listen. No offense - I mean, we're happy you've shared this information with us - but what is it you'd have us do?" O'Neill exclaimed.
"We can get a prim'ta on Chulak," Teal'c suggested.
"No, we can't go to Chulak, since it's one of Apophis's worlds." Sam realized. "Right?"
Freya gave Anise control.
"Correct," she confirmed. "That would be... most unwise."
"Where did you get the larva you grabbed before?" O'Neill asked.
"From Cronus's homeplanet."
"Cronus has almost certainly increased security after you stole a larva at the sepulcher of his temple," Teal'c said. "What you did... it is considered... blasphemy."
Anise nodded. "Yes. Unfortunately, he probably has indeed increased his security. However, I believe it should be possible to get a larva from another place. From an ally of Cronus's. A queen named Hera."
"Hera? In Greek mythology, she is the wife of Zeus, and goddess for women and marriage," Daniel said. "She is also..."
O'Neill interrupted him. "Yes, thank you, Daniel. Enough with the history lessons right now."
"Hera was, in fact, originally the queen of Zeus. However, he is now a very minor Goa'uld, and she has long since abandoned him. She is the daughter of Cronus and his queen Rhea, and a queen herself. She - like a small number of other queens - is an independent System Lord, though a minor one. She has only a small empire, and is protected by a number of other Goa'uld, whom she offers her services to," Anise explained.
"Um... that doesn't mean..." O'Neill began.
"Yes, she spawns larvae for them, enabling them to keep their Jaffa alive. There are six Goa'uld she assists in this manner, and it is my hope that it is possible to steal a larva from one of them - or, perhaps, from Hera's own planet."
"Wonderful, just wonderful!" O'Neill groaned.
"So - will you be going with us? Or how are we doing this?" Sam asked.
"No, I am no warrior, and while I could, of course, pretend to be a Goa'uld, there is a better solution. We currently have an operative on one of the planets belonging to Tlaloc, who is one of the Goa'uld Hera spawns for. I would suggest you contact this operative and have him assist you in procuring a larva."
"This Tok'ra is an underling for Tlaloc?" Teal'c wondered.
"No, he is visiting one of Tlaloc's agricultural worlds, negotiating a trade for the Tok'ra."
"Trade?" Daniel asked, interested.
"While we are able to grow some food using hydroponics, and we also hunt, the majority of our food is procured through trade," Anise explained.
"Of course. That makes sense. If you had large fields with wheat, or whatever, it would be difficult to keep your base a secret - and I guess you don't have the manpower for that either," Daniel said.
"Okay, I guess we're going then, right?" O'Neill looked at Hammond.
He nodded. "Yes, this sounds too important not to."
"How do we contact this operative? How will we be able to recognize him?" Sam asked.
"The world is called Sifnus, and there is no Goa'uld presence on that world except when Jaffa arrive to pick up the produce. Thus our operative can work quite openly, and should not be difficult to locate. His appearance you already know. The operative is Martouf."
"Martouf?" Sam said, surprised.
"Okay, it could be worse." O'Neill shrugged. "What?" He looked at his surprised team mates. "Yeah, you know I don't like having anyone tag along on our missions, especially someone I don't know, but Marty did okay on Netu, so I don't mind him so much."
"You should leave as soon as possible. Martouf will return to our base the moment he has completed the negotiations, and that could be soon," Anise said.
"At which time he'll be at risk from being turned into a zatarc - particularly since he's heavily involved in the work on the treaty between Earth and the Tok'r,." Sam realized.
"Yes. Also, the sooner you can procure a larva, the sooner it will hopefully be possible to question Shau'nac. I cannot stress enough the importance of finding the compromised Tok'ra," Anise reminded them.
Hammond nodded. "I agree, you should prepare for the mission immediately. Dismissed."