We have just come through the chaapa'ai, returning from a three days supply mission to Entora. I look at the others with us. Sihn'al looks tired, but Thoran, and Aldwin are chatting happily. They are probably looking forward to tonight's festivities. Our whole base is celebrating the recent successful rebellion against Chantico. She was really quite harmless, as Goa'uld go, but she was one of Zipacna's minions and he has been growing too powerful. This should set him back a little.
Neither Martouf nor I are in the mood for a party. Rosha and Jolinar have been missing for several months now. I know it is not unusual that a mission takes longer than expected - nor is it unheard of for operatives to suddenly have to flee during an undercover mission - and then have to lay low for weeks or even months before we hear anything from them.
However, this was not just any kind of mission. The Tok'ra needed information about Sokar's whereabouts, and to achieve this it was necessary to place an agent at his court. Jolinar, of course, volunteered for the mission. She is always so brave and daring, my Jolinar. At first it went well. The reports arrived regularly and Sokar did not seem to suspect anything.
Then...2 months, 3 weeks, 4 days ago the reports just stopped coming. Had they been captured? Had to flee? Been killed? We were worried. This was Sokar, not just any Goa'uld. Only Anubis was worse, and he at least had the decency to be dead. Presumably.
No one had heard anything. Time went on. We alternated between hope and fear. Then, one month later we got the news. Sokar had captured a traitor and sent her to Netu. Netu! Just thinking about the place makes me shudder. If we were nervous before, this scared us almost witless. What if it was Rosha and Jolinar? It was...likely.
A week later an operative brought us confirmation.
My poor, sweet Rosha and Jolinar had been sent to Hell! And there was nothing Martouf and I could do. No way to contact them. No way to free them. No way even to tell if they were still alive. Never again would we see their sweet smile as they looked at us. There was no longer any hope. Only despair. I feel like crying even now.
No, there most certainly will be no celebration for us tonight.
I gently probe my host's feelings, thoughts. They seem to have returned to the darkness in which they have too often dwelt since...we heard. It is difficult. Do we hope against hope? Or is grieve all we can do? I sigh. My own mood is no better than Martouf's, but I must somehow help him. He is my host. I must...
I am considering just how to do that, when I realise we have reached the ring transporter. We transport down into the tunnels together with the others. No guards approached us on the way here - they would have immediately recognized us, of course, and stayed in their positions.
It feels nice to be down in the tunnels again. Home...though it does not truly feel like it, not as it usually does. Not with Rosha and Jolinar missing - perhaps already dead. I suppose that would be the most merciful, and what we should really hope for. There is no escape. Yet, I cannot...
My thoughts are suddenly interrupted.
"Martouf!" A Tok'ra calls to us. Who is he? Hmmm...Sikal...yes, he is Joran's new host. I stop, and look at the man.
"Lantash." He corrects himself, now realising it is me instead of my host. Not that I am surprised. Martouf is usually the one in control, so people tend to assume that. However, he has not often wished for control since we learned of our mates's fate. It is not that I mind being in control, not at all. It is just that...Martouf and I agree it is generally better that the more...diplomatic of us interacts with people. I realise I sometimes have a tendency to speak my mind - a little too rashly, perhaps, and without giving enough thoughts to the consequences. Oh, well. I look at Sikal and wonder what he want? Why does he not just tell us? I am beginning to feel a bit irritated. My temper has not been the best lately. I am sure people can understand why.
Sikal swallows, obviously nervous or more likely uncomfortable with what it is he has to tell us. "You must hurry to the healer's rooms. Rosha and Jolinar have been found...they are..."
I am already running, not waiting to hear the rest of what he has to say. A little rude of me, perhaps, but I am sure he understands. Rosha! Jolinar!
*They have been found! Martouf! They...escaped?*
*Can it really be true?* Martouf sounds as disbelieving as I, but also hopeful. Then he again turn to despair. *They are probably dead...*
*Why would they be with the healer if they are dead?* I tell him, trying to be reasonable - and also wanting it to be true.
*Interesting, unusually gruesome cause of death?* Martouf suggests. He apparently insists on torturing the both of us.
*Stop it..right now!* I cannot think that. I 'hug' him. *I fear as well. Soon we will know.*
We arrive soon after at the healer's chambers, slightly out of breath. The healer looks up. He is standing beside a bed, examining someone. Rosha!
I feel myself draw in a sharp breath, as I slowly walk closer.
"Martouf. It is good you are here." The healer tells me.
"I am Lantash. How are they?" I do not know why I even bother to correct him. Normally I would not care, and it is not like he could know. Besides, he would also normally be right. I realise I must be more affected by this than I thought. I stare intently on the still form on the bed.
"Alive." The healer says. Then, noticing my drawn expression, he quickly adds. "Their odds of survival are good."
"Do you know what has happened?" I sit down on the chair beside the bed, unable to take my eyes off our mates. I gently put a hand over the nearest of their hands. It suddenly feels very small against mine.
"It was the day before yesterday. She was found unconscious and badly injured in a Teltac, floating in space. They examined the ship's log and found it had come from Delmak - the planet which has the moon Netu. She must have found a way to escape, I do not know how." He shakes his head. "The ship was severely damaged from weapons fire - which were also the cause of many of Rosha's injuries. I have healed as much as I could, but she is still very weak from malnutrition and various abuse...torture, most likely. The rest is up to her and Jolinar. If they wake up soon - if Jolinar wakes up and begins to heal them - they should make a full recovery. Physically, at least. Psychologically may be another matter - for both of them - but we cannot do anything about that until they awaken."
I sounds bad, but also as if there is hope. At least they are alive. I nod gravely at the healer. "I understand. May we stay here and keep watch?"
"Of course." The healer leaves, giving us some privacy. I feel grateful for that.
*They look so pale and vulnerable.*
*Yes, but they are alive. We must focus on that. Martouf...they are both strong - they will be fine.* I tell him, hoping it is the truth.
For a long time we both sit there, quietly, listening to the regular breathing of our mates. I do not know if it is real, or if I am imagining it, but it appears as if their skin have gotten more colour to it.
*If...when they wake up - and are well again...I will never let them leave on a dangerous mission again!* Martouf sounds very determined.
*I do not wish that either - but I suspect they will not listen. The life of a Tok'ra is dangerous, we cannot change that. You knew it when you agreed to blend with me...when you saved my life.*
*Yes, and I have not regretted it. You know that. It's just...difficult...* he indicates our mates, still unconscious on the sleeping platform before us.
I do not know what to say, and just agree with him.
Suddenly there is a change. Rosha - if she is indeed the one in control - takes a deep breath and her eyes flutter open, just a tiny crack. Is she waking up?
"Beloved..." I give her hand a slight squeeze and try to smile a little at her. I imagine I still look quite worried, though.
"L...Lantash." She manages, a little hoarsely. It is Rosha. She opens her eyes fully and smiles at us. It is a weak smile, but a smile nonetheless. We immediately start to feel better.
She continues. "You have no...no idea how much...we have missed you and...Martouf." She coughs. Her throat is probably dry. I hurry to get her some water and help her drink a little.
"We have missed you terribly as well." I caress her cheek. *Martouf - do you want control?*
*Yes, please.* I transfer control to him.
Martouf takes Rosha's hand again.
"Having you back...it is like a dream come true." He entwines his fingers with hers. He always likes to do that. "How is Jolinar? We are both worried about her as well."
"She is exhausted...still asleep. She...protected me, so much...I..." Rosha suddenly starts to sob quietly.
"Yes, we...were told your ship was in bad shape...it must have been..." Martouf attempts, not sure what to say.
"The ship!" Rosha snorts. "The battle was of no consequence. Yes, we...we were hit. Suffered damage...got some bumps and bruises, but what are such pain against the torture, or...against...against..." She gets the blank expression which usually means host and symbiote are talking. Is Jolinar awake? A look of pain crosses her features. Is something concerning her...them?
Suddenly Rosha smiles, almost happily. "Jolinar has awakened. She would like to talk to you."
Martouf smiles broadly, for the first time in months. *Both our mates are awake! They will be well!* He gives them a quick kiss on the cheek, then a longer one on the mouth. "It pleases Lantash and I immensely to hear." He gives me control. I immediately give our mates a kiss as well.
Rosha again smiles, squeezing my hand. She then bows her head briefly, giving Jolinar control.
"Lantash...Martouf. You should not worry so." She gives us a look filled with love. Sweet Jolinar! "I'm not dead yet...and neither Rosha nor I intend to be, anytime soon."
"We cannot dismiss danger to the two of you, as easily as you apparently can." Looking at her, I see that she does not wish to speak of her ordeal. At least not yet. I nod.
"We will comfort ourselves with your presence, and accept your wish. You are with us again. That will have to be enough." I sit down in the chair beside the bed again, holding her hand. I then let Martouf take control.
We are both prepared to talk with Rosha and Jolinar about what they have experienced, if they should so wish...or to just keep them company, if that is what they want. We are both feeling overjoyed to have them back. Our world is no longer filled with darkness.
Jolinar lies back down, relaxing. Martouf holds Jolinar's hand and makes small talk from time to time, though mostly we are all silent, just enjoying to be in the company of each other again.
I observe our sweet beloveds. It is obvious they are still exhausted. From time to time they fall asleep - almost. Then they wake up, with fear in their eyes, looking around. Seeing us, they again relax. It is clear they do not want to sleep, dare not sleep for what awaits them in their dreams. I do not know what happened to them, but I know they have been to hell and back. The stories of Netu are scary beyond words.
Looking at Jolinar, I realise something worse than just the 'ordinary' kind of torture must have happened - as bad as that is - and I realise, that whatever it is, they do not want us to know. Even now they wish to protect us against the pain of knowing. I feel powerless. I want to help them, hold them, protect them. Thinking about this, I also hope Martouf does not notice the extent of their pain. It would pain him as well. He is such a kind and gentle soul, and I must protect him.
Suddenly, Jolinar turns her head and looks at us, squeezing our hand. The fear is gone from her eyes, at least for now.
"You will stay while we sleep?"
"Yes, of course. Always." Martouf tell her, with conviction.
She smile as she closes her eyes, looking happy. "Then we shall feel...safe."
Shortly after they are both asleep. Martouf and I stay at their bed. Watching them as they sleep peacefully. Their recovery might well be long and painful, but we will be here to help them. Whenever they need us.