Chapter 4 summary: Sam and Martouf/Lantash manages to get away from Zipacna's palace, and the Jaffa that are trying to capture them. They flee into the woods, but what awaits them there?


[ Chapter 1: Pain, Sorrow, and Joy | Chapter 2: Escape and Rescue | Chapter 3: A Pleasant Surprise | Chapter 4: Escaping Together | Chapter 5: Waiting for News | Chapter 6: Lurking Danger | Chapter 7: Hallucinations | Chapter 8: Uncontrollable Emotions | Chapter 9: Happier Times | Chapter 10: They are not Gods | Chapter 11: The Trees of the Forest | Chapter 12: Collision Course | Chapter 13: Travel | Chapter 14: Enemies at the Gate and Land of the Light | Chapter 15: Another Option | Chapter 16: Undercover | Chapter 17: Going Home ]

They were hiding out in an old storage building near the edge of the palace compound, waiting for deep night so they could find a place to scale the wall that was encircling the entire palace grounds. The place seemed completely peaceful, and there were many places to hide, so they took the opportunity to relax a little and take stock of what they had.

"We've got one hand device, two zats, and two knives," Sam said. "How are we on food?"

Martouf was rummaging around in the bag. "Two loaves of bread, about 20 apples, several handfuls of dried dates, as well as maybe 1 pound of dried meat."

"Not too bad. It should be enough - I don't intend to stay here longer than absolutely necessary," Sam remarked. "I think I saw a well near the wall. We can probably fill that water skin from it."

"Agreed. As for not staying long on this planet...I fear we may have to. The chaapa'ai is not far away, but the direct road will be heavily guarded."

"You saw the Stargate when you arrived? What direction is it in?"

Martouf shook his head. "No, I did not. I was dead, as you will remember. However, the distance between Zipacna's palace and the chaapa'ai was included in the information all Tok'ra have been given about this world. It is approximately 15 miles, in that direction," he pointed, "but much of the way the path winds through a narrow valley, with guard posts above it. The Jaffa will be patrolling even more heavily than usual. I fear it will be quite impossible to traverse that distance without being discovered and captured." 

"Do you know if there is another way?"

He was quiet for a moment. "There is a forest behind the mountains - almost a jungle, really - which we may be able to cross. We could probably then pass through the foothills of the mountains near the chaapa'ai, and reach it from the other side. I do not know how open the area around the chaapa'ai itself is, but I believe it is our best possibility." He looked as if there was something that was worrying him.

"It sounds like it might be a long trip." Sam looked unhappy. "Also, I have this...memory from Jolinar. It's not very clear, but there is some danger in that forest, I think."

Martouf nodded. "I believe you are correct. Jolinar did mention some unspecified danger. Perhaps predators of some kind, though for some reason I do not believe it was animals that were the threat." He wrinkled his brow, then shook his head. "It is no use; I simply do not know, and neither does Lantash."

"I don't think Jolinar knew either. Really, it may all just have been a legend she had heard?" Sam said, hopeful.

"I doubt that, but I suppose we can hope." Martouf sighed. He suddenly had a very bad feeling about that forest.

Martouf fastened the full water skin with a strap over his shoulder before he hurried to where Sam was waiting for him.

It was late night, and very dark. The planet had moons - at least two from what they had seen - but only the smaller of the them was up, and it was currently hidden behind a thick cloud.

The wall was quite high, but less so from this side than the other, since a ditch had been dug on the other side. The wall was predominantly meant to keep people out, not in.

They found a tree that grew close enough to the wall that they could climb it and then be able to reach the wall with a small jump. Sam was sitting on a thick branch that stretched out towards the wall.

"Hurry," She whispered at Martouf when he reached her. "I saw something move over there." She indicated some buildings maybe 100 feet away.

"Yes, I heard sounds from over there just a moment ago." Martouf frowned, worried.

He quickly climbed the tree, waiting to step out onto the branch Sam was currently on, until she jumped off it. It probably would not hold if both of them sat on it at the same time.

Sam leapt for the wall and caught hold of it, pulling herself up. She listened for any sounds or movement that could indicate anyone had discovered her, but detected nothing. She sat down, as comfortably as possible.

"Okay, throw me the water skin and the bag with the food," She said in a low voice.

Martouf threw them at her, one at a time, and Sam allowed them to fall to the ground in the ditch on the other side, as gently as possible. She had just let go of the last of the items, when the moon came out from behind the cloud and illuminated everything with a pale yellow light. She swore in a low voice, hoping the Jaffa did not chose to look in their direction just now.

Unfortunately, she and Martouf almost immediately heard a shout from one of the guards, indicating the escapees had been discovered. Several Jaffa began running towards them. 

"Quickly, throw me the hand device, then get down from there!" Lantash called out to Sam, having taken over control from Martouf.
She pulled out the hand device and threw it, seeing him catch it just before she allowed herself to slide down on the other side of the wall. She would have preferred to stay and help, shooting at the Jaffa with her zat'nik'tel, but she had been completely exposed where she sat, and the zat'nik'tel was not the best weapon in this situation. She very much hoped Lantash could stun or injure enough of the Jaffa with the hand device, to allow him to escape unharmed.

Lantash quickly put on the ribbon device and did not waste any time in sending a strong shock wave in the direction of the approaching Jaffa. They were still about 40-50 feet away, and the shock wave was necessarily spread out to hit as many of the attackers as possible, but it was enough to throw some of them to the ground, and all of them into disarray and confusion.

He did not wait for them to regroup, but jumped for the wall and landed easily atop it. He threw a look in the direction of the guards. They were clearly unsure. They recognized the shock wave from a hand device - something they did not expect, since they assumed it to be humans they were looking for.

Lantash sent another blast towards the Jaffa, then jumped into the ditch outside the wall, letting himself roll as he hit the ground, to avoid injury.

The ditch was quite wide and relatively deep. There would be no way for them to get back up onto the wall from this side without rope or a ladder, but that was unimportant - they did not want to get inside the compound again.

Fortunately, it had not rained recently, and there was no water in the ditch, so they did not get wet. Sam picked up the bag and the water skin, handing Lantash the latter as he rose. They both sprinted for the nearby forest, reaching it before the Jaffa had time to scale the wall and either pursue them or shoot at them. They were safe - for now, at least.

It took only short time for Jacob and the others to reach the nearest planet with a Stargate, where Zarin let off the Tau'ri who would be returning to Earth. She would probably not be able to return to her position as Zipacna's underling after this incident. Zipacna would more than likely suspect her of being a Tok'ra, and he might well decide to torture and kill her.

Zarin's mission had been important, and she had spent a long time securing the position. The Tok'ra Council would likely not be happy to lose this asset. Zarin, however, was not angry. She was very much in favour of the Tok'ra-Tau'ri alliance, and was pleased she had been able to help.

She and Jacob would take the ship to some planet where it could be stored for later use - after letting the Jaffa and other servants off on another planet first. Jacob would then make discreet contacts to Jorra, and hopefully get information about Sam. They were all very worried about her.

"Lieutenant Elliot is in the infirmary, still sleeping from whatever the Tok'ra gave him. Doctor Fraiser says the healing Jacob did on him means he won't have to stay down there for long, she really just wants to keep an eye on him until he wakes up...well, maybe a day or two more. In any case, that should happen within a day, or so." O'Neill reported.

"Good. I'm happy you were able to save him," Hammond said, looking relieved. "Is there any further news about Major Carter?"

"Unfortunately not, but Jacob will contact us as soon as he hears anything from their operative."

They gave Hammond a summary of what had happened on the mission, before he dismissed them to write their reports. None of them would feel very good until they knew more about Sam's fate.

"How was it to wake up without Lantash? I would think it must have been very unpleasant and lonely, wasn't it?" Sam wondered.

They had walked for several hours now, and the sky was beginning to lighten. Martouf had just finished giving her a short summary of all that had happened, and how he and Lantash had re-blended.

Martouf snorted. "I would have to say that 'unpleasant and lonely' does not do the experience justice."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean it that way. I realise it must have been horrible waking up without your...well, soulmate, I guess," Sam said. She felt like kicking herself for her bad choice of words.

"I was devastated. Lantash is more than my best friend, he is a part of me. I did not even feel life was worth living without him," Martouf said quietly. "Having him back is more wonderful than I can describe." He smiled.

Sam nodded. "I do understand. When...when Jolinar died...I was depressed for a long time, and I had only been her host for less than two days - and the experience had been less than optimal. I cannot begin to comprehend the depth of your relationship, you and Lantash. You have been together for...well more than a 100 years at least, I guess. You truly are one in many ways."

"We are. It is a very rewarding relationship, and I am sorry for your experience with Jolinar." He looked at her with concern. "If Lantash and I could change it for you we would. You are, however, incorrect in your assumption I've been Lantash's host for that long. It is closer to 27 years now, actually."

"Really? But...I thought you told me Jolinar had been your mate for about 100 years?" Sam looked at him, surprised.

Martouf nodded. "That is correct. However, Lantash had a different host during some of that time - for just over 75 years, actually. I was only 17 - barely - when I became his host and entered the relationship." He sighed. "The Tok'ra view such things differently. When I blended with Lantash, it became to me as if I had been the mate of Jolinar and Rosha for all those years, as if I had loved them for 75 years...and so, the Tok'ra consider the new host to have been in the relationship for the entire duration, despite it not, strictly being so. If you have the memories and the feelings telling you it is so, is that not real and valid? Should that not be acknowledged?"

"Yes...yes it should...and I actually understand. As I told you that first time, when we had just met, it does feel to me as if I have had a relationship with you for 100 years. How much more powerful must that feeling not be when you are fully blended!" Sam agreed, blushing a little. She suddenly looked at Martouf. "Wow, you weren't even an adult when you became Lantash's host! Were you sick? Wounded?"

He shook his head. "Not at all. Lantash's host was mortally wounded by Jaffa guarding the chaapa'ai on my world. There were no other possible hosts nearby, and the other Tok'ra with Lantash told me what they were and that Lantash needed a host. I volunteered."

"You volunteered? Just like that? Had you heard of the Tok'ra before?"

"No, but I did know I wanted to fight the Goa'uld - and despite the seeming evidence to the contrary, these people could not be Goa'uld, or they would not have asked me to be a host. They would simply have taken me." He smiled at Sam. "It was the only right choice."

Sam looked impressed. "That's some decision to make for a 17 year old! Or anyone else for that matter." 

"I have never regretted it. Lantash and I are similar in some ways, different in others, but we are very compatible, regardless of any differences, and he is the best friend anyone could have - despite his somewhat acerbic humour and sometimes volatile temper..." Martouf winced as Lantash 'yelled' at him. "He can also be somewhat loud, from time to time..."

Sam laughed. "You sound a little like an old married couple...except for the 'old' part."

Martouf nodded slowly. "That is actually not far from the truth. In fact, the relationship between host and symbiote is closer than any other. Closer than between mates."

Sam looked at him again, suddenly realising something. "Don't get me wrong, but shouldn't you look even younger than you do? I mean, you were a teen when you blended, and you've only been blended for 27 years..."

"True, and actually I should." Martouf bowed his head and gave control to Lantash.

"Normally, Martouf would scarcely look older today than he did when he became my host, but after resuming our relationship with Rosha and Jolinar, we realised it was a matter of concern for Rosha, at least to begin with. Jolinar did not think anything of it, but Rosha - who looked to be in her mid- to late twenties - felt old, compared to Martouf. We decided I should not halt his aging much - at least when it came to his physical appearance - for the first five to ten years. Internally, he is no older than he was then, and visibly he will not age for centuries, so it does not have any influence on his lifespan. It is actually a very easy thing for a symbiote to control."

"That's...impressive." Sam looked like she really meant it. "Perhaps you should include that in your recruitment folder." She grinned.

Lantash raised an eyebrow at her, then nodded, understanding what she meant. "Perhaps we should, though I fear it would not hold much sway compared to the fear and disgust the majority of humans seem to feel at the thought of becoming a host."

They continued walking for some time, each in their own thoughts. Sam knew she would have to talk to them about what had happened on Revanna when Zipacna attacked. When she learned of Lantash's feelings for her, but especially about her reaction to it - and how she had responded.

Lantash loved her! As much as he had loved Jolinar! The revelation had been a shock to her - though to be honest, she had known he and Martouf had feelings for her, she had just never been certain if it was more than 'fondness', nor if those emotions were for her, or for what she carried from Jolinar.

Sam had not known what to say. At the same time, she had been very distressed to learn the Tok'ra had removed Lantash and let Martouf die. Not the complete truth, she knew that now, but then she had been devastated by the knowledge. Shortly after, Zipacna had attacked, Lantash's tank had been destroyed, and he had taken Elliot as his host.

She had not been able to wrap her head around this at the time. What she felt for Martouf - and for Lantash as well - was not something she had been ready to admit, even to herself. To suddenly see Lantash in another host - when she had not even fully accepted what she felt for Martouf and Lantash - had confused her. She had realised she still felt the love for Lantash, but that she felt nothing for Elliot, of course. It was all very weird, and at the time, it had all been too much for her. She had clamped down on her feelings, as she so often did. Actually, she had barely responded to Lantash's declaration of love - and to learning he had only fought to live in order to tell her of his feelings. 

How she had regretted not telling him! She had not even told him she liked him, and in truth, she loved him.

Then he had died, giving his life so that she, her team, and her father could live. Died, without ever knowing how she felt for him.

Sam had been inconsolable when Martouf and Lantash had turned out to be zatarcs...when she had shot them. Then, for a long time she had held out hope they might be saved, that Lantash might heal Martouf and himself.

That day on Revanna had taken away all her hope, and when she had finally returned home, and was alone, she had cried as she had never cried before. Finally, she had truly realised how she felt for both Martouf and Lantash, but it was too late. She had suppressed her feelings as she always did, and she had gotten through the next couple of days, living as if in a daze.

No one had known, though. She was very good at hiding her feelings.

That was when her father had shown up with the information that Lantash and Elliot had somehow survived. A part of her began to feel hope. Hope that she would get the chance to talk to Lantash again. That it would not be too late to tell him of her feelings.

Then her father had told them Elliot was no longer blended. She knew it meant Lantash was likely dead. She had plummeted into depression again.

Only to go to Zipacna's palace and suddenly learn that not only was Lantash still alive, but Martouf was as well...and they were again blended!

She had been through some large mood swings, as well as an emotionally very trying time, and to be honest, there was nothing she wanted more than to throw herself in the arms of Martouf and Lantash, to be held and comforted. However, she did not know how to tell them of her feelings, or how they would react if she did. She very much feared they would be angry at her, because of how she had treated Lantash. She knew she certainly deserved it.

She thought back to how it had felt when they had kissed. It had been wonderful, so much better even than she had imagined...and she had to admit she had spent a lot of time fantasizing about Martouf and Lantash kissing her - and making love to her. She regularly had dreams caused by Jolinar's memories, and while many were unpleasant and caused by the symbiote's experiences undercover, there had also been many wonderful - and very erotic dreams. She sighed to herself. She could almost feel Martouf's lips against hers she wished the Jaffa had not interrupted them. Of course, they had only been kissing in order to confuse the Jaffa, but still...Sam threw a look at the Tok'ra walking beside her. They seemed to be lost in their own thoughts - or perhaps talking. Well, being stranded here together should give her an excellent opportunity to explain herself - and tell them of her feelings. Now she just needed to work up the courage to do so.

Chapter 5: Waiting for News