TITLE: Closure Reviews
AUTHOR: Roeskva
DISCLAIMER: All publicly recognisable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret Productions. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment only and not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
SUMMARY: What starts out as a pretty normal day for Lantash, quickly becomes anything but. Written for "Stargate Second Lives" challenge in phoenix_gate on DW, for the prompt: Martouf|Lantash, their POV during Tok'ra I&II. Story is from Lantash's POV
CHARACTERS: SG-1, Martouf/Lantash, Yosuuf/Garshaw, Malek
STATUS: Complete
PAIRING: None, but mention of Rosha/Jolinar/Martouf/Lantash, Lantash also shows a little bit of interest in Sam
RATING: PG-13, at most

* denotes host/symbiote internal communication

We are travelling back from Tarneth, where we have traded iron and medicinal powders for grain. It is a rather primitive planet, like so many Goa'uld worlds, with the population kept too small and too overworked to have the energy and resources to develop technologically and culturally.
I feel anger every time I am reminded of what the Goa'uld do to the people of this Galaxy! Again I wish there was a quicker way to change things, to stop the System Lords from committing these crimes. Indeed, as is our official goal: 'To kill the System Lords and affect a change in the way of life for all Goa'uld'.

If it can even be done. Sometimes it all feels so hopeless and I despair of it all. Perhaps they cannot be changed, and - truth be told - I just want to kill every single one of them.

Poison, perhaps? Like what Ren'al and Anise are considering. But first a way must be found to cure the Jaffa of their dependency of symbiotes, or they will die too.

Martouf must have listened in on my dark thoughts, and he gently reminds me that this is not all that needs to be done. A toxin that kills Goa'uld, kills Tok'ra as well.

Yes, I know we are the same species! I just hate being reminded of it!

I force my thoughts back to the subject at hand. Trading with Tarneth.

They need iron for their tools, but most of what exists on their world is hard to mine without advanced technology, and the small amounts they can get to is mixed with other minerals, making refining it hard to do with the technology they have.

We, of course, can both mine and refine the iron easily. We have scanners with which to find ore - and anything else we might want to mine. Modified tunnels crystals extract the ore easily, and once refined it is one of many goods we trade for those kinds of food we cannot easily grow in hydroponics, or hunt for. Besides food, there is a number of other resources, clothing in particular, which it is hard for us to produce without increasing the risk of detection, and which we usually buy on various planets. Grain, in particular, is one thing we must trade for, and Tareth grows plenty of it.

This time they also needed medicinal herbs, in order to treat a fever which is plaguing them. The powder we sell to them is made from a mixture of dried plants. It works, but it is no where near as effective as it could be.

Of course, making an effective medicine for them would give away who we are. Simple traders - as we pretend to be - would not have access to the necessary technology. Giving them more advanced medicine would endanger them as well, should someone find a more modern drug in their possession.

I really hate the Goa'uld! Even indirectly they cause suffering that could so easily be avoided!

Martouf soothes me, and tells me to relax. He agrees with me, of course, but reminds me we do our best. One day, hopefully, we will succeed.

Hope...sometimes everything seems hopeless. If only Jolinar and Rosha were here with us. They are never willing to give up. Just being near them always lift our spirits.

However, they have now been missing for many months. The last we heard, Jolinar feared Cronus was suspecting her.

Then...silence. I dearly hope she has managed to flee, and is hiding somewhere. Waiting to return.

Martouf suggests morosely that she would have returned already, or contacted us in some way, if she could.

We both fear the same. However, she has succeeded against impossible odds before. We have to believe she can do so again. Have to believe she will return to us, alive and well.

I - and the nine other Tok'ra with me - each pick up another sack of grain. It is the fifth, and last, for each of us to carry. Something for which I am happy. They are very heavy. 50 sacks of grain. Even for a large base such as ours, it will last for quite some time. I just hope the Goa'uld do not make a surprise attack soon, and we are unable to bring the grain.

Martouf concurs. We would both really hate that!

Tired, we walk the rest of the way to the chaapa'ai.

"That is the last sack?" Rihna asks, as she makes a note in her register.

"Yes. It is - and it is a good thing, too, or my arms would reach the ground!" Martouf complains.

I 'hug' him, and begin to work on our sore muscles.

Rihna grins. "Yes, now is one of the times I am very happy I do not have such a strong host like you!"

Martouf rolls his eyes, but I sense he is a little flattered, despite the fact that he knows she is just teasing him.

It is almost time for noon meal. The village we have traded with this time, is located in a time zone seven hours ahead of our base. It has already been a long day, and we have worked hard for many hours. I am feeling very hungry, and so is Martouf. However, we have heard one of our agents - Malek - has just returned with new information. We both wonder if he might have some news about our Jolinar.

The debate is quickly over. Despite our hunger, we both feel food can wait - for a little longer, anyway. We hurry to Malek's quarters, hoping he has finished being debriefed.

Martouf knocks hard on the resonant crystal located just beside the doorway. Moments later, I hear Malek's voice from inside the quarters.


We walk through the short corridor and turn into the part leading to the room itself. While private quarters do not have a door, they are always connected to the main corridor with a short, bent passageway. It provides a little privacy and peace, and dulls any sounds, almost as much as a door would, though of course everyone could enter if they wanted. It is a way of showing openness and trust among the Tok'ra.

"Malek...welcome back. I trust you and Johan are well?"

"Yes, thank you, Martouf. It is good to see you. It has been almost three seasons, has it not?"

"It has, yes." Martouf hesitates, wanting to ask about Jolinar.

"You wish to inquire about Jolinar" Malek observes. It is not a question. He knows us well. "I am sorry, but I have no new information."

Martouf nods. "I did not expect any. I just thought...maybe...."

"At least I do not have any bad news for you. There is still hope. Others have returned after longer time has passed. Jolinar herself has returned after having been missing for far far longer!"

"True, she has." Martouf gives him a weak smile, and decides to make an effort to think of something else. "Do you have time for a game of chess this evening?"

"Perhaps. It would be nice to sit and relax for just one evening." He sighs. "But I fear I may not have the time to do so."

"You are not leaving on another mission so soon?"

"Tomorrow morning, but it will not be such a long one this time." He looks as if he is considering something, then makes a decision. "It is not certain yet, but the Council are talking about making me a base commander for one of the smaller outposts, so I may soon get the opportunity to spend more time playing games." He smiles a little.

"I believe base commander can be quite a hard occupation, so you may find you have less spare time than you hope for," Martouf observes.

"Believe me, I will take hard work on a base any day, compared to having to pretend I am a Goa'uld, wear outrageous clothing, suck up to an arrogant idiot, and watch innocent people get tortured! I care not how much I can then lie on my back and let slaves wait on me!" Malek sighs. "I apologize. I know that is not what you meant. These missions are getting to me, so I would enjoy some time on a base, for a change."

Martouf nods. "I suppose I very much understand. I am only too happy that Lantash, ah, is well suited for other positions."

Malek laughs, and I sigh mentally.

It is no secret that I am neither fond of pretending to be a Goa'uld, nor as good at it as some. Not that I cannot do it. I most certainly can, and I would say I am quite proficient at it. However, I see no reason to make a big deal out of it, and letting people continue to believe I am not very qualified at pretending to be a Goa'uld Lord, means they will not often ask me to do so. That is fine with both Martouf and I. No matter. I have many other talents, important to the Tok'ra cause, so I care little for this minor lacking in one area.

"Well, regardless, if you come to visit me on my outpost - provided this promise turns out to come true - we can spend some time playing chess or other games."

"It sounds good. Hopefully, we will see you this evening. Otherwise, Lantash and I wish you a safe return."

"Thank you."

We hurry to the mess hall, hoping there is still some good food left. Yesterday, we only got rice gruel and bread, with some yellow-berry juice.

I hate yellow-berry juice.

Martouf grabs a tray and head straight for the food counter. The large room is already partly full of Tok'ra, many of them sitting down, eating and talking.

We quickly discover there is neither more meat, nor any more fried vegetables, but Martouf grabs the last sandwich, just ahead of Anise, who gives us an unhappy glare.

The sandwich actually looks pretty good, and we also get some vegetable soup. Things are looking up already!

Martouf reaches for the yellow-berry juice, but I decide I have had quite enough of that for a very long time. I nudge his hand so he gets the glass of milk beside it instead.

He sighs, but does not complain. However, at the last moment he takes one of the small green apples. He knows I find them so sour it feels like your whole face crunches up. I suspect he took it as revenge, but decide against commenting. Soon, we will have food in our stomach, and right now that is what matters.

After eating, we are feeling much better. Despite just having returned from a trading mission, we are assigned work the entire afternoon. Today we will work in the hydroponics area. Our muscles are still sore from carrying the grain, and we are weary, so I feel it is a little unfair we get this work as well.

However, with food in our stomach, we are both feeling more amiable. It is actually quite pleasant work, and most of the time it is not nearly as hard as carrying sacks of grain. The water tanks everywhere in the room is a nice change - this planet is yet again a desert planet. Why do we always have to stay on desert planets? We are an aquatic species, after all! It is not like our hosts like all that sand either.

Martouf laughs at my grumbling. I guess it is not the first time I complain about the Council's choice of base planet, however good their reasons for doing so. He agrees with me, though.

Our shift passes slowly, and nothing much happens. Martouf and I take turns cleaning the tanks. Then, about an hour before it is time for evening meal, Marnon, who also works in hydroponics today, discovers Tarellian swamp parasites in the lettuce.

Naturally, I want to break out the pesticides, but Marnon prefers to first try the predatory slugs Korra found on his last gathering mission. I hope they work, or the nasty little pests will be all over our vegetables in no time. On the other hand, I suppose putting pesticides in something you have to eat yourself later may not be such a good idea. I agree to try the slugs.

After we have let loose the - admittedly voracious - slugs, it is time to go and get something to eat. Satisfied, I watch the slugs gobble up another parasite, then give Martouf control and we head for the mess hall.

Martouf hopes there is fish for dinner tonight, but he is not the one who had to eat fish every day for 12 years during his childhood! I guess that may explain his more enthusiastic view of eating fish. Of course, I will agree to eat them sometimes, mostly to take my revenge on the evil creatures, for chasing me and scaring me when I was little. Martouf laughs at this, but promises he will look after me.

I grumble, but decide to let it slide. I hope will be either desert fowl, or perhaps rabbit...and some pie.

The mess hall is already full of people, but yay, desert fowl! With plenty of vegetables, fried tubers, and freshly baked bread! At least we get something for carrying all those heavy sacks of grain.

After dinner, Martouf just wants a quick bath and then to go to bed. I admit our muscles are still a little bit sore, despite my very capable healing. Also, we are both tired, so sleep does sound enticing.

However, I would very much like to talk to Malek for a little while before he leaves again. He is an old and good friend of mine, and besides, the company will probably be good for us. Lately, we have spent much time alone, worrying about the fate of Jolinar and Rosha. It does not help us. No one has even heard anything about their possible fate!

After a brief argument, Martouf agrees to go see if Malek is available.

It turns out he is - and he even has time for a chess-game. Martouf tells me I will have to be in control, because he just feels too tired, and we would lose the game.

I agree, reluctantly. Martouf is a better chess-player than I, but he promises to help. I suspect he will soon doze off, but I suppose we shall see.

The game went reasonably well. I lost, of course, but not until after more than an hour. Martouf fell asleep about 15 minutes before that, but his advice had been strange for a while, then. He apologizes profusely as soon as he realizes.

He has awaken just in time for tea and apple pie. Why am I not surprised!

After eating, we go to take a relaxing bath. We have our own small pool and other facilities in the rooms we share with our mates - Jolinar made sure of that. Relaxing, we lie in the water and soak for some time.

Jolinar. I wish I knew if she is still alive. I fear for her. If she lives, she could be a prisoner. If we are very lucky, she is hiding on some distant planet, waiting until it is safe for her to return home with no risk of leading an enemy here.

Martouf again points out that enough time has passed that she would have returned, long ago, if that was the case. He can really be depressing sometimes!

I am not so sure he is correct. Perhaps she is on a world which has a Goa'uld presence. A guarded chaapa'ai. In that case she may not be able to leave. I repeat my case to Martouf, and he admits that it may be so. We both hope I am correct.

Tired, we go to bed. Despite our exhaustion, sleep does not come easily. It has now been seven months since we last heard from our loves. They have long since been declared missing. I suspect, most think Jolinar is dead.

We do not want to give up hope, but this uncertainty is hard. Sometimes, I feel it would be better to know, even if it meant knowing our sweet Jolinar and Rosha are dead.

Finally, sleep takes us.

"Run! They are coming!" Jolinar shouts.

I try to move, but my legs feel heavy. It is like I move through molasses. Slowly, incredibly slowly, I move towards her.

Behind us I hear yelling. It sounds like Jaffa. I very slowly turn my head to see a large group of fearsome looking Jaffa, wearing the horned helmets of Cronus. Why would they wear those when chasing us? Why not fold them down? Folded up, it slows them down, and impairs their vision. Actually, they are wearing full armor, which will make them much heavier and ill-suited for chasing anyone. Usually, they would not wear it in situations such as this.

I turn back again, and begin to run in the same direction as Jolinar does. My legs still almost do not move, no matter how much I try to make them do so. Why am I so slow?

"Lantash, hurry!" She reaches the chaapa'ai and begins to dial out.

The shots from several staff blasts are zipping past us now. I try to duck as I continue running. The chaapa'ai is only 50 tekims away.

Suddenly, a shot hits Jolinar. She is standing by the open wormhole, keeping it open, waiting for me. She cries out, and falls to the ground.

"Jolinar! No!" Shocked and terrified, I run towards her, but I move even slower now, and I barely get any closer to the chaapa'ai at all.

Jaffa pass by me, ignoring me as they do so, and quickly approach my fallen beloved.

I lift my zat'nik'tel, but before I can fire, the Jaffa have reached Jolinar, and their leader pulls out a knife. He is lifting his hand and prepares to plunge it into her...

I wake up with a scream, my heart beating wildly. I look around, seeing only the gentle, soft light from the crystals in the walls, set to night glow. I am in my room, and no one else is here. It was a dream.

I realize I am wet from sweat, and get out of bed to change. Martouf has awoken as well, which is good, since I now realize from his words that he shared my dream.

It takes a long time for us to get back to sleep after this.

Next morning we are still somewhat affected by the mood from the dream. It is hard to shake the sense of foreboding. Will today be the day we learn about Jolinar's fate? Or, hope against hope, the day she returns?

Of course, we think this almost every morning.

Martouf decides a quick bath might calm our nerves, and I agree.

We change into the last clean uniform in our closet, and suddenly remember we need to pick up our laundry. However, first it is time for breakfast.

On the way to the mess hall, we great a few Tok'ra. Korra and Rihna give us worried glances. They are concerned about Jolinar as well, and worry about how we feel. I don't want to talk to anyone right now, and Martouf shares my feelings on this. Luckily, they all seem to understand, and leave us alone.

We grab a bowl of fruit, a glass of milk, and some bread and cheese, before we find a quiet table in a corner and begin to eat.

Today we are assigned to work in one of the laboratories. We are currently helping out with one of Thelan's studies. He is looking at more efficient hyperspace travel - something the Council finds a waste of time while we fight the Goa'uld - so he gets few resources compared to several of the other departments.

Martouf drains the last of the milk from his glass, enjoying this relatively rare treat. We only get fresh milk now and then, since it is difficult to store and heavy to trade. He gets up and goes to find Thelan, both of us feeling better after eating. The effects of the dream are beginning to dissipate.

The work is both interesting and challenging, and it takes all of our concentration. The time goes quickly, and before we know it, it is almost time for noon meal.

I suddenly remember our laundry, and remind Martouf. He hurries to pick it up, and finds Serra - who is in charge of laundry today - just about to leave to get some food.

She is not happy to have to find our clothing before she can go and eat, but eventually she relents. She fetches a large bag.

Looking at the note attached, she throws us a dirty look.

"You had ripped two of your pants and soiled one shirt badly - chocolate, I believe. It takes extra time when we have to fix things like that. Please be more careful in the future!"

Martouf smiles his most charming smile, and tells her he is sorry and will be more careful next time. She thaws a little and gives us our laundry, without further complaints.

I really wish I shared this ability Martouf has!

He hurries to our room, and throws the large bag of clothes in the corner. It falls open and some of the clean clothes spill out. I am sure Serra would not like that!

We arrive late in the mess hall. Typically, most of the good food is gone, but at least there is plenty of fresh bread. I repeat: Yay us for carrying all those heavy bags of grain yesterday!

It is not possible to find a place to sit alone, but the expression on Martouf's face apparently deters other people from talking to us, so we are allowed to eat in silence.

The meal is quickly finished, and before we leave the mess hall, I remind Martouf that we have guard duty this afternoon, and how long, hot, and dreary a job that usually is - and how hungry we got last time.

He goes back to the food counters and grabs some bread and cheese and cut it to make a sandwich, which he wraps in oiled paper. He stuffs it into our belt bag, together with a water bottle and a couple pieces of fruit. It just fits with the other stuff there.

Satisfied we are prepared, we go to make use of the facilities before our shift starts. Guard duty last for several hours, and we cannot normally leave unless it is absolutely necessary. Doing so might be risky, and cause everyone else to be discovered, if someone should come through the chaapa'ai at that time.

Afterwards, we go to the armoury to fetch our weapons.

Aldwin is helping the armourer today. He hands us a zat'nik'tel and a staff weapon, chatting away as he does so. He talks a lot. Apparently, he has a crush on Freya, but he - and especially his symbiote Gerim - are intimidated by Anise.

I get control, and wish them good luck. As I head for the ring transporter, I put on my hood. Someone told me that today was a relatively cool and quiet day topside, so it should not be too bad.

Still, this world has 36 hour days, so it has time to get quite hot, even if it only has one, standard sun. Martouf reminds me we should be happy the base runs on a standard 24 hour cycle, instead of following the planet's cycle. I am glad - I shudder to think how unpleasant it would be to have to follow a 36 hour cycle, and how long the Council would make our shifts be.

Soon we are covering in one of the small hiding places that have been dug in various strategic places. New ones are made regularly, and the places can easily be moved, of course.

They are easy to dig, and we use a light binding material to keep them from collapsing. They will do so on their own after a few weeks, or quickly, if we need them to. They are completely covered, except for a small opening, which we then camouflage with cloaks or blankets made so as to mimic the area around it perfectly. Even someone standing almost exactly beside you, will not discover anything.

The hiding places may be perfect from a security point, but I hate guard duty! It means many hours of sitting still, only allowing yourself to move a little to keep the circulation going. On top of that, we must be ready to freeze completely and stay in a position where we are not seen at all - and be prepared to jump up with weapons ready when the signal is given. All with only a few moments of warning, at most. There is but a short distance to the chaapa'ai, so we have no more than minutes to prepare, at most, when the signal comes.

The first hour passes slowly. It is already getting warm. Martouf considers eating the sandwich, mostly just to have something to do. I remind him the pass is 6 hours long, and we still have 5 of those to go. He agrees to wait, and reluctantly abandons the thought of the sandwich.

I suggest playing some kind of game, and Martouf is bored enough to say yes. He does not even mention he thinks I cheat, something he otherwise often uses as an excuse not to play.

I do not, of course! I am just better at many kinds of games and sports than he is. I have more training, and better motor-control, as well as better memory and higher strength and flexibility.

He scoffs at me, and I realize I 'thought' out loud. Oops!

Looking around the place, Martouf soon finds some small rocks, bigger and darker than the others strewn around this hole. He begins to gather them, then pour a little of the water from the bottle on the ground. The sand can now be pressed into groves, and he does so. I consider commenting that he is wasting our drinking water, and probably destroying the properties of the walls and floor of this hiding place, likely causing someone to have to repair it or make a new one.

I quickly decide it is not worth it to comment on this, and let it slide.

We play mancala for about an hour, taking care only to move minimally, so as not to disturb either the walls or the cloaking blanket serving as a roof. Martouf accuses me of cheating when I have won 5 games out of 7.

He is such a sore loser!

I have just convinced him he is in need of a rematch, when we get the signal. Someone is coming through the chaapa'ai, and we are neither expecting anyone coming home, nor visitors from one of the other bases.

Is it the Goa'uld? Have they somehow learned of our base's location? Is it a group of Jaffa merely stumbling onto this world by coincidence? Hapless traders? Or...Jolinar?

All of this goes through my head - and Martouf's as well, I know.

Dare we hope it is Jolinar coming home?

I quickly hide the thought, not wanting Martouf to get disappointed, when it turns out not to be her.

Of course, he has already had the same thought.

The chaapa'ai close again after some time, but our sensors tell us no one came through. Something did, though. We inform the Council by communicator. After some discussion, they decide to send Tersa to check it out. He quickly returns with the information that some sort of machine has rolled through.

It does not appear to be a weapon, but it has primitive sensors and equipment to transmit radio signals.

Tersa believes it was still recording, so he destroyed it, just enough to make it look like an accident caused perhaps by one of the tumbleweeds being thrown hard at it by the wind. He then made sure his footprints were completely undetectable, and hurried back to the tunnels, informing us on his way to be extra on guard, since the owner of the machine would likely re-appear soon. The technology had not looked Goa'uld, though, he told us.

Intrigued - and somewhat on edge - we all waited.

Eventually, the chaapa'ai activates again. This time our sensors told us lifeforms came through. Humans - or perhaps Jaffa, or Goa'uld.

Prepared, we wait. Patiently...anxiously.

Soon we hear talking, and I believe I sense an energy-signature from a symbiote. Jaffa? In any case, it is a small party. We are likely in no danger, even if they discover us, which is very unlikely.

The signal is given, and we all jump out, surrounding the intruders.

The group consists of only four people, all dressed alike in some type of green clothing. Uniforms, of some kind, perhaps? Are they soldiers of some enemy?

They are truly a strange group! One is Jaffa, and three appears to be human. That is very odd indeed. What Goa'uld would use human soldiers? Why send a Jaffa with them, if they are not soldiers? Not just any Jaffa. I see now he is a First Prime! One of Apophis's most trusted Jaffa!

"This one is a Jaffa. Apophis sect," Martouf observed loudly, angrily.

I wonder what they are up to - what Apophis is up to. Is this some kind of scouting party?

"I am no longer in the service of Apophis," the Jaffa claims, strangely.

I wonder fleetingly which Goa'uld he is now serving, and Martouf is echoing my thoughts out loud.

"Who then are you in service to?"

"I am allied with these, the Tau'ri, in battle against Apophis," the Jaffa answers.

The Tau'ri? Interesting. Martouf and I continue to observe while Cordesh questions them. Sometimes there are definite advantages to holding a low rank.

The humans...one of them seems to be in command, instead of the Jaffa? That is even odder than all the other things put together! Truly, I am looking forward to hearing an explanation for this.

I notice that one of the humans are wearing glasses - strange, for a warrior. Another one is a female, which is also unusual, though not unheard of.

I again reflect on how strange a group they are, when taken together. My gaze is repeatedly drawn to the female. She is blond and fair, which is quite rare. I suddenly realize she resembles our Rosha, quite a bit.

Rosha! Jolinar! Will we ever see you again, or have you been killed? By someone such as him! Martouf shares my thoughts as we glare at the Jaffa.

I realize suddenly that we have not been paying any attention to what has been said, which is another sign of how preoccupied we have been since Jolinar disappeared. Being this unobservant might cause your death, and I scold myself for not keeping my thoughts focused on the scene and helping my host.

We are fortunate indeed, that this group does not attempt anything foolish. No one will know of, or pay for our distraction.

Suddenly, the woman turns towards us, and looks straight at us. She frowns a little. "Martouf."

It is not really a question, almost more of a statement. Martouf looks as confused as I feel.

"I...do not know this woman."

"But I'm right, aren't I? That's your name, Martouf."

"It is. How do you know me?"

"I don't. But I knew someone who did. His name was Jolinar of Malk-shur."

Jolinar! She has met Jolinar! Both Martouf and I are stunned, and want to question her, but before we can find the words to say anything, Cordesh asks.

"Where is Jolinar?

"He died saving my life."

Jolinar is dead! No! That cannot be true! It must not be true. We had feared it, yes, but we still held out hope. To hear of her death like this, a careless comment from strangers...it is almost too painful to bear.

Martouf stubbornly points out that the woman called Jolinar 'he' - perhaps it was not Jolinar she met then? He decides to cling to that hope, and I do not have the heart to argue with him.

Firmly in denial - for now - he again focuses on what happens around us. We have lost some of the discussion again. We must hope no one has tried to address us.

"Assuming, of course, you are the Tok'ra," the man who seems to be the leader, says.

"And if we are not?" Cordesh asks.

"Well, I guess we all start shooting, there's blood, death, hard feelings…it'd suck."

"And if we are this thing you call Tok'ra?" Martouf say, hoping to get through all this quickly and to the point where we can question the woman further about Jolinar.

"If you are indeed the Tok'ra of Jaffa legend, we should form an alliance," the Jaffa states.

"I learned a lot from Jolinar. Enough to know that we could be good friends. And frankly, enough to know that you are the Tok'ra," the woman insists.

"I believe this one speaks the truth. Perhaps we should…just listen to what they have to say," Martouf argues, smiling a little at her.

We would both very much like to talk more to her. She must have known Jolinar quite well, for our mate to tell her about the Tok'ra. For her to described me so she would recognize me. I will admit I am fascinated by this woman. What did she do to earn Jolinar's trust, so completely? To even make Jolinar sacrifice herself for her?

*If it is Jolinar she met,* Martouf stubbornly repeats.

After a moment, Cordesh seems to decide to accept this, and he raises his hand. Everyone - Tok'ra, humans, and Jaffa - lower their weapons.

"Well, that's better, isn't it? So, take me to your leader," The alien commander demands.

"I will take you to whom you seek. But there is one condition. You must leave your weapons with us," Cordesh insists.

"Ah, no. No," the alien leader says.

"They won't hurt us, Colonel," the woman who resembles Rosha, assures him.

Her commander does not seem to trust her. "They're Goa'ulds, Carter."

How dare he! We are not Goa'uld! Martouf reminds me that to someone who do not know the Tok'ra at all, they can only think we are Goa'uld, because what else would we be? Sadly, I know he is correct. Though, if they knew Jolinar, how could they not know we are not Goa'uld? This is truly confusing!

"They won't hurt us," the woman insists.

"And you, what, feel this?"

"No, I can remember."

What does she mean by that? How can she remember anything about us, having never met us? How did she know Jolinar? Something does not make sense here, unless...I suddenly get a suspicion, but can that really be so? There is only one explanation that would truly fit, but how could she know so little about Jolinar as to call her he - if she knew her the way I now suspect she did? No, there must be another explanation! I decide to wait and see, and not speculate further for now.

"O'Neill, if they are the Tok'ra, we are in no danger," the Jaffa says.

Interesting. A Jaffa arguing in our favour.

"If you're asking for opinions, I vote we take the chance," the man with glasses adds.

"Okay. But I want it understood that we're doing this in the spirit of future relations. I expect us to be treated as such," their leader insists, reluctantly agreeing.

He and his people surrender their weapons. I take a deep breath, feeling myself relax. A potentially dangerous situation has been resolved peacefully.

Martouf waves them towards the ring transporter. "Please, come closer together."

"Why?" The leader - the one the Jaffa called O'Neill - says.

"Jack," the man with glasses implores him.

"It's okay, Colonel," the young woman insists, clearly trusting us. For some reason that pleases me greatly.

"Oh, it is?"

Despite some reluctance, they do as Martouf asks, and stand closely together. The transport rings rise up from the ground and encircle us.

We materialize in the tunnels, and I notice our guests look around with surprise. I cannot fully concentrate on them, my thoughts and those of Martouf's are occupied with the new information that Jolinar - and almost certainly also Rosha - are now dead. If we can trust what we have been told?

"This way," Cordesh tells them, and starts walking through the tunnels, going to find them a place where our guests can wait while we alert Garshaw.

I follow him, and I notice our visitors trail us at some distance, clearly very much in awe by the tunnels, from what I hear of their discussion. Martouf and I are still mostly preoccupied by the information about Jolinar. I ask Martouf to keep control, while I spend some time thinking about Jolinar, remembering her, and begin to mourn her. Martouf is again pushing all those thoughts away, refusing to think of our mate as dead.

Besides, as he points out, one of us must keep a clear head if we are to be able to function. The sorrow is overwhelming me, and I am grateful that Martouf will take care of any interaction we must have with our surroundings.

Martouf calls my attention and I pull myself out of my sad thoughts. I quickly glance through his memories of the recent events. Impressive - they are among those that killed Ra. We had heard Ra's killers were from the Tau'ri, but we had not managed to get much other information about what had happened.

Garshaw has admitted we are Tok'ra. She really seems to enjoy the dramatic effect!

Ah, I see Garshaw has just asked about Jolinar, and about how the Tau'ri learned about us from her. That is very interesting, and both Martouf and I concentrate on listening.

"Well, I…uh…it's a long story. We were on this planet, Nasya, and the Goa'uld were attacking. Jolinar's host was killed, so he jumped into me while I was trying to save his host."

It really hurts hearing this!

Then I notice something. His host? Did Jolinar have a male host? What had happened to Rosha? Wait! Jolinar jumped into the young Tau'ri woman? Did she volunteer? She was Jolinar's host? My suspicions were true. I feel both my and Martouf's heart beat faster.

"Please, excuse me. Did you say that Jolinar's host was killed?" Martouf asks, desperate to know what happened to Rosha, and Jolinar.

"Yes. I'm sorry," the woman says, sensing this is important to us. Well she should, if she was blended with Jolinar!

"But...Jolinar lived on?" Martouf forces the words out around a thick lump in our throat. He is hurting, as am I.

"Ah, yeah, for a while at least. Inside of me. Should I continue?"

"Please," Garshaw says.

The young Tau'ri woman, who turns out to be called 'Captain Samantha Carter', explains how Jolinar had taken her as host during an evacuation of the planet Nasya. Captain Carter did not even know Jolinar was there, and she and her people had never heard of the Tok'ra.

How could Jolinar do this? Why would she take an unwilling host, and then suppress this host? Even if the situation was grave, I do not understand it.

Also, she apparently was hiding in a male host before. What has happened to our sweet Rosha?

Confused, and hurting, we again turn to listen to what the others are saying.

"So, am I to understand you did not invite Jolinar to use you as a host?" Garshaw asks.

"That is correct. He did it in an emergency situation to escape an assassin."

An assassin? Is she talking about an ashrak? How long has he been trailing Jolinar? Who hired him? Did he kill Rosha? Also, how did Jolinar die - and her new host not? So many questions! We really need to find an opportunity to talk to this young woman, in privacy.

"Then if you were not a voluntary host, how do we know that you did not kill Jolinar yourself?" Cordesh wants to know.

Such a stupid question! Surely these humans are not advanced enough to know how to kill a symbiote, while letting the host survive?

"Um, well, because I…I didn't. I mean, I guess you're just going to have to trust us on that," Captain Carter says, uncertain.

I am about to reassure her we do not suspect her, indeed, that the question is foolish, when Cordesh inquires further. He has always been somewhat harsh and suspicious, but he seems to have started to behave very strangely some time ago. I wonder what is wrong with him?

"And why should we trust you?"

The alien leader, O'Neill, rises from his seat, looking irritable. I think he does not like Cordesh's continued insinuations.

"You know something?" He walks over to stand before Garshaw and Cordesh. "I've been asking myself the same damn question. Why should we trust you. You are, after all, Goa'ulds."

The man with the glasses tries to stop him. "Jack…!"

O'Neill points a warning finger at him. "Ah! Don't! We've done nothing but get interrogated here. Now, are we prisoners? And are you Goa'ulds?"


"Neh!" He cuts him off, making it clear he does not want any interference.

"You are not and I have told you we are not Goa'uld." Garshaw looks as if she is getting angry. She flashes her eyes.

That is probably not the best idea if you are trying to convince someone you are not a Goa'uld!

"I didn't…Why do you talk like that? And what's with the glowing eyes? Huh? Might it have something to do with a little reptilian activity in your heads?"

"We have symbiotic creatures within us, yes."

Garshaw really does not look happy now! I glance worriedly between her, Cordesh, and O'Neill, hoping this will not escalate. I wish for a chance to talk with Jolinar's last host. There is so much I want to ask her, but as things are going, I doubt she will want to talk to me.

Actually, I am surprised they are even coming here. If Jolinar took her as a host, against her will, then she must be angry at her. What are they doing here?

One thing is certain, if we get our chance to talk to her, then Martouf had better stay in control. I doubt she will feel comfortable talking to a symbiote, and Martouf is a better diplomat than me, anyway. Not that I will admit it to anyone, of course.

Martouf snorts at my comment, and I realize I have again 'thought' out loud. This whole situation is getting to me. I am usually better at controlling myself than this!

"Well then!" O'Neill says, sounding as if what Garshaw said is just proving his point. I do not think he likes symbiotes much, but I suppose I cannot blame him. They have only just learned of the Tok'ra, and one of them took one of his people against her will. It was not the best first impression.

"Well then, you can see how we might think you would be a danger to humans. You take humans as hosts," the man with the glasses say. I think they called him 'Daniel' earlier.

"Goa'uld take hosts. Tok'ra do not. Ours wish to be so," Garshaw assures him, with some pride.

"We have a truly symbiotic relationship," Martouf adds.

"No offence, but why would any human volunteer to be a host for a Goa'uld?" Daniel asks.

I see Garshaw bow her head momentarily, so I guess Yosuuf will be answering this. She lifts her head and steps forward.

"Um…Perhaps I can…I can help you? I am Yosuuf. I am Garshaw's host. I speak freely without restraint or censor. All of us who serve as hosts volunteer to do so freely."

"Okay, well, maybe you can answer my question then. Why would any human volunteer for…for that?" Daniel asks.

Yosuuf seems to have the explanation well in hand, and I allow myself to return my focus to our mates. Rosha! Jolinar! My sweet beloveds! I cannot yet truly believe or accept that you are gone!

When I again return my focus to my surroundings again, Martouf has just begun talking to our guests.

"Her host's name is Saroosh. She is one of the oldest and wisest among us, an important leader for our cause. However, she is unfortunately very ill, and will soon die."

A quick check of Martouf's memories tells me that Garshaw and Martouf are introducing our guests to Saroosh and Selmak. They are talking about the differences in how Tok'ra and Goa'uld live, and that we do not use the sarcophagus.

"That's because you don't use the sarcophagus, right?" Captain Carter asks.

"That's correct. We believe to do so would drain the good from our hearts," Martouf explains.

"I can vouch for that," the Tau'ri called Daniel, says.

I wonder what he has experienced? It sounds as if he is talking from personal experience.

"That's why our numbers don't grow large enough to defeat the massive forces aligned with the System Lords," Martouf tells them.

"Zero or negative population growth. Since you won't take new hosts by force, most of the time the Goa'uld dies with the host," Captain Carter comments, understanding.

"And this is what is about to happen to Selmak," Garshaw says.

"Unless one of you wishes to volunteer to serve as a host," Martouf adds.

I am not so sure they will react well to that! Somehow, something tells me these people are not here to become hosts. Probably, Captain Carter's experience with Jolinar make it unlikely any of them will volunteer. It is a bitter thought.

"I'm going to pass on that," O'Neill says.

Daniel looks terrified. "Yes, although it does s…sound very fascinating, I think it's a little too long term for me."

Now I really wonder what he has experienced?

Captain Carter reacts badly as well, and I can see her getting upset. "I'm sorry, I've already been through that."

I was right. It was not a good idea to ask them, and I make it clear to Martouf that I do not think we should pursue this line of questioning. It will defeat our purpose of getting information about what happened to Jolinar, without any chance of getting a host for Selmak.

Martouf is feeling bashful, and he runs after Captain Carter as she hurries out of the room.

She leans over one of the reflecting pools in the waiting room, wetting her face. Martouf comes up behind her and touches her on the shoulder. She gasps and turns to face us. I warn him not to scare her further, and he assures me he will not.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you."

"You shouldn't sneak up on a person like that."

Garshaw comes into the room, together with the rest of Captain Carter's team, and a couple guards. Martouf and I wish they would have left us alone for a little longer, as it would have been nice to get a chance to talk to Captain Carter.

"We did not mean to upset you with the suggestion of becoming a host," Yosuuf assures all of them.

Martouf promises me he will handle any interactions we need to have, and will call my attention again if it is something I need to answer, or something that gives us more information about Jolinar.

Martouf has asked Captain Carter to take a walk with us on the surface, so we can talk with her about Jolinar!

I quickly glance through Martouf's memories of the recent events. Captain Carter believes Jolinar when she said she would leave her. That is something. The Tau'ri apparently wants an alliance with us. They suggest we can exchange information and go on missions together. Garshaw, unsurprisingly, rejects the idea.

To be honest, I can see some advantages to it. Extra intelligence is always useful, and we sometimes need someone to - for instance - play the roles of slaves in the entourage of someone pretending to be a Goa'uld. Now and then we also have missions where we need to use more force than what we usually do - if the Tau'ri wishes to fight with us, then they could certainly attack together with us, lending us much needed manpower.

Not to mention...if they are out there, fighting the Goa'uld, and killing them, then it is to both theirs and our advantage that we know of each other, and do not kill each other by accident. I need to talk to Garshaw about this, if she does not see it for herself.

It is true that they are not as advanced as we are, but I still think we could work well together in some situations. They have even destroyed two of Apophis's ha'tak's when he attacked their world.

Of course, that would not have endeared them to Garshaw. We had operatives on board those ships. Operatives who died. I know one of them was Khogal, a very old and dear friend of Garshaw's.

At least she now knows what happened to him. Besides, the Tau'ri had no other choice. They did not know there were Tok'ra onboard, and they needed to defend their planet.

Yosuuf is somewhat more positive to the idea of an alliance, and has promised to talk to the Council. We shall see what happens.

To be honest, I will have to admit there is another reason I wish for an alliance with the Tau'ri. I would like to talk more to Captain Carter, and hear what she can tell me of Jolinar's last days. That is not all. She fascinates me, and had Jolinar lived - and had Captain Carter agreed to let her stay - she would have been our mate. How can I not be interested in her? Wish to get to know her better? Martouf agrees, but like me, he feels a little guilty even thinking of another woman so shortly after our dear Rosha and Jolinar have died.

For now, at least, the Tau'ri remain here. They are to stay as our 'guests', until the Council has decided if they can be trusted.

Next chapter >>