TITLE: Complications Reviews
AUTHOR: Roeskva
CATEGORY: Drama      
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. This entire story is based on the episode "The Cure" and much of the dialog is taken directly from that episode.
SUMMARY: Answer to the 2008 challenge: Sam becomes host to Egeria in a very AU version of "The Cure". I moved the episode to third season. This has several advantages: 1) Egeria is not in as badly a shape, 2) SGC people, including O'Neill, is not as hostile towards the Tok'ra, as in later seasons, 3) Martouf/Lantash and Daniel are all alive. I believe that by third season, Sam has come enough to terms with her experiences with Jolinar that she would agree to become host in a situation such as this.
PAIRING: Sam/Egeria/Martouf/Lantash
CHARACTERS: Malek, Martouf/Lantash, Anise/Freya, Egeria, SG-1
STATUS: Complete
SPOILERS: "The Cure", Tok'ra episodes in general.
AUTHORS NOTES: * denotes thoughts or symbiote/host communication. Takes place a few months after "Jolinar's Memories"/"The Devil You Know".


SG-1 were standing in the gate room, suited up and ready. They were going to Pangar, a planet SGC had contacted about a month before.

The familiar 'kawoosh' was heard, and O'Neill, Teal'c, and Daniel started walking towards the wormhole.

Daniel was about to follow O'Neill and Teal'c through, when he realised Sam was not coming. Turning around, he saw her stand several feet behind him with a distant look on her face.

"Hey! SAM!" Daniel began walking to her.

Sam made a small jump and shook her head.


"Memory flash?"

"Yeah..." Sam shrugged, trying to appear casual about it.

"Sam...it's been nearly two months since Netu. You shouldn't still be affected."

"I'm not...not much, anyway." She did not want to look at him.

"You're remembering things that happened to Jolinar?"

"Yes...I don't know...its as if...as if her memories, her personality are much clearer. I sometimes catch myself doing and thinking things I somehow know is not me, Sam. It's as if...sometimes, I'm almost...her. Listen, I know how it sounds, but it's not a problem. The good thing is that it has helped me to finally come to terms with having been her host."

"You're sure you're up to this mission?"

"Yeah." She smiled at him. "Let's go. The others are waiting."

Daniel looked somewhat worriedly at his friend, but decided not to pursue the matter further. They left through the Stargate.

On the other side they found O'Neill and Teal'c waiting.

"What took you so long?" O'Neill wondered. "The Pangarans are waiting."

"Sam was...upheld...." Daniel said, looking apologetically at her.

"Carter! You didn't have another one of those 'episodes', did you?"

"Eh...yes, sir...but it was only a very short memory flash..."

"Damn snake! If she wasn't dead I'd kill her myself!" He sighed. "Will you be able to handle the mission?"

"Yes, sir. No problem...and I have long since forgiven Jolinar, even accepted her memories as part of who I am."

O'Neill shook his head at this madness, but decided to let it pass. "Our welcoming committee is waiting for us, Carter." He turned to the two other members of SG-1. "Daniel, Teal'c. The Pangarans have invited you to take a look at this temple of theirs, while we handle the diplomacy...lucky us."

Sam and O'Neill followed the Pangarans - Representative Dollen, Commander Tegar, and a couple others. They were taken to the government palace in the nearby capital and shown into a room. It was nicely decorated in Japanese style. Food and refreshments were placed on the table.

They all sat down around the table and began talking. The Pangarans were still very unused to the thought of people from other planets. They were very interested in learning how to use the Stargate. They already had some knowledge from their study of an ancient temple which once belonged to a Goa'uld. While their prime interest was gate travel, they also had an interest in trading for various modern technologies.

In return for this information, the Pangarans offered a drug called Tretonin, which they considered to be their single greatest scientific discovery. According to the Pangarans it gave everyone who took it perfect health - and with negligible side effects.

"If it does what you say, this would certainly interest us." O'Neill said, slowly turning the small bottle around in his hand. It contained a purple liquid, which he watched with fascination.

"We will of course need a decent amount for testing...on Earth." Sam added.

"Of course. I quite understand. We will, however, need something in return from you, as a measure of good faith." Commander Tegar said.

Sam took out a file folder and handed it to him. "Certainly. We have been authorized to give you these ten addresses, which we have compiled from our lists. The planets are all peaceful and rich in both natural resources and historical relics. On top of that we will give you a rudimentary lesson in gate travel."

Tegar glanced at the contents of the folder, then handed it to Dollen.

The representative looked at the list of addresses for a little while. "Thank you, Major. This is very generous of you. However, based on our studies of the writings in the temple we have compiled a list of names of worlds we would like to visit first." He gave a booklet to both O'Neill and Sam.

O'Neill took a quick look, recognizing none of the names. "Do we know anything about any of these?"

"I would need to cross-reference the Goa'uld names with our database, but off-hand I recognize three of the planets as being Goa'uld homeworlds." Sam said.

O'Neill turned to the Pangarans. "Trust me, fellas, you really don't wanna go there."

"Yes, we do know the Goa'uld are a hostile race who once ruled this planet. However, these are the worlds we want to go to." Tegar said.

O'Neill and Sam spent some time trying to convince the Pangarans of the danger, but they continued to insist they wanted those addresses in return for a sample of the Tretonin.

Meanwhile, Daniel and Teal'c took a look at the temple. When they approached the archaeological dig, they were greeted by a young blond woman, waving at them.

"Hey! Earthans!"

"Eh...I think you mean Earthlings..." Daniel looked at Teal'c, and added to him in a low voice. "...and it's only partially correct..."

"I am Zenna Valk, supervisor of the temple research project. It is a pleasure to meet the explorers from the planet Earth."

"Well, I am from Earth, but Teal'c is not - not originally at least." Daniel smiled at her.

"...however, I have dedicated myself to the cause of the Tau'ri." Teal'c added.

Zenna looked uncomprehendingly at him. "Tau'ri?"

"Earth." Teal'c clarified.

"Am I at least correct in assuming you are a Jaffa?" Zenna asked.


"This is so exciting! We have learned much from the discovery of this site, but it must pale in comparison to what you can teach us."

Daniel smiled, somewhat embarrassed. "Perhaps...would you mind showing us around?"

"Of course not!" Zenna led them over to the temple and into one of the rooms. "We discovered these ruins more than a hundred years ago, and we have since dedicated ourselves to studying the secrets the Goa'uld left behind...we made the biggest discovery not far from here."

They walked around the room, looking here and there. They then followed an underground tunnel system - a former escape-way in case of an attack - to the main temple. Zenna showed them into a chamber where she pointed at some writing on the walls.

"We have not yet had time to study these sections much, but there is inscriptions on the walls of most of the rooms. Perhaps you will be able to help us translate some of the writings?"

Teal'c studied the wall briefly. "It is written in a rare dialect of ancient Goa'uld. It is an account of the warlord Shak'ran."

"I know of him! He was a System Lord until he was defeated by Apophis...uh...some 300 years ago." Daniel said.

"Indeed. Until his defeat it appears Pangar served as Shakran's homeworld. Most likely the attack is one of the reasons for the state of this temple." Teal'c said.

"Really? You can just read the inscriptions like that? Who is Apophis?"

"He is another Goa'uld System Lord - currently presumed dead." Teal'c said.

"As I suspected, you have much wisdom to share."

"Both Teal'c and I will be able to help you with the translations, though some of it may take some time." Daniel offered.

Zenna looked around, then spoke in a low voice. "Please. I do not wish to be overheard by the Pangar Security contingent...there is something you really need to know about the drug Tretonin...." She listened for something, then continued. "Someone is coming. We will talk more later..." She then returned to showing her surprised guests around as if nothing had happened.


Teal'c and Daniel had met with Sam and O'Neill, and had reported their findings. They had decided it would be prudent to attempt to get more information from Zenna, and Daniel and Teal'c had been charged with this. However, when they talked to her, she evaded their questions and they concluded someone had pressured her to keep quiet. They agreed to search her tent for some hint of what she might have meant. This turned up something interesting - Zenna had just started taking Tretonin shots. They also learned of the nearest place where the population could go to get their injections.

Late that evening, Teal'c and Daniel went to explore the location they had learned about earlier. They found an entrance to the Tretonin facility and snuck inside. Walking around in the darkness, using only flashlights, they detected what looked like a lab. On one of the tables had been several bottles containing Tretonin. Probably it was not just administered in the facility, but also produced there.

Teal'c noticed a door at the other end, and motioned Daniel to follow him. They went out onto a catwalk above a number of water pools. Daniel looked out over the railing.

"I wonder what they have here?"

"I do not know."

They carefully continued for a little while, then came to some stairs and started down them. When they were about halfway down, they stopped and again looked over the rail.

"I think I saw something moving down there..." Daniel said.

Teal'c continued staring for a little while longer, then straightened. "I believe it looks like Goa'uld symbiotes."

"What!" Daniel were first about to lean further over the railing to see better, then immediately thought better of it and quickly jumped back as he got a better look at what was down there. "You're right. That's definitively symbiotes."

"Hey!" An angry voice called to them from down at the pool level. "Who are you? Identify yourselves!"

Daniel and Teal'c turned to see a guard. Before they had time to think of something to say, alarms went off everywhere. Several guards came running and jumped them.

Being at the middle of the stairs, the group ended up tumbling down to the platform beside the nearest pool. Daniel and two of the guards were lucky, but Teal'c and the third guard fell into the water.

Daniel was the first to get to his feet, as the two guards had taken a harder fall. He saw Teal'c swimming towards the edge, the symbiotes ignoring him. Not so with the unlucky guard. Daniel saw a symbiote swim directly towards him, followed by a splash as he went under.

Warily, Daniel walked over to the water edge to help Teal'c up, eyeing the symbiotes out there. The two other guards had now managed to get up and came to help. Together they grabbed the third guard as he emerged, and pulled him out of the water.

Turning the man over they immediately saw the entry wound, which was already healing.

"Oh, no...he's a Goa'uld..." Daniel looked horrified.

"Stand back!" Teal'c said, covering the man with his zat'nik'tel in anticipation of him waking up and trying to either attack them or run away.

The guards drew their weapons and pointed them at Teal'c and Daniel. "Lower your weapons!"

"This man is a Goa'uld!" Teal'c was unwilling to surrender his zat'nik'tel.

"Lower your weapon immediately!"

"Teal'c...do as he says. I don't think we are in a any danger. Something is wrong with this man..." Daniel said.

Next morning.

SG-1 was seated around the table in the negotiation room, together with Tegar and Dollen.

"What were you doing at the Tretonin facility?" Tegar looked angrily at Teal'c and Daniel.

"We..." Daniel began.

"I ordered them to check it out. Since I am in command, you should interrogate me, not them."

"Very well. Speak!" Tegar glowered at O'Neill.

"Why do you have a pool full of Goa'uld symbiotes?"

"We thought we could trust you. Yet you snuck around inside our secret facilities - you betrayed our openness!" Dollen said, ignoring O'Neill's question.

"What openness? You didn't tell us you were raising Goa'ulds!"

"The symbiotes are a critical component to making Tretonin."

"Excuse me? They are what?" Sam sounded shocked.

"It is a complicated process. Our scientists will explain the process to you later. We actually did intend to tell you how Tretonin is made, when we knew you better and had assessed how you would react." Dollen said.

"Not well." Jack snorted.

The discussion continued for some time. The Pangarans admitted to having produced Tretonin in this manner for almost 27 years, and agreed to reveal all its secrets to SG-1. After this, Dollen took SG-1 to the Tretonin facility for a full tour.

"We actually developed the drug here at this facility, and it is now both manufactured and administered here. About a year ago we began spreading its use to more of the general population, so we have now implemented other treatment centers throughout Pangar." Dollen opened a door and ushered SG-1 in. "In here are the reason we can produce Tretonin without gate-travel. Our symbiotes are all bred here in captivity."

SG-1 was stunned. They looked in shock at a tank with a large Goa'uld symbiote in it. The symbiote was attached to a big flesh-coloured womb. As they entered the room, she lifted her head and looked at them.

"A queen." Teal'c stated.

"No kidding." O'Neill said.

A little later. At a Pangaran hospital.

The guard who had been taken as host, had been strapped to a hospital bed. SG-1 had arrived together with Dollen and had inquired to his condition. They learned that he was unresponsive to any stimulus. No one knew why, but the Pangarans explained that this, in their experience, is the normal reaction to being taken as a host. SG-1 was nturally surprised at this, but Sam speculated that it might be due to the conditions the symbiotes were born and raised under.

"Do you know of any way to help the guard - and perhaps even to learn why these symbiotes are not as you would expect?" Dollen wondered.

Sam thought for a moment, then turned to her commanding officer. "Colonel, I recommend we contact the Tok'ra. Perhaps they will be able to tell what is going on, or at least they may be able to get the symbiote out of that man."

Dollen looked confused. "Who are the Tok'ra?"

"Uhm...basically...they are an offshoot of the Goa'uld, who oppose them philosophically in every way."

"You propose to bring these Goa'uld here?"

"Yes. They are very different. They co-exist with their hosts in a true symbiotic relationship." Sam explained.

"They are, in fact, allies." Teal'c added.

"And they will be able to help?" Dollen looked questioningly at O'Neill.


While Sam and O'Neill went to contact the SGC and the Tok'ra, Daniel and Teal'c returned to the temple to help Zenna translate more of the inscriptions.

Janet had finished her analysis of the Pangaran drug. It turned out there was a very bad side effect to taking the Tretonin. It did create a powerful resistance to disease, but it also suppressed the immune system. While the healing effect was not permanent, the suppression of the user's own immune system was. The result being that once started on the drug, they needed to continue using it or die. And Janet could see no way of reversing the drug's effect.

They shut down the wormhole.

"There's no way to produce enough Tretonin for an entire population this way. According to Dollen, about 15% of the population is currently on Tretonin, and they are in the process of extending that to 20%, due to public demand." Sam said.

"That's insane! They must know the production is unsustainable!"

Sam and O'Neill went to talk to the Pangarans in the negotiation room.

"So, you wanted the 'gate-addresses to Goa'uld worlds so you could snag another queen and raise production?" O'Neill merely stated, matter-of-factly.

"Colonel - we have to. There is no way the one we have will be able to produce enough symbiotes to make Tretonin for the entire population." Dollen said.

"How did you get to this point?" Sam asked.

Dollen thought for a moment before answering. "About 57 years ago, we found a secret chamber beneath the temple, containing a sealed stasis jar. Inside it was a living, female symbiote, perfectly preserved in stasis. Since we knew from our studies of the temple that the Goa'uld did not suffer illness or disease, we decided to take the opportunity to try and learn why."

Tegar nodded. "When the queen gave birth we started experimenting on her offspring. It took decades, but finally we invented Tretonin."

"It worked like a miracle drug - curing anything!" Dollen added. "Of course, the negative side effects were soon realised, but we were certain we could perfect and refine the drug. Eventually we decided to begin reaping the benefits while we worked on the down side."

Tegar looked at Sam and O'Neill. "We have been unable to refine it, synthesize it, or even reverse the side effects. Please, we must obtain an extra Goa'uld queen."

The Tok'ra arrived soon after being called. The ones sent were Freya/Anise and Johan/Malek, as they were proficient in biochemistry. Freya/Anise also had a lot of archaeological knowledge, and would be able to help translate inscriptions in the temple, if needed. The two Tok'ra had never had any dealings with Earth before, but Sam faintly remembered them from Jolinar's memories. After the greetings, they were taken to the guard who had been taken as host.

Anise examined the man. "In some ways it is as if the symbiote in this man has taken a host when it was much too young, though even that does not fit all symptoms."

"Besides, our scans indicate it to be a full-grown adult. It is most puzzling." Malek said, looking at the scanner Anise had handed him.

"Do you have any idea what could have caused it?" Sam wondered.

"As you know, memory is passed on genetically by the queen, but it is done voluntarily. She can chose what, if anything, to pass on to her offspring."

"In this case it seems she has either chosen to impart no knowledge on him...or she has somehow been unable to do so. In either case, something else is wrong as well." Anise added.

"What do you mean?" Sam asked.

"From what the Pangarans have explained, the symbiote and host remains unresponsive. This means the symbiote has the basic instincts which makes it want to suppress the host. However, even without the genetic memory it is of course still able to learn. It is sentient and would eventually figure out how to control the host's body, speak the hosts language, move around, and so on. Since this apparently does not happen, the symbiote must have been damaged - sabotaged, somehow."

"I see. That makes sense, actually. Can you still remove the symbiote without harming the host?"

"Possibly, though it would be difficult and dangerous, given the condition of the symbiote." Malek looked thoughtful. "We would like to see the queen who spawned this Goa'uld."

The Tok'ra, Sam, and O'Neill went to the room where the queen symbiote was kept imprisoned.

Malek and Anise studied the symbiote for a while.

"She looks...old...or perhaps more correctly, sick." Anise said.

"She's been kept in this manner for decades?" Malek asked.

"Yes. According to the Pangarans, they started using her for medical experiments almost 50 years ago. For around half that time she has been used to breed symbiotes for the making of Tretonin, though it is only in the later years they have raised the production to cover about 15% of the population." Sam said.

O'Neill looked confused. "How is this possible? I mean...how does she make kids without a...man friend?"

"If necessary, symbiote queens can fertilize their own eggs. It is not the preferred option, as among other things it decreases the probability of a successful blending. Though, that is not an issue here." Malek explained.

"Does it bother you that they use Goa'ulds like this?" O'Neill wondered.

"No. The Goa'uld has treated humans worse than this. I am surprised the Pangarans can use them for a beneficial result, but it is not morally objectionably to me." Malek answered.

*It is to me - no sentient being, not even a Goa'uld, should be treated like this.* Johan remarked.

*I am surprised you can be this forgiving, given how the Goa'uld has treated you and your family. I will never forgive them for their atrocities - both against your family, against the families of my former hosts, and against countless other innocents.*

Anise had been scanning the queen. "I am detecting signs of cellular degeneration, which could be part of why her children are not mentally developed. The conditions she has been kept under is the reason she appears old. If they continue keeping her like this, she will be dead in 3-4 years."

"...and together with her, tens of thousands of Pangarans will die." Sam said.

"Yes. Most unfortunate."

"Is there nothing that can be done?"

"Yes...if she had been kept under optimum conditions - and not been bred quite so hard - then they could easily have continued using her like this for millennia. If they were to place her in a healing tank immediately and let her recuperate for perhaps half a year, she should regain her health and youthful appearance. They would, of course, have to stop breeding her for that period of time." Anise said.

"They cannot do that - even being without a queen to produce Tretonin for such a period would mean death for a great many." Sam remarked. "They need another option."

Anise thought for a moment. "There is another solution. If she is still strong enough to survive taking a host, then that would allow her to be restored to health much faster...in perhaps no more than 3-4 weeks. Of course, that would mean someone volunteering to be host to a Goa'uld...not something we would recommend or appreciate."

"That's for sure! I think we can discount that!" O'Neill said.

Sam and O'Neill went to talk to the Pangarans again, and rely the information from the Tok'ra.

"Your allies have confirmed what our scientists reported as well, the queen we have is not going to survive the stress much longer. Do you now understand that we must get another Goa'uld queen or face the deaths of a large part of our population?"

"Getting a Goa'uld queen is - at best - a temporary solution." Sam said.

"...and an extremely dangerous one at that..." O'Neill added.

"We realise that..." Dollen said. "However, we have worked for years on finding an antidote to Tretonin, or refining the drug - and with very little progress. We need more time!"

"Or more help..." Sam suggested.

They contacted the Tok'ra again, and enrolled their help in the work on the Tretonin. Freya/Anise had gone to assist Daniel and Teal'c with the translations, but now came back to help Malek with his research. They were given access to a lab. While they did not believe the drug could be perfected in the way the Pangarans wished, they thought it might be possible to reverse its effect with an antidote. However, it might take them some time.

Meanwhile, Daniel and Teal'c continued helping Zenna translate the inscriptions in the temple. They had made good progress with Freya/Anise's help, and she had promised to send for someone else to assist them further.

Daniel had just started to look at a new part of the wall, when Martouf/Lantash arrived.

"Martouf! Hello...you're the one Anise convinced to come and help us?" Daniel said, slightly disappointed at seeing him instead of Anise. Teal'c greeted him as well.

"Yes. We are to assist you in translating the inscriptions."

"Great..um...don't take this the wrong way, but I didn't know you had any archaeological training - or interest."

"I suppose I don't...however, I was available to help you, and Lantash can read ancient Goa'uld as well as Anise, whether or not the content of the text interests him." His head bowed, as Lantash took control.

"You need not worry. I am perfectly capable of translating your inscriptions." He looked at the wall Daniel had been studying before. "According to Anise, this temple was built by Shak'ran?"

"Yes. By the way, this is the chamber where the stasis jar with the Goa'uld queen was found."

"Then why does the inscriptions on this wall mention Ra?" Lantash started reading the full text from the beginning.

Teal'c came over to take a look as well. "You are correct. It would seem this place originally belonged to Ra."

"Could perhaps Shak'ran have captured this world from Ra in a battle?" Daniel wondered.

"Yes. That is possible." Lantash agreed.

"Then the temple could have been built on whatever structure Ra had here before." Daniel said.

Meanwhile, Lantash read on. "It says here that this place was supposed to be a prison forever, for one of Ra's enemies...'Here lies'..." Lantash paled. "...'Egeria, betrayer of the Goa'uld, may she...may she suffer for all eternity'...Egeria!"

*Martouf! The queen the Pangarans have found...she is our queen...she is Egeria!*

*Yes...it is wonderful that we have found her alive...but they are using her for medical experiments...killing her offspring to use for a drug...*

*You are correct. That outrage must be stopped. Immediately. They will give us back our queen or...*

Daniel interrupted their internal discussion. "Lantash...Egeria is the origin of the Tok'ra - is she not? I thought she was killed?"

"Yes. Egeria is our queen...and I know that some of our historians have speculated that perhaps Ra did not kill her, as most believed. Anise would know more."

"Then the queen the Pangarans are breeding is not a Goa'uld - she is Egeria of the Tok'ra!" Teal'c said.

"Yes, and we must go to them immediately and put an end to their mistreatment of her. We will not allow it!"

Daniel nodded. "We should go and tell Sam and Jack at once, then they can inform the Pangarans."

They all hurried to meet the two other members of SG-1.

"This sounds like it could be a problem." O'Neill said.

"You're sure it's Egeria they are breeding?" Sam asked.

"Yes, Samantha. The writing in the chamber is very clear. It is Egeria." Martouf said.

"From what we have been able to translate, Ra used this planet as a base of operations in this part of the galaxy, until Shak'ran captured in from him in battle."

"Presumably this is the act that led to Shak'ran's downfall some centuries later. He must have been weakened by reprisal attacks, and this lead Apophis to take a chance and destroy him." Teal'c added.

"Yeah. I guess you don't piss off the Supreme System Lord without some sort of punishment?" O'Neill said.

"We must inform the Tok'ra High Council. The Pangarans must be made to release Egeria immediately." Lantash pointed out, having been given control. "They will not be pleased if the Pangarans does not agree to our demands."

"I understand...and those on Tretonin would die anyway, if they continue breeding Egeria until she is dead. I doubt they will be able to find an antidote soon, unless Malek and Anise are able to come up with something." Sam pointed out.

"Then I suggest we go talk to the Pangarans now. We can inform Malek and Anise on the way. The Tok'ra High Council can be informed afterwards - let's give the Pangarans a chance to show their good faith first." O'Neill said.

A little later. SG-1 and Martouf/Lantash were in the laboratory where the two other Tok'ra worked on the Tretonin.

"It is hard to believe." Malek said.

"Yes." Freya agreed. "There were those who said Egeria had not been killed, but we did not dare hope she would ever be found."

"She must be freed immediately, of course. Every moment she is kept like this is an affront to the Tok'ra." Malek sounded as angry as Lantash.

"Of course. We are on our way to talk to the Pangarans. However, they will most likely want something in return for freeing Egeria...how are your research into an antidote coming?" Sam asked.

"It seems, unfortunately, to be more problematic than we had hoped to reverse the effect of the drug." Malek said.

"Why?" O'Neill wondered.

"There is something unusual about the symbiotes, aside from their lack of knowledge and mental development."

"The Tretonin should work much better than it does - and as I said, the symbiotes should eventually learn. We do not understand why either is the way it is." Anise said.

"We believe there may be defects in their genome - perhaps deliberate ones." Malek added.

"But can we tell the Pangarans that you will eventually solve this?" O'Neill asked.

"Currently we can only say that it is a mystery." Malek admitted.

"Just like that...all of a sudden you have no idea how to solve this...a bit suspicious, isn't it?" O'Neill said.

"I understand the implication, Colonel. This revelation about Egeria is in no way affecting our analysis of the Tretonin."

"The fact that we cannot currently help the Pangarans mean we have nothing to offer them in return for Egeria's freedom. Do you not think we would do all that is in our power to solve this and see Egeria free?" Lantash pointed out, clearly angered by O'Neill's implication.

O'Neill looked a bit guilty. "I suppose..."

The meeting with the Pangarans went as expected. They would not free Egeria unless the Tok'ra brought them either an antidote for Tretonin or a Goa'uld queen.

"I am sorry, but you ask the impossible." Tegar said.

"She is our queen. We demand her release. It is not open for negotiation." Malek was very angry.

"Freeing her would mean the death for many thousands of our people. I am sorry..." Dollen said.

"Her existence is a miracle to the Tok'ra. We would no longer be a dying race if her health could be restored." Anise added.

"She is a sentient being. Using her in this manner is an insult to our very existence!" Lantash said, furious.

"Dollen...Tegar. Please understand...would you not be angry if you had just discovered that the founder of your race had been used for medical experimentation in almost 50 years?" Sam pointed out.

"If she is freed now, she has a very good chance of recovering. If she is kept in a healing chamber for maybe half a year, she would be restored to health. Or, preferably, if she were to be given a willing host, she would heal very much faster - weeks, instead of months. She would then again be well and able to spawn Tok'ra - to save our people!" Malek said.

"She would be restored to health if she were put in a host?" Sam asked.

"Yes, almost certainly...but it would have to be now. Waiting diminishes her chances drastically. Soon it will be too late and she would not be able to survive taking a host, without some period of recuperation in a healing tank first. Even that may soon be too late." Anise said, her eyes flashing angrily as she looked at the Pangarans.

"I am afraid that is impossible until you have either developed a drug to reverse the effects of Tretonin - or brought us another Goa'uld queen." Tegar said.

"Egeria is NOT a Goa'uld!" Lantash was quickly loosing patience with these people, and only Sam's hand on his arm stopped him from grabbing Tegar.

"You do not understand - there is no time. As I said, this is a miracle - a chance for our people to survive and grow strong. It is also in your own interest that we are a force to be reckoned with in the fight against the Goa'uld." Freya said, almost pleading.

While they continued arguing, Sam left the room. She needed to think, and she did that as she wandered the corridors of the facility. Eventually she found herself outside the door to Egeria's room.

She hesitated shortly, then felt for her zat'nik'tel. It was where it should be. She closed her eyes for a moment, trying to focus. Could she do this? The Colonel would not understand her. He would probably yell at her - to hide he was worried for her. Daniel would not like it, he would be reminded of what had happened to Sha're, but he would eventually understand. Teal'c would respect her choice...the Pangarans...they would be angry, but...the more she thought about it, the more she was sure of what she should do. It was the only right choice. The Tok'ra needed their queen, and if she was freed now, Egeria would probably live and be restored to health. She was a sentient being, and from what Sam knew from Jolinar, she was a kind and wise person. She took a deep breath and opened the door. The guard inside immediately turned to see who it was. Sam stunned him before he had time to say or do anything.

She walked to the tank Egeria was imprisoned in. The symbiote raised her head and looked at Sam...questioningly - and sadly, Sam felt.

She walked closer, to stand just beside the tank. She hesitated for a brief moment, then decided to go through with it before she lost her courage. She reminded herself that this was the only morally correct choice to there was to be made. Egeria was Tok'ra - and Sam had long since forgiven Jolinar. She even missed her...

Egeria looked at Sam as she lifted the lid.

"Hello, Egeria. I...I am Major Samantha Carter of the Tau'ri. I am the former host of Jolinar of the Tok'ra. I...I volunteer to become your host." Sam straightened up and held her head near the top of the tank, opening her mouth. She saw the symbiote begin to move.

Moments later Sam was thrown back by the force of the symbiote. She felt something slide over her lips, immediately followed by a gagging sensation, and then a sharp pain in the back of her throat. She passed out as she sank to the floor.

A little while later.

The guard had just gotten back on his feet after being stunned. He almost immediately saw Sam lie on the floor. As he hurried to her, drawing his weapon in case it was a ruse, he noticed the symbiote was no longer attached to the external womb in the tank. In fact, he could not see it anywhere. Nervously looking around him, he quickly made sure Sam was alive, then withdrew towards the door. He expected the symbiote to jump him at any moment. When nothing happened, he decided it was probably in Sam, and hurried out to report it to his superiors.

He ran into the negotiation room.

"Commander, there has been a security breach in the manufacturing room. The queen is gone!"

"What!" Tegar said. The Tok'ra looked extremely unhappy. What had happened to their queen? Was this some sort of scheme from the Pangarans, to avoid handing over Egeria?

Everyone hurried to Egeria's room. Teger entered it first, followed by SG-1 and the Tok'ra.

Tegar quickly took in the scene and realised what had happened. "Your Major Carter has doomed tens of thousands of Pangarans to death with her reckless actions! We demand the immediate return of the queen."

Seeing Sam lying motionless on the floor, Martouf ran to her side. "Samantha!" He bent down to feel her pulse, then was relieved as he felt it. He could feel a much stronger signal from her than usual, confirming that she now had a symbiote again. It was obvious she was now host to Egeria, their queen.

*This is very strange, Lantash...*

*I agree. I dearly hope Anise and Malek were correct in their estimate, and Egeria is still strong enough to survive and be restored to health. Loosing both her and Samantha would be too much to bear.*

*Yes. Hopefully they will be fine.*

*I believe it is actually a good sign they are still unconscious. They seem calm and stable. Egeria will need to spend some time fully focused on healing, if she is to be well. If they were dying, Egeria would attempt to wake them, I am sure, to talk to us.*

Meanwhile, the other had approached as well.

"Dammit, Carter!" O'Neill sounded frustrated. "Why did she have to do this? I thought she was the last one who would ever do this, after what Jolinar did."

"She has freed Egeria - given her a chance to live. The Tok'ra owe her thanks." Malek said.

"Indeed. She did the morally correct thing." Teal'c observed.

"Morally correct! She is a mass murderer!" Tegar shouted, furious.

"You will cease referring to Samantha in such a manner, immediately." Lantash said, having taken control. His eyes glowed with a white-golden light, and he would likely have hurt Tegar, had Daniel not grabbed his arm.

"This leads to no where. Sam did what she did, and that is what we must deal with." Daniel turned to Anise. "Will she...will they be all right?"

Anise had been running a scanner over Sam/Egeria. "Yes. I do believe they will. Egeria is currently drawing strength and healing herself. They will awaken when she has repaired the damage from the last many years of medical experiments." Her eyes flashed angrily as she looked at first Tegar, then Dollen. The latter flushed a bit and looked down, obviously embarrassed.

"She's drawing strength from Sam? Will it harm her?" Daniel wondered.

"She is - and no, Major Carter will suffer no permanent damage. If Egeria is able to reverse the damage, they will wake up. I estimate this will take several hours, perhaps the rest of the day, as the injuries to her was extensive. They will then need several weeks to recuperate, but after that they will be fine. If all goes well I expect Egeria should be able to spawn the first batch of healthy Tok'ra larvae in at most 3 months."

"Well, you better start looking for a new host immediately, then, because she's not using my second in command for that!" O'Neill sounded somewhat disgusted.

"I am afraid that will not be possible." Anise said.


"Because of Egeria's condition at the time of blending, it would most likely kill them both if she attempted to leave Major Carter. It will be at least a couple of years before it is possible. Leaving a host without killing him or her is...difficult. Even under the best of circumstances changing hosts should not happen more than once a year - at most." Anise explained.

"There is also another matter. When host and/or symbiote is weakened or in need of immediate healing upon blending, this blending is necessarily very deep. It would be psychologically very...difficult for Samantha to be unblended - as bad as if they had been blended for many years, and she suddenly was alone. It is not recommended." Lantash said, joining in the discussion.

"So what you're saying is...this is permanent? I won't accept that!" O'Neill said with determination.

"Listen, I'm sorry to interrupt you, but shouldn't we get Sam home to the infirmary? Have Janet take a look at her?" Daniel said.

"She cannot be moved until Egeria has finished healing. Doing so might kill them." Lantash pointed out.

"We will call for a Tok'ra healer. He or she will do what can be done, but ultimately it is up to Egeria to save them. When they hopefully wake up, and are well, they will, of course, go home with us, to the tunnels. Major Carter is now host to our queen, so she cannot stay at the SGC." Malek said.

"And what about us? If you leave with the queen, then what happens to those of our people taking Tretonin?" Dollen asked. "She is staying here!"

"If what you said was correct, and she will be in 'optimum conditions' in a host, we should be able to continue using her to breed symbiotes when she is healed. Which should be soon, right?" Tegar said. "This may actually turn out to our advantage."

"Are you considering continuing to breed our queen and crush our brethren to make drugs?" Malek was furious, just barely restraining himself.

Lantash had had enough of the Pangarans, and grabbed Tegar, pushing him hard up against the nearest wall. "You will not use my Samantha...nor my queen, for that...or I swear I will squeeze the life out of your misearable..." his fingers was about to close around the mans throat, when Anise and Teal'c pulled him away from Tegar.

"You know, I actually agree with Lantash here why did you not let him continue - for just a little while longer?" O'Neill looked ready to take over where Lantash had left off.

"Let's take a break, everyone? Why don't we go somewhere else and wait for Sam/Egeria to wake up? We can have both Janet and a Tok'ra healer keep an eye on her. They can call us if something happens. OK?" Daniel suggested.

The Tok'ra,  O'Neill, and Teal'c still eyed the Pangarans with a slightly murderous look, but everyone eventually agreed to the sense in Daniel's idea. The Pangarans were slowly starting to realise that they were antagonizing both the people from Earth and the Tok'ra - who were actually their only hope for an antidote.

"We will stay here and look after Samantha until the healer and your doctor arrive." Martouf said. He had taken control, since Lantash had agreed he was the more diplomatic of them.

After Egeria had jumped into Sam, she had immediately done a full blending, and connected deeply. She would need it to have the strength and have a chance of surviving and restoring her health fully. It had been a very near thing. In a very short time the damage to her systems would have been so severe that she would have needed to spend time in a healing chamber before being strong enough to survive taking a host. As it was, though, she was confident she would make it.

*Samantha? I am Egeria. I am very grateful for you volunteering to be my host and freeing me from my prison.*

*Hello, Egeria...* Sam sounded a little apprehensive.

*You need not worry, I am not a Goa'uld...but you already knew that...*

*Yes...it's just...as I told you, this is not the first time...I was a host to Jolinar before, for a short time...and...and it was...an accident.*

Egeria 'nodded'. *Yes. You were host to my dear friend Jolinar. An involuntary host...how did this happen?*

*Please, we are blended now - look through my memories, I don't mind. Jolinar died to save my life...and I have long since forgiven her for taking me as host. She did what she had to do - it was an emergency, and I fully understand. This time I am a willing host, and I realise you will not be able to leave me for several years...that you will most likely never leave me, and we will be blended for the rest of my life...I can and will share fully with you.*

*Thank you.* Egeria gave Sam a warm hug. *I am certain we will become very good friends.*

*Yes...Egeria...will you...we be all right?*

*We will. Do not worry. You were unconscious for almost 4 hours after our initial blending. During that time I was able to repair most of the damage to my body. The rest I will heal when I have rested for a little while. I am sorry that I did not inform you first, but I kept you unconscious then since I did not wish you to suffer, should I fail in healing myself.*

*Thank you...I guess.*

Egeria spent some time going through Sam's memories of her experience with Jolinar, and then looking at some of Jolinar's memories. They talked a little about it, Egeria telling Sam a little about how Jolinar was when she knew her.

*Samantha. I regret that I did not have the opportunity to meet Jolinar again. She was a very good friend...the best I have ever had...as well as a loyal, competent ally. You share many of her traits...and the way Jolinar died in you means she left all her memories and feelings, all that she was - in you. Despite the fact that you can only consciously access a little of it, it still affects you. It has changed you, more than you may wish to admit, I can see that...I hope this is not distressing for you. And...don't take this the wrong way, but in some things you are her...in some small way it is as if part of Jolinar is with me...because I see some of her in you.*

*I knew that already - my friends even sometimes notices it when I do not. It is not a problem for me anymore. I have accepted this part of Jolinar as a part of myself. I am not the same person I was...before...there are some things I dislike now that I liked before, and vice versa. Usually, I am able to hide how much it has changed me...wait...Egeria...did you say Jolinar left a copy of all her memories?*

*Yes. All her memories, all her feelings, all that was her. Given how many years of memories she had, it is a good thing most of it is not accessible to you. You would have become Jolinar, with a very small part of you being Samantha...*

*Of course, because she lived for so much longer than I have, she would have many many more memories than I have. To some degree, we are the sum of our memories...in many ways at least...another thing, could you call me 'Sam', instead of 'Samantha'? Very few call me 'Samantha'.*

*Certainly...as it is, Sam...it is fortunate that you have Jolinar's memories. I will be able to access them and gain knowledge of what has happened to the Tok'ra in much of the time since I was placed in stasis. I will need that to assure our children have all the knowledge they need.*

*Um...just one thing here...how will that affect me? If you access her memories...I mean...will I disappear? Become Jolinar?*

*No, no...do not worry. It will not change you. I will block it all from you. There may be some small lingering change in me, but nothing of importance. Jolinar was a good Tok'ra...a good person. It will not be a problem.*

Sam 'nodded', somewhat reassured, and fell asleep while Egeria assimilated Jolinar's memories. When she awoke several hours later, she found that Egeria had fallen asleep after absorbing all the information, and even finding the strength to heal the rest of the damage. Sam felt tired as well - and hungry, since it had taken a lot of energy for Egeria to heal.

Sam listened. She heard only few sounds - unfamiliar ones. She probably still was in the laboratory on Pangar. Somewhere close she sensed a symbiote - it was a familiar one, she believed. Opening her eyes, she smiled as she saw Martouf/Lantash sitting there on the floor near her. She had guessed correctly and it was Lantash she had sensed. They must have been waiting for her to wake up...or perhaps to see if their queen survived and woke up? She could certainly understand their interest in Egeria's wellbeing...she was the Tok'ra hope for the future. Still, Sam hoped they were also there for her sake.


"Samantha!" He smiled happily. "We have been worried. You were unconscious for a very long time...we are both happy that you are awake, and seems to be well. How is our queen, Egeria?"

"She is asleep, exhausted from healing...but she succeeded and will be fine."

"For that we are grateful..." his head dipped and when he looked up again his eyes glowed briefly.

"Samantha...what you did was extremely dangerous. We are very glad that it went well, and you survived. You have saved our queen...the Tok'ra will forever be thankful to you for that."

Sam tried to sit up, and Lantash quickly helped her. "Are you sure you are strong enough?" he asked, worriedly. He took her hand, entwining his fingers with hers when she did not pull it away.

"Yes. I'm fine. Besides, I feel ravenous hungry."

"Of course. Egeria must have used much energy healing that much damage...I am sure there must be a mess hall or something similar somewhere. I shall go and bring you something." Lantash said, getting up.

"Wait. I'm coming with you." Sam smiled at him and started to stand up, Lantash helping her.

"You are not going anywhere, my friend. Not until I say you are well enough." Janet said. Having heard voices, she had come into the room to check on Sam, followed by a Tok'ra healer.

"Janet...I didn't know you were here? And...um...Sian, I think? First healer?"

"Yes, you are correct, Major Carter." The dark-haired man smiled, obviously pleased that she recognized him. He looked at Janet. "Doctor Fraiser is right. You should not over-exert yourself. Is Egeria awake?"

"No, and I would prefer not to wake her just now. She managed to fully heal herself already, so she need to rest."

"Of course." Sian had taken out a scanner and was running it over Sam.

"So do you." Janet observed, seeing that Sam looked very tired as well. She turned to Martouf/Lantash. "Go get her some food. We're not letting her go anywhere until we have finished examining her...them. And please try avoid telling the Pangarans she is awake. I would rather not have to deal with them right now."

Lantash nodded. He smiled at Sam and gave her arm a quick squeeze, before he left to find some food.

Sam looked after him, smiling.

"Earth to Sam...are you listening?" Janet said, obviously not having been heard the first time.


"Never mind...how are you feeling? And what about Egeria?"

"I'm fine. Just a bit tired. Egeria will be all right as soon as she has rested and recuperated. She is asleep right now. Janet...you don't need to keep us here...besides, the floor is hard." Sam complained.

"Let me be the judge of that...and I didn't mean you should stay on the floor." She pointed at a bed that looked as if she had brought it from the infirmary at the SGC.

Sighing, Sam climbed up in the bed and patiently allowed Janet and the Tok'ra healer to scan and prod her. They had just finished when Martouf/Lantash came back, carrying a tray filled with food. Malek, Anise, Daniel, O'Neill, and Teal'c followed, all wanting to see how Sam and Egeria were doing.

"Did you have to bring everyone?" Janet sounded unhappy.

"You only told me to avoid bringing any Pangarans, which I did." Martouf went over to Sam. "Here. This was the best I was able to find in this place." He put the tray down on the bed.

"Thank you." She smiled at him and began eating, while Janet and the healer brought the rest of SG-1 and the Tok'ra up to speed.

"So, they're out of danger. That's great, but how do we get Carter away from the Pangarans? They're not just going to let her go." O'Neill said.

Just then, Sam's eyes glowed as Egeria woke up. After a few moments discussion with Sam, she spoke up. "I believe I can be of help with that."

The Tok'ra had immediately focused all their attention on their queen.

"Egeria...my Queen." Lantash had been standing by the bed and began to kneel down, as did Malek and Anise.

"Lantash...Malek, and Anise. Please do not kneel. You are not my servants."

The Tok'ra quickly assembled around the bed, eager to speak with Egeria. Janet, Daniel, O'Neill, and Teal'c stayed back and looked on with interest.

"Are you well, my Queen?" Malek said. Then added with some reverence. "It is an honour to meet you."

"Sam has shown me what you have accomplished, and I have also seen much from Jolinar's memories. I am very proud of what you have done. I am quite well. I will need more rest, of course, so I believe I will soon sleep some more. However, first I need to take care of the problem with the Pangarans." She put the tray with the rest of the food away, while she considered how to explain it. "The reason for the Tretonin's weakness, and why you could not develop an antidote for it - as well as why my young lack mental development - is that I sabotaged them. I introduced flaws in some of their genes. I did this in the hope that the Pangarans would stop using them for producing the drug, when it proved useless to them. Also, I wished to protect my children from being conscious of their suffering, so I sabotaged their mental development as well.  Unfortunately, instead of stopping their research when Tretonin proved untenable, the Pangarans merely continued making it - and in ever increasing quantities."

"And now they cannot live without it." Daniel concluded.

"True. That was never my intention."

"Their fate is their own doing, not yours. You merely tried to free yourself the only way you could." Malek observed.

"They do not deserve this end...not when I can prevent it."

"How?" O'Neill wondered.

"I created the flaw, I can create an antidote that will reverse the effects of the Tretonin." Egeria yawned, looking tired. "Anise, Malek...I will will go with you to the laboratory, and show you."

Janet started to protest, but thought better of it, sighed, and gave in.

"I understand your concern, but I assure you, they will be fine." Sian, the Tok'ra healer said. He then blushed a little. "I...that is we...my host Ra'if and I...we are feeling hungry, and thought you might be too? Would you perhaps like to accompany us and get something to eat?"

Janet smiled. "That sounds like a great idea. I would like that."

They left the room to find a place to eat. The others had already left, either for the lab, or to go and inform the Pangarans that their people would be saved.

Late evening.

Egeria had helped Malek and Anise perfect the formula for the antidote. Malek and Anise were still on Pangar, producing the first portion of the antidote together with the now very grateful as well as shameful Pangarans. They had given Egeria an official apology, which she had gracefully accepted. Sam/Egeria had then been allowed to go to the SGC, with the rest of SG-1 and Janet. Sian followed to keep an eye on Egeria's recuperation, and Martouf/Lantash had gone to SGC as well. Sam/Egeria would stay at the SGC for a couple weeks, while Sam sold her house and took care of any other business she had. Then they would move to the Tok'ra tunnels.

Sam/Egeria had been released from the infirmary, after Janet had made a few extra check-ups. Egeria had taken the opportunity to fall asleep again, still tired from her ordeal. As Sam left the infirmary, she saw Janet go to talk to Sian. He smiled happily at her. Neither of them seemed to hear Sam's good night, and she wondered if something was developing between them? They seemed very attentive of each other.

Sam smiled to herself. She left to go to the mess hall and get a cup of coffee and maybe a slice of pie. Daniel had mentioned they had a very good blueberry pie today.

She was only barely out of the infirmary, when she felt the energy signature of a symbiote. She had not yet quite gotten used to being able to sense them at so long a distance. Before it had only been 5-6 feet, now it was at least 50 feet. Moments later, Martouf/Lantash turned the corner of the corridor, walking towards her. She smiled at them, receiving a warm smile in return.

"Hello...Samantha." Martouf said, somehow already able to tell that it was her in control and not Egeria. It pleased her, somehow. "We were on our way to ask you if you wanted something from the mess hall before sleep-time."

"Thank you...yes, I had thought I would go and get something to eat before going to bed. Janet and Sian finally decided to release me, so I get to sleep in my own quarters tonight."

"Good. Then perhaps we can accompany you to get some food? Lantash and I are hungry as well...Samantha...is Egeria asleep again?"

"Yes. She is still exhausted from healing all the damage, but she is well otherwise. A good nights sleep and she will be well enough that we can go home to my house and start collecting what we want to bring."

"You should not go off-base alone. It is not safe. Lantash and I will be happy to accompany you...perhaps we can be of some assistance as well."

"Thank you. That would be nice, though I don't think we would be in any danger. No one outside of the Tok'ra and a few here at SGC knows about Egeria."

"Nevertheless. We would never forgive ourselves if anything should happen to you or Egeria."

Sam nodded, accepting their offer.

"We were back at the Tok'ra base shortly, earlier today. We managed to get a message through to your father. He and Selmak will return from their mission as fast as possible - within a few days. I assured them that you were well."

"Thank you. I'm glad Dad will be coming back soon, though I don't know how he will react to this."

They walked in silence most of the way to the mess hall. Sam had a lot on her mind. She did not know what to tell Martouf and Lantash. Her experiences on Netu had helped her to see things clearer and she was now certain that she, Sam, loved them. That the feelings she had did not all come from Jolinar. What she did not know was if Martouf and Lantash loved her, or only the leftover part of Jolinar. They did seem to feel something for her. She believed...hoped they wanted her for herself as well. Were it not for Egeria she might have been too nervous about what they would say to talk with them about it, at least she would likely have waited for them to say something first. As it was, she would have to talk to them soon. She had discussed it with Egeria, who had pointed out that as a queen she would need a mate, and soon. The Tok'ra needed more people, and she wanted to give birth to the first clutch as soon as she was fully well and recovered. No more than 3 months - likely less, she said.

Egeria had started to share Sam's emotions - her feelings for Martouf and Lantash - the moment they had blended, of course. The process of synchronizing their emotions would usually have taken weeks, had been great accelerated when Egeria had absorbed Jolinar's memories and feelings. She was now pushing for Sam to make a move and see if Martouf and Lantash would be interested in becoming their mates.

They had reached the mess and now sat at a table, each with a slice of blueberry pie in front of them. Apart from themselves, there was no one else in the room.

Sam was drinking a cup of coffee. Martouf did not like the taste, and Lantash also did not appreciate him drinking beverages containing caffeine or other substances which affected the body's function, however briefly. He had opted for a cup of tea.

"I do not understand how you can drink that." Martouf said, pointing at her cup, "...and Lantash says you should not imbibe substances which interferes with your body's normal chemistry."

"I know...don't worry, it won't keep me awake. I'm far too used to it...it will be hard to be without in the tunnels - perhaps I can bring some, together with various other supplies." She smiled. "Unless Egeria don't like it, of course."

Martouf nodded. "It will take some time to get used to each others likes and dislikes in food and such things. It rarely turns into a problem, though." He was quiet for a while. Obviously thinking deeply about something - or, more likely, discussing something with Lantash. "Samantha...we are very happy that you are moving to the tunnels. We look forward to spending more time with you. Our times together have been too few and far between." Reaching across the table, he took her hand.

"I agree...it will be nice to...eh...get to know each other better. I also look forward to learning more about the Tok'ra..."

"We were worried that we might loose you when you volunteered to host Egeria. Thankfully, you both survived....Lantash and I have become very...fond...of you..." he smiled a shy smile and looked down.

"I...ah...thank you. I'm very...fond of you as well...of both of you." She wanted to kick herself for not taking the opportunity to tell him she loved him...but what if they just thought of her as a good friend? And how did they feel about Egeria?

For a while, neither said anything. Martouf continued holding her hand, caressing it, and drawing circles on it with his thumb. Suddenly his eyes flashed and Lantash was now obviously in control. He smiled warmly at her.

"Samantha, what Martouf was trying to say is that we..." Lantash suddenly felt unsure of how she would react, "...that we have very...strong feelings for you... We hope that spending more time together might lead us to...more than just friendship..."

"I...I think I would like that." Sam blushed, unsure of how to respond. They sat for a little while longer, the silence growing awkward. Then Sam pushed her plate aside. "It is late. I should probably go to bed - Egeria isn't the only one who is tired, I must admit."

"Of course. Forgive us for keeping you up. Please, allow me to follow you to your quarters?" Lantash asked.

*What are you doing? She obviously wants to be alone!*

*I am only doing what you want to do as well, Martouf...if you had the courage. We both love Samantha. I believe she loves us as well - and if that is the case, then so, too, will Egeria. I am convinced we should pursue Samantha now...why else did we return home for the necklace we had bought for her?*

*Yes...but we will scare her away if we are too forceful in our courting.*

*I don't think we will. If you believe me to be in error, then leave me in control and let me attempt this. You can always blame me if she does react badly. I am certain she will not, though.*

*All right. Try then. I dearly hope you succeed.*

Sam had not expected them to suggest to follow her to her quarters, but she could not really turn them down without an excuse. Besides, she did want to talk more to them. Perhaps she would gain the courage to tell them of her feelings while they walked.

They made small talk about nothing in particular on the way to Sam's room. When they exited the elevator, Lantash put his hand lightly on the small of her back. When she did not seem to mind, he kept it there the rest of the short walk to her quarters.

"Martouf and I have something we would like to give you." He said when they stood outside her door. He opened the small bag he had and took out a gold necklace. It was simple, yet beautiful, with a single blue jewel inlaid in gold. "We would be very happy if you would accept it...the colour of the stone reminds us of the colour of your eyes, though it is nowhere near as beautiful as they."

"Thank you so much! It is very pretty. I would be happy to wear it." She smiled at him, her cheeks colouring a little.

"Then let me help you put it on." He leaned in and put the necklace around her neck, closing the clasp.

After doing so, he did not let go of her, but stayed close to her. His hands slowly caressed her neck, then slid down her back. He had a very intense look in his eyes, as he studied her, seeming to consider how to proceed.

*Lantash! We can't just start fondling her like that...as pleasant as it surely is...she will feel we have overstepped the limits...gone too far too fast. We will loose any advantage we might have gained.* Martouf complained, very worried that Sam might reject them.

*Nonsense. If she were unwilling she would have said so already.*

Lantash kept fondling Sam's back for a little while longer, then grabbed hold of her and pulled her even closer. Sam had by now closed her eyes, obviously enjoying what he did. He decided she really did want them, and gently kissed her. Sam immediately put her arms around him and returned the kiss, then ran her tongue along his lips.

Surprised, Lantash gasped. "Samantha...perhaps we should continue this somewhere...ah...more private..."

"I was just about to suggest the same thing!" Sam said, opening the door and pulling him inside.


Egeria awoke to find her host asleep in the bed in their quarters. As she stretched slightly, she felt naked skin against naked skin. She also sensed a symbiote very close by. Gently probing her hosts memories, she found to her delight that Sam had taken her advice. She had pursued Martouf/Lantash and was now sleeping in their arms. Happily - and slightly envious that she had not been awake for the first mating - she snuggled closer to her sleeping mates and soon fell asleep herself again. Tomorrow it would be her turn to be in control...