"Can we see her?" Daniel wondered hopefully.
"No, not right now," Janet told him - and O'Neill and Teal'c who stood right behind their friend. "She is very weak and needs to rest."
"But she'll be fine?" Daniel asked.
"Yes, she will. It's just going to take a little while. I've given her a sedative to help her sleep. She was very shaken up."
"Of course! First the damn snake took her, and then she almost died because another snake wanted to kill the first!" O'Neill exclaimed.
"I'm sure she's affected by that too, but she was very preoccupied with Jolinar dying for her," Janet told them. "Now go. Relax. I'll call you when Captain Carter wakes up."
"Janet?" Sam asked, weakly lifting her head to see who it was that had just entered her room in the infirmary.
"No, human. It is I."
Hearing the flanged voice Sam stared, shocked, at the man. He was wearing a BDU and looked for all the world like someone who would not have aroused any suspicion from anyone. "What?" She frowned and shook her head, trying to clear it off the effect of the drugs. "You're here to kill Jolinar too? She's already dead! Someone else... beat you to it!"
"I have come for you, Captain Samantha Carter of the Tau'ri. In the name of Apophis, I am to seize a Tau'ri for interrogation and disposal. In punishment for their crimes against the Goa'uld." He tore the blankets off Sam's bed, grabbed her, and pulled her up to a standing position.
"Apophis? He's supposed to be dead! Wait!" Sam stumbled, and her legs almost folded under her when the ashrak pushed her forward. "You can't just take me!"
The ashrak did not deign to answer that and merely pulled her along, half-carrying her out the door. They passed a couple guards that was lying on the floor. Sam could not tell if they were dead, or just unconscious.
They met no one on the way to the elevator, and the ashrak punched the button to level 28.
Sam made one, weak attempt to fight the ashrak, but quickly realized she had no chance at all of freeing herself. The energy required just to stand was making her exhausted and light-headed, and she nearly fell when the ashrak let go of her as the door opened. She leaned back against the wall, breathing deeply and trying to regain her balance. Janet had given her a fairly powerful sedative, and it was affecting her strongly - and that was on top of all else she had experienced lately.
The ashrak stepped outside. There was one guard in the corridor, and he gave him a brief look. "Lieutenant."
The ashrak nodded at the guard, and he nodded back, before going back to ignoring the newcomer.
Seconds later Sam heard a muffled cry and a thud. She pushed herself away from the wall, and looked through the closing doors of the elevator. The guard was lying on the floor, unmoving.
The ashrak stuck an arm through the gap between the closing doors and grabbed hold of Sam. He quickly pulled her out of the elevator and in the direction of the control room.
"They'll never... let you through the gate! You know that!" Sam insisted, desperately. "Never!"
Only barely conscious and leaning against the doorframe, Sam looked on as the ashrak made short work of the guard in the control room and then grabbed Technician Jefferson, who was the one on duty.
"Wait..." Jefferson began, holding his hands up in front of him as the ashrak approached.
The ashrak wasted no time on him, and knocked him unconscious, then turned back to Sam. "You will dial the address I give you!"
"I will do..." Sam concentrated, trying to form the words. "...no such thing!" Her head lolled back against the wall behind her.
The ashrak looked at her for a moment, then shrugged. "No matter." He went to the dialling computer and studied it for a minute or so, then punched in the address he wanted to go to. The Stargate started dialling, and the ashrak grabbed hold of Sam again.
The elevator opened and two guards stepped out. The ashrak shot both of them before either had time to raise their weapon.
Sam and the ashrak entered the gateroom just as the Stargate finished dialling and the wormhole activated.
Feeling her head clear a little, Sam made another weak attempt at fighting the ashrak, and briefly succeeded in making him loosen his grip on her. It lasted only seconds, though, before his grip on her was as sure as it had been before.
"Let go of her! Now!"
The ashrak turned around so he and Sam could both see that it was Daniel, and that he was aiming at them with an MP5.
"Leave now, human - or I will kill you," the ashrak told him, calmly.
"Where are you taking her? Why?" Daniel demanded, not lowering his weapon.
The ashrak did not look as if he felt Daniel deserved an answer, but he replied anyway, "She will answer for her crimes against the System Lords."
"What? Why? She hasn't done anything the rest of us haven't!"
"Very true. You are more than welcome to join her, but I am leaving. Now!" He began to turn away.
"If you move I shoot!" Daniel threatened. "Let go of her... and then you can leave!"
The ashrak seemed to think it over for a moment, then he calmly put away his gun and took Sam in a stranglehold. She made a gasping sound and pulled weakly at his hands. "If you shoot, I kill her." He threw a glance in the direction of the door out of the gateroom. He heard a sound which he recognized as that of the elevator arriving, and estimated it would be another couple minutes, at most, before more people swarmed the gateroom. He quickly tightened the grip around Sam's throat and she grew limp.
"No!" Daniel cried. "You're killing her!"
Daniel was about to press the trigger when the ashrak spoke again, "Yes, she is now dead, but Apophis has a sarcophagus." He calmly turned his back to the frustrated, but helpless Daniel and continued walking up the ramp. Moments later he - and the now dead Sam - disappeared through the wormhole. Daniel could only watch on and hope his teammate and friend would be revived.
Sam woke up as the sarcophagus opened. She felt groggy and confused, and for some reason her body did not obey when she tried to sit up.
Seconds later her body sat up anyway, completely outside of her control. She realized she sensed a consciousness - a familiar consciousness. Jolinar.
"Get up, human!" a Jaffa ordered.
*How can you be back?* Sam wondered.
*Not now.* Jolinar flashed her eyes, shocking all the three Jaffa present. "You seem to have been misinformed, Jaffa!" She quickly got out of the sarcophagus, but the Jaffa had already recovered and two zat'nik'tels and one staff weapon were now pointing at Jolinar.
"The Tok'ra was resurrected as well?" another Jaffa asked, as he walked into the room. He was clearly their superior, and had a silver forehead symbol, marking him as a second prime.
"Yes, Loh'nak," one of the Jaffa guarding Sam/Jolinar said.
"Excellent. Throw the traitor in one of the holding cells until Lord Apophis wishes to see her."
"Jolinar is alive?!" Apophis smiled widely. "That is excellent news! And if the rumours are true, and the heretic Tok'ra really allow their hosts to speak, I can even interrogate a member of the accursed SG-1! In any case, I will get my revenge on them!"
"Then you are satisfied, Lord Apophis?" the ashrak asked.
"Very much so. You have provided what I wanted and much more. You shall be richly rewarded."
"Thank you, my Lord!" the ashrak bowed, looking pleased.
Apophis turned to his Second Prime. He had still not chosen a new First Prime. "Pay twice the agreed upon sum, and escort my honoured guest to the chaapa'ai. Then have my dinner served. I wish to eat before I begin my interrogation of the Tok'ra."
*I repeat; how can you be back?* Sam asked, an indignant tone in her mental voice.
*Well, duh, but should it really have worked that long after? I thought you had to get into it fairly soon after being killed.* Sam went and sat down on the bench in the small holding cell.
*Very true, normally it is best to place the dead person in the sarcophagus after no more than an hour or so. However, it may work as long as six... seven, or even more hours after death. After that much time it is not certain to be successful, of course, but it sometimes is. In any case, it was my understanding it had not been that long.*
*No... I'm guessing three, four hours at most.*
They were both quiet for some time, before Jolinar spoke again, *I apologize for what happened. For taking you as my host, and...*
*Please stop. I don't want to hear your excuses right now!* Sam paused for a few moments. *You meant it when you said you would leave me?*
*The same, of course. That is, if we should end up living through the situation we are currently in, which is by no means certain.*
Sam snorted. *True. What do you guys do when you get captured, by the way?*
*Try to escape, if possible. If there is a Tok'ra undercover with the Goa'uld who captured the operative, then the undercover Tok'ra will attempt a rescue, if it is possible to do so without risking their own position.*
*Do the Tok'ra have anyone at Apophis's court?*
*We did, but we almost certainly do not anymore. They will have been on the ships that you blew up!*
"To defend ourselves!*
Jolinar 'sighed'. *I know. I do not blame you. I just wish it had been otherwise.*
*Perhaps we ought to cooperate. Our people, I mean.*
*Possibly a good idea, but many will be fearful. We can talk about it if we should happen to survive this.*
Sam was quiet for a few moments. *There will be no rescue attempt from the Tok'ra? I mean, otherwise, if there is no one at the court?*
*No, usually there will not. We are not powerful enough, and we are also too few to risk it. We lost many people that way in the beginning. Still... there are those who would go on a rescue mission anyway. Of course, in this case there will be none, as no one knows I am here. Or even that I am still alive.*
*Very true. Any suggestions on how to escape on our own?*
*Not right now. Apophis will have become much weakened after you blew up two of his ha'tak's and killed many of his Jaffa. His power has been waning in recent years, with other Goa'uld conquering many of his worlds.*
*How do you know all this, if you've been sitting on Nasya for months? Wasn't that what you said?*
*I have. However... I know much of what you know...* Jolinar admitted, sounding cautious.
*You are reading my mind! You promised me you would not do so again, unless it was absolutely necessary!* Sam was enraged, and rose from the bench she was sitting on, and started pacing the cell. "Damn Goa'uld!"
*There is no reason to speak out loud, and none to insult me! Do you really still think I am a Goa'uld?*
Sam thought it over. *No,* she admitted. *I suppose not. Not after... recent events... and you continuing to talk to me... and letting me have control. I do understand you're not Goa'uld. Not in the traditional sense, at least.*
*Thank you.* Jolinar sounded a bit sarcastic.
Sam sighed deeply. *In any case... why did you read my mind?*
*I did not do so on purpose. When... when I died, I had to partially blend in order to save you. Something else happened too, I think, and it looks as if many... or all... of my memories were transferred to you. You cannot easily access them, I think, but they are still there - and it will be an issue, should I leave you. In any case, that goes both ways now, and the blending is stronger, in some ways almost complete. Most of your knowledge has been... copied to me. That is why I know what happened to Apophis when he attacked your world.*
*I see. My people won't be happy about that.*
Jolinar sounded amused. *Neither will mine, but I hardly think now is the time to worry about that.*
*Agreed. Truce for now?*
*So, any plans? I don't feel like sitting here and waiting to be tortured to death!*
*Me neither. The fact that Apophis is severely weakened right now means his enemies are more likely to attack him, and his Jaffa more likely to desert him. We should be ready to act if anyone in his proximity decides to move against him.*
The Jaffa hit Sam/Jolinar behind the knees with a staff weapon, forcing them to kneel in front of Apophis.
"How good of you to join us, Tok'ra!" Apophis grinned evilly. "Now you will tell me the location of your Tok'ra base - and anything else I wish to know!"
"I will never tell you! Never!" Jolinar spat.
"Of course you will!" Apophis allowed his hand device to start glowing. "Or perhaps your host will!"
Jolinar gasped, but refused to cry out as the beam of energy from the hand device in ribbon mode hit her head. She blocked out Sam, intending to spare her from as much as possible of the torture.
Groggily, Sam and Jolinar awoke in the sarcophagus.
*I really hate this thing!* Jolinar grumbled as she got up and started climbing out of the sarcophagus.
*No argument there, though I must admit I hate what happened before even more!* Sam observed, then added quickly, *Not that I'm not grateful for what you did, for protecting me. I really am.*
*You do not know of the side-effects of the sarcophagus...* Jolinar realized.
Jolinar glared coldly at the Jaffa, but did not deign to answer. She did obey, though.
*Do you think they're taking us back to Apophis? To be tortured again?* Sam wondered, shuddering. *Wait, what side-effects are you talking about?*
*I am afraid it is likely. Most Goa'uld will torture their prisoners to death at least a couple times before tiring of it and taking a break.*
*As for the side-effects. Using the sarcophagus... drains the good of your heart. Little by little.*
Jolinar groaned and slowly sat up as the sarcophagus opened.
*Not again!* Sam complained.
*Unfortunately, we died yet again,* Jolinar observed, bitterly, as she clambered out of the sarcophagus.
"Move!" the Second Prime ordered, hitting them in the back with the tip of his staff weapon.
*I really hate that guy!* Sam told Jolinar.
*As do I.* Jolinar quickly glanced around them. *Four Jaffa, including the Second Prime. No one else appears to be around.*
*Do you think we can take them?*
Jolinar considered it. *Possibly. I would certainly be willing to try it, if we had any chance of escaping from this place. However, even if we do manage to knock out these Jaffa, the palace has many guards, even now. It is heavily fortified, with only one main way out - and I believe one or two for the servants. The chaapa'ai is almost ten of your miles away, and it is certain to be guarded.*
*You have been here before?*
*I pretended to be Apophis's underling once, a long time ago. Yes, I have been here before. If there was just some diversion, we might escape to the servants area, and get out through there.*
They now stepped out into the large corridor that led to Apophis's throne room. It was obvious they would be getting tortured again.
"I am bringing the Tok'ra Jolinar to Lord Apophis, as ordered," the Second Prime told the guards by the door.
"Understood." The guard on the left nodded to the one on the right, and they were about to open the doors, when they heard shouting from the inside, followed by other, undefinable noises.
*What is going on?* Sam wondered.
More angry voices could be heard from the inside, and then a sound that could only come from a staff weapon.
"Open the door!" the Second Prime ordered.
*Our diversion, I think.* Jolinar mentally prepared herself to take any chance they were given.
The large doors before them opened, and gave them a view of the chaotic scene inside.
Apophis was fighting with a man, who from the clothing was also a Goa'uld, perhaps a minor one. They were both grappling for each others hand devices. Around them Jaffa were fighting - some loyal to Apophis, some to the other Goa'uld.
"Our Lord needs us! Follow me!" The Second Prime raised his staff weapon and charged ahead, the other Jaffa in his group following behind. "Guard the prisoner!" he shouted back at the two guards that still stood by the door.
The Second Prime and his group were barely through the door to Apophis's throne room when one of the enemy Jaffa fired a shot from his staff weapon at them. It grazed the left arm of the Second Prime, but did not injure him much. Furious, he started shooting back.
Convinced the Second Prime and his people were otherwise engaged, Jolinar acted. The two guards had not expected her attack, and she was able to elbow the nearest hard enough in the stomach to make him double over. She quickly snatched his zat'nik'tel and fired at the other guard before he could do anything to stop her.
The Jaffa guards had both been holding their staff weapons, and they could not easily use them against an enemy standing as close to them as Jolinar was, meaning the weapons were more in the way than a help.
Jolinar swirled round and shot the other guard, who was just starting to recover from the punch to his stomach. Not taking any chances, she shot both Jaffa once more, killing them, then threw one glance at the chaos inside Apophis's throne room before running away.
They could hear the alarm sounding, and knew it was only a matter of seconds before more Jaffa would be running towards the throne room - through the corridor they were currently fleeing down.
*We need to hide somewhere - and quick!* Jolinar spotted a door and tried it. *Unlocked.*
*Wait! Careful! We don't know what's behind it - or who!*
*There are no Goa'uld or Jaffa, at least.* Jolinar opened the door and hurried inside, closing it noiselessly behind them. *Unlike those coming through the corridor right now!*
*Yes, I hear them! Sounds like they are running past, though. Thankfully.*
Sam and Jolinar waited with baited breath for several moments, before it grew quiet outside.
*How did you know there weren't any in here?* Sam wondered.
*Have you felt a sort of... tingling, humming sensation when we are close to Jaffa or Goa'uld?*
*Now you mention it... yes, I have.*
*That is the naquadah in their blood, reacting to the naquadah in our.*
*That is... really strange. But I suppose it can be useful, being able to sense them like that.*
*It can. As well as dangerous, as you might imagine.* Jolinar waited a few moments more. *I sense no one right now, so there are no Goa'uld or Jaffa within 50 feet or so. We should attempt to make our escape.*
Jolinar opened the door and snuck outside. The corridor was empty. She listened for a short time. There was still noise coming from the direction of Apophis's throne room, but no shooting, only angry voices.
*We must hurry. I believe one of the sides have won, probably Apophis's,* Jolinar observed.
They ran down the corridor as fast as they could, not meeting anyone. Jolinar made a turn, then ran down some stairs, and through another corridor.
*Are you sure this is the right way?* Sam asked.
*Yes, we should be near the kitchen, I believe. I have not been in the kitchen, of course, since I pretended to be a Goa'uld, but I am fairly certain this is where it is.*
*It does smell like food around here...*
*In here...* Jolinar ripped open a door and entered a short corridor. A scared servant ran off when he saw her.
*Do you want me to take control? Since I'm human... so we won't scare them.*
*I can pretend to be human - as you well know. However, I believe fear will serve us better.* She entered what was obviously a kitchen, and deliberately flashed her eyes at the servants in there. "Traitors are here! Show me the shortest way to the back exit, or you will regret it! I will rain fire on your miserable villages!"
"Yes, my Lord. Of course, my Lord! This way!" a terrified servant girl said.
*I can't believe that worked? Our clothing is torn and bloody, and they've never seen us before!* Sam wondered, as they followed the servant to the back exit. "How could they believe you?*
*Most of Apophis's subjects are quite convinced the Goa'uld are gods, even more so than many other humans and Jaffa in the Galaxy. They are used to being ordered around by 'gods' and besides - the way of the gods cannot be fathomed by mere humans, right?* Jolinar told her.
The servant held the back door open for Jolinar, and bowed deeply. "This way, my Lord."
"Good." Jolinar searched for something useful to say. "Your... family shall be rewarded... with good luck."
Sam 'snorted' sarcastically, but Jolinar ignored her. With a quick look in both directions, they set off through the narrow streets towards the nearby forest.
*Two guards. Doesn't look like there's any more,* Sam noted.
They had been observing the Stargate for some time, but knowledge of the power struggle in the palace did not seem to have reached the guards here.
*I have been thinking... we only saw a glimpse of the Goa'uld that was fighting with Apophis, but I am fairly sure it was Ammit. He is a minor Goa'uld, but an old ally of Apophis's. If he betrayed him, then Apophis is in a bad situation indeed! He may not have enough Jaffa to properly guard what remains of his empire, and that is why there are only two Jaffa by the Stargate - even on the world he is currently living on.*
*Makes sense. Too bad we only got a zat - it's not really a good weapon for long-range.* Sam looked at the Jaffa again. *Doesn't mean I don't think we should try.*
*No, I did not think you meant that,* Jolinar answered, mirth in her voice. *Ready?*
*Yes. As ready as I will ever be.*
Jolinar slowly moved closer to the Jaffa, hiding behind bushes and large rocks on the way. Unfortunately, there was no cover for the last 50-60 feet, so Jolinar waited until both Jaffa turned their back, then sprinted forward and fired at them as soon as she felt she was close enough that the shots would carry enough energy.
*Hah! Got them!* Jolinar told her host, as both Jaffa sank to the ground.
*Yes, I see that. Very nice!*
Jolinar shot both Jaffa again, killing them, then went to the DHD. *First a stop-over world...*
*Did you have to kill them? Wasn't it enough to just stun them?*
*Killing them was safer. We are not discussing this right now.*
Sam grumbled, but accepted it - for now, at least.
The wormhole formed and Jolinar stepped through. As soon as the Stargate deactivated, Jolinar went to the DHD to dial a new address.
*We cannot go to Earth. We don't have a GDO,* Sam told her.
*GDO? Ah, yes, to deactivate your iris,* Jolinar realized. *The Tok'ra have ships. We can travel to your world with one of those, if you want.*
*If I want? Of course I want that!* Sam insisted, hotly. She hesitated. *Though I guess it's better to wait until you've left me. They'll examine me when I return, and find you. They'll probably also be more than a little suspicious we got away from Apophis.*
*Possibly. You will know that better than I. However, I feel that I should tell you that it may take a long time for me to find a new host. Maybe months.*
*Yes, and that is not all. We are partially blended, and it will be very difficult to avoid blending fully, especially if I am not able to leave you soon.*
*Does it matter? What is blending?*
*A... merger, I suppose you could call it. We will share memories - something we already have done, even if you cannot fully access mine. Yet. When the blending is completed we will be closer to each other than any other relationship you can imagine - though we will still be separate individuals. It would be... hard for you to survive if I left after blending fully.*
*What do you mean?*
*Emotionally hard. You would feel as if you had lost a large part of yourself. That is not something you would be expected to survive - or even want to. The very few Tok'ra hosts we know of who have lost their symbiote have all killed themselves, after going mad from the loneliness. That is not all; since my memories were transferred to you the way they were, you would have problem separating them from your own. You would have a hard time telling what is you, and what is me.*
*Great! That's just wonderful! Why do these things always happen to me!* Sam complained, exasperated. Then she suddenly realized something. *And why doesn't it bother me more than it does?*
*It would seem to 'bother' you a great deal, though I understand what you mean. It is most likely due to the partial blending. As I said, host and symbiote becomes very close friends - closer than any others. It is beginning to affect us both.* Jolinar looked down at the DHD. *We should leave. I do not believe anyone saw us go through, but it is safer not to remain here for too long.*
*Where do we go, then?* Sam asked. *The alpha site?*
*The Tok'ra. I do not want to risk being locked up by your people.*
Sam was quiet for a while, then 'nodded'. *And then?*
*We look for a host. We keep doing that until we find one, or you decide you want to remain my host. In any case, we will find a way to make contact with your people. I promise that.*
*I believe you. Maybe we can suggest cooperation? Like you talked about earlier?*
*We can try. There are even some that may listen.* Jolinar dialed an address. *Ready?*