"Sorry... I'll leave you alone." Kawalsky says, turning to exit the room again.
I wipe away my tears, and raise my head to look at him. "No. It's... it's all right. I got to see him again... even if it wasn't him him, you know?" I take a deep breath and look at the quantum mirror where Jack has just disappeared. The other Jack, I remind myself.
"I understand." Kawalsky touch my shoulder, giving it a comforting squeeze. It actually helps a little... I do not feel quite so alone. "General Hammond wants to know what the Asgard told you. It looks like the Goa'uld mothership is gone, as well as all the Jaffa ground forces. So... are we safe?"
I think about it for a moment, trying to force my thoughts to our current problems. I nod slowly. "Yes, we're safe... for now. Thor... that's the Asgard I spoke with... said that his people had teleported up all the Jaffa and Apophis. They destroyed his ships, but sent Apophis and his Jaffa back to where he came from. Thor doesn't think Apophis will dare attack us again... at least he won't be able to quickly, if ever. Without his fleet, other Goa'uld may attack him. However, the Asgard can't really protect us otherwise. He said they had their own problems, whatever that means. He also said they weren't generally allowed to interfere, due to a treaty they had with the Goa'uld, so this was a one-off thing."
"Well that sucks! So there's nothing stopping some other Goa'uld from attacking us in a little while?" Kawalsky exclaims.
"Thor did mention one possibility - Earth could become a member of the 'Asgard protected planets'," I tell him.
"Okay, well, we'll just do that, then!" Kawalsky frowns, looking closely at me. "There's more to it, isn't there? Some catch?"
"Yes, there is. First, the Goa'uld system lords would have to agree to it, and second... we would not be allowed to become 'too advanced' - whatever that meant." I sigh unhappily. "I got the distinct impression we were already close to being too advanced."
Kawalsky nods. "We'd better go explain it all to General Hammond."
"You really think that's the best solution, General?" Kawalsky asks.
I look over at General Hammond. Earlier, I had told him all I had learned from the Asgard. He had then gone to a meeting with his superiors, only to return with orders to contact these Asgard again and have them try to get Earth included in the protected planets treaty.
I very much got the impression such an inclusion would come with heavy concessions, but I cannot see any better solutions. I guess I will just have to hope this is the best one.
"We don't have a choice! After Apophis's attack, most of our larger cities are in ruins, people are in panic - many of them had already been transported up to the Goa'uld ships, and those people are gone! Taken off world, no doubt to be slaves - or hosts! Our defences will take years to rebuild - and the same goes for any other country on the planet!"
Kawalsky looks shaken, but not as much as I feel. We had both been so busy that we had forgotten what had happened to the rest of the planet, I suppose.
Kawalsky nods. "I think I hadn't realized how bad it was, sir. You're right, of course. We should ask the Asgard for protection."
"Doctor Carter - since you were the one who met with them earlier, it's been decided you will go to make contact again." I nod, and General Hammond continues. "Major Kawalsky - you're given command of the new SG-1, which will consist of yourself, Major Carl Warren, Captain Coburn, and Captain Casey. Your team will accompany Doctor Carter."
"With all due respect, General, but I don't think it's a good idea to bring a military team to the Asgard homeworld," I tell him, echoing the feeling I got.
"Maybe not, but it's not open for discussion." Hammond sighs. "Our superiors doesn't think sending in one civilian scientist would make it clear to these aliens just how serious we feel this is."
"I see." I cannot say I am surprise, but I still resent that. "When are we leaving?"
"First thing tomorrow morning - if you can get the generator up and running quickly enough, so we can dial another Galaxy."
"We're turning them down?" Kawalsky asks, disbelief clear on his face.
"Yes. The Goa'uld weren't satisfied with us giving up our Stargates - both of them - they wanted us to send slaves and hosts. Not just once, but every year, and a large number of them. That's simply not acceptable!" Hammond exclaims.
"Hosts!" Kawalsky looks horrified. "I agree. That's impossible. How can the Asgard agree to those terms?"
They want hosts? And here I had been concerned we had to give up the Stargates, and all the future technologies we could find out there!
"Apparently it's because we don't have much to bargain with. After Apophis's attack, we're not exactly a threat, but the Goa'uld can still argue that we've already been allowed to advance to a point where we'd become a threat." Hammond gets a disgusted expression.
"Bullshit!" Kawalsky says.
"Besides, I got the impression the Asgard were close to overstepping the terms of the treaty they have with the Goa'uld, when they helped us," I tell them. "They can't focus completely on this Galaxy, so they have to accept some concession. I don't know what other enemy they're fighting at home, but it sounded like they were worse than the Goa'uld."
"That sucks!" Kawalsky grumbles. "So I guess we're on our own?"
"I'm afraid so." Hammond says.
"Maybe not..." I hesitate, as I remember some of what the other Sam had told me. "The other SG-1 mentioned they had met some advanced races. Like, the Tollan."
"That's true, but they also said the Tollan didn't want to share their technology." Kawalsky reminds me. "Also, we've never even met them - besides, the others didn't know where the Tollan had ended up going after their world had been destroyed."
"Right." I sigh, then remember another group of aliens we were told about too. "What about... the Tok'ra, then? Apparently Earth is allied with them, in the other universe."
"The Tok'ra? Who are they?" Hammond asks.
"Ah... they're, they're the Goa'uld resistance," Kawalsky tells him.
Hammond looks sceptical. "Do you mean they fight the Goa'uld, or that they are Goa'uld?"
"Both. Apparently there's some Goa'uld who disagree with the majority - and fight them."
"And they apparently only take willing hosts," I add, knowing how all this sounds. I have a hard time believing it myself, but the other Sam was very convincing.
Hammond looks very taken aback. "Why would anyone want to become their hosts?"
"Yeah, it doesn't sound real, does it?" Kawalsky agrees. "They did insist it was true, though, the people we met in the other reality. Anyway, even if we could trust them, we don't know where to find them. If they even exist in this universe."
"I'm more than a bit sceptical, but I suppose it can't hurt keeping an eye out for them. If we meet them, we can decide then if we can work with them" Hammond takes a deep breath. "Major - your orders are to continue looking for weapons off world... and get them, at any price."
"Um... what does that mean? Steal them?" I ask.
"If necessary." Hammond looks apologetic. It is clear he does not like these new orders.
"I thought we wanted friends out there!" I exclaim. What are they thinking?
"Doctor Carter - as a civilian, this is no longer any of your concern."
"You're transferring me off the project?" I look at him, shocked.
"No, but you'll be working exclusively on examining the objects brought back - to see how they can be put to use best."
"Weaponized, you mean." I snort. I am not even surprised anymore.
One year later.
"You have to come now!" Kawalsky exclaims.
"Just a moment..." I tell him as I try to calibrate the device.
"The Jaffa are coming through the door! We can't hold it anymore!" Coburn yells from somewhere at the other end of the corridor.
"Now!" Kawalsky insists.
"Coming..." I get up, hitting a switch on the device as I do so. It starts humming, and a glow appears around it. I briefly touch my fingers to the outer parts of the glow, then pull them back as a crackling sound is heard. "Force field is online..."
Kawalsky grabs hold of me and push me out of the door, ahead of him. Together, we run as fast as they could, Coburn, Casey, and Warren just behind us.
Staff weapon shots hit the wall beside the door, just as we throw ourselves through it, and slam it shut after us. The newly installed special locking mechanism activates, making the door at least a little more resistant to forcing it open.
Or so I hope.
We hurry on down the corridor, and reach the elevator, only to realize it is not working.
"Stairs!" Kawalsky shouts. "We have got to get to the connecting elevators on eleventh!"
"Listen... that's eight floors. We're not going to be able to make it there before..." I begin, realizing the bomb I have just activated may well go off too soon for us to escape that way. Kawalsky knows that.
"Run!" Kawasky orders, not listening to my complaints. I guess we have no choice, in any case.
When everyone is through the door, he activates the locking mechanism. I guess he hopes the doors to the staircase on the lower levels are as well and truly sabotaged as they are supposed to be. And that all the sealed bulkheads will hold - which I am sure none of us believes for a moment.
We have made it up three floors before the sound of a door being destroyed is heard. Somewhere below us, the Jaffa are shouting something, and a couple staff blasts flow up through the hole in the middle of the staircase.
"Watch out!" Warren shouts.
Hurrying on - and taking care not to be hit by the regular volleys of staff shots - we continue up the stairs. We have just passed the thirteenth floor, when the ground shakes and a rumble is heard.
"The device is starting to go off!" I exclaim. "We need to get out of here - fast! As soon as it's finished building power, it will..."
"Two more flights! And then we'd better hope the elevators on that floor works!" Kawalsky yells. "Move it, people!"
Just as we make it through the door to the eleventh floor, everything shakes with a tremor, and a crack opens barely a feet in front of us. We jump across it, and continue on.
"The elevators have power!" Coburn exclaim.
I feel relief flood me, but it is quickly gone. We are still far from safe.
We rush into the elevator car, and Kawalsky slide his access card and hit the button to the top floor. The elevator makes a creaking sound, but starts moving.
I check my watch. "The main explosion will go off in less than three minutes! When that happens, the three-four floors immediately above and below my lab will be completely destroyed!"
"Well, it's a good thing that we're already ten floors away, then!" Casey grins.
Is he stupid?
"You don't understand! It's not a normal bomb! Those floors will cease to exist! They'll be pulverized! What do you think will happen to everything above them?" I ask, rhetorically.
Kawalsky looks worried, but then he smiles. "Does that mean it's going to be as good as the self-destruct?"
"It'll be about the same - I think. It's not as certain, so I'd still have preferred to use that..." I look at my watch again, concerned. "Two minutes."
"Well, it wasn't as if that was an option," Kawalsky observes. I am guessing he thinks about how the attack started.
The first group of Jaffa had come through, in close pursuit of a team coming in hot. The Jaffa wore some sort of shielding, protecting them from the bullets coming from the soldiers in the gateroom, and they also carried canisters of a gas which knocked out everyone - except the Jaffa themselves.
The gas had spread across a few levels before someone at the base had managed to shut down the ventilation, and when our people were ready to fight back, the Jaffa had control of levels 26-28, meaning there was no way to even arm the self-destruct.
The Jaffa had managed to block off access to the levels they were in control of, and even after two days of attempting to regain control, our attempts had been unsuccessful. More Jaffa had come through the Stargate, and they had slowly, but surely extended the number of levels they held.
It is damn difficult to fight people wearing shielding you cannot shoot through, who also brings gas they are immune to - but which renders you unconscious in moments!
Our teams have managed to bring back a good number of alien devices over the past year that has passed since Apophis attempted his attack, but no real weapons.
However, there were a couple of them that I had a feeling could be combined to produce a fairly effective bomb, and I succeeded. With the addition of one of the enhanced shields taken from one of the Jaffa our guys have succeeded in killing, it will even be tamper-proof. I think. I hope.
The Jaffa will not be able to stop the explosion - if they even guess it is a weapon.
"Let's hope everyone else has made it out," Warren says, calling my attention back to the present.
"I'm fairly sure we're the last - aside from the Jaffa." Kawalsky looks impatiently at the light that indicates what floor we are at. The elevator continued moving upwards, slowly, but steadily. Now and then it creaks, as a tremor hits from the overloading device below. Finally, we reach the top floor, and the doors open. "Okay, guys. Move it - run!"
The floor shakes up here as well, but thankfully there are no Jaffa. Just as we reach the exit, we meet General Hammond.
"I'm assuming the rumbling we're hearing means you were successful, Doctor Carter?"
"Yes - and we've got seconds - at most - before it blows!" I exclaim.
"The helicopter is waiting for us - this way."
"As far as we have been able to tell, we were successful in collapsing the entire structure of Stargate Command," I say.
"So Cronus won't be able to use the Stargate?" Kawalsky asks.
"No, but the Stargate is almost certainly intact. Given time, he can dig it out - but he has to get here some other way first," I explain.
"Which he soon will," a voice says.
We all turn to look who it is that has just entered through the door.
"Who are you, and what do you mean by that?" Hammond demands.
"I am Doctor Rodney McKay, astrophysicist. I usually work at area 51, but I was sent here to Washington because we've detected what we think is a fleet of ships. Motherships."
"Motherships!" Kawalsky exclaims.
"Do they belong to Cronus?" Hammond ask.
"How should I know? They're still outside the orbit of Saturn!" McKay says, looking affronted, somehow.
"It's most likely Cronus's ships - since he's the one who has been attacking us through the Stargate," I observe.
"Who cares what Goa'uld it is! The ship will be here tonight! We're doomed!"
"Get down!" Kawalsky shouts.
A volley of staff blasts flies over our heads, just as we dive down behind some rubble.
Warren sticks his head out and makes a quick check. "Ten Jaffa in front of the door to the warehouse, five more approaching from the right - about 100 feet away."
"Damn!" Kawalsky swears. "You sure the weapon is in there, Sam?"
"Yeah, unfortunately." I look down at the MP5 I am holding. Over the last year, I have been taught how to use it - something I would have forsworn ever having to earlier.
"Okay, we'll find a way to get you in there. How long will you need to get it operational?" Kawalsky asks, as he presses the button that will blow up the claymores we have planted.
Four of the Jaffa are close enough to be thrown into the air when they explode.
"I don't know... an hour?
"You've got to do better than that! If we get half an hour before more bad guys arrive, we'll be lucky!" Kawalsky jumps up from his hiding place and fires at an approaching Jaffa. They have regrouped after the explosion, and are now coming at us again.
Warren pulls the split out of a hand grenade and throws it in the direction of the Jaffa that are coming from the right.
The weapon I am supposed to activate, is a slightly modified version of a device that has been found on another planet - I think it is called Sertes. It had been used to protect that world against the meteor swarms that are frequent there. I am not exactly proud of the fact that Earth has stolen it, nor is Kawalsky, I know, but the orders were to take anything which might be used against the Goa'uld.
I think about the handful or so of other researchers I have been working with on this project, and what might have happened to them. None of them could be contacted earlier, but I guess I can hope they just fled.
I push those thoughts aside, and think about the alien device we had worked on. We have changed it, so it no longer just functions as a deflection shield, but actually sends out pulses of shock energy - which should theoretically be able to bring down something as large as a mothership.
Of course, we have not been able to test it, since we did not have enough weapons grade naquadah to power it. Now we do. SG-2, SG-3, and SG-4 led a strike team to a downed cargo ship, and lucked out when they found a stash of naquadah.
They managed to bring back enough naquadah to power the weapon, though most of them died securing that naquadah for us. One more reason we must succeed in bringing down Cronus's mothership - so their sacrifices has not been in vain.
"I'll try!" I say, as I fire my rifle at a Jaffa, and hit him.
It was not long ago I would have been surprised by seeing the Jaffa fall, but no longer. I have gotten quite experienced at shooting at enemy soldiers - something I even a year ago would never have thought would happen.
I briefly reflect what Jack would have said, and decide he would probably have approved. He always felt everyone attached to the Stargate project should be able to defend themselves. It was one of the things we disagreed on, but now I can see it from his side.
It has been a year, but the thought of Jack dead, still makes my heart ache. The pain has dulled, especially with everything else that has happened, but it is more than I can afford right now. I need my focus clear, so I push the dark thoughts aside, and throw a look at the small anti-gravity sled with naquadah that is standing beside me, before I shoot the next Jaffa.
Beside me, Kawalsky and Warren - the two last survivors of SG-1 - each kill a Jaffa as well. We have all gotten very good at killing people, with all the practise we have gotten since Cronus attacked three days ago. There was a time, not long ago, when I was deeply affected, almost in shock by killing someone, even an enemy Jaffa. Now I just feel numb. It has been three horrible days.
I know this lack of feeling is not a good sign, and that I will probably pay for it if we survive, but right now I am grateful for it.
"Hurry up, Sam!" Kawalsky yells as he runs into the room. "We can't hold them back!"
He and Warren slams the door and bars it, hoping it will keep the Jaffa out long enough for me to finish the adjustments.
"Almost finished!" I connect a few more wires, then throw the switch. Nothing happens. Crap! I re-check the wiring. All looks correct.
Frantically, I look over the entire confused mess of human and alien components. There has not exactly been time to think of anything but functionality. Now this comes back to bite my ass.
It takes longer than we can really afford, but eventually I find what I think is the problem. I haphazardly pull two components closer together, so the remaining piece of wiring can reach between them. This time the device makes a humming sound as it powers up, and the parabolic antenna folded out.
My hands shake, so relieved am I, but I cannot relax. The Jaffa can get through that door at any time.
I quickly start to calibrate the targeting. I looked at the screen and frown. This is not good! I turn a knob and frown again. Definitely not good.
"It's ready! It's just that..."
"Fire it, then!"
I do not know how to tell them. Part of me just wants to give up. Sit down and cry, perhaps. That I cannot do. They depend on me, and I must not let them down. Besides, all is not lost.
The simplest is just to tell them as it is, and I do. "Cronus has moved his mothership - or we miscalculated the distance earlier. It's within range - but only barely. I can't be sure it'll destroy the ship."
"What! Do you mean this was all in vain?" Kawalsky stares at me, disbelieving.
I cringe. I very much understand how he feels. All the losses - and whatever happens now, we will probably be captured and killed in any case.
"Well, no, we'll definitely damage it, but I'm just not sure the focus of the blast will hit the ship - and if it doesn't, the damage may not be enough to destroy it. Incapacitate it for a while, sure, but..."
"The door is buckling! The Jaffa are coming through!" Warren shouts.
"It'll have to be enough. Fire it. Now!" Kawalsky orders.
I hesitate for a brief moment, then pull a lever and hit a button. The pitch of the sound the device makes increases. "Okay, it'll fire in one minute. We need to take cover!" I activate the control that makes the roof begin to retract over the weapon. It starts with a grinding noise.
We run to the crates that stand in a corner, and hide behind them. We have only just ducked down below them, when the large weapon reaches full power, and fires off an enormous shock wave. It is the first of several. The whole room shakes under the power that is released.
The Jaffa knocks down the door and a large group of them pours into the room, just as the weapon fires off the sixth - and it turns out last - blast.
"Kree! Surrender at once in the name of your Lord Cronus!"
The device starts shaking, and smoke erupts from it. That cannot be good.
"That's what I was afraid of..." I frown. "It's overloading. Keep your heads down!"
I have barely finished speaking, before there is a loud explosion, and the roof and wall starts to come down around us.
"Sam?" Someone says, and prods me gently.
"Yes..." I answer, opening my eyes slowly.
The air is full of dust, and there is an unpleasant, acrid smell.
"Thank god! I've tried waking you for almost an hour!"
It is Kawalsky. I feel relief wash over me that he, at least, has survived too.
I take a deep breath, and immediately starts coughing. The pain is excruciating, and I groan before spitting out a small amount of blood. I try to move, only to find I am stuck under some sort of rubble. A sharp pain tears through my left leg, and I gasp. I immediately stop trying to move.
"I'm stuck under something..." I try to turn a bit, so I can see Kawalsky, but I am unable to.
"Yeah, so am I. I think most of the roof came down on us."
"Dead. Same goes for the Jaffa, I think. At least no one else has moved in the time we've been here."
I nod. Stupid, as it sounds like he is lying with the top of his head towards mine, and can no more see me, than I can him.
I make a check of myself, moving the various parts of my body. Everything hurts, but some places more than others.
"I think I'm mostly unharmed - except that I think I've cracked - or broken - a couple ribs. Also, I'm coughing up blood. Only a little, but that can't be good. Hurts like hell, too."
"One of the broken ribs probably bruised a lung. It's bad, but if we're lucky you'll be okay. What about the leg? The one that's stuck under the rubble?"
"I can feel it, but I can't move it."
Kawalsky nods. "Can you sit up? Push the rubble away?"
"I'll try, but I doubt it. What about you?" I again try to turn and look at him, and again I give up, when the pain from my stuck leg tells me not to pull at it.
"Not so good. I've got a roof beam or something lying across my chest, pinning me down. I can't see further than that, but I think both my legs are broken by something."
I try to hide my fear that he, too, will die... that I will be all alone.
"Crap. Crap! We don't even know if we succeeded in bringing down Cronus's mothership!" I manage to sit up, and try to push at the rubble that has fallen on my leg. There is one big piece of roof, I think, and it does not budge. With an exasperated moan, I give up. "We'll just be stuck here until we die - unless the Jaffa finds us first! We've failed miserably!"
"I, for one, are going to assume we succeeded!" Kawalsky says. "If we brought down his mothership, and SG-5 to 9 manages to sabotage the other ha'tak, then we'll just have to mop up the Jaffa, and then we're rid of the snakeheads! Besides, I still got my MP5."
I snort at that. "What good is that going to do? As for the sabotaging the other ship? That's a pretty big if, you know that. Their plan was more insane than ours - and how are you going to fight all those Jaffa? Apophis got much of the planet's defences and military forces last year, and whatever we'd managed to rebuild, Cronus took out this time! Besides, the last intel we got says Cronus have got another three ships of the same size! What's stopping him from sending them here?"
"At some point I'm sure the Goa'uld will decide we're just too much trouble." Kawalsky makes a sound that seems to be a cross between a laugh and a cough. "Stop being so negative!"
"I hope you're right. I really do! It's just..."
"Kree! Tau'ri, shel-norak. Kree!"
"Jaffa. Damn it!" Kawalsky swears. "Kree yourself!" he yells. I hear him move, and he cocks his MP5. "Well, you're not going to take me alive!" He shoots in the direction the voices are coming from.
The Jaffa shout something at each other - I have no idea what - and a moment later there is an explosion of light, and a piercing sound. Then all becomes black.
"Augh! Do you have to throw me in here?" I exclaim, as I hit the wall.
"Quiet, Tau'ri slave!" the Jaffa shouts, slamming the door to the cell shut behind me.
I hear it lock, and then the rhythmic thumping of the Jaffa as they march down the corridor, then leaves the area. All becomes quiet.
I grimace as I move around, trying to find a position that does not hurt. I do not know if my ribs or my left leg hurts the most. There is an ugly, bleeding gash across my leg, but at least there is no open fracture. I guess I should be grateful for that.
When I had just woken up, I had been blind, but the effect was temporary. I already knew that, since she I had realized it was a shock grenade. While I have not been exposed to them before, I have heard about them from the various SG teams.
Kawalsky and I were transported here in some sort of vessel, but we were separated before either of us had gotten our vision back, so I do not know what has happened to him.
I look at the walls; they are golden, and fit exactly the descriptions I have gotten of holding cells in Goa'uld motherships - and palaces. Since Cronus is unlikely to have built a palace in his own style here yet, this means at least one of his two motherships is intact, or mostly so.
I feel certain the one I fired the alien weapon at would have had to have been at least severely damaged. I assume the ship I am - probably - on now is the other one, and that the sabotage mission failed. I wonder what happened to SG-5, SG-6, SG-7, SG-8, and SG-9? Were they all killed? Did some or all of them get away? Were they captured? Though, if the latter was the case, they would probably be in here with me.
It has been several hours since I last saw anyone, and in that time I have just been lying on the floor of the cell.
No one has come to tend to my wounds, or even to bring me food or water. I am starting to wonder if they do not care, or if they are doing it on purpose, hoping it will weaken me, and perhaps make me more likely to talk when they start interrogating me.
Every so often, something in the wall makes an annoying, buzzing sound, and that kept me awake for a long time before I eventually succumbed to pain and exhaustion and dozed off.
I am half-asleep, when someone suddenly opens the door, waking me. I look up at the man standing at the door.
"Kawalsky!" I gape at him. "You're okay!" I suddenly noticed the Jaffa behind him - and the strange clothes he is wearing. A colorful tunic, with an armour on over it, and wrist guards?! And a short cape?! "What is going on...?"
He smirks, an arrogant expression spreading across his face. "Stupid Tau'ri! She thinks I am her friend!" He laughs. "I am not 'Major Kawalsky'. I am Lord Deimos! Cronus graciously gave me this host - and I have acquired a lot of information from his mind."
"You're... a Goa'uld," I realize, horrified. I feel sick thinking of what has happened to Kawalsky. Is he even in there anymore?
Suddenly, I am struck by fear of what will happen to me. Will I be made a host as well? Go through life, imprisoned in my own body, while someone else walks around as me, no doubt committing atrocities...
"Yes, dim one." His smile widens, but does not become any less disturbing. "As I said, there was much interesting knowledge in my new host's mind - including the plans for some of your foolish, traitorous 'SG teams' to sabotage this ha'tak! They have been caught, and they will die. Eventually!" His eyes suddenly flash, as he becomes angrier. "You are the cause of the cowardly attack on Cronus's flagship! Because of you, thousands of your kind will die, as punishment! Further thousands will die in the mines, and during the construction of new ships for the glory of your master! You, yourself, will receive your punishment. In due time."
He turns on his heel and leave, not giving me a chance to reply. Stunned, I just stare after him. To hear such hateful words come from one you considered a friend, is shocking. Horrifying.
I awake from a confused dream, when the door is again slammed open. I think it is many hours later, but I cannot be sure. When I wake, I am bathed in sweat, and shivering - feverish. Like from an infection to one of my injuries, coupled with the shock and exhaustion.
"You are getting a cellmate, human!" The Jaffa laughs loudly. He pushes a young woman forward, hard, and she stumbles into the cell, falling just beside me.
The Jaffa leave behind a bucket of water, and what looks to be part of a loaf of bread, then leave.
I pull myself up a little, wincing at the pain. I really want to see who my new cellmate is, but more than anything, I want to get some water to drink.
I make it to the water bucket, and drink greedily, then turn to look at the other woman.
The newest arrival does not move, but just moans softly.
"Hey... how are you?" I ask, worried.
The other woman groans, but manages to turn over on her side, then roll further on to her back. I gasp as I see how badly injured she is. Her shirt is torn, and now fall aside, so I can see she has gashes and livid marks over much of her upper body. She has a bloody lip, and her left eye is so swollen it is almost completely shut.
I look past the injuries, and see it is a beautiful, young woman, perhaps a few years younger than me, with blond hair. The one eye that is not swollen shut, is blue, like my own. I am stricken by the fact that she actually resembles me... quite a lot.
Why would anyone... torture someone like her? Who is she? I wonder if she is from Stargate Command, but I do not recognize her. Is it just some poor soul who was at the wrong place at the wrong time and got captured? Punished for her bad luck? Or is she an agent, working against the Goa'uld?
Is she even from Earth?
"Ro... Rosha. My name is... Rosha." She takes a deep, wheezing breath, which cause her to cough. That does not sound good.
"I'm Samantha Carter, but people usually call me Sam," I tell her.
Rosha nods weakly. "Greetings." She closes her eyes again, and tries to find a more comfortable position.
That choice of words and her name make me suspect she is not from this planet, though I guess she could just be from another country. Why did I think Cronus only attacked the US? I wonder if one of the other countries has sent her, in an attempt to get some information.
"I'll get you some water."
I drag the bucket a little closer, then use the ladle that is in the bucket to scoop up water to Rosha, who drinks some of it.
"Thank you, Sa... Samantha."
"Just call me Sam, it's easier." I make a movement I should not have, and gasp as a stab of pain emanates from the area along my injured ribs.
"You are injured as well."
"No kidding, but not as badly as you. What happened? Why were you taken here?"
Rosha is quiet for so long, that I wonder if she has fallen asleep, or if she does not want to answer. "You are one of... the Tau'ri... who were behind... the attack. On Cronus."
Tau'ri? She is definitely not from Earth, then!
"Yes. I helped get the weapon we used to work."
Rosha smiles. "Cronus was furious. It was a joy... to see."
"You were near him when we shot down his ship?"
"Yes. Unfortunately, he... he was not on it. He was overseeing... a building being... converted to... a temporary palace for him. I would gladly... would gladly have died, if it... had only rid the Galaxy of him!"
I can hear the passion in Rosha's voice, and I do not for a moment doubt that she means it. One thing is certain; whomever she is, she is less afraid than I am. I wonder... is she an agent from some world that fights the Goa'uld? We have not met any, but that does not mean they do not exist. The others... in the other reality... they had met more advanced human cultures, and they had met the Tok'ra. Is this a Tok'ra? If so, why does she talk like a human?
"Well, I'm glad to hear we annoyed him! Too bad those sent to sabotage the other ship - this one, I guess - were captured before they could damage it."
"They were captured... but not... not until they set off one of their... bombs. The damage was minor, and will soon be fixed... but that buzzing you hear... from the light fixtures... it was caused by the explosion."
"Then that buzzing doesn't annoy me as much as it did before!" I grin. Thinking of the people on those SG teams, I grow serious again, and ask, nervously, "What happened to them?"
"Several of them... died in the explosion... but three... three were captured. In the confusion... just after your second attack... the one on this ship... Cronus's First Prime executed them. He was torturing them, but grew... angry, probably... desperate. Cronus... Cronus was furious... but he did not deem them... worthy of re...regeneration."
"I see." I shudder, horrified by what happened to those people. People I had met, who had been Jack's friends... I push the thought away, try to forget their destiny. At least they were not revived so they could be tortured again.
"He killed his First Prime. As punishment."
That pleases me somewhat. At least the one causing them to suffer had been killed.
We are both silent for a long time, the only sound the buzzing from the light fixtures, and the laboured breath of Rosha - and myself, unfortunately. I cannot take a deep breath without extreme pain, and coughing increases it exponentially. I know I have some blood or other fluid collecting in the bruised lung... and I know I need to cough it up, or I risk pneumonia.
My mind goes in circles. I think of Kawalsky, of the other SG teams and their fate, and of my own dark future. With an effort, I push those depressing thoughts aside. Suddenly, I remember something that had made me wonder before. "By the way, why were you with him? Cronus, I mean."
Rosha hesitates for a moment. Does she not want me to know? Then, apparently she decides there is nothing to be gained from hiding the truth. "I was pretending..." She suddenly coughs, and it is almost a minute before she can continue speaking. "Pretending to be a loyal... underling for Cronus... in order to gather..." She coughs again.
"Here, have some more water." I scoop up some, and help her to drink.
She drinks gratefully. "Thank you. As I... was saying. To gather... information."
"Really? For Cronus?"
"I was not gathering the... information... for him."
"Sorry. Of course..." I cough as well. "Of course not. I thought the Goa'uld only employed other Goa'uld as their... underlings!"
Another hesitation. "They do." She clear her voice. "I... we are..."
"Tok'ra!" I realize. I stare at her with wide eyes.
"Yes," Rosha admits. "I had not thought you had heard of us. We... had been undercover... for years. Me and Jolinar. Suddenly... today... we were discovered. I do not... know why."
"Jolinar! I've heard that name..."
"I'm not sure..." I think about it. It would be easier without all the pain. "Oh, god!" I exclaim, remembering where I know it from, and realizing what must have happened. "Was it Kawalsky... I mean, Lord Deimos who knew you were a Tok'ra?"
"Yes, he reported his suspicions to Cronus, shortly after taking his new Tau'ri host. I... or rather Jolinar, as she was the one in control... was immediately taken to Cronus. He had apparently suspected a Tok'ra sympathizer at his court, and now he was certain it was me. We were tortured... for hours."
"I'm afraid that's probably our fault - I mean, we knew there was a Tok'ra at Cronus's court, well, in the other reality - and in the past, but anyway... and when Deimos took over Kawalsky, he must have found that information and realized it was probably true here too. Suspected it, at least."
I feel horrible. The terrible torture she has been subjected to is our fault!
"How could you know of us? What other reality?"
I sigh, and take a drink of water before rolling over onto my back. The pain diminishes somewhat. I start to explain.
My head is pounding, and the fever is growing worse. I am alternately shivering and sweating. My leg and my ribs ache no matter what position I am lying in.
I had not talked to Jolinar, only to Rosha, but hours later, when the Jaffa came to take her - well, them I guess - back to be interrogated again, Jolinar took control.
I will admit I became shocked to hear the symbiote voice coming from Rosha's mouth, even though I knew what Jolinar was. I was even more shocked because I have only ever heard someone talk like that a couple times before - namely when Apophis attacked us. That brings back memories. Very bad memories.
Jolinar had clearly focused all her strength while they had been in the cell with me, and she had managed to heal some of the damage to Rosha. True, they were far from completely well, but they were a lot better. It is impressive, actually.
I am worried for them, worried for what Cronus would do to them.
I am also worried for what Cronus will do to me. Rosha has explained to me that the Goa'uld would sometimes torture you to death, and then heal and revive you in a sarcophagus, only to start over again.
Sometimes, instead, they would torture you, but not so badly that you died. They would let you recover some, naturally, but not completely. Then they would interrogate you again, torture you again - hoping you were weak enough you would talk. They almost never did that to anyone but Tok'ra or Goa'uld, though.
It is hours later when Rosha and Jolinar are returned to the cell. I think I have been unconscious for most of the time they have been gone. The fever is making it hard to focus.
I managed to force myself enough awake that I can see how my new friend is doing, though.
I am shocked when I see her. Rosha is worse, much worse. She and Jolinar has been tortured almost to death this time, and I doubt very much Jolinar can heal that much damage, despite how good healers the symbiotes seems to be.
"Rosha?" I ask, concerned.
"No... I am Jolinar. Rosha... is unconscious... and I... would rather she... stays that way. We are... in a lot... of pain." She coughs violently, and blood dribbles from her mouth.
"Jolinar," I say. "I... um... I'm sorry. About what happened... to you."
Jolinar makes a sound, somewhere between a cough and a snort. "It is not... your fault. You could not... have known. Only... only the Goa'uld..." she took a deep, rattling breath. "The Goa'uld... are to blame."
"I understand. Thanks." I close my eyes. I am having a hard time keeping them open.
The room has begun to feel like it is spinning, and I am feeling hotter than I ever have before - even that one time I had a really bad flu as a kid. I cough weakly, the pain from my ribs and damaged lung is now so bad that I can only take shallow breaths. Carefully.
Jolinar is quiet for a very long time, presumably doing her best to heal her host and herself - or maybe she has become unconscious. Suddenly Rosha speaks, startling me.
"Yes?" I say.
"Jolinar... cannot heal me. She... can only... keep us alive... for a little... longer. She may... may be able... heal you. If you... allow it."
"Uhh..." I frown, not sure what she means. Maybe she is hallucinating? T I realize what she means. She is suggesting I become Jolinar's host! I feel my heart beat faster.
Yes, I know from what my other self has told me, that Jolinar is Tok'ra... and that the Tok'ra can be good allies. But to become the host of one of them? They are biologically Goa'uld - have even admitted they are the same, even if they claim to be different philosophically.
Of course, Rosha seems to love her symbiote, to trust her, and to believe in this fight against the Goa'uld as much as Jolinar presumably does. That last part I can agree with. I have lost lost almost everyone I have loved or cared for to the Goa'uld.
Still, I am not sure I can do something like this. I mean, I would be sharing my mind with someone else, with an alien.
"You... hesitate. Understand...ably. You need... not fear. She... is fierce, but kind... she will... protect her host... above all else. She... is my best friend. Please... I beg you..."
I consider the situation I am in - it is unlikely I will survive for much longer without any sort of medical treatment. Even if I do, Cronus will probably kill me. In fact, he probably will anyway - even if I become a host. Maybe especially if I becaoe a host. The Tok'ra are hated by the Goa'uld.
Which is actually a very good reason to help one of them, despite everything. Besides, I do believe they are different than the Goa'uld. If they were not, why would there even be a need to ask for my consent? She could just take me as her host. .
"I'm badly injured - and some of my injuries have become infected. I have a high fever..."
Rosha is quiet for a long time, then Jolinar speaks. "Rosha has become... unconscious again." She takes a deep breath. "It is true. I... may not be able... to heal you. I am weak."
"But there's a chance."
"Yes. But understand... if I succeed... it will be... many months... at least. Before I am strong... enough... to leave you. Then... we may be blended..."
"So this would be... permanent. Yes, I got that. I expected that. Cronus will probably kill us... before that matters."
Jolinar makes a half-snort, half-laugh. "Very... possible. Then... this is perhaps not... relevant... but... I have mates."
"Mates? You mean, uh, like a husband - eh, husbands?" I ask, somewhat confused.
"Yes. Tok'ra - host and symbiote. I will never give them up. So, I guess I should ask you if you have a mate?"
"I see. We'll, I no longer have anyone special, so... well, I'll wait until it's relevant before I make a decision on that. If we live that long."
Jolinar is quiet for a moment. "Agreed. Though since we will blend, I should tell you..." She coughs violently, and almost passes out. She spits out some blood. It takes a while before she is able to talk again. "We... should blend... im...mediately. There... is very... little time..."
"What... what should I do?" I suddenly feel terrified, but try to force myself to be calm.
"Can you... come closer? We blend... through the mouth."
I cry out from the pain when I roll over on my side, but I succeed. I scoot a little closer, and lean over Jolinar, opening my mouth. After a brief moment, Jolinar jumps into me, and I fall back, overwhelmed by a gagging sensation and pain in the back of my throat. Then all becomes black.
When I wake up, I am uncertain how long has passed - it might have been only moments, or it could have been hours. I am not even really sure if I am awake, or if I am dreaming.
I hear someone talking, but it is far away, and even if I concentrate, I can only just make out the words. Are there two people? Or is it three? They are talking together.
"The Tok'ra shol'vah is dead. Cronus will be pleased."
"Do we put her in the sarcophagus?"
"No, our lord wished her to be executed in this manner. We should merely dispose of the body."
"Can we be certain she did not escape to the other? Perhaps she took a new host?"
I feel someone turn me over on my side, and the pain in my ribs increased. I would have screamed, but I cannot even gasp... or move. I feel sluggish, as if my heart is barely pushing any blood around. The people talking beside me seems distant, dreamlike. I just wish they would leave, and let me sleep.
"No, there is no entry mark anywhere. Probably this one was too damaged. She appears dead as well."
"Good, then we can dispose of both of them at the same time. Lord Deimos informed me they had all the information they needed on the Tau'ri."
I feel myself being lift up and dragged, but soon everything fades around me and I lose consciousness again.
When I wake up again, the first thing I noticed is that the annoying buzzing from the light fixtures is gone.
For a moment, I wonder if they have fixed it, before opening my eyes and realizing I am no longer in the holding cell.
I no longer feel hot, as if I am burning up. The fever and the pain is gone, but my head feels strangely heavy. As if I have been drugged, perhaps, or maybe it is just a lingering effect of my high fever.
I sit up, carefully, and examine my body. My clothing is still bloody and torn, of course, but my leg looks normal, and my ribs are at most slightly sore. I can take a deep breath without feeling pain, and I take several, despite the air in the room smelling bad. It is wonderful to be well again, though I must admit I am puzzled. Did they decide to put me in the sarcophagus anyway?
I stretch and look around, wondering what has happened to my cell mate. Or the holding cell, for that matter. It is clear I have been moved somewhere else.
The room I am in now is not much larger than the cell was, and it is dimly lit. It is bare of any furniture, but it holds several crates and boxes, as well as undefinable piles of junk. Something in here smells bad - like burned electronics combined with something more organic.
Among all the stuff, I also see pieces of broken and twisted metal - perhaps some of it might have been part of the interior of the ship, but it has clearly been damaged. Had that happened in the attack the other SG teams had made? Jolinar and Rosha had mentioned they had managed to set off one explosion, at least.
That is when I remember what has happened. Jolinar! I am now a host! Why do I not sense this Jolinar? I would have thought you would feel their presence?
I concentrate, and try to 'feel' for her. Doing so, I believe I sense a faint presence, which becomes a little stronger as I 'touch' it.
*I am here.* Jolinar tells me, her voice sounding weak, and sleepy. It still startles me.
"Are... are you all right?" I ask, not sure what else to say. The sensation of having someone inside your head, talking to you, is weird. To say the least.
*Do not speak out loud - we may call unwanted attention. Yes, I will be 'all right' - though right now I am very weak, and need to rest some more.*
*That's good.* I manage to speak internally this time. It is weird. Another thing which is weird, is that I feel very much relieved to hear Jolinar will be fine. While I was uncertain if blending was a good idea, I thought it might be better than being completely alone, at least. Having Jolinar with me feels... reassuring, somehow. Strange, but I trust her completely already. *I wonder where we are, and why we are not in the cell?*
*I agree, it is strange. I do not know where this is.*
I get up from the floor where I have been lying, and immediately see Rosha's body. I gasp out loud, the ache I feel intensified by emotions not my own. *Rosha!* I hurry to her.
*She is dead.* Jolinar observed, pain in her voice. *My poor, sweet Rosha.*
All of a sudden, I feel completely overwhelmed by Jolinar's feelings of sorrow. She had loved her host so very much.
*Oh, god...* I feel tears well into my eyes, and I have to put an arm out to the wall to support myself.
*Sorry, I did not mean to let them affect you.* Jolinar quickly blocks her emotions from affecting me. That feels even weirder, than having her feelings affect me. All of a sudden, these emotions which feel like my own, are just turned off.
*No, it's okay. I'm sorry about what happened to her.* I lean down and check Rosha's pulse, even if I know she is dead. *I wonder why she's here too?*
I suddenly get a strange feeling... as if someone is rummaging around in my mind.
*Forgive me. I was examining your recent memories. You were awake, briefly, shortly after I had entered you.*
*So that was real! I wasn't sure if I hallucinated.*
*Normally you would not have been awake at that point, but I was so weak that I lost consciousness immediately after entering you. Since neither blending or healing had been initiated, you were able to wake up. However, it seems I had control, even unconsciously. I apologize. It must have been... disquieting for you, so soon after becoming a host.*
*Nah, I was too feverish to really realize what was going on. Though, does that mean the Jaffa thought we were dead?*
*Yes, I suspect your pulse was very faint due to your weakness, and since you did not react at all, they thought you were dead. It was our... luck, that Cronus had merely ordered us disposed of. This is most likely a place where various kinds of... garbage is placed, before it is taken care of. There seems to be two - presumably dead - Jaffa over there.*
I go and check on them, carefully. *They're dead, yes.*
*We should find a way out of here. The door is unlikely to be locked, but may not have been constructed to be opened from the inside, without a portable handle.* Jolinar is quiet for a moment. *I would wish to find a way of disposing respectfully of Rosha's body. I do not want Cronus's Jaffa to merely... throw it to dogs, or something like that.*
*I understand. We'll find a way.* I promise. It is suddenly very important to me.
*Do the Jaffa have anything useful on them still? Like a weapon?*
*I'll check... sure you don't want control?*
*No, I will take control if I must, but I honestly prefer to wait until I have rested, and regained strength. Besides, you may wish to get used to having me in control slowly.*
*Maybe so...* I agree, grateful. Suddenly worried, I ask, *Jolinar, are you okay? You were more badly injured than I thought?*
*I was injured extensively by the torture, yes, and that made it harder for me to change hosts, meaning I was injured by that as well. Add to that weakness from trying to heal and keep Rosha alive, and healing you... yes, I am not well. I will live, though, and I will also regain my health and strength. It will, however, take weeks before I am there - and many months, at least, before I can change hosts.*
I nod, kneeling beside the first of the dead Jaffa. Strangely, it does not bother me... that I am stuck with Jolinar. *You should rest, then. I'll... call you, I guess... when I need you.*
*I shall rest - but not until we are safely out of here.*
*Don't you trust me?* I know I sound hurt, but I feel that way.
*Yes, I do, never worry about that! However, you have never been aboard a Goa'uld ha'tak before. I have. I know vastly more about the schematics, as well as about the technology. It is logical that I remain awake - until you are able to access my mind easier.*
*Access your mind?* I ask, as I search the Jaffa.
*Yes. Now when we are blended, you will be able to search my memories, as well as your own. It becomes easier over time, though, and you would not be able to do it quickly enough right now.*
*Okay. Sounds... interesting.* Very interesting - as well as more than a little strange, actually. I finish checking the Jaffa. *Nothing - no weapons or anything. Not even a knife.*
*No, it was to be expected. The Jaffa have their own funeral rites, and the only reason they are left in here would be if they had died in dishonour, so they would not be allowed those rites. Usually, the weapons are left on their bodies, and only removed just before they are burned. The knife remains with them in death. It is... part of Jaffa mythology, which I do not know much about.*
*Right. Makes sense, I guess, since they're a warrior culture.* I go to the other Jaffa, and check him too. *It's too bad they are both huge - we won't be able to steal their clothes. I guess we could have pretended to be a Jaffa?*
*Yes, but Cronus does not use female Jaffa as warriors, so we would need different clothing in any case.*
*Oh, okay.* I pick up a small device from the Jaffa's clothes. *What is this?*
*It is used for starting a fire.*
*That could help us! If a fire were to break out in here, wouldn't the doors open, you think?*
*No, on the contrary. The ship's automatic systems would seal off the area, sound the alarm, and initiate automatic fire extinguishing measures - which includes extinguishing the oxygen in the area. Not something we want.*
*Ah, no, that's for sure. However, I noticed Cronus have those braziers standing everywhere, and they seem to like torches as well, in addition to the electrical light. How does that work?*
*All Goa'uld have those - it is... meant to create the right 'mood', I suppose. The system is programmed to recognize those.* Jolinar is quiet for a moment. *We can probably use the small powersource in the firestarter, but we need a couple other components to create something that can open the door. We also need a weapon, or at least some way of concealing ourselves.*
*I'll check the piles of junk - it smells like some sort of electronics was burnt, so maybe there's something we can use there.*
*Perhaps, I recognize part of a control console, however, the control mechanism itself would be crystal based, rather than how it is on your world. Any whole crystals would have been salvaged.*
*Let's take a look before we decide it's futile, shall we?*
*You sure this will work?* I look at the contraption I am holding.
*Yes... fairly sure. I will have to admit I am surprise the Jaffa have left behind a working control crystal.*
*Maybe they were in a hurry. So, what do I do? Just open the door and leave?*
*No, we need a distraction... and I have an idea, which will also dispose of Rosha's body so that it cannot be shamed by the Jaffa.*
*What do you suggest?*
*The container we found, the one with cooling fluid - it will become a highly reactive substance if combined with even a small amount of naquadah.*
*Which you will get where?*
*Almost all Goa'uld technology contains naquadah. Do you not sense it everywhere around you?*
*No... uh, is it that constant... I don't know... humming, tingling in my blood?*
I had noticed it, but not really paid attention to. Now when I do... it is a bit weird.
*Yes. Now, since it is all around us, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where something like a smaller, nearby source is located, but with practise it is possible. Believe me, there is refined naquadah in that half-destroyed computer there.*
I look in the direction Jolinar indicates, and see a device. I walk to it. *This?*
*Now you mention it... I do feel an... intensification of the tingling from that.* I search through the open, partially broken computer, finding the place Jolinar wants me to look. *Got it!*
*Hurry!* Jolinar urges, as I place the makeshift door-opener on the door.
*Relax - didn't you say it would be a couple minutes before the explosion?*
*Yes, but I would prefer we found a place to hide before the alarm goes off. The Jaffa will arrive quickly. Also... even with the door closed behind us, it would be preferable if we were not too close when the cooling fluid/naquadah combination goes off.*
The door opens and we step out, listening for a moment for any nearby Jaffa or others. All seems quiet, so we leave the storage room, hoping to find a place to hide - and quickly.
I turn a corner, and see a door to my right. Jolinar informs me we are not sensing a symbiote nearby, so I can open the door. I feel a little embarrassed that I had forgotten to pay attention to this easy way of telling if there were Jaffa around. I really need to get used to 'sensing' symbiotes.
I open the door, and hurry inside. It is empty of any people, and seems to be used for storage as well - though clearly not for either corpses, destroyed apparatuses, or buckled pieces of interior.
The door close behind us, and we can feel a little safer. *How powerful will that explosion be, exactly?*
*I am not sure - it depends on the exact composition of the cooling fluid, but I am confident it will burn all organic material in the room almost instantly.*
*What! That's... that's crazy! If we hadn't been able to escape, we would have been killed!*
*We escaped, so what do you worry about? It will be a fitting funeral for my beloved Rosha.*
*And no one will be able to tell we escaped either...* I realize.
*Another benefit, that is very true.*
*Won't they wonder how the explosion happened?*
*They will find remnants of naquadah and the container that held the cooling fluid. Any suspicion will fall on the Jaffa who carried the garbage to that room, and failed to remove either the cooling fluid or the naquadah. That was a criminal negligence, which any Goa'uld would punish severely - exactly to avoid explosions such as this. True, it is unlikely to happen without tampering, but it is possible, if the two materials were placed closely together by accident, and the cooling leaked onto the naquadah.*
Jolinar has just finished her explanation, when there is an explosion, followed by the sound of some sort of metal breaking or shattering. It sounds very violent.
*The door broke?*
*Most likely. We should find a place to hide, in case the Jaffa makes a sweep of the area - I doubt it, since they will be occupied by the effects of the explosion, but you never know.* She 'nudges' me, so I spot several large crates at the other end of the room. *Perhaps behind those.*
I hurry to the crates, ducking down behind them, just as the alarm sounds. It is almost deafening.
*What's inside those crates, you think? Anything useful?* I ask, when the sound level of the alarm has quieted some. Yeah, we may be talking internally, but I still felt the sounds was drowning me out. Stupid, maybe, but then you do have the saying 'too loud to think'.
*Possibly. Let us concentrate, and listen for enemy movements for a moment before we do anything else.*
We do, but we do not pick up the sound of any Jaffa approaching. We can vaguely hear someone shouting some distance away, but otherwise the alarm is still loud enough to drown out everything else.
*I think we're okay.*
*Agreed. As for the crates - you are correct. We should check.*
Guided by Jolinar, I press the symbol on the box that opens it, and we look down on - zat'nik'tels.
*Weapons! Now that is useful!*
*I agree. Take one.*
I do, then close the box again, before moving to the next of the crates, checking that. It contains more zat'nik'tels, as does the next crate, but the one after that one holds something else. *What are those?*
*Stun grenades. That's just what we need to escape!*
*Yeah... and how do you plan to do that, exactly?*
*Well, the chaapa'ai is literally under a whole mountain of rock - which has collapsed on top of it. It may take Cronus months to get to it, and by then it will be heavily guarded and difficult to access, so I do not believe hiding on this planet and waiting for that, is a good plan.*
That was my fear as well, though I cannot say I had thought it would be possible to dig it out that quickly.
I sigh. *I think I agree, though I really don't like the idea of abandoning this world.*
*There is little we can do here on our own, but I promise you we shall not forget about your planet. It will be free again.*
*Thanks.* I feel grateful for that.
Jolinar gives me a 'hug'. It really feels like a hug, and it is very reassuring.
*Since your Major Kawalsky is now host to a Goa'uld that works for Cronus, we cannot pretend to a Goa'uld and offer our services. The option remaining to us is stealing a ship, and escaping that way.*
*Cronus only has one mothership here - you can't intend to steal that!*
*I do not.*
*Those death gliders - they're not space-worthy, are they?*
*They are capable of flying in space, but they do not possess hyperdrive - that was what you meant, correct?*
*Yes - so what did you have in mind?*
*He did not bring any alkesh, though I believe some are on the way, as well as at least one more ha'tak. However, there are usually at least one or two teltacs on board an ha'tak. I intend to try and steal such a vessel.*
We have been hiding out in the storage room for more than an hour. Except for one time, where a Jaffa opened the door and looked inside, no one has disturbed us.
Jolinar has been silent, keeping her thoughts and feelings to herself, as she mourns Rosha.
I have spent the time thinking as well. Soon I will be leaving the planet - possibly forever - to join an alien resistance movement. With all that has happened, this does not bother me as much as I might have expected. I have little left here on Earth. Jack died a year ago, my dad almost two years ago. I do have my brother Mark, who is married and has two children. However, I have not kept in touch with them as much lately as I would have wanted to.
Thankfully, they survived the attack by Apophis a year ago, and they have been doing reasonably well. I hope Mark and his family will get through Cronus's attack and occupation as well, though I know their lives will be much different, and hard. As will the lives of most people on Earth. I really wish there was something I could do to help.
Part of me feels guilty for just leaving it all, but this way I may actually be able to help. I will be fighting the Goa'uld more directly, than I did before.
*Jolinar... before we attempt to escape... would it be possible to, I don't know, blow up this ship? With all these grenades, perhaps?*
*You want to blow up this ha'tak?* I hear amusement in her voice. *I can understand your wish, but it may not be as easy as you think. For one thing, we cannot use these grenades - they are stun grenades, and while they have a strong effect on living beings, they have little on other things.*
*Okay - any ideas, then? I really want to do something to help my planet, before I just... I guess, run away from it all. If nothing else, then just slow him down - give people time to hide before he can start bombing them or sending his Jaffa out, or whatever.*
Jolinar considers it for a moment, then nods. *I may have an idea. I do not believe we will able to destroy this ship - there are too many Jaffa on it, and they are too much on guard after your SG teams sabotage mission. However, that mission damaged one of the back-up power stations, as well as one of the control stations. While they have no doubt worked hard to repair the damage, I doubt they have finished yet. This means - among other things - that their internal sensors are only working at low capacity, and we should be able to move around fairly freely. As long as we avoid the Jaffa, of course.*
*Okay - go on. What can we take out?*
*It will only be a temporary setback for him, and may not even be a long one. However, if we can get to my - former - quarters, I have a reprogrammed control crystal - part of an attempt by the Tok'ra to see if we can disable their ships when needed - among other things. If we can switch the corresponding control crystal in the engine room, the whole engine power core will overload.*
*And blow up the ship?* I ask, hopeful.
*No, I am sorry. It will not explode - there are safety protocols to avoid that - but it will be unusable for... some time. Several hours, at least. During this time the weapons will have minor power. The hatak will be mostly defenseless, except for the death gliders, of course, and it will not be able to pursue us. Afterwards, Cronus would most likely look for any accomplishes the escaped saboteur might have had, and would not be able to focus on attacking the planet's population. It might give them several days in which to find a safer place to hide.*
*Not as good as what I had hoped for, but it's something. Okay, let's do that.*
Getting to Jolinar's former chambers was easier than expected, as Cronus and Deimos were keeping the Jaffa occupied with cleaning up and repairing after the explosive fire in the storage room - and then calling together all the Jaffa and yelling at them. We heard a group of Jaffa talk about it, as they passed the place we were hiding.
We have fetched the altered control crystal and made it almost to the engine room, when we hear the rhythmic footfalls of marching Jaffa.
Jolinar - who is currently in control - quickly jumps behind a curtain that covers a small niche. She holds her breath while the Jaffa pass, but fortunately they do not notice us.
*That was close!* I feel like I would have fainted from the relief, had I been the one in control.
*Too close.* Jolinar waits a little longer, and when the sound of the Jaffas heavy steps has become muted by distance, she sticks our head out from behind the curtain and looks in both directions. When no one can be seen, she decides to risk it, and continues on towards the engine room.
*Won't it be guarded?*
*Yes, that is why I brought the shock grenades. Samantha... you must not disturb me for the next several minutes - the engine room is nearby, and I need to focus all my concentration on doing this as quickly as possible.*
*Sure. I'll be quiet,* I promise. I am handling it fairly well - this, having Jolinar control my body - but I must admit I look forward to being the one in control again. Jolinar has assured me most new hosts need time to get used to having someone else control their body.
Jolinar peeks around the corner, and spots two guards outside the engine room. They do not look particularly attentive. She activates one of the shock grenades and throws it towards them, ducking back behind the corner.
With the Jaffa unconscious, Jolinar hurries into the engine room, shooting the one Jaffa that are in the room with her zat'nik'tel.
She pushes in the commands that will allow her to open the small compartment with the control crystals.
We both fear it will for some reason not accept the commands, and that a group of Jaffa will enter the room at any time. Fortunately, the door to the compartment opens, and the crystals can be accessed - and no Jaffa appears.
Jolinar force herself to be calm, and her hands to be still, as she replace one of the control crystals with the faulty version. The compartment closes, and the crystal is accepted. It makes the normal humm, Jolinar says, and no alarm goes off.
*Seems everything works correctly otherwise - and that the fault was not detected. Let us get out of here!* Jolinar throws a look in the direction of the Jaffa who is waking up, and she shoot him again with her zat'nik'tel, likely killing him, but right now that cannot be helped.
When did I become this cynical?
She opens the door, finding that the Jaffa outside is still unconscious, and that no one has discovered them. With a deep breath of relief, shared by us both, she sets out on the safest route to the specific cargo bay she knows there should be a teltac in.
I really hope she is correct.
*Hurry up!* I urge.
*Nearly ready...* Jolinar punches in a few more commands, and then resends the signal to the huge door in the wall. This time it responds, and an opening starts to appear, slowly growing larger.
*Now would be a good time! The Jaffa are coming through the door!* I tell her, calling her attention back to what is going on outside the teltac. How can she not notice, when she gets the same sensory input as I do?
*Relax. Stress is not good for you, and who gets to repair any damage to your body?* Jolinar grins, as the teltac rise from the floor, turn a half round, and then flies off towards the opening.
I feel like rolling my eyes, but Jolinar is in control, so I just send her the image. She ignores it.
We approach the doorway at an alarming speed, and the opening does not seem to be large enough. Behind us, the Jaffa are firing at them.
If I had been in control, I would have screamed, but seconds later we plunge through, missing the sides by a few inches on each side. The forcefield has lowered for barely more than an instant, and springs back up again behind us.
*You're crazy!* I complain.
Jolinar laughs out loud, as much from relief as anything else. We speed up through the atmosphere at maximum safe speed. Behind us, the ha'tak is just starting to lift off.
The ha'tak is less maneuverable in the atmosphere, and the teltac reaches space before the larger ship. Jolinar checks the controls, and then punches in the navigational data for the planet she wants us to go to.
Behind us, the ha'tak has suddenly lost momentum, and stopped climbing. It had gotten almost out of Earth's gravity well, but not quite.
*I think the flaw in my control crystal must have started affecting them.* Jolinar looks at the readout from some of the scanners. *Yes, their power output is dropping fast, and should reach minimum soon. Their orbit will start to decay, but I fear they will have everything back up running before they can crash.*
I look at the image of the ha'tak on the screen, shown in front of the planet. *Can we turn the ship around for a moment?*
*Yes, but you will at most see their ship as a small point at this distance.*
*That's okay - it's not the ship I want to see.*
*Ah, I understand.* She turns the ship around, and we look towards Earth. Jolinar gives me control.
At this distance, Earth fills most of the screen. I look at it, giving myself a moment to just enjoy the image, and to imprint it on my mind. When I was a child, I wanted to be an astronaut. Back then, I had wanted to join the Air Force, like my dad. As things turned out, I never actually expected to get to go into space, but now I have.
I briefly think of Mark and his family, and hoped very much they will be all right.
I look at the planet again, then sigh. I also had not expected to have to say goodbye to my planet, to leave it, with an evil alien dictator in control.
I make a silent promise that I will return, and that I will do all I can to free my world. I will dedicate my life to fighting the Goa'uld. As a Tok'ra.
*I'm ready. Let's get out of here.* I give back control to Jolinar.
Jolinar nods. She gives me a hug, and promise me that we will be alright - and that the fight will be one we fight together. She activates the controls, and we jump to hyperspace.