"So, if I understand it all correctly, we are going back in time?" Rian asked.
"Yes, to Giza, 5000 years ago!" Daniel told the Tok'ra, excitedly.
"You have the ability to travel back in time?" Rian wondered, disbelief clear on his face.
"Yes... some time ago, we found a time ship. That's... well, a ship, built by one of the Ancients, and it has time travelling capabilities," Sam explained.
"I see." Rian nodded. "And the purpose of this mission is to recover a 'zero point module', as you call them."
"Yep. A Z.P.M," O'Neill confirmed. "You probably haven't heard of them."
"Not using that name, no, but from your descriptions, I believe our scientists have seen and described one of them. It was depleted, though."
"We're hoping to get a fully charged one," Sam said.
"By stealing it from Ra. In the past. It is certainly... an audacious plan." Rian suddenly grinned. "My host believes it is a crazy plan, but we are both willing to join you in this endeavour."
"Okay. Well, good to know you guys actually ask your hosts if they are willing to go along with stuff," O'Neill said. "We were beginning to think you had forgotten about them."
Rian looked offended. "How can you say such a thing?" He flashed his eyes, angrily. "We only have willing hosts, and we share the body!"
"Really? Then how come we haven't heard from any of the hosts for years! Except Jacob, but I guess that's because Tau'ri aren't as easy to silence as the rest of the humans you take as hosts!" O'Neill challenged.
Rian got a furious expression. "How dare you imply that we suppress our hosts?" He took a deep breath, and managed to calm himself, with difficulty. Suddenly, he bowed his head.
When he looked up again, the expression was different, but no less angry. "I am Iannas, Rian's host. I do not take kindly to your slandering of my dear Rian!"
"Sorry, I'm sure Jack didn't mean it like that." Daniel threw a quick look at his team mate, who just shrugged. "But you'll have to admit, it's strange that we mostly only hear the symbiotes speak."
More calm now, Iannas started to explain. "It is individual among host-symbiote pairs, which one is most often in control, and at which times." He sighed. "That said, there are other reasons as well. Your observation is correct - you have most likely been meeting the symbiotes more often than the hosts. Please understand that many hosts have had traumatic experiences before becoming blended, and may not be comfortable taking control in a foreign place, among people who... are not always completely friendly towards us." He hesitated. "To be completely honest, there is a feeling among the Tok'ra that you, Tau'ri, do not generally like us, and that you often treat us with disrespect and a lack of kindness. That makes many hosts... uneasy, and their symbiotes then does what they always do; they protect their hosts as well as they can - in this case by being the one in control, the one having to face those who are... less than friendly."
"What! You're saying it's our fault we don't get to talk to the hosts!" O'Neill looked with disbelief at Iannas. "Have you even considered how you guys behave towards us? All arrogant and condescending!"
"There may be faults on both sides, which have caused this... animosity between our people, I do not deny that. Regardless, this is the result."
O'Neill groaned, and was about to say something more, when Daniel interrupted him.
"Listen, it's... it's great that we're having this conversation. Now that we know what the problem is, we can work on it, from both sides. Perhaps... one way would be to have more missions together? Like this one?"
"Getting to know one another better is most likely a good idea," Iannas agreed. "Missions such as this, would be one way of accomplishing that."
"Then let's get this mission under way," O'Neill said, feeling the discussion had already gone on for long enough.
After donning pale coloured robes and headdresses, the small group left the time ship and stepped out on the sand outside.
"I can't believe I'm finally gonna get proof that the Great Pyramids pre-date the fourth dynasty," Daniel said, excitedly, as he tinkered with a video camera.
"So what are you gonna do? Stand in the picture holding a newspaper with today's date?!" Sam smiled.
"This is an archaeologist's dream. I wanna get as much footage as I can."
"Just be careful. We're here for the Z.P.M. In and out - minimal interaction, minimal impact," Sam reminded him.
"No problem," Daniel said.
"I mean it. All of you, sir." She stared at O'Neill. "And you, Rian and Iannas." She looked at the Tok'ra.
"You've got it, you've got it!" O'Neill promised.
"I cannot believe I am actually 5000 years in the past, in Egypt! That is almost 3000 years before any of the Tok'ra existed!" Rian exclaimed, looking around at the sand dunes with interest.
"Well, we're gonna hope you can help us anyway, even if it's before any of you guys were around," O'Neill said. "You can help us, right? I mean, you're here to advise us, so if you don't know anything..."
"As I have told you, the Tok'ra have historical databases. Many of the Goa'uld from this time are still alive - even if it is fewer than before your people started killing them off. I also have the genetic memory of Egeria's queen-mother, Maat, who did live in Egypt for a significant part of her life, including during the time before Ra was forced to leave."
"Cool... and also weird," O'Neill commented.
"Ra..." Rian got a dark expression. "I wonder what would happen if I killed him now!"
"Whoa! Don't even think it! We have no idea what the consequences of something like that would be!" Sam said, looking scared.
Rian looked like he was grinding his teeth for a few moments, then he relaxed, and slowly nodded. "I understand, though all that suffering... so many dead, enslaved... if it could be prevented..." He shook his head. "It is... difficult..."
"Yeah, I actually happen to agree with you on that..." O'Neill sighed. "...but Carter is usually right about things like this, so I need your word that you're not going to try anything. Okay?" O'Neill asked.
Rian nodded. "Yes. You have my promise. I shall not kill Ra - or otherwise interfere with this time."
"Good. Now, maybe it's time you gave Iannas control? It'd be more than a little suspicious to have you talk like that - and no flashing of the eyes either!" O'Neill reminded him.
"I am not stupid," Rian said, looking offended. He dipped his head, giving Iannas control.
"You have my word as well. I shall not interfere with this timeline," Iannas said, getting a smug expression on his face. "You did want my promise as well, correct?"
O'Neill just groaned, and cursed his luck in getting a Tok'ra with a smart-ass host.
"So you'll be staying here, while we go to Ra's temple for the offering?" Sam said.
"Regrettably, I cannot go there, no matter how much Rian and I would like to see this. If Ra - or any other Goa'uld - come within 50 feet of me, they may sense Rian. And Goa'uld do not have a habit of walking around dressed as humans," Iannas told them.
"No, but he wouldn't think you're a Tok'ra, at least," Daniel reminded him.
"Very true - but he might very well think I am an ashrak. There would be no other explanation, for me hiding among the human worshippers like that."
"He'd think you've come to kill him," Sam realized.
"Yes... and that is... almost as bad as being a Tok'ra," Iannas said.
SG-1 was on their way back to the time ship, where they were to meet Iannas/Rian, when the Tok'ra came running towards them.
"Stop!" Iannas told them, keeping his voice down. "Our ship has been found!"
"What? Who has found it?" O'Neill demanded. "How? It was cloaked!"
"A group of Jaffa. Apparently, there has been a small sandstorm tonight, and it has covered the ship with sand. It is now visible. I was considering killing the Jaffa, so they would not call for reinforcements, however, I realized that would not have been in accordance with my promise not to alter anything in this time period."
"You're right. That could have had completely unforeseen consequences," Sam said.
They snuck closer to the ship, and took a look at it from behind a sand dune. The Jaffa were still there, clearly mystified by the sand-covered, but otherwise invisible object.
"If they haven't called for reinforcements yet, we should make sure they don't." O'Neill reached for his sidearm, but Sam stopped him.
"Sir, we can't. As I just told Iannas, we have no idea what the consequences of that would be! We just can't risk it!"
"They have the ship. Will that not alter the future more than anything that we could do?" Teal'c said.
"Not necessarily. They don't know what it is, and even if they did, they can't use it. None of them have the gene - even Ra won't be able to make it work," Sam told them.
"Or so you hope. How do you know none of them have the gene?" Daniel asked.
"It's extremely rare. The probability of any of these having it is so low that we don't have to worry about it."
"Okay. So what are we supposed to do?" Daniel said.
"Nothing," Sam told them.
"Nothing?!" O'Neill stared at her.
"Well, close to it."
"No, here's a better idea: we take back our ship!" O'Neill insisted.
"I agree," Iannas said.
"Sir... and Iannas, if we kill those Jaffa or, worse, get captured, we could alter the future immeasurably. If you're thinking we can go forward and then back again..."
"Just a couple of days! Then we park that thing where nobody can find it," O'Neill suggested.
"We alter this timeline, and the future is already different. We could set into motion a spiral of changes that we could never fix. We've already done too much. I'm sorry, sir - I should never have allowed us to do this!" Sam exclaimed.
"Then what? We'll just live out our lives here?" O'Neill looked dismayed.
"What about me? I will easily survive to the year 2005, if I can find hosts, and are not killed. Will that change the timeline?" Rian asked.
"You must take care not to change anything! We've got no idea if anything you did changed anything, affecting the altered timeline we are from," Sam said. "You must promise to do nothing with the knowledge you have about how the future can - and should - develop. It could destroy everything!"
After a while, Rian nodded slowly, looking unhappy. "I understand what you say, and I... shall try... I realize I could potentially change a lot of the history of your world, during these 5000 years. I cannot promise I will not attempt to save Egeria, though."
"Listen - Rian..." O'Neill sighed. "If Sam says it's too dangerous to mess with the timeline, then you don't. Understood?"
They left and started to walk back through the desert, towards the tents were they had stayed.
"You know... we know there's gonna be a rebellion eventually. The human slaves rise up and Ra abandons Earth. Daniel learned that on Abydos nine years ago. When it happens, there is a chance that we could get the Jumper back without creating too big a ripple in the events of this timeline," Sam speculated.
"Cool. When does that happen?" O'Neill asked, relieved there might be a way back home for them.
"I don't know the exact date - it could be years," Daniel said.
"What?! Years?!" O'Neill exclaimed.
"Sir, we don't have a choice," Sam insisted.
"Carter, what about the Z.P.M.? I mean, if we wait, we lose any chance of getting it back to our time," O'Neill said. He hesitated. "Really... how much can it change the timeline if we shoot those Jaffa?"
"Preserving the timeline is more important than anything else." Sam got a determined expression.
"For all you know, things could get better!"
"Or they could be worse! We can't take that chance!" Sam sighed. "I already explained it before."
"Well, I know a way we can get the Z.P.M. back to our time even if we don't. About a month before we left, there was an archaeological dig that uncovered a first dynasty tomb near Giza. All we have to do is bury the Z.P.M. in that tomb, let them find it, and maybe our future selves won't have to take on this mission!" Daniel said.
"Wow! That's bizarre, but it just might work," Sam admitted.
"Carter, a lot of good people died when Anubis attacked Earth. I don't think their families would mind if we futzed with the timeline a little," O'Neill said, making another attempt to convince Sam.
"Sir, I know this is hard for you; your instincts are to change things - make things better - but for once that's exactly what we can't do. We have to let things play out exactly the way they're meant to," Sam told him.
"I agree with Colonel O'Neill. So many Tok'ra have died over the last few years. Our queen has died! We are a dying race!" Rian exclaimed, having taken control to back up O'Neill in this. "How can things not get better?!"
"I'm sorry. Believe me, if I felt we could safely change things, I would, I really would, but it's just too dangerous." Sam looked sad, thinking about her father who had recently died. Janet, Martouf, Lantash... the list went on. So many had died. But changing the timeline was just too dangerous a thing to do.
Earth, 2005. Altered timeline.
Sam and Daniel were staring at the screen, having just watched a videotape that had been recovered from a vacuum-sealed Canopic jar. Apparently hidden there by their alternate selves, 5000 years in the past. It was difficult to accept.
"So... we're part of a team called SG-1, that go to other planets, through an alien device called a Stargate?" Daniel frowned. "That is... I mean, I don't even know what to say!"
"Time travel?" Sam said. "Really?"
"What else did the tape say?" Daniel asked.
"Details of the Stargate, SG-1, including a fourth member who appears to be some kind of humanoid alien," Hammond explained. "And one more who travelled back with them - or maybe I should say two more. I'm not really sure how to explain it. He's an alien too. They are. A human host, and a... a symbiote, inside him. Apparently they're our allies, in a fight against someone called the Goa'uld. SG-1, and other teams like it, travel to other planets and defends Earth against alien invasions."
"In an alternate timeline." Sam looked disbelieving. "And we're part of it."
"Yes," Hammond said. "I know. It seems difficult to believe."
"Wait... wait - what about the Stargate? Did you look for it?" Daniel asked.
"We searched the coordinates provided on the tape but we didn't find anything. The area had already been excavated previously in 1934 by a Doctor Langford but he found nothing but a tablet inscribed with hieroglyphics that no-one's ever been able to translate. We were wondering if you'd like to take a crack at it," Hammond said.
"Are you kidding?!" Daniel looked excited at the thought.
After watching the rest of the tape - including the parts with the aliens - Sam and Daniel were both very interested in it all.
Daniel had looked at the tablet that had been found with the canopic jar containing the videotape, and they now knew that SG-1 had taken part in an uprising against Ra in 2995 BC, five years after they had travelled back in time. Ra had left in a ship, taking the Stargate with him. However, the tablet had mentioned the location of a second Stargate, which they would now be trying to find.
Sam and Daniel had gone to find and convince O'Neill to join the mission, when it became clear Hammond would not let them take further part of it. O'Neill had not been interested, and had instead made fun of Sam and Daniel.
However, the time ship had been found in Egypt, and Sam and Daniel were assigned to help Doctor Rodney McKay figure out how to use it.
Nothing happened when gate addresses were dialled from the ship's console, but Sam had realized it might have activated the Stargate, which they had yet to find. By cross-referencing the attempt to dial from the ship's console, with seismic activity in Antarctica, they pinpointed the location of the Stargate.
Sam and Daniel were still not allowed to join the mission through the Stargate, though.
However when Kawalsky was assigned to assemble the team, O'Neill had agreed to join. He was needed since he had the Ancient gene needed to fly the time ship and activate the time travelling device on it.
Sam and Daniel had eventually managed to convince him they should be allowed to join as well, and soon they all left for the address that had been on the tablet - Chulak.
It had only been meant as a brief reconnaissance mission, but the team was captured almost immediately, and ended up in a prison cell, captives of the Goa'uld Lord Apophis.
They attempted to explain everything to Teal'c, but he was understandably sceptical. Daniel was then taken to Apophis, to be interrogated.
However, meanwhile, Teal'c had returned with the video camera, and asked them to show him the contents, which they did. After listening to the recording of that version of Teal'c, he began to believe they were speaking the truth, and eventually promised to help them.
They made it away - with Teal'c accompanying them. However, before they could reach the time ship, Daniel turned out to have become a Goa'uld spy, and was killed. During clashes with Jaffa, Kawalsky, and the other members of his team - except Sam, O'Neill, and Teal'c - were all shot.
Sam, O'Neill, and Teal'c got to the time ship and escaped - and soon they were back on Earth, 5000 years into the past.
The plan was to fix the change to the timeline, which had caused Ra to take the Stargate from Earth. Uncertain how to do this, they decided to search out the locals as a first step.
To their big surprise, the locals understood and spoke English. They soon found out the reason - while the other version of Sam, O'Neill, and Teal'c had been killed inciting a failed rebellion - Daniel and Iannas/Rian were still alive. They had lived in ancient Egypt for five years, and had taught the locals English.
"Wait," Sam said, looking warily at Iannas. "So you're not human... you're like those... those Goa'uld. Like Ra. And Apophis. And the one that took over Daniel. I mean, the other Daniel."
"Yes, I have a symbiote inside me, so in that way I am like Ra or Apophis. Biologically, Rian is a Goa'uld, but otherwise he is quite different from them. He is Tok'ra. Against Ra and all the Goa'uld system lords."
"So, the snake's got a different agenda. He's against the current leadership. Good for him, but it doesn't change what he is." O'Neill shrugged. "Why should we trust him?"
Iannas's eyes flared as Rian took control. "I am not like the Goa'uld! The Tok'ra do not believe in taking unwilling hosts, and our wish is to share the body with our hosts!" He took a deep breath, then gave Iannas control again.
Sam and O'Neill had taken a step back from the angry Tok'ra, not used to either the voice or the flashing eyes, at least not coming from anyone but a Goa'uld.
"Okay..." O'Neill said, warily.
"It's just... how can you trust him, Daniel?" Sam asked. "A Goa'uld took the Daniel from our timeline... and you behave like he's a friend!"
"He is a friend. The Tok'ra are our allies in the timeline I'm from. Okay, we may not always see eye to eye on everything, but generally... we've got the same goal, and we help each other out," Daniel explained.
Sam, O'Neill, and Teal'c continued to be somewhat wary of Iannas/Rian, but slowly they began to accept them, and they saw that they obviously were not like the Goa'uld.
Daniel and Iannas/Rian explained what the plan had been for the original team, and what had happened to make them decide to incite the rebellion, and why it had failed.
Having learned from their mistakes, they had now slowly built up an underground movement, and stolen a lot of weapons - staff weapons and zat'nik'tels.
They had come up with a plan, which they knew would succeed for the rebellion, however, they needed a distraction so Ra would not take the Stargate. The decision was made to cloak the time ship and then steal the Stargate, by attaching lines to it and flying off with it, hiding it until Ra had left.
"What do we do afterwards - if we succeed, I mean?" Daniel asked. "We should be able to return home in the time ship, right?"
"Yes..." Sam frowned. "That is... I... am not sure, actually. The thing is - as far as I understand it - if we do manage to fix the timeline, then we'll never have gone back in time... and so if we do go back, there'll be two copies of us."
"Won't we just disappear here, then? Like, poof? If we succeed, I mean?" O'Neill said.
Sam shook her head. "No, I don't think so."
"We can still go back, right? I mean, even if there'll be two copies of us?" O'Neill asked. "There won't be any of that... subtropic escape failure, will there?"
Sam smiled a little. "Entropic cascade failure, and no, there won't. There shouldn't be any problems going back."
"Okay, great! It's a plan, then!"
After the rebellion had succeeded and Ra had left, Sam, O'Neill, and Teal'c used the timeship to return the Stargate to where it had stood before. The intention was to bury it, as soon as possible.
Daniel and Iannas/Rian had remained behind, helping to check for any remaining Jaffa, or other dangers.
The plan to take the Stargate and fly off with it had been a success, even if the cloak had failed when they were leaving the planet, resulting in several deathgliders being sent after them. The Jaffa had fired on the timeship, but Sam and the others had made it away.
They had only just landed the - fairly battered - ship after placing the Stargate back, when Daniel came running towards them, yelling.
"Jack! It's Iannas - he... he's injured! Badly!"
"What happened?" O'Neill asked.
"There was a leftover group of Horus guards. We thought they had all been killed or had left with Ra, but they must have been hiding. We've only just managed to overpower them!" Daniel exclaimed.
They ran as fast as they could, following Daniel. He took them to a nearby tent, where the injured Tok'ra was lying on a mattress in a corner. He was unconscious, and bleeding heavily.
"Can't his symbiote heal him?" O'Neill asked, looking with worry at the dying Tok'ra.
"No, we have tried to bandage his injuries, of course, but he says they are much too severe. He's still fighting to save himself and his host, but he said that as soon as he gets the bleeding under control in one place, another wound opens again. It's just a matter of time. It might have helped if any of us could use a healing device, but none of us can, unfortunately," Daniel said. "He needs a sarcophagus - which he doesn't want, of course. Besides, Ra took it with him."
"Crap." O'Neill looked unhappy. They had all long since gotten to the point where they considered Rian and Iannas friends.
"There may be another option - if one of you wishes to be Rian's host, he could most likely be able to survive," Teal'c told them.
"Ahh..." O'Neill frowned, looking a bit embarrassed. "I... I don't think I'm ready for that."
"Me neither!" Sam said, with conviction, then tried to soften the statement. "I mean, I'm aware they're not like the Goa'uld, and I like Rian a lot... but we've almost just learned about the Tok'ra, and... and to share my mind and body with someone else like that..." She shrugged apologetically.
Daniel nodded. "I have known them for longer, but I'm not sure I can do it either. I've been thinking about it, and I've considered it, I really have... but after what happened to Sha're and Sarah..."
"It... It is all right..." Rian suddenly said, in a hoarse voice. "I would... have had a... difficult time not... interfering at all. For 5000... years. On your world. Also... I... I do not want to live on without Iannas anyway..."
Sam, O'Neill, Daniel, and Teal'c looked bashfully at each other.
"Listen..." Sam looked up, getting a thoughtful expression on her face. "The videotape was found in a canopic jar... but you, Daniel, explained to me that the Goa'uld use stasis jars, which look similar, to keep symbiotes alive in... for millennia, even... couldn't Rian stay in one of those... untill Earth meets the Tok'ra? If anyone else finds it, they'd just think it was a canopic jar, and not worry about it, right?"
"Possibly, if we can find one... quickly..." Daniel frowned. "Actually... I think there were some among the stuff left behind when Ra left..."
"Would you consider that option, Rian?" Sam asked. "That way you wouldn't even have to worry about interfering with history.
"Yeah... we could write something on the stasis jar, so Stargate Command knows it's a Tok'ra inside, and give it to your people," Daniel suggested.
"Rian?" Sam asked, anxiously, when he did not answer.
"He is alive, but currently unconscious," Teal'c said, checking on the Tok'ra.
"Get that stasis jar - quickly," O'Neill ordered. "In case he agrees to the plan."
Rian had not been interested in being put in a stasis jar at first, preferring to die with his beloved host. However, he had eventually changed his mind, and he had now been placed inside the jar.
After a somber ceremony, where they had used the Stargate to dispose of Iannas's body, as was the tradition of the Tok'ra, Sam, Daniel, Teal'c, and O'Neill were gathered in one of the tents.
"It's strange to think that Rian is inside that thing," O'Neill said, indicating the stasis jar. "That he's still alive in there - and will be alive in the future."
"We can meet him again, if we use the time ship to go back to our own time." Daniel looked at Sam. "As long as we go to a time after the time when we left, there shouldn't be a problem, should there? I mean, we've fixed the timeline, right?"
"Yes. Hopefully." Sam sighed. "If we even can go back - the ship took quite a beating earlier. I'm afraid the time travelling device was damaged."
"But you can fix it, right?" O'Neill looked less than pleased from the thought of remaining in ancient Egypt."Please say that you can fix it!"
Sam hesitated. "I'm not sure... I don't have much equipment to do so here, and frankly, I know very little about how it works in the first place. I'll try, of course." She frowned. "Afterwards, we should make sure the time ship is destroyed, so no one can go back and mess up the timeline again."
"Sure!" O'Neill smiled. "We can do that!"
"That also solves the problem of what we were going to write on the stasis jar - we don't have to write anything. We can just bring it with us!" Sam said, "If we manage to get the ship to work, that is..."
"I'm sorry," Sam told the others. "The time travel mechanism is completely fused. There's nothing I can do about it - even if I had the equipment to work on it, which I do not. We're stuck here, in this time. For the rest of our lives."
"Crap!" O'Neill exclaimed, less than pleased.
"Which also means we'll have to come up with something to write on Rian's stasis jar," Daniel said, not looking as unhappy with the prospect of staying, as the others did.
Sam nodded. "We should make sure they know that he's not to be let out until after the time we left. That way he won't have any problems refraining from changing the timeline."
"I agree. If you really think it would change anything that he saves that queen of his, then we'd better not even give him the chance to do so. I know I wouldn't be able to stop myself from saving her if I were in his situation," O'Neill said, looking grim. "I mean, his whole people is threatened by extinction, for god's sake!"
2005, a laboratory at Stargate Command.
"Um, college football is played on Saturdays; pro on Sundays; and there are no fish in my pond ... at all ... where I fish," O'Neill said on the screen, as he turned towards Sam and Daniel. "Uh, I think that covers it for me."
Daniel turned the video off. Sam looked at O'Neill.
"Is that correct? About the fish, I mean."
"If it is, we don't do anything?" O'Neill asked.
"Apparently nothing we did affected the timeline," Sam said.
"But we didn't do anything," O'Neill pointed out.
"Not yet. Apparently we were going to, two weeks from now, but now we don't have to," Sam told them.
"Excellent!" O'Neill grinned. "That's it! I like it!"
Daniel and Teal'c nodded to each other and began to walk away, while Sam reached for the box with the Z.P.M.
"Okay, I'm gonna get this up to the lab for analysis."
"No! I'll take it." O'Neill grabbed the box. "There's a whole room full of geeks up there just dyin' to get their hands on this. You've got packin' to do! We're all going to my cabin in Minnesota to do some fishing!"
All of SG-1 sat on the pier near O'Neill's cabin, fishing. They were relaxing, and clearly enjoying themselves for once.
"Want another beer?" O'Neill asked, grabbing a couple from the cooler and holding them towards Sam and Daniel.
Daniel nodded, accepting one. "Why not?"
"Careful - you know how bad a drinker you are." O'Neill grinned, remembering some of the team nights in the past.
"I'll take one as well," Sam said. She opened it and took a drink, then a sudden movement out in the pond made her look. A fish jumped out of the water. She turned to look at O'Neill. "Didn't that tape say there were no fish in your pond?"
O'Neill shrugged and looked at her. "Close enough."
Sam nodded, slowly. "Let's hope so." She sighed. "Not that we'll likely ever know if anything is changed."
"How is Jacob and Selmak?" Rian asked, as he approached the fellow Tok'ra that had just left the healer's rooms, and joined him in the corridor outside. "Did it work?"
Martouf nodded. "Yes, the treatment finally succeeded, after several attempts. It was a near thing, according to the healers. It was very fortunate I returned from my long mission now, and not later, since Lantash is the only one who knew about Selmak's pre-existing condition, aside from Jolinar."
"It was some strange aftereffect of the sha'kek Sokar gave her - in addition to the 'blood of Sokar' - was it not?"
"Yes, it was," Martouf confirmed.
"I must admit it is surprising. I have heard of it, of course. It is an infamous drug, that was used by Sokar in order to weaken symbiotes, and make it harder for them to heal - both themselves and their hosts. However, as far as I know, it is a temporary effect."
"It is. Jolinar was exposed to it as well, and it took several months before the effects were completely gone, despite the medicine she was given." Martouf sighed, and bowed his head, giving Lantash control.
"Selmak was given the medicine as well, of course, and she seemed to have recovered. However, there was a lingering effect from it, which eventually made Selmak deadly sick." He paused. "As you may know, Selmak was poisoned as a child."
Rian nodded. "Yes, the Jaffa that carried her, as well as the other Jaffa in that unit, were exposed to a poisonous gas, which killed all but Selmak and her Jaffa."
"Exactly. Jolinar told me about it once. Selmak succeeded in saving her own life, and that of her Jaffa, but it took a long time before they were well. She did not grow much larger after that, but in every other way, she seemed to be perfectly well. However, it turns out she is somewhat more susceptible to certain drugs - such as sha'kek. With medical treatment she has recovered now, though. She and Jacob are resting, but will be well."
"That is a relief," Rian said, meaning it.
"I will be going to the Tau'ri, to inform Samantha that her father has been ill, but that he is recovering. No doubt she will wish to visit him."
Lantash did not mention that he and Martouf also looked forward to seeing Sam again. They had been gone on a mission for close to five years, much longer than expected when the mission had started.
"I am certain that is the case," Rian said. He paused. "I assume you will now return to only taking shorter missions, as you did before? Or have you come to appreciate the life as an undercover operative?"
Lantash snorted. "As if that was likely! Neither Martouf, nor I, have ever been fond of long, undercover missions. It was just unfortunate that we were the best suited for this one - and that we had to leave just before the official signing of the treaty with the Tau'ri." He got a very unhappy expression on his face.
"I know. Such is our life," Rian said, a somewhat guilty look crossing his features. He looked distant for a moment, as he talked to his host. "Azhar reminds me... would you inform the Tau'ri of the progress in Egeria's health? She is healing well, and it is expected she will be able to take a host within two years."
"You have just visited 'the planet of our hope'?" Lantash asked, very interested, using the name given to the safely hidden place where Egeria was healing.
"It's a great relief to hear she's doing better. When we received the news that she had been found, and that she would live, it brought us much joy." Lantash smiled, then bowed his head. "I will be going to the Tau'ri. I promised Jacob to contact his daughter immediately. He and Selmak were tired and not well when last they saw her, and he remembers she was worried."
"Of course. Safe journey."
Lantash and Martouf left to contact Stargate Command, and Rian looked after them, thoughtful.
It was due to his manipulations that Martouf/Lantash - and several other Tok'ra - had been sent on long missions. The missions had turned out longer than intended, which was perhaps unfortunate, but it was better than the alternative. Much better than how things had turned out in the other, original, timeline. Not that anyone would ever know about that, except he, his host, and the select few members of the Council that he had confided in.
"I am surprised you never wish to go to the world of the Tau'ri."
Rian turned to see Anise. "Why? There are many Tok'ra who have not been to the Tau'ri homeworld. It makes more sense to send those who have... a special connection to them."
"Yes, that is true. However, I know how much you have worked to improve relations with our ally. You always argue for more cooperation."
"Of course. That is the logical thing to do. The alliance has been advantageous to everyone."
"I agree. As you know, I share your wish for closer ties to the Tau'ri... and I have been to their planet, several times." She looked thoughtful. "It is true that some of them can be disrespectful, but in general, we work together well. I have enjoyed the majority of my visits, as have Freya. It is your own choice, of course, if you do not wish to go there."
"Perhaps one day I will." Rian smiled. "I will see you later, Anise. I am on my way to report to the Council." He left, deep in thought.
Rian's current host, Azhar, was from Earth, and would very much like to return, just for a short visit. That would not be safe, though, as he might be recognized. Still, they briefly considered accompanying Martouf and Lantash to Earth.
Azhar had been one of the men in the group that uncovered the stasis jar Rian had been placed in. No one had gotten a chance to read the inscriptions, since Azhar had happened to break the jar - when no one else was present, fortunately. Rian had taken him as host, convinced that whomever opened it, knew he was inside.
After a lot of explanations and apologies, Azhar had agreed to remain Rian's host, and they had stayed on Earth, remaining inconspicuous, until the Stargate project had been created.
Having followed the Stargate when it was moved to the USA, Azhar/Rian had lived there for many decades, blending in completely. They had eventually joined Stargate Command, and in 1998 they had gotten assigned to an off-world mission.
They had escaped shortly after, and immediately begun looking for the Tok'ra. It had taken them several months, and by then the Tok'ra had already met the Tau'ri. With one Rian already present in this time, it had not been an easy thing to convince the Tok'ra that he was who he said he was, but eventually he had succeeded - especially since he clearly had Rian's memory, and also knowledge of things yet to happen.
Only a small number of Tok'ra, mostly from the Council, knew the real explanation. Most had been told he was Rian, but from an alternate reality, and since it was not really wrong, he felt that was acceptable. The fewer that knew the whole truth the better, since he had come to agree with Sam that it was best to change as little as possible.
Still, he had done a number of things which he felt certain Sam might not have agreed was safe.
He had made sure those Tok'ra that would otherwise have become zatarcs had been sent on long missions before that could happen - and he had given what little knowledge he had on the subject to the Tok'ra scientists, claiming the information came from the other reality. That had been enough to prevent any deaths. One Tok'ra had become a zatarc, as well as two Tau'ri, but they had all been safely cured.
Rian felt that success was enough to make up for any problems which might result from the change to the timeline, and so far it seemed he had been correct.
When nothing untoward seemed to have happened, and everything actually seemed to have gone the same or similar - aside from a stronger alliance between the Tau'ri and the Tok'ra - Rian and Azhar had decided to risk another, larger change. Something of greater importance to the Tok'ra than anything else could be.
He had told the Council that Egeria had been trapped on Pangar in his timeline, and several Tok'ra had been sent there immediately, freeing her. The Pangarans had been angry and desperate, but the Tok'ra had eventually succeeded in curing their addiction to tretonin with the help of Egeria. Tok'ra scientists had also managed to make a version of tretonin that could free the Jaffa from their dependance on the Goa'uld, like it had happened in his own timeline. Egeria had been placed in a healing tank, where she still was, slowly recovering from the effects of almost 50 years of medical experimentation, forced breeding, and sub-optimal living conditions.
Perhaps understandably, this had caused little immediate change to the timeline, outside of the ranks of the Tok'ra, though Rian admitted to himself that they seemed to have observed a number of smaller events happening differently. Of course, since he had not been a historian, nor had access to information about the entire Galaxy, he could not be certain that the effects were truly insignificant.
Still, the changes he had observed, seemed to have been for the better, and he and Azhar agreed they could risk yet another, larger change.
They had informed the Council about the attack that had happened on Revanna, in the other timeline. Operatives had been sent out, and it had turned out that a similar attack was planned. That was now averted, and the great many Tok'ra deaths that had resulted from that attack in the original timeline had not happened.
This had some effect on the Galaxy of course. What had happened was that Zipacna had lost favour with his allies, and were now a very minor System Lord, less powerful than when he was Apophis's ally. This in turn had caused some changes to the power structure of the Goa'uld society, but it seemed to have been of little importance, since Anubis had still become as powerful as he otherwise would. Rian had not dared interfere in anything on that scale, nor had he found any way he could do so in a controlled fashion.
Still, while Rian felt all the interference he had caused to the timeline had been justified, and that the advantages had far outweighed the problems, he admitted to himself that he felt some measure of worry over what he had done, as well as guilt. He knew and understood that it could have caused things to go much, much worse, and that he had been lucky that it had not.
He was relieved he had now reached a point in time, where he no longer had foreknowledge of what would happen, because he knew he would probably have been unable to stop himself from interfering further.
His host, Azhar, gave him a 'hug', wordlessly supporting him. Rian sighed, hugging his host back, and allowed the tension and worry to drain from his body. He focused on the good news he had just gotten.
Selmak had been saved, something he considered very important, as Selmak was wise, and a great leader for the Tok'ra. Losing her had been a terrible blow for them all, and it had happened shortly before Rian's trip back in time with SG-1, so he had not known if the cause of her demise had ever been found.
He had long suspected Jolinar - or Lantash - would have known something about what might have been wrong with Selmak, something that could have caused her decline. They had been among her closest friends, after all, and Jolinar had known Selmak since she took her first host.
It turned out he had been correct. With Lantash alive, Selmak too had survived. With Rian's other interferences, so had a great many other Tok'ra. Including, most importantly, Egeria.
Yes, Sam might have been correct that it was dangerous to mess with the timeline, but Rian felt he had done the right thing, even if it had perhaps been luck. The effects on the timeline had overwhelmingly been positive. They had Egeria back, their queen, and in no more than two years she could take a host, and would be strong enough to spawn larvae.
The Tok'ra were no longer a dying people.