The next couple days passed with further visits to archaeological sites, while the boat slowly sailed further south. Eventually, they arrived in Aswan, and it was time to disembark. They would be taking the train back to Cairo in a few days, but first they would spend a little time in Aswan, and perhaps go shopping in the local bazaar.
“Damn it’s hot!” Sam complained.
“Thirtythree degrees Celsius, according to the thermometer I looked at near the hotel a couple hours ago. I estimate it has become a little warmer since then,” Martouf said.
“That’s... almost 92 degrees Fahrenheit!” Sam groaned.
“Yes. Do you wish to find somewhere to sit and relax, and perhaps drink some sweet tea?”
“I’d prefer something icecold to drink!”
“It’s not a good idea to drink something that is very cold, when you are very hot yourself.”
Sam rolled her eyes. “Did Janet tell you to say that? Never mind, I know you’re right. Okay, I suppose tea sounds pretty nice... with some of those sweet cakes we had yesterday, if we can find a place that has them.”
After a short, refreshing break, they continued their walk through the bazaar. Martouf and Lantash wanted to buy some nice jewelry for Sam, but they had not found something they liked yet.
“I am beginning to think it will be better to purchase it offworld,” Martouf observed, exasperated, though keeping his voice down.
“Well, I think some of those are quite nice,” Sam said, indicating the armlets and necklaces in the display in front of them. “And don’t talk about offworld!” She added, whispering.
“Of course.” Martouf looked bashful. He took another look at the jewelry. “This one perhaps... and that one... and maybe that.” He pointed.
“They are all very beautiful,” Sam agreed.
“Excuse me,” Martouf addressed the shopkeeper. “May we try these on?”
“Of course, sir,” the man answered, giving them a friendly smile.
Sam tried the necklace, the armlet, and an armband as well. It did look quite lovely on her.
After bargaining with the shopkeeper about the price for a little while, they came to an agreement, and paid.
When they were about to leave, the shopkeeper looked as if he suddenly thought of something. “Ah, sir, madam... perhaps such discerning customers as yourselves are interested in something special?”
“Something special?” Sam asked, suspiciously.
“Yes.” He quickly looked left and right, then lowered his voice. “My cousin often has access to, ah, interesting and rare antiquities. He has found something truly unusual this time. It is not something you will find anywhere else!”
“What is it more precisely?” Martouf asked, wondering if the man’s cousin might have found some sort of Goa’uld devices, in which case they had probably better look at them so no one risked getting hurt.
“I cannot talk about it here, but if you will come to my cousin’s house, then you can see it. I promise you it will be worth your while.”
“Um, I don’t think so,” Sam said.
“I believe we should agree to it,” Martouf insisted.
“What if they just want to rob us?” Sam whispered to him.
“I do not believe so. The man does not look like a criminal. At least not a dangerous criminal,” Martouf answered, speaking in an equally subdued voice. “What if the alleged antiquities are of... ah, the same origin as the piece of... jewelry I found in the sand the other day?”
Sam considered for a moment, then nodded. “All right, let’s go see it.”
They were on their way to the location they had been told to go to. Sam was still suspicious they were going to get robbed, but Martouf and Lantash had argued quite sensibly that if that was the case, then it was unlikely they would just have been given the address and told to come there later. The salesman could not know they did not have friends they would bring, or tell where they were going, so they would probably be quite safe.
In any case, Martouf and Lantash had brought a hand device, so they had that if there were any problems. It was quite likely the cousin of the shop owner was a member of a group of people who looted ancient Egyptian sites, which meant he was a criminal, even if maybe not a dangerous one.
After walking through narrow alleyways for some time, they managed to find the right building. A little apprehensive, they knocked on the door.
It opened almost immediately, and a somewhat overweight man looked at them suspiciously for a moment, then grinned. “You were sent here by my cousin Arfan?”
“Yes, he told us you had certain... rare antiques you were interested in departing with,” Martouf said.
The man looked at him, confused for a moment, then grinned again. “Yes, yes. Rare valuable things to sell. Yes. I am Jalal. Please, come in!”
Sam thought he looked somewhat shady, but still mostly harmless. She and Martouf followed him inside.
“Do you have the, ah, goods in here?” Sam wondered.
“No, in storage... shed? Yes. Come, come, I will take you there.”
They had only taken a few steps, when Martouf froze. “Naquadah,” he whispered to Sam.
As they got closer to the storage room, Sam sensed it as well. There was definitely naquadah in whatever it was the cousin was going to peddle. Martouf’s hunch had been correct - it was probably some sort of Goa’uld device.
They came into the storage room to see several crates sitting on a large table. Jalal went over to the nearest one and opened it. He took out a jar of some sort... a jar which looked suspiciously like the stasis jar Sam and Janet had examined, and which had held a dead symbiote. Of course the symbiote had only been dead because the seal had been broken - that might not be the case for this jar. Sam dearly hoped it was actually just a canopic jar, and not a stasis jar, and that the naquadah signature was coming from something else.
“See? This is a canopic jar. Most rare... almost never for sale. Usually four are found with... sarcophagus. Here we found over thirty and no sarcophagus. In a room with many golden hieroglyphs. Very unusual.” He held it out towards Sam, who took a step back.
“Um, I’m not sure...”
Jalal laughed. “Look at it. Is it not beautiful? From ancient times! No doubt remains of... a highly important person. King or queen, maybe. You know what are in them? I will show you.” He twisted off the lid.
“No!” Martouf exclaimed, and hurriedly pulled Sam back and away.
From a few feet away, they watched as the symbiote emerged from the stasis jar and jumped at the shocked man.
Martouf hurriedly got the hand device out of his pocket and began putting it on just as Jalal’s eyes flashed when the symbiote connected itself to its new host.
Just as Martouf finished putting on the hand device, the Goa’uld gained full control of his host and looked up, flashing his eyes. Martouf very quickly gave Lantash control.
“I am Sek,” the Goa’uld stated, looking arrogantly at Lantash who had raised his hand device. “How dare you threaten me... and how dare you give me such an inferior, badly maintained host! Why did you not give me the female slave, for instance? Even a female would be preferable to this!” He indicated the quite flabby body of his host. “I need to spend time repairing this! Time I certainly need for other things.”
“I am Lantash. Stop your ramblings, or I shall make you stop!” he ordered.
“Such insolence from someone who’s name I have never heard! Who are you to give me orders? Who is your master?”
“I serve no one!” Lantash said angrily. “Surely you have looked at some of your host’s memories and realised much time has passed, and this is a very different world!”
“That would explain your clothing.” The Goa’uld, Sek, got an expression of distaste. “Did not Ra order me released? No...” He frowned. “I see from the memories of this poor excuse of an host that he was trying to enrich himself by selling my stasis jar!”
“Yes, there are no Goa’uld on Earth... the Tau’ri anymore!” Sam told him. “We threw your kind out!”
“Insolence! You are letting your human slave talk!” Sek exclaimed. “Not only that, but she is speaking obvious untruths! The Goa’uld would never abandon this planet! What about yourself? Are you not a Goa’uld?”
“She is not my slave, and she is quite correct. The humans of this world rebelled and they are now free.” Lantash allowed his hand device to glow softly. “You, however, are my prisoner. Turn around so Samantha can tie you up.”
The Goa’uld scoffed. “You are an idiot!”
Sek suddenly lunged at Lantash, but the Tok’ra was much faster than him, and sent out a mild shock wave, throwing the Goa’uld against the wall. Lantash quickly walked up to him while he was still stunned, and switched to the ribbon mode of the kara kesh. It took only seconds before Sek’s head lolled to the side and he sank to the ground.
“Is he...” Sam began, nervously.
“No, he is unharmed and merely unconscious. Help me tie him up before he wakes up.”
“Yeah.” Sam looked around and quickly spotted some rope in a corner. “We also need to contact Stargate Command, so they can send someone to apprehend him.”
They had only just finished tying up Sek, and Sam was still on the phone with Stargate Command, when the Goa’uld woke up again. She quickly finished her conversation before joining Lantash, who was keeping guard over the enraged Goa’uld.
“Hammond would contact the Egyptian authorities. The cover story is that he,” Sam nodded in the direction of Sek, “is one of our operatives who has gone rogue, and that we’re here to capture him. We’re to wait here for backup, which should be here shortly... in the form of a couple CIA agents from a local field agency we apparently have here. Anyway, they’ve been sworn to silence, so all should be good.” She sighed.
“They will take responsibility for getting the rest of the stasis jars to Stargate Command as well?” Lantash asked.
She nodded. “I would assume so.”
“It would be safest to send them to the Tok’ra.”
“Yeah, I hope that’s what they’re going to do... just as long as the NID doesn’t get wind of this - I wouldn’t put it beyond them to implant the Goa’uld in some poor souls just to be able to interrogate them!”
Lantash looked shocked. “They would do that? How could they! Do they not understand that being host to a Goa’uld is something you would not subject even your worst enemy to!”
“I don’t think they realise what it means... not that they’d care one way or another. They only care about the information they’d potentially get.”
“The Goa’uld are unlikely to tell them anything, and if they do, it will most likely only be in an attempt to trick them. Besides, their knowledge is 5500 years old. Not exactly important anymore.”
“Well, to be honest, there’s probably still a lot my people could learn from them,” Sam said.
“Why do you not just ask us? The Tok’ra would have most or all information of consequence these Goa’uld do. If we suspect they have any particular knowledge, we can even interrogate the symbiotes without putting them in hosts.”
Sek had been following the conversation with an expression that was a strange mix of disbelief and arrogance. He shook his head. “I shall not even begin to try and understand how your mind works, Lantash. If you were not obviously Goa’uld, I would not have believed you were of my kind! Answer me two things, though. Tok’ra - against Ra. Am I to understand this is the rebellion against Ra? How could it have ended up disposing Goa’uld from power on the world of the Tau’ri? That certainly was not our intention.” He frowned. “I have been in stasis for 5500 years?”
“That is three questions,” Lantash observed, dryly. “Regardless, in order to pass the time, I shall attempt to make you understand.”
“How do you even know he’s been in stasis for that long?” Sam wondered.
“Sek - and some 40 other minor Goa’uld - were part of an unsuccessful rebellion against Ra. They attempted to take power from him and place themselves on the throne. They failed, and as far as I know, it was mostly due to their inability to cooperate. Ra had them removed from their hosts and put in stasis jars.”
“I didn’t think the Goa’uld could do that!” She frowned, then shook her head. “Of course they can... Osiris, Isis... Shezmu... What were I thinking?”
“Yes, as long as they do not care what happens to the host, they can do so. It is merely a matter of cutting away everything around the symbiote.” Lantash said, bluntly, looking angrily at the Goa’uld before him. “Of course, unless great care is taken, the symbiote may end up dead as well. I imagine that is why only 30 stasis jars were found.”
Sam shuddered. “So they rebelled against Ra. That would make them... um, kind of Tok’ra too, wouldn’t it?”
“Inasmuch as our name means ‘against Ra’, perhaps, though they share none of the philosophy of the Tok’ra, and merely wished for more power to themselves.” Lantash looked directly at Sek. “So yes, you have indeed been in a stasis jar for 5500 years. You will find the Galaxy has changed greatly. Ra is dead, as are a number of other Goa’uld System Lords. As for the Tok’ra - we are... the Goa'uld resistance. Our goal is the destruction of the System Lords and a change in the ways of the empire. We are considered heretics, and are hunted and despised by the Goa'uld. We do not take unwilling hosts, and we share the body with our host.”
Sek stared at him, then suddenly laughed. “You are making fun of me! No one could be that stupid!”
Lantash glared at him for a moment, then bowed his head, giving Martouf control.
“I assure you, what Lantash says is quite true. I am his host, Martouf.”
Not long after, they had blindfolded and gagged the Goa’uld, as per orders from Stargate Command. This was to diminish the risk that the CIA operatives would learn that the prisoner was not a human. It was none too soon, as the CIA operatives arrived shortly after.
They also packed up the crates with the rest of the stasis jars. Sam and Martouf/Lantash accompanied them to the field office, where the Goa’uld would be kept for the next couple hours, until he could be transported out of the country. As far as the Egyptian authorities were concerned, this was a traitor the Americans were extracting, so they had no problems with it.
It was late evening when Sam and Martouf/Lantash finally returned to their hotel room. They had only just closed the door behind them, when Sam’s cell phone rang.
“What now!” Sam complained, as she fished the cell phone out of her pocket. “Hello, This is Major Carter... General?”
It had turned out Hammond called to inform them of new intelligence on the Goa’uld conspiracy.
They had determined that Kinsey was part of the conspiracy, and likely one of the highest placed human members, though everyone was convinced he had no idea it was a Goa’uld leading it, since Kinsey was very much against the Goa’uld. It was more likely he had been convinced they were a group that would protect Earth against aliens, and that it might even be a way of gaining power and money for him.
“You think he would join a conspiracy merely for power and wealth?” Martouf asked.
“Oh, yeah. They probably promised him the presidency or something!” Sam said. “Goa’uld aren’t the only ones who are power hungry. Humans - unfortunately - do quite well on that front too.”
Martouf nodded. “Very true.”
“What about the Tok’ra who’s joined the conspiracy? Are they all brainwashed, or are some in it because they don’t really know what it is, and thinks it’s a good thing?”
“Of those we have been able to determine are in the conspiracy, Anise believes most are brainwashed, only one of them seem to be involved because she thinks it’s a good thing.”
“So that Tok’ra has turned Goa’uld? I mean she must have, to be willing to support Am-heh’s plan!”
Martouf shook his head. “No, most likely she does not know there is a Goa’uld behind this, or if she does, she thinks the Goa’uld are considering becoming Tok’ra. I am quite certain of that. Samantha, there are some fear among the Tok’ra... fear that we will soon go extinct. We have no queen, and we have lost a great many people, especially recently.”
“After you’ve allied with us.”
“Yes - and there are those who think your way of fighting the Goa’uld is too dangerous, and not something we can afford. In such a situation, someone might join a conspiracy who is working against the Tok’ra-Tau’ri alliance. Unfortunately.”
“I’m not surprised, actually.”
“Fortunately, it is a very small number of Tok’ra who are against the alliance. Most are still in favour of it.”
“All those they’ve found on Earth who’s in the conspiracy have been brainwashed. Until now. Kinsey is the first who is not.”
“Probably there is some number of humans working for the organisation, but without knowing much about who the leaders are. Such is usually the case.”
Sam nodded. “Yes, small-time criminals in it for money, probably.”
“Not necessarily. They could be thinking they are helping your planet, could that not be the case as well?”
“I suppose it could, though I doubt it. For nothing else than the fact that everything to do with the Stargate is secret on Earth, and the conspirators have probably chosen to keep it that way.” She sighed. “In any case. There was one more piece of information. I don’t know if you heard it?”
“They have determined Siler did indeed report that you had been given a secret mission.”
“Yes. He didn’t remember reporting it - they’ve treated him, by the way, and he’s fine - but they found out that my name and picture has been circulated and that they are looking for me. Nothing about you, fortunately.”
“They still have no idea where the, ah, central base of the conspiracy is? Surely Kinsey, as an underling of Petbe and probably in charge of the human part of the organisation, would not be in the same location as the Goa’uld?”
“No, but they’re hoping they’ll be able to find out quickly. They’ve put surveillance on Kinsey, and he’ll probably contact headquarters regularly.”
“Most likely. No Goa’uld would trust a human to carry out much of anything important, so there would be frequent communications between Kinsey and his masters.”
Sam nodded. “In any case, Hammond felt Egypt was a good place for us to hide, for the time being. We should not stay long in the same hotel, though, so I suggest we start to slowly travel north to Cairo, stopping regularly and staying for a day or two every place.”