There was a knock at the door, and O'Neill opened it a crack, holding his weapon at the ready. Teal'c stood beside him, prepared to fire as well.
"I got the... self-destruct... activated. Set it... to... we have... twenty... nine minutes, and... thirty seconds left... to get out..." Sam managed, then collapsed, unconscious.
O'Neill tried to catch her as she fell. "Dammit, Carter!"
"Samantha!" Martouf exclaimed, and immediately stopped what he was doing, and hurried toward Sam. He suddenly froze, recognizing the smell coming from outside the room. "Get her inside and then shut the door. Immediately!"
Teal'c grabbed Sam and pulled her inside, as O'Neill hurriedly shut the door, holding his breath as much as possible, to avoid the noxious fumes that were seeping in from the corridor. He bolted the door, and turned to see Daniel gently shaking Sam, who was unresponsive.
"How is she?" He frowned, looking at Martouf.
"Let me look at her," Martouf urged, kneeling beside Sam with a very worried expression on his face.
Daniel moved aside, letting the Tok'ra check on his team mate. Martouf took out his healing device, and used it to scan Sam.
"Teal'c - since we can't get out this way, go see if you can do anything about that door, we need to get out of here, and fast," O'Neill said, indicating the door at the opposite side of the room, then turned to Martouf. "Well? How is she?" He asked, a few moments later, when Martouf allowed the healing device to turn off.
"She has several minor injuries, which I would prefer to treat immediately. However, we have little time, and they are not life threatening. The gas, however, is a concern."
"The stuff that's in the corridor? What is it?" O'Neill wanted to know. "You recognized the smell?"
"What will it do to her?" Daniel asked. "It won't kill her, will it?"
"It is Kek'Shree'ac - death mist. A gas which, in rare instances, are used by the Goa'uld during attacks. It will cause the victims to fall into a deep, death-like sleep. It kills in 80% of the cases, but there are no lasting ill effects, if the victim survives, though it may take as long as a couple week before they are completely restored to health," Martouf explained, his expression tense, drawn. He took a small bottle from his belt and uncapped it, pouring some of it into Sam's mouth and making her drink it. She swallowed, then coughed, but did not wake up.
"What did you give her?" O'Neill demanded. "An antidote?"
Martouf shook his head. "Unfortunately, none exists. What I gave her is called ta'el shel'mel. It is a drug meant to help you regain your strength and recuperate faster."
O'Neill looked suspicious. "It's meant to be used on snakes, right? Does it even work on humans?"
Martouf sighed, as he held his hand above Sam's head, evaluating her energy signature, like the Tok'ra did on each other. "Yes, it is intended for Tok'ra, of course. To help the symbiote so it can better heal itself and its host, if they are in a bad shape and cannot easily get help from someone with a healing device, for example. Or, as if in this case, if they have been poisoned and need the strength to filter it out."
"But it works on humans too?"
"It should not harm a human, at least. Lantash believes it should help Samantha." Martouf put on the healing device again, and activated it. He began healing some of the several bruises and other minor injuries Sam had.
"Because of the changes to her body chemistry made by Jolinar - and the naquadah, and... stuff," Daniel said.
Martouf nodded. "Yes."
"Will the gas affect the rest of us? I mean, we got some of it in here, when the door was open," O'Neill said.
"It is too diluted to be much of a concern. It may cause minor annoyances, like headache, nausea, and dizziness, but I do not believe it should cause prolonged troubles," Martouf assured the others.
"How much time left until this place blows?" O'Neill asked, worried.
"Just over twenty six minutes," Daniel told him.
They heard a loud noise, followed by electric crackling, and turned to look.
"I have opened the door," Teal'c informed them.
They saw that Teal'c had indeed gotten the door open. Teal'c had given up on trying to short-circuit the electronic lock, if he had even attempted it, and merely ripped out the whole keypad, which had luckily unlocked the door.
"Nice!" O'Neill smiled. "Okay, let's go!"
Martouf had quickly clipped the healing device back on his belt, and now scooped up Sam, following the others, as they hurried from the room and ran towards the cargo elevator.
The corridor outside the normal elevator had collapsed from an explosion earlier that day, when some Jaffa had breached their defences. That meant the only way up was either the stairs, the access shaft, or the cargo elevator. The way to the stairs went through the corridors that were flooded by the poison gas, but as luck would have it, they had closed several blast doors during the earlier fight with the Jaffa, and that now meant the piece of corridor near the cargo elevator was cut off, with the only access through the room they had just left.
The access shaft was their last resort - the thought of climbing up a ladder from this, the 26th level, was not something any of them relished.
The Jaffa attack earlier that day had been fought back, but it had cost dearly, and many of the defenders had been killed.
There was still fighting go on in between the Jaffa and the soldiers from Cheyenne Mountain, but it was on the higher levels. The Jaffa kept coming, and it had soon become very clear it was only a matter of time before the humans had lost.
An explosion in the gateroom had meant the Stargate was currently inaccessible, though since the enemy had kept re-opening wormholes every time they shut down, that had not been a possible escape route anyway. With Apophis in the process of conquering Earth, and with his Jaffa fighting their way down through the defences of Cheyenne Mountain, it was clear the people from the SGC were trapped.
In a last, desperate attempt to at least make life difficult for Apophis, and to stop the Goa'uld from getting his hands on secret information - for instance, about the Alpha site - SG-1 had volunteered to attempt to reach the control room, where the automated self-destruct were. As well, they would try to get to a storage room on level 26, which contained several ancient alien tablets, which would hopefully lead them to weapons that could be used against the Goa'uld.
In addition, they would be picking up the Tollan communicator they had gotten from the Tok'ra. With no possibility of using the Stargate to go offworld, they would need to hitch a ride on a spaceship, and the Tok'ra were the only ones of those with access to spaceflight, who might agree to help.
On the twelfth floor, they got off the cargo elevator, and switched to the other one, which serviced the levels 1 through 12. They saw no Jaffa in the area, but they did not dare go to the normal elevators, or moving around on the level too much, since they feared being discovered. It was very likely the Jaffa had retaken this level.
The elevator ran smoothly - if slower than they would have preferred - for some time.
"Crap!" O'Neill exclaimed, as the light suddenly went out and the elevator ground to a halt.
"What floor are we on?" Daniel wondered. "Unless we're between floors, which would be unfortunate."
"Seventh." Teal'c observed, just as the emergency light came on. The cargo elevator did not move, though.
"Well, that's not too bad, I guess. We can take the stairs the rest of the way," Daniel said. "Oh, and we're down to just under twenty two minutes."
Teal'c and O'Neill forced the elevator doors open, and they nervously peeked outside.
"No gas - and no Jaffa." O'Neill stepped outside, holding his weapon at the ready. Seeing nothing dangerous, he lead the way through the corridors, then pointed to a door. "Stairs." He opened the door, only to find the staircase full of the poisonous gas. He coughed and quickly closed the door. "Not the stairs."
"Perhaps the access shaft Samantha used to escape during your recent foothold situation?" Martouf suggested. "The same one which I entered through today."
"Of course! It's just around the corner!" O'Neill raced in that direction, and the others followed.
They forced back the bolts that kept the hatch closed, as quickly as possible, then opened the door to the access shaft.
Daniel stuck his head in and looked up, then down. Shuddering, he pulled his head back. "Uh, is that the only way out?"
The power returned to the floor, just as they had the hatch open, and normal light came back.
"Typical! Just as we managed to get that thing opened!" O'Neill grumbled.
"Well, that's great! Now we don't have to go up the ladders, do we?" Daniel asked, looking relieved.
Suddenly, they heard the sound of the elevator arriving, and the doors opening. The elevator was located a little down the corridor, and around the corner, maybe 30-35 feet away.
"Jaffa!" Martouf said in a low voice, sensing the energy signatures before their enemy was even out in the corridor. He put Sam down on the floor, quickly, but gently, and pulled his hand device from the small bag hanging from his belt. He immediately began putting it on.
O'Neill, Teal'c, and Daniel took position with their weapons, while Martouf gave Lantash control. He raised his hand with the ribbon device on, just as the Jaffa turned the corner.
It was a group of eight Jaffa, holding their staff weapons ready to fire. However, before either they, or the humans had time to shoot, Lantash sent off a shockwave from his hand device, pushing the nearest Jaffa back hard, and against those behind them, making them stumble and fall. They did not have time to recover before he shot out a more powerful blast, which sent the Jaffa flying, hitting the walls or each other. Most of them stayed down, but he gave them another shockwave, just for good measure, and to make sure their enemies did not pursue them.
The light went out again in the corridor, before O'Neill and the others could start for the elevator, and they just shrugged and headed back towards the open hatch, as the emergency light returned.
O'Neill stopped and turned to look at Lantash, who was kneeling beside Sam, holding his hand over her head, checking on her energy signature. He looked concerned, and thinking no one was watching, he gently caressed her cheek.
"How is she doing?" O'Neill asked, softly, deciding not to comment on the other man's obvious display of affection.
"No change. I had hoped she would have regained consciousness by now, at least for a moment, though I suppose that was too optimistic. It has not even been fifteen minutes since she became unconscious, and it normally takes several hours for a human to wake up... if they wake up." Lantash sighed.
"She'll wake up - Carter doesn't just give up like that," O'Neill said, as much to convince himself, as Lantash.
Suddenly, they heard something... or rather someone.
"It came from behind that door," Lantash whispered, nodding in the direction.
"I agree," O'Neill said, pulling out his weapon again.
"Let me go first," Teal'c insisted, taking several long steps and reaching the door before either of the others had time to react.
"Wait!" O'Neill ordered, as Teal'c ripped open the door. "Damn!"
"It is all right, O'Neill. They are friends." Teal'c told him, stepping aside to let those inside come out of the room.
"Pierce, Coburn,... Griff," O'Neill greeted the men now standing by the door, looking very relieved. "It's good to see you guys!"
"Thanks, Colonel" Pierce grinned, then knocked on one of the other doors. "You can come out now - it's just SG-1 scaring the crap out of us!"
"Well, it wasn't just us to begin with," O'Neill told them. "A bunch of Jaffa attacked us - and regretted it, though not for long." He smiled as the door opened and SG-5 came out, followed by two other Stargate teams, then Siler - and then Janet.
"It's safe?" Jenkins asked.
"Yup. Totally. Well, mostly," O'Neill promised.
"What happened to Major Carter?" Janet demanded, hurrying over and kneeling beside Sam, who was half-lying against the wall.
"She inhaled Kek''Shree'ac - death mist," Lantash said, giving Sam a concerned look.
"Goa'uld poison gas," Daniel translated. "Listen we need to move, guys - auto-destruct, remember?"
"Right - we can get you up to speed later. This place is about to blow," O'Neill added.
Daniel frowned, looking between the hatch to the access shaft and Lantash, who were again carrying the still unconscious Sam. "What about Sam? There's no way we can carry her while climbing."
"I can carry her," Lantash insisted.
"Yeah, but not fast enough." O'Neill frowned. "Maybe we could use ropes, or something..."
"Making a leverage system of ropes or something like that for lifting Samantha would take much too long. Go ahead of me, and I shall follow with her, as fast as possible. Go," Lantash urged.
O'Neill nodded, somewhat reluctantly. "Okay." He crawled through the hatch and was soon climbing the ladder in the access shaft.
Daniel followed, trying to crawl as fast as possible. After him came the rest of the SG team members, Janet, and then Siler.
While the others climbed through the hatch and began their ascent, Lantash put Sam down on the floor, and used a piece of rope to fashion a loop. He intended to tie it around Sam in order to minimize the risk of her falling, since he would need both of his hands for climbing the ladder.
"Go inside. I shall assist you in getting Samantha through." Teal'c said, when everyone else was in the access shaft, and Lantash had lifted Sam up again.
Lantash nodded. "Thank you." He let Teal'c take Sam, before he entered the access shaft.
Teal'c then pushed the unconscious Sam through the hatch, to Lantash. He managed to place her over his shoulder in such a way that she was balanced. With the rope looped around her - and some care - it would be possible for him to climb up the ladder with her, without dropping her.
When Lantash felt fairly certain Sam could not fall, he started climbing the rungs of the ladder as fast as he could, and was soon starting to catch up to Siler.
Teal'c climbed after him, intending to do his utmost to catch Sam, or otherwise assist Lantash, if it became necessary. Tok'ra seemed to have things under control, though.
They had almost reached the top, when they heard rumbling, and everything shook from the first explosions. The automated self-destruct was activating!
O'Neill and Daniel helped Lantash haul Sam up the last step, and he climbed out after her. The ground shook below them with several explosions, as Teal's crawled out of the access shaft.
While all of them were now out in the lightly forested area, they could not feel safe yet. The explosions from the self-destruct would demolish much of the complex, and a good deal of the mountain as well. They needed to run, and fast.
"Which way to your Teltac?" O'Neill asked, knowing Martouf and Lantash had arrived in one, when they came to check on why the Tok'ra had not been able to contact the Tau'ri. The Stargate had been blocked for almost a week, by continuous dial-ins from Apophis.
Fortunately, the Teltac was hidden not far away, cloaked, and they reached it in very short time. Still, as they hurried inside, the ground under them trembled and shook, and chasms had started to open where explosions had caused parts of the mountain to cave in.
The Teltac took off mere moments later, which was not a second too soon, as an explosion caused that whole part of the mountain to crack open. There was now a large hole where the spaceship had been a moment ago.
"Well, at least it looks as if the Goa'uld won't get their hands on the Stargate," O'Neill observed. "The whole mountain is breaking up and collapsing in on itself."
"It is unlikely to cause damage to the chaapa'ai itself, though," Lantash said. "Apophis will have his slaves - of which he will soon have a great many - hack and shovel away the stones and rubble until the chaapa'ai is accessible."
"That's... not exactly encouraging," Daniel complained.
They were out of the atmosphere, and had passed the last ships in Apophis's fleet undetected. Lantash set a course and took the ship into hyperspace, then turned to Teal'c. "Would you pilot the vessel, please. I need to examine Samantha."
"Of course." Teal'c took Lantash's place, while the other man left for the back of the Teltac.
Janet sat beside Sam, when Lantash arrived. She had an unhappy look on her face, clearly not pleased that she was unable to help Sam. She most likely missed her infirmary, with her equipment and medicines.
Lantash nodded at her, then started explaining what he knew about the drug that was affecting Sam, while he took out his healing device and started scanning her with it.
Janet took Sam's pulse, and felt her forehead. "There doesn't seem to be any change."
Lantash shook his head. "No, and that's actually a good sign. More than 30 minutes has now passed, since she was exposed. Usually, at this point the condition of about half of those affected by this gas will have worsened. The fact that Samantha appears stable, means she is still fighting. That she still has a chance."
He looked down at Sam, an expression of equal parts hope and despair crossing his features.
"Do you have a first-aid kit? I have cleaned her injuries with water and a clean cloth, but they really need to be bandaged as well," Janet said.
"Yes, there should be a kit containing some of the same things that I have seen in your first-aid kits, somewhere. However, we usually use this." He held up his healing device.
"Of course." Janet nodded. "You're going to use it on her?"
"Yes, I intend to heal her wounds. It should not take long."
They both fell silent. Janet sighed, leaning back against the wall and observed Lantash, as he began working.
Lantash ran the healing device over Sam one more time, and finished healing the various minor injuries she had sustained in the fights against Jaffa earlier that day.
*I dearly hope Samantha survives.* Lantash caressed her cheek. *I do not know what to do if she dies.*
*She cannot die. We cannot lose her, Lantash!* Martouf replied, distressed.
*She is strong. There are no signs of her condition worsening.*
*And also none of her getting better.*
*Stop it! She will get better! Until then, we shall stay here by her side and do what little we can.* Lantash sighed, then 'hugged' Martouf. *We should attempt to focus on something else, or the next hours will be very hard.*
*Do you think it will help her if we gave her more of the ta'el shel'mel?*
Lantash considered it for a moment. *Maybe. It's worth a try. Enough time has passed that it will at least not harm her, and it may strengthen her further.*
He took the small bottle from his bag, and gave Sam some more of the liquid, before settling back to wait, gently taking her hand in his.
Lantash and Martouf both thought back to what had happened over the last week.
There had been much activity among the Goa'uld after Sokar's death, with several of them trying to grab as much of his territory as possible. Then, a little over a week ago, the Tok'ra had learned that Apophis had survived and were in control of Sokar's fleet, as well as much of his domain.
That meant the Tok'ra had needed to send an operative to Apophis's court immediately. After some deliberation, Palket had been chosen, since he had been undercover with Apophis before - in his previous host, so he would not easily be recognized.
Of course, that meant another operative had to be sent on the mission he were to have gone on otherwise. Since it was a potentially dangerous mission, an experienced operative was needed, and Selmak had volunteered.
Jacob and Selmak were going to go to Earth, for a long-overdue vacation with Sam, one they had been looking forward to for some time. Now, they naturally worried Sam would become concerned when they did not show up, so Martouf and Lantash had promised to go and inform her of the changed plans, apologize, and promise the vacation would happen. Later.
Six days ago, when Jacob and Selmak had just left on their mission, Martouf/Lantash had picked up one of the GDOs the Tok'ra had received from Stargate Command, and then gone to dial the address to Earth.
Martouf had been unable to establish a connection, and, thinking perhaps he had just happened to hit on a time when someone was arriving at Stargate Command, he had thought little of it, and decided to try again a couple hours later.
The result had been the same. Now, somewhat worried, he had decided to try again once every three hours, which he had done for the rest of the day.
He had then contacted the Tok'ra Council, who were less concerned, thinking it was probably some temporary issue. The Tau'ri Stargate, with its home-made dialling device, was considered somewhat less stable and trustworthy than the other ones.
So, Martouf and Lantash had waited, and tried again the next day. When several more attempts had yielded no result, they had again gone to the Tok'ra Council and now asked to be allowed to use one of the Teltacs, to go and check on the Tau'ri.
After a lengthy meeting, the Council had given their permission, and Martouf/Lantash had left to pick up the Teltac located nearest to Earth.
The vessel was damaged, and the Tok'ra had not yet had time to repair it, so it could not fly at full speed. Thus, Martouf/Lantash had only just arrived on Earth a few hours ago.
The Teltac did have one advantage, though. It had a cloak. This meant that they had not been discovered when they passed Apophis's fleet, and flew down to land on Cheyenne Mountain.
They had not been able to enter through the main entrance, as a large contingent of Jaffa was there. They had obviously penetrated the defences of Stargate Command, but the question was; had they captured or killed everyone, or were there still some who were free?
Martouf and Lantash had debated what to do for some time, before making a decision. They had remembered that Sam had told them of how she escaped through an access shaft during a recent foothold situation, and they had decided they would try to find a way into Stargate Command, to see if there was still anyone there they could help.
After searching for some time, they had found a hatch with an electronic lock. Using their zat'nik'tel, they had overloaded the lock, and soon they had been looking down into a deep, dark shaft. A long ladder ran all the way to the bottom, with access hatches on each floor.
It had not taken them long to climb down, but when they had reached the bottom, they found that the door and part of the wall had been partially pushed in, probably by an explosion. Rubble could be seen through a crack, and it was clear there was no open corridor on the other side.
They had climbed up two floors, to be fairly certain there would be open corridor on the other side of the hatch - which they had found closed and bolted, as expected. They needed some way to either melt through the bolts, or force them open.
Lantash had tried if it was possible to wrench it open from the outside. He had failed, of course, and only succeeded in causing a screeching noise - at the same moment as he had felt an energy signature on the other side of the hatch.
Cursing under his breath, he had climbed up a few steps and then waited to see if anyone had heard him, his zat'nik'tel ready.
It had not taken long before he heard the bolts being forced aside, and the hatch opened. He had been about to fire, when he recognized the big Jaffa who had stuck his head through, and now pointed at him with a Tau'ri weapon - an M5.
Teal'c, Daniel, and O'Neill had been very surprised to see Martouf/Lantash, and he had explained to them that he was there since the Tok'ra had become concerned, when they could not contact them.
As pleased as they had been to see him, they had still been unhappy the Tok'ra had only sent him. They had then gone on to explain that Sam had left to try and reprogram - and activate - the base's self-destruct, while they would try to find some important data tablets, and the Tollan communicator so they could contact the Tok'ra.
They had just successfully located what they had been searching for when they met Martouf/Lantash. They had been on the way to the room where they would meet Sam a short time later. Martouf and Lantash had accompanied them there, and they had been there less than 10 minutes, when Sam showed up - and immediately fainted from the poisonous gas Apophis had just released.
Martouf almost jumped when Sam suddenly spoke.
"Martouf? Lantash?" She coughed.
He hurriedly grabbed a water canteen he had fetched earlier. "Here, drink some water." He helped her to sit up a little and held the water canteen to her mouth.
Sam swallowed several mouthfuls of water, then lay down again. She groaned softly and closed her eyes. "Damn, my head hurts!"
Martouf almost grinned from the relief, but managed to stop himself from doing so. Sam would probably not react well to such a reaction at a time like this. "It is a normal after effect from the Kek'Shree'ac. It will pass."
Sam frowned. "Kek'Shree'ac... what's that?"
"A poisonous gas released by Apophis," Martouf said. "How are you feeling otherwise?" He took out his healing device and began scanning her with it.
"Like crap." Sam sighed, trying to concentrate on giving him a more useful answer. "Well, my head hurts - worse than any hangover I've ever had. I'm nauseous... and my entire body hurts. Oh, and I have stomach cramps."
Martouf nodded. "All normal symptoms, which will disappear in time. You will survive." He smiled warmly at her.
"When did you arrive, and what are you doing here? Did the Tok'ra send you because my team contacted them?"
Martouf grinned. "No, you have not been unconscious for that long." He looked over at the time strip. "Only for about an hour and a half, actually. When we could not contact your people, Lantash and I came to investigate, and learned of the attack. We made our way down into your Stargate Command, where we met your team."
"I see. We're on a spaceship?"
"Yes, we're currently travelling in the Teltac Lantash and I arrived in, having escaped from Apophis." He frowned, "Samantha, we also carry a message from your father. He and Selmak had to go on an important mission, so they are unable to go on... vacation with you, but they wanted me to assure you it would happen another time. Thought, I fear these plans may have to be revised."
Sam snorted. "Yeah... I'm sure they'll have to be revised." She coughed again, then made a low moan. "How long until this damned headache lets up? It's by far the worst of the symptoms!"
Martouf hesitated. "I will not lie to you - aftereffects of this gas may linger for as long as two weeks, however, they will quickly decrease in severity. Also, since you awoke much faster than normal, for a human, I expect the symptoms to disappear quicker as well. For now, you should rest. It will help you get well faster. Do you want more to drink?"
Sam groaned. "Two weeks!" She then nodded slowly. "Yeah, I think I'd like some water."
Martouf helped her to drink from the water canteen, and put it down just as Janet entered.
She had left a short time ago, and now returned, hurrying to Sam's side when she realized Sam was awake. "How do you feel?"
Sam repeated to Janet what she had told Martouf earlier, before settling back to try and get some sleep. It would be many more hours before they reached their destination.
It was late evening, when they finally arrived at the Tok'ra base. They had landed the Teltac on the nearest safe world with a Stargate, then gated to the Tok'ra base Martouf and Lantash were stationed at.
Sam had been examined by the Tok'ra healers - overseen by Janet - and she had been given a room at the base. The healers had prescribed a foul-tasting medicine for her, which she should take once every six hours, and told her to rest.
The other refugees from Stargate Command had left for the Alpha Site. Hopefully, the people there were fine, and Sokar had not attacked them. In any case, they had to be warned, and the base moved, before Sokar - somehow - found the address for it.
Janet had wavered between staying with Sam to keep an eye on her, or going with the others to the Alpha site, but had eventually decided to accompany them, in case her assistance was needed. Sam was already doing much better, and there were Tok'ra healers who could treat her better than Janet, since they had prior knowledge of the gas that had poisoned Sam.
If all was well at the Alpha site, then the Tau'ri refugees would stay and help move the base, otherwise, they would be coming back quickly. In any case, someone would make sure Sam and the Tok'ra were kept informed.
Sam had taken a long bath in one of the Tok'ra pools, and managed to eat a little. She felt stronger, but still not well. The nasty drug the healers had given her kept the head-ache in check, so she would at least be able to sleep. She looked very much looked forward to that.
She was standing, lost, in the middle of a corridor which she had been certain would lead to her room, when suddenly Martouf turned the corner and greeted her.
"I apologize for leaving you to yourself for the entire evening, but the Council wished for an update on the situation on the Tau'ri."
Sam nodded. "It's okay, Martouf, I had assumed they would. I'm just glad they didn't insist on talking to me also. I don't feel like doing much of anything except sleeping. I'm actually on my way to my room, right now."
"Of course. I shall not uphold you for long. How are you feeling?" He looked at her with concern, obviously noting how tired she looked.
"Tired, and a bit under the weather, but much better than before. This..." She held up a small bottle containing the medicine she had gotten from the Tok'ra healers. "Is pretty effective. I just wish it didn't taste so bad." She made a face.
Martouf grinned. "Unfortunately, making their medicines taste good has never been as important to the healers as it is to everyone else."
"Mm, that seems to be a universal truth." Sam smiled a little, feeling better.
"Samantha, one of your warriors - Major Coburn - was here for a short time, bringing news of your people at the Alpha site. It has not been attacked, and they are safe."
"Thank you, that's a relief! So my team is staying with them for now?"
"Affirmative. They will help to move the base, and would return to meet you here in a few weeks." He frowned. "Does it truly take that long to move one of your bases?"
"Um, yeah, I guess, if they want to bring everything. You know we don't have tunnel crystals like you guys. The buildings have to be disassembled, moved, and reassembled."
"It is very dangerous. You must be able to move in hours, at most, if you are to escape Goa'uld attacks. Perhaps something can be arranged... maybe you can get some tunnel crystals from us. We should raise this issue with the Council."
Sam thought it over. "I'm not sure how happy some people would be about that... staying in Tok'ra tunnels, I mean. However... I agree with you. It might be safer." She yawned. "Sorry.
"Forgive me, Samantha. You are tired. We can discuss this later, when you have rested. May I accompany you to the quarters you've been assigned?"
"Sure, I'd like that... um, actually... I seems to have gotten lost. Do you know where they put me?"
"Yes, come this way," Martouf said. He put his hand on the small of her back, and lead her down the tunnel.
Martouf stopped outside a doorway. "These are your quarters. There is a bathroom with a small personal pool, if you prefer to bathe in private. Some clothing has been brought to your room, and there should be various toiletries. If there is anything else you need, my quarters are not far away. They are the last ones on the left in this tunnel."
"Thanks, Martouf." She suddenly smiled. "Janet told me what you did - how you carried me, even up the ladder in the access shaft! I can't even begin to understand how anyone could do something like that!" She shook her head.
Martouf smiled, pleased, his expression becoming slightly arrogant. "Tok'ra are quite strong."
Sam nodded. "Clearly... I'd never have gotten out if it wasn't for you and Lantash." She took his hand. "You... saved my life. Thank you."
He looked very serious. "I am deeply grateful I was successful - and that you survived the exposure to the Kek'Shree'ac."
She looked down at their hands, still joined, and suddenly remembered. "You were holding my hand when I woke up... on the ship."
"Yes." He looked unsure. "You disapprove?"
"No, no, not at all. It reminded me of when we were waiting for my dad to wake up. When Selmak was healing him, that time in the tunnels." She smiled. "I think it was, um, you know, cute." She blushed a little. "I felt like, well, like you were watching over me." She shook her head. "I know how stupid I sound. I should go to bed."
"Samantha, nothing you say is ever stupid." Martouf hesitated, then raised a hand to her cheek, caressing it gently. "You are more precious to Lantash and I than you can ever now. The thought of anything happening to you is... terrifying to us. We... have become very fond of you."
"Martouf..." She looked up at him, her cheeks colouring again. "I... um, thank you. I... well, I'm fond of you too."
He looked at her for a moment, seemingly considering something, then bowed his head, giving Lantash control.
"Samantha." He took both her hands and pulled her closer, looking intently into her eyes.
They stood like that for a few moments, just gazing at each other. Hesitantly, he leaned in to kiss her, stopping just before reaching her mouth. When she did not pull back, he closed the gap and gently touched his lips to hers.
The kiss was soft and undemanding. Sam closed her eyes and lost herself in it, for a short time forgetting all that had happened in the last few days. They both decided to deepen the kiss, and for a few moments it became more passionate, before Lantash drew back, with obvious difficulties.
"Lantash?" Sam looked at him, questioningly.
He gazed at her, an expression of desire - and regret - on his face. "I apologize for forgetting myself, Samantha. As Martouf has pointed out to me, you need to rest and regain your strength. You must allow your body the time to neutralize the last of the poison. When you are well... if you are willing, then... Martouf and I would like to... continue this."
Sam nodded, smiling softly at him. "I would like that. A lot."
"Then we shall look forward to it. Goodnight, Samantha." Looking very relieved, he gave her a quick kiss, before leaving to go to his own quarters.
"Goodnight, Lantash and Martouf."
She went into her quarters, and steered directly to the bed. She really was very tired, and she could feel a mild headache, despite the medication. Still, part of her wished she could have spent more time with Martouf and Lantash. Soon, she would, she promised herself.
Lying down on the bed, her thoughts went to her team, to Janet - and to the SGC and Earth. How had it come to this? They had been threatened before, had suffered setbacks before, but they had always eventually prevailed. Now the SGC had fallen... Earth had fallen.
What could those few who got away do? Was there even still anything they could do to take back Earth, or had they failed, completely, permanently?
Those thoughts only brought despair, and after some time, during which her mood became darker, and she grew more and more depressed, Sam forced herself to stop that line of thought. Yes, it all looked pretty bleak right now, but realistically, she was reasonably certain Earth would eventually be free. Humans had rebelled before, and they could do so again. At least she hoped so.
However, it might be a long time before that happened. Until then, what could she and the other refugees do to help? How many were they?
She tried counting it... from the SGC... 4 teams, and Siler, and Janet. That was 18 people. How many had been at the Alpha site? With those currently stationed there, and the extra that had been sent there before the dial-ins from the Goa'uld started... she estimated about 350, maybe as many as 400.
Not too bad, but they would soon run out of supplies, and it was barely enough people for a viable colony. The Tok'ra would help them, she hoped, but even then... it was obvious they could not fight Apophis directly. Their only hopes were to try and find powerful weapons - or powerful allies.
Sam snorted. Allies! Yeah, right! She remembered the reaction from the Tollan when Stargate Command had asked for advanced technology. Then there were the Nox, who were pacifists and just wanted everyone to get along. And the Asgard, who were far away, and who had not seemed inclined to help before.
No, the Tok'ra were the best bet for a more technologically advanced ally. They did not seem to mind sharing their technology - to a certain degree, at least - but they had limited resources, and were more than a little paranoid. With good reason, of course. However, the refugees from Earth had nothing to offer in return now, not even intelligence. Well, nothing except a limited amount of manpower, a willingness to take on the more confrontational missions, and - possibly - hosts.
Would anyone agree to that? Could they simply join the Tok'ra and fight the Goa'uld that way?
She doubted very many, if any, would be willing to do that. That might change, of course - with little medical technology otherwise easily treatable wounds and illnesses would be fatal and might convince some to become a host in order to live.
She sighed. Would she agree to become a host? She gave it some more thought. Could she do that again, after Jolinar? She had thought the answer was no, but now, when things were the way they were, she was not so sure that was still the case. As a host, she might fight for Earth's freedom for a much longer time, might even live long enough to see the day when her planet was again free.
There was something else. Martouf and Lantash. Did she want a relationship with them? Possibly. Likely. If she did not become a host, she would die of old age, while Martouf would be as young as he was today. That, in itself, might be reason enough to become Tok'ra. To live longer, with Martouf and Lantash.
She sighed again. She was so terribly tired, and the headache was getting worse. There would be time enough to think about this later.
For now, she would sleep - and hopefully dream of a free Earth.