Chapter Eight Summary: After SG-1 leaves to ‘acquire’ two Goa'uld motherships, and rescue Sha’ uri, SG-6 returns, but not alone. SG-6 believed him human, but an injury, during a firefight with Jaffa, shows him as Goa'uld; his eyes glowed, when he was severely injured. His survival is questionable; however, Dr. Fraiser aids him. The General is uneasy; reports paint him Tok'Ra, not Goa'uld; he refuses to give information, not even a name. Hammond doesn’t report him. He waits for Sam/Jolinar to see if he is Goa'uld or Tok'Ra.
“Italics” – Symbiote-Host Communication
Jack O’Neill stood within the group gathering in the gate room. He was restless, but more than that, he was acutely uncomfortable. He hated these damned Jaffa uniforms. There was nothing like wearing a skirt to make you feel like an idiot. He watched Jolinar and Sam as they continually switched control between them. They were in charge, and they were doing a final recheck of their plans, going over them one last time with Teal’c. Neither of them had really told them much about those plans, and that made him frown. He wasn’t sure why they were keeping the first part of the mission to themselves. Daniel thought it was so that no one would screw up and say the wrong thing. If they didn’t know any details, then they couldn’t give anything away. And besides, a Jaffa and a Goa'uld Lord, even an underling, wouldn’t share their plans or reasons for what they were doing with anyone. They were simply staying in character so as to become more comfortable with it.
He looked at Teal'c again and shook his head. He would never have believed it was him. Jolinar and the young sergeant they found to do the makeup on the Jaffa had done an outstanding job. The entire Jaffa unit had Cronus’s emblem on their foreheads, and they looked freakishly, scarily real. He hoped to hell that they came off easily because he didn’t want to have to wear the darned thing until it just wore off by itself. That’d suck big time. Almost as much as wearing a skirt. Teal'c didn’t look like Teal'c. From Apophis’s missing emblem to the hair, no one would recognize Teal'c as Teal'c. But then, that was the point, wasn’t it? If they recognized Teal'c, then all of them needed to be ready for a battle. In a case where that happened, Daniel was to redial the gate and get them the hell out of there. Three of ‘her’ Jaffa were assigned to cover him as he dialed them home. Jolinar felt that the odds of that happening were negligible, but she still took the precaution of formulating a plan.
He sighed. He had to give the devil his due; she knew what she was doing when it came to planning a mission. He snorted to himself. He didn’t know why he was even slightly surprised. She’d commanded entire armies, for cripes sake. What had he expected—that she would forget the details and just charge in on a wing and a prayer? Well, if that was what he had expected, he’d once again been proven spectacularly wrong.
One of her biggest concerns was that Cronus might have changed his normal time for visiting his secret cache of ships. The only way he would do that was if he was under attack and, as far as she knew, he wasn’t in so much as a screaming match with anyone at the moment. Of course, that could have changed. She needed to meet her off world informants; however, there was no way she could take someone else with her. It would be hard enough making contact, since she would be unfamiliar to them. Hammond had allowed her off world alone yesterday, and she’d contacted one of her informants. The woman she met with brought Jolinar up to date on what she knew.
He was pretty sure that he wasn’t the only one surprised when she came back several hours later. So, they’d learned they could trust her to do what she said she would do. Their suspicion that she would head for her Tok'Ra base were unfounded. Daniel had made a point of telling him “I told you so” and Teal'c simply looked at him, his expression showing his disappointment in him. That was still bothering him…after all, they still didn’t know her that well and, although, he did believe that she and Carter were sharing Carter’s body, he still wasn't all that sure that he was convinced of her dependability. He was now, though, and it was a relief to him. It was one more instance that helped to change his thinking that much more.
As they waited, Jack’s mind wandered back to the briefing and the things Jolinar told them the day before.
She’d stood before them in the briefing room and explained their secondary mission, “Before we leave on this mission, I believe that there are things that you should know. The Tok'Ra Council would strenuously disagree with me on this, since we are not yet allies; however, I am the one risking my life, as well as yours; therefore, I feel it is imperative that you have this— insight—into the Goa'uld System Lords.”
“First, however, before I begin to give you that information, I believe that it is imperative that I try to explain our methods and us. You must understand how the Tok'Ra operate, what we do and how we do it, for it is totally different from your methods. Please do not misunderstand. I am not saying your way is the wrong way. What I am saying, is that we will both need to be more willing to accommodate the other in order for us both to work toward the same goal. You cannot work in the same manner we do, unless you go as a human slave or a Jaffa. We, on the other hand, cannot walk into danger in an obvious way and fight them in open warfare, much as we would like to do so. Were there more of us, it would be different, but we are few and becoming fewer as we lose operatives, or if we cannot find a host. We hope to soon have tanks so that a symbiote can survive outside the host, but I digress.”
“I am sure that you have already realized that the Tok'Ra work by stealth and secrecy. We infiltrate. We gather intelligence and do our best to keep the System Lords quarreling and fighting amongst themselves. We do everything we can to keep them in a state of tergiversation, constantly suspicious of one another.”
“Many of our missions are long term in that we actually become underlings to the Lord from which we wish to gather information. You will find Tok'Ra operatives in many Goa'uld Courts. It is often the infiltrators that help us escape when we are captured, if they possibly can, and if they cannot they help us to destroy ourselves in such a way that we cannot be revived. We also have to stand by and do nothing, as a comrade is tortured. It is a very difficult thing to do; however, we cannot afford to be discovered. The Goa'uld do not simply kill a Tok'Ra; they kill them over and over. Many of us carry a tiny device that can cause a zat’nik’tel to overload and explode. We take a few Jaffa with us, if they are standing near us, but pieces cannot be placed in a sarcophagus and be revived. Once we know beyond a doubt that we will not be rescued, we attempt to finish ourselves off before we are tortured to the point of insanity. Enough of that.”
“As I was saying, we have operatives in many System Lord’s Courts and entourages. For instance, as you are aware, we had at least two operatives on Apophis’s ships. In order to save our people or perhaps yours, if we are in the process of destroying someone or something, we will have to share information, intelligence. This will be a very large hurdle to overcome, as the Tok'Ra have used stealth and secrecy for over two thousand years. It will not be an easy pattern to change, if we even can change it, and I am sure that there will be resistance on your side as well until they understand the consequences of not sharing our information,” she paused after stating that, but not for long. “It will be far too easy for us to kill one another inadvertently. We often blow up naquadah mines, training camps, ships if we can. Your people could very well be on or near one of those when it happens, just as our people were on the ships that were going to attack us here.”
“Eventually, the Council will see the wisdom of sharing the information. Their most solid argument will be that, if you know where our operatives are, you could give them away during torture should you be captured. It is a very real possibility. I have given this some thought, though, and I believe I know how to get around it. It would be the same problem if you know where our bases are. That, too, could be given away and cause an entire base to be wiped out, if we are not informed that one of you has been captured. That, too, I can work around; however, it is something to be considered and studied at a later time.”
She waited to see if they had any comments, before beginning to talk on one of the other subjects, “My informant gave me some very useful, and possibly even critical, information. It appears that my comment that Cronus was not in so much as a screaming match with one of the other System Lords is now incorrect. Evidently, since my departure from Cronus’s ranks, Zipacna has done something to throw Cronus into a rage. He is on the verge of entering a war with him. Apophis, Sokar, and Zipacna are allies. Sokar is now very close to becoming the Supreme System Lord, and that, should it come to pass, is a thing, which would be the worse of the worst, and to be avoided at all costs. He is second in line after Anubis for pure evil; and that was very bad indeed.”
After swiftly looking at her teammates and the General once more to see if they had comments or questions, she continued, “Cronus also has allies. Rather powerful ones. They are Ba’al, Bastet, and Heru’Ur. Occasionally, when Lord Yu feels that the threat of whatever they are quarreling over will affect him, he will join whichever side will benefit him the most. He and Ba'al fight often, however, should war break out among the System Lords, they will drop their differences, until it is over, should Lord Yu join their side, and then they will resume hostilities with one another once it is ended.”
“With Apophis’s defeat at your hands, he has been weakened significantly. It makes him ripe for an attempted takeover. If war breaks out, Sokar would have no qualms in attacking him, ally or not. If he took over Apophis’s domains, he could very probably claim the Supreme System Lord’s place within their ranks. We cannot allow this to happen. Therefore, we must see to it that Sokar and Cronus become fully engaged with one another. Cronus does not have the strength of Sokar; however, as I mentioned he has Heru’Ur, and Ba’al, both of which are as strong as Sokar at the moment. They will come to Cronus’s aid. Sokar, with one of his allies weakened, will be in a poorer, though not desperate, situation. You are now aware of which System Lords are allied and what that means to you and to us.”
“Sowing the seeds of rage within Cronus should begin this process. With Sokar stealing his ships, Cronus will turn on him fairly quickly, unless he somehow finds out that it was not Sokar, and I do not believe that will happen. They are not allies. They refuse to even speak or be near one another during summits. Cronus will not allow this to pass unchallenged. Should Sokar convince him that he did not take his ships, he will turn his rage on whomever he believes took them, and he would have no reason to suspect either the Tau'ri or the Tok'Ra. He believes that I am dead, thus I did not report my information to my people. He will set us aside, knowing that while we might work against them, we are rarely aggressive enough to do something on this scale…or so they all believe.”
The conversation went on for a short time, but there was almost no new information. Jolinar believed that everything looked good for this mission, and she believed that it was very doable. General Hammond gave them a go and she joined Teal'c in the training area. They spent the remainder of the day practicing maneuvers and being drilled on the correct demeanor and manner of being a Jaffa.
He brought his thoughts back to the present and watched as she walked around checking both the Jaffa and the slaves. He sure hoped Jolinar could pull off the acting like a System Lord’s underling without any problems. They really didn’t need Cronus to be notified that there was a Goa'uld, who they didn’t know, insisting she was to take some of his ships.
“Everyone listen.” Jolinar’s voice startled him out of his ruminations. She studied them, her gaze critical, as did Teal'c. Eventually, Teal'c nodded to her and she caught each of their gazes. Finally, she began, “We are about to enter a Goa'uld occupied world. There are not a great many Jaffa there compared to what would be found in most shipyards,” she stressed firmly, watching to be sure we understood that the information was important, before continuing, “simply because only a very few people know of this shipyard’s existence. That does not mean there are so few that we can walk in and do as we please.”
“Remember that I will be posing as a Goa'uld. I will be acting as a Goa'uld Minor System Lord would. You will address me by my title, Lord Atarek, if you address me at all, which you should never do at any time, unless Teal'c is dead or is not there for some reason.” She frowned before adding, “No, actually, even if Teal'c was not there for whatever reason, you still would not go to me unless it was a dire emergency. You would turn to Teal'c's Second in Command. In this case, that is Colonel O’Neill, or, ah, Ja’nak. You will turn to Teal'c first, assuming he is there, and he will decide if I should be bothered by whatever you feel that you must say. Should a situation arise, which I doubt will happen, but if it does, then do not under any circumstances, no matter how appalled you are by my actions, give away your feelings. Do not react in any manner other than stoic acceptance of my actions. Do not attempt to either talk to me or stop me. If you do, I will have to either torture you severely or kill you, and I wish to do neither. That is neither a threat nor a joke. It is a fact. I will not fail in this mission because one of you gave us away. Be prepared in case there is some aggression on their part. They do not know me. They are not aware of much of what goes on within Cronus’s Court, which is to our advantage; however, that does not mean that they will take me at face value.”
“Should they, for some reason, attack us, be prepared to return their aggression with deadly intent. If there are more Jaffa there than I expect, and we are badly outnumbered, we will abort the mission as per our plan. Those of you, who are to protect Daniel while he dials us home, know who you are. Those of you, who are acting the part of slaves, will stay at the back behind the Jaffa. Do not attempt to take part in the skirmish, unless there are so many Jaffa that we cannot protect Daniel with only the eleven of us; then you should join the fight. Should it look as if we will fail, be prepared to get out of the way of the Chaappa’ai as it connects and forms. Once it does so, you will all go, as quickly as you can. We will attempt to be directly behind you. Do not forget that we will not be returning to Earth from the shipyard world. We will go to a safe planet and from there to the SGC.”
“Does anyone have any questions before we leave on this mission? No? Good.”
“Jaffa! Kree!” Jack watched the other ‘Jaffa’ step into place. He took his position beside Jolinar, since he was supposedly Teal'c's second in command, and they were her personal ‘guards’. The servants took their positions without any prompting, Daniel the only one that stayed toward the front, as he was expected to stand behind Jolinar, as her lo’tar should. He took a deep breath, as she looked up and nodded to the airman manning the dialing computer. The chevrons started to lock. It appeared that it was now show time. Glancing over at Jolinar one more time, he noticed that her face had changed completely from what they were used to seeing. It wasn’t even the face they had seen when she was ‘captured’ by them, before the Ashrak’s attack. The woman who now stood calmly between himself and Teal'c was very much a Goa'uld System Lord. So much so, that it was almost heart-stopping. He had no need to worry that she could pull of the being a Goa'uld System Lord. For all intents and purposes, as of now, she ‘was’ a Goa'uld System Lord. And, he realized, he was her Jaffa. He stood a little straighter and brought his face into a stoic mask, as they had been taught to do. It was definitely show time.
The gate connected and settled. They stepped up to the event horizon, and Jolinar nodded to Teal'c, who then, nodded to Jack and two other Jaffa. They stepped up behind Jolinar and Daniel, while the remainder of the Jaffa and the servants stood behind them. Jack and Teal'c both stepped closer to Jolinar. At Teal'c's command, they walked into the event horizon, staff weapons at the ready.
Colonel Stevenson leaned against the side of one of the village buildings and watched the remainder of SG-6 as they interacted with the local people. They had wandered around this world for two days taking soil samples and exploring some ruins that Dr. Jackson thought might hold some interest for them. It was about time to return to the SGC. There were only a few more hours to go, until they would head for the Stargate…then home. The teams attempting to steal a mothership and rescue Dr. Jackson’s wife should be leaving about now. He hoped that mission went well.
He frowned as his eyes were once again drawn to where two of his team stood and chatted with a few of the villagers and an oddly dressed man they met the evening before. Upon his arrival, he caught all of their attention. He walked into the village somewhat late yesterday evening and the villagers greeted him happily, obviously well acquainted with him. He’d greeted them happily as well, and when the village headman arrived, he handed over a rather large sack to him. Runners were sent out and soon other villagers arrived. Ruman, the headman, insisted the man hand out whatever it was he carried with him. Smiling, the man had done so quickly and efficiently. From what his team had been able to ascertain, he brought them seeds for planting among other essentials.
However, the Colonel was still puzzled about who and what he was. They were told his name was Marlan. He disappeared for a while shortly after dispensing the items he brought, and many of the villagers went into the building he was in and then returned looking quite happy a short time later. Since he already gave out all of his gifts, he wondered what he was doing. It didn’t really matter he supposed, but for some reason he felt there was more to this man than they realized. That he was an honored and welcome guest of these people was very apparent, but when questioned about him, none of them would give them a straight answer. A good friend to them was about all they found out. No one would answer any questions about him. The only other fact they learned was that he was not from this world and that he or others of his people visited them and always brought something they needed.
Pushing away from the wall, he sauntered toward the group. It appeared that the man, too, was preparing to leave. As he stepped to them, Marlan turned to him and bowed his head in greeting, before telling him, “It has been a pleasure to meet with you and your team, Colonel Stevenson; however, I must return to my…home.”
The Colonel nodded in return and told him, “We will be leaving shortly ourselves.” He was preparing to ask him pointblank what world he lived on, when Marlan’s attention snapped away from them and he turned in the direction of the Stargate.
“The Chaappa’ai has activated. Are you expecting more of your people, Colonel?” Marlan’s voice was tense and it was obvious that he was disturbed.
“No. We will send a team later to follow up on our initial contact, but not right now.” Stevenson frowned, as he realized that Marlan heard the gate activate. The Stargate was quite a distance away. How had he heard it from here?
Marlan spun away from them and ran toward the nearest villager. “You must run to Ruman, and tell him to take his people into the caves. Jaffa approach and they will be here soon. Send runners to the other villages. Go! Hurry!”
He returned to SG-6 and his face was grim. “There are Jaffa on their way here. They do not come often; however, when they do they take slaves, if the people are here. We should hide, as they will attempt to kill us on sight.” He sighed. “Not all of the people will get away before they arrive,” he murmured almost to himself, before turning to them, “Come.”
He turned and headed toward a ramshackle building on the edge of the village. “We must hope that the fact that the village is deserted will encourage them to either advance to the next one or leave. Either way, if they have been here before they will not come in this direction as there are no villages close by in this direction.”
They slid silently behind the building, and the Colonel realized that they had a perfect view of the streets and houses from their vantage point. He turned to Marlan and quickly asked him, “How did you hear the gate activate? It’s a good two miles away.”
Marlan glanced over at him, as he explained, “Although my people have enhanced hearing, even we could not hear it from here. I carry a device that allows me to know if the Chaappa’ai is activated. We have tried to convince Ruman to carry one, but he fears it too much to do so.” He shook his head, before adding, “What they do not understand, they fear. Fortunately, their fear does not lead them to hate others that use these things as many do. They do not look on it as “magic”. We have managed to show them enough that they understand it is only a device, not something from the “gods”. Still, they do not wish to use it themselves, and we cannot force them. They usually keep a guard on the Chaappa’ai. I can only hope that, whoever it was, managed to escape notice. Knowing that I am here and would alert this village, they would have headed off to one of the other villages instead of coming here first.”
The Colonel nodded, but did not answer as the party of Jaffa came into view. There were about a dozen, not a large party, but neither would they be a walk in the park if it came to a firefight. His attention was caught by a movement along one of the houses toward the center of the village. A small group of people were attempting to escape. They had small children with them. This was not good. If he saw them, so did the Jaffa.
The command from the Jaffa to halt came almost simultaneously with his thought. He watched as several tried to run, but were cut down by staff blasts. The man glanced at him and he nodded. The Jaffa were rapidly closing in on the remainder of what was turning out to be a fairly large group of villagers. Evidently, they did not get word in time to leave with the others. Mostly women and children, they were terrified. Several had run to their fallen friends and were kneeling next to them, trying to help them. They had to do something; they couldn’t simply wait and allow the Jaffa to take these people.
The Colonel signaled to his team and indicated they were to attack. First moving behind objects near to them, they fired above the Jaffa’s heads, so that they villagers would not be hit. It paid off as the Jaffa dropped their holds on the people and turned to begin returning their fire. Most of them immediately ran into the forest behind the village, although several were trying to move their fallen comrades, as well. Two of them managed to stumble to their feet and head to the woods with the support of a friend. The third, however, did not move. Two friends were attempting to drag him away.
Out of seemingly nowhere, Marlan was kneeling at the man’s side. The Colonel had not even realized that he was not still with them. He turned his attention back to the fight and realized that because they caught them out in the open, there were only a half dozen Jaffa remaining to be eliminated. He turned his attention back to Marlan and the fallen man, only to get the shock of his life. Marlan was using a healing device. Only Goa'uld could use one of those. It made no sense. He didn’t act Goa'uld. He was helping these people. Why would he help them? Was he lulling them into a false sense of security? He’d never known a Goa'uld to act that way, but there was a first time for everything. Caught up in his own thoughts, he was surprised when the fallen man stumbled to his feet with the help of Marlan and his friend. He didn’t see the Jaffa turn his attention to them and take aim at Marlan. The first he knew of it was when the staff blasts caught him, first in the shoulder and then on the thigh. His eyes glowed and he fell.
The Jaffa was cut down, even as he hit the Goa'uld. It took only moments to finish the fight. All twelve Jaffa lie dead. Colonel Stevenson’s voice was grim as he turned to his team. “Marlan, if that is really his name, is a Goa'uld. Approach him with caution. We’ll take him back with us. We can’t pass up the opportunity to interrogate a Goa'uld. What he was doing here, I don’t know. Nothing I can come up with makes sense. Goa'uld don’t do the things he did. It doesn’t matter, though. Regardless what he did or didn’t do, he’s still Goa'uld, and I don’t trust him.” His earlier feeling that something wasn’t quite right about the man had been justified, but he hadn’t expected this.
He hated to leave the villagers with the dead Jaffa, but there wasn’t much he could do about it. They needed to get their prisoner to the SGC, and there was no telling how long it would be before Ruman brought his people back. They couldn’t wait to see. “Can we carry him to the gate, Gordon?”
“I think so, Colonel. We can take turns. Or we could use one of those wide boards as a stretcher.” Gordon leaned over and picked the Goa'uld up, checking just how heavy he was. He swung him into a fireman’s carry and looked to his commander. “I think we can do it this way. Then if he wakes up, there are three of us with free hands to subdue him, if we need to.”
Colonel Stevenson nodded, “Let’s move out.” The trek to the gate wasn’t exactly pleasant, but the team managed. Marlan, or whoever he was, didn’t awaken and his breathing was erratic and shallow. He frowned, as he realized how badly injured the Goa'uld was. Even as they reached the gate, he wondered if he might die before they could even get him back to the SGC.
“Dial the gate, Gordon. Send the code for a medical team. I think we might be losing him.”
“Yes, Sir, Colonel.”
General Hammond watched as the gate shut down as the last of the ‘Jaffa’ and ‘servants’ passed through to the world where they would be attempting to steal a mothership. The General shook his head. They didn’t tell anyone else, not even Washington, what they were attempting to do. If they managed to ‘acquire’ one, then, they would worry about what to do with it. Tentatively, they were to take it to the Alpha site, until the powers that be could be notified and a decision about it made. If, that is, they managed to get one. They would be gone for several days, if all went well, so there was no use wondering about it for now. He turned to return to his office but turned back when he heard the gate engage. Had something gone desperately wrong already?
The wormhole was established but before he could even inquire, Sergeant Davis was announcing, “It’s SG-6, Sir, and they need a medical team.” As the General leaned over the mike and requested the med team, Sergeant Davis sent the acceptance of the code. The General barely made it to the ramp before SG-6 walked out of the event horizon carrying someone.
“What’s going on, Colonel?”
“We had a run-in with a party of Jaffa just as we were getting ready to leave the planet, Sir. This man is a Goa'uld. He said his name was Marlan, but I doubt if that is his real name. He should probably be kept under guard, if he survives. He took two staff blasts, so we are fairly sure they weren’t his Jaffa.”
The General signaled to two of the soldiers to go with the medical team. Janet Fraiser nodded, assuring him, “I heard, General. We’ll be careful, but from the looks of him, I doubt we need restraints,” she paused, “at least not yet. First, he has to survive, and I agree with the Colonel. From what little I’ve seen, I have my doubts that he will.”
General Hammond nodded his approval, and Janet followed her most recent patient. She would have to treat the human and hope for the best. She frowned to herself. They should probably be very careful when close to him. The Goa'uld could seek a new host, if he wasn’t too weak.
Turning to Colonel Stevenson, he told him, “Go ahead, and get checked out. We’ll debrief in an hour.”
“Yes, Sir,” he replied as he handed his weapons off to another. Then remembering something, he turned back and asked, “Did SG-1 get off on their mission?”
The General nodded. “Yes, just now. Had you been a minute earlier, you wouldn’t have been able to connect.”
Stevenson grinned, “I always did have excellent timing.”
The General smiled back at him. “Get out of here, Mike. I’ll see you in an hour.”
“Yes, Sir.” Whistling, he headed for the infirmary.
Two hours later SG-6 was seated around the briefing room table finishing their report. Colonel Stevenson shook his head. “We know the Jaffa that arrived weren’t his. Maybe he was a spy for one of the System Lords and so was acting out of character on purpose. As I said, Sir, none of us have even a clue. He wasn’t doing anything Goa'uld-like, but there is no doubt that he is one. Dr. Fraiser’s test showed the symbiote, and I saw his eyes glow when he was hit. Nothing about the entire incident makes any sense.”
General Hammond sighed. “We could speculate all day, but there isn’t anything we can do about it at the moment. Dr. Fraiser reported that he is still in critical condition, and she still feels that there is a very real chance that he might not make it. All we can do is wait and hope that he will answer our questions when, or if, he survives. You’re dismissed. Get some rest.”
SG-6 stood and left the room. General Hammond shut his eyes and leaned back in his chair, as he once more went over everything they told him. They were right. It made no sense…unless. He shook his head and stood. No, he wasn’t going to spend any more time speculating. It was pointless and just one more thing about which he refused to wonder. He’d do a Scarlett O’Hara and worry about it tomorrow. He wondered if he should also channel Rhett and just not give a damn. At least that thought made him smile.