Chapter Seventeen Summary: After the formal greetings and Kataya's introduction to Jacob, she and Sam retire to the other side of the room to talk. While they are talking, so is everyone else as they all try to come to grips with and understand what has just occurred. Once Kataya and Sam talk, the briefing begins and plans are laid to get Garshaw to the SGC without the spy being made aware of anything unusual. After the meeting, Sam and Daniel go to her lab while Lantash and Kataya remain behind to talk.
Sevesh Lok Twin: rite of release of an entwining Caruswyn: My Dear, My Dearest “Italics”: Symbiote-Host or Telepathic communications
Daniel always knew that in critical life and death moments, time seemed to move into slow motion. Now, he knew that the same thing could appear to happen during an emotional crisis. He sensed, rather than saw, Merdwin move to Kataya’s side. He seemed to be the only person here capable of some normal movement. Well, along with Kataya. Why can they move in normal time, while the rest of us are caught in some type of weird slowed time warp? He wondered in a rather detached sort of way. Was it a Furling thing?
He heard Merdwin begin speaking roughly to her in a language that, while he was sure he had never heard it before, seemed familiar, and he was able to translate almost everything he said. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Daniel realized that was strange and made a mental note of it as an anomaly that he should study more closely, but his conscious mind simply continued to translate for him. Merdwin was telling Kataya that she was a Katteri-enti Warrior. She was the daughter of the House of Artereos of Cadwaellon, and that she would pull herself together and act like it, along with a few other expletives that did not really translate well, but which he understood with little trouble. If the situation was not so volatile and emotionally charged, Daniel would almost smile to himself. The first words of most languages learned by living among a people were the words of love and those of swearing. It was almost obligatory; therefore, it did not surprise him that he knew those. How he knew the remainder of what Merdwin said, he would wonder about later.
Still in the odd time distortion, he tightened his hands where they held the two women’s shoulders and then slowly, or so it appeared to him, he moved one to grasp Kataya around the waist. He could not do the same for Sam, as Lantash was holding onto her as if she was his lifeline, which, he thought, she probably was. It was obvious, at least to Daniel, that the Furling could not only sense the presence of a symbiote, they could also distinguish one from the other, if they knew them personally. There was no other way Kataya could have known Lantash. He was sure she had never met Martouf.
Merdwin stepped in front of Kataya and, appearing to enter the distortion for a moment, walked slowly but straight to Lantash, and assumed the stance of an official Furling greeting, “I give greetings, and welcome to thee, Lantash and Martouf of the Tok’Ra.”
It was obvious that Lantash was standing upright by nothing more than his own considerable will and Sam’s presence. He visibly pulled himself together, much as Kataya had done moments before. He stood straight, as he looked Merdwin in the eyes and first crossed, and then extended his arms for the formal touching, as he said, in a strong clear voice, “We answer thee with greetings and gratitude, Merdwin, Lord of Werllockian.” Their hands touched and parted.
Merdwin stepped aside, but the look he sent to Lantash asked that he do what was expected. Kataya was his Heartmate. They had been entwined for almost two hundred years. Ritual demanded she be greeted in a specific manner. It asked that he not embarrass her by falling apart, or showing too much emotion, in front of these people. Lantash nodded his understanding, but he did not need Merdwin’s reminder. She was his Heartmate, the Adored of his Heart; he loved her and he always would. He would give her what was due to her as his entwined mate; his respect and his love. He turned to receive Kataya’s greeting.
She stood upright with as much pride and dignity as anyone could have wanted. That her heart had already begun to bleed, only Merdwin would know. It was a private thing that few outside of the species knew about. She faced Lantash and prepared herself to perform the greeting she had neither given nor received in one hundred and seventeen years. Only years of training in following protocol allowed her to stand there and accomplish the formalities that must be enacted.
She stepped forward and away from Daniel. She would not allow herself to draw strength from him. She would perform the ritual greetings using her own will and fortitude, not his. She would not allow him to give that to her until he knew the entire situation. Later, she knew that he would offer it once more, and she would gladly accept it then. Not now.
She was on home ground, so it was up to her to greet him first. As she crossed her arms and positioned her hands, she raised her eyes to his. Then, opening and extending her arms, she offered her fingertips as she said the words; “Lantash, Entwined one, Adored of my Heart, I greet and welcome thee with my love.” She paused for a moment, and then continued, “I do not know your host, but I believe he is named Martouf. I also offer my greetings and welcome to thee, Martouf.”
No outward sign of distress marred his features, as he replied with the same quiet dignity as Kataya and Merdwin brought to the proceedings. He brought his fingertips into contact with hers, also for the first time in one hundred and seventeen years. Ruthlessly shoving the waves of emotion threatening to swamp him aside, he replied, performing his part of the formal greetings, “Kataya, Adored of my Heart, Entwined one, my heart answers thee with love, and gives greetings and gratitude to yours.”
His head bowed and when it rose, it was obvious that it was not Lantash. “I am Martouf,” he paused, as if listening, “I answer thee with greetings and gratitude, Kataya of Cadwaellon.” As Martouf and Kataya each bowed their heads in silent acknowledgement of one another, a voice was heard asking a question.
“Would someone like to tell me just what in the hell is going on?” Jacob Carter demanded. Suddenly, time started moving normally again, and Daniel was just glad it did not go into fast forward. Very little real time had elapsed, although it had appeared to last a very long time. While the participants enacting the drama before them had moved normally, it was as if the spectators in the room remained in the space of warped time or, perhaps, a suspended animation, appearing to neither breathe nor move, until Jacob’s voice broke the spell around them.
As George Hammond stepped toward Jacob in an attempt to help him cope with this unexpected turn of events, Sam watched Kat as she stood quietly listening to Merdwin. When she began shaking her head vehemently, Sam gave her attention to their conversation from where she stood with Lantash, who was talking to Martouf. They were no longer holding her as if afraid to release her. Her attention still on Kataya and Merdwin, she heard her tell him, “We may discuss this later, not now. If you will do what you can to soothe the others affected by these events, I will do what I can to calm these troubled energies threatening to engulf us. I must talk to Sam; however, once I have spoken with her, we must hold the briefing without delay. This is too crucial to allow personal matters to take precedence. That I will not allow. Tash and I will recover, and both of us will give our full attention to it; you need not be concerned about that. We are, as you know, Warriors first and foremost.”
Sam saw Kataya place her hand on Merdwin’s arm, as she looked up at him and gazed into his eyes, talking to him earnestly, but much more gently than she was before, “The shock and surprise were momentary, Caruswyn. I will not attempt to lie and tell you that it was not immensely stressful and…heartrending; for all that, neither was it entirely unexpected, at least on my part. Lantash, on the other hand, had no expectation of ever meeting me again. For him, this is, in all probability, an exceptionally traumatic situation. I was at least aware that it was a possibility we would meet again, whereas he had no warning whatsoever.” She paused and shook her head. For a moment, anguish filled her voice, and it was obvious that she was remembering something in the past, as she whispered, “I fear for him.” Then closing her eyes for a moment, she returned to the present. Once more in control of her emotions, her voice was firm, as she continued, “A great deal will depend on Sam. Her reactions are of paramount importance. I am also greatly concerned for her and my Daniel. This will no doubt cause them intense emotional turmoil and pain, as well.”
She sighed and then smiled wryly. “I declared I would not discuss this with you until later, and yet I am now contemplating and talking about it. No more, Merdwin. There are other more important matters to which we must attend. I promise you that if it is still necessary later, I will make every effort to talk to you about it.”
Merdwin hesitated and then nodded. She was correct. As emotionally agonizing as it was for all of them, other matters needed to take precedence. He would wait for now. All the same, he would be keeping a close eye on the five of them. Martouf was no doubt as upset and emotionally distraught as the others. To make it worse, he would be sharing all of the love that Lantash held in his heart for Kataya, and very possibly fighting against it. A losing battle if he but knew it. He would be bewildered, and confused, in addition to being greatly distressed. Merdwin sighed to himself. Yes, this would take some careful monitoring of all of them.
Seeing Merdwin nod and begin to turn away from her, Sam stepped toward her, saying, “Kat?”
Kataya turned to her with relief in her voice, “Sam.”
“I would like you to meet my father,” surprising everyone, Sam stepped forward and kissed her father on the cheek. “Dad, I want you to meet my friend and mentor, Kataya.” Samantha’s voice was steel and held a warning to anyone who would challenge her statement. “She is training me in the path of the Katteri-enti.” Jacob stared at his daughter. She was what? He wondered if he had suddenly walked into an old Twilight Zone episode, or maybe candid camera, and there was a hidden camera somewhere.
Again assuming the formal greeting stance, Kataya bowed her head, and said, “I give greetings to thee, Jacob Carter of the Tok’Ra. I am honored to meet you. You have a very special daughter, and she has become very dear to me.” As was normal, for someone unfamiliar with the Furling greeting, she did not offer her hands to him, instead simply awaiting his greeting, whatever it might be.
It was obvious that Selmak was talking to him, and furthermore, that Jacob did not like what he was hearing. Nonetheless, he cleared his throat, and said, “I greet thee, Kataya.” Again, he listened, and then frowned and complied, “Lady of Cadwaellon.”
She nodded to him in acknowledgment, and then watched as his eyes flared. She extended her hands for the next greeting and smiled, as she continued, “I greet and welcome thee from my heart, Selmak of the Tok’Ra. It is good to see you once again, old friend.” Suddenly, there were tears in her eyes. She gasped in surprise, at the sharp pain of the emotion, and pulled herself together yet one more time.
“My heart answers and gives thee gratitude and greetings, Kataya of Cadwaellon.” Their fingers touched. “It is good to see you also, dear friend,” Selmak replied gently. Formal greetings over, she nodded to Selmak, and turned to Sam.
“Samantha,” she began.
“You didn’t know,” Sam made the statement calmly.
“No, I did not. I am sorry.”
“Are you all right?” Sam asked Kataya.
Kataya nodded, briefly. “Are you?” She questioned Sam.
Sam pulled in a shuddering breath. “I don’t know; I am not sure. I—I think so. I know you will explain it all to me when we can talk. I am giving you my trust now, as you gave yours to me earlier today.”
Kataya knew at once that she was referring to their talk about her [Sam] and Daniel, and she nodded her understanding, giving her a small smile to go along with it.
Kataya turned to Sam’s father calmly informing him, “I will explain all of this in a moment; however, I must first speak to Samantha.” She turned, and the two women retired to a corner of the room.
Kataya touched Sam lightly on the arm. “I am sorry, Samantha. I wish I could make this all go away. Unfortunately, I cannot, and we have a briefing that must take precedence over our personal affairs.” Kataya sounded emotionally drained. “You and Lantash have mated, have you not? I can sense the change within you. It is a Soulmate bond. Have you spoken vows to one another? It is important.” Although Kataya asked the question, her abilities were telling her that she was correct in her beliefs. Sam was indeed Lantash and Martouf’s Soulmate, and they had already formed the bond. Chances were that they did not even realize the depth of their feelings yet. Howbeit, they would very soon. That type of bottomless love would flow forth quickly, now that they were bonded.
“Yes, just now. I swear, Kat, if I had known, I would never have…” Sam’s voice sounded strained almost anguished. It was easy to see that she was truly distressed to think that she had stepped onto another woman’s mate.
“You have no reason to apologize, Samantha. Nonetheless, it makes it imperative that Lantash and I go through the Sevesh Lok Twin, as soon as possible. It is a releasing ritual, which we should have participated in long ago. My only excuse is that, at the time, neither of us wanted to believe that I would not be returning to him. I cannot go into the details here. I would be pleased to explain it to you at some other time. Actually, I believe that you and I have many things to discuss, but we will have to postpone most of them until later. In the meantime, please remember that you have nothing about which to feel guilty. Nothing, Sam, not one thing.”
Although beginning to calm somewhat, Sam was still undecided as to what she should do in the circumstances. Turning to one of the few people she felt would know the answer to her dilemma, she made her uncertainties known her, “Kat, I am just not sure what to do. Should I stay with him? Or is that not the right thing to do?”
Kataya responded gently, “You are his Soulmate, Samantha. I know you probably do not understand that now. I will explain it, at a later time, if an explanation is still needed. I do not believe there is any question about your relationship, Sam. Moreover, as their Soulmate, you take precedence over a Heartmate, which is what I am to Lantash…and now Martouf. As Daniel’s Soulmate, I take precedence over you when it comes to him.” Now that she had explained why Sam should stay with him, she started explaining why her actions towards them were important, “Your next actions will set a precedent. You must go to his side and stay there. Moreover, you must stay with him tonight. You are making your choice known, and everyone will notice it. You also should consider the fact that how you and I act, towards each other and our mates, will set the tone of almost every event that arises from this situation.”
Kataya gave Sam a reassuring look and a slight smile before continuing to tell her, “I promise it will be all right. It will take time to sort everything out, but it will be all right.” She added, speaking even more seriously, “Sam, Lantash will be emotionally distraught and possibly in physical pain soon. Give him as much support as you can.” Kataya frowned briefly before continuing, “Please, try not to worry…just,” she swallowed, and took a deep breath, “just love him with all of your heart, for he is a wonderful being.”
Sam grasped Kataya’s hand and squeezed it gently, as she nodded, saying, "I understand. As for staying with him, you will do the same, won’t you? You will stay with Daniel so that everyone knows that you have chosen him.” She stopped, and then a look of realization came into her eyes. “Everyone must be made aware of not only our feelings for our mates, but for one another. They have to realize that we trust each other with no doubts at all. I understand what you are doing, and I will help as much as I can. I will take Martouf and Lantash home with me tonight, Kat, and you do not have to worry, I will give him as much support as he needs, I promise.”
Kataya nodded. “Thank you, Samantha, I cannot explain the emotional pain he will be in because of this. It will be very intense. As you know from your feelings for Daniel, a Heartmate bond is an incredibly powerful, deeply emotional one. Although he will not tell you, he will need your love and warmth very much, until this is resolved, which we will hope is very soon.”
Reaching out, Kataya tenderly caressed Sam’s cheek, silently assuring her that she was completely capable of handling this crisis. Then she began speaking again, explaining, “Martouf, too, will be under tensions and stresses caused by these events. He will need your understanding, as well.” She smiled a little wryly, pointing out something that had not yet occurred to Sam, “Somewhat ironically, Martouf is now confronting a portion of what you experienced, when you loved a man you did not know, for he will be feeling Lantash’s love of me. It is unfortunate, because it will make the entire situation more difficult for him; nevertheless, he will continue to fight the pull of Lantash’s emotions. As you can see, you will have a difficult path to walk with them.”
Once more changing the subject, she was extremely serious as she told her, “Samantha, I cannot stress enough how important it is that you and I discuss this situation, as soon as possible. There are things that have become clear to me now, that I did not understand before. Things that will determine the outcome of both our personal lives, and the futures of the Tok’Ra and the Tau’ri.”
“It has to do with the things we keep seeing in the mysts in the mirror, doesn’t it? The battle and the blood, the three dragons, they all surround you and I, don’t they?” Not pausing long enough for Kat to answer her, Sam continued, “The man arguing with Daniel was Lantash and Martouf. Not only that, but our bond, yours and mine, is growing stronger, isn’t it? We have something we have to do, and now you know what it is, don’t you?”
Kataya paused for a time before saying, slowly, “I…I cannot be absolutely sure at this point, Sam, but, yes, yes I believe that I do.”
Sam nodded, indicating that she understood what Kataya was saying. She had a feeling that the explanation was going to be rather complicated and was not something that Kat could explain in the short time they now had before the briefing.
Kataya smiled at her and Sam smiled back. The two women turned back to the rest of the room. Only Merdwin could see the spiral of light that joined the two women. It was still faint, but it was growing stronger with each passing hour. So. It had begun. The Blood, the Fire, and the Star. And the blood of the dragons shall be shed upon the soil and from the fire, we shall rise again and shine.
“I thought they were going to talk. They’re just standing there looking at each other. You know what is going on, Sel, and I want to know,” Jacob was saying to Selmak.
“They are talking, Jacob. The Furling are telepaths. Kataya and Samantha are talking privately,” Selmak informed him
“Telepaths? You mean they can talk without speaking aloud, like you and I do? Only they aren’t in each other’s heads?” He asked, his tone slightly skeptical.
“Yes. They are very sensitive. Evidently, Samantha is also.” He hesitated slightly, and then changing the subject back to Sam, Martouf, and Lantash, he said, “I think things will work out for them, Jacob, but Martouf and Lantash are going to go through a great deal of pain.”
“And my daughter isn’t? You saw the way she looked when they walked in here. She was glowing for God’s sake,” Jacob said, in a disconsolate tone of voice.
“Yes, I noticed. I imagine they mated, which will be a plus in this situation,” Selmak said, his tone showing his satisfaction.
“I wish someone would tell me just what this situation is,” Jacob responded waspishly. “And what do you mean they mated? Are you telling me they’ve—they’ve?” Jacob was incredulous.
“Yes. It is my belief that they have," Selmak responded with amusement. “Evidently, our extended lunch hour worked in their favor, just as we had hoped.”
“Well, I don’t see a diamond on my little girl’s finger,” Jacob snapped.
“Perhaps, Martouf and Lantash were waiting for a more, ah, romantic time,” Selmak stated calmly.
“Yeah, well, the romance was supposed to come first,” Jacob almost spat. He was seriously pissed off.
“It is their romance, and their sex life, Jacob,” Selmak reminded him quietly, but firmly. "We agreed to allow them to find their own way and that has not changed. It is my belief that they said bonding words before they mated. Martouf and Lantash would want Samantha to know how much she means to them. While it is not your marriage ceremony, many peoples throughout the galaxy recognize this type of bond. Even the Tok’Ra will often not insist on a ceremony if the couple declares their intent before witnesses. Martouf and Lantash will want the ceremony, however, so I would not allow the situation to cause you any anxiety. They will work it out between them and, as I have already mentioned, it is their romance and their sex life. Our opinion is neither wanted nor needed,” he concluded slightly more gently.
“Well, I hope they get better at arranging both of them,” Jacob said shortly, obviously unappeased.
Selmak sighed, but did not yet give up on him. He would come around, if he knew Jacob, which he did. It might take time and many explanations but it would come, probably fairly soon. He would not become or stay estranged from his daughter. His love for her went very deep. His ruminations over, he turned his attention back to their conversation and answered Jacob’s comment about the ring not being on Samantha’s finger, “With the most recent developments, it is unlikely that they will get around to the ring any time soon, although, one can never know for sure,” Selmak pointed out.
Suddenly, Selmak became very intense, and when he spoke his voice held a grimness that Jacob rarely heard from him, “Jacob, there are things about the relationship between Kataya and Lantash that the Tok’Ra do not know.” He paused, considering how to continue, before doing so, “Lantash was ill for a very long time after his rescue from Bastet. We do not know the particulars of what happened, only that Dominic died, and Lantash would have, if a Furling, Wiccadian, and Tok’Ra combined unit had not gone in to extract them. None of the Tok’Ra were in the room when Dominic died. They were searching the Stronghold for Bastet; unfortunately, she escaped only minutes before the unit made their way into the compound. Lantash was so near death that he does not remember what happened.”
“Those who were present, including Kataya and Lantash’s new host, refused to speak of it. Kataya,” Selmak paused for a moment, remembering that harrowing time. When he began to speak again, his voice was slow and soft, as he recounted the aftermath of that nightmare, “They feared for her mind, her life, and her soul, is all I, we, know. Something terrible happened in Bastet’s stronghold, Jacob, something so terrible, so horrendous, it almost destroyed one of the strongest women I have ever known. So please, be patient with them. I have known Kataya and Merdwin for hundreds of years. They will, she will, do whatever she has to do to make this right, but you must give her time.”
“All right. I just hate to see my little girl get hurt,” Jacob said, the pain he was feeling on his daughter’s behalf evident in his voice.
“Your little girl is a very competent and knowledgeable, grown woman, Jacob. Look at her. Whatever they are saying, Samantha both understands and agrees with it. Living life is full of pain as well as joy. You cannot have one without the other, as you know. Let her handle her life, her joy, and her pain in her own way. Rest assured that she will come to you if and when she needs you,” Selmak counseled him gently.
“I’ll try,” Jacob sighed, “but, I won’t promise anything.”
Jack sat with his head in his hands. He had understood exactly what was going on. Lantash was the symbiote that Kataya had loved so deeply and passionately. The one she had so ruthlessly slit her mate’s throat to save. On top of that little bombshell, it was obvious that Sam was in love with Martouf and, he supposed, Lantash as well, and that they had been together judging by the glow on her face. "Jeeze, could it get any worse? No, forget I thought that. Whatever Gods are out there listening, I was not tempting fate, I swear. It was a rhetorical question, I promise. I was not sending my thoughts out to you or anyone else.” Deciding that, if he proceeded at his present rate, he would soon have both feet in his mouth, he moaned aloud, “God, what a mess.”
“I will second that, Jack,” General Hammond said, as he walked over to Jack and Teal’c. “Yes, you said it aloud,” The General said in answer to Jack’s questioning look, as he stopped to stand behind O’Neill’s chair.
“What is this going to do to this mission? Do we take them all off of the mission roster?” Suddenly Jack became Colonel O’Neill and the questions were asked seriously.
“Merdwin seemed to think they would work it out if we all give them the space to do it in. So for now, I am in a wait and see pattern.” The general had already given the various outcomes some thought and discussed it with Merdwin, since he did not know all of the angles. For now, he was willing to follow Merdwin’s lead and advice.
“I agree with Merdwin, General Hammond,” Teal’c spoke up. “Kataya, and Lantash, are too dedicated as warriors to let their personal lives interfere with this important a mission.”
“We know she can be ruthless, but although the Tok’Ra often come off as hard nosed, arrogant bastards, I don’t know if even they can withstand this kind of personal upheaval and not let it interfere,” Jack answered. “We can’t afford to have them come apart in the middle of a battle.”
“That may be true, Jack, but we have several weeks before the time gets critical. Let’s do as Merdwin asked and give them at least a little time to sort this out,” General Hammond replied.
“General Carter must be very confused and worried for his daughter. It is obvious that the entire situation will affect her and her future,” Teal’c said slowly. “He must be feeling helpless in all of this.”
Colonel O’Neill’s questions answered, he melted away, and Jack nodded his agreement with Teal’c. He sighed. He said again, “God, what a mess.”
“I still agree,” the General said ruefully.
Seeing Martouf standing alone, Jacob walked over to him. “Martouf, would you care to tell me what is going on?” He asked him as soon as he reached him.
Perceiving that Jacob was on edge, Martouf answered cautiously, telling him, “I am not entirely sure myself, Jacob. Lantash is in extreme emotional distress at the moment, and is fully occupied in attempting to keep it from distressing me and in controlling his emotions. I am afraid that he is not completely succeeding.”
“I thought you told me you loved my daughter,” Jacob said, obviously upset with a situation he didn’t clearly understand. “I am finding that kinda hard to believe at the moment.”
“I do love Samantha, Jacob,” Martouf responded immediately, his tone firm, but also soft. “We are bonded. We have agreed to be mates and to be, as is your custom, wife and husband. We hope to have the ceremonies as soon as we can, although Samantha is concerned that the reason for this briefing will interfere and we may have to wait until later to go through the formalities,” he brought his comments to an end, still speaking in a low soft manner.
Jacob snorted derisively, and taking exception to the entire situation, he pointed out harshly, “Yeah, well obviously, Lantash doesn’t agree. He stood right there in front of all of us and told that woman he loved her. What the hell is that about? How can he do that if he truly loves Sam? Seems to me that Sam was second best and now who knows if she is anything at all? Maybe she should rethink this and make a different decision,” he bit out harshly.
Tackling what he considered the worst of the accusations first, Martouf answered stiffly, all softness gone, “That is not true, Jacob. Lantash loves Samantha as much as I do. He was not aware that Kataya would be here, or that he would ever see her again. It has been a shock for him, too. I do not know enough about the Furling to explain what is happening to you, but I know the depth of Lantash’s feelings for Samantha, and she is definitely not his second choice. I would suggest instead that it is Kataya who is second best, rather than our Samantha.” While he was not happy with the present situation, he would not allow anyone to attack his Lantash in this way, when he was in such anguish and deep distress. Martouf had very vivid memories of the night three days ago, when Lantash’s emotions connected to this woman almost consumed them. Those emotions had taken Martouf’s breath, dropping him to his knees in unimaginable anguish, and Lantash was wresting them now, alone, attempting to contain them, so that they did not inundate Martouf as well as himself. Not only had the memories of Kataya engulfed them; the memories from Bastet’s stronghold arose with them. No, he would not let anyone hurt Lantash now, even if it was his mate’s father.
“Shock, my ass. Who and what is that woman? And how can Sam call her a friend when she stole her mate?” Jacob asked, as his frustration over his lack of information overcame his resolve to be patient.
Suddenly, Martouf’s eyes flashed and Lantash lashed out at Jacob, “If Samantha says they are friends, I can guarantee you that they are. Furthermore, believe me, Jacob; Kataya did not take Samantha’s mate. If such a thing could be said, which it cannot, then it would be the other way around. Kataya and I became formally entwined blood and aural mates almost two hundred years ago. I do love Samantha, Jacob,” Lantash stopped talking, and sighed. He rubbed his forehead, “I am sorry, Jacob, this is a very complicated situation, and I will explain it to you, but now is neither the time nor the place.”
“He is correct, Jacob,” Selmak stated. “If you cannot control yourself better than this, then allow me to assume control.”
Jacob sighed. “Maybe you better for now. Thanks, Sel.”
“You are welcome, Jacob.”
“I apologize for Jacob, Lantash, Martouf. He is under a great deal of stress over this situation. I believe it is the lack of information about what is occurring that is making him somewhat, ah, irritable and intractable. He has agreed to allow me control until he is more himself. I hope you can understand,” Selmak concluded.
Lantash nodded wearily. He sighed deeply and gave Selmak a wry smile, as he answered him, “Do not let it concern you, Selmak. This entire situation is, well, it is…Dear Goddess, Selmak, I do not even know how to explain what it is. If I am central to what has happened, and I cannot explain what is happening, how can I expect Jacob to understand it? It would be difficult to hold something like this against him, so do not give it another thought. Now, since you have him settled, I am going to retire once more and continue attempting to protect Martouf from the waves of emotions that are still washing over us.”
Selmak looked surprised. “You and Kataya were extraordinarily happy together, Lantash. I would have thought your memories of her would be wonderful. Why are you attempting to contain them? If you allow them full rein they will soon quiet. You are aware of this.”
Lantash smiled grimly as he answered, “Oh, they are wonderful, Selmak. As you say, we were immensely happy together. Unfortunately, this situation has also released the memories of my time with Bastet. It is those memories I am attempting to contain, not those of Kataya.”
Selmak’s eyes darkened as he recalled what little he knew of Lantash’s time within Bastet’ s stronghold. None of it had been pleasant, but the culmination had been horrendous. “I understand, Lantash. I apologize. I should have realized that thoughts of Kataya would not have overset you so completely.”
Lantash nodded, but added, “Many of the memories of Kataya are wonderful, Selmak; however do not forget our parting and how the darkness almost consumed me. There is little doubt that it would have succeeded were it not for Malek and Justin. Those memories are also attempting to come forward. I do not wish Martouf to have to suffer that anguish and desolation.”
Selmak nodded as he replied, “I would do the same were I in your position. Go ahead and take care of what you can. No doubt, Kataya and Samantha will complete their discussion soon and the briefing will begin. You need to be capable of taking part, as your input could be very important. Will you be able to do so?”
“Absolutely, Selmak. I will be ready. I have a feeling I am not going to like what is unveiled in this meeting.”
“Samantha did not tell you?” Selmak asked in surprise.
Lantash shook his head saying, “No, she did not. She felt that she was not familiar enough with the pertinent information to pass it on and requested that we await the briefing. Would you care to enlighten us now, Selmak?”
Across the room, Sam and Kataya turned and began walking toward them. “I do not believe I will have time, Lantash.” He nodded toward the two women walking in their direction.
Lantash’s eyes flew to where Selmak was looking. Sam smiled easily at him and suddenly he felt a great deal better. He smiled back, but his was somewhat hesitant. The look in her eyes as she approached them set any last worries he might still hold to rest. Whatever she and Kataya had discussed, it appeared to have united them and set to rest any concern Samantha might have had about his relationship with Kat. He sighed in relief. Perhaps it would be all right after all.
Daniel stood beside Merdwin waiting for an answer. Merdwin looked steadily back at Daniel. He sighed. He wished he knew what Kataya told her mate about the time he was gone from her. He knew that she had told him about her Tok’Ra mate. It would be impossible not to, since her children with him would be arriving soon. And then there was himself. He, too, had mated with her while Daniel was gone. Again, rather hard to conceal considering the children that came from their last affaire. The kits were the only unusual thing about their time together, though, for he and Kataya were often lovers when Daniel was gone for long periods of time. It was the way of the Furling. Daniel would understand that. At least he hoped he would. It had never upset him before, so he saw no real reason why it would this time either. Well, he was awaiting a response.
Ending his introspection, Merdwin began his explanation, “Lantash is entwined with Kataya. They are Heartmates, Daniel. She told you about him last night, I believe.”
“She never mentioned his name. I had no idea that it was Lantash,” Daniel responded quietly.
“I do not doubt that. Kataya has refused to speak Lantash’s name in one hundred and seventeen years. It was a way to keep the pain at bay. She used it as a suppression mechanism. I am sorry she did not explain this to you. You are her Soulmate, Daniel. You have nothing about which to worry. In the end, you will be together.”
“You were lovers, too.” Daniel waved his hand to stop Merdwin’s response. “Don’t worry about it; I understand the concept and how it works. It even makes sense. This is different, Merdwin. She loves you; I am aware of that, too. However, her love for you has never caused her to call your name with the anguish that I heard in her voice a short time ago. That was real and it was deep. Perhaps Lantash means more to her than I do.”
Merdwin smiled, amused at Daniel’s comment. He replied simply, “Daniel, you were gone for a very long time. She was devastated when she realized you were not returning to her. After a few hundred years, she finally reached a place where she could consider taking a Heartmate, but never did she stop looking for you. Never did she stop hoping that you would one-day return to her. The anguish in her voice over Lantash was as nothing compared to the first two hundred years of your absence. That was not only anguish; it was an agony living and breathing within her every day. We were all relieved when she met and fell in love with Lantash and Dominic. Yes, she loves Lantash, but the love she holds for you, that love has never faltered or waned. No, you have nothing about which to be concerned, Daniel.”
Finally convinced, Daniel smiled slightly, saying, “All right. You have convinced me. Now, tell me what she needs.”
Merdwin smiled more fully. “Until this is resolved, she will need every bit of strength and support you can give to her. This will be emotionally taxing on all of you. You, Martouf, and Samantha will be their havens.”
“You have already spoken your vows, have you not?” Merdwin asked suddenly.
Daniel flushed. “Well, yes, in a way. I mean we did to each other, but not in a formal way. I don’t remember if that makes a difference or not. I have these thoughts that pop into my head, but they rarely explain everything. They are actually rather frustrating at times.”
“As long as you meant it, Daniel that is the most important factor. The bond that you and Kataya share is so old and firm that you would no longer truly have to renew your vows. The bond would hold and that is all that really matters.”
Daniel started to agree when a sudden thought occurred to him, “Oh, no,” he groaned. “Basically, she is married to both of us, isn’t she?”
“As the Soulmate, you have precedence,” Merdwin remarked. Daniel simply looked at him. After all, what else was there to say?
Sam and Kataya walked back to the table together. With a glance and a nod to one another, they each went to stand by their preferred mate. They had chosen. Sam took Martouf’s hand in hers and squeezed it gently. She was surprised when he clasped her hand as if he would never let her go. She gave him a reassuring smile, and then she sat down at the table and turned her attention to Kataya. Kataya’s actions mirrored Sam’s. She nodded to Merdwin and the General. It was time to begin as they meant to go on.
“Gentlemen, if you please,” Kataya immediately had their attention. She turned to Jacob Carter, “I wish to apologize to you. I realize you do not know what has been happening, and I believe it only fair that you be informed.” She paused, then said, “I suppose the best place to start is the beginning. I am Kataya of Cadwaellon, daughter of Artereos, Lord of Cadwaellon and Gwynnivar, Lady of Wiccadia. I am a Sorceress, First Order, A High Priestess of the All, First Order, and A Master of the All, Pantherataya class, Katteri-enti Warrior.”
“Almost two hundred years ago, I met and fell in love with a Tok’Ra named Dominic. His symbiote was Lantash. We entwined our hearts and mated. We have a son and a daughter. One hundred and thirty years ago, Bastet tortured Dominic to death. We managed to save Lantash, but he was ill for a very long time.”
“Thirteen yeas later, I was recalled by Artereos, my father, to the war against the Goa’uld in our sector. Lantash and I agreed that, if I was unable to return to him, which was a distinct possibility, we would both be free to bond, or join, with another. Our parting was,” Kataya’s voice shook slightly, and she swallowed convulsively, before once more gaining control of her emotions, “extremely difficult. Because it was so painful, we decided not to go through the Sevesh Lok Twin, which is an ancient rite performed to release the entwining, at that time. Our agreement to free one another to re-mate was sincere, even without participation in the rite.”
“Many years passed and, eventually, Lantash met and fell in love with another. I now have reason to believe her name was Jolinar of Malk’shur. You know what her fate was.” She looked directly at Lantash, as she continued, “It is my belief that he now loves another, as do I,” she said softly.
“Obviously, Lantash and I have some things we must discuss.” She stopped, and then seemed to come to a decision. “It is important that everyone here realize that, even though Lantash and I have found our Soulmates, we will always love one another as Heartmates, just as Samantha and Daniel, will always love each other as Heartmates. Be that as it may, our personal situation must be resolved as speedily as possible, for everyone's sake. I do not expect it to interfere with this mission. We will be able to work together. I believe that the most important thing we have to do now is prepare for this battle with Bastet.”
“General, thank you for letting me explain to your friend what has occurred.” Kataya sat down, took Daniel’s hand, and held it as if it was all that was keeping her grounded. Lantash was holding Sam’s the same way.
Lantash had come forward, and he was obviously extremely distressed. However, he was not angry with Kataya. This was the first he had known that Bastet was involved in this. He turned to Selmak and demanded, “What does Bastet have to do with this briefing? She is why we are here?”
Selmak winced, realizing that he should have insisted that they inform Lantash about the situation before presenting it to him in this way. “I apologize, Lantash. I should have informed you before now. The answer to your question is yes, I am afraid she is. The information sent to us by Artereos is very serious. I suggest we let the General tell us what they know.”
Lantash nodded curtly, “Please excuse my outburst, General Hammond. My only excuse is my personal history with Bastet,” As he spat her name, his eyes glowed brightly. Jack flinched as they shone, reminding him of Lantash’s species. He really hated the Goa’uld.
Evidently unfazed by the glowing eyes, General Hammond nodded that he did indeed understand. These were probably the strangest circumstances in which he had ever held a briefing, but hold it he must. Taking a deep breath, he began.
“I will give a brief synopsis for our Tok’Ra friends. As you can see, Gentlemen, there are folders in front of you. All of our information is in there. Please keep these folders, as we will be adding information as it becomes available, and we make plans.”
“A quick overview: Bastet is in the process of building a fleet with which to attack and destroy the Tok’Ra and the Tau’ri. She has set up a new base of operations on a long abandoned world. I understand from Selmak that you are aware of this.”
“Our information also indicates that she is hiding the main part of her fleet at another location. One of Artereos’s operatives is attempting to infiltrate that base, at this time. Unless Lord Merdwin has some new information, however, we do not yet know if the effort has had any success. Furling operatives have been able to slow her progress some, and though they may still be able to give us more time, we are working and planning within the assumption that we have ten to twelve weeks to prepare for these attacks. I feel that we should attempt to get a plan in place and executable in no more than eight weeks. If we do gain more time, then so much the better, but we are not counting on it. As far as our plans are concerned, we are going to pretend those extra weeks do not exist, and go on the premise that eight weeks is all we have to accomplish our mission.”
“According to the information sent to us, her first target is the Tok’Ra. We know she has infiltrated the location where Selmak and Lantash are based with a spy named Torleck.” General Hammond paused as he looked around the table, surreptitiously checking on Lantash, and monitoring his reactions. Jack had filled him in on Kataya’s story, and now they knew that the symbiote involved was Lantash. There was no doubt that he probably held a very intense hatred for Bastet, as well as a huge need for revenge. Who would not after his experiences? His rage had simmered for over a hundred years, as well. That was one big bunch of very nasty emotions roiling just beneath the surface. He hoped that Lantash managed to keep them leashed and, from the look on his face, the General believed he would be able to do so. He heaved a sigh of relief.
Continuing the briefing, he informed them, “Artereos is sending us additional Katteri-enti Warriors, and Lord Merdwin has been assigned to us, until the situation is resolved. If we do not manage to reach our goal and resolve the problem within the eight weeks, the Tok’ Ra will be evacuated to Avilion, the Sanctuary. Evacuation of Earth is not an option. We have no choice, but to stop her before she strikes here.”
“Once everyone is assembled here, training will begin in units that contain a minimum of one Tok’Ra and one Katteri-enti along with our soldiers. Our final battle plan will determine how many units we need and thus how many Tok’Ra and Katteri-enti will actually be in each unit. The president has given me permission to use whatever resources I have available, and he will authorize more if needed. I will be in contact with him and the Joint Chiefs daily.”
“I want a group working on tactics. I believe that SG-1, Lord Merdwin, and whoever the Tok’Ra choose should be a part of that. Artereos is expecting to receive the plans to the stronghold quite soon and, as soon as he gets them, so will we. Colonel O’Neill will be in charge of that group. I believe that is all I have. The floor is open for questions, suggestions, and discussion.”
Lantash looked puzzled. “Should not Kataya be in the group for tactical planning? It is one of her strongest points as a Warrior.”
Merdwin answered him. “She is. She is a member of SG-1.”
Lantash looked surprised. “I must apologize to you again, Lantash,” Selmak said. “I forgot you were not here when General Hammond was explaining why we were asked here originally. Artereos sent Kataya to begin working with the Tau’ri in expectation that they would soon be able to send some Warriors to help in the fight against the Goa’uld in this sector. He has also infiltrated several of the System Lords households with his own people. They wanted to inform us so we would be aware that they might be getting information that could be passed on to us, so we could alert our field operatives already within System Lord strongholds.”
“Is there anything else I need to be told?”
“No, I believe that is…” Kataya interrupted Selmak before he could finish his sentence.
“I am sorry Selmak, but there is something else.” She turned to Lantash, as she told him, “Three of the Katteri-enti, besides myself and Merdwin, who will be here have been approved. Artereos will not make the assignment general knowledge, but instead he will approach only Katteri that he feels would fit well within these types of units. The three that he has so far informed have all volunteered. Gwennetha is one of them.” She held his gaze as she continued. “Taesha and Lanwin are the others. I thought you should know they will be coming, Tash.” She did not realize she had used the name her people had often called him, until she saw his face.
Lantash swallowed hard, grappling with his emotions and breathing deeply, before he asked, “They—they are well?”
Kataya closed her eyes. It was so unfair; he was a wonderful, special being, and he did not deserve all of the pain he was enduring. The entwining was pulling on her. It had to be pulling him also. She ruthlessly pushed the emotions away.
“They are. They will be overjoyed to see you. Now is not the time, Lantash, but later we will talk.”
He nodded curtly, barely holding onto his rigid self-control, and turned back to Selmak, “That is everything?”
Selmak nodded, and said, “One of the first things we need to do is come up with a way to bring Garshaw, as well as some of the other Tok’Ra we want to use in the assault, here to the SGC, without the spy being apprised of what is occurring. Our visit here is the perfect alibi for ourselves, Martouf, and Lantash, at least for three weeks, and we also have the option to extend our time here. Unfortunately, I cannot think of any way to get her here without alerting the spy.”
“Would she not come and bring others with her if you, or Lantash, were critically injured and not expected to survive?” Teal’c asked, from the other side of the table. No one said anything as this idea was thought over.
“It might work,” Selmak said. “At least to get her here and let her know not to send anyone to Bastet’s stronghold.”
“Would you stay if it was Lantash and Martouf that were hurt?” Kataya asked Selmak.
“Yes, and he would stay if it was us,” Selmak affirmed.
She nodded, and Sam spoke up, “If you had to make a list of people that the Tok’Ra would probably send on this mission, who would be on it?”
“Malek, Ronesh, Brialek, Calise, Solphek, probably Daimesh and Arwanna. Can you think of anyone, Lantash, that would be good for this type of mission?” Selmak asked, after he named several Tok’Ra he wanted to include.
Lantash answered at once, “Certainly. Jocasta would be a must, as well as Morlash, possibly Keveck, and Jorlin.”
Selmak nodded his agreement. He turned to General Hammond, “How many do you want? I am sure we can do whatever you think would be needed.”
The General looked at Colonel O’Neill and Merdwin. “That’s a good start,” the Colonel said. “It sounds like we might have trouble getting them in here without Bastet being tipped off, though.” He frowned.
Switching subjects, Kataya asked, “Selmak, how long has Torleck been part of the group at your base?”
Selmak had to think seriously about it. Finally, he turned to Lantash. “Would you say he has been with us for a year?”
“Almost two,” he replied. “I believe he came to us shortly after we were forced to abandon our base on Corlatt.
“Excellent.” Kataya’s eyes glowed. “That is what I would have expected of Bastet. She would not take a chance on him being found out. She would expect him to be accepted and trusted, and she would want her plans to be near completion, before he started to send her information. As long as he was helping the Tok’Ra against the System Lords she herself was trying to undermine, she would be content to let him work for the Tok’Ra. There is no doubt that she has been planning this for a very long time. Tell me, has he been on any infiltration missions?”
Both Lantash and Selmak gave the matter some thought. Selmak finally remembered that he had. “Several months ago, he was sent to infiltrate a minor system lord to gather information. He did an excellent job.”
“Then we now know how to remove him at least for a few days at a time. And during the last week or so before our assault.”
“Of course,” Daniel said. “A perfect solution. She should not suspect anything, either, if we can keep him convinced that neither the Tau’ri nor the Tok’Ra know anything about her or what she is doing. Hopefully, no one on the Tok’Ra base has discussed it. If needed, we could always allow her to find out we know where she is, and send in someone to infiltrate her ranks.”
“I believe Kataya and Daniel Jackson are correct. Sending him into Bastet’s stronghold as a spy for the Tok’Ra would eliminate two fowl with but one rock.”
“Kill two birds with one stone,” Jack automatically translated. “It might just work. So, if we send him in as a spy for the Tok’Ra, that eliminates him, but in the meantime, we still haven’t decided on a way to get Garshaw here. If she is actually deciding to send someone to Bastet, we should stop her if we can.”
Sam spoke up, saying, “We touched on the idea that Teal’c suggested, and I think we should explore that avenue in more depth. It is a good idea.” She turned to her father and questioned him, “Dad, if you were injured, badly injured, and asked for certain people, would that seem odd? I mean, if you thought you would not survive, what would Garshaw do? Would she come, and would she bring the people you requested to see with her?”
“If I requested to see certain people, then she would see to it that they got here, but she would also bring the healers, in case they could help where your medicine can’t—which would not be an unrealistic attitude,” Jacob said, after giving the matter a little thought.
“Could they be trusted to keep the information secret when they go back?” Colonel O’Neill asked.
“They would not go back,” Sam said decisively. “If Dad or Martouf were in, say a really bad car accident, and it looked like he would not survive, then the healer would stay and try everything they could, wouldn’t they? And, Martouf would refuse to leave him, and Dad would not leave Martouf. So, either way, they are both here.”
“This list of people you have given. Is there anything to stop Councilor Garshaw from sending each, or at least some of them, on a mission to some other Goa’uld areas that might need infiltrated?”
“An excellent point, Teal’c.” Merdwin said. “A nice simple plan, too. Assign a few of them to go off world one or two at a time, perhaps some together, as that would not be unusual. Send them to different places with the gate address clearly known by everyone. Once there, they gate to the Tau’ri. Simple, clean. Very nice, indeed. I am sure we will come up with other ways to get around arousing his suspicions as well.” He smiled warmly at Teal’c. These Tau’ri and the Jaffa were good tacticians.
Artereos would be even more pleased that he had decided the time had come for his return. Even if it was purely symbolic, and would not be known by the masses, he was correct to make his return at this time.
“Okay, so which one of us is getting run over by a car?” Jacob spoke up.
“I would suggest you, Jacob Carter. Lantash and Martouf will be busy planning their joining with Samantha. They do not have time to get run over. I would also suggest preparations for the joining rituals of the Tok’Ra and the Tau’ri as the reason, once the healers have brought him back to health, that Jacob Carter, as well as Martouf and Lantash, are staying for an extended time. Knowing nothing of Tau’ri mating or bonding rituals, the spy will have no way of knowing if these things take days, or months, to complete,” Kataya stated with calm good sense.
Jacob decided that maybe he could come to like that woman in time, even if he still didn’t understand all of the angles of what was obviously a very complex situation. She certainly seemed to have the idea of Sam, Martouf, and Lantash as mated firmly fixed in her head. He nodded. “I suppose we should decide who I would wish to see in the circumstances and get the message off to Garshaw,” he said.
“When do you think she will make the decision to send an operative in to infiltrate her stronghold, Jacob?” General Hammond wanted to know.
“There is a council meeting the day after tomorrow. They will decide then, I imagine. Why?”
“I doubt you would have been run over as soon as you arrived. Let’s wait until tomorrow afternoon before we contact her.”
Jacob nodded his assent, adding, “I think that would be all right and Selmak agrees. They won’t do anything before then.”
“Is there anything else, people? No? Dismissed.”
Kataya and Daniel approached Sam where she stood beside Martouf, and Kataya opened their link. “Samantha?”
Kataya hesitated slightly, weighing her words, before replying, “I am sure that you are cognizant of the need for Lantash and I to talk. Would you please take care of Daniel for me while I do so? I do not believe that he, no, that either of you, should be alone right now. Both of you need the stability, security, understanding, and love that only you can give to one another. Your Heartmate bond will be very sensitive to each other’s emotions and reactions at this point in time, and thus it will allow you to give and receive comfort on a very deep level. You need one another, Sam.”
“Yes, I know.” She assured Kat and then paused, before asking her, “You will be as gentle as possible, won’t you? He is so upset.” Sam’s agitation was apparent.
“I will do my best, Samantha, but this is going to be painful for both of us, regardless how I approach the subjects. I am sorry; I wish I could make it easier, but I cannot. I give you my word, though, that I will be as careful and gentle as it is possible for me to be and still accomplish what must be said and done,” Kataya’s voice was filled with sorrow at the knowledge that she would be causing Lantash pain yet again.
“I know. I don’t even know why I said that. I know you will do what you can. I will take care of Daniel. Please don’t worry about us right now. You need to concentrate on the, the task in front of you. Daniel and I will find something to occupy us. We will be fine,” Sam promised, her own feelings coloring what she said.
“You and I must talk soon, also, Sam. Your understanding of this and your support are essential to him,” Kataya stressed her words as much as she could. This was important.
“I know. I will talk with you later. I am going to take Daniel to his office for now.”
“No, not his office. Please, take him to your lab. I do not think he should return to his office so soon. We were, ah, intimate in there just before the briefing. Both of you should probably stay away from areas that might induce even stronger reactions to what is occurring,” Kataya pointed out thoughtfully.
“I see your point, Kat, and I think you are probably right about it. So, okay, my lab it is, then,” Sam agreed at once.
“Thank you, Sam,” Kataya finished speaking with Samantha and turned to Lantash, stating quietly, “I think that we should have our conversation now, if that is agreeable with you. We have things to talk about, and I sincerely believe that we should discuss our situation as quickly as possible.”
He looked from her to Sam, who indicated that she agreed with Kataya by assuring him, “I am going to take Daniel and go to my lab, love. Take your time, because I have some things I need to finish, before you and I can go home, and Daniel can help me.”
After a slight hesitation, Lantash indicated his acquiescence. Martouf came forward, kissed Sam lightly, and whispered his love in her ear. She gave him a lingering look that assured him she understood and loved him too.
Daniel looked at Kataya, and she smiled at him to reassure him it was all right. He kissed her swiftly and touched her face. She understood what he was saying and kissed him back. Then she turned to face her mate.
She could only echo a reasonable facsimile of Jack O’Neill’s appraisal of the situation.