Chapter Eight Summary: General Hammond keeps everyone busy with missions as they wait to hear from the
ships that are heading for Verduna.  Even keeping busy, tensions are high and worry constant, but the lizards
provide some comic relief.  Tashmar, Jacarta, and offspring arrived with the Tok'Ra.  They finally make contact
with the Alkesh, but find out that it will take four or more weeks for them to reach their destination.

"Italics" - Symbiote-Host communications  

Ashtek keshta - We will soon meet again.



















Lantash stood beside a very large crate looking into it with an odd expression on his face.  
Everyone was still moving things around, as they were continuing to find places to store
equipment.  The hissing and stomping coming from within the crate was getting louder.  
Daniel stood beside him, a grin constantly attempting to steal over his face as he watched
Lantash and the lizards.  

It was amazing how much noise the six lizards were making.  Of course, when you
considered that the two adults were well over three feet in length, and not exactly slender,
it made more sense.  They had large healthy lungs and were beginning to make their
displeasure at being penned known to one and all.  Seeing Lantash and Daniel standing
beside the crate and gazing into it, curiosity got the better of him and Jacob joined them.

“Selmak,” Lantash said, in a very controlled voice, “I believe that someone should explain
to me why Tashmar and Jacarta are guarding not only their offspring, but our desert
hats.  Martouf is…irritated would, I suppose, be the best way to describe it, although that
is something of an understatement.  He is being quite vocal in his disapproval, and his
whining is becoming annoying.  Why do they even
have our desert hats?  Again?”  He
asked, his exasperation with the situation obviously making inroads against his former
somewhat more stoic stance.  “I know I took them back from them.”  He paused for a
moment, before saying, “Tashmar does not even like them.  He has always hissed at
Martouf when we wore them.  I do not understand his obsession with them”

As Selmak snickered in his head, Jacob attempted to answer Lantash for him, but he had
to cover his laughter with a coughing spell before he could get the words out.  Once he
had himself under control, he said, “Well, what you say is true, but if you will remember,
Jacarta used to follow Martouf around when he wore them.  The best we can figure out is
that since Tashmar hated them, and Jacarta loved them, Tashmar figured he would get
rid of them and make Jacarta happy all in one move.  You found her nest and took them
from her the first time.  It seemed that Jacarta found them again before they could be
disposed of and hid them.”  

“After you moved here, well, you did not latch your trunk, and Tashmar managed to open
it.  He took all the new ones you got when your others came up missing.  Anyway,
Tashmar gave the hats to Jacarta, and she added them to the first salvaged ones.  That is
what she made her second nest from, and since you were not there, we let her have them
that time.  I think they are ruined.  Again.  That was one of the reasons we, ah, allowed
her to keep them.  They were not good for anything else anyway, by the time we found her
second nest.  I believe it was Garshaw that pointed out that we might as well leave them,
as taking them away again would only cause them to look for something else to use and
no telling what they might choose next time.  Your hats, at least, were easy to replace.”  He
sighed, adding, “I also think it is time someone took the family for their walk.  How we are
gonna do this is beyond me.  It is not like we can just pop to the surface and let them run
wild like we could on Corlatt.”

Martouf came forward, and moaned.  “Why did they not just leave them on Corlatt?  That
is their home.  What are we to do with them?  Moreover, what do we do if they continue to
produce offspring?  Has anyone thought of that?”

Hearing his voice, Tashmar stood on his hind legs and leaned against the side of the
crate, waiting for Martouf to scratch his head.  Even as he complained, Martouf reached
out to scratch the lizard that had given his Samantha so much comfort and joy during her
recovery from her ordeal.  He sighed.  He was just the least little bit glad they brought
him.  Samantha would have been heart-broken if anything happened to Tash.  

The group of Tok’Ra still working on what to do with the equipment stopped what they
were doing and stared at him.  “Samantha was worried about them, Martouf.  We could
not just leave them behind.”  The shocked tone that Jenal, a Tok’Ra who was standing
nearby, used as she answered amazed him.  The reproving looks sent his way by the
others made him feel unfairly persecuted.  They were, after all, legitimate concerns.  

Jenal explained further, “We brought food, and the recipe to make more, with us, and we
will make them another crate so they will have more room to move around.  There are
only four little ones.  She did not have many eggs.  As far as their reproductive cycle, yes,
we took that into consideration, and Anise managed to isolate the hormones that cause
the production of her eggs.  She managed to find a way to block their production, and we
simply add it to her food.  So far, it has worked, at least, according to the blood work we
have conducted.”  

Seeing the somewhat stunned expressions on the men’s faces she continued in a calm
and almost overly nonchalant manner, “Anise actually found and perfected it before
Jacarta laid eggs for this clutch.  She felt that since Jacarta was very young that perhaps
it would be best to allow her to have at least one clutch.  We also have the instructions for
making her, er, birth control, I believe, is what Samantha called it.  I am quite sure that
the medical personnel here will be able to reproduce it.  It is very simple to make and
takes common ingredients; there is nothing rare in it from Corlatt or anything on that
order.”  

The men standing by the crate were completely silent and, except for Daniel, their
countenances all wore identical dazed, disbelieving looks.  Daniel, however, was grinning
widely and trying not to laugh as he took in the other’s faces.  He was the only one that
did not find the fact that someone had considered lizard reproduction important enough
to study incomprehensible.  Finally, Jacob appeared to reclaim his wits and said, “Anise
made a birth control substance for the lizard.  She actually considered this important
enough to take her time to study it.”

Jenal raised her eyebrows in a rather haughty gesture before reminding him, “As Martouf
just pointed out, Jacob, we could hardly allow Jacarta to reproduce indiscriminately.  We
took this problem under consideration quite some time ago, and the consensus was that
we would attempt to limit the number of offspring, which it appears so far, we have
succeeded at doing.  

Having obtained normality, Martouf resumed scratching the lizard that was now obviously
in bliss, as he asked, his voice somewhat testy, “And who is going to
clean up after them
since we cannot take them to the surface?”

“If we can bring some sand in they will use that, and it is fairly simple to clean up after
them,” she replied calmly.

“They are trained to a litter box?  Like a cat?  Wow,” Daniel said.  “That is interesting.  We
knew they were intelligent, but I did not know they could be potty trained.  What?” he
asked as everyone now stared at him.  “Okay, okay, litter trained.”

“They probably need to eat and be released for a while.  Where could we find some sand,
General?”  Jenal turned to the General as he joined them.

“I will see what I can do,” General Hammond stated.  How was he going to write up a
requisition for sand for a lizard’s toilet facilities and make it sound plausible?  “In the
meantime, it is dark topside by now, and if our people are careful, they might be able to
take the crate up and let them out for bit.  I do not suppose they have leashes?  Will the
adults leave the little ones?”

“Our people are in BDU’s now, George, so a couple of them can go too.  And, as a matter of
fact, they do have leashes, so…”  Jacob turned to Jenal.

“I will take care of it, Jacob.”

“Good.  Thanks.”  One more problem solved.  Thank god, one that had an amusing side
now that he thought about it.  Selmak snickering in his head as scenes flashed through
their shared mind also brought him to consider the humor.  He wondered what Jack was
gonna say about it, too.  They could use something a little more lighthearted to distract
them.  There was little doubt that Tash would do that.  Once they all got used to him, no
doubt he and Jacarta would be roaming the SGC halls.  He smiled.  It would be
interesting to see who they liked and who they did not.  They were odd creatures in their
likes and dislikes and as a pair, they were pretty funny when they liked and disliked
opposing people.  Just as Tash had hated Martouf’s hats and Jacarta had loved them.  
They had some lizard spats over them, too.  It had been pretty darned funny to watch.  He
was looking forward to new entertainment from them.  

A group of Tok’Ra gathered up and put the leashes on the adult lizards.  They had become
used to being handled and leashed but the young ones did not like their leashes yet, so it
was a little bit of a battle to get them on until Jacarta nipped some of them into
submission.  Tash grunted at them and slapped one with his tail.  The SGC personnel
watching laughed at their antics, and some offered to take a leash.  They put them back in
the crate once they secured their leashes and, then picking it up, they headed for the
elevator.  It was amazing how heavy six lizards could be.  It was a good thing they had the
extra strength of the Tok’Ra to help.  They headed for their first foray on Earth’s soil.  The
Tok’Ra chosen to go with the lizards were excited, although they did not express their
anticipation.  Although some of them were familiar with the SGC, none of them ever went
above ground.  This would be the first time they set foot on the actual soil of the first
world.  





Four hours and a whole lot of arranging later, they were all settled in, and Sergeant Davis
was calling for Lantash and Selmak to come to the control room.  They had finally
managed to contact the Alkesh and were receiving a message.

“Thank you, Sergeant,” Selmak said, as he took over the radio transmission.  “Jorlin, what
is your status?  How are the ships holding up?”

“I am sorry, Selmak, but not well.  The Tel’tak has already burned out one crystal, and
they have another that is border-line.”  He heard her sigh, before she said, “We also have
some problems that could become worse if we do not take care now.  We have had to slow
down considerably.  I assume the base contacted you to let you know what happened?”

“Not exactly.  Jorlin, not everyone went to the new base.  Something happened, and we
have no way of knowing what.  We are contacting you, so that you will be aware that
communication between the two bases could not be re-established.  The Chaappa’ai would
not engage from the old base, nor can we contact the new base from here.  Everyone that
remained on Corlatt got through unharmed to us here, along with the remainder of the
supplies, and Tashmar and family.  I am sure that Sam will ask you that when you
arrive.  And my next question is just that; what is your ETA?”

“At the present rate it will take us four of your weeks, but, Selmak, we are seriously
considering slowing down even more.  As I stated, we have at least one other crystal about
to go.  If we do not slow down more voluntarily, we will do so out of necessity if that
happens.”

“Understood.  Keep in contact with us, so that we will know your situation and can relay it
to them, if they manage to make contact with us, or we with them.  We will be staying here
on the Tau’ri base, until you discover what has happened at our new site.”

“We understand, Selmak, and we will check in at this time in three of your days.”

“Understood.”  Selmak turned and looked at Lantash expecting to find a very distressed
Tok’Ra and host.  Instead, he saw Martouf gazing back at him, obviously disturbed, but
not in great distress.

“It seems we will have a long wait, if we cannot manage to contact them some other way.  
Do not look so worried, Selmak, for Lantash and I are fine.  We know that they were fine
up to an hour or two before the remainder of the Tok’Ra had to come here.  The message
did not mention changing the new base to another place, so we can assume the Goa’uld
did not know where we might go.  Therefore, the chance that they cannot contact us
because there was an attack is slim.  I feel sure it is a technical problem of some kind,
and we must simply wait until it is corrected, or our ships arrive.”

“As for Samantha, we know that she will do everything possible to care for herself and the
baby.  We are also confident that she will contact us as soon as she can.  For now, that is
all we know and speculating about things we cannot change is pointless.”   





Lantash and Martouf stood on the edge of a lake once again staring out across it.  It was a
different lake, but their stance, and the sun glinting on the water, turning it from blue to
gold reminded them of the day, so many weeks ago, when they stood staring across
another lake on another planet.  

“Shortly after we stood there tossing rocks and thinking, Daniel came out, and we went
over our emotions, about Samantha and what had occurred, yet again.  Daniel had one of
his epiphanies, and realized what Samantha truly wanted and needed.  Furthermore, that
time when we read the letter, we too, recognized what she was saying to us, what it was
that she was asking of us,”
Martouf said quietly.  

Lantash caressed Martouf gently, saying softly,
“Yes.  Then we returned to the SGC at
once, so we could go to her, and tell her that we now understood what she was telling us,
what it was that she needed from us.  We were going to be there in the Tunnels, when she
awoke, so that we could become reunited with our mate, our wife, and hold her in our
arms,”
Lantash agreed, his grief and despair attempting to raise their heads.

“Do not allow the emotions to hold you in their grip, dear one.  We will still have our reunion
with her.  We both must believe that and not give in to our fears.  We have done well for one
another.  It will not be much longer now.  The ships are still on their way, albeit, slowly,”

Martouf reassured him.

“I know,” Lantash said, as he hugged his host gently.  “Thank you.”

“No one could have foreseen the events on Corlatt, Lantash.  I am thankful that everyone
escaped alive and uninjured, even Tashmar, Jacarta, and family,”
Martouf reminded him
of the goodness that had come out of the incident.

Reminded of the lizard family that meant so much to their Samantha, Lantash laughed
shortly, before replying,
“Well, I must admit that the youngsters attaching themselves to
General Hammond and Sergeant Davis has been amusing.  Now that they are growing so
rapidly, Jacarta has gone back to her worship of Jacob, much to Janet Fraiser’s
amusement.  Having the young ones so interested elsewhere has given her the time to
reestablish her claim on him.  I think Tash misses Samantha as much as we do, though.”

“Jacob said he would not eat for several days after we moved to earth.  I heard that they
found him in Samantha’s lab the other day.  They allowed him to remain, as he was simply
lying under her chair, as he used to do on Corlatt.”
 Martouf sighed remembering how he
and Lantash had reveled in watching Samantha as she worked on some piece of
technology, Tash resting quietly at her feet, under her chair.  

Then brightening, as he thought of something else, he asked laughingly,
“Do you
remember when O’Neill came to see her for the first time on Corlatt and Tash attacked him?  
I do not think I have ever seen anything so funny, and I really believed Daniel would die
from being unable to catch his breath, he was laughing so hard.”

Lantash smiled, remembering the incident.  They had entered the room in the middle of
the incident.  The only person who was not amused was the Colonel.  
“It was funny,” he
admitted to Martouf.  

“Yes, very.  It is odd the way he then made up to the Colonel afterwards.  Almost as if he
understood something about him.  I believe that Colonel O’Neill realized that day that
Samantha would be staying with us, and I think that Tash sensed his distress.  It was a
one time thing, though, for now they avoid one another for the most part,”
Martouf
commented as he contemplated the incident once again.

“I have noticed.  Although, I think it may be an outward show only.  Remember?  We found
him plying Tash with some beetles; he caught them and brought them to Tash, when he
thought no one was looking.  Moreover, Tash licked his hand at the time, but as soon as
someone walked up, they both pretended to be interested in other things,"
Lantash
reminded him.

“Yes, I remember now, but I had forgotten that incident.  It was shortly after the attack on
Corlatt, and our people came through the Chaappa’ai.  We did not know what had
happened to our people or Samantha then, and seven weeks later, we still know nothing.  It
is beginning to wear on us more as well, I am afraid,”
Martouf murmured softly.

“The Alkesh should arrive at Verduna soon, though.  I hope that they will not have still
more problems and more slowing of their trip.  When they finally arrive, then we will know.  
Samantha has been gone for more than eight weeks.  She is now eight months and two
weeks pregnant, Martouf,”
Lantash whispered, once again squashing the panic that tried
to rise at the thought of how close to her time their Samantha was getting.  
“A child can
come three weeks early, which means she is due any time now,”
he continued, his voice
holding an edge of the fear that kept creeping in.

“She has Anise, Arwanna, and our healers, Lantash.  We must not worry about that.  Our
healers have done work as midwives on many worlds.  They will know what to do if she
does have the baby early.  We must trust them, and her, as difficult as that is,”
Martouf
reminded Lantash.

“I know.  Moreover, standing here staring out across a lake at nothing is accomplishing
exactly that.  Nothing.  It only gives us more time to think and to worry.  We need to return
to the campsite and help with the tearing down of our base.  We will be returning to Earth
in a few hours, if all goes well.  So far, this has been a worthwhile trip, even for Daniel.  He
found some ruins to his taste, and there was some interesting technology in the
underground area we found.  Samantha will enjoy seeing it, and no doubt, our scientists
will be interested as well.  At least there is more than one of whatever it is, so we will each
be able to keep one,”
Lantash pointed out, as he once again pushed aside and then
suppressed the emotions threatening to overwhelm them.

“The missions we have been on almost constantly have kept both us and Daniel sane.  He
is worried about Anise and Freya as well as Samantha.  I am glad we decided to spend a
great deal of time with him.  I believe it has helped all three of us to be able to discuss our
mates, even though we have all been at pains not to discuss our deepest fears concerning
them.  I wonder,”
Martouf continued, reverting to the subject of their missions, “how long it
will be this time before General Hammond finds another world that must be explored, at
once, and that only SG-1 and Jacob are capable of investigating?”  

“No more than a couple of days, I am sure, unless we hear something in the meantime.  He
has been very diligent in his efforts to keep those of us with loved ones missing busy.  He
even asked which of the Tok’Ra would be under more than the normal amount of stress
because their mate is with the others.  He has kept them very busy as well, which is very
kind of him.”

Martouf nodded his agreement and turned from the lake to head for the campsite.  They
would be back on Earth in a few hours.  There was no news waiting there for them, they
knew, because the General had made a point of telling them that, if any news at all came
in, he would send someone to tell them immediately.

Stepping back into what Lantash referred to as their
determined soldier mode, they called
to Daniel, as they came within easy hailing distance, asking if they were finished eating
and ready to break camp.  He got an affirmative nod, and when they got closer, Daniel
addressed them, saying, “We still need to pack up the stuff to take back, too.  If you can
help me with that, Jack said he and Teal’c would take care of the camp.  Jacob is back in
the temple, for one last look at it.  It is bugging him, too, I think, or at least, I think it is
bugging Selmak.”

As Martouf agreed, they set off for the underground tunnels, and the room in which they
had found the technology.  The temple that was near it, but not on top of it, was an odd
place, for it was full of Goa’uld writings, but they made little sense, even to Selmak.  

“You know,” Daniel said, as he led the way down the stairs they had found, to the
underground chamber.  “It is almost as if the writings in the temple are poems, but with
some of the lines missing.”  

Martouf frowned as he considered what they had seen in the temple.  “You are correct,
Daniel.  That is exactly what it is like.  How very strange.  Why would a Goa'uld cover the
inside of a temple with incomplete poetry?”  

Lantash came fore, saying, “I have a better question.  Why would a Goa'uld cover a
temple's walls with poetry of any kind, be it only partial poems, or complete ones?  The
entire concept seems somehow wrong and out of character to me.  Although,” he admitted,
“I suppose there could have been one Goa'uld that enjoyed poetry.  After all, Egeria left
the memory of poetry as an art form to us, and she enjoyed it.  Still, why only poetry
which had lines of it missing?  Why not use poetry that made sense and was ascetically
pleasing?”  Lantash continued to frown over the anomaly.  

Daniel stopped walking and stared at Lantash, before saying, “You know, Lantash, you are
right.  None of the poems is complete.  Every one of them has at least one line missing and
sometimes more.  That is odd.  Almost weird.”  He started walking again, though it was
obvious that his thoughts were elsewhere.  “Maybe I will be able to come back here
someday,” he said, thoughtfully, “and take another look around without Jack bugging me
every ten minutes wanting to know if I have found any big honkin’ space guns yet.”  

Martouf laughed and followed Daniel down another long hall.  The underground chamber
was only one of many, and they had no idea what their original purpose had been.  They
finally entered the chamber that had the pieces of technology they wanted in it.  They
each gathered one and headed back out.

Daniel appeared lost in thought.  “What are you thinking about so deeply, Daniel?”  
Martouf asked, as they exited the underground maze of hallways.  

Daniel stopped and stood looking toward the temple.  “I am still wondering what the
statue on the dais in the temple meant.  It wasn’t placed in a normal place or posture and
the writing was even more cryptic than most. And the poetry thing; that has me
wondering, too.  Something about all of it seems, not wrong exactly, but I feel as if we are
missing something.  Something important.  I do not know what it is, and I cannot put my
finger on it, but I am going to study those writings and that statue some more.  I have got
enough on tape to keep after it until I can get back here,” he answered, as he began
walking back toward the campsite.  It looked like Teal’c, Jack, and Jacob had everything
about ready to go.   





A week later Martouf stepped out of the shower to the sound of Lantash’s ongoing critique
of their latest jaunt.  Of course, only he could hear him, and that was really a shame, for
the rest of them should have been required to listen to him as well.  Of course, it was
possible that Jacob was being subjected to the same thing or something very similar.  

“That is it, Martouf.  I will not go again on a vacation for the General simply to keep us busy
and to relax us.  As much as I appreciate his efforts, never will I willingly subject myself to
that type of thing again.  I have never seen such large or tenacious blood-sucking creatures
in my life.  Moreover, the flies that hunt for deer must have all mistaken us for prey.  They
appeared to find us extremely tasty, as well.  What was General Hammond thinking?  He
must have known.  No wonder Teal’c refused to accompany us,”
Lantash grumbled for
what must have been the hundredth time.

It was the closest thing to whining that Martouf had ever heard from his symbiote.  He
tried to soothe his irritation, saying,
“It was very nice of the Colonel to take us to his cabin
to, er, fish.  I always thought one was supposed to catch fish when one hunted them,
however.  The only thing we caught were insect bites, poison ivy, and beer.  At least I am
becoming accustomed to the beer, although I cannot claim to care for it overmuch,”
Martouf
continued, attempting to turn Lantash’s thoughts to something else.

“I would rather go to a Goa’uld world swarming with Jaffa, drink Mordacian ale, eat
gareevle infested bread, and try to rescue someone from the deepest dungeon, than to
return to that place only to be eaten alive by insects that are larger than Goa’uld
motherships,”
Lantash snapped his reply, as he was called upon, yet again, to calm the
itching reflex both types of insects had produced in Martouf, who, it turned out, was
extremely allergic to both kinds of bites, not to mention the poison ivy.  It, too, had caused
a serious reaction in him.  Lantash had spent most of his time clearing up the rashes and
bites after Martouf managed, once again, to fail to recognize the plant, or went outside
without first spaying them with chemicals that made Lantash feel dizzy.

“I believe that Daniel and Jacob are also pleased to be returning.  However, to be fair, we
must admit that we did have some pleasant evenings, Lantash, and it was kind of Jack to
offer it to us, and to accompany us.  We certainly did not spend near as much time
worrying about Samantha.”

Lantash snorted before replying, “It is difficult to think of other things when you are trying
to stop allergic reactions, so your host does not scratch himself to death, you are healing
the scratches he made while you were sleeping, or you are attempting to recover from
chemical poisoning.  I have never seen such pervasive and long lasting substances that
caused such extended reactions.  Of course, the fact that we were constantly being bitten
anew did not help.”

Martouf looked down at his body as he dressed.  The last of the red spots were slowly
disappearing.  It truly kept Lantash busy healing him and fighting the toxins to which
Martouf seemed so allergic.  It was also true that there was something in the bug spay that
did not agree with his symbiote.  Of course, it had simply been an irritant, not a real
problem for him, but it gave him more to complain about, and so Martouf did not deny the
so-called
poisoning to which he had been repeatedly subjected.  Buttoning his shirt, he
realized his much misused and abused symbiote was at last winding down and becoming
quieter.  

“I am sorry, Lantash.  If I could have avoided them, I would have, but that would have
meant staying inside, and it was a charming place.”

“I know, dear one, and I agree that you could not stay inside.  It is just that the toxins also
seemed to affect me somewhat, even though I could heal us from them.  Whatever is in their
saliva is very irritating to both of us, and I am just glad that I can counteract it.  We have
been near other biting insects, but never have you reacted so strongly.  Well,”
he amended,
“other than to the ones on that marshy world we almost made a base on, and the one
where we had to hide for two weeks before we could manage to leave, and then there
was…,”
he sighed, giving up.  “I believe, after giving it some thought, that you almost
always react strongly to biting insects; it is just that you react more violently to some.”  

“I know.  I have done so since I was a child.  I am very glad you can control it, Lantash.  I
do appreciate it.  Furthermore, we should be thankful that the General only sent us for four
days out of the original seven he had planned.  I wonder if Daniel was really feeling unwell
for the three days before we left though.”
 He smiled at his symbiote and gave him a hug.  
“Now, let us go and see what our next off world mission is.  Would you really rather eat
bread infested with gareevles?”

Lantash laughed his denial.  Once again on a more even keel, they walked toward the
conference room.  They would get their new assignment and go off world.  They would also
continue to subdue their growing fear, as the days passed and they heard nothing from
Verduna.

As they reached the conference room and entered for their briefing, an announcement
came over the speakers.  “Martouf, Dr. Jackson, General Hammond, and Selmak please
come immediately to the control room.  We are receiving a message from,” Sergeant
Davis's voice wobbled slightly, “from Major Carter, from Verduna.  She says they are all,
every one of them, all right.”  Martouf was taking the stairs to the control room two at a
time, Daniel, Jacob and the General right behind him.

Then he heard her voice, and for a moment, he could not move.

“Thank you for announcing it, Sergeant, I know the rest of the Tok’Ra are all concerned,
as well,” she was saying, as he regained his ability to move, and dashed the rest of the
way across the room.

Taking over the transmission, he said as soon as she stopped speaking, “Samantha, my
love.  Are you, are you truly all right?  You are well and – and,” he could say nothing more
over the lump in his throat.  His hand grasped the workstation top in front of him so hard
his knuckles turned white and it creaked under the strain of Lantash's added strength.  

“Yes,” she answered softly.  “Yes, I am fine, really.  I promise you I am not hiding anything
from you.  I am fine; the baby is fine.”

Lantash did not care who was listening; he had to tell her.  Martouf gave way to him, for
he knew how very much Lantash had blamed himself for what had happened.  It was
important that he be the one to tell her.  “Samantha.  We were coming to you when our
people came through.  I am sorry it took us so long to realize what you were trying to tell
us.  We did see it, though, and we have believed in you and your abilities through all of
this.  I will not tell you we did not worry and fear for you; but it was the fear of an attack
on the base there, one that we were unaware of, about which we were most concerned.  
We knew that short of an attack, you and our child would be well.”  

“Please know that.  We trusted you to take care of yourself.  We – we can hear you now.  
Consequently, neither of us wants to hear you apologize for something that was our fault,
so do not waste time trying to do so.  I am sure that is what you wish to say next, and we
do not wish to hear it.  Not now and not ever.  You did what you had to do.  We
understand, and we are thankful that you had the strength to stop us from ruining our
bonding.  And that is all I will say in so public a manner,” he paused before amending his
statement, “Unless you wish us to say more, and if that is what it will take for you to
forgive us, we will.”

“Oh, god, I still cry easily,” Sam said, and they could hear her half laughing and half
crying.  “I love you both so much; I have missed you both terribly, and you have said all I
need to hear.  If you still feel a need to, we will discuss it when I get home.”

“Yes, we will, but now I must ask you one more time.  Are you truly well and not having
any concerns?  We know the healers are there, and they have done midwifery, so that has
helped us to stay calm, but are you going to have the baby early?  Will you be able to get
home before it is born?  If not, then there is nothing to be done, of course, but we did so
want to be there when the child comes.”

“No, I am not planning on going into labor early, but of course, that is up to the baby, not
me, I am afraid.  I am very, very well and I feel fine.  Really, Lantash,” she assured him
again.

Realizing that the others had questions that needed answered, he said, “Selmak wishes to
know what happened.  We all wish to know what happened.  Can you tell us, please?  Is
the problem something that could affect this transmission?  Could you be cut off before we
finish?”  Lantash forced himself to move into soldier mode.  They needed information, and
he would acquire it as concisely as possible.

“No, the transmission should be fine.  It is Asgard technology.  As for what is wrong with
the gate, it is the dialing device.  I will begin working on it as soon as we finish.  There was
a crystal that went bad, sort of burned out I guess would be the best way to describe it,
which in turn, well, never mind the long explanation.  The short one is that we did not
have the knowledge to fix it.  When we replaced the crystal, it still did not function, and
nothing we tried repaired it.  The cause of the original burnout of the crystal was not
allowing it to function and the repair of that was beyond all our combined abilities.”  

“We have been working on it whenever one of us would have a new idea, and frankly we
had pretty much run out of those, so we were just waiting for the ships to get here.  We
have been really concerned about everyone and we were really hoping that everyone on
Corlatt, and the ships, had managed to make it out.  Which reminds me, where
are the
Alkesh and the Tel’tak?  They have not arrived yet, and Sergeant Davis said everyone and
all the equipment made it out.  Didn’t the ships make it away in time?”

“They are on their way, Samantha, but they have had many problems and are traveling
very slowly.  We expect them to arrive there within the next few days.  And yes, everyone
and everything made it through to Earth, including Tashmar, Jacarta and family,”
Martouf answered, as he took over to have his time to talk to their mate.

“Oh, I am so glad to hear that,” she sighed at the news about the lizard’s safety before
switching back into her own soldier mode. “And also, if that is the case, then we will not
expect the ships for a few more days.”  After acknowledging that information she
continued, “We are all really glad to hear that everyone is all right.  We…we were very
worried when we could not get the gate to engage.  We hoped the remaining Tok’Ra would
decide to join you, dad, and Selmak on Earth.  We knew you would be safe there.  Or as
safe as you could be, since safe is, of course, relative.”

“Ask her how they managed to contact us, Martouf.  She mentioned Asgard technology,”
Selmak instructed.  He would have liked to question her himself, but he would not pull
Martouf and Lantash away from Samantha yet.  It was obvious they were still soaking up
the sound of her voice.  No doubt, Daniel would wish to talk to Freya and Anise, and
several other Tok’Ra had made their way into the control room to listen.  There were
several that had mates there, so the relief in the room was palatable.

“Selmak wishes to know how you are contacting us, Samantha.  How have you managed
this?  Where did you get Asgard technology?”

They heard Sam laugh lightly, before she said, “I am afraid there is some good news and
some bad news.  The good news is that, at one time, Verduna was a planet whose people
were under the protection of the Asgard.  Several millennia ago, there was a drastic
climatic change, and the Asgard moved the people to a new home world.  It happened a
very long time ago, the anomaly that caused the change shifted, and the planet
recovered.  It is really quite lovely.”

“Anyway, the thing is, they left their hall of wisdom behind with all its communications
technology.  Freya and I were taking a walk one afternoon about five days ago, and we
stumbled on it.  It took us a while, but we managed to contact one of the Asgard council
members, who insisted we talk with Odin.  When he heard what had happened and what
the problem was, he told us how to get into the controls using what tools we had and how
to make adjustments, so that it would work to contact you as well as the Asgard.  We just
finished the adjustments, and it seems to be working fine.”

“The Asgard send their best wishes, by the way, and they said to tell you that Verduna is
still in the protected planets treaty, so it is possible that the Goa’uld will not look for us
here, and even if they find us, they may not attack.  If you go by the letter of the treaty, of
course, they could, but the Asgard could make it awkward for them.”

“The new tunnels are built and ready for everyone as soon as we get the dialing device
fixed, which should be soon, now that we have contacted the Asgard.  Odin told us how to
by-pass the problem, but it would probably only work once that way, so we are going the
longer route of actually fixing the problem  He has given us very detailed instructions on
what happened and how to repair it.  There are a couple of crystals in a particular, oh,
never mind, the point is that he told us where to find the other replacement crystals and
things we need.  That is the good news.  There is no problem in fixing it.  The bad new is
that it could still take five or six days to get it up and running.  Some of the things we are
going to have to do are somewhat delicate and time consuming, but not really difficult.  
We will get it, just not today or tomorrow, unfortunately.”  

“Samantha, you are not working too hard?  You are resting and eating properly?”  Martouf
clamped his lips shut on the rest of the words of cautions he wished to utter.  He hoped he
had not already said too much.

“No, Martouf, I promise you both that I am
not overworking, I am eating well, I have been
sleeping okay, but I know I will sleep much better now that we know our people made it to
Earth safe and in one piece.  Moreover, I am thrilled that they saved Tashmar and his
family.  
Please thank whoever it was that managed to do that.  We planned to bring them,
but not until the last, when everything else was through.  I was afraid they had to leave
them behind.  I am so very glad they were able to bring them.  They could have been
killed in the bombardment.  They would not understand what was happening, and there
would be no place for them to hide, so I am truly happy to hear that you have them.”

“I am under the impression that there was never a question of leaving them behind on
Corlatt, Samantha.  Jenal was very firm about that when the question of them remaining
there was raised.  They knew you would be heart-broken if something happened to Tash.  
If you are happy to know they are well, then we are all pleased, my love.  More than
anything, though, we are relieved to know that you are well.  You are not…no, we know
you are all right.”   

“Yes, I am
fine; I swear to you that we are both fine.  She paused for a moment, as if
thinking, before saying, “I am not going up and down any stairs, I am not standing on
stools, and I am not watching horror movies, but milk has been a problem.  I have been
taking a vitamin supplement they have developed for me, so I should be fine even without
the milk, I promise.  They were very painstaking about it, making sure it had every
possible vitamin, or mineral I might need in it.  Really.  I am fine.  The baby is fine.  We
are all fine.”  She laughed as she explained, obviously happy to hear their voices and
know they were all well and safe.  Then she sobered and added, “The only thing I am
missing is the two of you.  I will be home soon now, though.

As for Lantash and Martouf, they were thrilled to hear their Samantha laughing.  Their
heart healed.  She missed them.  She loved them.  The relief they were suddenly feeling
was so great they felt as if they were going to pass out.  She was fine.  She was
Fine!

Glancing up and seeing Daniel standing quietly by, he said to her, “Samantha, are Freya
and Anise close by?  Daniel is here.”

“Yes, they are right here, as well as Malek, Arwanna, Daimesh, and everyone that has a
mate there as well as many others.  We should let all of them talk some, and I need to go
get started on the DHD.  The sooner I get started on it, the sooner we will be home.  Now
that we have communications, we will all feel better,” Samantha said quietly, obviously
reluctant to sever the slender thread to them, but knowing there were others who should
get a chance to talk to each other as well.  “I miss you both and love you more than I can
tell you.  I will be there as soon as I can, I promise you.”

“Yes, we know.  We, also, miss and love you very much, our Samantha.  Please take care
of yourself, just as we will attempt to take care of ourselves, for you.  Do not fear that we
do not trust you to do so, for we do, and that we promise you.  We will not say good-bye,
but
ashtek keshta, love.  We will soon meet again.”

“Yes, we will.  I – I love you,” her voice faltered, and they heard her say softly, “Here is
Freya.”  And then, she was gone, and as he stepped aside, Daniel took his place.  

They released a sigh of, if not exactly complete negation of their fears and tensions, then
one of amelioration, as Martouf moved away.  He encouraged Lantash to take control since
his legs felt as though they would no longer hold him up, but instead would, at any
moment, buckle, and send them ignominiously to the floor.   

Not in much better shape than Martouf, Lantash quickly leaned them against a nearby
wall.  Then a somewhat subdued, but no less real, sense of exultation came over them.  
Dear Goddess, she was alive.  No, she was more than alive, for not
only was she alive, she
was also
well.  She loved them and missed them.  Neither she nor the child was in any
danger; there had been no attack on the new base.  They were well, her and the child.  
Moreover, she loved them and missed them.  If they continued to repeat that litany, then
it would soon become ever more of a reality to them.  No, that was not correct either.  It
was reality to them, or they would not feel this soul-deep sense of joy and liberation as the
hours, days, and weeks of uncertainty, near despair, barely suppressed fears, and tightly
controlled stresses and tensions simply drained away.

Lantash felt Selmak come to stand between them and the room full of people, giving them
a small amount of privacy as they recovered their composure.  Feeling his touch on their
arm, Lantash opened eyes he had not even realized he had closed as the immense relief
had spread through them.  “Go on to your room, Lantash.  Now you can both really get
some true sleep.  Go on, I will take care of any questions.”

Lantash nodded his agreement and smiled briefly.  “Thank you, old friend.  I believe I
will.”  They smiled at one another, and he knew that Jacob, too, was feeling this sense of
relief.  Selmak would care for Jacob though.  They must care for one another, and Selmak
had spoken nothing but the truth.  They did need sleep, for they had not been sleeping
much, or well.  They would tonight.  Oh, yes, they most definitely would, and they would
have no nightmares this night, only sweet, sweet dreams.

TBC





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Breathing Space

Chapter Eight

Sweet, Sweet Dreams