Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Series Summary: Several months ago, the SGC was taken over and many of the personnel captured and tortured. They are freed, but are living with the Tok'Ra, and most are back to taking on missions, even though there are some lingering effects from their captivity. But now, someone is trying to kill Sam. Who? And Why? These are Adult stories that follow Sam as she initially suffers from a case of memory loss, then is the object of several more attacks. Along the way, she collects multiple mates. Most of the stories can be read as stand- alone. Almost all are NC-17. I would call them PWP's but there is a plot and story line that carries forward from one to the next, so I am simply saying they are adult in nature.
Story Nine Summary: Martouf and Lantash are on their way back to the tunnels at last. Engine trouble is slowing them slightly, but it shouldn't hold them up for very long. Sam, Malek, Devlin, and Daniel are waiting for Per'sus to arrive, so they can fill him in on what has been happening to them. However, before Per'sus arrives, Delek is found...barely alive...and Malek is being accused of being the one that attacked and beat him. Some of the Tok'Ra council members are pushing to have Malek detained in a holding cell. Daniel is making plans to circumvent that happening.
Author’s Note: Please Read: For those of you following the Fever Series more for the PWP content, I wanted to let you know that there is not a lot of sexual content in this story, although there is one scene. There is quite a bit of interaction between the main characters/new&old-characters, and there are some action-oriented scenes as well. The basic plot that runs through each story in the Fever Series moves forward in this story, becoming more complicated/intense for the characters (and I hope for you as well.) There is a recap of events for anyone that has missed some of the stories. Since these are stand-alone stories, there is a certain amount of repetition, for which I apologize, and hope you will forgive me. Please consider it a refresher for past events. It doesn’t take up much space, but it is there. For those who have read each story, you can safely skip to new material. (Unless you are like me, and actually like, and sometimes need reminding about what has happened previously, since I might have forgotten. I’m told it’s an age thing, and that it only gets worse.)
Amek’tel kek’ma’tel – A Brain Fever caused by Torture by Severe, Prolonged, Repeated use of the Ribbon Device Not Ending in Death and Without Time to Heal or Use of the Sarcophagus. Mae’tek Tari’esk – Mate Brother Kaf’kesh Mae’tek – Third Mate Se’kesh Mae’tek - Second Mate Siest’kesh’cor - Six bound by the Heart “Italics” – Symbiote-Host Communication
Near evening of the second day, Arwanna, ‘Wannette’ came through the Chaappa’ai, in very poor condition. R’hett was beside himself with worry about her, and picked her up, carrying her into his ship and placing her into his sarcophagus himself.
Returning to the stronghold, he found and took his leave of Lord Mahes. He hoped he would understand. His Wannette was back, she was in his sarcophagus, and if he left at once, he could still arrive in time to purchase the urns and mirrors.
Both men took leave of one another with barely concealed relief. R’hett strode aboard his ship, barked some orders, and they were on their way.
Arwanna walked out into the open and grinned at them all, saying, “Korra was very much better by the time I left them. They were ringing through to a safe world and from there to Malek’s base. They will await our arrival there, and in the meantime, Korra will be under the healers care. He should be healed by the time we arrive at the base.”
Martouf smiled at her and the others, as they all relaxed talking over the mission. It had gone surprisingly well, once they found the prisoners, but it had taken three days to find them.
Unfortunately, not only had Mahes changed some things about his stronghold, since they had last been there, a few years earlier, he had put them in an entirely different area. The section they were in did not even exist the last time Lantash and Martouf had infiltrated there.
After wasting two days looking in the older cellblock, they had decided to look elsewhere. It had taken another day before they found them. They spent the remainder of the seven days making plans, executing them, and then waiting for Arwanna to return. Thank the Goddess, it had all worked very well, with no unwelcome surprises, or glitches in the escape plan.
However, that was all over for now, and they were going back to the tunnels. Lantash hugged Martouf briefly and shared his eagerness to arrive back at the base as soon as possible. Martouf agreed whole-heartedly.
They moved back into the interior of the ship and entered the bunk area. They had it all to themselves. Lying down, they relaxed and closed their eyes. They would just exist for the length of this trip. It was very short, and they should be home soon. Very, very soon.
Martouf realized that they must have arrived back at the base, but he did not remember either landing or ringing down to the tunnels, nor did he remember Lantash giving the report to the council. He must have fallen deeply asleep. It did not matter at the moment. He was back in his mate’s arms, and that was the only thing he cared about for now.
Sam opened her eyes and smiled at him, as she ran her fingers from his shoulders to his hip and back again. Her touch always set them on fire for her. He chuckled to himself. Samantha did not even have to touch them to cause them to be on fire for her. One sultry look from her beautiful blue eyes was enough. It was as a spark to tender, and all it took to set them ablaze.
He breathed her name softly against her skin as he brought his lips to her throat. As always, she immediately shivered with desire. They no longer had to push their desire for her aside. He raised himself above her as he slowly worshipped her body from the silken softness of her throat to the tips of her pebbled nipples and beyond.
Slowly, so slowly, he moved his lips over her, kissing, laving, nipping, and breathing her name, his love for her, how she made them feel, and how she stole their breath away just by being near them.
He moaned as her hand found his shaft and began to stroke him, holding him firmly, but gently, as she fondled him, bringing forth more moans.
He was losing his concentration. What had he been doing? Her breasts, he had been heading toward her breasts. He moved one of his hands from her hair to the satin-soft fullness of them, stroking and kneading them as his mouth found her hardened nipples.
He gasped as her hand found its way to his nipples, teasing and rolling them between her fingers. “Samantha. My beloved. Never will I have enough of being with you, holding you, loving you. Come to me soon, my love. I have an overwhelming need for you.”
“Soon, Martouf, very soon,” Sam gasped as he moved his hand from her breast, to her mound, probing with first one finger and then, as he found the warmth and wetness waiting there, two. She moaned as he began a rhythm that would soon have her hips rocking, searching for more.
His mouth continued to move between her breasts and her throat, encouraging her to climb toward her climax, one that he would join her in enjoying. It would not be long now. Her hips were coming up to meet the thrust of his fingers. He added a third one and then latched onto one of her nipples, sucking and nipping until she was tossing in his arms, wanting and needing them.
Finally, he heard what he had been waiting to hear, “I need you, Martouf. Now.”
He was ready. Moving up and over her, he slid into the warmth of her channel and began to make love to her with long smooth strokes. He gritted his teeth against the urge to move more quickly, or use more force, but it was too late and he could not stop.
He needed, he needed…he needed to clean himself up. He moaned. “Thank the Goddess we are going home to Samantha, Lantash, for I dislike having these types of dreams. Why did you not stop me?”
“I must admit that I was enjoying it too much to stop you, Martouf. I am sorry, but I believe we both needed that release. Perhaps this way, we will be able to make love to our mate for more than seconds before losing our control.”
“Yes, that is true. I am glad that no one came in while I was dreaming,” he rolled over sounding slightly disgruntled.
“Even though I was caught up in your dream, I was watching and would have stilled our body, if we were interrupted, I promise you. I would not allow our intimate thoughts to be so blatantly exposed. Why do you not return to sleep, Martouf? I will take care of our need to clean up,” Lantash assured him.
Martouf yawned. “I believe I will. Thank you, my mate.”
Martouf awoke with a start, at first unsure of where they were. When memory returned he asked, “How much longer before we are home, Lantash? Have I been asleep long?”
“We have had to slow drastically. If Jacob and Selmak cannot get it fixed, then it will take another twelve to eighteen hours to get back to the base,” Lantash sighed to Martouf. “I do not like it any more than you do, Martouf. I, too, still have the same feeling of urgency to return to the tunnels that you have been experiencing for days now.”
“Perhaps it is because we had so little time with Samantha before we had to leave. It is unusual for us to leave as soon as she returns from an assignment. We miss her,” a melancholy note crept note into his voice.
“It is possible, Martouf. It certainly seems as if we have been gone for a very long time. She will be anxious for us to return, and we can plan to spend a great deal of time in our room, I am sure.”
“She should be well by now according to what Jacob has told us about her ‘cold’. That is good. After this many days without us, she will be as anxious to make love to us, as we are to make love to her. Going without her is difficult now that we have become so used to having her to make love to before we sleep and hold all through the nights.”
“Now that she has remembered what took place at the SGC, she will wish to work toward removing the N.I.D., and we can begin to spend more time on missions together. It was too bad that the healers were afraid for her to go on missions that were other than simple reconnaissance where she would not have to interact with anyone.”
“However, I can also see their point. If she had remembered the atrocities that were perpetrated against her and the rest of the SGC personnel, while on a mission, there could have been some very bad consequences.”
“Yes, but you know, Martouf, since she was on simple recon missions, neither of the times she was captured should have happened. How the System Lords in question knew she was even on those worlds, let alone why, is something I still wonder about,” it was obvious from Lantash’s tone that he was both perplexed by this anomaly, and even slightly suspicious, although he could not have said to what it was pertaining.
“It is almost as if the information was given to them, but that is not possible. No one, but the council and us, knew where they were sending her. I still find myself questioning how that came to happen.”
“As do I, Lantash, but it is something we may never know.”
“True. Moreover, there are more pleasant things to think about. Such as the fact that there is no doubt that she will be awaiting us when we arrive. I do believe that we shall do as Samantha always does. The council shall wait on us for once. If they do not like it, they can send someone else the next time.”
“You sound like Samantha, Lantash.” Martouf laughed at him. “However, since I agree with you, I will not complain.”
“Good, for it would change none of my plans, even if you did.” Lantash grinned back at him.
Malek sat watching Samantha as she slept. They had just had exceptionally satisfying sex, and after they showered and dressed, she dozed off. Her fever was down considerably, but she was still exhausted.
He just hoped that the poison was finally leaving more quickly, so that she could begin to get more sleep. She needed it so very badly, but the last round of poisoning was only now beginning to dissipate.
Eight days of extremely frequent sex, and they were all tired, but Samantha was more tired than any of them were. She was exhausted. At least he, Devlin, and Daniel could switch off and rest. She had to be awake every time…when she was not unconscious.
They had to catch and find out why Delek was attempting to kill her. It made no sense that Gava, Daniel, or they, could make of it. There was no reason, that they knew about, other than his dislike of the Tau’ri, but dislike, even hatred, was not cause for murder.
Nevertheless, someone was trying to kill Samantha. Delek was the only one that had given them any reason to suspect him, and he had given them plenty of that. Just yesterday, he had attempted to strangle her. It was insane. They were all beginning to wonder if he was ill, and it was causing him to be less than rational. Whatever they found out, they would have to do something about him. They certainly could not allow him to continue as he was now.
He and Devlin would be glad when Martouf and Lantash finally returned from their mission, even though finding them and Daniel in their mate’s bed and making love to her would no doubt be a shock for them. Unfortunately, with no way to retrieve the symbiote destined for her, they had no other recourse than to have sex with her. They had all joined with her, before they did so, therefore, it was not outside of the bonds of Siest'kesh'cor, six bound by the heart, but the bonds had not been completed formally.
Although Lantash and Martouf had already agreed to his becoming Sam’s Se’kesh Mae'tek, her second mate, still it would be a shock to find them already sharing a bed and intimacies. It would also be a surprise that Malek had accepted Daniel Jackson as her Kaf'kesh Mae’tek, her third mate. They had no choice at the time, as sex was the only way to save Samantha, and Malek and Devlin had become too exhausted to continue. It had become even more imperative that they take over for them, after someone attempted to kill Malek. Again, they suspected Delek, but had no real proof.
That incident had brought to light the love that Daniel and Sam shared. It remained hidden from both of them, probably for years, because they were teammates. Now that they were no longer living on Earth, there was no reason for them to be apart any longer, and therefore, Daniel had become Samantha’s third-mate, a perfectly legitimate and recognized mating within the Tok’Ra. Since both of them planned to blend soon, there was no reason not to follow the customs with which they would soon be living.
It was becoming very stressful and upsetting because Martouf and Lantash knew nothing about what was happening. It was probably just as well, actually. They did not want Delek killed outright, and Lantash could very well become enraged, knowing that someone was attempting to murder his mate, and kill Delek out of hand, believing he was the one doing it.
Malek knew of no one that was foolish enough to enrage Lantash. He was a very passionate being…in living his life, in love, and in their war against the Goa’uld System Lords. Amongst the Tok’Ra, there was no one who did not know that Lantash could be lethal. Why Delek would be attempting to kill his mate was aberrant beyond comprehension. The more thought he gave to the entire anomalous, bizarre situation, the more convinced he became that Delek was suffering from a mental derangement of some type. It was the only logical solution.
Either that or he truly was involved with the N.I.D. in some way. If so, his life would be forfeit, once Lantash learned of it. All of them felt that he was behind her “accidents”, but they could not be one hundred percent sure, until this morning, when the rash caused by the Evernight flower residue appeared everywhere that Delek touched her skin several days ago. They had a witness who saw it happen, and Sam became quite ill afterwards from the poison. Now that the rash was obvious, they had the proof they needed of at least one attempt on her life. Between his own statements—made before witnesses—the rashes from the Evernight flower, and the handprint on her throat where he attempted to strangle her, there was little doubt what Per’sus would do...assuming he got to Delek before Lantash did, of course.
That was something Malek sincerely hoped for because they needed to find out if he was working alone, or if there was an entire faction within the Tok’Ra that was working against the Tau'ri and the Tok’Ra-Tau'ri treaty, or perhaps even working with the N.I.D. to disrupt the fledgling alliance. They could hope it was just Delek; they were all beginning to believe that hope might not come to fruition.
Sam had come even closer to dying this time than the first time, when she only inhaled it. He kissed her gently, thanking the Goddess for watching over them all, for if Sam had not awakened last night, Devlin, Malek, and Sam would have been dead by this morning.
Malek looked at the timekeeper and frowned as he heard Daniel and Gava’s voices in the tunnel. They were early, and yet, Daniel had not com’d them. Per'sus was not due to arrive until eleven and it was only ten-thirty-five. He shook Sam gently to awaken her. She opened tired blue eyes and looked up at him. “What is it? Is Per'sus here? I’m sorry, Malek; I fell asleep.”
“Daniel and Gava are almost here. I can hear them coming down the tunnel. Per'sus must have arrived early, but I do not hear his voice.”
Sam sat up and straightened the only garments she was wearing, one of Martouf’s shirts and a pair of briefs, as she turned toward the open doorway, for she could now hear them, too.
One look at their faces was enough to know that Per'sus had not yet arrived, but that something was very wrong.
“What is it, Gava? What's wrong?” Sam asked, at once, all the while fearing that something had happened to Martouf and Lantash. Please, don't let it be that Martouf and Lantash are captured, injured, or worse.
Gava looked at Daniel, her face strained, and he put a hand on her shoulder, encouragingly. Sam’s first thought was that symbiotes rarely let emotion show, and yet, it was obvious that Gava was extremely distressed.
She spoke directly to Malek, though, not Sam, and Daniel, too, was looking at him. Had it been about Martouf and Lantash, Daniel would have been looking and talking directly to her. Sam felt some of her fear lessen. Gava’s eyes did not leave his face as she finally managed to say, “Malek. Malek, Delek is in the infirmary. I have called in healers from your base, and they are with him now.” Her voice shook, and Malek and Sam looked at one another in surprise before turning back to Daniel and Gava. What in the universe was going on?
Realizing that Gava could not seem to go on, Daniel took over. “Malek, he's been beaten to the point that they don’t know if he'll live or die. Whoever did it used a ribbon device on him, too.”
“It wasn't enough to kill him outright and the beating wasn’t either—at least, not immediately. However, there's no doubt that if she hadn’t stumbled across him, he would've died. Very slowly and it was, no doubt, very painfully, until he lapsed into unconsciousness.”
“The thing is—he was put into a storage room that normally wouldn’t have had anyone in it, but Anise needed something for an experiment, and she found him. Whoever did this knew what they were doing as far as injuring him—but they miscalculated, and Anise found him before he died. He’s unconscious at the moment and,” Daniel drew in a deep breath, “I’m sorry, but it doesn’t look good.”
Malek’s face was stoic, pale, and calm. “In addition? I know there is more, or you would not be hesitating like this. What else, Daniel? Tell us everything that you know, at once.” He was a base commander, and he slid from lover and mate into that role easily and quickly.
Daniel nodded, drew a deep breath, and blew it out before looking directly at him and saying quietly, “They found a piece of cloth clutched in his hand. It's from your uniform tunic; they found the tunic, with the piece missing, in one of the trash disposal units. Damn it, Malek, it has his blood all over it,” Daniel ground out, his frustration and anger at the situation they now found themselves in obvious.
“However, we all know that it could not possibly be me, Daniel. The guards will testify that I left neither last night, nor during the day yesterday. Everyone knows I am not willing to leave Samantha’s side. I have gone only once to meet with Zarest, at which time Gava stayed with her, and it was not yesterday. All other times he has come to me.”
“That’s what I pointed out, but Stekesh and Corlock seem to believe that your guards wouldn’t tell them if you left the tunnel during the night and, since I’m Tau’ri and, therefore, not completely trustworthy, they refused to believe me, either.”
“It was determined that it happened around eleven or so last night—give or take two to three hours. That’s the only thing saving you, at the moment. When Delek was beaten, you were under an overdose of Arsyniqar and completely unable to even be awakened,” Daniel’s voice shook with an anger that was barely leashed, an unusual occurrence.
“Gava, Markesh, and I underwent the Za’tarc testing, and it proved that we were all telling the truth. However, there's some question as to exactly when it happened and if they determine it happened later, well, by then Gava administered the antidote and you were up and around. Luckily, you were with me for an hour of that time and both Gava and I checked on you and Devlin on and off all night, so we both testified that you were in your room asleep for the entire night. I’m going to insist that they also test your guards. They can say that they might not tell the truth all they want to, but if that shows that none of them are lying, then they can’t hold you responsible.”
“They aren’t going to be able to deny all of our testimonies, especially once the guards are tested. They’ve already testified that they were to stop you from leaving if you tried; however, you didn’t even attempt to leave the tunnel and none of them even saw you last night. There isn’t much they can do with all of that backing you, but they can and are being damned unpleasant about the entire affair.”
Daniel took another deep breath, and continued, “Unfortunately, there's no doubt that it's your tunic and Delek’s blood. Some of the council members are considering that irrefutable proof. They want to put you into a holding cell. That’s why Gava and I are here. While they're in the council chambers arguing, you have to leave. Both you and Sam. I’ve called in reinforcements from your base in case they try to stop any of us from leaving.”
Malek shook his head, telling him firmly, “I will not run from this, Daniel. We all know that I did not attack Delek. I would not even have reason to do so, as far as anyone knows.”
Daniel shook his head and it was obvious that he was puzzled. “That’s the other thing, Malek. Somehow, they know that Delek attacked Sam yesterday. I have no idea how, unless there was someone in the hall during the confrontation. It’s either that, or Delek told someone about it. They know that you told him that if you ever heard about or saw him touch Sam that way again, you would kill him.”
“I can't believe you wouldn't have seen someone else in the tunnel, since you were in the hallway listening yourself. Gava told me that their conversation was low-pitched, but that a Tok’Ra could have heard Sam or Delek, and you were speaking loud enough that someone down the hall could have heard you, too. You didn’t have guards on the tunnel yet, either; so, technically, anyone could have followed Gava down the hall and heard you.”
Daniel sighed, as he studied the stubborn set of Malek’s mouth and chin and the implacability of the look in his eyes. Normally, he would agree with Malek and his determination to fight the charges. However, there was something important at stake here. He’d just forgotten it for the moment. It was unfortunate that he had because that meant it was up to Daniel to remind him of it, which he proceeded to do, “It really doesn’t look good, Malek, and I both empathize and sympathize with your sentiments. I agree with them completely, in fact, and would feel the same way myself, if it was me. However, whoever wanted to kill Delek knew enough that they could make you the perfect scapegoat, except that they must not have known that Delek had drugged you. I also know that you would like nothing better than to stay here and fight against that. Nevertheless, you have to put those feelings aside for the moment. In case you have forgotten, you have something far more important to do. Sam still needs you. A lot.”
“You know, as well as I do, that I would attempt to take care of her, but with the best will in the universe, no matter how diligently I tried, I very probably do not have the stamina to make love, as often as she may need too, not for an extended period of time. If she slides back to needing us more often, if it’s only me, I could fail to take care of her. We’re all very much aware of that fact. What we don’t know is when Lantash and Martouf are actually going to arrive to take over from either of us. That only leaves you with one real option, unless you don’t care what happens to Sam. You have no choice but to leave here. She needs both of us, Malek. Now, stop arguing and get ready to go; we don’t have time for this.”
Gava seemed to have gained control of herself, and she pointed out the worst case scenario to him. “Malek, whoever did this, they intended that Delek die. We must hope that he will not die, but I cannot guarantee that, and if he does, there will be no one to dispute what they are saying but you, your guards, and us. You must leave here. I agree with Daniel. It would be much too easy, once you were in a cell, to dispose of you. You must not allow that to happen.”
Daniel followed up by pointing out persuasively, “There’s one more angle to think about. As Gava said, we know that whoever did this expected him to die, and they’ll still want him dead. They’ll want him dead more than they did before this first attempt, and there’s no way that we can protect him.”
Malek looked grave. “Yes, there is. You have my healers here. We will take Delek with us.”
Daniel nodded. “I thought that was what you would say, once you gave the entire situation some serious thought, so I took the liberty of informing them of your wishes and told them to get him ready to move as soon as they got him stable. He was more or less that way when Gava left him and joined me. Your men are on alert and waiting. Get dressed, both of you.”
“Sam, there were some offers to pack up your stuff and Lantash’s belongings. They’ll send all of your stuff through later including your clothes.” He handed her the tote bag he had been carrying. “Sorry if I didn’t get the right stuff, but I did get several changes of clothes and some underwear, stuff like that.”
“I know that you have your personal care items here with Malek’s belongings, so I didn’t stop to look for that kind of stuff. If there’s any more of it, then it will be coming through with everything else. Is there anything in particular you want? I told them just to send it all through a.s.a.p., since I doubt very much that either you or Lantash will be coming back here for quite some time, if at all.”
“I might come back here and deflect what I can, and I’ve also made a trip to Malek’s base and contacted Per'sus. He’ll meet us on your base in a couple of hours. I briefed him with a sketch of what’s happening this morning. He sounded pretty upset about it, particularly them wanting to put you into a holding cell after the guards, myself, Gava, and Markesh all testified that you hadn’t left the tunnel yesterday or last night.”
Malek sighed. “Thank you, Daniel. You appear to have thought of everything. It is sincerely appreciated.”
Daniel nodded, decisively, saying, “You’re welcome, but you need to stop standing around and get dressed as quickly as you can. We have to go, right away. We’ve already wasted too much time. I should’ve waited and told you everything later, but I didn’t figure you’d leave without an explanation. So, move it. Now. And, Malek, not only does Sam still need you, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t try to drag her into this in some way, too, and I don’t want her here where they can get to her, either.”
The stark look of fear that crossed Malek’s face spoke his thoughts as well as words would have. He had not considered that particular danger. That they might attempt to bring Samantha into the suspicions around Delek and the chance that she could end up in a cell, as well, brought his temper to the forefront. His eyes, and the firming of his lips, spoke aloud to them all. No. He would not allow that to take place. They would keep Sam out of harm’s way. No other option was acceptable.
Daniel murmured his relief and looked at Sam approvingly, as she started to pull her clothes on as quickly as she could, and Malek started to do the same. As soon as he was completely, rather than partially, dressed, as he had been when they arrived, he quickly began to clear the room of his belongings.
Talking Malek into leaving had been easier than Daniel thought it would be, thank the stars. He was afraid that his pride and arrogance would not allow him to leave, just as he’ d first attempted to do. They didn’t have time to stand around and argue pros and cons, and he hadn’t wanted to have to zat him. In fact, he could probably put his zat back on his belt instead of in the back of his pants. It really wasn’t comfortable there.
As he slid his zat back into place, he was talking to Malek, saying, “I know you didn’t want it known that an attempt had been made on your life, Malek, but we had no other option when they started calling for your arrest and incarceration. Besides that, it was Delek we didn’t want to know that anything had come of that attempt and, obviously, he’s not the problem at the moment.”
Daniel looked up from where he had been attaching the zat and saw Malek watching him with an incredulous look on his face. He looked up from watching him and gazed into Daniel’s eyes. “You were going to shoot me, if I did not agree to leave now. I would have awakened back on my own base, would I not? You would have incapacitated me, without thinking twice about doing so,” His voice was incredulous as he stared at Daniel.
Daniel cleared his throat, but looked unflinchingly into Malek’s golden brown eyes. “Yes, I had every intention of it if we, or Sam, couldn’t convince you to leave. This is a serious, potentially volatile incident, and we don’t have time to debate the pros and cons of leaving. Are you ready to go?” Daniel’s voice was steady and almost cold in its determination.
No one, but no one, was going to incarcerate his Mae’tek Tari’esk, or his mate, for something that they absolutely did not do or even could have done. That would be like allowing someone to do it to Jack or Teal’c; if he could prevent it, it was not going to happen.
He’d not told Malek, but Stekesh and Corlock had seemed just a little too anxious to get Malek locked away. He didn’t trust either one of them and was beginning to think that this was more of a conspiracy type thing rather than Delek’s personal vendetta. Delek’s hatred of the Tau’ri may have been what pulled him in and caused him to try to kill Sam, but he would almost bet there was more to it than that. For one, he’d bet that all of the Tau’ri here were targets, and that Sam was just the first and easiest, since she was on the same base Delek was.
Other than that, he didn’t know what else it was, yet, but you could damn well be sure he’ d be watching his and Gava’s backs as well as he could until they were out of here and maybe even after that. He just hoped he could keep that promise to himself. With his luck, he could never be sure.
He’d just lived through a Hell on Earth when the N.I.D. had somehow managed to take over the SGC and had tortured all of them for information. He wasn’t about to go through anything like that again here on the Tok’Ra base.
If there was a fanatical group, he wanted them caught and taken out, but he wasn’t stupid, and he knew he couldn’t do it alone. He wouldn’t even try. Luckily, he knew he wouldn’t have to. He’d have plenty of help.
As Sam dressed, her mind was flying. This was a shock, but she realized that it shouldn’t have been. This entire situation just kept getting more bizarre. She wondered what Delek had done to make someone want to kill him. Well, other than just being Delek, which in and of itself, was almost reason enough at times. Daniel was right. Malek was the perfect scapegoat. He had threatened Delek in front of witnesses. Crap, could anything else go wrong?
Pulling the last of her clothes on, she turned to Malek. He looked even more stern and cold than usual. As a base commander, he had a lot of responsibility, and his normal expression was grave and stern. Only when he was with friends, did he let that rigidly held demeanor slip and fall away to expose the truly warm, funny, and caring man inside. This would make him even more silent and cold than usual.
She'd have to do what she could to ease him and Devlin. She hoped that Dev was doing what he could from within to help him and, knowing them as well as she now did, she was fairly sure he was—or no, not yet, for Malek would be assimilating information and Devlin wouldn't distract him at first. But, he would soon, and that, she would bet on. Sliding her arms around him, she hugged him swiftly before she reached up, grasped his face, and kissed him. “Stop worrying. Per'sus knows you haven’t done anything as stupid as try to kill Delek. He'll not allow a witch-hunt to take place.”
Malek returned her kiss, knowing it was her way to try to comfort him until they had time to talk. Still, after her last statement, he stared at her, his incomprehension plain on his face. “Remind me or Daniel later, and we’ll explain that one to you,” Sam answered his look.
He nodded, but his movements showed the tension in his body and were somewhat jerky, compared to his usual smoother, more graceful gestures. He went back to gathering his possessions. Luckily, there were not very many, as he had not expected to be here this long, and he had not had Zarest bring him much more. He was nude most of the time anyway, so he had not needed anymore extra garments than he brought with him. He looked up as someone came to their door, almost expecting it to be the council, or else Daniel coming back from wherever he had disappeared. It was Torvar.
“Malek, we need to leave very soon, now. I have a full team readied in case anyone attempts to stop us. Delek is already through the Chaappa’ai, and by now he should be in our own medical bay with not only our own healers, but also Gava there. We decided to send her on ahead.”
“Markesh is packing their belongings and planning to move to our base for the time being. He is very upset over this, since he was on duty himself. He and Gava both told them that you did not leave the tunnel, and the only time you left your room was to talk to Sam and Daniel. He says that by disbelieving them, they have shown what they think of them, and he will not stay here.”
“Garshaw, Ma’ashat, Apashe, and Lustesh are all arguing that you could not possibly have done it. Some of the younger council members are urging your arrest. They are insisting that your tunic and Delek’s blood are proof enough of guilt. I do not believe that they will prevail for Garshaw shall simply make the decision in the end, but in the meantime, we need to remove both you and Samantha to a safer place. Even though I believe Garshaw will refuse them in the end, I do not believe that either of you would be safe, if you remain here. Therefore, if you are ready, we should go as quickly as we can. It is my belief that the older members of the council realize that, if they stay in the council chambers debating long enough, you will be gone before they close the meeting.”
Malek sighed, as he thought of all of the things happening so quickly. To make matters worse, Dev was getting a tension headache that he had no time to do anything about at the moment. He hated headaches; they always made him cranky. Cranky? Where had that come from?
A quiet chuckle answered him, “Our Tau’ri mate, who else, my Malek? We will be all right. Come, finish our packing, and let us go before anything else happens.”
Glad to hear from Devlin, if only for a moment, he hugged him briefly. He knew he had been staying quiet, so that they could both assimilate what they were being told, but now he was coming fore to let him know that he was there and give him support as he always did. “Yes, I believe that eventually everything will be resolved and we will be fine, but it may become even more strained before we reach that resolution,” Malek answered him quietly.
“True. It might. Then again, we may very well walk away from here with no trouble at all. Now, go complete your tasks or, if you wish, I will come fore, if you need some quiet time to think. We will discuss this all later. I will not continue to distract you now.”
“Thank you, Dev, for offering, but there is no need. You can use the quiet time to puzzle over this as much as I can. Between us, we will figure it out, I am quite sure.”
Malek nodded at Torvar, and shouldered his satchel, as Sam did the same with her pack. Torvar picked up the duffle bag of clothing and possessions that Daniel had delivered to her and threw it over his shoulder. Luckily, the strap was long enough that once he slipped it over his head, the bag rested across his back out of the way.
Before stepping into the tunnel, Malek took the zat off his belt. He would not go unarmed into this situation. He had to protect Samantha.
Sam looked up as Daniel skidded to a stop and entered the room. “Here you go, Sam. I thought you might feel more comfortable if you have this with you.” Digging in his pockets, he found and handed her several clips. “Markesh showed me where all the ammo and stuff was stored, and he seemed to think that there were both weapons and ammunition missing. I would have no idea, and unfortunately, we can’t worry about it now. I took all of it that was there and sent it to Malek’s base with the guards. They’ve returned, so we’re ready to go whenever you are.”
Malek watched, as Sam caught the weapon and took the clips Daniel handed her, feeling relief. Samantha, even in her weakened state, was an excellent soldier. With her P-90 in her hands, she would be able to defend herself quite well. She might not have the physical strength she had before the poisoning, but her eyesight and ability to point and shoot was not impaired.
From the firmness around her mouth, and the stubborn set of her chin, he knew it would take very little for her to start using her weapon, if they got in her way. He doubted she would shoot to kill unless they gave her no choice, but neither would she refrain from wounding them. In all probability, she would aim at the floor and hope no one caught a ricocheting bullet, if the situation arose. He could only hope that it would not do so. He could not believe he was contemplating allowing her to put a bullet into one of his own people. His lips firmed and his jaw hardened, clenched. He would allow it, for it would be one of his own people, who would allow someone to kill his mate, if he was no longer there to protect her.
He smiled wryly to himself, as he realized that she would protect him, at any cost. It was…an unusual feeling, even though he knew that a Tok’Ra would do the same. Perhaps it was because she would protect him, not because he was another Tok’Ra, but because she loved him and Devlin. Therein lay the difference.
Daniel was talking rapidly to Sam, and Malek turned to listen to him as Sam checked her weapon, “It’s amazing how the majority of the Tok’Ra here are just turning a blind eye to anything we’re doing. It’s pretty plain that most of them don’t believe that Malek would attack Delek in this way. I overheard some of them talking, and they all agreed that, if Malek attacked Delek, it would be out in the open where anyone could see them, and he certainly wouldn’t hide the result; he’d haul him to the med bay when he was through mopping the floor with him. Nor would he have used a ribbon device. For one thing, most don’t believe he would even have one with him in the first place. A healing device probably, since he almost always carries one, but not a ribbon device.”
Daniel didn’t see Malek’s questioning look, when he had mentioned mopping the floor, but Sam did. No doubt, he would want to know that expression, too. It was sometimes hard for the Tok’Ra to understand them when they used slang and colorful, if indecipherable, descriptions, and though they were catching and cataloging them as quickly as possible, there were so many of them that Sam wondered if they would ever manage to learn all of them.
Malek looked startled by Daniel’s statements though, as well as inquiring. “You are correct, Daniel, I do not. There would be no reason for me to bring a ribbon device here. You are also correct in your estimate of what I would have done with Delek. I assure you; I would have taken him to Gava had I been the one to injure him. I certainly would not hide what I had done.”
Daniel nodded. “Yup, that’s the general consensus among the Tok’Ra that I’ve heard talking, too. There may be a few that are siding with Stekesh and Corlock but it’s damn few, and they aren’t speaking up in the face of the opposition. It wouldn’t surprise me if they all stepped in and stopped them, if they came to try to take you. On the other hand, the guards might refuse to detain you. You’re very well liked, Malek, you and Devlin both. Not only that, but the general consensus is, the fact that Delek attempted to strangle Sam would be bad enough, but she’s ill, so they all consider it pretty awful. Not only that, but she hasn’t blended yet, and so had no chance against him, even though she would put up a good fight, if she was well.”
“So, the general feeling is that, if you did beat the crap out of him, he got what was coming to him. But they don’t believe you did it, so…” He stopped for a moment, letting his sentence hang, shrugged, and looked at Sam, before continuing, “It seems that your mate’ s well liked, too, and many of them were pretty disgusted that Delek had attacked one they already consider one of them. There aren’t many that would choose Stekesh and Corlock over you and Sam, Malek, so don’t worry about them.”
“While that is flattering, Daniel, we cannot allow anyone else to become involved. They could be sanctioned for going against the council’s decree.”
Daniel grinned at him, which Malek found odd, because it was obvious by his sparkling blue eyes that what Malek said was actually truly amusing him. He made the reason for his amusement plain when he responded, “Ah yeah, about that. I can’t see them sanctioning nine tenths of the base, Malek, and that’s what they’d have to do, since there are more and more people gathering in the halls and between the council chambers and the rings. I really don’t think you need to worry about them; they can take care of themselves.”
Malek stared at Daniel in stunned disbelief before saying, “If the people are gathering, then it is much more likely to be that they intend to stop us, not help us, Daniel.”
Daniel sighed in exasperation, “Malek have you listened to anything I just said? I’ve heard them talking. They aren't going to try to stop us. In fact, I'll make a bet with you. I'll bet you,” he grinned again wondering what he could ask for that would aggravate his “older” brother the most, “breakfast in bed for a month, for Lantash, Martouf, Sam, and I that they will not attempt to stop us. If I lose, then I serve all of you breakfast in bed, for two months.”
Sam gaped at him. Daniel only bet on a sure thing. “Malek, don’t do it. I know Daniel, and unless you want to serve us breakfast in bed every morning for a month, you'd better say no.”
Malek frowned at her. Daniel was not correct. The Tok’Ra would never go against the council in this way. He saw the amusement in both of their eyes now, and realized that he was letting his arrogance get in the way of logical thought. Therefore, he would take Sam’s advice. He did not know his Mae’tek Tari’esk as well as Samantha did. “I do not believe that would be a very dignified way for a base commander to act, Daniel. I will not take your bet.” He thought he heard Daniel make an odd clucking sound before he laughed outright. He started to ask what that meant when he heard his mate say, “Daniel,” in an obviously threatening way.
Daniel turned to him, saying, “Wise decision, Malek, very wise,” as he glanced at their mate, “even if you did have outside help in making it.”
As Sam shook her head at them, and then made one last quick check of the room and the facilities to see if they had left anything, Daniel hefted his own P-90. Sam rejoined them, and Malek only had time to think that it no longer looked as incongruous as it once did to see Daniel with a weapon.
The next thing he heard was Daniel speaking to Torvar, “All right, let’s do it. Malek, you, and Sam, get in the middle of us. Stay there. The team is waiting in the hall.”
They left the room, packs, and satchels over their shoulders and weapons in hand. As they walked swiftly down the tunnel, it was suddenly quite obvious to both Malek and Devlin that Daniel had been in charge of their “escape” plan. It was a very unexpected side to this quiet, scholarly man who was now his brother. Hidden depths, indeed.
Sam and he had once discussed Daniel, and she had tried to explain Daniel to him; how much he had changed and how she no longer felt that she had to protect him, as she once had. How he had matured into a capable soldier, but one that would try the peaceful route first, if there was any chance at all that it would work. He was not, however, she had told him, willing to turn the other cheek. Being in the thick of the battle with beings that did not negotiate, he had learned the difference between when to talk and when to fight. He was willing to admit when talking simply would not work, and the enemy only recognized one thing—force. If he ever found himself in a bad situation along with Daniel, he could count on him to watch his back.
As they continued down the tunnel, Malek ruminated about that talk, and he realized that he should have seen her love of and for Daniel, even then. It had been quite clear, if he had only looked for it. There was no doubt that she admired his mind, as well. What is more, it had also become obvious to him that Daniel had as much respect for Sam’s brilliant mind, as she had for his. It was evident that their relationship included many levels.
Malek tensed. They were nearing the area of the rings. The council chamber would be straight down the tunnel, then to the right. They could not see them, but neither were they that far from them. He was surprised to see no guards at the ring platform except his own.
Looking down the tunnel toward the council chamber, now that they were at the junction of the tunnels, he was amazed to see the corridor between the rings and the council chamber, filled with other Tok’Ra.
The council had obviously just let out, as he could hear Corlock attempting to get through the crowd of people. He did not appear to be making any headway, as someone stepped in front of him, attempting to snare him into conversation, each time he attempted to step toward the rings. Garshaw and most of the rest of the council stood back and watched with something very near amusement on their faces.
Stepping onto the ring platform, Malek’s eyes locked with Garshaw. She smiled slightly at him and inclined her head in a gesture of respect. Malek returned it, just as he heard Daniel order that they activate the transport rings. The next thing he knew, they were on the surface and headed for the Chaappa’ai.
He was glad he had not taken the bet. It definitely would have been undignified for a base commander to be seen serving breakfast to his mate and his mate brothers—at least, it would be, if it was done every day. While he could do it occasionally without raising eyebrows, to do it every day for a month would have been cause for much amusement among his people. He would most definitely remember this, and take Samantha’s advice in matters of the Tau’ri whenever she gave it. He would save himself a great deal of embarrassment by doing so, he felt sure. They sometimes had odd senses of humor, these Tau’ri.
He watched, as one of his guards input the symbols for his base. He sighed slightly. He was not looking forward to this. His people would be furious, he was sure, at the idea that part of the council had refused to take his word, as well as those of his guard’s words. There was nothing he could do about it, though. He had to admit that this was one of the times he was grateful for the guards Zarest insisted he have around him. Why Zarest felt he needed them, Malek really did not know; however; these last two days, he was grateful that he had them, for he trusted his personal guards with his life, literally, and all the time, day and night.
Lost in his own thoughts, it surprised him when a staff blast came out of nowhere, caught the guard inputting the glyphs in the shoulder, and took him down. Sam whirled, as everyone else in their group did; however, she and then Daniel began spraying the tree line where the staff blast originated with bullets, even though they could not see so much as a leaf stirring. She hit something, they knew, because they heard the scream, just before Daniel joined her efforts to protect them all.
Malek’s guards stepped in front of him, but were unsure of where to fire. Malek ordered one of the guards to finish dialing, as he knelt to check on the injured guard. He was alive and badly injured, but he did not believe it was a fatal wound. While it was very painful, it would not kill him, if they got him to the med bay right away.
Malek watched Daniel step as close to Sam as he could, while they both kept the spray of bullets going around the group. One of Garshaw’s guards had handed Torvar a P-90, along with the ammunition for it, right before they left. It was loaded, and he took their unprotected side.
The event horizon stabilized, and Malek heard Daniel yelling at him to get the injured guard through, as they kept whoever this was at bay. He picked him up, torn between grabbing him or Sam. Sam was still on her feet though; the guard was not. Carrying the injured guard, he stepped into the Chaappa’ai. The remainder of the group started following them through the event horizon, Daniel, Sam, and two other guards last, even though one of them had nothing but a zat.
As Daniel and Sam turned slightly to enter the gate, Daniel saw a staff blast coming at her and jumped forward to try to push her aside. He didn't get her completely out of the way, but it wasn't as bad as it would've been. He was surprised, as weapons fire suddenly joined the staff blasts, and so, he didn’t see the second staff blast coming. It caught both of them, but he took the brunt of it, and then he felt what could only be bullets ripping into his leg, almost taking him down, and he knew then, that he and/or Sam were the real targets.
The guards that were still with them saw it happen and, evidently, they also realized who they were shooting at, as each of them grabbed one of the two Tau’ri and pushed them into the pulsating blue ring, quickly leaping after them.
Daniel’s last thought before he passed out was that, any other time, they would have been on a desert planet with nothing but sand for miles. This time, the base was on a planet that had what was practically a jungle surrounding the gate. Figured. As they came out the other side, staff blasts and bullets followed them, but luckily did no further damage.
Then they were all falling down the steps of the Chaappa’ai, and onto the world where Malek’s base was located. Torvar, the guard with the P-90 jumped up and sprayed the event horizon with ordinance until it shut down. If someone was following them through, he would have had him the minute he stepped out of the blue of the event horizon.
As the Chaappa’ai shut down, he sank to his knees, blood pouring down one of his legs much as it was both Daniel and Sam’s legs. That their wounds were in their legs was a blessing at this point. It could have been much worse. Whoever had done the shooting with the Tau’ri weapon, had either been unfamiliar with the weapon he was using, or had no real intent to kill, only to maim, perhaps for capture. The staff blasts, on the other hand, had meant to kill, which said that the person with the P-90 had not known much about how to use it, Sam thought vaguely as she slipped into unconsciousness.
Malek turned from where one of the Chaappa’ai guards was helping him with the injured man. Seeing both Daniel and Sam hit the ground and remain there, with their blood turning the sand red, as his guard did the same, stunned him for a moment, before he began to run toward them.
He was shouting orders to the guards as he ran, “Sa’rak, get some help up here. Bring some healers, and get that guard down into the tunnel. The rest of you stay here, and make sure that nothing and no one that comes through the Chaappa’ai is a threat, including anyone from Garshaw’s base. If it, or they, are a threat, then take them down immediately, but try to take them alive. I want answers.”
He dropped to his knees beside Sam and pulled her into his arms. Goddess, she was white, so very pale, but she was alive. He looked quickly at Daniel and realized that he was hurt worse than Sam was.
It was the closest Malek had ever come to panicking. Laying Sam back down, he made his way to Daniel and tore the cloth on his leg where the bleeding was coming from. They must have nicked a vein, because he was bleeding profusely. Ripping the pants leg completely off, he made a pad and applied pressure to the worst of the holes in his leg.
He felt and heard Gava at his shoulder. “Get Samantha to the med bay, Malek. We will take care of Daniel and Torvar. Go, now.”
He did not stop to question her; he simply moved to Sam, picked her up, and started running toward the rings with his mate in his arms her blood dripping onto the sand as he ran. The others were close behind.
The rings deposited him in the tunnels and he saw Zarest coming toward them. Turning toward the med bay, and with Zarest following him, he barked out instructions. “Double the guard on the Chaappa’ai and tell them that Markesh will be coming through with belongings. Let him pass. Someone else, too, may come through with belongings. If so, they may leave them and return to Garshaw’s base, but do not admit them to the tunnels. Make sure the belongings are set aside, until someone has time to search them thoroughly. Astar, also, may come through, if she has not already done so. Allow her to pass freely. Other than that, they are to neutralize anyone from Garshaw’s base, except for Garshaw herself, who attempts to enter our tunnels. Once they neutralize them, I want them transported to a holding cell, until I am free to interrogate them. I want sensors checking for incoming craft constantly. I know the new device to detect cloaked ships is not working one hundred percent, but I want it added anyway. If it works even minimally, it will be better than what we have. See to it that the guards have all of these instructions, as they are vitally important. Add guards in the tunnels near the ring transporter as well.”
“Contact and apprise Per’sus of our current situation, before he leaves his base, so that he can decide if he still wishes to come here. If he chooses to keep our appointment, escort him and his guards to the med bay immediately. The moment Lantash, Selmak, Daimesh, and Arwanna arrive, I want them in the med bay. Inform the guards that they are not to allow them to leave for Garshaw’s base under any circumstances.”
Zarest nodded and his considerable organizational skills came to the fore. In short order, he had carried out all of Malek’s orders and instituted several others as well. As long as the list was, still, it took very little time to implement the order. That accomplished, he contacted Garshaw and reported the attack. She should institute a search and investigation at once. She readily agreed. Something was certainly not right. None of her people would travel from her base to theirs, except for Malek’s people, since the attack originated on her base. Perhaps it was time to move bases.
Zarest did not have an opinion. “I believe that Markesh will be coming through shortly. As for moving bases, that will be entirely up to you and your council. I am afraid I cannot counsel or tell you what Malek has in mind to do.”
“Is he not making some type of plan, Zarest?”
“Malek has not yet left Samantha or Daniel’s sides. Daniel, in particular, is in extremely critical condition. They are also afraid that Samantha’s Evernight poisoning will prove an added complication.”
“Were they trying to kill Malek?”
“No, from what I understood the guards to say, it was quite obvious that Samantha and Daniel were the targets. Other than the guard inputting the glyphs, and the one that pushed Samantha and Daniel into the event horizon of the Chaappa’ai, they were the only ones hurt. One guard was hit with staff weapon’s fire and the other was hit with Tau’ri weaponry. Daniel and Samantha were hit with both staff blasts and Tau’ri weaponry.”
“Did anyone see them? Do we know who they are?”
“No, we have no idea; they saw no one. Whoever it was stayed well hidden in the foliage, and they did not make the mistake of stepping out and being seen. They remained hidden, even as they attacked, until our people were in the vortex, at which point, they must have come forward because shots followed them through the event horizon.”
“Since they were being fired upon from the tree line, I am amazed there were not more injuries.” Garshaw frowned as she commented aloud.
“If Daniel, Samantha, and Torvar had not had the Tau’ri weapons, they might all have been killed. All the guards had on them were zat’nik’tels. The last guard through thought he heard running footsteps, but no one came through the Chaappa’ai after them. If they had, they would have been dead, as our guards were training every weapon they had upon it. Torvar was spraying it with bullets, until it shut down, and then he collapsed, as well.”
“Evidently, Torvar ended up with a P-90 that Daniel missed as he gathered the Tau’ri weaponry and ammunition to bring to Malek’s base. It was a good thing he had it, as it helped them all to get through the Chaappa’ai. There is one other question you should ask, while you are investigating what occurred. Where were your own Chaappa’ai guards?”
“I did not even realize that you did not mention our guards. Of course, if they had been there, then there would have been no firing through the Chaappa’ai, and they might have been able to catch one of the attackers. I will begin a search for them at once. We will get back to you as soon as we have information for you.”
“Very well, Garshaw, we will talk again later, and we will hope to hear what your investigation manages to uncover.”
“Keep us informed as to their condition, Zarest. I find it hard to believe that someone tried to kill them. I am not saying you are not telling the truth. All I am saying is that I find the attempts on Samantha and Dr. Jackson’s lives to be shocking. It makes no sense.”
Zarest paused. It was evident that Garshaw did not realize that Samantha Carter’s poisoning had been a deliberate attempt to kill her. It was Malek or Per’sus’s place to tell her, so his reply remained non-committal, “We will keep you apprised of any changes to their condition, and we will be waiting for the results of our investigation, as well. I must go for now.”
Having severed the connection, his brow furrowed in thought, as he turned and walked back toward Malek’s office. In the circumstances, having their commander back would not mean that he could give up oversight of the base.
No doubt, he would still be seeing to the daily running of it until Malek’s mate was out of danger. At least, until Malek felt that he could leave her and Daniel. Thinking of that was pointless for now. He had a base to keep running smoothly.
Malek sat in the med bay beside the platforms where his mate and his new brother were lying. Sam was on one side of him and Daniel was on the other. Both were critical, but Daniel’s injuries were worse than Samantha’s were. At least, they were until she needed sex again to fight the poison. Then what would they do? What if the healers could not get her staff weapon injury taken care of before she needed sexual release once more? She was still unconscious, and they did not know if it was from the staff wound, the weapons injuries in her legs and subsequent blood loss, or the poison.
He could not stop blaming himself. They should have realized that the true targets were Daniel and Samantha. They should have pushed them through first, not last. How could he have been so negligent of his mate and his brother? It was just one more failure in his care of her. Goddess, he wished that Lantash and Martouf were here to help him care for her, no, them, for Daniel was now a part of their family. They would no doubt do a better job than he was doing.
He heard a moan from his left and jumped up as Daniel moved his head slightly. “Daniel, do not try to move. You are badly injured. Please, remain still.”
“Sam?” Daniel’s voice was little more than a whisper.
“Unconscious, but not as badly injured as you are. You must fight to survive, Daniel. If she loses you now, she might give up and not fight to survive, either. Please, remember that she loves and needs you.”
He stared into Malek’s eyes before nodding slightly. Then he made the effort to speak again. He could be dying and if he was, then they needed to know what he believed to be true. “Malek. Were after—Sam, me. Bigger than—Delek. Only—explanation. Stekesh, Corlock—too eager for you—to be in cell. Watch them.” His voice was so weak, no more than a whisper that Malek had to bend close to him in order to hear him.
He placed his hand on Daniel’s, squeezing it slightly. “I will watch, and if they are involved, we will know; I promise you. Do not worry about that now. Now you must see to it that you fight to live for Samantha. Your loss would devastate her, Daniel. She has just realized her heart-love of you, my Mae’tek Tari’esk; you must not leave her now that you have found each other’s love.”
Daniel forced his eyes open one more time and looked at Malek. He nodded slightly. “Will do—my best. Can’t—promise, though,” he murmured the last as his eyes closed, he sighed, and passed back into unconsciousness. His only thoughts for his mate, knowing she was all right so far, he had slipped away. Malek hoped he had given him a reason to fight for his own life.
A commotion at the doorway caused him to look up to see Per'sus striding into the med bay, his personal guards, and four of the healers from his base with him. As soon as Zarest told him what had occurred, he started making arrangements to take some of his healers with him. It took some time to gather them, but now they were here to help and Gava was already giving them instructions. It was quite obvious that Per'sus was not happy with the turn of events. He walked straight to Malek, and clasping his arm, asked quietly, “How are they, Malek?”
Malek shook his head. “Delek is still critical, he has not yet regained consciousness at all, even for a few moments, and it is unknown if he will live or die. Gava believes that his unconsciousness is due to the ribbon device, not the beating, although that was certainly extremely severe. If she is correct, and it is from the ribbon device, then we could see him slide into Amek’tel kek’ma’tel. We can only hope that it will not come to that, for with his other injuries it could well be fatal. Brain fever is not something to take lightly, even if the other injuries were already healed, and in this case they are not.”
“Samantha is not as injured as Delek, or Daniel, but with her need for sexual release, she could be in as much danger as the others, if they cannot get her healed enough to participate in a mating. Her time limit is almost up,” he voice was clipped and strained as he gave his answer.
Per'sus’s eyebrows rose, while his eyes questioned, and Malek realized that Daniel must not have told him why he wanted to see him, perhaps, only giving Sam’s illness as the reason he could not come to him. He must have given him a few details about the council wanting to incarcerate him for Delek’s beating; however, he had only set up a meeting with him, not explained why Malek wanted to see him, when he originally made those plans.
He nodded first toward the tunnel, before he indicated to Gava that they were stepping into the corridor.
Once there, he proceeded to bring him up to date on everything as quickly and succinctly as he could. “You know that Samantha lost her memory. She regained it eight days ago. That, however, is not the important event, although, it may be tied to some of them.”
“It seems that Samantha has been sent on several missions that have gone completely wrong. Twice, System Lords, who should never have been aware that she was on their worlds, have captured her. Twice, Delek has given her the wrong coordinates and claimed to the council that she misread them, or she forgot what he told her.”
“One of those times was when she ended up in a System Lord’s hands. That incident caused her to lose her memory. The other “misread” coordinates would have sent her to a toxic world, if she had not rechecked with someone other than Delek.”
“About thirteen days ago, she was sent on a recon mission to a planet known to have Evernight on it, and she was not warned about it. Luckily, it rained almost the entire time she was there, so she did not find it until she was on her way back to the base. She picked some for Martouf and Lantash but forgot to give it to them. They left on a rescue mission and have not yet returned. She believed she was becoming ill from what the Tau'ri call a cold; however, Gava walked into the room as Samantha was inhaling the fragrance of the Evernight flower and immediately tore the plant from her hands.”
“We have been fighting the poisoning ever since. It has now been eight days because four days after her initial poisoning, she was again exposed to the plant, but this time it was administered through her skin, and we know, for a fact, that Delek did it.” Malek continued detailing everything that had occurred in the past eight days. He told him of the confrontation between Sam and Delek, while Samantha was in the pool, and his own subsequent threat to kill him, if he ever touched Samantha in such a way again. Then he told him of Delek’s veiled threat to both he and Lantash, and his warning to have nothing to do with the Tau’ri. Then the subsequent finding of Delek, beaten, very close to death, with the “evidence” of Malek’s culpability clutched in his hand.
He explained it all, trying to be sure that he managed to give him all of the details. His own drugging was finally brought up and then this—the last attempt on Sam, and now also Daniel’s lives, today, as they left Garshaw’s base.
As Malek paused in his narrative, Per'sus spoke up saying quietly, “You realize there may be more to this than Delek’s dislike of the Tau’ri, do you not? There is little doubt that the intent behind his beating and the planting of the “evidence” was to have you incarcerated. When that did not work, and it became obvious that you were leaving with Samantha and Daniel, another plan was put into action.”
“It is a good thing that Daniel assigned the task of gathering Samantha and Lantash’s belongings to someone else and came back with you rather than remaining behind. No doubt, if he had not, he would have had an accident while he was still there.” Malek nodded his agreement, and Per'sus continued after a short pause, “There is more than one person involved, and at least one must still be on Garshaw’s base. In fact, I suspect more than one of them is there.”
“I will have to alert her to what has been happening. You realize that someone could also be here and on my base as well. We must hope it is confined to Garshaw’s base, but we must not depend upon that, and we must keep our suspicions to ourselves, except for those we know cannot be involved.”
Malek again nodded his agreement, but said, “Zarest has related some of it to Garshaw. I know he told her of the attack at the Chaappa’ai. He also pointed out that her own Chaappa’ai guards were conspicuous in their absence. At the time, we assumed they were simply avoiding us, so that they did not see us leave, thereby staying clear of any conflict. Obviously, we were wrong, and I believe she is attempting to find out what happened to them. Daniel told me that Stekesh and Corlock seemed quite eager to have me incarcerated. Whether there can be any weight given to that circumstance, I do not know.”
“My original intent, in having you to come to me, was to tell you of these things, but it was also to show you the evidence of Delek’s last physical attack on Samantha, as well as the proof of the poisoning. When the System Lords captured her, only information given against her could have allowed them to know who she was, and why she was there. The last mission, the one where she came into contact with the Evernight plant, Delek did the briefing, as he has most of the others.”
“We speculated that she was supposed to find it when she first arrived, and then come into contact with it, while she was waiting for her assignment to show up. Had it not rained, she would very probably have died on that world. If we had not requested to be considered for her Se’kesh Mae’tek, we probably would not have checked on her that afternoon, after Lantash and Martouf left on their mission.”
“At least,” Malek frowned, considering what he had said, and decided he was wrong, “no, that is not true. We knew she was ill, so we would have checked on her regardless. However, that is not important at this moment. Per'sus, she had just accepted me as her Se’kesh Mae’tek. Samantha had barely returned from her assignment, when Lantash and Martouf left on a rescue mission. They have no idea what has been occurring. Moreover, the keeper is with them, so we could not even get Samantha’s symbiote. You know that would have been the best and fastest way to treat her. Instead, she is not only exhausted; she may be dying because I was not thinking or paying attention.”
Per'sus sighed, understanding his feelings, and yet exasperated, as well, knowing that Malek would take the full blame for things that he should not. “Those kinds of thoughts are pure nonsense and folly, and they solve nothing. Stop taking blame and making yourself miserable and everyone else tense. Instead, be a mate that has confidence that she will do what she can to surprise you and return. You know the Tau’ri, as well as or better than, I do. They are very determined, and they fight with a single-minded intent that is worthy of our praise. The Tau’ri are much stronger than they appear, and your mate is one of the strongest I have met. She will be fine, Malek. Furthermore, Lantash and Martouf will blame you for none of this. Certainly, it may come as a shock to them, they may even be angry, until they come to understand what has happened, but they will not hold you responsible once they know everything that we do. You should know that.”
Malek nodded but sighed. “I keep telling myself that, and so does Devlin, but,” he shrugged looking into the distance before turning back to Per'sus, “until they are here, and I know that for a fact, it will continue to worry me. There is also the fact that I was unable to protect our mate. While they will forgive me for taking her as a mate, before the formal bonding, they will not forgive me if she…does not survive.”
“She will live, Malek. She has managed to survive all of this so far. I cannot see her not surviving this, as well. With our healers, as well as yours and Gava, she will be healed enough to participate in the mating.”
Turning, if possible, even more somber than he already was, he said, “However, as for Daniel, I cannot feel so sure that he will survive, Malek. From what they told me on my way in, his condition is not good. His injuries are severe, for he took the brunt of the two staff blasts and the Tau’ri weapon nicked a large vein. If we could get a symbiote, he might survive, but, we will just have to wait and see what occurs.”
Malek looked steadily at Per'sus before finally replying, “As time passed, and Lantash and Martouf did not return, we determined that I might not be able to continue to help Samantha, unless we brought in another mating partner. We discussed the options of who she felt she could mate with, and Daniel was the only one. I asked him to consider becoming her third mate and he agreed. He loves her and she loves him. Their love for one another was realized and acknowledged after they bonded, for they had hidden it not only from everyone else, but from one another and themselves, as well.”
“Last night, as you know, events occurred which necessitated her taking Daniel as that third mate. That is when they realized their true feelings for one another and, therefore, that is just one more shock for Lantash and Martouf to live through and assimilate. I know you believe that I should not worry about it, but stop and really think about this, Per'sus. They will return from a mission that has lasted much longer than they had hoped and believed it would. They will be expecting to find their mate eagerly awaiting their return. Instead, they will be greeted with the news that, not only has she taken and mated with two new mates in the past eight days, but she is lying very near to death, as is their newest Mae’tek Tari’esk. One that they did not even know existed. How would you react to that news?”
“I do not know, Malek, but I still do not believe that Lantash and Martouf will place the blame onto you. You and Gava have done everything you can to insure that Samantha will still be alive when they get here. I cannot imagine any man being enraged because his new, although not formally bound, mate-brother did everything within his power to see to it that she would be alive to greet them.”
Malek’s lips twisted bitterly, “But she is not alive to greet them, Per'sus. Alive for the moment, yes, but she cannot greet them.” Malek sighed deeply, shaking his head. “I do understand what you are saying, and I have to admit that I believe that you are correct. It does not keep me from wishing to keep this pain from them. Moreover, though we tell ourselves we are not to blame, we also know that keeping her safe was our responsibility. They expected it from us, and we vowed to do so.” He shook his head again, in denial of his own words this time, as he reiterated, “No, you are correct, and I believe that deep in our hearts we know that our brother will not fault us for this situation; however, we cannot but feel the pain of having to hurt them in this way.”
Malek kept looking towards the med bay, and it was obvious that he was uncomfortable being away from his mate and new brother for so long with them so badly injured. Per'sus knew that feeling well. “Come, we should go inside and sit with them,” Per'sus was saying, only to be interrupted by a great deal of activity and orders being given around the platform Daniel was lying on.
Malek dashed inside but could not get close to him with the healers between him and Daniel. He stood; his body held rigidly, waiting for one of the healers to tell him what was occurring.
They parted just enough for him to see Sebastian, Daniel’s friend, lying beside Daniel. Daniel’s eyes opened and glowed as the symbiote that had left his host turned to him and whispered his good-bye before his eyes closed once more.
Re’neka, one of his healers, turned to Malek as he entered, saying, “Sebastian requested a few minutes alone with Daniel. We all know how close they have become. We had no idea he would do this, Malek, and I am sorry we did not…”
Malek shook his head. “It was Sebastian’s choice to make, Re’neka. We all knew that his time was fast approaching. How he wished to die was his choice. Daniel will, however, be devastated at not being here to say good-bye.”
Re’neka shook her head. “Daniel awoke for a few minutes and they talked. That is why we left them alone. We do not know what passed between them, but there are tears on Daniel’s face, so…they must have said what was necessary.” Re’neka hesitated before continuing, “It may still be too early to tell, but we believe Daniel will survive. It is even more likely now that he has Brandel, Malek. Delek we are not yet willing to say.”
Malek nodded once, his gaze riveted to his new brother’s face. There was more color there. Perhaps, they were correct; at least, they were tentatively more optimistic now, which was more than they had been willing to be before. Then he realized that Re’neka had said nothing about Samantha. He frowned, asking, “What of Samantha, Re’neka? You did not mention her.”
Re’neka paused and slid her gaze to Gava who nodded. “We do not know, yet, Malek. She still has not regained consciousness at all, and that is not a good sign. However, her fever is not climbing, either, and that is a good sign. We will let you know something as soon as we do. Why do you not go and get something to drink and eat, Malek? Starving yourself will do her no good, and she will need you awake and well, when she does awaken.”
His gaze swung to Samantha, and then he walked to her. He could see that the staff blast was still not healed nor were the injuries on her legs from the Tau’ri weapon. Even though they had cleaned the blood from her skin around the wounds, both her and her clothing were blood covered.
Gava looked up at him and seeing the strain on his face, she said gently, “Her fever is not spiking, Malek, and in fact it is quite low compared to what we have seen in the past. Her wounds are healing, albeit very slowly for some reason. Possibly the Evernight is interfering in some way. I hope she will awaken soon. If she does not, you must be prepared to make love to her here. We will stop long enough for you to take care of her, but she has lost a great deal of blood, which in her already weakened condition is causing me concern. If we had Tau’ri equipment we could give her a blood transfusion. That is what they do, but the blood must be compatible. We would have to test some people to find out who could donate blood for her. She did tell me that she and Daniel had much in common, including their blood type. Of course, we cannot use his blood as he has lost so much, but perhaps there would be others that have the same type that they do.” Gave smiled a little, as she remembered the conversation they had shared. “We will see how it goes, and if it must be done, we will find a way to transfer blood to her.”
“Thank you, Gava. But, why is she still unconscious?”
Gava shook her head. “It could be the trauma or just simply exhaustion. She is very tired, Malek, this you know. I would not begin to worry just yet. It is still another half hour until we need to begin keeping a closer watch on her fever. Remember she was going longer and unless her fever begins to climb rapidly, I do not advise attempting to awaken her. We do not know what is happening, but her vital systems seem to be working well. At this point, I am not in despair, but am cautiously optimistic. Do as Re'neka requested of you. Go with Per'sus and take some time to yourself to try to adjust and calm your own body functions. You are allowing too much adrenaline to work on you. Should she awaken, I will com you at once. You still have yours?”
“Yes, of course, I have it with me all the time. I will do as you say, but should she awaken at all, you must call me immediately. In fact, if any of them awaken, I wish to be called immediately.”
“I will see to it, Malek, I assure you. You also might wish to stop by your office. I thought I saw Markesh only a few minutes ago, and if so, he may have information from Garshaw. I did not wish to interrupt before you knew about Daniel.”
“Thank you, Gava.” He sighed. “I just wish she would awaken. Daniel has come to consciousness twice, now, and he is hurt more badly than Samantha.” Malek was as close to fretting as she had ever seen him. She was seeing many firsts when it came to Malek.
Speaking soothingly, she said quietly, “Although, I am sure it feels as if a long time has passed, it truly has not done so. It is only a little over an hour since you arrived here. As for Samantha not awakening, while Daniel has, that could simply be from her prior exhaustion. It is nothing to worry about for now. When it becomes a concern, I will tell you, Malek. I will not keep information from you.”
Malek smiled, but it was very slight, no more than a slight curl of his lips, “It seems I must thank you once again. All right, I will at least go get a cup of coffee, but I will bring it here. I can sit here and worry just as easily as I can sit anywhere else to do so.”
She shook her head at him, but did not try to argue. This was an argument she would not win. At this point, no one would keep Malek from his mate unless it was an absolutely shattering emergency. She would not even try.
Per'sus touched his shoulder as he stood and stared at Sam. “You said you had evidence against Delek. I take it that the bruises, obviously made by the fingers of his hand, on her throat are some of it?” He made his statement a question.
Reaching into her pocket, Gava drew forth the crystal with the images. “There are images of all of them on this, but as you said you can see the ones on her throat. Do you wish to see the remainder of the bruises that she has from when Delek attacked her?
“No, Gava, thank you, but that will not be necessary. The images are enough, and I have seen part of them myself. It is sufficient.”
“The rash on her hand and forehead are from where the Evernight was introduced to her skin, but there is an oddity about its appearance. It has been bothering me, since I first saw it this morning, and I believe I have finally figured it out. It is not dark enough. The rash should be darker. Since it is not as dark as it should be, I thought about what could cause it to be so light. Treea came up with the answer. Although Delek did rub it onto her skin, he did not use it full strength. What I mean is that he had to have diluted it with some other substance. I have run several tests and whatever he used, was not a poison that I could find, if it was a poison at all.”
She paused, still frowning in concentration. “I believe that Sam’s reaction was so intense because she was still fighting the previous Evernight poisoning. If she had not already had the remnants of the first time in her system, she would not have become so ill with it.”
Malek and Per'sus both frowned as they listened. This did not make sense. Why would Delek dilute it, knowing that it would be less effective? Per'sus finally asked Gava for an opinion. “Then what do you think the purpose of the second poisoning was?”
“I am not sure, Per'sus. Perhaps Delek did not know he should not mix it with other substances to get the desired effect. Samantha said it had a greasy residue, which is why I assumed it was pure Evernight. Now, though, I believe he mixed it with another substance, perhaps to keep it from rubbing off, although Evernight is absorbed very quickly. I simply do not know, and I do not believe that we will know unless, or until, Delek awakens. Nonetheless, I thought that I should point that out.”
“Thank you, Gava. We need all the facts…even when they do not make any sense,” Malek replied tiredly, while Per'sus indicated his own agreement.
“There is a witness that saw him touch her in both places the night she became so ill with the poisoning again. It is Astar, and she is here if you wish to speak to her.”
“I will find and speak to her later, thank you, Gava. I intend to remain for a while, before I go back, and I wish to contact Garshaw myself, as well, before I leave for my home base.”
Gava nodded her understanding, “Astar, along with Markesh and I, are here indefinitely. She feels that as a guard, if they did not trust Malek’s guard’s words, then they could also someday question her words without just cause.”
She turned to Malek adding, “I hope you do not mind, but when she asked if I thought you would mind if she came here, since I knew we needed her as a witness, I told her I believed you would not mind. There is also the fact that, if anyone finds out that she witnessed what happened, she could be in danger as well.”
Malek agreed, saying, “That is fine, Gava. I agree with your reasoning, and it is well that she came with you.”
Gava nodded her understanding and returned to work on healing the staff blast wounds on Samantha’s shoulder and arm, as the other healer continued to work on the bullet wounds. Per'sus turned to this man who was more than just one of his base commanders. He was his very good friend and comrade and had been for many long centuries. Placing his hand on his shoulder, he urged him, “Come, Malek. There is nothing more we can do here at this time. Gava has assured you that she will notify you the moment she regains consciousness.”
“Of course. I apologize. We should stop by my office and see if Markesh is still there. If not, then I hope that he has given the information to Zarest.”
“I agree,” Per'sus replied as Malek finally turned from his vigil over Sam, and began to move toward the open tunnel. It would not take them long to get there at the pace they were walking. You would think that demons were behind them.
Per'sus sighed, as he realized that the only thought in Malek’s head was to return to his mate. Oh, once they arrived at his office, if Markesh was still there, or even if he had only left a report with Zarest, Malek would become the commander again. However, at the moment, he was the lover, the new lover, and his mind was with his beloved.
Per'sus smiled slightly, remembering a time when his sanity would have deserted him, too, for love of a human woman. There was something about them, these humans, which drew the Tok’Ra, the symbiote, to them. Something other than the need for a host. Ah, well, they had arrived at Malek’s office. He could speculate about the attraction later.
Seeing his commander enter, Zarest stood from his chair and the man standing next to the desk turned as he did. It was Markesh, and Malek and Per'sus both nodded to him before Malek took his rightful place behind the desk, waving the others into seats across from him. “Have you any information, Markesh? Or have you simply come to be with Gava?” Malek quickly got to the point.
“Both. I have had a very interesting talk with Garshaw, although she probably does not realize it. It appears that at least three of the council members were for incarcerating you, Malek…one other was in favor of, and repeatedly pushed for, separating you from your host and then putting you into indefinite stasis for your “crime” against Delek. She would not tell me which ones, but she did assure me that she gave a flat refusal to all propositions and that the one that suggested the most extreme measures was ah, chastised soundly. She believes, however, and I am to tell you, that you should be extremely cautious around the council members from her base until we can solve the incidents. She believes that it is jealousy of your position, as she has seen it before and knows that those particular council members had their own candidates in mind when Per'sus appointed you to be a base commander.”
“I see. Perhaps Per'sus will be able to get more information from her, then. What of the guards that were on Chaappa’ai duty?”
“They were found, just inside the tree line, all were unconscious, but not in any danger. When they brought them around, they were unable to tell us anything. They saw and heard nothing. The last thing they remember happening is seeing Delek being taken through by the healers and some guards.”
“After that, one minute they were concealed, watching, and guarding the Chaappa’ai and the next, they were waking up in the med bay. Kallar is with them. She returned today shortly after you left, so there is a healer available on base now, and Ka’tal is due back tomorrow as well.”
“Kallar is unsure what transpired, but she believes that they were stunned first and then given Arsyniqar, administered directly, rather than through food as yours was, while they were unconscious. There is no doubt that there was Arsyniqar in their systems. The only thing she is not sure of is how it was administered.”
“She cannot be sure how many vials of it are missing anymore than Gava could, but she is considering locking those types of substances away.”
“I believe she will do so, regardless what Thoran says. He believes that this is simply an aberration and once they solve it, the problem will then go away, and there will be no need for such precautions. Most of the council agrees, since we have never had anything like this happen before now. Gava told her to do it, though, as she is very upset over the entire incident.”
Per’sus nodded, saying, “I believe that Gava is correct, and I will tell Garshaw that Kallar should do it at once. I will also inform her of the other attempts made upon Samantha’s life prior to this, and that it appears Delek has been behind them all, if she is not yet aware of them. Unfortunately, that gives Malek even more motive for attacking him; however, we know that he did not. It is my belief that she knows it as well. She is aware of the attempt on Malek, and she knows that the attack on Delek took place while Malek was unconscious. I will also tell her to keep the information about the attacks on Samantha to herself. I do not even want that information going to her council members.” He sighed deeply before looking at the men around him and murmuring, “It is unfortunate, but in particular I do not believe she should inform her council members.”
“Nor do I believe that we need to spread the information around, and I am quite sure that the people here will tell too many people as it is.” Per'sus was well aware of how twisted stories could become by the time they made it from one person to the next. In this case, that was not necessarily such a bad thing though.
As Per'sus ended his comments, Malek said, “I do not know how many people know what has transpired. Has anyone been informed of the particulars, Zarest?”
Zarest shook his head in response, before saying, “I have told no one, but the guards, and all they know is that there were some incidents that were causing you concern, Malek. They know that you have become Se’kesh Mae’tek to Samantha, and that she has been unwell. No doubt, there is speculation, but I have not heard any rumors; I made it very plain that this entire assignment was one that was not to be discussed with anyone.”
Malek and Per'sus both breathed sighs of relief. Their guards were very good at pretending they knew nothing. The only rumors that would be circulating would be about the fact that Malek had taken a mate, and now, about the harm to his mate brother and his mate. They would also know that they were in serious condition along with two guards. There would be speculation about why it happened, as they were coming from the other base, but no one would know anything.
Malek turned his attention to Markesh. “I am glad you are both staying here, Markesh. I have become used to Gava taking care of Samantha, and she is so familiar with what has taken place that I would hate to lose her now.”
“I will not allow her to return, Malek. Their distrust of the two of us showed how they truly felt about us. If they do not trust us, I will not stay. If you do not wish us to join your base, then we may retire to some world where Gava’s talents could be put to good use,” Markesh answered somewhat stiffly, obviously, still very unhappy with their treatment at the hands of the council.
“You are most welcome here, Markesh, you and Gava both, but are you sure it was the entire council?”
Markesh frowned as he thought back to the morning’s events. “No, it was not all of them. It was Stekesh, Corlock, Parist, and perhaps one or two more, but the first three were the most vocal.”
“Garshaw and the other councilors simply said that if the others wished the Za’tarc testing to be done on us, then they would not continue to object, particularly since Gava was by then insisting it be done to clear our names.” His lips tightened. “I will not have our honor impugned in that way,” His voice was cold and firm.
Malek nodded his understanding. “I do not blame you, Markesh, and as I said, you and Gava are welcome here for as long as you both wish to remain. I have every confidence in you, as I am sure you realize by now.”
Per'sus sat on the edge of Malek’s desk listening to the conversation, but as Malek finished speaking he asked, “Markesh, when they were discussing using the Za’tarc detector, did you notice any glances going from one to the other that appeared more than just casual glances?”
Markesh frowned as he considered the question. “No, not that I noticed, Per'sus. No, wait, actually, that is not true. There were glances exchanged between Garshaw and Apashe, but it was a look of, well, of disbelief at the other’s comments and insistence about using the Za’tarc detector on us. I had forgotten that until you mentioned it.”
“Garshaw did not want the testing done, as she believed both Gava and me, but because the others wanted it, she went along with it. And as I said, by that point, Gava, too, wanted it done to prove that we were not lying.”
Per'sus nodded. “All right. Then she and the other older members did not dispute your word. That is good to know. I am glad, for I have known you for many years and am well aware that you would not lie to them.”
“The fact that Malek has been attacked, as well as Delek, should have had the entire council asking questions. I suspect that Garshaw, Ma’ashat, Apashe, and Lustesh are asking questions, if only of themselves, at the moment, until they can begin to find some clues. We are very lucky that whoever is involved in this did not get to the Chaappa’ai before you sent Delek through.”
“We can thank Daniel for that. He is the one that decided to get Delek away from there before anyone could make another attempt on either of us. He planned,” Malek told Per'sus ruefully, “to zat me if I refused to go peacefully.”
Per'sus gave a brief grin at the picture of how that would have appeared, before his mind moved on to other questions, “Malek, who does know about the attempts on Samantha’s life?”
“I believe there are only you, Gava, Markesh, Zarest, myself, and Daniel. Ah, and Astar knows as well, as she witnessed one attempt. As far as I know, there is no one else. I believe that most know that she was poisoned by the Evernight plant, but no one knows that it was deliberate.”
“Samantha told no one, until Gava and I managed to get the information from her. She had no proof and felt that they would take his word before hers. I believe that her suspicions about that were very probably true.” He paused slightly before adding, “She also feared that Lantash would kill him if she told him, so she kept the information to herself, double checking all of her instructions and trying to come up with some evidence.”
“Gava and I have both seen Delek not only attempt to strangle her, but threaten her, as well. He also admitted to sabotaging her missions, and told her that he would continue to see to it that she failed at each and every one. She now has her evidence.”
Per'sus frowned, and nodded his agreement. He seemed lost in thought, for a time, before he shook his head. “Delek has some odd quirks, but usually he is not this combative and unreasonable. I know that he dislikes the Tau’ri and believes them to be beneath us, but I have never heard such pure hatred from him before, even during his attempts to keep us from becoming better allies. However, you have the proof of his attempts, and you and Gava both heard him declare his hatred and contempt of both Samantha and the Tau’ri during his threats. The epithets he called her were more insulting than I would have expected him to be, as well. It is obvious that we did not know him as well as we thought we did. However, there is nothing more we can do until he awakens.”
Nodding in agreement with him, Malek brought up something else, “Gava and I have speculated that, since his hatred seems to be so very virulent, that perhaps he has a medical condition of which we do not know. If he survives this, I believe we both agree that he should have a very thorough medical examination. Delek is at times overbearing and arrogant. He can be an irritant in many ways, but if someone told me he was doing these things, my first reaction would be to deny it. As furious as I am with him, still I must admit that I would have considered it out of character for him.” Still contemplating the seeming inconsistencies in his behavior, Malek shook his head as he gave up on his ruminations.
Per’sus frowned and it was obvious that he was giving some new idea some thought. “I agree that he should definitely be tested for some problem. In the meantime, speaking of his threats, I believe you should have guards in the med bay around him and between him and both Samantha and Daniel. If he is unstable in some way, then we should expect and guard against aberrant behavior from him, and at this time, I am not willing to take a chance that it is only abhorrence of the Tau’ri that is causing his actions. To do so, would be to assume that he will not act in an overtly hostile way among others, and I do not believe we should trust in that being the case.”
Malek agreed. “I will see to it that the guards are in place as soon as possible.”
Turning to the other two men he then asked, “Is there anything else we should know?”
Markesh answered, “I delivered all of Samantha, Martouf, and Lantash’s belongings and had them delivered to your rooms. Ah, and also, I believe that Torvar knows slightly more than the other guards do. Gava had to question him about the tray of food that was delivered to you, Malek.”
Both Malek and Per'sus acknowledged his statements and then Zarest spoke up, saying, “So far, I believe that is all that we know. I will take care of the guards, Malek, as I imagine you wish to return to Samantha. I will inform you as soon as anything relevant is relayed to us.”
Malek started to stand, but stopped abruptly to say, “One other thing, Zarest. If we should receive any communication from Lantash, Selmak, or anyone else on the mission, do not tell them anything about what is transpiring. If they are in a position where they cannot return right away, there is no point in worrying them. At least, there is no point in worrying them yet.”
He paused before adding, “Also, please contact Garshaw and tell her the same thing. It would only upset them to know that their mate is ill, if they cannot be here with her, and I will not do that to them.”
“I will see to both items immediately, Malek. Do not concern yourself.”
“Thank you. In that case, if that is all, I am going to go get some coffee and something to eat, and then return to the med bay.”
“Should any news come in, or if anything else occurs, I will alert you at once. Do not worry about the base. I will manage it.”
Nodding his agreement, Malek and Per'sus stood and walked out together, but it was obvious that both were in deep thought. “I believe we are correct and there may be more to this than we see on the surface. I hope that Delek survives, if for no other reason than to answer some questions,” Malek stated, grimly.
“I agree, Malek. If he survives, Delek will have much for which to answer.”
Both men grabbed something light to eat, and then they took their coffee and headed back for the med bay. Both were beginning to wonder how things were going there. They had been absent for almost an hour; realizing how long they had been gone, Malek began to walk faster. “Samantha may have need of me, Per'sus. It is past her due time.”
“Yes, I just realized that myself. We will arrive shortly; however, if she had needed you, Gava would have contacted you, as you know. She is obviously not in distress yet.”
Malek relaxed marginally, “That is true. I still wish to be there when she awakens.”
“I cannot fault you for that,” Per'sus replied as they walked through the med bay doorway.
Gava glanced up as they came through the door and smiled at them, motioning them over to Samantha’s side. The healing of the wound from the staff blast was almost complete; of the three bullet wounds to her legs, only one remained, and it, too, appeared pretty much healed.
Malek’s tension eased, as he realized that Gava was standing in a more relaxed attitude, as the light from the healing device played over Sam’s shoulder, and her smile relayed genuine happiness. “I was about to call you, Malek. Samantha’s fever is remaining fairly low, climbing very slowly.”
“She awoke for not more than a minute or two and asked after you, Daniel, and the guards. I was going to contact you, but she refused, saying she was going ‘back to sleep’. Since it seemed to cause her a great deal of anxiety, I agreed to wait to tell you. I felt you would rather I did not upset her, than you.”
She waited for Malek’s nod of agreement before continuing, “I waited for several minutes after she returned to sleep, and then attempted to awaken her. She awoke quite easily, so I allowed her to return to her rest.”
“She will be fine, Malek, and if her temperature continues to rise at such a slow pace, it will be another hour or more before she will need you. We will be able to complete her healing well before that time. It was only a few minutes ago that I reawakened her, and I would have called you soon, if you had not returned, I assure you.”
Malek felt as if his legs were about to give out, and he grabbed the side of the table, trying to keep his emotions in check and hidden from his comrades. Thank the stars. He nodded at Gava, and felt Per'sus clasp his shoulder pushing him onto a nearby seat.
So much for keeping his emotions to himself; he should have known that Per'sus would know how he was feeling. He placed his elbows on his knees and rested his head in his hands. Taking a deep breath, he looked up at Gava. “Daniel? How is Daniel?”
Again, Gava gave him a very bright and relieved smile. “He is asleep as well, Malek. Brandel is healing him quickly and efficiently. I suspect that he will arise quite soon and make his way over here.” Malek smiled for what felt like the first time in months, although he knew it was only since this morning when they had loved their Samantha.
He felt Devlin’s great relief and hugged him in return for his embrace, with as much love as he could send to him. He had been a tower of strength to him, as he always was during a crisis. They did not talk a great deal during periods of stress like this, until after it was over, but both were constantly in unspoken communication giving each other that all important love and acceptance.
Being aware of Malek’s thoughts, Devlin said to him, “Our bond to our mate and our Mae'tek Tari’esks is irreplaceable, Malek. We might love again, but I do not believe it would ever be this intimate and deep a connection.”
“I agree, Devlin. Here in our intimate thoughts we can admit how deep our irreplaceable bond to them truly is. We will tell them all someday—someday soon. I wish them all to know how much they mean to us. I do not ever wish to be in a position of regretting that which I did not say when I should have. I can feel your intense agreement.”
“You are quite correct, Malek. I feel exactly the same about them, and I agree with your sentiments. I, too, do not wish to feel regret for the things I did not say.”
They cut their private conversation short, as they looked toward the door. Zarest entered the room, a frown darkening his face. “What is wrong?” Malek would have stood, if Per'sus had not clamped his hand down onto his shoulder forcing him to remain seated.
“Nothing is wrong, exactly; however, you may be annoyed that you were not informed before now. I found a message on your desk, covered with other articles, which I only now found. It seems that we received a subspace communication from Selmak sometime during the early morning hours.”
According to the transmission, they had some engine malfunctions that were delaying them, but they expected to arrive anytime between mid-day and later tonight, depending on whether or not Jacob and Selmak were able to complete repairs. Since they are not here, and it is now onwards toward night, I would say that they could arrive at any time.”
This time at least he was not standing, so when his bones melted, he was not afraid he would fall. They now had one more thing to be thankful for among all the other good news. Perhaps things were beginning to fall into place at last. “Thank you, Zarest, for bringing it to me immediately. It is very much appreciated news.”
Zarest grinned at him. “I thought you might feel that way.”
“That is a great relief to us all,” Per'sus quietly replied. He knew that having Lantash and Martouf return would lessen much of the tension and anxiety for Malek, Devlin, and Daniel, as would the fact that both Daniel and Samantha were going to live.
He glanced over at Delek, thinking about him. If Delek also survived, they might soon have answers from him. He suddenly noticed a difference around him. His next comment was abrupt, “There are fewer healers around Delek’s platform. What do you know about his condition, Gava?”
“They are still concerned about Amek’tel kek’ma’tel but his injuries are no longer life threatening. If we can get him through without the brain fever, he should recover. Even if he does end up with it, at this point, he might still be all right. The longer we go without it occurring the better his chances of recovery become.”
“We were able to move two more healers to him after Torvar was healed, and that helped immensely. Now, however, they no longer believe the extra two are needed, nor do they think that they need two working on the same areas at one time, so several of them are resting at the moment so they will be better able to take over as the others tire.”
She turned to Per'sus. “I have not thanked you for bringing your healers, but I am most appreciative. Without them, we could very well have lost not only Delek, but Daniel and Samantha as well. Thank you for thinking to bring them.”
“You are very welcome. I felt that in the circumstances it would be prudent.”
Gava smiled at him and then turned back to Sam. “I believe we have done all that we can at this point, Malek. The staff blasts and her other injury are healed. Now all we can do is wait for her to wake up, or her fever to begin to rise more rapidly.”
Malek nodded as he smiled slightly. Gava was correct. There was really nothing to do at this point. He would sit here and absorb the feeling of relief. Lantash and Martouf were returning. Sam and Daniel had recovered from their wounds. He could relax to some extent, but he would remain with Samantha until she awoke. He wanted to be here when Daniel rejoined them, too.
Per’sus sent him a half-serious, half-amused look, chiding him, “I believe that we will soon have our answers, Malek, and then we can decide what to do. I am glad to see you relax. You do realize that you no longer need to be so tense, do you not? When Delek awakens, we will get the answers we need, Samantha and Daniel are going to be well, and soon everything will be back to the way it should be. Perhaps now you can cease worrying quite so much.”
“I agree, Per'sus. It may not be all that simple, but it will all work out in the end; I am quite sure of that now,” Malek assured him, accepting his friend’s advice.
“Good. I am going to find Astar and talk to her. I suggest you simply sit by your mate, try to relax, and rest.”
Malek nodded. “I plan to, Per'sus. Thank you for all you have done to help.”
“You are most welcome. Now, I will see you after while. Gava, you, also, should rest.”
“We both will, Per'sus.”
Smiling at both of them, Per'sus turned and left to go and find Astar. Yes, it would all work out now; he was quite sure. His steps quickened with that thought. No doubt, the situation would be resolved and be fine. Just as Malek, his new brother, and his mate would be fine. All they had to do was wait, and then follow up on what they already knew. He whistled softly as he walked briskly down the hall. It would soon be over.