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.
Missing Pieces - Story Twelve Part II Summary: Now that the culprit has been caught, they have to see if they can get him to spill everything he knows. Delek is allowed to go with them to answer any accusations they might make against him. Sam is much better, even getting feisty and taking part in the proceedings. Can they finally find out who is behind the attacks? Moreover, is it more involved than a vendetta against the Tau'ri and Sam in particular?
Prinekh – Lifemate, Affectionate Form. Za’rask Quel’tarc - A Drug that gives the Person that Administers it Control of the Person to whom it was Administered. Mer Ann’wyld – My Beloved Arsyniqar – One of the few Substances that will put the Symbiote, as well as the Host, to Sleep. Mae’tek Tari’esks – Mate Brothers Cor’kesh’lek’dak – Hearts Bound Through Flesh. A Private Rite participated in by those involved in a multiple joining. “Italics” – Symbiote-Host Communication
Author's Note: This is the final story in The Fever Series. Thanks to Starshadow for the time spent listening as I hammered out ideas, for helping to work out plot points, for making suggestions, and for doing beta when she could. All of the time you spent helping was much appreciated.
Wanting to tell them in person, Markesh raced for the med bay from Malek’s chambers. It had worked like a charm. As soon as the suspect handed the false note to the guards, and they read it, they called to the other two guards on Malek’s room and all four of them left as quickly as possible, seemingly rushing to whatever emergency the note detailed, and leaving Malek’s chambers completely unguarded. No doubt, the perpetrator had seen Malek and Lantash leave before he sent the note. The note was a very good forgery; it certainly looked like Malek’s handwriting.
Knowing that there was no way in this universe that Malek would call his guards from Samantha, and that they had expected this type of attack, the guards left, and com’d him and Jack O’Neill, at once, as instructed. They, in turn, had entered the room just as Daniel Jackson and Brandel had attacked the Councilor. It happened even faster than they believed it might, but thanks to Jack O’Neill, Lantash, Teal'c, and Jacob Carter, they were very prepared. He grinned. Parist’s face. Goddess, he wished he could have gotten a holo of that.
“Malek, he has been caught,” Markesh panted, as he slid to a stop by Delek’s platform. “We sprang the trap just now. He is under guard in your rooms.”
Suddenly, Connal was attempting to sit up. “Please, Malek, please, allow me to go with you. I will control Delek, I assure you. He will not try to escape, I give you my word.” As Malek frowned at him, he said softly, again, “Please. They have caused my Prinekh and I much sorrow, grief, and pain. I wish to be there to hear what he has to say for himself. Please.”
Calise spoke up, asking, “You can call him Prinekh? After all he has done to you?”
Connal turned to her, and his eyes were soft and luminous, as he answered her quietly, “Delek has never been cruel to me, hurt me, or mistreated me, Calise. In more recent times, it is true that he has not allowed me much control of my body, still, he was never vindictive, spiteful, or brutal, no matter how angry he became at me. Furthermore, as I became more and more aware of what was occurring, I talked to him constantly about what he was doing. I continuously harped at him to stop, to try to remember what had happened, and to look harder at the events he was attempting to put into motion. I argued with him incessantly and, even then, not once, did he hurt me, as a Goa’uld would have.”
He smiled sadly, and his voice was full of tenderness as well as conviction, as he told her, “So, yes, I can call him my Prinekh, for to me, he is now and always will be so. He truly would never hurt me, Calise, just as he would not have hurt Samantha Carter, if he had been in control of himself. While it is true that he has done some things recently that he should be punished for, attempting to murder her—or Malek—is not one of them, I promise you.”
“I may never know what you see in Delek, Calise, but I can tell you that I just fell in love with Connal. What a wonderfully sweet and caring person he is,” Talisa whispered to her symbiote.
“Yes, he is.” Calise agreed with her host and then made her decision. Looking straight at Malek she told him, “I will take responsibility for him, Malek, if you will allow him to accompany us.”
Malek looked exasperated. “Damn it, Dev, Calise knows I can deny her very little. She is one of very few people, besides Samantha, that can twist me around her finger because she holds so much of my heart. Damn it.”
As serious as things were, Devlin chuckled at his mate before telling him, “That is why she approached you, Malek. She is as aware of those facts, as you are. Come; allow him to go. Connal, after all, is innocent in this regardless what Delek is guilty of doing.”
“Put me in cuffs, if you will feel better, and bring my guards—anything, whatever you wish, only please—allow me to go with you.”
“Stop begging him, Connal, or I swear I will take back control,” Delek bit out angrily.
Connal came very close to snapping at his Lifemate, as he told him sternly, “No, you will not. I will not allow you control, and from now on, you must have my permission to take control from me, Delek. He will allow us to go. Put away your foolish pride. It has brought you nothing but pain, trouble, and regret. You will do as I say from now on because, if the two of us get out of this alive, it will be because I agree to become responsible for you.”
Delek sputtered, but realized that what his Lifemate said was very probably true. If he wished to come out of this with less than the death penalty, or that very lonely, on display tank, which he still doubted he could, it would be because of Connal—and perhaps— Calise. “Very well; however, do not get your hopes up. It is very likely that they will still execute me. You, at least, can stay and be with Calise.”
Connal sighed. “Delek, shut up, Mer Ann’wyld.” He almost grinned as Delek gaped at him. What in the world had gotten into shy, retiring, fearful Connal? Picking up his thoughts, he answered them, saying, “My love for you has made me strong for you, Delek. I will fight for you, since you will not allow me to die with you. Now, please, remain quietly in the background, at least until we find out more about what has been done and planned.”
Delek felt his host’s love embrace him, and abruptly, he was overwhelmed at the gift he was giving him. Even if he died, he would take that love into death with him. It was something for which it was worth lowering his pride. Moreover, he would do so.
Malek looked over at Lantash. Martouf, having the cooler head at this moment, took control and answered his look, “I believe that he should be allowed to go. For one thing, I would suggest that our newest guest will try to implicate them, and if Delek and Connal are there, they may be able to answer the accusations, and thereby, help us to find the missing answers. The other possibility is that he will attempt to keep Delek on his side and support him, accusing Malek of attempting to kill him, expecting Delek, therefore, to support him in return. Either way, it is only fair, since we now know that Delek was not responsible for, ah, all of his actions. Having him there, and so obviously against our guest, may very well tip the balance in getting him to confess.”
Martouf frowned as he thought his own words over. He wished there was some way they could know, without a doubt, that Connal was telling the truth. Not that he really disbelieved him, for he did not, but proof would have made it much more neat and tidy.
Gava walked into the room, a data pad in her hand, and stopped short as she took in the tableau in front of her. She started walking again because she had just found something interesting in the report on Delek and Connal. Seeing her, and recognizing the look on her face as one that said she had news, Malek asked her, “What have you found, Gava? I can tell that you have something to relate to us.”
She nodded. “I am not sure what it means, if anything, Malek, but there is a substance in Connal and Delek’s bodies that resembles Za’rask Quel’tarc. It is somewhat different from the original compound, however.”
Malek nodded. “That is what Connal has been telling us, Gava. It seems that he and Delek have been under its influence for quite some time now.”
She nodded absently before jerking her head up, surprise on her face. Then, she said, “Connal? Connal has been talking to you?”
Malek smiled slightly, but his voice was grim and menacing, “Yes. Connal. Clearly, Delek has also realized that if he wants to get out of the mess he has made of their lives, it would be best if he stayed quiet, at least for the moment, and allowed Connal to handle his defense.”
She glanced at them. “Yes, well, no one ever said that Delek was stupid, and I can verify that Connal is telling the truth. Furthermore, it would still work much as it did before, but without the side effects. It would, however, prove deadly to an unblended human.”
He nodded, and then motioned to the guards. “Release him, but put him in wrist restraints. If he tries to escape,” he saw Calise’s alarmed look and changed his sentence, “use a Tau'ri weapon and shoot him in the legs. I do not want him killed. Yet.” He watched the guards put their zat’nik’tels away and bring forth their side arms. He was glad that they had become standard issue as of yesterday.
It didn't take long to release and then re-shackle Delek. The group turned and walked swiftly down the hall toward Malek and Lantash’s rooms.
Sam scrambled from the bed, pushing her hair from her eyes and wrapping sheets around her. Why, why, was she always naked when these things happened? First the pool and now here. Furthermore, why hadn’t they warned her that it might? It was quite obvious that this had been a set up to trap the council member sent to dispose of them. He must have thought he hit the jackpot when he found both her and Daniel asleep…or supposedly asleep, for clearly Daniel and Brandel were wide awake and awaiting him.
Angrily she stomped into the ‘closet’. After rummaging around, she found her BDU’s, and took them with her into the poolroom, jerking the curtain that Gava had ordered put up across the doorway. Quickly stepping under the shower, less than five minutes later, she re-emerged from the room, still angry, and this time with her own firearm, with a round in the chamber and ready to put it to use. Her zat was on her belt.
She just wasn’t sure who she wanted to use it on first. Maybe she should just zat the hell out of all of these men. Every damn one of them. Did they think she was totally incompetent and unable to defend herself? Sheesh. Just because she couldn’t stay awake after sex did not mean she was totally helpless. On the other hand, she hadn’t heard the councilor enter the room, and obviously, they had. She frowned. But then, they were no doubt expecting him.
Still, if they let her in on what they suspected might happen…she sighed in disgust at herself. She was being an idiot. They were just trying their best to protect her. Then she grinned to herself. She must be getting a lot better. She was getting feisty. Seeing something glinting on the floor, she leaned over, picked it up, and realizing what it was, put it in her pocket to use later. She turned and entered the outer room where they had taken their guest.
“I must ask you again, why have you attacked me, Dr. Jackson? I was simply coming in to check on Major Carter. I was even very quiet and did not mean to disturb you.” Parist was attempting to talk his way out of the predicament in which he now found himself. At least, he had not had the zat in his hand, until after Daniel Jackson had attacked him. The syringe with the drug in it was somewhere, though. He hoped he could somehow manage to find and get it out of here, preferably, before they found it. He had no idea where it went when he dropped it to grab his zat’nik’tel.
He watched Samantha Carter re-enter the room. She looked better than she had yesterday, which was too bad. It was obvious that she was angry, though. Extremely angry. “Major Carter, it is very good to see you up and around. We have all been very concerned for you, especially since we have feared that something has happened to Malek. After his attack on Delek, we have been very worried that he would next turn on you.”
She smiled sweetly at him, but it made him uneasy to realize that it did not reach her eyes. “Well, I'm feeling much better, thank you, and Malek didn't attack Delek. I think we both know that, now, don’t we? Why don’t you tell us why you're really here, Councilor Parist?”
“As I was about to tell Colonel O’Neill and Dr. Jackson, I was here to check on Delek. Malek and Lantash were with him, though, so I thought that I would come here and check on you first. There was no one about, so I assumed it would be all right to enter if I did so quietly and did not disturb you if you were asleep. That is all, Major Carter. I assure you that is absolutely all there was to it.”
“I think we all know better than that, Parist,” Connal gave control to Delek and he spoke from the doorway. He entered the room behind Malek and Lantash, with his healers beside him and his guards behind him. Jacob and Per'sus entered on their heels. Markesh had notified them as soon as Lantash told him to gather them and bring them to their rooms.
Malek and Lantash went immediately to Samantha and stood on either side of her as they surrounded the council member where he sat at the small round table and nursed his broken wrist. He would not give control to his host; therefore, the healing on it was going very slowly.
“Per'sus, Jacob,” he exclaimed as he saw them enter the room. “Thank the Universe that you are here. There has been a terrible misunderstanding. I am not sure why, but Dr. Jackson and Colonel O’Neill seem to believe that I intended to harm Major Carter. I hope you can help me to clear up this obvious misunderstanding.”
Per'sus’s response did not set his council member’s mind at ease, even though it was rather neutral, “Of course, Parist, we will do everything we can to find out what has occurred.”
“Now, suppose you try telling us the truth, Parist. What exactly is it that you were really doing here in Major Carter’s quarters? The truth might get you off the hook a little, you know.”
“I have already told you, Colonel O’Neill. I was simply coming in to check on how Major Carter was progressing during her illness. I understood that she was having a very prolonged and harsh reaction to the Evernight plant that she brought back with her. It is a shame that she forgot what Delek told her about it. Had she remembered, then her illness would not have occurred.”
“Wrong answer, councilor. I did not tell her about the Evernight, as I was programmed not to do so. I believe that is what happened, and Connal concurs with my beliefs. Please try again,” Delek said calmly, coolly.
“Delek, what in the world are you talking about? Did the torture you endured at Malek’s hands damage your memory? I am so sorry.” Inside Parist cringed. It was obvious that Delek had told them everything he knew.
“No, it did not damage my memory. I healed with neither permanent nor even temporary damage, and I remember a great many things that, up until a few days ago, I was unaware of…but that Connal was not. You see, your drug has a major flaw. The host eventually becomes completely immune to it. He has been so for a while now, so he knows exactly what I was subjected to. He knows exactly what my instructions were. Not only does he know what has gone on recently, because the drug no longer affected him, but his memories have also slowly begun to return to him. And he has made a point to show me all of them that have done so.”
Parist shook his head sadly, as if he pitied Delek, but inside he was beginning to feel hunted. “Delek, I am sure you would like to believe your host, but I must tell you that I believe that he is lying to you. I do not know what has occurred, or what they have done to you, but you are saying things that are quite preposterous.”
“No, I do not think so, Parist,” Delek answered softly.
Parist turned to Per'sus. “Surely, you do not believe this, Per'sus. I have no idea what he is talking about or why he is saying such preposterous things.”
Per'sus frowned as if in thought. “You have no idea at all, Parist?”
“No, of course, I do not. I do not even know of any drug that would do what he is accusing me of doing.”
“What of Za’rask Quel’tarc, Parist? Are you saying you are unaware of that drug?” Delek threw at him.
“That drug was banned centuries ago, Delek, and you are well aware of that. Besides, if someone gave you Za’rask Quel’tarc, for as long a time as you intimated you were receiving it, you would be dying by now. Do not be so ridiculous.”
“I am much afraid that Delek’s mind has been damaged, Per'sus. We all know that drug is no longer in use or even available anymore.”
“So, are you saying that you do not know anything at all about that drug? Where to get it? Nothing?” Per’sus tilted his head in inquiry.
He shook his head vehemently. “No, I know nothing about it.”
“In that case,” Samantha Carter asked, “why did I find this beside your zat on the floor of our sleeping chamber? Care to explain it?” She held up the injector and looked at it in the light, then turned to Arwanna, Gava, and Calise. “Care to take this to the lab and do some work on it? If you need her, call in Anise.”
“I have a better way to find out exactly what it is, Samantha, ah, Major Carter,” Connal spoke up softly. “I believe we would know almost at once exactly what its purpose was.”
Malek turned to him and held up his hand. “That is enough, Connal. There will be no human or symbiote tests run.”
Sam was still staring at the councilor sitting at the table. It was obvious that the syringe she found had unnerved him. In fact, he was acting decidedly uneasy, and he had slowly moved his feet under his chair, as if he didn't want to draw attention to them. “Colonel, cover me,” she said. She stepped forward before anyone could stop her and put her gun to Parist’s temple. “Take my place, please.”
Jack O’Neill had learned to trust three people a long time ago, and one of them was Major Samantha Carter. He did as she asked. She lowered her gun and began a search of the councilor, starting with his feet. In his left boot, she found two vials of liquid. Stepping backward, until she was out of his reach, she nodded to the Colonel that she was finished, and then she handed them to Gava. “I'll keep the syringe, just in case Malek changes his mind about experimenting. I'm not so sure that Connal doesn’t have the right idea. Parist obviously doesn't like the idea, which makes me wonder just what's in the syringe. At any rate, for now, why don’t you and Arwanna test the vials, if you would, please.”
They nodded and left. Calise stayed behind, her hand never leaving Delek’s arm, her acute anxiety apparent to even the most oblivious onlooker. Per'sus nodded to his guards to return to the tunnel. If either captive escaped the room, they would not get far.
Sam returned to her mates, after she handed off the vials. They all patiently watched Parist, as he sat quietly, trying to appear unconcerned. However, he offered no information about the vials.
Jacob finally spoke up, “Are you sure there is nothing you want to tell us, councilor?”
Parist looked at the faces around him, and realized that Jacob’s questions were merely a formality. There was no question. They already knew. Their leader had been correct, and Delek had become too dangerous to have around. They should have made sure he was dead, but thinking they heard something in the hall, and wanting to get it over with, they had quickly made sure that a piece of Malek’s tunic was in his hand, and the remainder of it was covered in his blood. They had then left him lying in a corner of the storage room, unconscious. At least, they had believed he was unconscious. Could he still have been conscious and heard their plan to blame his death on Malek? If so, then he might also have heard the name of their leader.
Their leader had been extremely angry when Anise found Delek alive. That was why he sent Parist to dispatch Major Carter and if at all possible Dr. Jackson, as well. Well, he was not in the mood to die for the man, and at this point, it was quite obvious that, if he continued to deny everything, he was as good as dead.
Finally, he forced himself to say calmly, “That depends, Jacob. What do you have in mind?”
Lantash came forward and smiled grimly as he walked toward him. “I am not sure what Jacob has in mind for you, but you are responsible for the attempts on my mate’s life. If you do not cooperate with us, I will kill you where you sit. Is that enough incentive for you?”
Parist looked up and into Lantash’s eyes, as he stood over him, smiling slightly. Even in all his years as a Tok’Ra, never had he seen death as clearly as he saw it there. He believed him. Lantash was tired of the evasions and attempts to get him to confess. He would just as soon kill him as wait any longer. He swallowed hard, as he weighed the chances that Lantash would not kill him because they needed his information.
Looking back into his eyes, he realized that would not stop Lantash. If he did not tell him that which he wished to know, Lantash would continue to torture him, until he died or confessed, and then, if he did not get what he wanted, he would go on to the next in line. There were at least two more members of the group that Delek could name. If he did not cooperate, then Lantash would go to them, while Parist’s blood was still fresh on his hands, and they would not hesitate to tell him what they knew when they saw it. “Yet, if I tell you that which you wish to know, I will be dead anyway. Either way, my life is forfeit.”
“Then choose. Without your cooperation, our way will be as painful and as drawn-out as I can make it, of that you may be very sure,” Lantash assured him calmly and coldly.
There was no doubt in the councilor’s mind, none at all, that Lantash meant every word he said. Furthermore, not one person in the room would raise a hand to stop him. They harmed his mate, and everyone in this room would consider him well within his rights to do whatever he wished to him, no matter what Lantash did. Why had none of them remembered just how implacable and deadly an enemy Lantash could be? Throughout the Tok’Ra, they considered him to be lethal, ever since one of his hosts had been a master at several forms of what the Tau'ri called, he believed, Martial Arts. Martouf’s own serenity, calm, and gentleness disguised a great deal, making Lantash even more dangerous, as that outward appearance kept what he was capable of doing hidden. How? How could they possibly have forgotten who they would face, if this went wrong…as it so obviously had. He nodded his head and dragging in a deep breath, he capitulated, saying, “Very well, Lantash. I will tell you that which you wish to know.”
Lantash smiled at him, but even from Martouf’s face, it was not a pleasant smile…no, it was not pleasant at all. Parist shuddered.
Parist walked swiftly down the hall toward their meeting place. Damn Garshaw and Per'sus anyway. Why did they have to call a special council meeting now, of all times? He needed to report his success to his fellow conspirators.
He turned into the room and stopped as he saw his other three comrades. “It is done, but not exactly as we expected it to be. Furthermore, Garshaw caught me as I returned. They are calling a special meeting of the council. It seems that Delek’s near death has caused more consternation and questions than we had anticipated. Per'sus is to be here for the meeting.”
The fourth member of the group turned to him. “When is it to be?”
Parist sighed, grimacing. “Twenty or thirty minutes from now. I told her I expected to see you, as I was late for a committee meeting, and that I would tell you. We should go soon. Otherwise, they will wonder what took us so long to get there.”
They nodded, but Stekesh asked, “How did you accomplish your—errand—Parist?”
Parist glanced at him, and then smiled briefly, before turning to the fourth man in the group. “Actually, I did not do it myself. Daniel Jackson had taken a symbiote. Not only that, but he was in the bed with Samantha Carter, so the rumors are true. He has taken her to mate.”
As the man frowned at him, obviously unhappy with his statement, he hurried on with his explanation, “Although I took the extra vials of Za’rask and Arsyniqar with me, as you instructed, and I probably could have killed them both, I realized as I stood over them, that I should instead consider an alternative. I could tell that she was sleeping very heavily, and therefore, was unlikely to awaken unless deliberately roused.” Parist shrugged, and then he smiled a very self-satisfied smile.
“I am actually rather proud of the plan, as it will take care of several things and cannot possibly point to any one of us. Not you, I, Stekesh, or Corlock. I programmed him to kill both his new mate, and Delek, if Delek does not die without his intervention. I did go by the med bay; however, and Delek is still unconscious, and as far as I could ascertain, he has never regained consciousness. Nevertheless, it should take very little for Dr. Jackson to complete the task, should it appear he will survive. From what I heard, though, that appears unlikely to happen. The general belief is that he was so badly injured that nothing, short of a sarcophagus, will save him.”
“From what Garshaw told me, both Malek and Lantash will be present at the council meeting, as Malek is furious that he was accused of attempting to kill Delek. Lantash is furious that Delek has been attempting to kill his mate, but no one suspected or did anything about it, even though it is so obvious, looking back at events, that she was being targeted.”
“Actually, I believe we should be grateful that there is an unscheduled meeting being called. It will, after all, leave all the opportunity in the world for Dr. Jackson to do as I bade him to do.” He smiled smugly, “I mean, it is such a shame that Daniel Jackson’s symbiote was so weak after healing him that he did not have the strength to stop him when his jealousy and inability to accept the Tok’Ra mating rituals made him kill his mate in a fit of jealous rage over her ‘other’ mates.”
The fourth member of the group laughed quietly, and his smile was very satisfied. “How poetic of you, Parist. I do believe that act will see the Tau'ri-Tok’Ra alliance begin to deteriorate. You have done an excellent job. It seems that I should have sent you to begin with instead of wasting time using Delek. I believe he fought the programming all along, or he would have succeeded. Now, perhaps, we can continue with our plans. Once we have ousted the Tau'ri from the base and stopped the alliance, we can return to our former ways of fighting the Goa’uld. We will no longer lose Tok’Ra as we have been recently.”
The amount of satisfaction and enjoyment he was reveling in sounded in his voice as he continued, “The N.I.D. will see to it that the Tau'ri spend their time looking for ways to defeat the System Lords in their own way. It is my belief that they will no longer expect us to help them with either information or warriors.”
“It is a shame they did not simply kill the SG team members instead of keeping them and attempting to get information from them. Too many of them survived and ended up on Malek’s base.”
He paused, frowning, as he considered Malek’s actions. Turning back to the other three, he said, “He, too, must go. It is a shame the council did not listen to you when you suggested so strongly that they put him into indefinite stasis. It would have been so easy to see to it that his stasis chamber failed.” He shrugged then, adding, “It does not really matter. However, as a reward for a job well done, would you like to take over control of his base, Parist? Once I am High Councilor, I will see to it, if you believe that you would like to become a base commander as well as a council member.”
Stekesh broke in before Parist could answer, saying, “We should be able to begin the campaign to oust Per'sus soon, should we not?” He smiled as he said, “Perhaps we should practice calling you High Councilor. It will definitely be more comfortable when the council is made up only of those of us who believe we should not change our ways of fighting the Goa’uld.”
Corlock asked quietly, “How are we going to accomplish the change in High Councilors and remove the others, though? We haven’t really made any firm plans.”
“I would not be happy if one of you made a mistake in front of anyone, so I believe we can dispense with practice of my change in title.”
“As far as Per'sus’ ousting, I fear that he will, as soon as I can arrange it, meet with a fatal accident. It is very possible that several of the other council members shall be with him when it occurs.”
He frowned before sighing. “It is a shame that so many loyal Tok’Ra must be exterminated; however, I believe they would attempt to keep the alliance with the Tau'ri in some form. We must not allow that to occur, nor can they leave any followers behind. When they die, and we discover that the Tau’ri engineered it, I feel sure that most of the Tok’Ra will be more than ready to sever our ties with them completely. At that point, we can break our ties to the N.I.D, and the first world will no longer be a thorn in our side at all. We will then be free to resume our undercover work in the safest possible ways.”
Parist nodded, accepting his statements. “Of course. However, we should plan that later. We will be late for the meeting, if we do not hurry.”
The man nodded and, since he was already standing, he headed for the door. “You are correct, Parist. Let us go.”
The four men walked quickly toward the council chamber.
Delek trembled where he lie wrapped around his host’s spine, and he could not even find the strength to stop his host from paling and feeling faint. He felt hands push on his shoulders, until he sat down, and then someone pushed his head down between his legs and towards the floor.
He was surprised to hear Samantha Carter’s voice, saying, “Just put your head between your legs, and take some slow deep breaths, Connal. Let Delek recover from the shock for a minute or two, and then he'll help you, I'm sure.”
“Thank you, Major Carter. He, too, is in shock. Neither of us knew; we—we did not—I swear that neither of us—please, believe me, when I say that this is a shock to both of us. I am still remembering events and conversations that took place and this is one that I am only now remembering. I swear that we did not remember, or know, that the N.I.D. was involved in this so deeply or in this way until this memory.”
Sam shook her head. As much as she'd like to be angry with the man, she couldn't be. For one thing, it was obvious to her that a friend of hers was in love with him, though, how that had happened, she didn't know. Second, Connal was a completely different person from the one she'd dealt with for months now. This person wasn't Delek. No way, no how.
She was going to have to restrain Malek and Lantash, she could tell that, too. Both men were scowling and looked ready to murder him. Thank goodness, Daniel was being his normal, cautious, inquisitive self. He wanted to have all the facts before he killed him. Malek, Devlin, Martouf, and Lantash, on the other hand, looked ready to commit cold- blooded murder.
Apparently, neither Delek nor Connal knew much of what was going on within that group. She watched him as his color slowly returned. She could tell that Delek had stopped trembling, too. Evidently, the memories they were beginning to have more and more often were shocking them.
Their programming had included orders to forget much of what they had done and attempted to do, as well, of course, as forcing them to carry out any orders given to them. Luckily, their leader hadn't felt it necessary to instruct the others to forget what was taking place. His instructions to them had been that they believed that the ‘extermination’ of the disease and infestation that was the Tau'ri must be accomplished in any way possible including killing them one at a time—starting with Major Samantha Carter—so that they could return to former ways of conducting their war on the Goa’uld.
Since Connal and Delek had been instructed to forget much of what they had done, when Connal’s memory of almost sending her to a toxic planet, one on which there was no way she could have survived, returned, he had reacted badly. She would have died slowly and painfully, completely unable to even redial the gate to return.
The Asgard had agreed to remove that gate at once now that they realized what was there. By now, it and its dialing device should be secreted away in a place that only a very few of the Tau'ri and Tok’Ra knew about. Never again could it be used to execute someone, or kill someone by mistake, by sending them to that toxic world.
Garshaw asked coldly, “Are you going to be able to attend the upcoming council meeting, Delek?”
He nodded, straightening his back and looking her squarely in the face. “Yes, Master Garshaw, I will.”
“They are coming.” Centurions took their places on either side of the doorway through which they would come. None of the men who walked into the chambers noticed them, however, for sitting at the long crystal council table, along with the other council members, was Per'sus, Malek, Lantash, Selmak, Ma’ashat, Garshaw, Kintash, Lustesh, Apashe, Dr. Daniel Jackson, Major Samantha Carter, Colonel Jack O’Neill—and Delek. Teal'c stood quietly behind them. A Jaffa in the council chambers…it was unheard of.
They stopped abruptly, as they took in the fact that not only was Delek not near death; he was looking extremely healthy. Nor had Dr. Jackson killed his mate. She, too, looked quite hale and well. Parist was the only one that did not look surprised to see them, and he had stayed somewhat behind them, as they walked into the room.
Per'sus looked up from the data-pad he was studying. “Ah, at last we are almost all here. Our other member could not attend on such short notice; however, once we explained what we were voting on, they have us their proxy. Please, would you all sit with us here at the table? There is no need to stand.” He smiled at them.
Watching them closely, he continued, “I hope you do not mind, but we felt that we should all be here, or have a proxy vote, as we vote on our newest council members.”
Corlock glanced at his companions, before turning back to Per'sus. “We were unaware that we were adding council members, Per'sus. When was this decided?”
“Oh, quite recently, actually. After all, there are going to be several openings, are there not?”
Stekesh shifted nervously, “I do not understand, Per'sus. I was unaware that there would be any empty council seats any time soon.”
None of them had taken seats, and the fourth member of their group stood stiff and silent among his companions. He was aware that it was over, even though the others obviously were not. He watched Per'sus with hate-filled eyes. Goddess, how he loathed him. Always, Per'sus had been one-step ahead of him.
When they were younger, and both of them were centurions, Per'sus advanced in rank and became an operative. When he finally became an operative, Per'sus became a commander. When he fell in love with Baresh, Per'sus won her. When Per'sus became a sub-council member, he became a commander. They vied for the love of Charlien and Sarista. Per'sus won both. When he became a sub-council member, Per'sus joined the council as a full-member. Now—now that he was a full council member—Per'sus was the high councilor. Oh, yes, he hated him, all right. He had enough. The High Councilor- ship should have been his. It was his.
It happened fast. So fast, that reactions were not quick enough to stop the events. Delek was the first to realize what he was going to do. Suddenly, he was on his feet and leaping toward the council member, who was drawing a side arm he had concealed in his tunic and pointing it toward Per’sus. Hoping to distract the enraged, insane man, he shouted, as he leaped, “Thoran, no!”
Malek, recognizing his intentions a split second later, dove for Sam where she sat next to Per'sus, pushing her to the floor, at the same time that Lantash, also divining his intentions, pushed Per'sus aside.
Many shots rang out, but Delek and Connal were only really aware of the ones that hit Lantash and then them. They felt the bullet rip into their chest. Malek, Sam, and Daniel scrambled to Lantash’s side, where he lie bleeding from two gunshot wounds, one in the chest and one in the side.
Thoran lie in a puddle of spreading blood, from the numerous wounds he received from the centurions behind him, as well as the one he inflicted on himself. Garshaw was holding her arm, where a bullet had entered it, and Teal'c was helping her. He was angry with himself for not realizing what Thoran might do, but he did not lament about it. It was over and done with; now they coped with the fallout. Per'sus sat up, dazed, but only for a moment.
Seeing that Samantha was all right, but that Lantash and Delek were badly wounded, he scrambled to his knees, still shaking his head, his ears still ringing from the sound of the gunshots in the crystal tunnels.
Calise sat on the floor with Delek cradled in her arms. Connal gazed at her lovingly, “Calise, I want you to know; Delek loved you both. I did, too.” Connal smiled a little shyly, but then he grimaced, as Delek was unable to keep all of the pain from him. “He was a good Tok’Ra, Calise. Tell them. He did not mean to do it. They used him, and he was in so much emotional pain that it was easy for them to do so, at first. He changed. Nevertheless, he was a good Tok’Ra in the end. Tell them for me.”
“Connal, please, do not talk. We will get you to the med bay and—”
He shook his head slightly. “No. There is no time. We both believe that it is possible that Parist, Stekesh, and Corlock were also under the influence of the Za’rask. Make sure they look for it, please. They, too, were not as they used to be in many ways. It is our belief that Thoran was the true evil behind what has happened. Tell them,” he gasped. “Tell them, that a man named Kinsey is behind the N.I.D. and its attempt to take over the SGC. He ordered the SGC teams all killed, as soon as the information they needed was obtained. I am sorry I cannot remember more, but the missing pieces are too slow in coming to me to help you any more. I am sorry.”
“Hush, Connal, we will take care of you. Please. Lie quietly. I am sure that Arwanna is on her way. She and Gava would have been on alert and they did come with us. They will be here, soon, I am sure, my loves.”
He smiled sweetly up into her face. “We really did love you—and your new host, as well. You are beautiful. Inside and out. Remember us.”
“Connal, Connal. Delek, no, please no.” Calise clutched him convulsively. It was too late for them.
She did not look up as Arwanna joined her on the floor with them. “They redeemed themselves, Calise. Come, release them; you must release them.” All Calise could do was shake her head at Arwanna. Jack had been doing his best to stop the bleeding in Connal and Delek.
Between Delek and Connal, Martouf and Lantash, and that piece of scum Thoran, this place was awash in their blood. Damn it, he hadn’t liked the man, but from what he understood most of this wasn’t his fault—at least—the things after the original treason. Well, it didn’t matter, now.
Sam knelt next to Lantash as Malek and Jacob did their best to staunch the flow of blood. Daniel held her in his arms. She looked at Martouf’s face. They were so beautiful. She looked at her hands, covered in their blood and from them to Per'sus’ face.
He stared at her closely but did not allow his fear for her well-being to show. What would she do now? If she lost Lantash and Martouf, could she survive it on top of everything else? Would she survive it, or would she finally just give up? She was trembling in Daniel's arms, as she knelt beside them. Seeing that, he decided that her other mates would not allow her to give up.
Where in Netu were the healers? Still a little dazed, he looked around. Ah. They were here and making their way to them. He made way for Gava as she knelt and began working on Lantash and Martouf. He then turned back to look at them again, startled. Dr. Janet Fraiser was with them as well. He wondered when she had arrived on the base. Not that it mattered. There was nothing she could do that would save these two men and their symbiotes, either.
They now knew who was behind the entire affair. Unfortunately, finding out and getting the proof had caused a tragedy.
The President of the United States sat in the oval office and chatted with his chiefs of staff. There were several people here today that knew nothing about their off-world activities, their off-world allies, or their off-word teams, until about an hour ago. Since they were taking the place of not only Senator Kinsey, but a few congressmen who were no longer free to roam the halls of Congress, they were about to be briefed in full.
He told them about the Stargate. He told them about the Goa’uld and the threats that they faced. They hadn't believed him. He'd been stunned when they laughed and thought that he was playing some elaborate joke or was testing them in some way.
Well, when Thor and his passengers beamed into the office, they would see for themselves that he wasn't joking, and everything he'd told them was very, very real. He couldn't wait to see their faces.
A flash of light brought the new members face to face with not only a small grey alien, but also a group of what looked to be humans, dressed in brown leggings and tunics along with some others that were obviously US military types. They all remained seated. They couldn’t have stood if they wanted to. Evidently, the President of the United States of America wasn’t playing a joke on them. Oh, boy. Their lives would never be the same.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to Thor. He's a member of the race called the Asgard. I believe you'll remember in your briefing material that we explained about them. We also have with us today, several members of the Tok’Ra, the race we explained to you that are a resistance group within and opposing the Goa’uld. Goa’uld physically, but nothing like them in attitude and beliefs. This is their High Councilor, Per'sus. If you're ready, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll begin your orientation.”
Nods from a group of somewhat dazed people were all that he received in answer. He couldn't help grinning, at least to himself.
“Colonel O’Neill, it's a pleasure to see you and your team. We can never thank any of you enough for what you've done for this country or, for that matter, for the world.”
Jack O’Neill grinned. “Oh, you're quite welcome, Mr. President. Anytime. It never gets old, does it?”
“No, Colonel. No, it certainly does not.”
After seating everyone, one-to-one introductions were made, and the meeting got underway. A few hours later, a very tired group of politicians, and a relieved group of soldiers and Tok’Ra operatives said their good-byes. Thor ‘beamed them up’. It was over until next time.
They were deposited into the, until now, empty, silent council chamber where the blue crystal walls shone with a diffuse glow. The council members that hadn’t attended the meeting in Washington soon arrived. After a quick briefing about the meeting in Washington, D.C., they would all be free to go.
They watched as the council guard walked in and took their places against the walls. The centurions kept their eyes front and center, ignoring the conversation underway among the council members. They were all young and new to this position. All but one, that is. He was an older Tok’Ra, but his position was a teaching one, so he ignored them, too. Normally, a Tok’Ra of his experience and age wouldn’t be training centurions.
“The meeting in Washington went well. I believe that the cooperation between our two races will only grow stronger. President Hayes suggested that we begin an “exchange program”. The US military and the President have indicated that they believe an exchange of personnel would benefit both Tau’ri and Tok’Ra, if we would wish to participate.” He paused for a moment, as he looked around the table at the other councilors.
“It would be an excellent way to maintain the understanding that is already underway. Since we already have many Tau'ri here, some of which do not intend to return to the SGC, they suggested that we might want to leave any of the Tok’Ra already in the SGC there, if they wished to participate. Those not wishing to remain would return to the Tunnels, of course. If any who wish to remain have mates, their mates will simply transfer there, if they, also, wish to take part in the program. They would also allow them on the same teams, as we pointed out that our mated pairs have been working together for two thousand years without major problems. They are rethinking their own rules after speaking to us, and President Hayes wrote an immediate Presidential Order allowing our mates to work together should they choose to do so; therefore, that will not become an issue for the Tok’Ra. The order actually extends to any Tau’ri/Tok’Ra pairings as well. The SGC will choose some personnel to join the program and move here, to add to those making their homes here,” Per'sus stated and his rather lengthy opening comments began the council meeting.
“To that end, I would welcome any suggestions that any of you might have, particularly our Tau'ri-Tok’Ra council members, as to whom you feel would be good candidates. I believe that you might be better able to determine which operatives would be able to blend in well with the Tau'ri and their lifestyles.”
Jack O’Neill nodded. “Yeah, we can do that, Per'sus. No problem. Although, you can never be sure until you actually do it. We’ve had to reassign people before because it just didn’t work out, but if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. You just work around it.”
Sam sat with her head cocked and it was obvious that she was considering something and thinking it through. Finally, she made her inquiry, “Per'sus, are you going to offer it to everyone or just to certain people?”
He frowned. “I had not considered offering it to everyone, Major Carter. Is it your opinion that we should do so?”
“Yes, I think it’s an opportunity that should be given to everyone. I think it would be easier to have people volunteer, and then take them under consideration for the posting, than for us to try to think of everyone that “we” think should go. There’s no point in considering those that do not want to go, and, by the same token, there’s no point in sending anyone that does not want to go. If you do that, you’ve lost the race before you even begin it. They’ll like nothing about Earth, the SGC, the personnel, the missions, the food,” she sighed before continuing, “the list of things they’ll dislike goes on and on. They’ ll learn nothing from us, and we’ll learn nothing from them, because they’ll be too busy hating being there and being miserable.” She shrugged, adding, “Just, you know, my opinion and that and a cup of…” seeing blank looks begin to take over the Tok’Ra Council member’s faces, she finished by mumbling, “never mind. I’ll just say that they’ll dislike and resent it; therefore, in the end, none of us will gain anything from it, and, in fact, we’ll all be losers. I can’t think of a better way to sabotage the entire undertaking than to send people who don’t want to be there.”
She turned to Colonel O’Neil and Jacob/Selmak, asking, “Colonel, Dad, I think the SGC will go with a volunteer program, won’t they? And what about wives, husbands, and children? Is the President going to allow families to move as if it was any other posting? If we were on Earth and they were offered an exchange program position, the family would have the option of going. Actually, I can see a lot of problems with that, a lot of problems.”
Jack stared at Sam for what seemed to be a very long time, before moaning, “Ah, crap, Carter did you have to think of that? I have no idea what the President will say to that.” He sighed deeply. “I’m not going to bother him as late as it is on Earth. I’ll contact him tomorrow. What’s our opinion? He’ll want to know what we think of it, you know.” Before she could answer he continued, “Let’s finish the Council Meeting and then take this under advisement for later.” He glanced over at the High Councilor, asking, “Will that be all right, Per’sus?”
“Yes, I think that is a very good idea. We will take it up after the regular agenda is finished. Thank you, Jack. Did you have any more to add about the exchange program, Samantha?”
Sam nodded, and returned to where they were sidetracked, explaining, “If you offer it to everyone, and there’s someone that we feel just wouldn’t work out, we can discuss it with them to find out why they feel they should be allowed to go and why they want to go. We may be surprised and go along with it…or not. Besides, if we don’t offer it to everyone, we might overlook someone, believing they wouldn’t be interested, when in reality, they might just not seem the type to us, but in their own minds, they would love to do this.” She sat back as she concluded her “arguments”.
“I have to agree with Sam on that,” Daniel spoke up. “I think it should be offered to everyone, and then let them decide if they are interested in the idea. That way, we don’t overlook someone, and we can also be fairly sure that anyone we send really does want to go; they aren’t going because they believe they have to go.”
Jack nodded his agreement, saying, “They don’t have to stay, if they can’t manage to fit in, or if they simply don’t like living there. If we don’t think they would be suited to the Tau'ri way of doing things, as Carter said, we can discuss it. On the other hand, if it’s someone that we know doesn’t like the Tau'ri and never will, well, those people definitely shouldn’t be sent. Believe me, the SGC will screen for people who don’t and never will be able to accept the idea of the symbiote, and they won’t be allowed to come unless they somehow hide their feelings. Why they would do that, I wouldn’t know, though. But then, I don’t know why they would volunteer to go in the first place. Be kinda stupid, if you ask me.”
Sitting next to Jack, Teal’c gave his viewpoint. “Having lived among the Tau'ri, for several years now, I, also, believe it should be offered to all. Since a screening and discussion will take place before we assign them, we will hope that we will recognize any problems, thus avoiding an unhappy situation. If they are not recognized, and it does not work out, they can return to the Tok’Ra, but at least they will have attempted the exchange. The fact that they will take mated pairs, and they may be members of the same team will also enable those who might not volunteer because they did not wish to leave a mate behind. It being by their own free will, it will be much more likely that it will work out with fewer problems and much learning, on both sides,” Teal'c added his point of view to the mix.
“I have to agree, Per’sus. There's no point at all in sending people that would hate it, and Sam’s correct to suspect that our people will be screened pretty darned carefully, before they allow them to deploy. There's no doubt in my mind, but that they'll probably have to take classes to learn as much about your culture, as is possible, ahead of time, as well. All of the SG personnel have to have rudimentary Goa’uld, whether they may ever need it or not, so that won’t be a problem, and you all speak great English now, so…no problem there either,” Jacob added his opinion on the process the SGC would use.
Sam spoke up again, “I think there’s one thing that both sides need to be aware of, and I'm going to make very sure that I bring it up to everyone involved, and then I’m going to bring it up again, probably over and over. Actually, I started today in the meeting. I pointed this out to every Congressman and woman that I talked to, and I also made a special effort and discussed it with the President. He agrees with me,” She paused, as she looked around the table. “We all have dangerous jobs and lives. We lose people. You lose people. We all lose people. I think that we should guard against playing a blaming game. If our people die, while they are on a mission with you, it's not automatically your fault. If your people die, while they're with us, it's not automatically our fault. We have to remember that, or we'll be torn apart, just as surely as we could've been during this last incident, had we not figured out what was happening. We also need to make very sure that every Tok’Ra that wants to go and is approved is aware of the liaison. I hope each side is very careful in their choices for that position, and I truly believe that there should be more than one. They'll be key to the success or failure of this venture.”
Per’sus nodded and Garshaw spoke up, saying, “I believe that to be a very valid point. One of which both sides need to be aware. I also agree with you about the liaisons. They will be an important link back to the home world, be it Tok’Ra Tunnel or the SGC. I am sure you have all realized by now that I am in favor of the program; however, so that all may know my feelings and decision, I will state for the official record that it is my opinion that we should continue with the exchanges. In addition, I wish to make it known now, that I would like to go for a very short time. I realize that I cannot be gone for an indefinite period, but I believe that it would be a good thing for each of the councilors to go there for a minimum of a week, but, perhaps, no longer than a month.”
Again, Per'sus nodded, as he considered the suggestion. “As you wish, Garshaw. You may go anytime you feel that you have everything in order to be left for a time. I am sure that Selmak and Jacob could take over the running of the base for you for a short time. Selmak, do you object?”
“No, I do not. I agree with Garshaw that it would be a very good thing for all of those who are unfamiliar with the Tau’ri to go and spend up to a month. Our operatives could, I believe, stay much longer, though. There is no reason that they must be restrained by a time limit unless they wish to be so.”
He looked around the council chamber. Ma’ashat spoke up first. “I will go for a short stay after Garshaw returns, Per'sus. I agree with Selmak. We should each go for at least a short time. I do not believe there is anything that would keep us from staying for up to a month, if we chose to do so, although I believe that there is less need for those of us in administration to go. It is much more important that our operatives get to go. They will reap more benefit from the interchange than we will. That said, I still believe that we should all go. We can all learn something, but mostly we can come to know one another better and, therefore, understand one another better.”
Per'sus nodded, replying, “I believe, from what General Hammond said, they are planning something similar with their most senior officers. Even if they cannot come and live here for an extended period, they wish to have them come and spend from a week to a month with us. We should do no less, as we attempt to come to know one another.” Apashe and Lustesh both nodded their agreement with Per'sus and Ma’ashat’s comments.
“Very well, we will set up a schedule and assign times, so that each of you will know when to expect to go. I, too, will attempt to spend some time on the Tau'ri world.” Per'sus was determined to make this work.
A slight cough brought the council’s attention to a centurion standing near the wall. “Yes, Connal? Did you have something you wished to say or ask?”
Connal would have flushed as everyone’s attention turned to him, but Delek did not allow it to happen. “Yes, I, um, I did. I was wondering if you will allow us to go? I realize that you might wish us to wait until Delek has served his sentence; however, I believe that it would be good for Delek to get to know the Tau'ri. He—he needs—to see and be able to study them and come to know them in their world.” He paused and looked at each of them before admitting, “To be completely honest, I must confess that I wish very much to be chosen to go. I believe that the entire exchange idea is a very good one.”
Per'sus gazed at the man standing at attention quietly and respectfully watching him. Finally, he said slowly, “We will take it under advisement, Connal. You realize that we would have to inform at least General Hammond that Delek was not to have control unless a situation arose where there was a need for a symbiote. He is not to come forward for any reason other than to save you or someone else.”
Connal sighed to himself, thinking that Delek’s punishment was more of a punishment for him than Delek. “Yes, High Councilor, I understand. I assure you that I will not allow him control unless the situation warrants it. You have my word, and I will continue to stand by it, as I promised you I would.”
Jack surprised them all by saying, “It would defeat the purpose if you kept Delek confined while he was there, Per'sus. I think we should allow them to go and him to interact, at least, on a limited basis. That, though, is something that can be debated and discussed, if Connal is chosen to go.”
Sam found herself nodding and then saying, “I have to agree with the Colonel, Per'sus. The punishment for Delek’s transgression shouldn’t become a punishment for Connal, and we should allow him to become an applicant for the posting, just like everyone else. Furthermore, if he meets whatever criteria we feel must be met; then he should be allowed to go, if that’s his wish.” Seeing Per’sus’ consternation, at this complication in Delek’s punishment, and perhaps the other three prisoners, as well, if they wanted to apply, Sam softened her voice, but remained firm and confident. She stated quietly, “When we decided on this form of punishment, we knew that situations could arise, and that we’d have to deal with them; however, it can be handled on a case by case basis. Don’ t go borrowing trouble, Per’sus; let’s just take it one step at a time.”
As he considered her statement and visibly relaxed a little, Sam returned to the Colonel’s original statements. “The other part of the Colonel’s statement is just as true, too. It would defeat the purpose to send Connal, if Delek could not interact with the Tau'ri there. Delek has had a very, um, skewed concept of the Tau’ri for a long time. That’s what got him involved in that entire mess.” Sam’s lips quirked in a small half smile, as she looked Per’sus straight in the eyes before pointing out, “In reality, if any of the Tok’Ra should “have” to go and spend time with the Tau’ri, I believe he would be the one, as he would have the most to gain from interacting with them. He’ll never come to truly know the humans of Earth, if he is never allowed to know them.”
Besides,” she pursed her lips, as she contemplated what she wanted to say, and as those around her patiently waited, she finally continued, “besides, on Earth, we have what we call rehabilitation, if the crime wasn’t horrendous. Delek’s was bad, but only the bad guy died. Consider this his rehabilitation, and tie it to progress reports, and possibly a reduction in his sentence, if he manages to learn enough.” Seeing the scowls start on several faces, she hurried to reassure them, “I’m not saying do away with it, simply reduce it by a certain amount, for each step forward, after we decide what those steps are. That’s what we do there. They can get out of jail early, but then, they are on probation. Anyway, we can discuss all of this later, but I wanted you all to think about it. I think it would be fair. Good behavior should garner some reward, anyway.”
Per’sus closed his eyes against the entire situation. He hated complications and yet, his entire life was one big complication. Sighing he looked to Garshaw, who smiled at him and even laughed a tiny bit before saying, “What they say is true, Per’sus, and both ideas are valid. The punishment must not be Connal’s, and Delek does need to come to know them. I would agree to allow him to go, if he appears to be a good match for the exchange. Moreover, I have a feeling that perhaps Samantha is correct about the other, as well, for the more I have seen of him, the more I have come to believe that Delek’s punishment is punishment for Connal. We should not add to that by denying him something he truly wishes to do.”
After giving their comments some thought, Per'sus turned to Connal, telling him, “We will not deny you, if we feel there is no reason to, Connal, I assure you. As Samantha and Garshaw have both pointed out, the punishment is not yours to bear and we will not allow it to become so for you. You must tell us, if something is more of a punishment for you, than for Delek; therefore, if we feel that you are a good candidate for the exchange, I assure you that we will send you. You have our word on that. As for how we will deal with Delek should you be chosen to go,” he shrugged before continuing, “that is something about which we must make some decisions. I must agree with all of them about this, as well. Keeping him incarcerated would defeat the purpose.”
“They will allow you to go, Connal, particularly if both Major Carter and Colonel O’Neill decide you would suit. I know they will. After all, as Per'sus stated, you are not the one whose punishment it is. I am the one that committed the treason, and I am the one they are punishing. If you had not refused to part from me, and insisted that, if I was to be executed, then you would gladly pass with me, I would be dead, in a tank, or in indefinite stasis by now,” Delek reminded him.
“I know. However, that does not matter. You are still within me, and until you prove that you can be trusted again, we will be under intense scrutiny. The only good part of our confinement to the base is that we get to see Calise and Talisa. Of course, if we go to the Tau'ri, we will have to leave them behind. I know you do not want to do that, Delek, nevertheless, I think that going to the Tau'ri would be good for you. You—we—need to come to know them as people, so that we may better understand Talisa.”
He smiled at his lifemate, as both of their thoughts drifted to their, well—they hoped— their future mates. “It was truly wonderful to awaken on the Asgard ship and see their face above us, was it not, Delek? Never have I been as thankful for anything as I was the chance that brought the Asgard here at that precise moment. We were fortunate indeed.”
“I agree, Connal. I do not think I would have wanted to live if Lantash and Martouf had died. Of course, from what I understand, we would not have lived to see that happen. Neither Martouf and Lantash, nor you and I, would have survived, had they not arrived to return Dr. Fraiser.”
Connal felt Delek shudder within him. It had been a nightmare from the day it all began. The last day of it—the day the nightmare ended—had been one of the worst.
Even as they had leaped at Thoran, they had seen Lantash go down, as he took the bullets intended for Samantha Carter and Per'sus. The next one entered their chest, and then, from what they told them later, Thoran had turned the gun on himself taking his own life, as he screamed at them that they were all traitors to the cause and to Egeria, as well as spewing forth his hatred of Per’sus. Even as he had shot himself, the guards had also opened fire on him. He would have been dead either way. Tau’ri weaponry could be quite destructive and…lethal, as they knew from firsthand experience.
He and Connal only vaguely remembered that, but of their own end, they had a most vivid picture; a picture that they kept in front of them day and night. It was of Calise and Talisa holding them and telling them of their love of them. They had pleaded with them to hold on, not to die, but there had been nothing they could do to stop it. Thank the Goddess; the Asgard had been able to save them, Lantash, and Martouf. Learning of the occurrence, they removed the remaining programming. Then they cleared it from the minds of Corlock, Stekesh, and Parist. As Delek and Connal suspected, programming also affected them. It was also lucky that they took Calise, Per’sus, Garshaw, well, most of them actually, along with Thoran. They revived him, as well, and then removed him from his very grateful host. Once separated, they returned him to the tunnels for his execution.
Anise was still attempting to find out what it was about the Za’rask, or Connal’s body chemistry, that allowed him to become immune so quickly. The other three men, although on it longer, had not yet grown immune to it, although they had begun to have unsettling dreams, which they had realized, as discussions continued, were actually reality trying to find its way into their conscious minds.
Anise had postulated that Connal’s more pronounced immunity had something to do with the drugs he had been subjected to when he was a slave. She was fairly certain that something in them had caused his immunity, and if so, this was a branch of research that they must study.
For one thing, they had no idea if anyone else had seen or heard of the work that Thoran had done on the Za’rask Quel’tarc, but if they had, they could very well have a weapon that would be extremely dangerous to the Tok’Ra. Anise felt she should be working on a vaccine and/or an antidote now, before they even knew for sure if someone else had developed the compound. If they waited until their people were being programmed, then they had waited very much too long to begin. Needless to say, Per'sus backed her on her research. He, and the other council members, expected it to turn up one day before long. They needed to be prepared. Connal was key to her research, he and Delek both.
His mind slipped back to their sentencing. In the end, after some debate and a suggestion from Major Carter and Arwanna, the council agreed to allow Delek to live on, albeit as a prisoner within his host’s body.
Since they allowed him to do so, they felt they could do no less for the other three, although, they let it be known that they considered them to have been more traitorous than Delek had been. They pulled Delek into a plan already in the workings. At some point, they must have shared Thoran’s ideals, whereas Delek did not even know who the mastermind was, until the night they almost killed him.
That was also one more attempted murder charge they faced that he did not. If it was not for their hosts, who were thrilled to be freed again, after many months in captivity, they would all be executed or in stasis. Luckily, for them, their hosts stood by them, as Connal did for him. It had been Thoran’s evilness that had caused their mates to turn into creatures they did not recognize, not their mates themselves. They were misguided, not truly malicious.
It seemed that they had not become prisoners, until Thoran administered the drug. And that was done by simply walking up behind them and injecting them before they realized what happened. Before that and since, their symbiote had never treated them that way. That was some pretty convincing evidence that the drug caused most of what had occurred that was bad and downright evil.
All three men swore there was no talk of murders, no talk of council takeovers, and no talk of the N.I.D. overthrowing the SGC, when they had first joined Thoran. It had simply been that they did not see the alliance with the Tau'ri as being healthy for the Tok’Ra and wished to circumvent it and try to work to stop it. Never had they intended to kill anyone. Luckily, they believed them—once the Asgard backed them up—saying that the true memories were now freed, and that is also what those freed memories showed.
Had they not proven those memories, they very probably would be dead, for Sam had not been as vehement or sturdy in her dismissal of the charges against them. They were walking a very narrow line, of which they were highly aware. Delek believed that it had made them re-evaluate their lives, and what was and was not important, just as it had him. He was glad. They really needed to keep the Tok’Ra they had, not put them to death, unless there was simply no choice.
Delek was thankful that the other Tok’Ra were not holding Connal accountable for actions that he had no control over. So far, no one had been unkind to him in any way. In fact, many had gone out of their way to talk to him and to put him at ease with them. After all this time of being shut in his own body, they all felt he needed time to adjust to people again and were treating him gently in accordance with that fact. Delek, they were completely ignoring, as if he did not exist, which, since that was exactly part of what his sentence and punishment consisted of, was no more than he expected.
None of them were allowed to take control of their hosts, and no one was to speak to them, personally, only to their host. If someone absolutely had to contact one of them about something, then the communication was to be through their host. Only three people had disregarded the non-communication edict: Calise, Talisa, and Samantha Carter. Furthermore, although the sentence for breaking that part of their sentence was an extra decade of being in solitary confinement, all three of the women had given Per'sus such a hard time that he had agreed that they could talk directly to him; however, he could not answer them directly; it must be through Connal, or not at all.
Nor was there a timeframe set on their confinement. They would be released when Per'sus and the council said they would be released and not before. Therefore, they did not even have a light at the end of their tunnels. The only light they had was that which their hosts allowed to shine on them. Thank the Goddess; Connal wanted the light to brighten Delek’s days as often as possible.
Delek was just thankful to be alive and well. He would stay confined forever if he had to. After all, he still had Connal to talk to and, well, Calise and Talisa, even though he could not answer them. The hardest part was his inability to touch them, though. Connal shared his feelings with him, but it was still not quite the same. He was honest enough to admit that it was because he preferred to have control. There was truly very little difference in how it felt; it was more of a mental outlook than it was anything else. They could not have come up with a more fitting punishment; that was absolutely true. Putting him into a tank and allowing him to watch the world go by would have been worse, but Connal had refused to allow that, and thus, they finally reached the compromise that found him a prisoner in his host’s body…thank the Goddess. They would not remove Delek, if Connal would swear that he would retain control at all times.
They had both accepted the terms gladly. Delek, it seemed, had finally learned what was important in this life, and it was not a council position, or how high within the Tok’Ra ranks he was or was not. It was how his heart felt, and right now, it felt damned good, even though he had lost every bit of status he had gained.
The four symbiotes had communicated through their respective hosts, and they all came to the same conclusion. They had gotten off lightly. By rights, the original act of treason should have seen them all dead. Per'sus had been very blunt with them. If Samantha Carter had not only testified for them and refused to press charges, but also come up with the alternative punishment they had ended up with, they would all be facing a tanking or death. They all agreed that they could live with the way things were right now. “Live” being the operative word.
Sam stood on the Stargate platform and looked out over the desert sand dunes. She had come topside to walk and think. Things had changed in the last two months, and all of it was for the better. The N.I.D. was no longer in control of the SGC. Thanks to Delek, Corlock, Stekesh, and Parist, they had managed to clean out the entire agency.
She brooded about the outcome of recent events. Sometimes, she wondered if she should have fought harder for a lessening in the stringency of the sentence, at least for Delek. She felt like she should have insisted the sentence be less constrictive. After all, they were under the influence of a mind-altering drug. She had tried, but Per'sus arguments had made sense, too.
She had certainly thought about the conversations and revelations enough in the last two months. She closed her eyes and leaned back against the edge of the Stargate. The vantage point where the Stargate sat was very pretty and the guards tended to leave you alone if all you were doing was taking a walk or staring out over the oceans of sand. As it did occasionally, her mind wandered back to the day of the trial and sentencing. Not that it was much of a trial.
As she once again heard the conversations, when they were trying to decide on sentencing the four men, her lips quirked in a small smile. Thoran, the true evil behind the entire mess, had taken his own life in the end, in conjunction with the guard’s bullets. Then the Asgard saved him and freed his host. Thoran was no more. Other than scrubbing the crystal floor to remove the blood, all they had to do was execute him. He did not deserve the honor of the Chaappa’ai. They injected him with Arsyniqar and then a tunnel crystal consumed his body. A third of his assets became his host’s, and the remainder, they divided between Sam and Daniel, since they were the ones harmed by him. He had no other family. She and Daniel both tried to give it to the host; however, the host himself insisted that they have it. He did not need it. He chose to stay with the Tok’Ra, and asked for a young symbiote from among the lost ones. They gave him his portion of the assets and his new symbiote. He was quite happy with his third of the assets and his new mate.
She pushed off from the Stargate and began walking toward some rock formations not far from the gate, Lantash’s voice echoing in her head. “You are the one they attempted to kill, Samantha. What do you wish done? We can execute them, put them into a tank for an indefinite period, or put them into indefinite stasis. It is entirely up to you.”
It had become very quiet in the council chamber. There'd been no real trial, as all four symbiotes admitted to the charges of attempted murder, conspiracy—and treason. Sam had looked at her hands and remembered Martouf and Lantash’s blood on them. She remembered Malek and Devlin’s exhaustion. More importantly, she remembered the look on Calise’s face, as they read the charges and the pleas out to the council.
She also remembered that it was Delek that had tried to stop Thoran. He was the one that had, or would’ve, died, if the Asgard hadn’t turned up. Of course, so might Lantash and Martouf. That wasn’t quite so much of a sure thing. They’d been hurt badly, but not as badly as Delek.
Still, she couldn’t do it. They were under the influence of a mind-altering drug. True, Connal had been slowly getting better, but the other hosts and the symbiotes, except for Delek, had still not been aware of it. They had conspired, plotted, and attempted to kill her, but none of them had been accountable for their actions.
“Let them go. They weren’t responsible for their actions, Per'sus. If I understand what Janet and your own healers are telling me, and I believe that I do, then there was no way they could fight it, as long as it had such a deep hold on their minds. Even though Delek finally realized what was happening, he still couldn’t completely fight it. So, no, I don’t want them punished for something they didn’t really do.”
Per'sus had frowned, but seeing the set look on her face, he had nodded. He could tell that Lantash and Malek were not happy with her choice, but it was her right to decide.
He had nodded his head and then turned to the four standing before the council. “The charges of the conspiracy to commit murder and the attempted murder of Samantha Carter of the Tau’ri have been dropped. You are not cleared of them; they have simply been set aside. I think we all know that, if we wished to, we could prosecute you under the laws of the Tok’Ra; however, for Samantha’s sake, and to help her put this entire despicable incident behind her, we will drop those charges.”
Sam had assumed it was over, until Lantash had looked the four of them over and said calmly and coldly. “While my mate may have allowed you to escape one set of charges, there are more. Each of you also stand charged with conspiracy to murder the High Councilor, three other council members, Daniel Jackson, and a commander of a base. On top of those charges are those of conspiracy against the Tok’Ra as a whole. Therefore, we will state these charges as conspiracy to commit murders, conspiracy to commit treason, and committing an act of treason. How do you plead?”
Since every bit of it was on the listening device that they planted on Parist, when they sent him back into talk to Thoran, they had no other choice but to plead guilty as charged. Calise’s face had been chalk-white, and Sam knew that hers was, too. She had been so angry at that point that she had stood and looked at Lantash, her eyes flashing. “The same mitigating circumstances pertain to those charges as well, Lantash, and you know it. How can you do that? You know they were all under the effects of that drug.”
“Samantha, they were not under the influence of that drug when they conspired with the N.I.D. to stop the Tok’Ra-Tau'ri alliance.”
“Are you telling me that they knew what the N.I.D. was doing? That they were aware they were going to kill us all along?”
Connal’s eyes had rounded. “We did not know that, at the time. We did not know about that, until much later, and by then, your people and ours rescued you. I swear we did not know about that.” The others had agreed. They had known they were to work at making things difficult between the Tau'ri and the Tok’Ra. No one had said anything about killing anyone and disrupting the alliance in that way.
Connal assured them that they were not involved in Thoran’s plot to start killing, until after the drug was in their systems. In fact, looking back, he realized that Thoran had been very careful not to mention killing, at all, until much later. They all realized that now.
That was when Anise had turned up with a machine that she swore could tell false memories and statements from real and true ones; it would prove once and for all if they were lying. The Asgard helped her to perfect it, and since it was based on their own technology, they accepted that it would work.
They were all eager to be tested and the tests had been conclusive—none of them, not one—had known Thoran’s true intentions, until after they were under the influence of the drug. It was the only thing, other than her speaking for them, that had saved them from execution, tanking, or stasis.
Lantash was still angry about the harm done to his mate, the Tok’Ra, and the Tau'ri. He had turned to the council stating, “While they did not know about the murders being planned, or the plan to eventually overthrow the present council, they did conspire against the Tok’Ra-Tau'ri alliance.”
“For that, they should, at the very least, be put into stasis for an indefinite period, probably a few hundred years, unless we feel they should be executed. They did knowingly commit treason, and the sentence for that, as you know, is anything from death to incarceration. The sentence depends upon the circumstances. I will agree that the extenuating circumstances should play a role as we deliberate on what to do with them.”
Sam had frowned when Connal had insisted that they couldn’t take Delek from him because he was his mate, and that they would have to put them both into stasis or kill them both. She grinned now, thinking about her solution. She had felt better about it, and since she really did think they deserved to be punished for the suffering and the treason, it suited her.
She suggested that they send the guilty parties from the chamber, as she had a suggestion to make, and then they should vote on whether to execute them, put them in a tank or stasis, or go with her idea.
Once the centurions escorted the prisoners from the room, the council had looked at her and taking a deep breath, she said, “Look, I know they deserve to be punished. And really, if I am completely honest, although, I said to just let it drop, I only did that because I feel both sentences are too extreme for something that, for the most part, they couldn’t help. My solution would be kind of like stasis and kind of like death, maybe even a combination of the two.” She frowned, and then added, “Actually, it might be more like putting them into a tank.”
“How can they be alive within their hosts, and yet be in stasis, in a tank, and dead, Samantha?” Lantash had frowned at her as he attempted to put himself into her mind. Suddenly, Daniel had started to laugh. “It’s perfect, Sam. They’ll hate it, it will drive them crazy, but it will teach them a lesson they’ll not ever forget. They truly will be punished for their crime, and for all four of them it is the perfect punishment.”
It was Daniel’s turn to be subjected to the other’s frowns. She had smiled back at him, knowing he had jumped to her own conclusion.
“Okay, look, you all share the body, right? And you don’t mind that, but the one thing that would probably drive you all crazy was if you had no control over anything.” She looked around at their blank faces. “Well, wouldn’t it? Come on, Lantash; think about it. What if you were forbidden to ever have control of your host? What if no one was allowed to talk to you except Martouf? I am saying never here. Except in an emergency, you could not ever have Martouf’s body for anything. No one but Martouf would even acknowledge that you were alive. You would be dead to the Tok’Ra until further notice, and your host would have to take responsibility for you sticking to the rules. If you didn’t, then you could still be executed or whatever.”
Per'sus had looked thoughtful, and then he had shaken his head. “I am sorry, Samantha. While I agree it would be a just punishment, still it is not enough, at least for the other three. For Delek, perhaps we could agree to it, since he did begin to fight it toward the end, but not the other three. They were going to end our alliance, and then take over the council, killing many of us. True they were under the influence of the drug before that subject was broached, but not when they first listened to him. There must be more. They must be brought to truly feel that they will not be trusted again for a very long time.”
Arwanna had spoken up then. “There is something else that would punish them, perhaps even more severely, Per'sus. If you added it to Samantha’s suggestion, then it would be enough.”
“What, Arwanna? I cannot think of anything else that we could do.”
“There is one thing that all of them have in common. Each one of them worked very hard to become a council member. It is the accomplishment they are the proudest of and that means the most to them. I do not believe that being removed from the council and given the rank of centurions would be a small blow to them.”
Per'sus had stared at her, as had the remainder of the council, and the others that were deeply involved in what was occurring. A small smile tilted his lips. His voice wry, matching the tilt on his lips, he said quietly, “You are exactly correct, Arwanna. It would certainly be a blow to each of them. Especially when coupled by the announcement throughout the ranks of the Tok’Ra that they were being stripped of their ranks and were in solitary confinement for an indefinite period of time for crimes of treason against the Tok’Ra, the Tok’Ra high council, and the Tau’ri. The announcement would also state that the hosts had been held captive by their symbiotes and that they were innocent of the charges. They were to be treated with courtesy and respect. Yes, I can see how they would indeed feel it was a severe punishment, and when coupled with keeping them prisoner within their hosts—I like it. Yes. I believe it fits their crimes very well.”
Once the remainder of the council gave it some thought, they all agreed. It would be a much worse punishment than stasis for the symbiotes, the true guilty parties. Being in stasis was really no punishment at all, for they would simply awaken after a long sleep. Samantha was correct, and it was very similar to tanking them, which of the three punishments, in reality, was the worst one. If one was dead, one no longer cared. In stasis, you were simply asleep. Being put into a tank…that was indeed severe. You would be on display. Everyone knew of your crime. No one stopped to talk to you. You watched your world go on without you and the boredom was true torture. Being trapped within their hosts’ bodies, unable to voice an opinion, tell someone hello or even lift a fork to eat a meal would be very difficult and unpleasant for them. However, knowing that the remainder of the Tok’Ra knew of their perfidy and their punishment…that would be extremely painful for them. Yes, this was a perfect solution. The guilty were in confinement, but it would leave the hosts free.
Moreover, she had agreed. They had fallen in with Thoran and his plans to stop the alliance. They should punish them severely, for that had been a blow against the Tok’Ra as a whole.
It was a unanimous verdict; they found them guilty as charged. They told the guard at the entrance to the Council Chamber to bring the prisoners to stand before the Council. Per'sus had read the verdict and the sentence.
“Parist, Corlock, Stekesh, and Delek; you have been found guilty on all counts. Punishment shall be meted out immediately and is as follows: As of this moment, and until further notice and the lifting of the sentence by the council, you will no longer, at any time, assume control of your host’s body. The host shall have and keep control at all times, unless there is an emergency where the symbiote needs to save them, or someone else. Should an emergency arise, as soon as the crisis passes, you will return the body at once to its rightful owner/operator. That is part one.”
“The second part of the sentence is that you will be in solitary confinement within your host. No one will be allowed to speak to you, unless there is information that only you know, and then they shall speak to you only through your host. If this rule is broken, and you are caught either by someone seeing it happen, or by someone speaking to you, and you answering them rather than through your host, and it is reported, the time of your confinement will be lengthened by one decade. That is one decade for each infraction of the no-communication part of your sentence. You will not be punished if someone forgets and talks directly to you, however, should you forget, take control of your host’s body, and answer them yourself, punishment will be swift. You may communicate only through your host, and only when he chooses to do so.”
“The third part of your sentence,” Per’sus paused, as he realized something that would make it worse for them, “The third part of your sentence Lantash and Malek shall carry out.” Per'sus sat down and, although startled by this, Lantash and Malek moved forward and removed the emblems of their rank. The knots on the belts that designated what base they were from and how high they were in the chain of command were un-knotted, the rank buckles removed, and the belts retied, at a very low rank. They were now centurions.
Lantash had frowned before going and speaking quietly to Per'sus. After some thought, he had nodded his head in agreement, and Lantash had turned around and faced the four white-faced men. Evidently, the symbiotes were in so much shock they could not control their host’s emotions.
“We wish to make it clear that this has to do with the symbiote only. The host’s records are clear, and they will be treated with respect and courtesy at all times.”
“An announcement shall be made to the Tok’Ra. It will state that you are incarcerated within your host’s bodies for crimes of treason against the Tok’Ra, the High council, the Tau'ri, and the alliance. It will state that you are not to be communicated with except when absolutely necessary, and then, only through your host. At no time are you to be in control of the body unless it is a severe emergency and it is plain that the host needs or demands your help.”
“It will also be pointed out that while you have been stripped of rank and honors, this in no way reflects on your host’s honor. They are still much-honored members of the Tok’Ra, and their lack of rank is temporary. Soon they will begin to reclaim the rank that you caused them to lose. It will not be you regaining the rank until you can prove beyond doubt that you are trustworthy. That, we are all agreed, may take a very, very long time.”
“Therefore, Delek, you are now a centurion, first-class. We would have taken all of your rank, but we felt that we should put your years of experience to good use. Furthermore, we agree with Samantha that you are not as culpable as the other three. From now on, you will instruct our newest, greenest recruits. You will attend in the council chamber. Moreover, you will take any and all other duties we see fit to assign you. Are your new orders clear?”
Lantash had watched as Connal’s eyes glowed, faded, and then glowed again, as Delek released control back to Connal without saying a word. Lantash had smiled grimly. “Yes, Lantash, he understands completely,” Connal answered for him. Lantash’s eyes had glinted wickedly. He had turned to Per'sus and again held a short, low-voiced conversation with him.
Turning back to him, he said, “The fact that you took control of your host will be ignored this time. Do not let it happen again.”
He turned to the others. “Again we did not take all rank from you. You are not young symbiotes in new recruits; therefore, you must retain at least the designation of a newly made centurion. For that reason, Stekesh, you and Carlton are now a centurion, second- class, however, because I know that your host loves to cook, you will be assigned to the kitchen. Do you understand your orders?” Stekesh had actually looked panic-stricken before his host had assumed control.
“I believe I do, Lantash. We have been assigned to the kitchens. From this time on, Stekesh is not to have control of my body. He is to speak to no one except me, nor answer any questions put to him by mistake; he is to answer through me and to me, only.”
Lantash nodded his agreement and moved on.
“Parist, you also have been demoted to centurion second-class; however, again, your host’s abilities as a scientist have moved you into a position of lab assistant. Stephon, please give some thought to which lab you would prefer to be in. This is your decision, just as it is your body, to do with what you wish. If we discover that you have chosen something because it is Parist’s wish and not yours, the other three choices are still available to us— at any time. That,” he added, “stands for all of you. This sentencing does not do away with the original choices of punishment. Mistakes could very well lead us to change our minds about this punishment and change it.”
Stephon nodded and answered, his voice hard and unyielding, “We understand, Lantash. He will follow my lead in all things.”
“Corlock, you are now a centurion, also second-class. You will be Connal’s assistant in the training fields. Remember that he is in charge, not Delek. You and Connal are both good warriors. I expect great things of you. I expect you to turn out some of the best, well- trained soldiers and operatives we have had for a very long time.”
Martel inclined his head, commenting, “We will not let you down, Lantash. I assure you that Corlock is well on his way to learning what is important in this life of ours.”
“Good.” He turned to Per'sus and the council. “Are there any other things we need to go over, Per'sus?”
Per'sus shook his head and turned to face his new centurions. “You will need to check the data pad rosters to find out what time your next shift is. You are dismissed.” Bowing, the four men had turned to leave the room, every one of them suddenly experiencing the relief of knowing that they were not going to die. It was sweet indeed, and they were all very much aware of the alternatives that awaited them, if they did not follow their orders to the letter.
At the door, Connal turned back to the room of people. “I wish to thank you for caring for Delek and me. He is very much aware of what he has done, and he is also very much aware of what the alternatives could have been. Major Carter, we have had no time to tell you before, so Delek wishes me to do so now. He is truly sorry that his was the hand that harmed you. He will never do so again, of that you may be sure.”
With that, he had bowed and left the room…and Sam was simply glad it was over and done with. She still wondered if they had been too hard on Delek, but it was nice to be able to do something without wondering if someone was going to attack her. It had taken a while for her to get used to being safe, and she still had an occasional nightmare, but not nearly as often, as she had before her memory returned.
She sighed sadly as the other…well, she wasn’t sure that disappointment was the correct word, but it would do for now. Both she and Daniel were actually ambivalent about it. The seven of them had discussed the pros and cons, but all of them wavered back and forth on the subject. First leaning toward it and then leaning away from it. It would’ve been so much simpler if it had been taken out of their hands, but it hadn’t. She and Daniel weren’t going to be parents.
At least, not yet. They were still considering it, and that was why she hadn’t yet blended. The thing was that there were way more cons than pros. The danger of their lives wasn’t the least of the cons, either. She was pretty sure that she’d decided against having a child. For one thing, how could she decide with which of her mates to have that child? They were all blended now. Had she been pregnant with Daniel’s child, it would’ve been different, an accident that couldn’t be helped. Now, however, that couldn’t happen, and she was fairly sure that not only could she not choose between them, but she also felt that their lives were much too dangerous to bring a child into it. She was pretty sure that all of her mates were finally leaning that way, too. Except that, they all truly would've loved a child of hers and Daniel’s. They all felt that it would’ve been exceptional. She just thought it would’ve been loved. She sighed again, still somewhat sadly.
She was going to earth to help train new SG teams and help with the Tok’Ra there. She was leaning toward blending before she returned there. The Colonel and Teal'c were also returning, for a while. She grinned, as she thought about that. Colonel Jack O’Neill and Andren were going. Somehow, they just never got around to finding him a new host, and they made peace with one another. It worked well, since Andren was one of the Tok’Ra that preferred to watch and listen most of the time. The Colonel was often exasperated, when he wouldn’t come forward during meetings. Andren maintained that Jack was quite capable of relaying any opinions he wished to express. She grinned as she thought about how it was often obvious that they were having a spirited conversation. The two of them were very much alike. She was glad it worked out for them.
Her smile died as her thoughts floated to her own symbiote. She had to decide soon, even though her mates told her there was no hurry. Her symbiote was in stasis and so wasn’t anxiously awaiting their blending. She could take her time and they could make their decision. Well, she’d decided. As much as she would truly love to have a child with her mates, she didn’t think it would be a very wise thing to do. It would have no children to play with. It would have to live in the tunnels and run from the Goa’uld often. It was a dangerous life. Yes, she could insist they go to earth but even then, there were drawbacks. It wouldn’t be able to attend school or do any of the things children should do. It’s blood could not fall into outsider’s hands. Saying good-bye to that dream was hard, but in all honesty, she felt it was best. She could die quite easily in her job. She didn’t want to leave a child behind to mourn her. No, she didn’t think it was something she wished to do…even though a part of her did. That part was wrong. Feeling that decision was finally made, she felt some tension she wasn’t aware she was experiencing melt away.
Realizing that it was getting on toward evening, and her mates should be returning soon from their meetings or, in Daniel’s case, lessons for the Tok’Ra going to Earth, she turned and headed for the rings, looking forward to an evening spent with them.
Entering their rooms, she was confused that none of them were home yet, before remembering that they would all be late this evening. New recruits had come in, and Malek and Lantash would be busy with them. Daniel had an evening class tonight. She decided to go ahead and eat, and then read for a while. Around eight, she took her shower and after reading some more, she lay down on the sleeping platform. She hadn’t regained her strength yet from her ordeal, although, she was doing much better. She’d worked out again today, longer this time than usual, and she was a little tired. A nap sounded very enticing. She didn’t hear her mates enter the room, nor did she notice when they joined her after bathing.
“Samantha? My love, wake up, you are dreaming again. Come, Samantha, it is all right. Awaken, dear one, and hold us, so that you will know that we are here with you, alive and well,” Martouf soothed his mate, as she came awake gasping and crying out their names. She realized that she had slept much longer than she normally would have. She must have pushed herself too hard today. Looking at the timekeeper, she saw that it was almost eleven in the evening.
Malek sat up on the other side of Daniel, watching as Martouf caressed her hair, and Daniel began to rub her back. “Hush, my Sam. It will be all right. We are all right here beside you. Nothing has happened to us, or to you,” Malek said from across Daniel.
Sam nodded her head, but she clutched Martouf’s shoulders anyway. She wasn’t having the nightmares as often as she had a month and a half ago, but it was still often enough to disrupt her sleep. However, it was better, and they always soothed her so nicely.
Slowly she relaxed into Martouf’s arms and reached up to trap Daniel’s hand as it rubbed her shoulders.
“I’m all right, now. Thank you. Thank you for waking me so soon, too. I don’t understand why I’m still dreaming this stupid dream.” Sam was not only tired of having the dream; she was getting angry because, as far as she could see, there was no reason for her to be dreaming it. The entire episode was finished. Over and done with. They were all alive and all together. Her mates were not lying on the floor around her bleeding to death.
Martouf sighed. “I think you do know why you are having it, Samantha. You only started having it after you decided to go through to the SGC and spend some time there training the new SG teams. You feel as if you should be there, also. On the other hand, whenever you think of leaving us, then the dream of us dying of Thoran’s bullets comes into your mind and you think of all of us and add us all into the dream. You do not want to leave us all.”
He grinned at her, and Malek said, softly, “He is probably correct, our darling, Samantha. However, he has not told you the news. We discussed it with Per’sus today, and we decided that we would take turns going to Earth and staying there with you. That way, you will not worry so much about us, and we will not worry so much about you.”
“Jack wishes to have a cake to celebrate the mission back on Earth while we are there. We are all going with you for the first week. Arwanna and Daimesh, as well as Markesh and Gava have agreed to help Selmak and Jacob while we are all gone. Now, perhaps your nightmares will stop.” Looking at the long expanse of her naked back, he continued, “Devlin and I can think of better ways than cake to celebrate with you; however, we will not tell or invite Jack, if you do not mind.”
Sam shivered at the unconsciously seductive note that had entered his voice. She wondered if these three men and their symbiotes would always affect her this way. Probably. She glanced up at Martouf to see the aroused gleam that had entered his eyes. She smiled up at him, and her hand found its way to his manhood. She was very glad they were going with her, even if they couldn’t all stay there for the entire time. At least she’d have each of them at some point during the coming months. She sighed, but then her breath hitched, as she ran her hand slowly up and down the rod of velvet-covered steel in her hand.
“Really?” she asked artlessly. “Can you really think of a better way to celebrate with me? Is it something we can all do together?”
Martouf growled, and leaning forward, he nipped her shoulder. “Yes, I think that what we all have in mind could keep all of us occupied long into the night, my love.”
Daniel’s hand stopped rubbing her back and began to slip toward her womanhood, but he stopped suddenly, and his hand curled into a fist. She shivered again, and turned her head to smile at him. He smiled back, but the smile didn’t reach his eyes. He closed them, and lowered his head to her shoulder, giving her another caress before looking back at Malek and motioning for him to take his place. Then he got up and made his way to the facilities. Sam frowned. Why was Daniel acting this way? This wasn’t the first time he had stopped before he could touch her intimately, and then had Malek or Martouf take over for him.
She looked at Martouf and realized that Lantash had come forward and was watching her. “All right, Lantash. What’s wrong with Daniel? Why is he avoiding touching me sometimes? You know what’s going on, and I want to know,” she said softly, so that Daniel would not overhear.
She felt both he and Malek pause in their exploration of her body before resuming. She waited, holding herself stiffly, not yielding to their physical persuasion. She wanted an answer to this. It was beginning to bother her. She slipped from between them and picked up her robe from where she had laid it before climbing into bed earlier in the evening to take a nap.
Lantash sighed as he gave in to her obvious resistance to them. “It was not Daniel, Samantha. It was Brandel.”
Sam frowned. “Doesn’t Brand like me?” She looked confused. “I thought he would feel the same as Daniel about me. Am I misunderstanding something?”
“No, Samantha, you are correct. Brand has allowed himself to feel Daniel’s love for you, and, of course, his own love for you has grown as well.” Although Malek answered her, he exchanged glances with Lantash.
“Then why doesn’t he want to make love to me? I don’t understand. Does he not like, er, that is, is he, um, well, you know. Does he, does he prefer men?” She finally managed to ask.
Both men looked at her blankly. “Okay, so it’s quite obviously not that. What is it, then? Why won’t he make love to me?”
“He does not believe that you are ready to accept him as a mate, Samantha. He will convince Daniel to take control, and then they will return to you.”
Sam blinked. Good grief. She had not even considered that Brand would not realize that she accepted him and had come to care for him, too. True her love for him was not as deep as it was for her other mates, but she hadn’t known him as long, either. It was growing, just as it had for Malek, and for Devlin. She had more than enough love for him to make love to him. It was sweet of him not to want to upset her or make her feel uncomfortable, but his hesitance was totally unnecessary.
“Is that why they’ve not gone through Cor’kesh’lek’dak with Malek and Devlin? Because Brand is afraid that I won’t accept him? But, he did it with Lantash and Martouf.” She frowned, as she thought that over.
“That is true and they did, Samantha; however, Brand felt very uncomfortable about it; he stayed quiescent. He and Daniel discussed it, and Brand has insisted on staying quiescent during our lovemaking and never coming forward. Daniel decided that until you could accept him as mate, he did not want to perform that act again. He simply feels that Brand should participate more fully. I imagine he will wish to go through it with Martouf and I again once that happens as well.”
Sam nodded. “I see. Well, I have assumed all this time that Brand was sharing Daniel’s body and making love to me. I accepted him as a mate, and I want to make love to him.”
“Are you sure, Samantha? I do not mind waiting longer before I become your lover in a physical way,” Brand said quietly, as he re-entered the room.
Sam smiled at him and held out her hand. “I have no desire to wait, Brand. I have come to care for you very much already, and my feelings are still growing and maturing. Making love simply solidifies those feelings. Come and make love to me and with us, Brand, you, and Daniel, both.”
He smiled a very sweet smile and joined them on the sleeping platform. Martouf turned her around, as she knelt on the bed, and took her lips in a long sweet kiss. She recognized Daniel’s touch as his lips found her shoulder after removing the robe she had just donned. His arm came around her, and his fingers found their way to the apex of her thighs. She shifted for him, spreading her legs, and he moaned, as he felt the warm moisture waiting there for him.
Between them, they laid her down and surrounded her with their bodies and their love. Martouf slipped away from her, and Malek took his place. Martouf moved above her head, and continued to take her lips in long, deep kisses while Malek and Devlin found her breasts and loved them. They were caressing her, suckling, nipping, and laving her, their hands held her easily, a thumb flicking the nipple not in their mouth, driving her steadily higher.
Daniel released to Brand, and he breathed in her scent, as he slowly kissed his way up her back toward her throat. Once there, he left his mark, as her other mates so often did, knowing it was one of the things that drove her the highest, as they made their way toward release.
He moaned as he allowed his hands to roam her body, slowly and sensuously reveling in the rapturous pleasure of stroking her silky skin. The last two months, it had been all he could do to stay quiescent as they made love to their mate, and he found himself more deeply enthralled than before by the scent and feel of her, now that he felt he could come fore. He moaned hoarsely, his fingers sliding deeply inside her as he rocked against her buttocks with his hardened member. The fragrance of her arousal wafted to him, and he released control to Daniel, saying, “I cannot seem to control my need of her, Daniel, so you must take over, until I can get myself more firmly in hand.”
“Are you ready to perform Cor’kesh’lek’dak, Brand, now that you know for sure that Sam accepts you as a mate?”
Brandel groaned in Daniel’s mind, saying, “If you wish to, then certainly, I would enjoy doing so. We have put it off long enough, and now that I have accepted her agreement to our bond, she may wonder if we do not do so. I am ready if you are.”
Daniel nodded, continuing the rhythm Brand had started. He looked up and into Malek’s eyes. Seeing the question in them, he nodded his agreement, before turning back to Sam, saying, “Sam of my Heart, are you willing to perform Cor’kesh’lek’dak with us, Malek, and Devlin?”
Sam turned her head and caught his lips with hers for a deep loving kiss, before breaking it to say, “I thought you would never ask. Goddess, yes, Daniel, Brand, I’m ready to join with all of you.”
Martouf continued stroking and caressing their mate, as they watched her arousal build under the ministrations of their Mae’tek Tari’esks, their mate-brothers. She was so beautiful. Oh, Goddess, she was pulling them toward her mouth. Martouf’s moans joined Brandel’s as Sam took them deeply into the hot moisture of her mouth and loved them that way, as her other mates loved the rest of her body.
She couldn’t keep it up for long, but it didn’t take much for her to heat he and Lantash to flashpoint, so it was just as well that she soon released them from her lips and took them in hand instead. He was glad, as Lantash refused to take over, saying, “I wish to simply enjoy for a time, Martouf. I will come forward to help during Cor’kesh’lek’dak, however, I promise you. I am enjoying simply watching her and feeling the emotions and sensations that she always brings to us with her body and her love of us.”
“I have to agree and I understand. It is your turn to simply enjoy, if you so desire, so I will do my best. She is very beautiful in the throes of passion, is she not?”
“Yes, Martouf, she certainly is. We are truly blessed to have her as mate, Mer Prinekh.”
This time, his only answer was a moan of delight as she had begun once again to suckle them, although, again, not for long. That was a blessing in disguise, for it allowed Martouf a respite from his headlong rush toward his release.
They watched her, as they and their mate-brothers loved her, and prepared her for Cor'kesh’lek’dak. Her skin was glowing, flushed with passion. Her eyes, when she opened them to watch one or the other of them, seemed to gleam with an inner fire, and her lips were full and red, swollen from the kisses she was sharing with them all.
He followed the line of her throat to her chest and gazed at her breasts, their nipples rosy, hard, and pointed with need. She pushed into Malek’s hands and moaned as he kneaded them, before swooping in to pull one of those points into his mouth, suckling, nipping, and lashing it with his tongue.
She gasped, and reached out for Malek’s shoulders, needing something to ground herself. She could feel herself spiraling out of control and into a climax. She threw her head back onto Daniel’s shoulder, her head tilted to the side, so that he had perfect access to her throat. He locked onto her soft, pale flesh, as he felt the first contractions of her climax, and sucked hard, causing her to let out a short scream, as the contractions intensified with each pull of his mouth on her.
As it calmed, Brandel resumed control, left her throat, kissed his way down her back, across her hip, and from there to the bud that still throbbed faintly. She gasped as his tongue found it, then she moaned deeply, tossing her head as a second climax hit her almost immediately.
Her fingers pressed into Devlin’s shoulders, squeezing hard as she gasped, sobbing with the intensity of this second release. His mouth never left her breast, instead suckling harder as his fingers continued their rhythmic kneading of them. Martouf leaned in to catch her next cry with his lips, as he kissed her deeply, conveying all the love they held for her with his lips and tongue.
Brandel continued to plunge his fingers into her rhythmically as his tongue continued to lap at the nectar he found there. Goddess, he and Daniel were both addicted to the taste of her sweet honey. Sam was lost in a sensual fog, unaware of anything except the feelings her mates were engendering in her body and heart.
Stars of Fire, but Daniel and, she now knew, Brandel, were good at that. She whimpered as their fingers and tongue left her, but sighed as they were replaced by something better.
She heard Malek moan deeply as he entered her, and she smiled, opening her eyes and looking deeply into his beautiful hazel ones. She could see the love shining from them for her, and she released his shoulders to stroke gently down his face before leaning in to kiss his shoulder and from there up his throat until she reached their lips. She nibbled on them before kissing him fully, deeply, moaning into his mouth as Daniel entered her, and they began to stroke together within her.
Releasing his lips, she moaned again, welcoming Martouf’s lips on her body now that she was lying on Daniel and Brandel. She was in such sensory overload that it had taken her a moment to realize that they had changed positions, and she was now lying on top of Daniel and Brand with Martouf and Lantash kneeling beside her.
Daniel continued to ravish her throat and breathe love words into the shell of her ear, as Martouf now claimed her breasts and lips as his own personal playground. She grasped his manhood with one hand, while she used her other hand to reach behind her and pleasure Brandel before switching her efforts to Malek, sending both of them higher and closer to their climaxes.
Daniel’s hands held her hips, and they continued their rhythm, forcing her desire to spiral higher along with theirs.
“God, Sam, you feel so good, so damn good,” Daniel panted behind her. “We love you, Sam of our Heart. We both love you very much. Are you ready to complete our union with Malek and Devlin, along with Martouf and Lantash, our love? Will you become the link that binds all of us together, our Sam?”
All she could do was nod at first, and then she moaned, “Yes, I'm ready; I need you, I want you, and I love you. All of you. Come with me. Come in me.”
She whimpered when Daniel stopped suckling on her neck, but she soon gasped as he moved to the other side and began again.
She could feel it building within her and them. Malek’s fingers found the nub of her desire. Goddess, they were driving her insane with love and lust for them all.
She didn’t know how Cor’kesh’lek’dak worked, all she knew was that they were all building toward the leap over the edge together and they could all tell what the other was feeling. She could feel it, almost taste it in the air around them. It was the most amazing thing she could ever remember experiencing. She had done this with Martouf, Lantash, Malek, and Devlin and she had been overwhelmed by the emotions as well as the physical release. Her love and need of them had been a fever in her blood, raging through her and from her, to them, until it burned out of control, going from an inferno of desire into an explosion of releases that somehow bound them into a single pulsing entity.
It had felt the same when she participated in Cor’kesh’lek’dak with Daniel, Brandel, Martouf, and Lantash. It had been extraordinarily wonderful. It had left her sated, satisfied, and replete, but at the same time gloriously alive. And, now, it was happening again.
The fever of her desire raged wildly in her blood. She was so close; she knew that she would soon be going over with or without them, but as before, they could tell. They increased their thrust’s speed and deepness. “Please, I can’t wait any longer; I can’t stop. I can’t stop,” she moaned to them, remembering saying those exact words to them before during this rite.
“We are ready, my love. Cor’kesh’lek’dak, hearts bound through flesh, will be attained. Your climax will trigger ours, as it has before, my Sam,” Malek panted to her just as he felt the first caress of the first wave of her climax begin around them. He heard Brandel’s cry of release, and his and Devlin’s joined it, as did Lantash and Martouf’s.
Sam could feel them trembling, and knew that she was as well. Never did anything affect her as this did every time. She could feel the love surging through each of them, flowing from one to the other on the waves of their physical release, as if it was a physical entity, one that encased them all within it.
Looking upward, she saw Lantash smiling down at her and realized that she would have to release him in order for them all to relax, and so her fingers slowly uncurled from around his staff. Leaning down, he kissed her sweetly, before moving farther above her head so that Malek and Daniel could move onto their sides, with their mate cradled between them. They were all so sated and replete that it was all they could do to move. She smiled in satisfaction. What a lovely way to celebrate. Malek and Devlin had been right. This was much better than cake. She grinned to herself; it was also less fattening, an important consideration.
“You look as if you are particularly pleased about something, my love. We will take that smile to mean that we satisfied your needs,” Martouf teased her lightly.
Her smile widened. “I was simply thinking that I agreed with Malek and Devlin. This was much better than cake.”
“Yes, it was, was it not? I am very glad that you agree with us, my Sam,” Devlin stroked her side gently. “So is Malek.”
She smiled at them, saying, “Yes, but you know, we don’t have to wait to have something to celebrate to do this. I mean there isn’t any law that says we can only do it on special occasions, is there?”
Martouf laughed aloud, saying, “No, my love, there is not, and I believe that I speak for all of us, when I say that we will be more than happy to accommodate you any time you wish us to.”
“He’s right, Sam. All you have to do is let us know and believe me, we will be more than happy to oblige.” He stopped and thought for a minute. “Of course, Brand just reminded me that when you blend, we’ll want to do it all again, too.”
“True, we will, so I’ll have that to look forward to.”
Lantash came fore and said quietly, “That is in the future, though, and for now, we should perform my heart and hands honor you, my love, and then allow you to rest.”
“Soon, you will be going back to Earth for the training of the new SG teams, and you need to be rested before you resume your duties there or here. I know you have been working out and regaining your strength, but the fever you endured was very hard on your body, and the stress was hard on both your body and your mind. You are still recovering.”
That was the signal for them to take care of their mate. Each of them performed their part of the ritual, a pattern they had fallen into in the last two months. She allowed them to do so, knowing that this was something they enjoyed doing, and she had to admit that it made her feel very special and very cared for.
She sighed happily to herself, as she listened to them talking and laughing while they readied to come to bed. They had formed a strong bond between the six of them and it made her feel very good to know that they cared a great deal about each other, as well as about her.
She hoped she never had to endure another fever like the one she endured during her Evernight poisoning, but she hoped that the one she experienced at their hands, the one that sang in her blood for them, lasted forever.
Listening to them, and then watching them come back into the room and join her in their bed, somehow she knew that it would last forever. There were no more missing pieces in her life. They were all right here with her, enhancing her life, and making it complete. Sam smiled sleepily, as they surrounded her, keeping her warm and safe. They were her life, her loves, her everything. Now and always. Forever a fever in her blood.
This is the final story in The Fever Series. I hope you enjoyed them.