Chapter Nine Summary: The day of the mission arrives and they find the alternate reality with no problems. While there, Jacob asks if they had a ship that they used. Deciding that because of some inconveniences that could also prove to be significant problems, a ship would be helpful, Lantash, Sam, Daniel, Anise, Kathryn, and Malek leave for Pangara by ship. The others return to the SGC for two days…the time it should take them to arrive there. Apophis, in the meantime, decides to send his Teal'c and some household servants to Ra’s pleasure palace. They should arrive there in about a week. “Italics” – Host-Symbiote Communications
Two days ago, Major Carter and Martouf and Lantash of the Tok’Ra had stood within the spinning circle of the Chaappa’ai and married. It was odd to hear the marriage ceremony twice during the same wedding, but Major Carter had insisted that she wanted to marry both of them. Later, Kathryn gathered her courage and asked Sam why she’d insisted on going through it twice. The Major had explained that this way, neither Martouf nor Lantash would ever have to be concerned that it was only Martouf or only Lantash that she had wanted to marry.
The symbiote was a separate being; Lantash was a very different person from Martouf, yet she loved them both. And yes, she did mean ‘person’, for Lantash had all the emotions, wants, needs, and desires of any other human. His physical form was not the same as a human’s, but that didn’t make his feelings different or any less valid than Martouf’s. She wanted them to know that she loved and wanted both of them.
They’d had a very interesting talk. Kathryn had developed feelings that she wasn’t sure she wanted to allow to grow. It was one thing to want Malek and Devlin on a purely physical level. It was another when one’s emotions became involved. And she was afraid that they were becoming involved. What she didn’t know was how they felt about her. Oh, she knew that they wanted her. But want, need, love, and lust were all very different things. She knew, because she had felt them all.
She still hadn’t gone to bed with them, though. Not that she didn’t want to. She did. Achingly. But she was afraid that once she gave that part of herself to them, she would be lost forever.
The Major had pointed something else out, too, though. Something that she hadn’t considered before. Regret was a very poor bedfellow, and it hurt. A lot. “If you find that you do love them, and you want to be with them, then don’t deny yourself because you might be hurt. The regret you’ll feel, if something happens to them, and you were never with them, is almost unbearable,” Major Carter had said. She’d been looking across the room to where Martouf and Lantash were watching a game of pool that was in progress. Malek was with them.
The pain in Sam’s eyes at the memories that she brought up had helped Kathryn to see things more clearly. It was too late to stop the growth of the emotions. They were already well on their way to being adult plants, and to pull them out by the roots would be almost impossible, as well as unendurably painful. So, if it was too late to stop it, then she would just have to tend it and care for it. Feed it, nurture it, and make it strong and healthy. Maybe they would never love her, but she would love them and give them that love freely. It was her choice. It was what she wanted.
She knew that Malek was worrying about making love to her, should she finally give in to them, during the mission. He felt that she would be at a disadvantage once they were on their way because of his position and hers. Though she had assured him that she would feel no obligation, she knew that, if she waited until the mission to make love to him, he would always wonder why she had agreed.
One of the other things she’d learned from the Major was how vulnerable she believed the symbiotes were. Arrogant, yes, but underneath their show of bravado, it was her opinion that they were actually unsure of whether a human woman could ever truly love them. Even though they had mated with humans for a very long time, she felt that deep down they had always wondered if the human loved them, or if it was the sharing of the emotions with the symbiote.
She’d admitted that it was simply a feeling she sometimes had, but she believed it to be true, and she always kept it in mind when dealing with Lantash. She tried, most of the time, to subtly give to him that extra bit of reassurance that Martouf didn’t really seem to need. Sometimes, she did it in an obvious way, so that Lantash knew she was telling him specifically that she loved him, for who and what he was, and at others she did it in more unobtrusive ways.
So, here she was on the last night before the mission. She had to decide whether to make love to him tonight or wait until after the mission was completed. If something happened to them, she didn’t want to live with the pain and regret that she had seen in Major Carter’ s eyes at the memory of Martouf and Lantash dying. Nor did she ever want to see doubt enter their eyes when they thought of why she had made love to them.
They were leaving in the morning. They’d figured out, as well as they could from the information they had, that the planet they were headed to first would be dark until about twelve hundred hours, so they weren’t leaving exceptionally early.
Drawing a deep breath and gathering her courage, she raised her hand and knocked on their door.
Devlin opened the door and blinked at her. They were supposed to meet in the rec room in approximately thirty minutes. It was nineteen thirty hours. Why was she here? Surely, she hadn’t been put on duty with their mission taking place tomorrow? Then he realized that she was not wearing her uniform. He swallowed as he realized that she was in a dress or skirt or something. Whatever it was, it left her legs bare.
“Aren’t you going to ask me in, Dev?” She managed to get out, while she fought for air. Looking at his bare chest and wet hair, she suddenly wondered if she was going to jump him the minute she got into the room. If, that is, she managed to actually get into the room. Dev seemed as stunned as she was.
She smiled slightly as she finally managed to drag her eyes away from the expanse of male chest in front of her. This made no sense. She saw male chests all the time, and they didn’t affect her like this. What in the world was wrong with her? It was them, she realized. Seeing them this way, after thinking about what she wanted to do to them.
“Oh, um, yes, of course, come in. I am afraid we are not quite ready. We, ah, just finished showering. If you will excuse us, we will, um, that is, we should, we should go,” he gasped as her hands found their way to his ribs and fluttered there, “We should—go— and—get...” Devlin gave up trying to talk because her lips kept capturing his as he tried to speak. Her arms went around him to pull him closer, before rearranging their positions so that one arm could wrap around his shoulder and her hand could caress his neck.
Malek came forward to grasp her hand and pull it from his neck. Shaking his head, he said, almost harshly, “You must not do that to us, Kathryn, for we do not trust ourselves. That is a very stimulating gesture for the two of us, as you know, and our control becomes quite worn after being stimulated in that manner.”
“Yes, I know. I’m not asking you to control yourself, Malek. I didn’t come here tonight to sit and hold your hand, nor do I want to spend the evening in the rec room. If you don’t mind I think that I’d rather be here alone with you tonight.”
“No. I do not believe that would be a good idea,” Malek said firmly.
Kathryn blinked. They’d been trying for several days to get her into their bed. Now that she was here and offering, he was saying no?
“Malek, you’ve been trying to, ah, seduce me for days. Now that I’m willing to be seduced, why are you saying no?” She asked quietly.
“Why tonight, Kathryn? Why are you here now?”
Looking into his eyes, she realized that only the complete truth would suffice. “Because you’ll never believe that I went to bed with you because I wanted to, if I wait until after tonight. I would always regret doing that to you. And,” she paused looking down, feeling suddenly unsure of herself and almost shy, “and I would never forgive myself if something happened to you, and I had never made love to you and Devlin. I want you both; I don’t want to live my life wondering, regretting that I never made love to you when I could have done so.”
Malek frowned slightly, “Made love?”
Realizing what she’d said, she clarified, “I’m sorry. That is what we tend to call it. I should have said mated. I would always regret not having mated with you, if something happened, or if I waited until during the mission and left you feeling that I did it because of our respective positions.”
She cocked her head and looked at him for a long moment, before asking, “Do you? Do you really understand?”
“I believe I do. You have given this a great deal of thought and come to the logical conclusion that you should mate with us, so that if you find yourself overcome by passion, while we are on the mission, I will not have to either worry about why you mated with me or regret giving into my own passions for you. It is a noble sacrifice on your part, but no, thank you. I do not take an unwilling woman to my bed, not now, and not ever. If we should ever go to bed together, it will be because we are both burning with passion and desire, for one another, not because we have coldly calculated the cause and effect,” he said bitterly.
Kathryn gasped aloud and Malek heard it echoed by Devlin within him. “Are you out of your mind, Malek? Why are you doing this to us and to her?”
“I do not take unwilling women to my bed, Devlin, you just heard me tell her so. I am not an object for her charity.”
“Well, I happen to care for her and want her, so you can just damn well go away and become dormant.”
“No. I will not allow her to use us in this way.”
“Well, I will, and it is my body to use as I see fit.”
“I will not allow you to be used in this manner. It is a body we share, and I do not wish it put to this use.”
They were brought out of their internal spat by Kathryn’s voice, saying, “You arrogant jerk. Of all the asinine things to say that takes the cake. If I was unwilling, I wouldn’t be here.” Before Malek realized what she was going to do, she brought her hand up and slapped him as hard as she could. Feeling the stinging in her palm, she shook her hand and snapped, “I should have decked you instead, you ass.”
As she whirled away from him, he grabbed her arm and pulled her back to him, holding her tightly against his chest. “Let go of me,” she snarled, as she attempted to twist free of his hands.
“No. How dare you strike me?” he hissed, as his eyes flared and he pulled her around to face him. He glared down at her before lowering his head and taking her lips in a searing kiss, even as she struggled and attempted to stop him. It was not a kiss of passion, but of punishment. There was no tenderness, no caring, nothing but mastery and possession fueled by pure unadulterated male ego, anger, and hurt pride.
When he raised his head, he was surprised to see tears in her eyes and blood on her lips, where he had nipped her and crushed her lips with his. He blinked and released her, turning away before choking, “I am sorry. That was uncalled for.”
Kathryn looked at him in puzzlement. What had just happened in this room? What had happened in his head to cause him to take her remarks in the way that he had? She walked slowly across the room and sat on the edge of the bed, looking at him, no longer angry, only confused.
“Malek, what just happened? Why did you get angry at me for wanting to mate with you? Did I do something against some Tok’Ra rule of which I am unaware? Am I not supposed to give in to you? Is that what these last few days were doing? Have you been testing me or something, to see if I’m unworthy or unacceptable because I agree to bed you? If so, I’m sorry that I failed your test. I thought you wanted me to give in; that it was what you and Dev have been wanting.”
“I wished for you to come to me because you wanted me, as badly as I wanted you, not because it was some logical decision you had arrived at,” he said quietly. “Whatever my feelings, I had no right to treat you, as I did. I should have let you leave. I am sorry.”
“I shouldn’t have called you names or slapped you. I’ve never done anything like that before in my life.” She paused, and then whispered, “But then, I’ve never been so hurt and humiliated before, either.”
Malek spun around to stare at her, a surprised look on his face. “It was not my intention to make you feel either, nor do I know why you would feel either of those emotions.”
She shook her head. “Malek, I don’t just jump into bed with any man who comes along, even if I’m attracted to him. I’m not made that way, and I just can’t do it. I need to have an emotional involvement. I’ve wanted you from the moment that I met you. I’ve thought about you, dreamed about you, and I was thrilled to death, when I was assigned as your escort. I thought that you’d finally noticed me as a woman, that you wanted me. I’ve had to fight with myself every night not to jump into this bed with you, and I thought that you wanted me here. When I realized that I would be devastated if something happened to you, I knew that it didn’t matter anymore if you loved me or not. All I wanted was to ensure that I had no regrets, and that you had none, either.”
“I felt that if I didn’t make love to you tonight, that is, mate with you, but gave in and did so, while we were on the mission, you would never believe that it was simply because I couldn’t deny you or myself what we both wanted. I didn’t want you to feel that way, and I didn’t want to have to live with knowing that I made you feel that. I know that you would never believe it was because I really wanted you, needed you, not because I felt compelled to.”
“I didn’t arrive at my decision in a cold, calculating, logical way. It was one of the most emotion driven decisions I’ve ever made. I’m hurt that you could even think I would coldly calculate what to do with no emotion driving me, and I’m humiliated because it seems that I was wrong, and you weren’t really interested in me. Evidently, I was just some game that you were playing, an amusing way for you to pass the time, and if you could get me in your bed, then you could brag that you’d had a Tau’ri. I guess I should’ve known.”
Kathryn stood and began to walk to the door. “I’m going to go find Selmak and ask him to reassign me. It’ll be hard enough feeling this way every time I see you, without actually having to be near you. I can’t work with you on this mission. Not now that I know how you really see me.”
Malek stepped in front of her.
“Please let me pass, Malek. I can’t stay here now, and I have things that I need to do before morning.”
“Yes, you do,” he said softly, as he reached out a hand and lifted her face, so that he could see her eyes. “I am so sorry, Kathryn. I took everything the wrong way. I did not see the situation from your point of view. I made a situation, forced you into it, and yet, I left you no way out of it. Nor did I realize what you meant when you were telling me of not wishing to regret not mating with me. My own insecurities led me to believe that what you meant was that you wished to be able to say that you had bedded a Tok’Ra, a symbiote. I thought you simply wished to satisfy your curiosity about our sexuality, our passions. I did not take your word to truly mean what you said, and it made me angry.”
Kathryn frowned. “I do want to mate a symbiote. I love you, Malek, just as much as I love Devlin.” Kathryn gasped and clapped her hand over her mouth. She closed her eyes, cursing herself. She had never meant them to know that she had fallen in love with them. Damn, damn, damn.
Hearing nothing from Malek, she risked a peek at him. It was obvious that he was having an internal conversation, and whatever they were saying must have been pleasant, because Malek was smiling slightly. He reached up and removed her hand from her mouth.
“All of this could have been avoided if you had just said that first,” he said quietly. Then, slowly lowering his mouth toward hers, he whispered softly, “We love you, too.”
“So, what color of Jeannie outfit did you choose?” Major Carter asked of Lieutenant Donovan.
“Oh, um, green, the dark green. I didn’t realize that there was so little to these, when I bought them,” she replied.
“Ah, yes, I noticed that myself the first time I put mine on. Thank all the powers that be that they fit under our uniforms. At least, we aren’t wearing them here in the Gateroom. I can guarantee you that I’d be wrapped in the cloak if we were. Completely. Tightly.”
Kathryn giggled. “You’re telling me. I looked in the mirror the first time I put one of them on and almost fainted. Talk about barely there.” She smiled again, before continuing. “I wonder what Malek and Devlin are going to think of them. Have you shown them to Martouf and Lantash?”
Sam smiled, as she picked up the backpack and shoulder bags that would be going. The equipment and personnel that would be kept at the base camp on the staging planet were ready to go through as soon as the gate engaged. “Nope. That will be a surprise for them, too. Notice that I said surprise, not shock—but I think that they might be both—surprised and shocked.”
Kathryn silently agreed. She wasn’t sure that Malek and Dev wouldn’t take one look at her and bundle her off somewhere. They had been showing some faint jealousy, since last night. Not a lot, it was just a faint feeling of them constantly watching the other men around her.
As the event horizon stabilized after the initial vortex was formed, the group turned and looked up at General Hammond. He nodded. “MALP telemetry is good. Nothing looks unusual. You all know your mission—bring her to her new home with the Tok’Ra. Good luck, people. You have a go.” General Hammond said over the speakers. They nodded. They would do their best. The rather large group made their way into the event horizon and stepped out at the other end.
Jacob Carter looked around. Nothing had changed since they had been here, as far as he could tell. Nonetheless, he directed his soldiers to do a sweep of the place. It didn’t take long, and it was quickly secured. They made their way into the room with the mirror and began their preparations. Within a couple of hours, they would be giving the last instructions to the field unit left guarding the mirror.
If they weren’t back by the appointed time, the objects that they had chosen were to be placed in front of the mirror and they were to leave. Under no circumstances was anyone to come after them. If something went wrong and they didn’t make it back, so be it. They had one shot at this, and they wouldn’t risk anyone else. They would return when and if they could. They found a place to hide the GDO. They wouldn’t take one through with them.
Anise found what appeared to be the correct reality. It had been very close on the dial. The four female lo’tars discarded their uniforms as did the males. Several of the men looked like they could begin drooling at any moment. Malek was almost rigid for a moment and Lantash came forward and said something to Major Carter that had her blushing. Kathryn watched Malek take a deep breath and close his eyes. He shook his head obviously answering Devlin.
Walking to her, Malek leaned toward her so that no one could overhear him. “Devlin wishes to wrap you in your cloak or turn you over his knee and spank you. He considered leaving you behind, until he realized that all of these soldiers have now seen you in this clothing. Once that thought entered his mind, he realized that leaving you behind was not a viable alternative. He is deciding on your punishment as we speak, and at the moment, he is leaning toward his knee. I can think of more pleasurable punishments myself, and I am sure that I can convince him to use one of them, instead. Possibly. He is very unhappy about your clothing, or rather the, ah, lack of it, but as you are all dressed the same, he can say nothing. Personally, I find them quite charming.” He grinned at her and walked back to Jacob.
Captain Adams caught Jacob’s eye and smiled brightly. She was pretty sure that he blushed. And he looked more than once. Sometimes, life was really, really good. They watched as Selmak and Lantash touched the mirror and appeared on the other side. That always seemed so weird to see. Those on this side continued to gather and recheck supplies. They couldn’t make mistakes and leave important supplies behind. There would be no coming back for things once they had passed through the Stargate on the other side of the mirror.
If it appeared to Lantash and Martouf to be the correct reality, then they would signal those on the other side of the mirror to send the rest through. They could see them talking. Selmak signaled for Malek to come through. They stood talking for a moment, signaled to the others to stay put, and then split up obviously doing a quick reconnaissance of the area.
Twenty minutes later, they reconvened and compared notes. The place was deserted. Beyond what was left of the storage room was a somewhat damaged larger room full of artifacts, much as this one had been. Evidently, the overloading zat had destroyed a good bit of the storage room and had damaged the room beyond. Looking around they’d realized that the area they were in corresponded to another section of the rooms they had just left. They were in a different reality on the same planet.
“If you hadn’t fallen through the mirror, they wouldn’t have found many pieces of you, Martouf. You and Lantash would have been splattered all over the place, so you would have achieved your purpose. Needless to say, I like the scenario we are in now better than that one.”
“As do we, Jacob,” Martouf agreed. “What do you think? Do we bring the others through?”
Jacob grinned, “Yeah, if we can get Daniel away from the archaeological team that he talked George into sending to study and look through stuff.”
“Daniel and Anise would be in your heaven if they could spend the entire time there themselves, Jacob. Do you wish me to get them?”
“Yeah, go ahead, Malek, and tell my daughter and the rest of the female lo’tars, and for that matter, the males, too, that they may as well get their cloaks out. It’s damned chilly here, thank God.”
Malek laughed, as he turned to go back to the mirror. “Devlin thanks you for that suggestion. However, Captain Adams is a very fetching piece of femininity, Jacob. She looks delicious in her lo’tar’s clothing. Are you sure that you wish to cover that with such a concealing garment?”
Jacob frowned. “We’re on a mission, Malek, I don’t have time for anything else, and besides, I didn’t really notice.”
Martouf and Malek exchanged glances and shrugged. They both knew Jacob, and they had seen the telltale pink suffuse his cheeks as Selmak allowed him to blush for being untruthful with them. He had noticed. He would have had to be dead not to, and he and Selmak were far from dead. They found the human female form as pleasing as the rest of them, and the clothing the women were wearing certainly showed off a great deal of what was pleasing. Jacob and Selmak’s lo’tar, Capt. Adams, was very comely and her figure was superb. Oh, yes. Jacob and Selmak had noticed.
Returning to the mirror, Malek placed his hand on it and found himself on the other side. “If you have cloaks, you will want them. The same goes for the men. The planet is the same as this one, so the temperature is about the same, also.” The cool air had been seeping in as they waited, so none of them were against pulling out their cloaks.
Once they had finished, they each stepped forward and placed their hands on the mirror. It wasn’t long before the remainder of their entourage made their way to the other side of the mirror. As they materialized on the other side and joined the group, they realized that Daniel was missing. Malek sighed and turned back to retrieve him, when he materialized and grinned at them, “Sorry, I had some last minute instructions, and I almost forgot one of my bags, but I’ve got it now. Wow, it’s as chilly here as it was on the other side. I need to get my cloak.” As the others laughed at him, he realized that he was the only one that didn’t already have something warmer on. He grinned at them and shrugged, accepting his own absent-mindedness.
Everyone picked up whatever they needed to carry, and with one last salute toward the soldiers on the other side, they headed for the Chaappa’ai. The first leg of their journey was about to start. From what Lantash had been able to tell them, the Chaappa’ai was not at the pleasure palace, but was actually some distance away. Ra had taken a transport ship back and forth from it to the palace. The information they had was that it would be about a half a day’s walk to reach it from the Gate.
The planet they had been trapped and captured on had been where they had received the last piece of information that they needed. Their informant never gave all of a message to just one person, so that even if someone questioned them, they would really know nothing. That Apophis had arrived before they could leave had been more than unfortunate; it had been a disaster.
Considering this, Jacob turned to Lantash and asked, “Did you have any Tel’taks at your last base?”
“There was one that was in working order that we used when we left there. We hid it at the last place we stayed. We had planned to return and gather our things and take it if the mission was a success. What are you thinking?”
“I’m thinking about the half day’s walk to reach this place as well as the half day’s walk to return. If we need to leave in a hurry, that’s a hell of a long way to have to go to get out of there. On the other hand, if we had a ship, we’d have to hide it while we were scouting the area, and from the sound of it, we’d be in hostile territory on the way to Pangara from wherever you were.”
“It was just a thought. I actually prefer arriving and scouting the area out, and gathering some intel, before we head for the palace anyway. And with Teal’c arriving with us, at least it won’t seem as if we’re just wandering around. We must be important guests, to have his first prime with us. Hopefully, no one will realize that it’s a little odd that we’re on foot.”
“Do you wish me to go to see if it is still there, Jacob? At least, we would have it if we needed it. I could land somewhere on the planet and hide it. If you went through the Chaappa’ai with part of your entourage, and I came with some of the rest, we would be split up in case one option turns out being a mistake.”
“It’s a thought. How long would it take to get to Pangara from your last base?”
“A day, perhaps two. Of course, we are assuming that no Goa’uld found our last hiding place and uncovered the Tel’tak. There is that risk, but we run the same risk when we arrive on Pangara. If Apophis is there, we will run into his troops at once; they will know that Teal’c is not coming through the Chaappa’ai. Either plan has inherent risk to it.”
Jacob and Selmak discussed the odds and decided to split the team up. Calling the team together, he said, “Okay, here’s an option that we should’ve thought of in the planning stage of this, but didn’t. There’s a Tel’tak where Lantash was staying just before their mission. He’s going to return and get it. Sam, Lieutenant Donovan, and Malek will go with him.” He frowned. “We should send more than you four that way. You better take Daniel and Anise with you. I’ll keep Sergeant Milton with me for the time being. He can switch back to you after we all meet up. That leaves us with Jorlin, Sergeants Richards, Milton and Wayman, Captains Harmon and Adams, and Teal’c. Six and eight is fairly evenly divided.”
“Our group will return through the mirror and wait there. Teal’c will be with us. It’s safer for him to spend as little time in this reality as possible; otherwise, I’d send him in the Tel’ tak with them. We’ll allow them time to get there, check out the ship, and return if it isn’t in working condition. I wish that there was someway we could know for sure if it is going to work or if there was a welcoming committee there.”
Lantash frowned. “Instead of the six of us going through now, why do we not have Sergeant Richards accompany Samantha and I? If it is clear and the Tel’tak is usable, we can have him return. It is very close to the Chaappa’ai and would take very little time. If everything appears to be in order, then when he returns, Daniel, Anise, Malek and Lieutenant Donovan can come through, and we will leave for Pangara. Sergeant Richards can return with them and see us off. Once we are gone he can return once again to let you know that we are on our way. You could wait a day or two at most and then come through the gate to our location. If we can be there before you, then we will watch the gate and pick you up for the trip to the palace, as if we were sent to do so.”
Jacob nodded slowly, “That sounds good. It will take an extra day or two, but in the long run, we might just be better off. We’ll send the ready team back to the SGC until day after tomorrow. That gives you two days to make it to Pangara. I think the idea of you being there to pick us up has merit. That way we also won’t have to hide the ship when we go to the palace. Okay, let’s do it.”
Gathering their things, Sam and Sergeant Richards followed Lantash to the Chaappa’ai. They watched as he input the address and the chevrons locked. As the glistening blue pool formed, they each mentally took on their new persona. Suddenly, Martouf was gone, and in his place was a haughty system lord, and his lo’tars. As each person slipped into their role, they took a deep breath and stepped into the shimmering blueness.
Stepping out on the other side, they were relieved to see that there was no guard on the gate. If someone was here, they weren’t in evidence anywhere near the Chaappa’ai. Now, if the Tel’tak was undisturbed and where they had left it, they would be good to go. A brisk twenty minute walk brought them to a wooded area. Lantash went to a group of boulders and rocks, and reaching into a well disguised niche, brought out a control of some kind.
Flicking some controls, a Tel’tak materialized about twenty yards away. They went toward it cautiously, although if it had been found, it probably would not have been shielded again.
Entering, they found everything as it had been left. As Sam checked out the engines, Lantash checked the chests with their personal belongings. They were all there and untouched. He had not expected to be able to take the time to come and retrieve these things. That Selmak had his things had made leaving them behind easier; retrieving them was a bonus. It also meant that he would no longer be coming to Samantha with nothing of his own. His personal wealth was not a great deal, but it was sufficient. He mourned the passing of the Jacob, Selmak, Malek, and Devlin of that reality, as well as all the others that had been lost, before turning back to the controls and beginning to check them.
“Everything checks out, Lantash. We’re good to go.”
Lantash nodded his agreement. “We will ring you down at the gate, Richards, as it will save us considerable time if the walk there and back can be cut out.”
“Yes, sir, er, my lord,” the Sergeant said as he tried to remember to stay in character. One thing that had been stressed to them was how imperative it was to stay in their role even when no one was around, if it made it easier to remain in their roles. He’d found that it helped if he didn’t try to go back and forth, and that slip had just proved it. Lantash nodded to him, acknowledging his correction. Major Carter didn’t seem to have a problem with switching back and forth.
They approached the gate, sent him down to the planet; he activated the Chaappa’ai, and then stepped into the event horizon. In very little time, Malek, Lieutenant Donovan, Daniel, Anise, and their supplies were being ringed aboard the vessel. Sergeant Richards waved and punched in the address. They watched him disappear into the event horizon once again and then turned their eyes to the skies. Soon, they were heading into the darkness of space and toward the hope for the future of the Tok’Ra.
Teal’c knelt before his lord and waited for his new orders. They had been back on Apophis’s home world for several days, and it was becoming obvious that neither Lord Ba’ al nor Lord Yu intended to attack him. At least, not here on his most fortified and protected world. Ria’ta had managed to whisper in his ear that perhaps they had wanted her to hear them. He had agreed, and it had passed. The girl pleased him mightily, and she had joined the ranks of those who used their wiles to control him and his temper. Most of the time it worked, and one of them always tried to be near him.
“Teal’c, I have decided that neither Lord Ba’al nor Lord Yu will attack me here, nor do I believe that they will attempt it anywhere else, anytime soon. It matters not, as I will remain here for some time and take care of many of those small things that must be looked after to keep order within my domains. I have an errand for you to perform, however.”
“Yes, My Lord. As you wish. What is it that you would have me to do?” Teal’c asked, looking up at Apophis as he was speaking to him.
“I have been going over the information we have gathered on the domains that I took over, when I defeated Ra. One of them is described as a pleasure palace that is beyond compare. It is on a planet which I wish to call Nargash. I believe you know of which one I speak.”
“Yes, My Lord.”
“I wish you to take Ria’ta, Nal’ka, and some of the other minor household servants with you, and oversee the preparations for my arrival there. Ria’ta will decorate my chambers as she knows how I like them, and she and Nal’ka shall oversee the furnishings for the remainder as well. I wish you to decide which servants to keep and which ones we do not need, if any. I do not care what you do with the ones we do not need. If they look as if they would breed well, send them to breeder camps. Ra liked boys, so there will be several there, I am sure. Do with them what you will, as well.”
“I wish you to check on several of my other holdings on your way. I am quite sure that Ba’ al and Yu will know that I am still here. I will join you on Nargash once it is readied for me. I wish to experience this so-called wonder of Ra’s. Then I will decide whether to keep it. My own pleasure worlds are many and varied, so this one will need to be very special to win my approval. We may well end up abandoning it as there is nothing of value there but the palace.”
“As you wish, My Lord.”
“You will leave—tomorrow—for I wish for tonight with Ria’ta. I wish to reward you for finding her, Teal’c. You have been without a wife since your woman died in childbirth. Your son is growing up. You will think of which woman you would prefer while you are gone, and when we return, I will gift her to you.”
“Thank you, My Lord. I am honored.”
“You have served me well.” Apophis shrugged, and bored with the topic, he asked, “How is the assimilation of the outer reaches of Ra’s domains progressing? Have there been any problems that I have yet to be told about?”
“There are some planets in the outer reaches that border on Lord Yu’s domains that are in question, as both Ra and Lord Yu claimed them. The same can be said of several on the borders with Lord Ba’al. Both of them have taken advantage and moved to claim some previously uncontested worlds. We have sent some of our fleet to enforce our dominance in those areas. There have been no confrontations.”
“Very well. Your lieutenant will be capable of carrying out my commands in your absence. You have trained him well.” Apophis frowned. “I would send him on your mission instead, but I trust you to do in my absence what I would do. I doubt he knows my wants and needs as well as you do.”
Teal’c bowed his head in silent acknowledgement of his words. They were rarely given and he was pleased.
“I will be in the sarcophagus for several hours. Inform Ria’ta that I will see her at eventide.”
“I will see to it, My Lord.”
Teal’c stood with his head bowed until Apophis had left the room, and then proceeded to hunt for Ria’ta and Nal’ka. He found them and Jars’ia in the bathing chamber, enjoying a relaxing bath, knowing that one of them would no doubt be required for the night.
“The lord and master is taking his rest. Ria’ta you are to be in his rooms at eventide. Tomorrow, you, Nal’ka, and I, as well as some of the other household staff, will leave for a planet which my lord has decided to rename Nargash. I must stop at a few places on the way, but once we arrive, Ria’ta is to arrange his rooms as he likes them to be, and the two of you are to see to it that the remainder of the palace is also to his liking.”
“It will be many days before he joins us,” Teal’c said, as he gazed at Ria’ta. She blushed but busied herself with washing.
“Come, Teal’c, will you not join us?” Nal’ka asked him. “Must you hurry away this time, or do you have time for some relaxation? If he is in the sarcophagus, it will be some time before he awakes.”
“Of course, you are welcome to join us, Teal’c. You might as well relax before you finish your errands, and I will be keeping him occupied tonight, so you need not worry that he will require your attendance before you can complete your tasks,” Ria’ta joined Nal’ka in her attempt to get him to join them.
Pleased at the thought, Teal’c slowly began to undress. “It does sound very good to me. I just returned from the mines, and that is always a dark, dank, dirty atmosphere. I was glad to return to the stronghold.”
“Then come along, our warrior, and we will wash your back and give you a much-needed massage. I am sure that you can appreciate the finer points of it, can you not?” Nal’ka whispered as her lips trailed across his shoulder to his throat. “You deserve some rewards for keeping us safe as well, Teal’c. Come, let us pleasure you while we have the time. Corsu is in the hall and would raise the alarm if we needed to remove ourselves, so that you appeared to be alone. It will not happen, though, for he never comes sooner than eventide and that is a long time away.”
Ria’ta moved to stand in front of him as Jars’ia took his other side. “Come, little one, it is your turn to have the pleasure of our Teal’c,” Jars’ia said softly, as she kissed his other shoulder. The two older women began a slow massage on his shoulders and chest as Ria’ ta came to him. He sighed.
He would miss this when he had to take a wife. Unfortunately, when Apophis said he should choose, he did not mean from his personal harem. It was too bad, for Ria’ta had captivated him as much as she had Apophis. What was more, he knew that if she had a choice, she would choose to be with him. There was no point in repining, however, for it would only hurt both of them.
So, he would have her this time, and perhaps as they went to Nargash to prepare the palace for their Lord. After that, well, perhaps he could put off choosing a wife. He could always hope Apophis would forget his promise.
He opened his eyes and saw his thoughts reflected in her eyes. Yes, she wanted him, as he wanted her. He suspected the other two women knew of their feelings for one another, for it seemed that recently it was always Ria'ta’s turn to pleasure their Teal’c.
He smiled slightly and sighed softly again as he allowed himself to become lost in her body as she surrounded him.