Chapter Ten Summary: During the trip by ship, Daniel discovers from Lantash that the information came to them in poem form. Lantash recites it for him and he thinks that it is containing information for finding Egeria, if they can just decipher it. After arrival on Pangara and joining up with Jacob, Selmak, Teal'c and the remainder of their team, they land near the Palace. As Teal'c speaks to the servants, it becomes quite clear that Teal'c and some slaves are on their way and should arrive in about seven days. They all suspect it will be sooner than that and the pressure on them to find their Queen increases. “Italics” – Symbiote-Host Communication
Anise, Daniel, Sam, and Kathryn sorted through the supplies. They couldn’t bring MRE’s for fear that they would be seen and recognized as being Tau’ri. So instead, the Tok’Ra had suggested some things, and they went back to the bazaar and bought food for the mission. It seemed odd to be off-world without the chicken flavored military food. Sam cut a piece of the meat, which was similar to jerky, but not quite as hard, and tasted it. Looking up at Kathryn she said, straight-faced, “Chicken. Even off-world survival food tastes like chicken.”
Kathryn dissolved into giggles, and Daniel grinned at them. Anise, Malek, and Lantash looked at them with questions in their eyes until Lantash suddenly smiled and said, “I remember now. Daniel told us about the trip to Abydos where the food tasted like chicken, and how later he had discovered that all military food tasted the same as well.” Seeing the questioning look that Malek sent him, he clarified, “Chicken is an edible fowl that is eaten often on the Tau’ri world. Daniel Jackson swears that all military food, regardless what is claimed on the package, tastes like chicken.”
“I see,” Malek replied, although he looked unconvinced.
“I’ll prove it to you when we return. I’ll be sure you try chicken and then some MRE’s from our packs. You’ll see,” Kathryn told him solemnly.
“I will see to it that you do.” Smiling at one another, they finished their light meal.
They had been in flight for several hours and, so far, the ship was having no problems, which was good since they were in hostile territory almost anywhere they went. Sam watched Lantash as he and Malek discussed the options they would have once they reached their destination. The ship could be cloaked, so they would be able to come in low and find a good place to land it, they hoped, close to the Chaappa’ai.
Both men were tense and it radiated from them in their posture and gestures as they stood and talked. That this undertaking was of immense importance to them both was obvious, and their determination to succeed fairly screamed at anyone who was even halfway observant. Kathryn and Sam sat watching them silently and Anise and Daniel, realizing that Malek and Lantash were deeply occupied, indicated to the two women that they were going into the back to begin going over the data they had retrieved on the base planet prior to stepping through the mirror.
“Okay, good-night, Daniel. Good-night, Anise. Someone will wake you for your shift,” Sam quietly.
Daniel nodded saying, “No problem. We’re only going to start to categorize some of this for now, and then during our shift we can delve a little deeper.”
“We do not need as much sleep as you do, so we will be fine, however, we will be certain that Daniel is well rested, therefore, I will wish you both a good-night and pleasant dreams,” Anise murmured, as she turned toward the back of the ship. Daniel grinned at the two women, winked, and turned to follow her. Sam and Kathryn shook their heads and grinned. Daniel was slowly changing Anise…for the better.
Turning back to their favorite pastime, they continued to watch the two men silently, not willing to interrupt their interaction. Although Malek, Devlin, Martouf, and Lantash knew each other well, still they were not exactly the same people the other had known, and this time together was good for both of them. They needed this time to forge a new and deeper bond. Just as she, Martouf, and Lantash had needed time to discover the differences in each other and learn to accept them and realize that they loved one another anyway.
Sam had discovered that there were differences in this Martouf and Lantash. Nothing major, and nothing jarring, yet it did remind her that they were not the same men she had known before. She found herself falling in love all over again, and it was a wonderful feeling. She had long ago figured out that her love of them was her own and owed nothing to Jolinar. Jolinar’s feelings deepened and enhanced her own. They gave her memories of things that she had never experienced, except in her mind, but which, nonetheless, added dimensions to her love of them.
Now, these new differences were adding even more new dimensions to that love. If it was possible, she loved them more now than she had before. If something happened to them, she would be inconsolable. She was not sure she could survive if it happened again. The pain that ripped through her chest at just the thought of losing them stopped her breath.
She felt Kathryn’s hand on her arm and opened her eyes, not realizing she had closed them. She gave her a smile, saying, “Sorry, my mind was wandering. Did I miss something?”
“No, they are still talking. You looked as if your world had just ended. Are you sure you’re alright?”
“Yes, I’m fine. I was just playing scenarios through my head of things that could go wrong. Not the type of positive thinking I should be doing. I need to be going over our duties as lo’tars instead. That’s more important right now,” Sam replied, as she took herself firmly in hand and turned away from thoughts of the two men in her life and back to the present situation.
“We’ve been practicing serving and all of the other things that go along with being a lo’tar for the last few days. I think we have most of it down pretty good. I have to admit, though, that I have trouble saying “My Lord”, unless I pretend to be playing a game,” Kathryn giggled, as she said the last part.
Sam smiled back at her and laughed, “Yeah, me too. I guess if it works it won’t hurt to use it. I’ve been pretending I’m playing a game or living a fantasy to be able to say it, too. That’s the only way I can do it without laughing. Maybe we’ll actually get to really act it out at some point.”
“Well, that might be exciting. Or, it could be very embarrassing depending on what game we are playing at the time,” Kathryn choked out, cheeks flaming, showing exactly what her mind was thinking.
Sam laughed, and then gasped, as she realized that Lantash was looking at her. As her cheeks reddened, his eyebrows rose as if asking why she was embarrassed.
Drawing a deep breath, she turned her back to him and said to Kathryn, “I think Lantash and Malek are having more trouble treating us as lo’tars than we are having being lo’tars, don’t you?”
Behind her, Lantash caressed her shoulder. Not having heard him come up behind her, she jumped, as he asked, “Is this what the two of you have been discussing? Yes, I suppose we do have a problem seeing you as lo’tars. We love you too much to see you as such.”
Turning to him, Sam chided Lantash, gently, “Forget I’m your mate. I’m not your wife during this mission. If you have to get into the role and stay there for it to work, I understand, but we have to do something so that you two are more comfortable with us acting as your lo’tars.”
“I do not believe that will be necessary, Samantha. I believe that we will be more comfortable, when we are in a position where we must immerse ourselves into the roles we are playing. You do not realize it, but we dislike acting the part of System Lords, or their satellites, even though acting as Goa’uld is what we must do. The attitude and thinking is contrary to our beliefs, but we have enough of the Goa’uld traits that we can do it and do it very naturally. I believe the fact that we can do it so easily is what we find the most disturbing about it,” Malek said quietly, in his rather thoughtful way.
“Yes, I’m sure it is, Malek, and I can understand where it would be disturbing, but, you know, if you were going to be corrupted and suddenly turn, I think it would have happened long before now. And that’s really what you’re afraid of, isn’t it?” Sam asked quietly.
He gazed at her for long moments before stating, just as quietly, “Yes, I believe that you are correct. Perhaps that is a fear we all have deep down.”
“The fact that you have those feelings should tell you that you won’t be subverted by them. You are much too aware of them to allow that to happen. One of the things I admire the most about the Tok’Ra is your ability to be so very focused and dedicated to your cause. It takes a great deal of determination to fight a war for two thousand years. You have earned the respect you are given... unlike the Goa’uld who simply demand it and therefore get no true respect.”
“I agree, Malek. I was impressed by your dedication and your single-minded determination to defeat the Goa’uld before I noticed your ah,” Kathryn cleared her throat, “other assets.” She smiled at him as she let her eyes roam his form. “Now, I admire them as well.” She stopped teasing him, and stated, “Seriously, Malek, I meant what I said. I did admire you before anything else ever entered my mind. I want you to know that. I liked you and was drawn to you for who and what you are, before anything else.”
“Thank you, both of you. It is pleasant to be told such things, and it is encouraging to know that you trust us.”
“You’re welcome, Malek. You deserve to be told that who you are and what you do is worthwhile and appreciated.” Sam stood and winked at them. “Well, I think, since we have first shift, I’ll go with “My Lord and Master” to keep him company. Maybe I’ll sit at his feet and worship him. Or maybe, I’ll find an even better place to sit.”
“Well, Major, er, Samantha, you could always kneel in front of him and worship him from there. That way you could look up worshipfully into his eyes,” Kathryn said, as she batted her own lashes.
Sam laughed at her, as she turned to head towards the controls with Lantash. “I’ll consider your advice, - Kathryn.” She frowned, and stopping to look back at them, she asked, “Didn’t we talk about changing our names? What was decided about that, or did we ever come to a conclusion?”
“It was decided that it would be difficult enough, without the added stress of having to use false names. As it is, you are having trouble using names instead of your military rank when speaking to one another. You paused before you said Kathryn, and Kathryn keeps calling you Major before she changes it. You should use each others names as often as you can until it becomes natural, just as using My Lord for us must become natural.”
Sam nodded, “I agree. That seems to be one of our weak points. We’ll need to be more careful.”
After she left, Malek turned to Kathryn, “Come to me, my lo’tar, and show me your passion. Come and pleasure your Lord.”
“Yes, My Lord. It will be my pleasure,” she responded lightly. Then sobering, she laid her hand on his arm and looked into his face. “I’m very glad we learned to love one another last night, Malek. Now I can be your love slave, and you will know it is because I want to.” She smiled at him and added, “Because I am looking forward to that, please believe me.”
“I do, Kathryn. I, too, am happy that we made love to one another before this mission. Now that I know your words for mating, I will say that making love is truly what we did, and the Tau’ ri expression is a better description than that of the Tok’Ra.” Drawing her into his arms, he breathed, “And now, I am commanding you to show me your passion, my love.”
She watched as his lips neared hers. Her heartbeat quickened, and she breathed very softly, “It will be as you wish and desire, My Lord. I will be most pleased to make love to you.”
Sam watched Daniel as he frowned down at the papers that were spread around him. Malek and Kathryn were in the front at the controls. Anise was napping. She and Lantash had recently finished another stint at the controls, and Lantash had decided to go ahead and take a shower. Sam had already taken hers and was waiting for him to finish his, but the puzzled look on Daniel’s face was intriguing her. She got up, walked over to where he was sitting, and took a seat beside him.
“What’s causing that furrow between your brows, Daniel? You know, the one that sometimes leads to my stomach tying itself into knots, while letting little balls of acid do a tap dance? Something not as it should be?”
“No, it’s not. In fact, it isn’t making sense to me at all.”
Realizing that Daniel was truly puzzled about whatever he was looking at, she offered, “Anything I can do to help?”
“Maybe, Sam. Yeah, actually, there is. I know you went to Pangara and saw where they found Egeria. It was near to the Stargate, right? I haven’t made a mistake in where she was found?”
“Yeah, it was. Not far from it at all. What are you thinking?”
“Well, we’ve assumed that she was buried under his palace, but there was no palace there. Not only that, but in this reality, on the world we are going to, from what Lantash and Martouf have told us, the palace is a good half day’s walk from the gate. So, it doesn’t add up. I hope the person that sent the message is still there. Otherwise, we may look all over the palace for nothing. She may be buried at a completely separate place. This is not good.”
Sam sighed, as she realized that Daniel was right, but at least this was not exactly stomach churning news, so it could relax now, no knots, no dancing. Nodding her head in agreement, she said, “Okay, we know that he buried her before he abandoned the planet, but - he hadn’t yet abandoned it in this reality, so the chances lean toward her still being somewhere in the palace, right?”
Daniel grimaced. “Well, we’d better hope so, because we didn’t bring any shovels, and besides that, it would look distinctly odd and suspicious for guests of the “Lord of the Manor” to order their slaves to dig up the dirt around the Chaappa’ai, the front lawn, the formal gardens, or anywhere else on the planet.”
Catching the last part of Daniel’s comment, as he came back into their section of the ship, Lantash asked, “Why would we want our slaves to dig in the dirt, Daniel?”
“Sam and I were discussing where we might find Egeria. On Pangara in our reality, she was found in an underground area, but there was no palace there, and it was near the Stargate. From what you’ve told us, Ra’s palace is quite far away from it. I’m just thinking that if he did already entomb her, then we might have to figure out a way to find the place and get into it. Hopefully, she’ll still be in the palace.”
“You say it was near the Chaappa’ai?”
“Yes, quite near to it.”
“There is the possibility that he put her into a section of an escape tunnel. Many palaces have them, and they often have rooms and sections that are used for other things. Would it be possible that is what she was in?”
Sam and Daniel looked at each other, as they both tried to remember exactly what the area had looked like. Finally, Sam said, “I’m not sure, but it seems to me that there were other rooms and passages in the area. You were there at a later time, Daniel. Do you remember?”
Daniel nodded, saying, “Yes, I remember that, too. I was only there for a short time. I took them some texts that I thought might prove useful, after I read the report and realized what they needed. They gave me a quick tour of part of the area they were excavating, and there were numerous passageways, as well as chambers of various sizes.”
“If he did put her into a room in the escape tunnels, we should be able to access them from the palace. I am hoping our informant is still there, although, I think it is doubtful, after all this time. I believe that he would have waited for us to come and, after a few days, he would have left assuming we could not manage it. No doubt, he heard the news that the Tok’Ra had all been killed, as well. Once Ra was defeated, and then the news of our deaths reached him, he probably left to return to his home, and who can blame him?”
“I wouldn’t,” Daniel agreed. Still thinking about the upcoming search, he asked Lantash, “Do you have any idea at all where he might have put her? What she would be in? An unexplainable, inexplicable feeling? Anything at all?”
Lantash shook his head, saying, “Not really, Daniel; I am sorry. She could be on display or hidden deep in the bowels of the palace. She might be buried, or she might just be sitting around on a shelf. There is no telling where she could be.”
Daniel sighed, nodding his understanding. “It’s too bad the Goa’uld don’t have a recognizable pattern when it comes to doing away with others of their kind, but their methods seem to be numerous and varied.”
“A very true observation, Daniel. Unfortunately, we will not have any type of lead with which to start our search, and we will have to be somewhat circumspect, since word could be sent to Apophis of our arrival, if we arouse the servant’s suspicions about anything.”
“Was the information your informant sent in code, or did it just say things straight out?”
“He always sent it in a form of prose or poetry. That way, if it fell into the wrong hands, it would make no sense, even if the person told what it said. That is how we understood that Egeria was there and alive, although it never said her name.”
“Really. Now that’s interesting.” Daniel leaned forward, as the information caught his attention. “Do you have any of the messages here, Lantash? This might be important.”
“I have it memorized. We did not write it down for fear of someone finding it. However, as I said, we probably could have, for no one was likely to understand it.”
“How did it go? I want to write it down to see if there might be some clues in it.”
“It was in the form of a poem. It was entitled One Day I Met Your Mother. I shall recite it for you.”
Nestled in her chamber, She’s waiting here for thee. Anyone could see her, But few eyes look to see.
The mother of the new ones. A tapestry fills your eyes. Gone, but not forgotten, She rests, she sleeps, near by.
For you, she will awaken, She calls her children home. To see the purple of the skies, And waters white with foam.
Do not tarry longer. Do not fail to come. Do not deny her love of you. Do not refuse as some.
Look into the mirror, The mirror of her soul, And there is where you’ll find her, Waiting to come home.”
“The title was the first thing we received and, as each section was given to us, we were also told where to go for the next one. We received the last one, as I have mentioned, on the planet we were caught on. And that courier was able to tell us more. He was one that had seen her, as well. Therefore, we know that she was there and in stasis.”
“Unfortunately, that is all he could tell us. He had only seen her by accident. At least, he saw her stasis chamber. At the time he first saw it, he did not know what it was. It was not until our informant found out and questioned him that he realized what he had seen. And, he had no idea where she was by then. When he saw her, she was moved out of the room she had been in, as they redecorated some rooms. Where she went after that, he did not know.”
“Well, I can’t say for sure, until I see the palace, but there could be a hidden meaning in the words,” Daniel stated.
“We, too, thought there was more to the poem than it appeared. He had never sent such a long piece before, nor had he dwelled on a single topic as much as he did in this one. However, we never found any real meaning to it.”
Daniel pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “I think there’s something there. Not that it comes out and tells you in specifics, but it gives us clues. It mentions water, mirrors, eyes, sleep, purple skies, children, a house, and a chamber. It could be all or part of those words. We’ll know that, when we find her. I’m thinking that sleep and chamber mean she’s in stasis, but that the others mean something more. If we’re very, very lucky, there’ll be a room somewhere that will make that all make sense. We should be on the look-out for it, at any rate.”
Yawning, Daniel closed his notebook, stood, and stretched. “I think I’m going to go join Anise and take a nap. You guys probably should, too. Malek and Kathryn have a few hours of their shift to go yet.”
Sam smiled at him and stood as well. “You’re right, as usual, Daniel. I think I’ll go lie down, as well. Maybe I can convince My Lord and Master to join me.”
Daniel laughed, as he headed toward the area where Anise was sleeping. “In that case, you won’t get any rest, Sam. But then, I may not either.”
Sam shook her head at him, saying, “I assure you that I’ll get some rest, Daniel. We all need to be fresh for this mission. We know we could be in for some very long hours, if we don’t find her right away.”
“She is correct, Daniel. I will personally see to it that she is well rested and sleeps,” Lantash commented. Taking her in his arms, he kissed her softly, as Daniel continued on his way toward Anise. “I love you, Samantha, my mate. Come, lie with me and we will rest…after we chase the stars.”
Jacob took a deep breath and giving his group the once over one last time, he turned, stepped into the shimmering blue of the event horizon, and gave control to Selmak. The mission had begun. It had been almost two days, since the rest of the team had left in the Tel’tak. Their entire complement had returned to the staging planet from Earth a couple of hours ago. The soldiers that would be remaining behind, as well as the archaeological team, had returned with the team going on the mission. Now, they would find out if the team in the Tel’tak had made it to Pangara. They were also about to find out if Apophis, or any of his henchmen, were there.
Stepping out on the other side, they realized there was nothing but a field, a few distant hills, and farmland, as far as the eye could see. A path led off to the left, and they assumed that was the way to the palace, as it was the more traveled. The other two that converged at the gate were obviously not well used.
Standing on the dais of the Stargate, they waited to see if the Tel’tak would appear. It hadn’t been a full two days. Selmak frowned, wondering if they had arrived before the Tel’tak. The thought that they might have had trouble on the way he pushed out of his mind. A few moments later, a Tel’tak lifted above one of the hills and headed for the gate. The group walked forward and waited, as it hovered above and in front of them for a moment before lowering its rings.
Once the rings swept back upwards, Malek stepped forward, saying, “We just arrived a few hours ago. We did a little reconnaissance and nothing much seems to be moving around the palace. The village is moderately busy, but the gardens and the palace seem almost deserted, at least from the air. It appears to be around the middle of the day here, though I do not know how that corresponds to the time at the staging base. We did not want to ring down for a closer look, preferring to wait, so that we would all arrive together on the Tel’tak.”
Selmak nodded, “Very good. We will ring aboard, and go to the palace now. The sooner we arrive, the sooner we can start our search.”
They moved together and the rings descended. Two trips later and they and their equipment were all in the Tel’tak. Lantash was at the controls, and Daniel was waiting with his information. It would take almost no time to arrive at the palace, and he wanted to let them know what they thought they might have figured out, during their flight.
“We talked on our way here, and Lantash was able to remember the poem their informant sent to tell them about Egeria. He also told us that this poem was much longer than normal, and that they had felt that it might be trying to tell them more details about where she was hidden.” He handed out copies of the poem that they had written up before he proceeded.
“You’ll notice that I’ve highlighted words that we felt could be clues as to where she was. If we’ re lucky, we’ll find a room with all of these things in it. If not, then we’ll have to go on instinct. It’ll no doubt be a room by room search. It seems logical that she would be in a room somewhere, unless he has already buried her, and this doesn’t sound as if he had. We wanted you all to have this, so you could be letting it sink in and maybe start to mull it over. Later we’ ll discuss what it could mean, but not right now.”
“I agree, Daniel, this does seem as if it is trying to tell us something. I definitely think we should try to figure out if there is a room somewhere that has all of these things in it.” Selmak agreed, as he looked over the words that were highlighted.
“We have arrived,” Lantash announced. “I am going to land and leave the ship here. Is everyone ready to begin?”
The group agreed and picked up the supplies piled up earlier in expectation of leaving the ship. They had been staying in character most of the time, so it seemed much more natural to them now. They fell into their appointed places, as Teal’c opened the door.
Lantash took some controls for the Tel’tak and hid them in a group of stones. If something went wrong, and they needed to escape, their opponents would not get the control to open the Tel’tak’s doors. They could still get into it, but it would take them longer. At any rate, they would no doubt leave it there for some time and, if they could manage to escape, they would be able to access it themselves again.
After he returned to the group, they strolled in the direction of the palace, which was now no more than a few hundred yards away.
They walked in leisurely silence toward the main entry. As they neared it, Teal’c broke into speech, as if he was answering an inquiry. “I believe so, My Lord Selmak. Now that we are at the palace, we can find out what accommodations there are. I am sorry that we have never been here before, but we have heard that it is magnificent. My Lord Apophis,” Teal’c continued, as he walked up the steps to the door that had opened, “wished me to make a preliminary check of the palace, and as he wished you to be entertained in his absence, he hoped this would suffice, until he could arrive.”
Selmak gazed at the open foyer, large marble statues, and the huge stairways reaching upward to the second and third stories, with disdain. “Yes, well, that is yet to be seen. Hopefully, we will find enough to occupy us in the meantime.”
Teal’c bowed and turned to the servant holding the door open who was looking at the group in astonishment, “My Lord’s guests require apartments. Are they ready?” Teal’c asked with a hint of steel in his voice, which told the boy the answer had better be yes.
The young servant seemed to shrink back against the wall, “I am sorry, but your message said you would not be here for at least seven days. It is only one and a half days, my Lord, so we were not expecting you to arrive for several more days. Nor did you mention a group of guests. All you mentioned were some servants and slave girls that would be coming to redo the rooms for Lord Apophis,” His voice shook.
“They will be arriving later. Lord Apophis was called away from his guests and suggested they might like to come here, until he returned. No further message was deemed necessary, nor should it have been. See that each of his Lordship’s guests have suites, as well as rooms for their lo’tars.”
“Yes, my Lord. At once, my Lord,” he bowed toward Selmak and almost ran from the room. The group exchanged glances. None had missed the information. Teal’c, this reality’s Teal’c, was on his way here. They only had a few days at most.
Another young man appeared almost immediately and introduced himself, “I am Perris, and if you wish for anything, I will see that you have it. Looking at the group, he then calmly requested, “If you will please follow me? There are always several suites and adjoining rooms that are ready in case they are needed. Lord Ra often had unexpected guests to stay, and it was expected that the rooms be habitable immediately. The young man who answered the door is fairly new and was not aware of that. I apologize for the misunderstanding, and I will see to it that he is made aware of his error.”
He made his explanation, as he led them up one of the large staircases and then down a hall. He began opening doors and then turned to them. “You may choose which ever rooms you please in this hall and on this floor. If none of them are suitable, there are others that could be made ready at once. Please let us know your choices, or if you would prefer to see other rooms from which to choose. If these are acceptable, and we know who is in each room, we will be able to deliver any thing you may want or need more quickly.” He turned to Teal'c, and said, “The Jaffa’s quarters are down another hall. I will take you there.”
“No,” Selmak said abruptly. “I wish him to be closer than that. He will take a room here among us. I do not like to be kept waiting. Ever.” He sent a look to the young man that said ‘and you better remember that’,” before turning to look at the rooms. Turning back around, he asked, “There is a sarcophagus?”
“Yes, My Lord. There are two. One is in the room at the end of this hall, and one is downstairs in the third antechamber off the grand entrance hall. Ah, and there is also one in Lord Ra’s personal chambers. I had forgotten it, as no one used it except for him. It is also available for use, if you wish. It is in the central wing, as his entire suite of chambers was there, and it is in the chamber of the third door on the left.”
“Very well. Bring food to our lo’tars, for our evening meal,” Selmak said bluntly, and then turned back to looking at the rooms. He sighed, as he turned around. “They will do. Not what we are accustomed to, but we knew that without a host we would be on our own and things would not be at their best. Send the food. You may leave.”
Bowing, Perris accepted his dismissal with good grace and barely concealed relief.
The group quickly sorted out the rooms.
“I will take this largest room since it would be expected,” Selmak decided as he looked around it. Sam you and Lantash will stay together, of course. The rest of you should sort out your sleeping arrangements. My lo’tars need to stay in the rooms on either side of me. The same goes for the rest of you. Put your lo’tars into a room near you unless they are staying in the room with you.”
Malek nodded, “Kathryn will be staying with us, Selmak.”
Selmak was not surprised, so he just sent a small smile in their direction.
“I’ll be staying with Anise,” Daniel added. Again, no one was surprised. It didn’t take long for everyone to know where they would be staying. The two female Lo’tars could share a room as could the two men. All of the rooms connected so it worked out that they could all be near their respective Lords.
They went to their rooms to clean up and put their things away. It had been around midday when they arrived so they would have enough time to arrange their belongings, have a meal, make plans, and discuss what they did and did not know so far.
They agreed to meet in Selmak’s room. They would eat there and discuss where to start on their project. With only five days, at most, they would have to work very quickly. Of course, if they were lucky, the mission would be completed long before their five days were up. However, everyone knew that Lady Luck was both fickle and undependable. It would be better to depend on their wits and abilities. If luck came their way that would be well and good, but they would count it a bonus.
Sam looked thoughtful, as they sat around and discussed the project. “What’s the matter, Sam? You’ve been pondering something for quite a while.” Daniel had become aware of Sam’s preoccupation, during the meal, and it was continuing.
“I was thinking about Teal’c and the servants arriving in five days. I just feel like he may turn up sooner than they expect him. And none of us can afford to be seen by him. He thinks we are all dead including Daniel and me. Only a few of us could afford to be seen. I doubt if this reality’s Teal’c kept track of all the Tau’ri that were killed. But even that is a moot point because the servants will tell him that the others were with him and blow their cover story wide open. So in reality even they can’t be caught.”
“We cannot take a chance on either Apophis or Teal’c seeing Malek, Jacob, myself, Daniel, or you, Samantha,” Lantash pointed out. “Particularly not you. He would keep you forever, my Samantha, and that I could not bear.”
“I’d take my own life before I let that happen, Lantash, I promise you. If you cannot have me, then no one will,” Sam smiled her reassurance to him.
“We will do our best to see that they do not find us, and please believe that I would never leave you in his possession, Major Carter,” Teal’c was his stoic best. What went on behind those enigmatic dark eyes no one knew.
“Thanks, Teal’c. I’ll do my best not to be seen. And really, nothing has changed, except that we know without a doubt that this Teal’c will be here soon, so I don’t know why I was even thinking about it. There’s no point in it. We need to do what you guys are doing, not what I was doing. So…where were we?”
Lantash nodded, accepting her statement, and returned to the subject at hand, “I would say we could just lay low and come back after he leaves, but once we disappear, before our supposed host arrives, it would appear odd if we suddenly returned, after he departed.”
“I think we should focus our thinking on finding her. If we get down to the wire, and still have not found her, then we will have to cross that bridge. Let us see how things go first. I think we have a good chance of finding her,” Selmak pointed out.
“I agree, Selmak. We will have to find her. We have no other choice. Knowing that, we should set our plans in motion and aim to have accomplished our mission within five days, less if we can do it.” Lantash brooded somberly, as old memories were brought forward.
“Does anyone have any ideas on how or where to start our search?”
“I am not sure, Selmak, but do you think that he might have kept her in his private rooms? It would not surprise me if he did,” Lantash spoke up.
“That is true. From what we knew of our Ra, that would fit his personality. But, he also might have her on display downstairs and even labeled. That is what I fear. That he has put her someplace on display to show off that he captured her. In that case, if Apophis comes, and we do not find her, he very well could,” Malek’s voice was its usual quiet and solemn tones, but they were laced with unease.
“I agree, Malek. I, too, fear this. It is the reason that we tried to get to her when we should have stayed out of sight and waited for Apophis to leave. We might have succeeded if we had,” Lantash pointed out their reasoning, which matched his.
“What you are saying is true, so we need to start a search of every room in this place, including Ra’s rooms. We can start with the rooms we are sleeping in. It seems unlikely that she would be here, but one never knows, and there is no reason we cannot look them over well tonight. Tomorrow we start on the other rooms. His throne room, his personal suites, the suite where his sarcophagus is, all would be prime places for him to display her. We need to check them all. Chambers where petitioners or visitors would wait to be allowed into his presence would also be a logical place to put her.” Selmak frowned as he contemplated all the places she could be.
“Lantash did you notice the informant that sent the messages? Is he still here?” Anise wanted to know as she suddenly remembered that they had inside information that had led them here.
“If he is still here, I have not seen him. My guess is that if he could escape without the few Jaffa that are here realizing what he was doing, he would have done so. I believe he was planning his escape, even as he sent the information to us. That could be why the poem is so long. I believe he probably planned to stay for a reasonable length of time, after he sent the last message and, if we did not come, he planned to leave, but in case we were only delayed, he made sure we had some information to go on. Once he heard of our deaths, he would have left knowing we would not be coming,” Lantash laid out his reasons for assuming he was gone.
Selmak nodded, and his voice was sympathetic, as he said, “I agree, Lantash. If I had the chance to escape this type of place, knowing Ra’s weakness for young boys and men, I would take the chance to escape before the next one could get a hold of me, too.”
“I still think the poem has some meaning that we’re missing. I’m hoping it will come to us, when we see it, but that’s a long shot. I wish he could have been more specific. I mean, there just isn’t a lot to go on here.” Frustration colored his voice, for Daniel was obviously feeling that they were missing something.
“We really have not had a lot of time to look at it, Daniel, but maybe we should take more time to do so now. We should probably memorize it, and then burn the written copies. Although, they are in English, so I doubt if anyone here could read them,” Selmak noted. “Jacob and I both agree on that.”
“That’s why I wrote them in English. I figured that if anyone found them and eventually got them translated, we’d be long gone,” Daniel commented absently, as he continued to stare at the written words. “Let’s go over them now, then. Okay, first off, the title was “One Day I Met Your Mother.” Looking up and grinning at everyone, adding a little humor to try to lift the weight they all carried, he continued, “I believe that we can all agree that, unless you have the IQ of a rock, a stump, or an amoeba, the title is pretty self-explanatory. After that, however, there may be some differences of opinion on how to interpret some of the lines and words, so I'm going to tell you what I think, and then ask for your ideas, and we’ll go from there.”
Pushing his glasses up on the bridge of his nose for the thousandth plus time, Daniel began, “I believe we can all agree that in the first verse the word chamber is referring to her stasis container. Unfortunately, it doesn’t describe it, so all we know is that she’s in something. The other thing it tells us is that it is out where anyone that looks can see it. That, at least, is helpful in that we know it’s not in a closet, chest, trunk, or anyplace else that could be considered “hidden”. Does everyone agree with that, or does anyone have any other ideas, maybe something to add?”
“I think it means that the chamber isn’t large. He used the word nestled. That word makes me think of being curled up in a small cozy place. Not cramped, but not a lot of space either,” Stephanie suggested.
Daniel nodded, thoughtfully. “You’re probably right. I doubt if Ra would have put her in something large.”
“I would suspect something neither large nor small, Daniel,” Malek added his thoughts. “Ra would not have wanted to seem to honor her in any way, but neither would he have wanted her in something so inconspicuous as to be overlooked. Her capture and imprisonment was an accomplishment of which he was proud. Keeping that in mind, the description of nestled that Stephanie gave is probably accurate.”
“Okay, so from the first verse we know that she is in a stasis chamber that is medium in size and that is in plain view. Correct?” Daniel asked, though he didn’t expect any opposing answers.
“So, using the same type of reasoning, then the second verse tells us that there should be a large tapestry near her. Perhaps depicting a new mother and her child? Or someone sleeping? A funeral procession?” Lantash asked, thinking of all the things that the verse could indicate would be in the tapestry.
“I don’t think so, Lantash. I think that all it’s telling us is that there is a large tapestry near the stasis chamber she’s sleeping in and that, although, she’s been gone from sight, for a while, Ra has not forgotten about her, nor have the other System Lords forgotten her.” Kathryn looked at the Tok'Ra, before adding, “I also think he’s reminding you that she needs to be able to breed new children to carry on the fight. It could even mean both what you are saying, that is, the mother and child or children in the tapestry, as well as conveying the thoughts that I’m suggesting. Doing double duty, so to speak.”
Anise nodded in agreement, murmuring, “I believe you may be correct, Kathryn. I think that the next verse is telling us more about the second verse. They may all actually be intertwined from the second verse on and we may have to look on them as a whole to see how they interact with each other.”
“Okay then, verse three. So, if we go on the premise that verse three is referring to the tapestry in verse two, then the tapestry would contain a purple sky and white capped water? Perhaps some children and a house? Does this sound right?”
“It could be, Daniel. I think you may be right about the purple sky and the water. I’m not so sure about the children and the house, but they could be part of it. Then again, that could just be referring again to the fact that Egeria is needed to give birth to the new generation of Tok’Ra. We won’t really know, until we find the tapestry in question. At any rate, I think we need to keep every idea in at least one column, so we end up with all variations. We’re pretty sure about the purple sky, and the water, and the house and children are both quite possible. So they would be listed in a category. That way, we have several scenarios to choose from, and we won’t overlook something that we shouldn’t,” Sam suggested, as she looked over Daniel’s shoulder at his lists and notes.
“That’s a good idea, Sam. If we have all of the possible combinations to choose from, we can check each tapestry against them all,” Kathryn agreed.
“I don’t think the next verse has any special meaning. Does anyone else? Other than he was saying to come as soon as they could?” Daniel asked the group. Getting the affirmations he expected, he continued to the next and last verse.
“Does anyone have any ideas on this one?”
“I do not know. Do you think there might be a mirror on the stasis chamber? Or, perhaps a mirror on the wall next to it? That does not make sense, though, if there is a tapestry next to her,” Malek stated.
“It sounds as if it would be on the chamber itself. I’m not sure though. This may be one we’ll just have to wait and hope it jumps out at us. For right now though, we’ll go on the assumption it’s on the chamber itself.” Daniel answered. “Even though it doesn’t sound right. I think I’ll list it only as a possible along with the possibility that it could also be somewhere near it on the wall. Perhaps the tapestry is on one side and the mirror on the other or something.”
“You’re right, Daniel, it doesn’t seem right. But, I don’t know what does. Your idea of one on each side makes more sense, though,” Sam agreed. “It mentions her soul. Do you suppose she’ s in some niche somewhere in an urn or statue type thing that would be worshiped, but with Ra’ s symbols rather than her own? She would be worshiped and yet not be?”
Malek frowned, “Possibly, Samantha, but I would doubt that. The system lords go for large gaudy idols and altars at which to worship them.”
She nodded her acceptance of that. “Of course, some of this may just be lines that are added in to keep the cadence right and the tone of the poem about the same in case someone did get a hold of it. We should remember that, too.”
“You are correct, Samantha, and we should keep that in mind. Furthermore, I think that we have done as much as we can for tonight on this part of the search. We all need to go over our own rooms, and then spread out and search the rest of this corridor. Keep in mind what we just talked about, as you search. Daniel will get the information to you as soon as he can get it organized, so that you can memorize it and know the signals that will alert you to look more closely at the item that triggered the alert. Be careful and do not get caught,” Selmak instructed them quietly.
Anise nodded her agreement with Selmak, but continued on to another thought, “Even though the message they received told them that Teal’c would be here in seven days that does not mean he will not turn up early. I expect him to be here before the seven days are up, which makes it imperative that we accomplish as much as possible, as quickly as possible, and yet do a complete and thorough search. It is possible we may want to put in a system of checks on ourselves. Perhaps a second screening of a room by a different person, at least on the rooms that we feel are most likely to have her in them.”
“That is an excellent idea, Anise. I will give it some thought and discuss it with all of you tomorrow morning. As for the other, I, too, believe they will arrive earlier than expected,” Selmak agreed. “I am also hoping that the servants do not become suspicious of us because we are looking so closely at the artwork and urns.”
“I believe that I may be of assistance in this matter, Selmak. I will go find Perris before going to bed. I believe that a few well-chosen words will warn him not to interfere with My Lord Apophis’ s guests. I will leave the impression that you are collectors of fine art, and it would be unwise for them to interrupt you, when you are studying the many paintings and sculptures that seem to abound here.”
“That is a good idea, Teal’c. Most servants tend to want to stay out of a System Lord’s way, anyway, so with your added caution, we should not be disturbed during our hunt.” Selmak stood, as he finished his remark. “Since we all need to get an early start tomorrow, we should get our first search finished, and then retire for the night.”
“We’ll clean up these things first, while you all start searching. What do we do with them after we gather them, Teal’c?”
“Normally you would return them to the kitchen area, Samantha, but since you do not yet know your way around, I will have Perris send someone to retrieve them. Leave them outside in the hall.”
“Thanks, Teal’c. We’ll start learning where things are tomorrow.” Sam turned back to Kathryn and Daniel, “I suppose we should check the unused rooms up here, as well.”
Daniel nodded, “Once the servants here come and get this stuff, they probably won’t bother us again tonight. It should be perfectly safe to have a look around then. And it’s not really very late here even though it is dark. We have a couple of hours before it starts getting late.”
“I will go in search of Perris now, so that they will remove the remains of our meal right away and leave us for the rest of the night. If you will excuse me, My Lord.” Teal’c bowed towards Selmak, keeping up the charade. As he left the room, his lips curved up in a smile. He would be sure that they stayed away from the System Lord he was accompanying. It had been a long time, since he had acted the part of a First Prime, but he could certainly do it with little trouble. He would put the fear of their new God and his guests in the servants, and then the team could get on with their search.
Lantash perused the room they were now in, telling them, “We may as well get started on our rooms, and as Daniel said, after the servants have left this wing for the night, we can extend the search outward to include the unoccupied rooms. When we finish, we should probably attempt to sleep some, even though it may be difficult this first night.”
“I agree, Lantash.” Selmak watched, as the lo’tars returned from removing the dishes. “Let us get started group. We have a lot of territory to cover and very little time.”
The group dispersed to their respective rooms to begin their search. The sands of the hourglass were running, and they all felt the need to move quickly. Lantash and Martouf knew that they must succeed in this quest. They had been given a second chance at both their lives with Samantha, and this mission; there would be no more chances at either. They had to find their Queen. They would find her. Failure was not an option.