Chapter Twelve summary:  Lantash, Sam, and Egeria attempt to make it to one of the escape
tunnels but they are caught in an open hallway.  Lantash makes it to the other end, but Sam and
Egeria are mortally wounded.  Ria’ta attempts to save them.  Teal'c, fearing hurting her stops them
firing on her and she manages to drag them away.  SG-1’s Teal'c, decides to keep his alternate busy
so he cannot stop her as he suspects where Ria’ta is taking her.

“Italics” – Symbiote-Host Communication

Lantash’s breath caught in his throat as he stared at Samantha, lying pale and still on the
floor, next to the obviously empty urn.  He strode swiftly across the floor, setting the other urn,
which he still held, down, as he knelt beside her.

“Lantash, Samantha has taken Egeria as her symbiote.  As healthy as she is, she should not
have become unconscious.  Something is wrong,”
Martouf spoke quietly, and it was obvious that
he was holding himself in very tight control.

“I am aware.  I do not know what has occur-” Lantash broke off, as Sam’s eyes glowed brightly,
when she opened them and looked intently at them.

She smiled, for a brief moment.  Her voice a barely heard whisper, she said, “You are our
mates.”  Then she shook her head.  “Forgive me.  That is a discussion for later.  Samantha took
a great leap of faith by joining with me, and she wishes me to assure you that she has given me
complete and willing access to her memories and information.  As for our apparently
unconscious state, we were blending and linking our minds, transferring information as quickly
as possible.  As you know, it is accomplished more smoothly, and with less stress, when the
symbiote and host truly desire to immerse themselves within one another.  She has answered
my questions, as well as she can, for the moment.”  

“It is a shock to me that so much time has passed, and that so much has occurred, however;
we both realize that, while relevant to our present situation, it is not necessary that I know
every detail of the present, or the past two thousand years, at this time.  Samantha will
continue to feed me as much information as she can, as we go along to fill in anything
important that I may have missed.  We will be switching back and forth between us, depending
on which of us will be best suited to handle each situation, as it arises.  I understand that we
are about to be discovered, and that it is imperative that we retreat at once.”

“Yes, that is correct, my Queen.  We must leave here right away, for our presence has been
discovered.  The remainder of our team members are waiting within the escape tunnels.”

“I understand that we are in what once was one of Ra’s Pleasure Palaces, which now belongs to
Apophis.  Bah!  What a preening peacock he has always been.  While I, myself, would have
chosen to align myself with Apophis to defeat Ra, he should never have fallen to Apophis alone,
and furthermore, had Ra kept himself out of every pretty boy that passed, he would not have
been so distracted that he allowed that primping, prancing, pathetic excuse of a…never mind.  
As you say, we must go.”  Egeria stood, as she finished speaking, her disgust of both Apophis
and Ra evident in both her face and her words.  

As Lantash turned to pick up the urn that held Astaria, the door to the room opened, and he
swung toward it, bringing his zat up, and aiming it at the person who entered.  They stared at
one another, for a moment, before both relaxed.  The young woman swiftly completed entering
the room, pulling the door shut behind her, and smiling in welcome, when she saw the man
who was in the room.  

“Lantash!  You survived!  I am so very glad.  Even though Teal’c assured me that he believed
you died in the explosion, I always felt that he was unsure of your fate, and that something had
occurred to make him wonder.”  Keeping her voice low, Ria’ta moved quickly toward the couple
standing near the fireplace.  Her smile faded, as she reached out and gently touched the side of
his face.  “But, Lantash, Martouf, you must leave at once, before Teal’c and the other Jaffa
return.  They are searching for some intruders that I can only assume are you and your
friends,” she continued, still speaking softly.  “I will help you, as much as I can, but you must
be aware that you are in grave danger here.”  She paused, for only a moment, before saying, “I
am so very glad that you survived.  Selmak and Malek?  Did they?…”

Lantash grasped her hands and shook his head sadly.  “No.  No, Ria’ta, they did not survive,
and yet, they will appear to be here with me.  It is difficult to explain all that has happened to
me, and I do not have time to tell it all.  Although it will be hard to believe, or understand,
please trust me, when I tell you that I no longer dwell within your world, your - your plane of
existence, your reality.  I am sorry, but when we leave this time, we, Martouf and I, will not be
returning.  I wish with all my being that it could be otherwise, that there was something,
anything, that we could do, but there is not; there is nothing that we can do to help you.”  

Lantash shook his head and smiled wryly at her, saying, “Ironically, the result of our failed
mission in this reality will probably enable the Tok’Ra to survive, defeat the Goa’uld, and free
the worlds and Jaffa in the reality we now belong in.  Because we have a chance to succeed
there, we must not again fail in our mission.  Indeed, we are already more successful this time
than we were before in our attempt to complete the mission.”  He looked at Sam, his emotions
obvious to Ria’ta, before he continued, saying, “Now, we simply need to return with the object
that we came to retrieve.  It is in our hands, and we are ready to depart.  Leaving the Palace is
probably the only thing standing between us and success.”

Ria’ta nodded.  “Though I do not understand the particulars, I trust your word, and I do believe
you.  It was not meant to be.  You have done so much for me, already.  In fact, for many in our
universe.  Many worlds and their peoples are knowledgeable about what the Goa’uld are, and
no longer worship them blindly, even though they may have no choice but to do so publicly.”  

“My own people, my own family, all of them, are free to follow their own beliefs.  Those who
choose to be are safe, thanks to the Tok’Ra, and for those things alone, I will give my life for
you.  I will do everything I can to see to it that you finish your mission here successfully and
return to wherever you must go, Lantash.  I promise you.”  

Ria’ta’s eyes were drawn to Sam, and she glanced at her, obviously curious about her, as she
finished speaking, but she asked no questions.  Lantash’s body language communicated the
information that whoever this woman was, she was the reason for this mission.  She, or some
knowledge she held, was what they had come to retrieve.  He would defend her at all costs,
and, though his love for her was obvious, it was apparent there was a deeper reason for his
protection of her.  She was someone of importance to the Tok’Ra.  Her eyes widened, but still
she said nothing.  

“Thank you, Ria’ta.  It would be much appreciated, as it was the last time you helped us, but
please do not involve yourself.  There is an escape tunnel on this side of the Palace, and while
your people are searching for us elsewhere, we will attempt to make our way to it and hope we
can arrive there before they return.  You should not put yourself into danger for us, however.”

Ria’ta reached out to pull him close in a brief embrace, knowing that they would never meet
again, but also knowing that she would not leave them, without helping them to escape, or
dying in the attempt.  The debt that her family owed them was deep, for they were some of the
lucky ones and lived on a world shunned by the Goa’uld.  Several of her siblings and cousins
were actively in contact with the Goa’uld, but their interaction was voluntary.  All were in
resistance groups.  All were willing to die for their beliefs.  All had been saved from slavery;
many had been freed from Goa’uld symbiotes by the Tok’Ra.  In turn, all had mourned the loss
as the Tok’Ra had been hunted to extinction.  Her death would be a small price to pay for what
they owed them.  

She smiled at him again, as she shook her head, saying, “I will remain behind you and try to
detour anyone coming upon you from behind.  If nothing else, you will hear me talking to them
and know they are behind you.”

“We thank you, once again.”  Smiling at her, Lantash bent, picked up the urn, and turned to
walk across the room.  He motioned toward the other door, saying softly, “The tunnel is this
way,” before turning back to the young woman who risked so much for them.  “Be well, Ria’ta.”  

Turning, they left the room.  Ria’ta slowly followed.

“We must go out of our way to reach the tunnel from this room, but it is still closer than the
others would be.  I believe that once Teal’c realizes that we are not in the rooms we were
occupying and that our belongings are missing, he will spread all of the available Jaffa out and
start a systematic search.  We may find it difficult to reach the tunnel, if they return soon.”

Egeria nodded her understanding of their situation.  “We will do the best we can.”

Lantash nodded and indicated they should maintain an operational silence.  As silent as
shadows, they slipped from one room to the next, until they came to a doorway that opened
onto a short hallway. There were two doorways toward the opposite end and they would need to
enter the second one.  

He had chosen a longer and more circuitous route; one that was less likely to be used, and so
far, they had met no one.  They were now turning back toward the grand entrance hall, which
was also the area of the semi-open hallway that they would have to traverse.  This short
hallway and the rooms beyond were the last obstacles between them and the hall and chamber
that would lead them to their way out of the Palace.  

He was startled when Ria’ta slid by him, put her finger to her lips, indicating that she would go
open the door.  She walked calmly down the hall to the door that he indicated that they needed
to enter.  Opening it, she looked around and then shook her head, as she looked up and down
the hall.  She appeared confused, as she turned and retraced her steps.  Anyone watching her
would believe that she had taken a wrong turn and entered the wrong room.  Passing Lantash
quietly, she nodded.  It was clear.  They continued to make their way toward the escape tunnel
and freedom.

“You say they have been here for five days?  That, in fact, I have been here for five days?”  Teal’
c demanded of the most senior of the house staff.

“I would swear it.  Any of my people would swear the same.  Even now, I am not sure you are
not testing us in some manner,” Perris responded firmly.  “They even mentioned that the
remaining staff would probably be arriving before the end of the seven days, which, it appears,
has indeed happened.”

Teal’c frowned.  Who could have known that they would arrive early, and yet, still be here when
they did arrive?  What was their purpose for being here?  They did not appear to be lying in
wait for them.  Surely, they were not waiting for Apophis to arrive.  An assassination attempt?  
Unlikely, since they were using such a high profile disguise.  Such an attempt would not be
able to throw suspicion on him, for he had witnesses that knew he had not been here.  It could
cause some doubt in Apophis’s mind, he supposed, but even that was unlikely.  Why else
would someone attempt to pass themselves off as himself, though?  It was time to enlarge the
search.  They would begin on the ground floor.  He would gather the women and make sure
that they were together and safe, and then start a room-by-room search.  They would gather in
the grand entrance hall.

“Jaffa.  Kree.”  Teal’c led the way from the rooms that they were searching to no avail.  Perris
followed for lack of knowing what else to do in the situation.  He had no way of knowing which
one of the two men was the real First Prime of Apophis.  For all he knew, neither of them was.  
This one, however, had Jaffa.  The other one did not.  They made this Teal’c’s claim seem more
likely.  And the first one and his ‘guests’ had disappeared.  It seemed to him that was the most
telling bit of information he had.  The man walking beside him must be the ‘true’ Teal’c, First
Prime of Apophis.  

“Do you know why they are here?  Did they give any reason for their visit?”  Teal’c asked

“They stated that Apophis was called away suddenly and wished for them to be entertained.  
They are great art collectors and they have spent every day examining the works of art from the
paintings to the tapestries.  Every piece of art in the Palace, in fact.”

Teal’c looked grim.  “Then perhaps we have found their reason, for being here.  No doubt, they
are thieves.  Have they done nothing to cause you to become suspicious?”

“To my knowledge, objects of value have been little more than moved.  I have seen them do no
more than pick something up to examine it and then replace it, though they have looked at and
admired many objects in the chambers.  I will ask the others, but I am sure there is nothing of
any value missing.  Any item of value is guarded by an alarm system, which has not been
breached.  The system has only been triggered twice since they arrived.  Once was by one of my
own people while cleaning, and the other was as one of the visitors was examining a statue,
which they replaced after looking at it more closely.  I truly do not believe that they are here to
steal anything.  They could have attempted to do so long before today, if that was their
purpose.”  Perris sighed, as he gave his information.  This Teal’c was not going to like his tidy
reason for the odd situation not holding up, anymore than the other Teal’c would have
appreciated him rebutting his statements.  He watched as a muscle in the larger man’s jaw
jerked.  No, he was not happy at all.  He listened from his position in the demi-hall as they
entered the grand entrance hall and Teal’c began to give orders.

“We will do a complete and thorough search, starting with the chambers down here.  Do your
best to take them alive.  I wish to find out what plot is underway here, and if it is part of a
larger conspiracy of some kind.  If you cannot take them alive, then stop them any way that
you can.  I want at least four of you here in the grand entrance hall, should they attempt to
escape this way.  Go now.”  So saying, Teal’c turned to talk to the women that he cared for
most, and realized that Ria’ta was missing.

“Where is Ria’ta?”

Looking up from where they had been sitting, the women stared at Teal’c.  “I do not know, Teal’
c.  We discussed the art on the ceiling, and talked a little about where we should start on the
redecorating, but our information is too limited yet to plan much.  She was here not long ago,”
Nal’ka said softly, trying to ease Teal’c’s tenseness.  “I did not sleep well last night and dozed
off, as we waited, so I imagine she became bored and decided to inspect some of the closer
chambers.  I noticed her look toward the door nearest to us several times, and you know how
curious she is.  She will return soon, and she will be careful, I am sure.”  She watched, as his
shoulders relaxed slightly.  

Teal’c nodded, but walked over and opened the door to peer inside the chamber, just the
same.  The room was empty, but he thought that he could smell the scent that she used, so he
left the door open, in case she was nearby and needed help.  If she called, he wanted to be able
to hear her.  He decided that Nal’ka was probably correct.  Ria’ta was likely to be using this
time to begin planning what must be done to the Palace to ready it, before Apophis arrived.  He
would give her a while, before he became too concerned.

“I thought that I smelled her scent, Nal’ka.  I am sure that you are right and she is exploring
the rooms and making plans.  I hope that she does not encounter any of these intruders.  If
you hear her, or anything else that sounds suspicious, call one of us at once.  These imposters
must know by now that we have arrived.  They will be attempting to escape, so they should be
avoiding this part of the Palace, but we do not yet know why they are here, and we must
assume that they are dangerous until we find out otherwise.  I will be sending you to your
chambers shortly.”

“Ria’ta will be safe, Teal’c.  I am sure she is amusing herself, looking around, and redecorating
in her head,” she replied, as she smiled at him.  “Even if these people came into this area for
some reason and came upon her, they would probably ignore her, assuming she is a servant.  
Please, do not worry so.”

“You could be correct, but I have yet to see a female servant here.  I believe Ra’s preferences
ran in the other direction.”

“True, but Ria’ta will be careful, Teal’c.  You must trust her.”

Teal’c nodded and walked towards a few of his Jaffa, who were supposed to be keeping watch
in the grand entrance hall.  All they appeared to be watching was the ceiling, and the erotic
scenes painted there.

“You will watch the doorways and entrances to the rooms, rather than the ceiling.  I do not
believe that those we are searching and watching for will be found there.  Keep yourselves
concealed behind the pillars and the bases of some of the statues.  You are leaving yourselves
open to attack, if there are enemies here.”  Teal’c watched them, as they made their way to
places of cover around the room before turning to the servants that had accompanied them.  

Perris was standing to the side of the room, near a long semi-open hallway that led between one
of the antechambers and the back of the room, where it led to another chamber and hall.  Teal’
c watched him walk toward them, as he obeyed his summons.  He believed that the young man
knew nothing more about the imposters than he had already revealed.

As Perris drew near to them, he ordered, “Take Nal’ka, the other women, and the servants and
get them settled into their chambers.  I doubt that these intruders will bother them there.”  He
turned to address them.  “Be sure to lock your chamber doors, and do not come out, until you
are called.  Remember to contact one of us, at once, if you hear or see anything suspicious.”

“I will see to them, at once.”  Perris bowed to them before turning and leading them toward the
servant’s chambers.   

Teal’c watched them leave.  Now, if he could only find Ria’ta and dispense with these intruders
as easily, he could get on with the business that he had come to accomplish for Apophis.  

And after that, he could spend the night wrapped in Ria’ta’s arms.  Their time together was
almost over, gone.  Soon, Apophis would come, and then, they would be parted, perhaps,
forever.  They needed to enjoy what little time they had left.  He needed to convince himself
that he would permanently give Ria’ta up to Apophis and take a woman of Apophis’ choice, as
his own wife.  Indeed, he needed, he must, convince himself that he could give Ria’ta up to
Apophis.  That he could take a wife other than Ria’ta unto himself.  

But, most of all, it was imperative that he convince himself that he would, that he could, stand
by, attend, and assist Apophis to take Ria’ta as his own.  He must be loyal to his Lord.  He
must, he would, and he could, allow Apophis to make her his Queen.  Of course, he could.  He
simply had to remind himself that he was Apophis’s strong, capable, and loyal First Prime.  
There was no question.  He could give her up.  

Lantash talked quietly into his radio, “Selmak, I hope our preparations are proving to have
been sufficient.  Samantha and I are at the point where we must decide which direction to go.  
We must try to go to the newly found escape tunnel, which means going through the open
section of hall, or we must make our way to the other side of the Palace.  There are Jaffa
searching the lower chambers now.  Ria’ta is here, and she has been following us to make sure
that no one comes up behind us, but she must return to the others soon, or she will be

“It will be too risky for you to find your way to the other side of the Palace.  There are either
servants or Jaffa near all of the tunnel entrances, except the new one and the one that is
farthest from where you now are, on the lower level.  We will be able to come back into the
Palace through the nearer tunnel and take up positions to lay down cover fire.  It is the only
way.  From what recon that we have been able to do, we know that there are Jaffa on guard, as
well as taking cover in the grand entrance hall, so it is likely that they will open fire on you as
soon as you attempt to move through the open portions of the hallway.  We will be ready for

Lantash was quiet for a moment.  “Are you sure that is the best way, Selmak?  Do you not
think we could make it to the other tunnel?”

“Possibly, but they have the house servants watching, as well as the Jaffa.  If it was the only
tunnel opening, you would have to attempt to reach it, but it is not.  I believe that your best
chance is the open hallway.  The most recently discovered one is nearer.  Thanks to our last
minute planning session this morning, the diversion was easy to assemble.  We will have it
placed, ready to detonate, and be in position to lay down cover fire within ten minutes.”

“We will wait here.”  Lantash released his radio connection and looked behind them, as they
crouched behind a large folding screen, much like the one in the chamber where Egeria had
been found.  Leaning toward her, he whispered, “I am going to tell Ria’ta to return to the
others.  I shall return shortly, my Queen.”

Sam smiled.  “You can call me Samantha, Lantash, or Egeria.  My Queen is a little formal, don’t
you think?”  She teased softly, as she leaned forward and kissed him gently before her eyes
glowed and Egeria returned.  “She is correct, my mate.  You must not be so formal.  There may
be situations that require you to be so at some future time, but these things will be discussed
and decided upon later.  For now, let us be close.”

Lantash leaned forward, sharing a deep, slow kiss with her, and wanting, not for the first time,
to lay her down beneath him and love her, long and hard.  Ending the kiss with a sigh, he
stepped reluctantly away, saying, “It will be as you wish, my mate.”  He smiled, before standing
and going to find Ria’ta.  

He found her in the next room, seemingly engrossed in studying a painting.  His voice low, he
murmured, “You should return before they come to search for you, Ria’ta.  Do not let trouble
come to you because of us, please.”  

Following his example, her tone no more than the ghostly breath that only a symbiote could
hear, she responded to him, “I will not, Lantash.  Do not worry for me.  I am sure that Teal’c
thinks I have simply begun planning my redecorating and wandered off.  Do not distress
yourself for me, as it is not necessary, I assure you.  I will leave shortly, I promise.”  She thrust
him back toward the doorway.  “There is a guard coming, and I must steer him away from you.  
Go back, and stay behind the screen, until you can accomplish your mission by escaping.  

“Thank you, Ria’ta.  You will long be remembered and honored by the Tok’Ra.  We wish you

Ria’ta nodded and turned to intercept the Jaffa.

Lantash returned to the screen and his mate.  Their teammates would be in position soon.  
They were close, so close, to succeeding.  Crouching down next to Sam, he placed his arm
around her as she sat on a low stool and held the urn.  “Soon.  Soon we will know what fate
holds in store for us.  We have done all that we can, our very best.  Now, we will see if what we
have done is enough.”

Hearing voices in the other room, they sat quietly, barely breathing.  Lantash now completely
severed his radio connection.  No one could contact either of them.  Sam had severed hers
before they began their trip to the escape tunnel.

Time seemed to stand still, as they listened to the conversation in the next room.  

“Ria’ta, Teal’c is looking for you.  He is concerned.  These intruders seem to have disappeared.  
Have you seen or heard anything?”

“I have been looking through some of the rooms and getting ideas for what we have to do before
Lord Apophis arrives.  I wandered around several of the chambers and have neither heard nor
seen anything unusual.  You are the first person that I have seen since I began looking
around.  Please tell Teal’c that I will return shortly.  I want to finish this room, and the next
one.  It would seem to be a logical stopping place.”  

“I will do so, after I check this next room.  It will be the last one in this section of the bottom
floor on this side of the Palace.”

Lantash and Sam heard them enter the room.  Ria’ta walked slowly, but nonchalantly, toward
the corner where the screen stood and looked up at a painting that graced the wall above and
to the left of it.  She stepped almost completely behind it, turning back to watch the Jaffa leave
before following him at a discreet distance.  She did not look back.

The couple left the shelter of the screen and quietly made their way forward.  The next chamber
was empty.  It was time to resume radio contact with their team, to see if they were in place
and ready to implement the escape plan.  If they were, then it was time for them to leave and
head back to their own reality and Earth.

Lantash keyed his radio and waited to see if there was a response.  It came in the form of
information from Selmak.  “Our people are ready.  When you hear the explosion, enter the open
hallway.  There is another, more enclosed hallway at the end of it, and we will be covering you
and waiting for you there.”

“We are ready, Selmak.”

Lantash turned to Sam.  “We love you.”

“I know.  We love you too.”  She smiled at him, and then turned serious again.  “Which of us
should attempt the hallway first?  Should we attempt it together?”

Lantash frowned, thinking through the different scenarios.  Sighing, he finally suggested, “I
think that I should be the first to go.  They may not start laying down cover fire quickly
enough.  If one of us is going to be hit by staff weapons fire, it should be me.  You and Egeria
must survive, Samantha.”  He placed his fingers over her lips, when she would have spoken
and no doubt protested his statement.  “No.  Do not say it.  You are the future of the Tok’Ra.  
You are the last hope of our people.  You must survive at all costs, my love.”

Sam drew a deep breath before nodding and smiling tremulously.  “I know you’re right,
Lantash, but I don’t have to be happy about it, or agree with it in my heart.”

“I know.  We simply have to believe that we will both make it through this.  We will, no matter
what it takes.  We must believe that.”

“Of course.  And I have Egeria to help me now, as well.  We’ll do all right.  Her added strength
will allow me…”

The explosion on the other side of the Palace was their signal to go.  With one last look at Sam,
Lantash sprinted from the enclosed portion of the hallway.  Egeria would take control from
Samantha and start out as soon as the cover fire was thick, and Lantash was well along the
hallway.  If they were very lucky, the Jaffa in the grand entrance hall would have been pulled
away to the site of the explosion, and no one would even see them as they ran toward the next
room.  If they weren’t lucky, then one, or both of them, would not only be seen, but might not
make it through the hallway safely.  

Fifteen feet along the open section of hallway a staff blast missed Lantash by inches, and all
hell broke loose.  P-90 fire erupted from between the pillars at the end of the grand entrance
hall, and it was being answered by staff weapons blasts, but not all of the Jaffa were aiming at
those firing at them.  Many of those staff blasts were following him as he ran toward safety.  At
least one Jaffa, and perhaps more, were firing on him as he navigated the open hallway.  
Lantash dived behind one of the pillars along the hallway, as a staff blast exploded pieces of it,
and they showered down onto him.  He regained his feet and continued running in a zigzag
pattern before diving for the protection of the walls at the end of the hallway.  

He turned in time to see Sam take a direct staff blast hit and go down partway behind a pillar.  
She pulled herself slowly forward, until she was completely behind it, but it was obvious that
she had collapsed and was no longer able to move.  Selmak and Sergeant Richards tackled him,
as he lunged to begin the run back to her side.  It would be suicide for him to go back for her
right now, as the Jaffa continued firing toward the pillar and surrounding area.  They had to
take out the Jaffa that were covering the hallway, before a rescue could be attempted.

Jacob swore, “Damn it, Sel, she’s closer to the other end of the hallway than she is to this one,
but if we can get to her, we can take her to the sarcophagus that’s on this floor.  It’s the one
that Ra made available for his visitors to use.  Reaching her and getting her to it will be
difficult, but not impossible.”

“Jacob, we do not use the sarcophagus.”

“Selmak, I agree that using the sarcophagus on a daily basis drained the good from the Goa’
uld.  But using it once on my daughter is not going to turn her into an evil, selfish, raving
egomaniac.  I’m not leaving her here.  Not when there is another alternative.”

“All right.  I’ll talk to Lantash and we’ll put together a – wait.  What the...?  What is that woman
doing?  Who is that?”

Selmak turned to Lantash, asking him the same question aloud, “Who is that?” at the same
time they heard the other Teal’c order his Jaffa to cease firing.  

“It is Ria’ta,” Lantash whispered, “the young woman that helped us to escape when we were
captured by Apophis.”

“What is she doing?”  Selmak whispered, watching her, as she ran toward Sam and crouched
down behind the pillar with her, not trusting that the shooting had stopped, at least for the

“I do not know, but I believe that she will try to get Samantha and pull her to safety.  If she is
successful, we must keep the Jaffa busy enough they cannot go after her.  I must try to reach
them before the Jaffa do, Selmak.  Otherwise, they will have once again captured Egeria.”

“What?  What are you saying?”

“I have not had time to tell you, and we did not wish to discuss it over the radio.  The seal
broke on Egeria’s stasis jar, when I attempted to remove it from the mantle upon which it was
set.  Samantha took her, so that she would not die.  She did it before Martouf or I could stop
her, but there really was no other way, if we wished to take her back with us to our reality.  
Even if we could have reached you, either Anise or Jorlin would have had to give their lives for
her, and chances are good that she would not have survived long enough for us to reach you,
anyway.  It was a voluntary blending, I assure you.”

“I believe you.  I know that you would not force Samantha to do anything that wasn’t a free
choice, Lantash.”  Suddenly, he aimed and fired his P-90 at a Jaffa that was making his way
cautiously toward the young woman.  She had reached Sam and was slowly pulling her back
down the hall.  The Jaffa’s attention was successfully diverted from Ria’ta, and what she was
trying to accomplish.  He jumped back, and began once again to fire his staff weapon at them
in return.  The battle renewed in earnest as Ria’ta continued dragging Sam back down the hall
toward the rooms that they had just left.  

From the shadows, SG-1’s Teal’c watched his alternate reality twin Teal’c command his Jaffa.  
He fired at him, as he turned to head toward the door into the rooms that would lead him
toward the young woman, Major Carter, and Egeria.  He would keep him as busy as possible, as
long as possible.  He could not be allowed to interfere in what Ria’ta was attempting to do.  

Teal’c glanced at the place where Ria’ta had disappeared, and then turned back to return fire
on the one that seemed to be targeting him, although he could not see him clearly in the

He rejoined the fight.  Ria’ta would be all right.  The woman, whoever she was, was probably
dead, and therefore, she could cause no injury to his Ria’ta.  He would see to her after he had
dispensed with these rebels, or whatever they were.  Weapons fire barely missed his head.  He
had a battle to tend.  He would take care of the body, find out what Ria’ta was up to, and scold
her for it later.

Sam realized that she hurt, even though Egeria was trying to shield her from the pain.  She
could tell that they would not survive the injury that they had received.  It was much too
serious.  Egeria was holding death at bay, for the moment, but they could not last for long.
am sorry, Samantha, but there is nothing that I can do.  The injury is too severe and the blood loss
too great.”

“It’s all right.  It’s a chance that we take every time we leave on a mission.  We know that the
odds are against us going into these things.  Sometimes, people don’t return.  That’s just how it
 Sam paused, and then said, “Egeria, we’re being dragged somewhere, aren’t we?”

“I believe so, although, I have not yet been able to ascertain by whom, or where we are being

“Can you get me conscious enough to let the person know to stop?  To let them know that we won’t
make it, and that continuing to drag us is pointless?”

“Yes, I will be able to keep us alive and conscious for a time, Samantha.  It is simply that I will
not be able to allow us to survive.”

“Then we need to take what little time that we have left to try to find you a new host.  Your
survival is crucial to the survival of the Tok’Ra as a species.  Even if you must take a male for a
short time, until you can find a willing female, if there is a chance, we must take it.”

“We will see.  For now, we must find out what is happening.  I need to work at keeping us alive,
for the moment.  For now, you must speak to the person moving us.”

“I will.”

Sam heard a moan, realized it was herself, and then managed to get her eyes open.  She could
tell that someone had a hold of her under her arms, and that they were attempting to drag her
across a floor.  She tried to get their attention.  “S-s-st-stop.  Stop.”  She managed to get the
word out, her voice barely above a whisper, but the person dragging her heard her.

“I cannot stop yet.  I must get you to the sarcophagus, before the fighting ends.  I believe that it
is in the next room.  Only a little farther to go, I swear to you.  Please, please, you must trust
me.  I will not allow you to die, or remain dead.  You must return with Lantash, and help him
to continue to fight the Goa’uld wherever destiny now leads him.  I will not fail him or you.”

“R-Ria’ta?”  Sam cleared her throat and tried again, with better results.  “You must stop.  The
Tok’Ra, they don’t use the sarcopha...”

“I know.  But, this time you will do so.  I do not know who you are, but Lantash would not
have risked his life to come for you the first time, nor would he have come back this time, if it
was not important, if you were not important.  You must live, and from what I have seen of
your wound, you will not do so without the help of the sarcophagus.  So no matter what, this
one time, you will use it.  It is my will that you live, and I am stronger than you are at this
time.  You can berate me or kill me later, if you wish to,” she panted, as she again strained to
pull the slightly larger, heavier woman closer to the sarcophagus, “for it will be worth my death
or every word of your anger, if you survive to fight against the Goa’uld.”

Sam’s lips quirked upwards, a travesty of a small smile.  “Egeria says - that since you feel so
strongly about it, we will - do our best - but, Ria’ta,” Sam paused, to rest, gain breath and some
strength before continuing, “There is an alternative…to using the sarcophagus.  We could find
her another host.”  

Ria’ta stopped, for a moment.  “Egeria?  The Tok’Ra Queen?  Now, I know why it was so
important for them to come for you, and I am even more determined that you will survive.  You
must see that you must live for them.  As Egeria, you cannot allow your children to perish from
the universe, which they will, if you die.  As their Tok’Ra and human mate, you must live for
their love of you and yours of them.  There is no time to find another host.  And, it would be
foolish to try, when the means to survive is here and available,” she chided softly, before
placing her flat on the floor beside the sarcophagus.  Sam could hear her moving around, and
before long, she heard the slow grinding of the sarcophagus top opening.  When it stopped, the
young woman returned to her and once again grasped her under the arms to pull her closer to
it, uncaring of the blood that was becoming smeared on her body and clothing.  

As she dragged her up the steps of the sarcophagus, Egeria came forward to speak to her, and
Sam’s eyes glowed brightly, as she looked up at the young woman.  Her voice was stronger, and
full of determination.  “You must listen to me, Ria’ta.  There are things that I must tell you.  
You, and you alone, will be the keeper of the secrets of the Tok’Ra in your universe.  Their
future will depend on you.  You must hold these secrets until you feel the time has come when
they can be put to good use.  Until then, you must tell no one.  The information should be
passed to the next generation, should you be unable to make use of it.  However, I believe that
you would make an admirable host yourself, so if you have a strong and brave consort, one
that you can trust and depend upon, you should, perhaps, attempt once again to overthrow the
System Lords.  You will know best who could accomplish the most against them.  But, only you
will know when the time is right.  I must have from you an oath that you will tell no one my
secrets, until that time arrives, and that you will seek death rather than betray them.”

Ria’ta stared at the Tok’Ra Queen.  She somehow knew what she was about to be told.  It
would be a great challenge, a great responsibility, but it could set her people free.  It could
change the worlds, as they knew them.  Perhaps not today, or even tomorrow, but someday.  
She knew that she would give her oath to this Queen.  And she would keep her word regardless
of the cost to her personally.  “You have it.  I will hold my own counsel, until I feel the time to
act has come, and rather than betray your words, I will still my own tongue forever.  This I
promise you.”

Egeria closed her eyes.  It was obvious that the effort it was taking to talk was draining her
badly.  Feeling alarmed, Ria’ta spoke urgently, “You should wait to tell me, until after you are
healed.  I need to place you within the sarcophagus.”  She watched her closely, seeing the life
force slowly leaving her.

Egeria shook her head.  “No.  There is every chance that someone will come before I arise.  You
must have the information first.  If your people get to me, before mine arrive, I may never get
the chance to tell you.  Listen carefully and remember what I say, for I will have the strength to
say it only once.”  

Sam’s bright blue eyes closed, for a moment, before Egeria once again gathered the strength to
continue speaking.  “When the time is right, you must go to a world called Azurat.  In my time,
before I was captured by Ra, it was unpopulated.  There were very small deposits of Naquadah
that had been mined out, so the waters were rich with it.  And they teemed with food.  The
world was mostly water, another reason it was not populated.”  

“You must go there and walk straight from the Chaappa’ai to the edge of the large body of water
that will lie directly ahead some short distance away.  If you will sit at the edge of the water and
call to her, Anasharya, my daughter, will come to you.  Place your hands into the water, side by
side, with your palms up.  She will swim to you and first touch each of your fingertips.  If she
feels that you will be compatible, she will then swim onto your palms and allow you to lift her
from the waters.  Place her in a shallow chamber or on someone’s chest and lie on your side
facing her or them.  Close your eyes then open your mouth, and she will blend with you.”  

“If she no longer lives, then her clutch mates should come.  They will touch only the fingers of
your left hand.  There should be several thousand adult Tok’Ra on this world, Ria’ta.  Enough
to begin another assault against the Goa’uld once you have found hosts.”  

“If I survive, then I must leave you and go with Lantash to help his new family.  Their Egeria
was captured before she could travel to Azurat to give birth to more Tok’Ra, and those alive
today in their reality are the last of their race.  Though I cannot remain with you, I leave you
with these secrets and thus this hope for your reality’s future.”  

“I think you would make a good, strong Queen, Ria’ta.  In you, our race would have a loyal and
determined leader, something that they would need to allow them to become a viable,
formidable force against the Goa’uld.  They had mentors among the humans who helped our
kind find hosts before; this time they may or may not have that help, and so it will be up to
you.  I believe that you would know where to find those who would become such mentors and
wise ones for them.”  

Ria’ta listened, as Egeria’s voice became no more than a whisper, as she gave her the Chaappa’
ai address of the world sheltering her children, her daughter, indeed, the last hope of the Tok’
Ra in this universe.  Her eyes closed as her breathing ceased, and Ria’ta knew that it was time
to place her into the sarcophagus.  

She stood back and watched as the top closed.  She hoped that no one came looking for her,
but knew that the longer she was here, the more likely it would be that it happened.  She could
not allow anything to happen to the Queen.  She could not be permitted to fall into the hands
of Apophis.

Though it was not cold, Ria’ta shivered, as she stood watching and waiting for the sarcophagus
to perform its miracle of healing.  Where was Lantash?  Surely, they saw her pull Egeria away,
and knew that she would take her to be healed?  Martouf would reassure Lantash, if needed.  
Why did they not come for her?  Had they been injured?  Killed?  Captured trying to reach
them?  She refused to believe that had happened.  They were still alive and on their way to
rescue their mate and their Queen.  She could still faintly hear sporadic weapons fire, though,
it did not sound so constant, as before.  

All she could do was hope that Lantash found them before Teal’c did.  She knew that Teal’c
loved her, but she did not know if he loved her enough to turn his back and pretend that he
did not see what she was doing.  

Though it was a subject that was never spoken of aloud, she knew that he would like nothing
better than to see the System Lords overthrown, defeated, or removed.  She also knew that he
did not believe it was possible for it to ever happen.  He felt helpless to ever do anything to gain
them their freedom.  He did the best he could to protect them all and by being sure that they all
protected one another.  She hoped he would continue to protect her in this.  

If what Lantash and Egeria said was true, then when they left, they would be leaving
completely.  They would not only be leaving this world, but this universe and this reality.  They
would be living their lives in a different reality.  Surely, Teal’c would not care, as long as they
were gone from here.  She loved Teal’c, but she would not allow him to stand in the way of
freedom for the peoples of the worlds from the tyranny of the System Lords.  She could not
allow him to stop her.  If only he loved her enough to leave his place with Apophis.  They could
do so much together.  But she was afraid that the chances of that happening were slim to
none.  She could not let her feelings for him sway her from her duty.  She would not betray her
fellow rebels, her family, her commitments, or her mission.

She sighed.  It would take time for the sarcophagus to revive and heal Egeria and her host.  
She turned her back, and slowly lowered herself, until she was leaning against the sarc’s
golden side.  For the moment, all she could do was wait.  

And think.  Definitely think.  Egeria had placed the means to help the resistance, her world,
and the universe directly into her hands, if only she was wise enough, and brave enough, to
use it.  But, it all rested on her shoulders.  Fear blossomed in her, but underneath the fear,
she felt the stirrings of excitement and the rising of a new hope, and a new dream.  All it would
take was determination, luck, and finding the right people to work with, many of whom she
already knew.  It would take a huge leap of faith to become a host to a newly discovered
symbiote, but she could do it.  She would do it.  As she had realized earlier, she knew that it
would not be today or tomorrow, but someday, before very long.  Yes.  Someday soon, she
would go to Azurat, and if Anasharya accepted her, then she would accept the responsibility of
becoming the host of the Queen.

Soon, she would see the culmination of the mission she had been sent to accomplish in the
household of Apophis.  She had discovered all of the information she had been sent to find,
and she knew, without a doubt, that given enough time, they would have succeeded in their
quest.  But, time was at a premium, and they no longer had any left to wait upon.  

Now, only destiny could lead them forward, and they could do no better than to follow where it
led.  It was hurtling them all at a frightening pace, though time seemed to stand still at the
moment.  It was an odd sensation to be both streaking toward the future, and yet be standing
still, stopped at a moment in time, as if waiting for the stage to be set for the next act to begin.  
Waiting for the threads to be woven into place in the tapestry of the universe, by the fates, and
the words to be written down and recorded, and so to be known for all time.  

Her decision made, Ria’ta leaned her head back against the sarcophagus to await the rising of
the Queen, her Queen, and the arrival of her rescuers…as well as, the arrival of the man that
she loved.  The man that she would face with the zat held firmly in her hand, pointed steadily
at him, never flinching, never wavering, ready to do what she had to do, if the need arose.  

She wiped a tear from her cheek, as she picked up the zat’nik’tel that she had taken from
Egeria and settled in to watch the doorways, waiting for their destiny to arrive, and thus set
them firmly onto the paths their futures were about to take.


Chapter Eleven               Home               Chapter Thirteen                         

Table of Contents
Where Destiny Leads

Chapter Twelve

Leap of Faith