Chapter Fourteen Summary: Teal'c is finally convinced that these people truly are not from his reality…and that all they wish to do is return there. They reach an agreement. Sam/Egeria give Ria’ ta more information. Teal'c talks to Teal'c.
Moirai – In Classical Mythology - the personification of fate. Moirai, the Fates. “Italics” – Symbiote-Host Communication
Teal’c whirled toward the sarcophagus, only to stop and stand in shock, unable to move. He stared at her, as if he could not understand what she said. “Did you not hear me, Teal’c? My host informs me that you are called Teal’c. You are no longer in the service of Apophis. From this day forward, you shall serve only me and my children. I believe that you would make a fine consort to bequeath to my daughter, should I ever have one.”
Lantash suddenly found that he was able to breathe again. His mate had not lost her mind, self, or body to a suddenly transformed, evil Egeria and become a Goa’uld. Egeria was simply seeing how far Teal’c would allow her to push him, before he demanded an explanation for her bizarre statements. She was also capturing his attention and attempting to diffuse the situation by centering the attention on her, rather than allowing them to dwell, at this point, on the consequences of what their future actions could mean to them. Both Teal’c and Ria’ta had both said things about which the other needed to think carefully, long, and deeply. Continuing in the conversation at this point would gain them nothing and could only cause problems for all concerned in the future…of both realities.
Turning to the others, she said calmly, “Greetings, my children.” She winked quickly, yet unobtrusively, at Lantash, “And my mate, I am pleased to see that you, and at least part of my household, have arrived to escort me from this, ah, place. Shall we return to our home? No, wait, that will cause a problem, will it not? What shall I do with my new Jaffa? I cannot have two Teal’cs in the same reality, can I? My host informs me that will cause my second Jaffa to, err, blow apart from temporal distortion, ah, that is, cascade failure.”
Suddenly, the alternate Teal’c seemed to find not only his tongue and his voice, but his ability to use both, “What trickery is this? You are dead, Samantha Carter. You have been dead far too long for the sarcophagus to revive you.”
Sam came forward to answer him, “No, actually, Teal’c, I was only dead for a minute or so. Ria’ ta got us into the sarcophagus really quickly. I believe that you’re thinking about the Samantha Carter from this reality, and, from what Lantash told me about that, I think that you’ re right and the sarcophagus wouldn’t be able to bring her back. However, I’m not from this reality; I’m from an alternate reality, as I’m sure someone here has tried to tell you. I think that, as soon as everyone’s ready, we really need to get back before being in the same time and space that you’re in causes our Teal’c some severe problems.”
Teal’c’s mind latched onto the mention of his other self. It was the one thing that could possibly convince him that he was not losing his mind, and prove that these people really were from another reality. It was, perhaps, the only thing that could convince him that there was no nefarious plot afoot to steal, kill, destroy, dishonor, or otherwise cause havoc in his own life and world.
They simply wanted to take their queen and go home. The thought jarred him back into serious thinking. Their Queen. They wanted to take their Queen.
So, that was what the Tok’Ra’s mission had been the day that they were captured. It had been one last mission to find, save, and release the Tok’Ra Queen. Egeria. She had long been thought dead. Evidently, that had not been true. She had been a captive of Ra. Two thousand years of captivity was a long time, and evidently, the Tok’Ra had not been aware of it until recently. If they had been, they would have tried to rescue her long before now.
Well, if they wanted to take her from this reality, good riddance to them. All of them gone in one fell swoop. Allowing them all to simply leave was sounding better all the time. If he could just get everyone to shut up about them…or perhaps they could act out some little escape scene for them. That might work better. What was he thinking? Allowing them to escape? He shook his head.
Egeria came forward and looked at him sharply, knowing from his expression what he was probably thinking, and murmured, “Do not look so amazed at your thoughts, Teal’c. It is only normal to want to rid yourself of an obviously unpleasant situation. One not of your own making, and which you would prefer to have had no knowledge. It is too bad that I was not found a day earlier, but I was not, so we must make do with what we have to work with now.”
“I no longer hear even sporadic sounds of weapon fire from the front entrance,” Malek interrupted the conversation to point out. “Either one side has overtaken the other, or they have decided that firing at each other is a pointless waste of time when it is obvious that neither side will be able to damage the other.”
“It is quite probable that my Jaffa have overcome your forces,” Teal’c stated firmly. “They are well trained, and know that you must be found and eliminated before you can carry out whatever plot you have devised against Apophis.”
Selmak sighed loudly, “I can see that you are just as stubborn as your alternate. There is no ‘plot’ against Apophis. We have no desire to see Apophis and are quite content to return to our own reality, where Apophis has been deceased for quite some time. We prefer him that way, actually.”
Nodding toward the doorway, Malek said firmly, “Do not be so sure that your Jaffa have triumphed, Teal’c, for the SGC and Tok’Ra teams we have assembled are quite proficient, as well. Our mission here is extremely important to us, and we have every intention of seeing it through to a successful completion with, or without, your cooperation. Your best course of action, at this point, would be to simply step aside. Whether you will heed good advice, or not, is yet to be seen, of course.”
Teal’c once again appeared to be rooted to the spot where he stood. He stared at the doorway across the chamber and saw himself standing there. What he saw was his exact replica down to the beads in his hair and beard. Exactly like him, with the same dark hair, eyes, and skin. The same full lips, strong jaw line, and erect posture. He had the same stance, muscular chest, and legs. He reflected back every feature, look, and expression, all of it. Furthermore, he stood looking back at him, casually unconcerned, obviously unsurprised and completely, utterly, at ease with the situation that he found himself in.
"I feel that I should tell you that I have taken care of the Jaffa, and that they will no longer hinder our escape from this place."
Lantash smiled grimly, before giving a short bark of laughter, "I admit I would like to know how you accomplished that, Teal'c."
Teal’c inclined his head briefly toward the man that he had come to call a friend over the last week, and a brief glimmer of mischief lit his dark brown eyes, before it was extinguished, “Of course, Lantash. I simply approached them from behind, and they, believing me to be their commander, did as I asked, when I requested that they follow me into one of the antechambers where the other SGC members were waiting to disarm them. They will give us no more trouble. The numerous and sundry servants have been confined to their quarters for the present time as well."
“Nicely done, Teal’c,” Lantash responded. Standing protectively at Egeria’s side as her consort, he looked from one Teal’c to the other. “Perhaps one of us should now make the introductions that appear to be needed here. I believe that I should do those honors, as I am the only one here who actually knows both of you.”
He turned to the Teal’c from the reality they were in and smiled briefly. “As we have been trying to explain, we are from a different, parallel, reality to this one. At least, I am now, although as you know, before I fell through that portal, I was of this reality.”
He paused as their Teal’c stepped closer. The two of them were true images of the other. So exactly the same that it was uncanny. “Teal’c, I’d like you to meet one of your alternate reality twins, Teal’c, formerly First Prime of Apophis, currently a proud member of Stargate Command, Planet Earth. His position is on their Alpha, or First, team and its designation is, in fact, SG- 1. As such, he is much respected by his fellow free Jaffa, his Earth co-workers and peers, and the Tok’Ra. He has accomplished much to free the worlds of our universe from the plague that is the Goa’uld.”
Teal’c shook his head as he tried to absorb what he was being told. The information battered at him. He could no longer deny what they were telling him. They were not of his world. This man facing him, this Teal’c, had taken the opportunity offered by the Tau’ri to join with them. He did not know the circumstances in which they had met, whether they had been the same, but that did not really matter. What mattered was that he now had his answer. It would have made a difference. It would have helped his people. But the Tok’Ra were gone. The Tau’ri were defeated. His universe was doomed to live beneath the yoke of Goa’uld tyranny.
But theirs was not. Perhaps he could do nothing for his own worlds, but he could ensure that he helped himself do the right thing in this other reality. So be it.
Drawing a deep breath, he allowed his eyes to lock with his own, sending waves of emotion through him. “I have failed my people in my reality, Teal’c. I will not stand in your way. You took up the challenge and found the courage to step forward away from all you knew. I never found it. For that lapse in courage, I will always feel a profound regret and deep shame. I will help you, and in doing so have at least some small measure of contentment in knowing that somewhere my people are free.”
The SGC Teal’c shook his head and stated emphatically, “Your reality has evolved differently than ours. From what we have been able to ascertain, though the people themselves are very much alike and have had some very similar experiences, the “events” that have occurred have either been quite different, when they occurred, or have happened at different times. We do not know how long ago our two realities diverged but we know that it was more than ten years ago, when the Tau’ri first stepped into the Chaappa’ai. That much divergence makes it impossible to say that an action a person did or did not take, made a difference in the outcome of the reality. System Lords in our two realities have taken different paths, as have Tok’Ra, Jaffa, and Tau’ri. Timelines are not the same, so comparisons cannot be made. In our reality Egeria has died, whereas here, she is still alive.”
“Therefore, as you can see, had you taken the step when it was first offered to you, the outcome might have been very different from what it was when I took my opportunity. When the time comes for you to break from Apophis, you will recognize it, for I believe that it is still before you. I believe that you have been planning for it, for years, which is why you have not severed your ties to your tribal duties.”
“Do not despair of helping your people. You have kept many safe for many long years, just as Bra’tac before you did, and his father before him did.” Teal’c looked over at Egeria, and then to Ria’ta, before looking back at this reality’s Teal’c. “As for the Tok’Ra and the Tau’ri, do not fool yourself into believing that each reality must win against the Goa’uld in the same manner, but do not turn away when an avenue opens up to you. The time may come when old allies are again viable options for you. If so, do not turn against them.”
Teal’c nodded, and then looked around the room. His Jaffa were standing, watching, and listening to the conversation, their faces stoic. Thank the Gods; he had brought two of his most faithful. He could trust them even if he told them he was deserting, so he had no real qualms about them hearing this.
One of them spoke to him now. “We will do whatever you feel is best, Teal’c, you know this. Your orders, whatever they are, will be followed, but perhaps our best course, now that we know why they are here, is to create a story that would be acceptable. It will be impossible to keep the incident secret from Apophis, there are too many of Ra’s servants here. Our own people we could trust to say nothing, but we do not know Ra’s.”
Teal’c rubbed his forehead. “I know, Troy’ac. I have not had time to speak to them to find out what they wish to do. Apophis ordered me to dispose of those we did not need. I could simply dismiss them and send them to their home planets, and then he need never know. Not all of them will have homes to return to, however.”
“Were any of Ra’s servants around during the firefight when Ria’ta rescued me?” Egeria asked quietly. “If none of them were within sight of the grand entrance hall, then the answer to your quandary is at hand. From what our Teal’c has told us, your Jaffa have been disarmed and incapacitated in some manner. The servants that came with you are upstairs in their quarters, and Ra’s house servants are making themselves very hard to find.”
“As lowering as it may seem, the best alternative is to allow everyone to believe that we managed to overcome most of your forces and leave through the escape tunnel. We have a ship cloaked and waiting on us, but you have no way of knowing that. We will appear to simply disappear. And” she smiled slightly at Teal’c, “we will return our hostages after we have left.”
“What hostages?” Teal’c demanded belligerently.
“Ria’ta and Nal’ka, of course. You and your Jaffa will follow us, until we reach the escape tunnel, but there will be no combat because we have managed to capture Ria’ta and Nal’ka.”
“If what you said about Apophis’s plans for Ria’ta are true, then I believe he would rather you allow us to escape, than that you allow harm or death to come to her. That, he would not forgive, Teal’c, as I am sure, you are well aware. Yes, I can see that you and Ria’ta, in fact, all of you will know exactly how to play your roles to cover hard ground the softest and swiftest. So, as I was saying. We will “drag” our “protesting and terrified” hostages into the rings in the escape tunnels. If any servants are watching, they will see you and your Jaffa in pursuit of fleeing imposters who have taken your women captive.”
“Before we enter the tunnel, we will make a show of carrying off some of the urns. We will also make sure that anyone listening will hear us tell you that we have what we came for, and that if you allow us to leave peacefully with the urns, we will return the hostages after we enter the tunnel and are safely away. They will be unharmed as long as you keep your word, on that you have our vow. However, if you break your word and attempt to stop us, we will kill first Ria’ta and then Nal’ka.”
“We will further determine the details as we go along. For now, I think that we have the basics of what we are going to do.”
“If any questions arise as to who we were or why we were here, no one will ever know. We were obviously impersonating people who were deceased. All of the Tok’Ra are dead and gone. Ria’ ta, Nal’ka, Troy’ac, and any other of the Jaffa who saw us, and also saw us when we were captive before, can collaborate that while the disguises were good, we were definitely not the Tok’Ra that were imprisoned, escaped, and were subsequently killed a little over a week ago,” Lantash added some of his thoughts to Egeria’s.
“I think that would cover it. Anyone have any questions?” Selmak stepped forward to ask.
“I have one, but it is not about our present situation,” Troy’ac spoke directly to the Tok’Ra. “How do you, a Tok’Ra, a Jaffa, and the Tau’ri all work so closely together? Do you not resent one another and all of the deaths that have been caused at one another’s hands down through the years? Most Tok’Ra have died at the hands of a Jaffa and many Jaffa have died at the hands of a Tok’Ra. How do you set that aside? It is the same with the Tau’ri. The legacy is not as long, but the bloodshed is still there in many instances.”
Lantash looked at Teal’c for a moment, and then turned to Troy’ac. “What good does it do to look at Teal’c’s hands and see the blood of my brothers and sisters? I would rather look at them and see the blood of the Goa’uld. I have simply allowed myself to look into his heart and know that, yes, he killed many Tok’Ra, but he no longer believes that it is right to do so. He considers them his ally, no longer his enemy. He is not my enemy. He is my ally, my friend. He will kill for me, and I will kill for him. He is no longer “other”. He is my brother.”
“I understand. It is a mental change that you have deliberately undertaken, but one that you could only undertake when you truly realized the truth of what you saw. That you are the same, that you have the same purpose, one common goal.”
Malek stepped forward and said abruptly, “I know that these things must be worked out and are important points, but the truth is that every minute that our Teal’c is in this reality; the closer he comes to falling into the temporal distortion that can occur. We do not know if the lack of a symbiote is enough of a change to keep it from occurring, and Samantha does not believe that it will be; only that it could delay it. We have already been here several days longer than we thought would be prudent.”
Teal’c whirled from Malek to the SGC Teal’c. “You carry no symbiote? How is this possible? How can this be? You are not truly myself from an alternate reality, if you are not Jaffa.”
Teal’c shook his head. “I am Jaffa. We have told you that in our reality, Egeria is dead. Before she died, she helped to develop a serum, which allows the Jaffa to dispense with the need to carry a symbiote. Free Jaffa do not, at this time, have access to young symbiotes. It was a stumbling block for us, which we had thought to remedy by capturing a queen, until the Tok’Ra could find an alternative for us. Luckily, Egeria was able to do so before she died.” Teal’c opened his uniform to show him the scar that was left from his pouch. “As you can see, I was once just as you are now. When the time comes you will know what to do as I have assured you before.”
Both men turned as Ria’ta and Egeria stepped up to them. Neither had noticed them leave and confer some distance away, nor had they been aware of a search for writing utensil and material. “That is not something we need to worry about at the moment, Teal’c. Whether or not we have a serum is not a priority for us at the moment. If we are ever in a position to need one, I am sure that we have scientists that can work it out. Egeria has told me what to search for and assured me that it will be a simple matter as long as we know what to tell them to do.”
“Yes, all right. As you say, we are not in a position to need such a thing, nor are we ever likely to be,” Teal’c allowed, his voice holding some self-loathing.
“We do not yet know what our future holds. We may be surprised,” was Ria’ta’s calm reply.
“In the meantime, we should begin our scenario of escape. What would be the best course from here? Where are our other teammates, Teal’c?” Malek brought the conversation back to his original point, beginning to feel that they should leave as soon as possible, before something happened to stop them. “We are too close to success, too near to walking away and taking Egeria away with us, our goals completed, to have something unexpected happen to block our way and lose our advantage now. We do not wish to tarry until something happens that compromises this reality’s Teal’c. We must take Egeria and Astaria, and go as quickly as possible.”
Selmak stepped to a mantel and grabbed a small, ornate, but almost tasteful, urn, saying, “I agree with Malek. Let us take a few of these distressingly gaudy urns, preferably the least revolting of them, and depart for our own reality.”
“I agree as well, Selmak, and as a precaution, I sent Anise, Daniel, and Sergeant’s Wayman, Milton, and Richards, to the ship. By now, they should have cleared our belongings from the tunnel, be aboard preparing the ship for travel, and awaiting us. Captain Adams, Captain Harmon, Lieutenant Donovan, and Jorlin are keeping watch. I believe that I have most of the Jaffa incapacitated, but they may not stay that way indefinitely, and there is always a chance that a servant will wander in at an inappropriate time.”
“So, are we all agreed as to who will do what, then?” Selmak asked, as he looked around the room at the individuals. Getting nods from all, he turned to Nal’ka, saying, “You might want to retie your clothing. The bindings were taken off some time ago, but they were not returned to you.”
She smiled shyly and, taking the rope-like pieces of cloth from his hand, proceeded to retie her belts, before nodding her readiness to proceed. “I am ready.”
Selmak looked one last time at the group. The Jaffa were picking up their staff weapons. Malek was picking up an urn, a mate to the one Selmak had chosen. “Sam told him to get that one. The blue and gold reminds her of that stuff she collects from France. She loves that stuff.” Jacob reminded Selmak
“Ah, so that is why you were so adamant that we choose that one. Well, as I said, it is not nearly as gaudy as most.”
Selmak sighed and returned to his surveillance of the room. Samantha was chatting softly with Ria’ta, and Lantash was attempting to reassure Nal’ka.
Teal’c was having a last word with Teal’c. “There is one last thing that I wish to tell you. You do not have, nor will you ever have, two of the minds that have done so much for us, for Samantha Carter and Daniel Jackson will never return to your reality, so I will give you some advice that they would give you if they could. Think outside of the box, and do not be afraid to dare a plan that seems wild by normal standards. There are times when a wild plan will succeed, when a more reasonable one would fail.”
He remained silent for a moment, before adding, “One other thing, Teal’c. Trust Ria’ta. I believe that perhaps she holds more of your future than you know, and she will be a strong ally, if you give her the support and trust that she deserves. Do not, under any circumstances, turn her over to Apophis. Do not allow him to make her his Queen. You will regret it forever, if you do.”
“I may have no choice.” Teal’c’s voice was bleak.
“There is always a choice, even if we do not like it.” Teal’c turned to go, but looked back over his shoulder, “Listen to your heart, it will not fail you. Good luck, my brother.” Then he was gone, obviously immersing himself into the role he was about to play.
Selmak began to direct the life and death scenes that were about to be played out upon this all- too-real stage.
“Lantash, you, and Samantha take the women “hostage”. Teal’c you take point, and Malek and I will take our six. Keep the women in the center where they are protected, and not easily grabbed by the “enemy”. Teal’c, you and your men know what to do. Once we leave this room, there will be no more conversation between us, unless it is as adversaries.”
“Do it! Go!” The Tok’Ra leaped into action so quickly that the Jaffa were momentarily startled into the belief that what they were seeing was real. The women screamed as first Lantash, and then Samantha, grabbed them, spun them around, and anchored them to their bodies by their necks. The weapons pointed at their temples caused their screams to end in squeaks and their bodies to stiffen. They gasped, but heard no comforting words from their captors as they were dragged backward from the sarcophagus room and down the hallway. The escape had begun.
No one came out of any of the rooms to attempt to stop them. Teal’c and the other two Jaffa followed closely, often breaking off as if searching for a way to get behind them. Obviously unsuccessful, they always returned to the main escape path that the imposters were taking back toward the grand entrance. They were taking a much straighter and quicker path back. There was no longer a need for stealth. The one goal now was to arrive at the tunnel entrance.
“Teal’c, are you sure the grand entrance is empty? We can make it through the hallway with no hindrance?”
“Yes, Selmak, I am sure. We should have no trouble making it to the tunnel entrance.”
“That’s good, because the open hallway’s coming up through this room.”
“I will scout the area. Malek, please take point.” Teal’c quietly slipped quickly away to check the hall and returned almost as quickly.
“The hall remains devoid of both servants and Jaffa. It is safe for us to traverse.”
“In that case, Selmak, I’m ready to attempt it again,” Sam said, the quietness of her voice belying the lightness of her words. “Let’s go.”
The group entered the open hallway, Teal’c and his Jaffa following, still attempting an occasional feint, as if to somehow take the Tok’Ra off guard and rescue their women.
As they neared the end of the hallway, Captain Harmon stepped out from behind a pillar and took in the situation, making eye contact first with Teal’c, and then with Major Carter. Something wasn’t kosher about the scene that he was seeing, but not knowing what it was, he took it at face value and simply awaited instructions.
As ranking officer, Major Carter didn’t disappoint him, “Captain, we have taken two hostages. Our mission is completed, and we have identified all of the articles that we came to recover. You will proceed into the room three doors down and collect an urn that is on the mantle. I believe that it is blue and gold. From there, you will go to the tunnel and ring aboard the ship.”
“We expect to arrive shortly and will leave for our” she paused as if debating what to reveal before saying, “alternative plane of existence,” after deciding that anyone overhearing her would think that she was lying, in an attempt to throw suspicions off of their true destination.
“Yes, Ma’am.” The officer turned at once and entered a room down the hall. He exited almost at once, a lovely urn in his hands and turned, hurrying down the hall in the direction of the escape tunnel. The group of Tok’Ra, and Jaffa weren’t far behind him.
In very little time, they reached the tunnel entrance, but here they came to an abrupt stop. Lieutenant Donovan was sitting on the floor and leaning against the wall with Jorlin kneeling beside her, watching her closely. Captain Adams was standing in the hall, her P-90 held defensively, her stance wide and ready. Whatever had happened had both her and Jorlin in a state of high alert, both in regards to the Lieutenant, and to anyone coming along the hall.
“What has occurred?” Malek snapped, keeping his eyes on Teal’c and his Jaffa, yet also trying to ascertain what was wrong with Kathryn. His heart lurched, and he held himself in tight control to keep from rushing to her.
Jorlin took his place in keeping Teal’c and his Jaffa at bay, replying calmly, “We were unsure of what to do with the urn that was brought back earlier. No one said if we were to take it with us, since it was not the one that we came for, so we decided to keep it here until you returned. One of the servants attempted to reclaim it and in the struggle for ownership, it was dropped and the seal broken. Lieutenant Donovan was the only person available, if we were not to allow the symbiote to die. She became the host and is still recovering, as it only happened a few minutes ago. The servant has been locked into a chamber.”
Malek picked up Kathryn’s hand and asked, his voice low, only for her ears, “Are you allowed control, Kathryn? Is she Tok’Ra?”
“Yes. She says she’s called Astaria, and she really wants to know what’s happened to “her” Egeria. She says they’re like best friends. She’s calling her a-a heart-sibling or something like that. She’s really upset and agitated, Malek. I don’t know how to calm her down, and it’s making me feel sicker than hell.”
Malek caressed the hand he held and kissed her gently, “Tell her that she must calm down, and that Egeria is very well. She and Samantha have blended and are getting to know one another. Explain that she will be allowed to talk to her soon, but that we are in the middle of an escape, and she must remain quiet because she is making you ill. Keep reminding her to relax for the moment, until we can explain. Tell her to search your memories quietly to help her understand what is happening, if it will help, and if you can tolerate that intrusion, my love. You may be fighting her and not realize it, Kathryn, and we do not have time at the moment to help you adjust. I am sorry, but we must leave at once, my love.”
He watched Kathryn’s eyes glow and heard his newest mate’s voice for the first time, “You fill much of your mate’s thoughts, Malek, you and Devlin. I look forward to learning about you. I feel you will both be very easy to love. For now, I am very fatigued; this has been a very large shock to me. I cannot imagine how my dear Egeria is feeling. I will let Kathryn remain with you and simply continue to learn of my new world and family. Kathryn is being very patient and quite comforting and understanding. I will do as you suggested and relax. I do not wish to cause her to feel unwell.”
“Thank you. You will be safe and cared for with us. Please rest, and we will talk more later, when this is all over. Soon, you will find that your ability to take care of your host will return, and you will begin to function and sense what she needs. For now, I must go.”
She nodded and released control to Kathryn who smiled at him, slowly. “Don’t worry. Go. We have to leave, I imagine as soon as we can. Help me up, and let’s get out of here.”
He agreed and then she was on her feet and turning to follow Jorlin and Captain Adams, urns in hand, into the tunnel. As Malek hesitated to step inside after her, he heard their SGC Teal’c begin to talk to the alternate Teal’c.
“We now have that which we came to recover. Our quarrel was with Ra, not Apophis, or you. If you will allow us to leave and take our possessions with us, peacefully, we will take our urns, and once we are safely away, we will return our hostages, unharmed. We assure you.”
Selmak added calmly, “We wish to enter the tunnel alone with only the women. We will enter it and make our way to our predetermined pick up area. When we are safely away, you have our solemn vow that both women will be returned safe, unharmed, and unmolested in any way. So long, of course, as you keep your word and allow us to leave peacefully with our own property.”
“Should you break your word, of course, then our word would mean nothing as well. We would be forced to first kill Ria’ta, a thing I cannot help but believe that Apophis would be most unhappy about, and then we would follow it with Nal’ka. Most distressing. Or perhaps we should do it the other way around, and kill Nal’ka first? Which would you prefer, Teal’c?” Lantash asked conversationally.
“You will do neither,” Teal’c bit out. “You may leave peacefully.” Still speaking through clenched teeth, he continued, “But, should you ever cross my path again, I will take great pleasure in killing you all. Slowly and painfully.”
Lantash laughed and bowed his head in acknowledgement. “But of course, Teal’c. That is to be expected. You will follow us into the tunnel in two minutes. Then you will proceed slowly to the main chamber. You will remain there, against the far wall. Once you are there, we will return the women to you within fifteen minutes. Unharmed.” Lantash backed into the tunnel, pulling Nal’ka with him. Teal’c waited two minutes and waved his Jaffa back as they would have followed him.
“I do not believe that we have anything to fear from them,” he told them, his voice low. I need you here to see that no one enters this tunnel. If I do not return in thirty minutes, come for me.”
He turned and entered the tunnel. He was not surprised to find Teal’c waiting for him. “Is there something more to say?” he asked abruptly. He already felt that his mind was near overload.
“No. Only that I wished to encourage you to believe in your abilities. You can do much for your people when the time is right. Do not underestimate yourself. While having the Tok’Ra and Tau’ri as allies is a comfort and a help, I do not believe it to be a prerequisite for success. That is all.”
Teal’c nodded. “I will give this much thought. In one way, I am glad that this has happened, for it gives me hope that a different future is possible.”
In the main chamber, Sam and Lantash stood, talking with Ria’ta. Nal’ka was still on the ship and would come down as Sam and Lantash returned to the ship. Sam looked at Ria’ta curiously, before asking, “Why are you in Apophis’s household, Ria’ta? I have a feeling that you are there because you want to be, not because you have no other choice. I know that isn’t very clear, but I don’t know how else to say it.”
“You do not have to explain, Samantha. I know what you are asking me, and I will tell you.” She looked around, more from habit than because she believed that someone would overhear her, and then lowered her voice to little more than a murmur, “I belong to a resistance movement. We have worked for some time within the System Lords’ households, warning worlds of imminent attacks, cullings, and raids for workers for the mines, things like that. When possible, we remove the most vulnerable to safe planets, though they are few and far between. The Tok’Ra helped us in many ways, education about the Goa’uld being not the least.”
She shook her head, sighing. “We are not strong enough to actively fight the Goa’uld. We are little more than a glorified protection circle. It came to our attention quite some time ago that there were rumors that Teal’c headed his own circle of protection. I was sent here, not to find out anything about Apophis, or his plans, but to see if there was any chance that Teal’c could be convinced to head up a rebellion. And if not a rebellion, then at least, add us to his network of protected people.”
“I do not believe that he will do so, and though he knows the System Lords are not Gods, he will not betray Apophis. Hearing his plan to implant me with Apophis’s Queen, brought his loyalties home to me today. Only someone with deep and true loyalties could do something so evil to the woman that he claims to love. His Queen is Hathor. She is pure evil. I will die before I allow myself to be implanted with her. I will have to leave, of course. I can only hope that Apophis does not blame Teal’c and kill him. I believe that I will arrange to make it appear that the minor System Lord Hek’tar’set, the one that had you killed in this reality, Samantha, kidnapped me. At least then he will have someone besides Teal’c to focus his anger on.”
“A good plan, Ria’ta, but we must hope that what we discussed earlier will come to pass and all of your fears will come to naught.” Lantash soothed.
“Yes, don’t give up hope so quickly. You haven’t even started to discuss any of this with him, and now that he’s seen what is possible, well, you never know. And I’m sure Teal’c is talking to him, too.” Sam added softly before her eyes glowed and her posture changed.
Leaning forward, Egeria whispered, “Little one, if all else fails, you will go to Azurat, and you will blend with Anasharya.” Leaning back somewhat, she continued, “Then you will go to Kheb and find first the Tau’ri, then the one in the temple there. It will work out, and you will remember what else you must do.”
“Yes, my Queen. I will not fail you; I give you my word,” Ria’ta vowed to her. She had promised to join with the Tok'Ra, and this woman would always be her Queen, no matter how old she lived to be.
Egeria leaned forward again and kissed her forehead. “No, I know you will not. I do not believe that I could have found a stronger life-mate for Anasharya. She will love you as I already do. Teal’c will be strong and he will make a strong and able consort. He will not betray you. Now, here they come. We must talk of lighter things.” Egeria stated, as she released control to Sam.
They walked into the main chamber, and Teal’c was at once aware of the people standing there. Of the many that had come on the mission, only Lantash, Samantha Carter, and Teal’c remained, and Teal’c immediately stepped into the rings and was swept up into the ship above them. So, only the four, or six depending on your perspective, remained.
It was obvious that a very long and serious discussion had taken place between Ria’ta and the two Tok’Ra. They turned to him, their expressions serious, and the ensuing conversation covered many topics including the future of Teal’c and Ria’ta’s reality and how to explain certain events that had occurred while the imposters were there.
They spent some time explaining again how Lantash had fallen through the portal and how difficult it was to find one exact reality, as they had no addresses or ways to identify them. That they had actually found the correct one had been a large chunk of luck…or predestination, depending on how one looked at things. It was very unlikely that such a thing would ever happen again.
Soon the time they had allotted themselves was gone.
Lantash reached out and caressed Ria’ta’s cheek. “I cannot thank you enough for helping me that day, Ria’ta. You gave me more than you can ever know, for you gave me back the very heart of me. My Samantha means more to me than any other thing in the universe. That fate led me to her because of you, is a miracle for which I will never stop thanking the goddess…and you.”
Turning to Teal’c, Lantash clasped his arm. “Cherish her, Teal’c, for a woman’s love is indeed the one thing more precious than gold and more beautiful than jewels. Her loyalty and trust are the cloaks that will clothe and soothe your soul forever, her faith and passion will clasp and fire your heart unto eternity.”
“I agree, Lantash. I believe you may have spoken the truest words I have ever heard. I will care for her. And she will care for me. But you must go.” Teal’c lips twisted in a wry smile, uncommon for him, as he walked with them to the rings.
Stepping back, he said, “Who knows what Moirai has in store for any of us? Perhaps we should simply say, until we meet again.”
“Indeed.” Lantash said, just before he and Sam disappeared in a flash of light.