Chapter Fifteen Summary: The rescue team returns to the SGC. Garshaw happens to be there and Egeria suggests that she call the rest of her council to attend them at the SGC. Plans are made for a brighter future. In an alternate reality, Apophis’s Queen makes some very serious plans.
“Italics” – Symbiote-Host Communication
The rings deposited Sam and Martouf into the cargo hold of the ship as it returned Nal’ka to the tunnel below.
“They’re aboard, let’s get out of here, Jorlin,” Daniel yelled, as soon as they were sure that the couple was safe and in one piece. Sighs of relief could be heard from around the room.
They headed toward the area that they had found the most comfortable for gatherings and found seats for themselves amongst the others already lounging there.
“Do not allow your positions to become too comfortable,” Jorlin called from the front of the ship. “The Chaappa’ai is already within sight. We will be disembarking shortly. We should be on Earth within the hour and in contact with Garshaw shortly thereafter.”
“Garshaw?” Egeria questioned, as she sensed Samantha’s immediate, well, not dislike, exactly, more like anxiety. She seemed to respect the woman, but felt mild tenseness, at the mention of her. “Why does this person make you tense, my Sam?” Egeria again questioned instead of intruding, as she was quickly learning the parameters of the Tau’ri mind and their feelings about privacy. Indeed, much had changed in two thousand years. Humans had advanced significantly. The Tau’ri humans in particular, she suspected. For the better in some ways. Her new clutch of children would need new and more restrictive codes of conduct implanted into their consciousness.
As for Samantha and herself, they would have to work hard, but they would succeed. They already had respect for one another and the beginnings of affection. They shared a sense of humor, which was a relief. Not many Goa’uld had much of a sense of humor, but she had developed one. Samantha had been very open and sharing with her, but it had been difficult for her. It had taken great courage on her part to offer herself as a host and great determination as well. She would not let her down or disappoint her. They would build a strong and loving bond.
And Samantha had chosen strong, intelligent, and handsome mates. They would make fine consorts, as well. She was already beginning to love them. Sam’s feelings were influencing hers as expected, of course, but her own were also drawn to the gentleness and devoted, adoring, love of Martouf, and the emotional strength and hungry, fierce, passion of Lantash. Sam’s voice brought her out of her contemplation of the images she had been enjoying of Samantha, Martouf, and Lantash making love. Bringing her thoughts back to the Councilor was difficult. She would rather contemplate the erotic picture of Mart…” Yes, of course, I am listening, my Sam. But start again, just to be sure that I missed nothing.” Egeria focused on Sam’s words this time.
Sam grinned to herself. She had seen the same pictures in her mind that Egeria had. She couldn’t wait to get back to that kind of recreation either, but at the moment, they had other things about which to talk. She started again, “Garshaw is a High Councilor of the Tok’Ra. We suspected that she wouldn’t have allowed us to come for you when we did. She would have insisted that the idea of a rescue mission go before the council, and it would have been debated endlessly. These things usually are. Well, maybe that’s not fair. It wouldn’t have been all that long. They probably would have agreed to it, but we didn’t feel that we had even the extra few days that it would have taken to convince them that Martouf and Lantash were really who they claimed they were, and then still have to debate the feasibility of a rescue mission.”
“So, feeling, no, knowing that we had very little time, before Apophis could find you, we kind of, um, told her that Selmak, Malek, Anise, and Jorlin had gone on a mission to rescue someone close to one of the Tok’Ra. And that there wasn’t any time to waste, or they wouldn’t be able to save them. She would assume that the Tok’Ra we meant was my dad and Selmak, and the person they were going to save was me, and we didn’t tell her any different. We also told her that Malek, Anise, and Jorlin agreed that the mission had to be undertaken immediately, or the opportunity to save them would be gone, all of which was true, it just wasn’t exactly as she thought it was. We didn’t tell her about Martouf and Lantash, either, because we didn’t want to have to go into the explanation of how he was from another reality and this person that we were rescuing was in another reality, and that was where we were going to rescue them.”
“We’ve been gone, well, quite a while, now. Over a week from her perspective, because we took several days in planning and getting to the planet, as well as the time that we spent looking for you, so she’s probably going to be mad at my dad and everyone else, especially the SGC. She’ll be livid with the Tok’Ra that left on the mission, too, because they didn’t get permission from the council, or her. And, because we lied to her and everything. Of course,” Sam grinned,” It won’t be the first time.” Then she sighed, “it’s just so unpleasant. She’ll really blame us for leading the Tok’Ra astray, but that means she’ll be upset with my dad, too. Because he’s led Selmak to go against the council…again.”
“I see. Well, perhaps she will be too shocked at seeing Martouf and Lantash to become too upset. And then she will discover that she has another Tau’ri to deal with. Two more of them, actually, when you consider that my dear Astaria is now one with a Tau'ri, as well.”
Catching another of Sam’s thoughts, as she thought of her father, Egeria smiled slightly, “I suppose that to the Tau’ri it is a shocking thought. But, we do not have children in the sense that humans do, you know.”
“I know. It’s just that…well, I mean, it only now occurred to me that…well, it seems odd that my father is my—my son. And so is my lover, my husband. Luckily, it doesn’t compute for me in other than an abstract way, so I don’t think that it will affect my sex life.”
“I will not allow it to affect our sex life, my Sam, of this I can most stringently assure you,” Egeria responded at once.
Sam blushed, and then laughed. “Yeah, I suppose it’s ours now. Oh, wow, I’ll finally know what it’s like for Lantash and Martouf.” She blushed more furiously and blurted,” Oh, look, we’re at the Chaappa’ai.”
“Yes, we must gather our belongings and leave the ship. We will hope that nothing occurs to delay us longer and the chances of that happening are slim. Relax, my Sam,” Egeria soothed her, calmly helping the hot flush of embarrassment to quickly recede. She was not yet completely controlling Sam’s body’s responses, but slowly moving to do so, so as not to make it too abrupt a change for her. Her new life-mate was proving to be a true joy to her. The depth of her emotions and her willingness to share them with her was a true blessing. She was coming to love her far more quickly than she had thought possible, and their blending was moving forward more smoothly than she had expected, as well. She only hoped that her new life-mate bonded to her as swiftly and as strongly as she was bonding with her. She was fairly sure that she was.
“Are you and Egeria ready, Samantha? We should hurry, in case Teal’c decides to try to stop us for some strange, insane reason,” Lantash spoke from behind her.
As they gathered up belongings and departed the ship, she nodded in answer to him, and then stepped up next to Kathryn, as she realized that that she had not yet asked after her. “Kathryn? Are you doing all right? I heard most of what happened, but are you sure that you want this? ”
“Oh, Sam. When the urn with Astaria was broken, and she needed a host, fast, and I was the only one around that could do it, I just did it, you know. She’s pretty cool now that she’s calmed down about Egeria being alive and well. We thought that she’d go nuts, until we convinced her that you were hosting her. Once she got close enough to sense her, she was okay again. I think that we’re going to get along all right.” Kathryn smiled brightly at Sam, but her eyes sought the tall figure of Devlin. The love shone from her eyes and softened her face. “She likes Dev and Malek, as well. Which is good because I’m not about to give them up now. Or ever, for that matter. I can’t believe it, Sam.” She laughed softly. “We’ll talk later, okay?”
Sam nodded, and then Egeria came forward and spoke soothingly, for Astaria to hear, “Kathryn, please tell my Astaria, if she is sleeping, that once we are settled into our new lives, we will have a nice long talk some night, when you and my Sam are asleep and contented. I hope that she approves of her new mates. They appear quite handsome. Tell her that I am well pleased with my new consorts and look forward to getting to know them and my new life-mate. My Sam has very good taste in her men, and I believe we will be well suited to one another, as well. Please assure her of that.”
Kathryn laughed abruptly at Sam’s face, as Egeria once again returned control to her. “You should see your face. Actually, Astaria is asleep, but I will pass on the message, when she awakens. I’ll say this, Sam, I think that living with these two could prove interesting. I have a feeling that if we aren’t careful, they’re going to suggest sharing our mates. Maybe even at the same time, kind of a mini-orgy. I’ve been given certain images that suggest that it wasn’t an uncommon event between them before. Some of the scenes that I’ve already been privy, to - Whew!” Kathryn waved her hand in front of her face, and Sam laughed.
She shook her head ruefully, “I think you may be right, Kathryn. I’ve had a few glimpses of things I’d rather not have seen, too. I really didn’t want that much information. I have to admit that I like her though, in fact, I’m coming to feel quite a bit of affection for her already. She makes it very easy to care about her. I was afraid that…well, it doesn’t matter now, because I do. We’ll have a long talk later ourselves, Kathryn. I think we deserve it.”
“I agree. And, I know what you mean about the other, Sam, because I almost panicked myself. I didn’t even know if the symbiote was a Tok’Ra. Taking her scared me to death, as soon as I did it.” Kathryn paled, but pulled herself back from the edge and faced the event horizon that had formed.
“Time to go. One more stop, and we are SGC bound. I almost can’t believe it.”
Sam nodded, as she felt Martouf walk up behind her and place his hand on her shoulder. She saw Devlin come to stand next to Kathryn. It would all work out. “I know. I feel like I’ ve been swept up into a vortex, and I have no control over where it’s going to drop us. I hope it’s where we want to be. Somehow, I don’t know how or why, but I believe it will be.” She smiled and touched her friend’s shoulder, “C’mon. Let’s go.” The scientists and soldiers were still there on the other side of the mirror, and they looked up, exclaiming, as the SGC and Tok’Ra began stepping through the mirror. They had two days left in their week on the planet, and were surprised to see them returning earlier than they had expected.
Finding out that the mission was a success was a bonus, and cheers broke out before the more quiet congratulations took over. They took a while to get through, but finally, Jacob took charge, now that the group was back in their home reality. Looking around he stated, firmly, “Listen folks, we appreciate all the good wishes and stuff, but we’ve had a really rough few days, almost no sleep, and today was very stressful, with the other reality’ s Teal'c and Jaffa turning up, so if you don’t mind, we’re going to head on through to the SGC.”
The crowd parted at once, but Egeria was impressed with the way the soldiers reached out to shake hands and pat the backs of both the Tau’ri and Tok’Ra that passed. Impressed and pleased. The hope she read in her host’s heart and mind might come to fruition after all, if the good will here was genuine. She wondered how the Tok’Ra would greet her. She suspected there would be both tension and suspicion. Of both her and Martouf and Lantash.
It seemed they would go to the SGC first, and she would meet with General Hammond and perhaps this “President” of the United States, her host’s “country”. Their politics seemed complicated. No doubt, she would understand it, as time passed. She was simply more in tune to the ways of a world that was two thousand years in the past, and she had much catching up to do. Luckily, her host was a brilliant woman, and, it seemed that her heart’s sibling, the one she felt closest to besides her mate, was a genius as well, and excelled when it came to all things ancient, pertaining to history, language, or culture. She could not have a better instructor. She sighed, as she watched another event horizon form. One more path to traverse on this journey. She had to admit that she was excited. A new life and a new mate. What more could she ask?
Martouf clasped their hand warmly as he smiled down on them. Together, they stepped into one more wavering pool of blue.
“General Hammond, I believe that you are being deliberately obtuse. You are withholding information pertaining to my operatives, my people. Where are my people, General? Why will you not reveal their whereabouts to me? You have avoided every inquiry that has been directed to you, or you have instructed your people to do so. I demand an explanation.”
“Master Garshaw, I assure you, that if I knew where your people were, I would tell you. You conveniently forget that my own people are with them. I don’t know where your people are. I don’t know where my people are. I can’t contact people I can’t find.
“I find it very hard to believe that you know nothing about where your officers and soldiers have gone.”
“I know that I can no longer contact them. I know they’ve gone to rescue someone very important to the Tok’Ra. They assured me, when they requested my help in this mission, that it was imperative that they begin the mission at once and with complete and absolute operational silence. Information was to be on a need-to-know basis only, and I have to admit, I agree with Selmak that you have no need to know at this point. Only the people on the mission needed to know where they were going, who they were retrieving, and why it was necessary for them to go at once.”
“Believe me, Garshaw; this mission has me having nightmares because of the secrecy surrounding it. But, I can guarantee you this much. If they are successful, you will fully understand the circumstances of their departure, their secrecy, and the great risk that they have taken for the Tok’Ra. Yes, for the Tok’Ra, not the Tau’ri. This is strictly a Tok’ Ra mission. When I said that it was a person dear to the Tok’Ra, someone indispensable to them, I was not lying to you. Even if the mission fails, and they don’t return, you will agree, when you finally hear the details, that it was worth the risk.”
“If the time comes that I decide that the mission failed, and they will not be returning, then I will disclose who, what, when, where, and why. Until then, my hands are tied, and my lips are sealed.”
“Now, I will have the Sergeant dial your world, but I assure you absolutely that, as soon as we hear anything at all, I will contact you at once.”
“This is not the last of this, General. I will be taking this up with the council and…”
“Unscheduled off-world activation.”
General Hammond looked up at the control room from where he stood in the gate room with the extremely angry and irate councilor. “Do we have an IDC, Sergeant?”
“Yes, Sir, we do, and Sir…it’s them. It’s our off-universe team. They’re back, Sir.” While relief was evident in his voice, there was still a thread of unease and tension underlying his words. They still didn’t know if the mission had been successful.
“Off-universe, team, General? What did he mean by that? How could the team be off- universe?” Garshaw demanded harshly, her breath caught in her throat, as explanations, all fantastic, raced through her thoughts, only to be discarded as too outlandish to be acceptable. They had to be. Surely no one would be so insane as to go…
“Open the iris, son,” George Hammond looked calmly up at the Sergeant, before turning to Garshaw and escorting her several steps away from the ramp. “Perhaps Selmak can answer your questions himself.”
“To be sure he will, General. We cannot have our operatives running wild all over the known worlds without firm orders! They must realize that there will be repercussions to such actions. I will see to it that he is brought before the council for insubordination, the deliberate concealing of information from the council, and any other charges that pertain to this entire situation!”
“I will also see to it that he is stripped not only of his command position, but his seat on the council, as well. And last, but most certainly not least, I will see to it that our Selmak is removed from your Jacob and given a more suitable host! One who will not encourage him in these disreputable, disruptive, and insolent ways.”
“However, the decision as to who is giving the orders will no longer lie solely within the council’s hands, Master Garshaw. It will now also lie within mine, and there will be no sanctions of any kind brought forth over this mission. I am, in fact, quite content to have had it undertaken in the manner that those involved deemed suitable.”
She paused into the dead quiet of the gate room before continuing, “As for separating Selmak and Jacob, I do not believe that it would be a sound action, from either a military tactics point of view, nor from a personal point of view, so I feel that I must veto your decision.”
The entire gate room seemed to hold its breath as Garshaw stared at Samantha Carter. “I hardly see what makes you believe that you have any say in our affairs, Major Carter.”
“I am sure that my Sam does not feel she has any particular say in your affairs, Garshaw, however, I do.” Everyone watched as Sam’s eyes brightened as they continued to stare at Garshaw and a cool aristocratic voice reverberated with her next words. “I am Egeria, and I am your Queen.” Placing her hand on Martouf’s arm, she walked down the ramp and over to her high councilor. “I am pleased to meet you at last, and am very happy to have been rescued, even though the circumstances are a little unusual, to say the least.”
“I died in your reality. I did not die in Martouf and Lantash’s reality, our reality.” She bowed her head at Garshaw, and then turned to address General Hammond. “You must be the General that my Sam speaks so highly of. I am happy to meet you. She is an excellent and courageous soldier and has great respect for you. I would have died if she had not offered herself to me. I am grateful to her, to you, and, of course, to your government for allowing the rescue mission to take place so expeditiously.”
“Perhaps there is some place we could go to discuss the discovery of our existence and our subsequent rescue? I feel sure that Master Garshaw is as confused as you all must have been at first. And I appreciate, also, General, the personal hardship you have undergone, in keeping your own counsel, thus sparing my people the disappointment of anticipating my arrival only to have the mission fail. It is much appreciated.”
“I am honored to meet you, as well, ah,…”
“Egeria is all that I require, General. I have no intention of using a title, when I am here, nor at most times for that matter. It is useful only for posturing, and unless I am in a confrontation with a Goa’uld, I see no reason to assume that identity. So, let us leave it at Egeria.”
“Very well, Egeria. Believe me, all of the hardships were worth every minute to see you here and so obviously well. That the Tok’Ra now have a viable Queen, and no longer have to fear the extinction of their race is a wonderful thing. There is much to say on that head, but this is not the time or place for that. There will be time in the future for us to meet and talk. If you will all come this way, we will have a debriefing, and at the same time you can explain to Garshaw exactly what has occurred.”
Egeria stepped next to Garshaw and placed her hand on her arm. There was no point in antagonizing her councilors immediately. “Would it, perhaps, be best to call the remainder of the councilors to the meeting, so that we can explain the basics to everyone at one time? That way, everyone will hear the exact same story. Once we return to the tunnels, we will go into matters in more depth and in individual exchanges, if anyone wishes to, but for the moment, I believe this would be the most expedient way to assure that everyone is informed. We are all extremely fatigued. I wish to meet my councilors, as soon as possible, but I will not take my host from her home, at the moment. Meeting here makes the most sense.”
She looked at General Hammond, “I am sure that the General would not mind arranging to have them summoned for you, Master Garshaw.”
“It would be my pleasure. If you would follow me, Garshaw, I’ll make arrangements. This will give our people a chance to get cleaned up and checked out while we wait for them to arrive, if you approve.”
“Yes. Yes, that sounds like a suitable plan. Thank you.”
Sam smiled at Martouf, as they headed toward their room. Once this meeting was out of the way, they could begin their life together. Well, they would begin to have a life together. It wouldn’t settle down for some time. There would be teammates to become accustomed to, and the learning of everything she could about her new time and space; this technological era that they lived in here on Earth.
And she would soon have a clutch of symbiotes. She and Samantha had agreed not to put it off for more than six months at the most. She could safely have a clutch every two to three months, but it would be stressful. She might do it at first though, just to have symbiotes maturing. They were needed so badly.
They hadn’t decided where she would have her clutch of symbiotes, but Azurat was her first choice. That would be one of the first worlds that they would check out. If it was still untouched, then it would be perfect, and they could go there to give birth. That was in the future, too. For now, they had reached their room. It was time to give their mates their undivided attention.
Closing the door, they sank into each other’s arms, sighing as their lips met, before sinking down onto the bed. It had been much too long. Later tonight, they would have time to enjoy each other fully, but for now, they would draw strength and comfort from the feel of each other’s arms, the beat of their hearts, and the meanings of the words of love that they whispered to one another. They were in their reality, their bed, their home. That was the most important thing of all. They were home.
Nal’ka soothed her hand down Teal’c’s arm, saying softly, “It must be done this way, Teal'c. We have no choice. You must carry her in, and lay her on the altar, and you must be the one that implants her with Apophis’s Queen. He will be watching. You must not hesitate, or appear to care one way or the other. Your life will be forfeit, and you know as well as I that with you gone, the remainder of us would be left unprotected. One by one, we would fall to his erratic tempers and perverse ways. We will all be dead within a year, if you do not do this. There is no other choice. She should have left weeks ago. She knew what he planned. Now, you must do as he demands, for yourself and for us.”
Teal’c looked down at the unconscious body of his lover and drew a deep breath. How he hated doing this to her, but as Nal’ka pointed out, he had no other choice. If he failed to implant her with the Queen, Apophis would kill him, and his people would no longer be protected. He could not allow that to happen. No matter what his alternate twin had said, there was not always a choice. Not at the final moment, anyway.
They had waited too long and now he must do this. All they could do now was watch and hope that nothing went wrong. That the Queen would not immediately tell everything that she gleaned from Ria’ta’s mind and get them all executed. He almost laughed aloud. Either way, death could be waiting for them. A gong sounded in the distance. It was time. He must go, and he must do as he was ordered.
She did not know that it was to be tonight, and neither did he. Apophis had drugged her during the meal and then informed him after she had succumbed to the sleeping draught. He expected Teal’c to be the one to carry her into the chamber and introduce the Queen to her body. He had thought that perhaps he could arrange for someone else to do it, so that he would not have to watch it happen, but Apophis had been adamant.
Reaching down, he picked Ria’ta up in his arms and turned toward the altar room, where the implantation would take place. It would not take them long. The Queen would have no choice this time. Normally, the Queen chose her own host, but in this instance, Apophis had chosen the host he wished his Queen to inhabit.
The Jaffa guarding the door did not look at him as he approached carrying his burden, but as he reached the door, they opened it for him. He stepped inside the gaudy golden chamber and walked firmly forward with Ria’ta in his arms.
When he reached Apophis, he knelt, the girl still held in his arms.
Apophis reached out and ran his hand in a gentle caress down her soft pale cheek. “She is truly a worthy vessel for your Queen to inhabit, is she not, Teal’c?”
“Yes, my Lord, she will make a beautiful Queen, indeed.” Teal’c answered stoically, as Ria’ ta moaned softly.
“We will proceed, at once, Teal’c. You have done well, and I shall reward you greatly, and at once. I have decided to gift you with both a wife, and, because of the service you did me by saving Ria’ta there, the Pleasure Palace of Ra’s. You may do what you wish with it; in fact, you may do what you wish with the entire place, for there is nothing there, which I wish to hold. Nothing of worth resides on the entire planet; it is yours to do with as you wish. I shall have nothing except unpleasant recollections of the place due to the incident that occurred there. I believe that it was Hek’tar’set attempting once again to take something of value from me. That place is too close to Lord Yu’s domains for me to be comfortable there, knowing that he is still at large and after what is mine.”
“I thank you, my Lord. You honor me greatly, and we can begin to hunt for him at once, if it is your command.”
“Yes, I do honor you. You honored me by saving my Ria’ta. And you will honor me more by bringing me Hek’tar’set’s head. But enough of that. I do not wish this moment tarnished with thoughts of him. This is a joyful occasion for me and my Ria’ta. Yes, my Ria’ta.” He nodded toward the female vessel waiting to bring the symbiote of the Queen that was to be implanted into her new host. As the symbiote emerged, Teal’c took her in his hands and guided her toward Ria’ta’s bared neck, and watched as the symbiote entered her, while Apophis continued speaking, in triumph, “My Queen.”
The Tok’Ra Council sat stiffly on one side of the conference table. General Hammond sat in his usual seat at one end, Jack O’Neill, now that he had sort of recovered from his shock and anger over finding out that his second in command was now a Tok’Ra, sat next to him. He found himself sitting next to Jacob who was seated next to Capt. Adams. Next to her sat Lantash, then Samantha, Kathryn, Malek, Anise, Daniel, Jorlin, and Teal’c. The remainder of the mission’s personnel had been released from having to attend the meeting. If they were needed, they would be sent for.
Jacob took control of the meeting. “I’m going to give you a brief outline of what happened, what decisions were made, what intel we had that caused those decisions to be made, and what we did to accomplish the mission.”
“A little over a week ago, we, that is, Anise, Jorlin, Malek, and I, were sent on a mission to examine a specific planet to see if there was any new technology there that would be of interest to the Tok’Ra, and to try out our new scanner that checks for contaminates to see how well it worked. It was an ideal location for that and we proceeded to do so.”
“While we were checking the building for threats or anything of significant interest, we almost stumbled across a body lying on the floor in a back room. You can imagine our surprise when we realized that it was Martouf, and when Lantash answered us when we spoke to him.”
Garshaw frowned, “What made you so sure that the body was indeed Martouf, Jacob? What proof did you have? Imposters have been made before.”
“We thought of that and weren’t at all convinced that he was who we thought he was until he informed us that we were all dead. He had just watched us die himself, and therefore; we couldn’t be anything other than hallucinations brought about by his injuries. Then he demanded that we go away because we were going to cause him to be captured. He didn’t need us to talk to.”
“We had realized he was badly injured, of course, but at that point, we realized that he really was very badly injured. Anise came in at about this point, having found no technology of any value or interest, and she was the one that discovered the portal about which the Tau’ri had previously told us. We turned it on, and Teal’c was standing and looking at us. It upset Lantash so much, he managed to stand with some help, but that didn’t last long. We shut the portal down, realized that he had come from an alternate reality, and decided to bring him with us to our meeting here.”
“I won’t go into all that took place that afternoon and evening. I will tell you that he suffered a severe bout of Amek’tel kek’ma’tel. His delirium during the illness was enough to convince us that they were indeed Martouf and Lantash. Had it not been, then Dr. Frasier’s tests would have. There was no doubt whatsoever. He is Martouf, and his symbiote is Lantash.”
“He recovered and from there, I’ll go straight to the most important part. During his debriefing, it came to light that in his reality, Martouf was the last living Tok’Ra now that Selmak and Malek were deceased, and the mission that they were on in his reality was to release Egeria from captivity. Ra had just been defeated by Apophis. Ra still had Egeria. Ergo, we needed to get to Egeria before Apophis did, and Apophis was examining his new domains. Apophis was now the Supreme System Lord. There was no time to debate what to do.”
“George graciously offered some of his people for the mission; we came up with a plan, and left for Martouf and Lantash’s reality and the planet where we knew Egeria to be, as soon as was humanly possible.”
“We all took some fairly big risks, but Teal’c’s was probably bigger than most of ours, because the other Teal’c is still alive there. In fact, Teal’c being with us is what finally convinced the other reality’s Teal’c that we really were not from his time and space, and that we weren’t going to hang around and cause trouble for him. And as far as our Teal’c was concerned, there were no problems, so we lucked out with that.
“And, that’s what happened. We got there. We pretended to be Teal’c and some guests of Apophis given the run of the place, and we combed the Palace room by room, wall by wall, and urn by urn. Sam found Egeria in stasis just as the other Teal’c, and his entourage, arrived. Egeria’s stasis chamber was damaged in the attempt to get it free. Sam became her host. We escaped. Here we are. End of story.”
Egeria took control of Sam and stood, facing the Tok’Ra Council. “It is not exactly the end of the story. I have, of course, made some plans for my future, and the future of the Tok'Ra, and our relationship with the Tau’ri, now that my host is Tau’ri.”
Garshaw spoke up, asking, “Surely, you will find a new host? You cannot be willing to stay in a Tau’ri? They are not, ah, that is to say, Major Carter will not want to give up her place on SG-1.”
“I will not find a new host. I am very fond of my Sam. I have no intention of leaving SG- 1. Why should I? I believe that I will enjoy going on missions. I have been in the equivalent of an urn, for two thousand years. Unaware of it, perhaps, but now, I am ready to go out and do some things. Preferably, it will be some things that will count.” Sam laughed inside her head, “Why don’t you just tell them that you have no intention of being trapped in the Tok’Ra tunnels? Being Queen has its perks, and we’re going to use them. There isn’t anyone that can tell us no.”
“Hush, my Sam,” Egeria laughed back “you will make me lose my line of thought and say something inappropriate. Now quiet, my love.”
“Certainly, I will have to spend some time in the tunnels, but the council has managed admirably up to now without me, and I have no problem with them continuing to do so.”
“I will expect to attend meetings, however, and I may veto some things, if I disagree, but for the most part, I have no intention of making any sweeping changes. Why should I? The only place that I see myself making changes, at the moment, is in this stringent and impossible lack of action on your part when time is of the essence. Without their hasty plans and immediate action, I would, in all probability, be a prisoner of Apophis today. This must change, and we will discuss it at a later time. I am sure that we can reach a compromise between your rigidity in the matter, and my lack of structure.”
“Lantash, and for the moment, Malek, Anise, and Selmak shall stay with me. Later, I may need others, but for the moment, these will be fine for the beginnings of making up my household. Selmak shall be my courier, for the time being, though he is too experienced an operative to use in that capacity for long. He will, of course be based here, and make trips to the tunnels to bring me news and to keep me apprised as to decisions I need to know about. Jorlin will be my liaison. Further changes will be implemented, as we see how this works out. I will be coming to the tunnels, for an extended time, quite soon, though. Probably within the next two weeks, and of course, my household will be accompanying me. You should also expect their chosen mates, so you should expect both Dr. Jackson and Captains Adams and Donovan. Please be prepared for others as well.”
“Have you any other questions?”
“How do we know that you are Egeria?”
“I suppose that you do not, do you? Your people found me in Ra’s Palace on the planet named Pangara. My name was on the nameplate on the urn. The urn on the other end of the mantle held my dear friend and lady-in-waiting, Astaria. That is the only assurance that I can give you. I suppose you could do some testing, if you want to. Do you not have some way to ascertain my authenticity? Your Za’tarc detector perhaps? Blood work? Scanners? Surely, in two thousand years, you have developed something to prove maternity and paternity?”
Anise sat up straighter at once, “Of course. I can do it right here. I do not know why I did not run the tests at once.”
“Then please do so, Anise, and put these people out of their uncertainty.”
Gathering her instruments, Anise approached. Ten minutes later, she lifted her head. “There is no doubt about it. You are our mother, our Queen.”
“Wonderful. Now, are there any other questions? No? Then perhaps we should allow the General to empty his conference room. I must speak to him of a few things, and then I will firm our plans for coming to the tunnels. If you would excuse us for a short time?” Inclining her head, she took General Hammond’s arm and accompanied him to his office.
Two hours later when they entered the lounge, both were smiling. Moving swiftly to Garshaw and the council members, where they sat around a table chatting with each other, almost, but not quite relaxed, she said firmly, “We will be arriving at the tunnels in one week, for about a month. I have to meet with some officials here and in Washington, but once the formalities are out of the way, I will spend time with you there and meet all of my children.”
“I had thought of going at once, but felt that it was imperative that things become firmly fixed on this end first. Our ties with the Tau’ri will become increasingly important as time goes on. It will take time for my children to mature enough to become viable fighters. In the meantime, we have much to do to keep the System Lords from gaining any ground.”
Garshaw stood and nodded, as they fell into step, heading toward the Chaappa’ai. They had talked about the change of circumstances that the Tok’Ra had just undergone. There would be new symbiotes. Youngsters to raise and then train, as they took hosts. It had added a new perspective to the situation, and the host that the Queen had taken. A warrior host could be a blessing. There would be changes, but change was not always bad. Already, there were new breezes blowing through the tunnels. Upheaval was on its way, and it would arrive in a week. So be it.
“We will look forward to your arrival, my Queen.”
Egeria shook her head. “You and everyone else will call me either Sam or Egeria, perhaps even Ria; I am thinking about it. My Sam keeps calling me that, and I am finding that I like it. Only on formal occasions, which I cannot see happening, will I be addressed as your Queen. My name will do.”
“As you wish, my, er, Egeria.”
They looked up as the ring began to spin, and then locked, forming a lovely blue pool.
“See you in a week, Garshaw. Take care of the tunnels.” Egeria turned and walked back toward the room that she was coming to know as theirs. Sam’s, hers, Martouf’s, and Lantash’s. She couldn’t wait to get there and be within their arms.
Apophis’s Queen stood gazing out the viewing window aboard her mothership. Soon, they would be approaching Earth, and everyone there would know exactly what Apophis’s Queen had in store for them.
She heard the slight rustle behind her that indicated someone had entered, but she had no need to turn to recognize who it was. She would know that scent anywhere, just as she would know the feel of those hands on her body. As he came to stand behind her and gaze out the viewing window with her, he pulled her curves into the hardness of his body and clasped his arms around her waist as he nuzzled her throat just below her ear.
“What are you thinking, my Queen? What shall we do first?”
“Has Apophis suggested anything? He does occasionally have a valid idea. You should not dismiss him out of hand, Teal’c, just because you are jealous of him.”
Teal’c frowned. “I am not jealous of that overdressed excuse for a man. I just don’t know why you put one of their best tacticians in that former, well, you know.”
“Teal’c, my love. How many times must I tell you that we need all of the knowledge that we can accumulate around us. The war is coming. It will not be long now before the other System Lords realize that Apophis is dead, and that Anasharya, daughter of Egeria, has not only taken over his holdings and his Jaffa, but is now also Supreme System Lord. More than that, she is freeing Worlds, who are then joining her in a Confederation of Planets to attempt to confine the other System Lords to their own sections. It will be much time before we can invade them, but we have a good start.”
“I still cannot believe that this is true. That my dreams for my people are within my grasp, and that it is due to the Tok’Ra…and you, Ria’ta, you and your faith in me and my abilities.”
“I knew from the moment I saw you that you were a man among men, Teal'c, and meant to lead the people to freedom. The resistance leaders knew it. The Tok’Ra could have killed you, but they, too, felt it.”
“I am glad that we met with our mother yesterday. Anasharya missed her, you know. Not that she hasn’t always been separated from her, but now, knowing that she is alive, but not here, I think it makes the sadness deeper. She really understands why she went, though. Her mate is there, and she knew that we had an excellent chance at success, even without her. Our reality doesn’t need two viable Queens when they have none. She’ s glad that she went, for that reason.”
“I agree. And she was very pleased about the Tau’ri, our plans to free the planet, and for an alliance with those there. Those that we are returning to their home planet will have much to assimilate, I am afraid.”
“It will all take time, Ria’ta, but we will all work at it steadily. The future is waiting for us, and we are going out to meet it. What more could we ask?”
Teal’c took her lips in a soft kiss, pulling her closer and resting her against him, before returning his gaze to the viewing window. They stood wrapped in each other’s arms, looking into the future.
Sam laid her head back against the smooth, warmth of Martouf’s chest, and sighed in bliss. Stars of the Universe, but he felt good, so damn good. Six months, one day, and some odd hours ago, she had walked into a briefing and found the man that she had loved more than any other in her life. The two beings whose deaths had cut so deeply into the very soul of her that it had nearly destroyed her. The man that she had thought never to again see in this lifetime. Now, she reveled in every minute that she was with him, them, their body, and their essence. There were times that it quite literally still took her breath away. There were times when the pain of their loss would catch her again, and she would have to reach out and touch them, reassure herself that they were really there. With her.
She still, occasionally, had trouble with the “him, them” thing, though she thought of them more and more as him. They were one being. She had one desperately deep and abiding love for them. They were two distinct personalities, with two love-making styles, but their essence was inseparable, one from the other.
It was confusing even to her, for she also saw them as two. She sighed again. It didn’t matter. They could be two male beings one lying on either side of her and she would still love them both, equally. At its most elemental point, that was what she had discovered. She loved them both so much that she couldn’t separate the love she held for one from the love she held for the other. It was an overwhelming love and it always would be. Feeling his skin, cooler now, and firm, against her like this was pure bliss. Soon, she knew, it would be gliding over hers. Soon.
His arms came around her as she snuggled deeper into his embrace, and she felt his breath on the nape of her neck as he nuzzled the back of her neck. “What are you thinking of, my love? Have you recovered from our trip to Azurat?”
Samantha laughed, “I recovered from that by that evening, Martouf. It was very easy, you know. I didn’t feel anything this time, either, or at least, very little; Egeria took care of every thing. And the symbiotes will be fine there. The lake is perfect for them. I’m so glad that we’ve been able to start a new Tok’Ra family right away. And Egeria thinks that after studying so many different types of people and talking with the President, different military leaders, scientists, and others, she has a fair idea of what the symbiotes need to know to be able to blend successfully with a Tau’ri, or any other, more developed human.”
“We can’t suppress the natural Goa’uld tendencies, what makes them the species that they are; that would be counter productive, but there are some areas where compromise is possible, and she believes that she achieved it. Arrogance can be tamed a lot, or changed to confidence without the irritability factor. I have confidence in her. Look at how wonderful many of her older children have turned out.” Sam turned in his arms to smile up at him. Tracing his lips tenderly with her fingers, she whispered, “I love you and Lantash so much, Martouf. Both of you. You know that. Egeria is coming to care for you both very much, as well. I think that she will tell you soon. I shouldn’t be telling you, I suppose, but I sense that you are both beginning to love her, as well.”
“Yes, I know that you love us both. It is our greatest joy, Samantha. Just as we both love you. And, you are correct; Egeria has become very dear to us. She has become such a part of you. It is as it should be, of course, but it is always a surprise when it happens so quickly. Coming to love her crept up on us, I suppose. It seems odd to love one’s Queen in a sexual and romantic way.”
Sam laughed at him, saying, “I understand. I’m glad, for I love her myself.” She shivered as his hands stroked softly down her arms, coming up to cup her breasts. “She doesn’t usually think of herself as your Queen, and the thought never crosses her mind when we’ re on fire in your arms, my love.” Sam smiled up at him.
“You have always been our destiny, Samantha. From the first moment that we saw you. At times, it seems as if we have loved you forever, perhaps for many lifetimes. You are our love, our life, our very reason for living. And now Egeria is part of you, and we are coming to love her, as well, as we have told you. Soon we will love as one, as you love us. It will come.”
Sam smiled at them. “I know that you will, and so does she. She feels the same. You know that. She loves you both.”
Lying still, she looked up at him and marveled at how intense were the emotions that he invoked in her. How she loved these men. Martouf sometimes so tentative, as if afraid he will frighten her away should he move too quickly, moving slowly, eyes gleaming in wistful need. Martouf, in all his many sweet and gentle moods, could still become the wild and ardent lover, leaving passion’s marks on her body, only to soothe them with long slow kisses that drugged her senses, until they were totally submerged, and she knew nothing, felt nothing, but him, only him.
And Lantash, sometimes so wild, so hungry, a yearning force that nothing could stop, nor would she ever want to. He was her warrior coming to take the maiden from the dragon, and the dragon be damned. He washed over her in great tidal waves of desire, drowning her in emotion almost too deep to bear. Lantash, dear heaven above, Lantash, with so much raging passion within him, could turn so suddenly gentle and loving, that she would cry when he satisfied her, over and over, loving her, before he took his pleasure, and then pleasuring them both until the emotions would go so deep, so very deep, there were no words.
The loving feel of Martouf’s hands on her reminded her of what he was doing. She moaned softly, “You should stop. I can’t think when you do those things to me, and I wanted to ask you how you felt about our trip to the Portal yesterday. We didn’t have time to discuss it last night, what with having to attend that diplomatic dinner and then having to go out and help on P5X-232 with that evacuation.”
Martouf sat up against the headboard of the bed and drew Sam up with him, sighing deeply, but understanding her need to discuss what they had found out about his original reality. Still he could not stop caressing her soft, silky skin. She shivered slightly and pressed more firmly against him, feeling him rise even more, harder, nudging, rocking against her, reacting to the feel of her body as he always did; she was not denying him access to her body. Still, his mind drifted to her question as he continued to caress her.
It floated to the plans Egeria had made with Ria’ta to meet them at the Portal in six months. The six-month anniversary had come; Egeria had gone to greet her daughter, and they had been there to meet them. They had been smiling.
“They appeared happy. And things seemed to be going well.”
“Yes. I’m glad that it’s all worked out for them. I’m looking forward to seeing them in six months time.”
“I am as well.”
They lapsed into silence, both thinking of what Ria’ta and Teal’c had told them.
Ria’ta had indeed been able to convince Teal’c that the time for him to act was upon them. When he had learned that he would not be alone, that there would be Tok’Ra to help him, this alternate reality twin’s words had made more of an impression, and he had at once known what to do. He had been surprised to learn that Ria’ta’s mission had been to keep him under surveillance, not Apophis, and to report on his activities.
Ria’ta had been implanted with a Queen, but not the one Apophis expected. Not that he had been aware of that. Hathor had lost her head after her extraction from her host, and the Tok’Ra Queen had taken her place. The plans had called for Apophis to meet his fate soon after, and his host had taken a Tok’Ra symbiote so that it appeared that he was still in command of his army and was still the Supreme System Lord.
In conjunction, Anasharya’s consort took Teal’c as his host after Teal’c disposed of the symbiote in his pouch. Once implanted, the symbiote healed the pouch as an unneeded organ. Oddly enough, many of Teal’c’s most loyal Jaffa, after seeing how well Teal’c and his new Tok’Ra symbiote got along, had chosen to become Tok’Ra themselves, many mentioning having heard what Lantash had said to Troy’ac about accepting the exchange of one blood for another and turning from enemy to ally. Teal’c’s blending had convinced them that it could be done with success. So far, none had regretted their blending and becoming Tok’Ra.
Secret plans were underway with the Tau’ri to hand Earth back over to them, the Tau’ri that wished to return would be helped to do so, and to begin life there again. Ria’ta and Teal’c would form an alliance with whatever government formed there, along with the Free Jaffa that was slowly springing up as the underground network began to whisper of who was truly in charge of Apophis’s army and worlds.
The resistance had been a ready pool of hosts for the Tok’Ra, along with the small number of Jaffa, so that had not been a problem, either. Soon, the Tok’Ra would command the most powerful of the Goa’uld armies. A takeover from within that was slowly freeing worlds that were willing to join a Federation of Planets held together by similar needs and trade, diplomatic ties, and needs for protection. Perhaps it would work. At least, it looked as if his old universe, his old reality was well on its way to a chance for freedom.
Whether or not it succeeded was anyone’s guess. They had been clever in taking over Apophis’s domain; he’d give them credit for that. He was almost sure that their own Teal’c and Egeria were behind the way they had finally come to take over. What they said to the alternate Teal’c and Ria’ta, he didn’t know, but there had been several hushed and serious conversations between them. Not to mention the somewhat cryptic statements that had occasionally been made.
In their own reality, they still had a very uphill battle against the System Lords, but between them all, the Tau’ri, the Jaffa, and the Tok’Ra they now had a fighting chance. A real fighting chance, where the Tok’Ra could actually work both inside gathering intelligence as they had for the last two thousand years, and as many had always been eager to do, take actual physical action in overt rather than covert ways.
He looked down at the golden head that nestled so trustfully on his chest, and felt the body that rested so softly along his as his hands continued in their slow caresses. Soon, they would make love. Sweet, slow, tender, wild, passionate, love. “It is a glorious feeling, is it not, Martouf? One which we thought never to feel again?”
“Indeed, it is more than we would ever have thought possible. A little over six months ago, we were in despair and wondering where we should, or could, go to hide, as we were the last Tok’Ra alive. We were alone in our universe and had nothing on which to hold. Nothing to live for. Today, we have our lives before us, and everything to live for. We are no longer alone, and we have everything we could possibly desire, Lantash.”
“Yes. And it is all because I was exhausted and fell through a mirror, a portal, to another reality. All because, when we were found, we decided that we had nothing more to lose, and we might as well follow…where destiny leads.”
“Yes, but at the moment, I think our destiny is leading us somewhere else, Lantash, in fact, I am almost sure of it,” Martouf gasped, as Sam’s lips caressed his shoulders and continued to move lower, branding them, as they traveled across his skin, downwards, while her fingers left trails of red hot fire behind.
“Ah, yes, that is, um, I think, no…..Martouf, I do not, ah, believe that thinking is, mm, what we should, ah, be attempting at the moment. Perhaps Destiny will, um, be kind and just lead the way….mm…”
“Yes…Samantha, more, love…ah, our Samantha, we love you, more… and more. More than forever, ah,… stars of fire…we are drowning deep within you, and you are burning us alive, you are our heart…our soul…our…dearest…love.”
A soft breeze swept the room, unnoticed by the lovers on the bed. The winds of fate, they swirled once, then calmed, their quest completed.