"JOSH!" My host jumps at his name being called and turns around. Seeing Martouf standing in the doorway, he pauses the music. Not wanting to give up everything he liked about his old life, Josh had brought his personal computer and a few other things with him to the tunnels when he returned from his last visit to Earth. He had been assigned duty of weapons inventory today and was listening to his music rather loudly while doing so.
"Sorry, I didn't hear you." He says to Martouf.
"I am not surprised. We have been contacted by the Tau'ri, they wish to meet and discuss the current situation regarding the System Lords, and more importantly to you, they believe they may have discovered the location of Anshar."
I take over. "When will we be leaving?"
"As soon as you are ready. I will be accompanying you."
Anything to get off this job. My host thinks to me. I have to agree.
"We will depart immediately. I am surprised Jacob is not joining us?" I stand up and we walk out into the hallway.
"Selmak is accompanying Daniel Jackson on their mission to attack the System Lord's Summit meeting. We do not expect to hear from them for a few days. Kanan will be accompanying us."
"I will meet you at the rings. I wish to say goodbye to Anise." I say, turning away and walking to her lab.
She looks up, smiling upon seeing me in the doorway. She walks up and we embrace in a passionate kiss.
"I am leaving and may be gone for many days. The Tau'ri believe they have learned the location of Anshar, the Goa'uld who captured me. If it is possible, I believe we will be going after him." I tell her.
"I am leaving soon as well. I will be making contact with Zefina, to recieve some intelligence she has gathered on the activities of Osiris since her return. Ral-tora kree, my loves. Be safe."
"And you as well." I turn and go to meet Martouf at the rings.
We ring up to the surface and go through the stargate.
"Welcome back, Martouf. Veskyr." General Hammond greets us.
"General, this is Kanan."
"Nice to finally meet you general." Kanan says
"If you will all please follow me to our briefing room." Hammond waves us towards the door.
We sit down around the table. "Any news on Jacob and Dr. Jackson?" General Hammond asks Martouf.
"None as of yet, but they are not overdue."
"In any case, we have news that might interest you, Veskyr." He turns to me. "We believe we have learned the location of the Goa'uld Anshar you seek."
"How did you come to this information?"
"SG-2. They learned of a Goa'uld named Anshar on their last mission. The planet they visited was apparently part of his small domain up until recently, when it was captured by Ba'al. Master Bra'tac was able to confirm this intelligence." General Hammond replied.
As if on cue, SG-2 appeared at the top of the stairwell and sat down at the table.
"I am Major Micheal Coburn, commander of SG-2." He introduces himself to us. "Bra'tac has informed us that Anshar recently suffered a heavy military defeat at the hands of Ba'al. A majority of his fleet was destroyed in battle, and he only has a small number of Jaffa who remain loyal to him. It might be possible to eliminate his remaining personal guard and capture him alive, but the planet where he is hiding doesn't have a Stargate."
"The Tok'ra currently have no ships available." Martouf states.
"We might. I left a cloaked Al'kesh in orbit around the Tau'ri moon before I was discovered by Anshar and removed from my host." I say, leaning forward. "It may very well still be there."
"The work you were conducting had something to do with Earth?" Hammond asks.
"No. However, Earth was the nearest planet with a stargate to where I was working that was not occupied by a Goa'uld. I left my ship here because I knew it would be left alone." I explain, before returning my attention to the rest of the group. "If my ship is still in orbit around your moon, we could use it to fly to Anshar's planet."
"How would you get to it?" Coburn asks.
"A ring transporter. My Alkesh's rings have been modified, they operate on a different frequency from a normal transporter. I did this to prevent anyone unwelcome from ringing aboard. I believe we may find a ring transporter in the ruins of the temple in which my host first found me, and I will calibrate it to locate and send us to the rings on my ship."
"That won't be necessary. We have a functional ring transportation device. What if the ship isn't there anymore?" Hammond asks
"Then the ring transporter will not lock on, and the mission is cancelled." I state simply.
"General, if we're going to attempt this I think we'll need a couple more units." Coburn says to Hammond.
"It will not be necessary. An Al'kesh is more then capable of dealing with any resistance we may encounter, if Master Bra'tac's assessment of Anshar's current condition is correct. Additionally, my Al'kesh's weapons systems and power generator are modified, it has stronger sheilds and more powerful main weapons then most." I put in. Coburn simply nods.
"You have a go, Major. Assuming the ship is still accessable."
"Yes, sir." as we all stand up.
"The transporter is on level 24, in a storage room." Hammond says, turning to one of the guards "Airman, please escort the Tok'ra to storage 24F." Martouf and I follow, while Coburn and his team go to get their gear. Kanan is discussing something with Hammond.
"Give me a moment to calibrate it to my specific frequency." I say, opening the crystal access panel on the transporter platform. After about five minutes, "I have a strong signal. It is still there."
The airman reports this and a few minutes later, SG-2 joins us. "I am ready to attempt a transport cycle." I tell them.
"Alright. You, Martouf, and myself will go up first." He says, then turning to the rest of his team, "give us a 30 count then follow."
I activate the transportation cycle. The room we are transported into is only dimly lit. We move out of the way, and the others follow.
"Is there something wrong with the ship?" Captain Pierce asks upon arriving, referring to the dim lights.
"No. I shut down most of the systems before I left it in order to conserve power and avoid any detection. If we get to the Pel'tac I can restart all systems." I respond, moving off toward the bridge.
We get to the bridge and punch a few commands into the console. A few seconds later all the lights and screens flash to life, and a satisfying hum tells me the engines are online. The screen confirms this.
Do you really think it's possible to capture this Goa'uld alive? my host asks me.
I believe so, if the intelligence is correct. It could be a valuable asset to have a live Goa'uld to interrogate, in addition to this Goa'uld being the one who put me in that stasis jar.
Yeah, I can sense that this mission is personal for you. Revenge for your last host?
I wouldn't call in vengance. Retribution, maybe. I miss him. In addition, I would like to know what exactly happened with my mission and why Anshar took the trouble to preserve my life rather then simply kill me. This will give me the oppurtunity to learn these answers.
"All systems are online. This journey will take several days. We will need supplies." Martouf states, turning to Coburn.
"Alright, we'll ring back down and get some."
By the time I'm done running a quick diagnostic to make sure all my systems are working, they are back with extra weapons, food, and water.
I enter the coordinates into the ship's navigation system. The lights dim for just a breif moment as the hyperdrive engines come online. The hyperspace window opens, and the ship makes the jump.
"Are there quarters onboard, a place to sleep that's comfortable?" Pierce asks.
"Yes, on the second level. Follow me." Kanan leads them away.
Several Hours into the journey, Veskyr-
"So I get the feeling this mission is about more to you then just capturing a Goa'uld alive." Coburn states. We are all seated on the floor in a storage room, eating Earth MREs and drinking water from bottles.
"Well...as you know, I believe it was Anshar that placed me in the stasis jar where Josh found me. I want to find out what became of my previous host, and why he didn't simply kill me. I vaguely remember some sort of battle, and being shot with a Zat'nik'tel, but beyond that it goes blank. I suppose it did save me some...discomfort to be extracted and preserved rather then left to die, aside from simply continuing to live."
"Why is that?"
I hesitate. This is not an easy subject to discuss. "When a Tok'ra is killed, the host usually dies first, unless the injury directly impacts the symbiote. It usually takes longer for us...the symbiote, I mean...to die, sometimes several minutes longer. There is nothing more physically uncomfortable, in addition to the great sadness we feel at the death of our host, than to be powerless to do anything but wait, inside our host's dead body, for death to take us." Major Coburn and Lt Casey exchange a look. I look down, and close my eyes. This conversation is bringing to mind bad memories, the loss of a past host where I shouldn't have survived. I waited what seemed like an eternity, although in reality it had only been a couple of minutes. I had resigned myself to death when a human who knew of the Tok'ra, one with whom my host had been friends, offered himself to me as a new host. Then Anshar had taken him from me...I blink, realizing my eyes were getting wet.
Wow, I'm sorry buddy. I can't imagine how terrible that must be. Josh thinks to me.
You have nothing to apologize for, Josh. I shouldn't have even thought about it. It is I who owe you an apology, for exposing you to those memories.
It's fine. my host replies, sending feelings of warmth and comfort to me.
Feeling better, I look up. "I apologize."
"No, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked." Coburn says to me, looking uncomfortable.
"You had no way of knowing, and curiousity seems to be part of Tau'ri nature. You are fine."
"What was your mission exactly, concerning Anshar?" Captain Griff asks, wanting to change the subject.
"I went undercover as a Goa'uld scientist supposedly allied with Anshar. While he never gained the rank of System Lord, there was a time when he had a fair amount of resources at his disposal. He was working towards becoming a System Lord. The plan was to use his resources and my science to develop technologies superior to that of the other Goa'uld, then betray him and escape with the research. We would then have had superior technologies with which to fight the Goa'uld." I explained.
"What technologies did you develop with Anshar's resources at your disposal?"
"Personal shields, personal cloaking devices, and cloaking devices capable of cloaking entire ships- Al'kesh, Tel'tac, Ha'tak. Among a few others of less importance."
"Most have been incorporated into the fifteenth-generation Goa'uld ships by now. I was unable to escape with the research, and as a result the mission not only failed, but I inadvertantly helped the Goa'uld to gain more advanced technology. Our intelligence indicates that approximately 20 years ago, Anshar was conquered by Ra, who would have gained access to these technologies. When you killed Ra, Apophis took over much of his domain. He then began working to incorporate them into his hand devices and ships."
"That explains why Teal'c had never seen these technologies until Apophis started using them a few years ago." Coburn says.
"What kind of resistance can we expect when we get to this Anshar's planet?" Pierce asks.
"He likely chose this planet specifically because it doesn't have a Chaapa'ai. He is on the run, having suffered a major military defeat. He will have a few Jaffa personal guard, maybe a squadron of Gliders patrolling his pyramid. The Al'kesh's weapons are more than capable of dealing with a few Gliders." Martouf replies.
"What about a mother ship?"
"If he managed to escape with one, it is likely damaged and not battle ready. It would be easily disabled with some well-placed weapon strikes."
"Okay." Coburn says, standing up and leaving the room.
A cold hand grabs me and lifts me out of the water. What is happening? Where is my host!? The hand lifts me up, as if in triumph. I must be returned to the water! This is wrong! I scream in protest but they either don't hear me, or don't care. There are voices speaking but they are distorted as if from the other side of a wall.
"Tok'ra...will...die. I will...make sure the..." one is saying. The voice sounds Goa'uld. No, no, no! I don't want to die! I keep screaming and try to twist free, but the hand's grip tightens to the point of being painful. I've been out of the water too long. I'm going to die. I'm scared, panicked. There is nothing I can do aginst the powerful grip of the hand.
"Please! Why are you doing this?! Stop this right now and release me! DO NOT DO THIS!!" I scream and scream but nobody hears me.
"Place...inside..." The voice is saying. I cannot pick up everything being said. The hand moves to place me inside some kind of jar. What is that? A stasis jar?
Veskyr! The mental voice of my host wakes me in a start. You were having a nightmare. You wouldn't wake up.
My addrenaline is still pumping hard. I take a moment to calm down. Thank you, Josh. I believe that was a memory of me being placed in the stasis jar.
You were panicking. You damn near gave me a heart attack.
I am sorry. It was so vivid...
It's okay. I think we're almost to Anshar's planet. Let's check our position.
I go up to the Pel'tac and check the position. I grab the radio off the console. "Major Coburn."
"Go ahead." he replies.
"Inform the others. We will arrive at our destination in less then an hour."
In a few minutes, everyone had gathered on the Pel'tac. "Long range sensors are detecting one Ha'tak in orbit around the planet. They indicate, however, that it's primary weapons are down and that it's shield strength is minimal. My ship has a cloak. If we cloak immediately upon exiting hyperspace, one good bomb strike will disable it completely, leaving the planet open to us."
"I will take weapons." Kanan says, moving to the targeting interface.
We exit hyperspace and I cloak the ship. "They did not detect us. Moving into attack position. Fire!"
It is a direct hit. "The Ha'tak is fully disabled and no longer a threat to us." I state. "Entering the atmosphere." Three Death Gliders circle the pyramid, which we dispatch quickly.
Martouf and Captain Griff remain on the ship, cloaking it and taking it back into orbit.
Myself, Kanan, Major Coburn, Captain Pierce, and Lt Casey transport down into the pyramid, and are met by only four Jaffa. They are also dispatched quickly and easily. "This is too easy." Kanan comments.
We enter the main chamber where Anshar is. He has only two Jaffa guarding him, who Kanan shoots.
"Veskyr!" Lt Casey yells a warning as another jaffa appears in the doorway, weapon at the ready. I quickly spin and fire on him.
For the briefest of moments, Anshar's eyes widen as he realizes who I must be.
"Aray Kree!" I yell at the Anshar, aiming the Zat'nik'tel at him.
"Na'noweia si'taia!" Anshar yells back, standing up.
"Silence, Anshar! We have not. You will come with us."
"Why?" He replies, laughing. "Ashah kree lok Jaffa!"
Twenty Jaffa run out of various doorways into the main room and surround us.
Only a few guards, huh? my host thinks to me.
They probably transported down from the Ha'tak in orbit. I should have seen this coming.
"Put down your weapons." Anshar says, with a smirk on his face.
We lower our weapons and the Jaffa take them, then take us to a holding cell.
"Well, that went well. Great plan, snake. Only a few guards?" Pierce says sarcastically.
How dare he, as if this is my fault! Snake! "Human, you would do well to mind how you speak to me!" I flash my eyes for greater effect. Casey stands up and backs quickly against the wall, wanting to be as far away from the fight as possible. Kanan also stands, prepared to jump in.
"Captain, you are out of line!" Coburn stands up, looking very angry.
Easy, friend. We don't need you ruining the Tok'ra-Tau'ri alliance because of one officer's bad mood. Josh thinks to me
"I would rip you in half, were it not-"
"Hey! I said he was out of line. I apologize for his behavior." Coburn says. "We need to be focusing on how to get the hell out of here."
"If we can get the communication device back-" I am cut off by the approach of a Jaffa.
"You will come with me." He states, opening the cell door and pointing at me. I walk out and the Jaffa leads me to Anshar's main chamber.
"Leave us." Anshar orders his Jaffa, who bow and exit the room.
"I will tell you nothing, Goa'uld. Your efforts will be wasted." I say to him. Not that it will make much difference in his decision to torture us for information in some way.
Anshar sits down and he suddenly looks tired, less threatening. "In fact, it is I who will tell you something." he replied, leaning back in his chair.
Indeed. This is very unusual Goa'uld behavior.
"I know who you are, Veskyr. I remember you. But I wonder if you remember me? You worked undercover as a scientist in my service, helping me to develop more advanced defensive technologies. When I realized you were a Tok'ra spy, I sent my Jaffa to bring you before me. You resisted, of course, and a battle ensued. Yes, you remember. I can see it in your face. Do you recall how you came to be in that stasis jar on the Tau'ri?"
"I assumed you put me there." I said, my curiousity increasing. He wasn't behaving at all like a typical Goa'uld.
"Yes I did. Do you remember the outcome of that battle? You shot me. I would have died, had it not been for the speedy actions of my Jaffa. I had no sarcophogus, and your host was the only other human available. I was able to keep my host alive long enough so that you could be removed from yours. I took him as my own and ordered you placed in the stasis jar. But then something happened that had never happened to me before. I found myself unable to completely silence my new host. I assumed it was due to his Tok'ra training. He just kept talking, whispering in my head. Telling me how much he hated the Goa'uld, how evil we are. It was over 5 years before I even acknoledged that his conciousness had remained intact and replied to his unending voice."
"I do not understand why you tell me this." I stated truthfully, standing up. I will not continue to kneel before this Goa'uld.
"Because I wish you to know what became of your host. I know you cared for him greatly, and him for you. Please sit down." He said, indicating a bench near his chair. I do.
"I doubt that is your intention. Goa'uld do not care about such things. You have no feelings for your hosts, there are but vessels for your conciousness, a means to power and conquest."
"Let me finish the story. Over the years since I first replied to his unending voice in my head, we talked more and more regularly. There was a part of me that felt it was wrong, against every part of who and what I am. I hated myself for it, I hated the host for his endless whispers inside my head. A fury burned inside me that I could not silence the host. How could I be a god if I could not silence an insignificant human? At times I wondered if I was mentally weak. When I finally acquired a sarcophagus, it was almost the undoing of all this. It seemed to make me mentally stronger. After a time I began to revert back to how I normally would be. I ignored the host, and was even able to almost fully silence him. Then my sarcophagus was sabotaged and destroyed while I was away from my home world. I never did discover who did this. I had to resume sleeping normally again, and after the worst of the withdrawal symptoms were over I had again lost the ability to silence the host. One night while I was sleeping, he went through my inherited memories. When I woke and discovered this I was very angry, but somehow he managed to get through to me. He said he understood then why the Goa'uld are all so evil. He said I did not have to be that way. He told me of Jolinar of Malkshur, and your queen Egeria. He told me how both had been born Goa'uld but had renounced the old ways, realizing how wrong they were. Over time, I came to trust the host and even listen to some of his suggestions. His ideas for battle tactics helped my forces to victory a few times.
"There was still a part of me that was fully Goa'uld. I would never have admitted talking to my host. An underling of mine questioned me once, asking if I did. He was disgusted by the idea, and I killed him not wanting the rumor to get out. The part of me that denied all this was happening hoped that, when the time came for me to take a new host, I would be able to again silence my host and move on. That it was just the mistake of taking a host who was formerly a Tok'ra. I still hungered for power, burned for it. But what I didn't expect is that when I was forced to change hosts again, I actually regretted his death. Since then, I treated my hosts better, talked with them, even allowed this one control when nobody else was around. For several hundred years, a battle raged in my own mind between my subconscious desires and inherited will to do evil and desires for power, and my conscious mind which had come to realize that what the Goa'uld do is wrong.
"In the end, I sent my second in command to retreive you from your resting place on the Tau'ri and bring you to me. I would have put you in a new host and asked you to serve me that we may some day defeat the System Lords and change to state of the empire in this galaxy. But something went wrong, I lost contact with my underlord. I assumed him lost and his mission failed. Until now."
"I am unsure what to say to all this." I told Anshar. "I dare not believe that what you tell me is completely true. No Goa'uld has come to our side in the last thousand years, and certainly not one that still has some power."
"My power is waning. I only have one functional Ha'tak left, and even that one is now disabled. I am aware that you have a cloaked Al'kesh somewhere in orbit over this planet. The other two I have remaining are very badly damaged and will take a long time to repair. I only control three planets, and one of my naquadah mines is nearly depleted. Recently I lost a majority of my Jaffa in a ground battle for territory with Zipacna, and less then a week later a majority of my fleet was destroyed by Baal. If things stay as they are it will be only a matter of time before one of the System Lords come to destroy me or force me into servitude."
"I fail to see how-" I start to say, but am cut off by a large blast outside.
"It is Baal, he has found me. No doubt the Ha'tak I had in orbit has been destroyed. Jaffa!" Anshar yells, and his First Prime enter the room hastily. "Take the remaining Gliders and engage the enemy."
"Yes, my Lord." The Jaffa says, running out of the room, shouting orders to the other Jaffa.
Anshar hurries to a console against the wall and begins quickly inputting commands. I am on my feet, prepared to run. After about five minutes, the Jaffa's voice comes over the communication system. "My Lord, the battle is not going well. I fear that we-" the transmission is cut off.
Anshar continues inputting commands on the computer. He removes a crystal and tucks it into his robes. The pyramid shakes and pieces of the ceiling begin to fall. The lights flash for a moment then turn off, the various display screens and computer consoles flicker for a moment before shutting off.
"Your friends are free, I opened the cell door remotely. Baal wishes to destroy me. Noc'ri'ton, Tok'ra. Please. I do not wish to die." Anshar says, looking at me with what seems like fear in his eyes.
Lets take him.
He cannot be trusted, Josh.
No, but what choice do we have? We came to capture him and now he wants to go with us willingly.
Most likely he simply realizes that at present his best chance for survival is to leave with us, on my ship. I reply to my host.
He started telling us his story before Baal's attack began, and either way this is why we came here. To capture him.
"Come." I say to Anshar, turning away. "Where are our weapons?"
"Next room." He says, following me. I get to the room and grab the communication device off the table.
"We are here. Baal has arrived with four Ha'tak. He destroyed Anshar's Ha'tak and is bombarding the planet."
"I know. We have Anshar and are heading back to the rings. Be ready to activate a transport cycle."
The others meet us at the rings and we transport up to the ship.
"Get us out of here!" Coburn orders when we are all back on the bridge. Martouf enters the commands, the cloak deactivates, and the Al'kesh jumps into hyperspace.
"We will return to the Tok'ra base. The prisoner is secure in a holding cell." I state, settling into the copilot chair.
"What happened down there?" Captain Griff asks.
"Anshar was about to be killed by Baal so he decided to come with us instead. He claims...never mind. We'll deal with it when we get back." I reply, leaning my head back.
What do you suppose the odds are that he was telling the truth? Josh asks me.
Slim. But if he was, and truly wishes to join our cause...I dare not believe it is true. The resources of a Goa'uld, even one who is relatively weak, could be very valuable to us. We will sort it out when we get back to Revanna.
I awaken to a beeping alarm. I must have fallen asleep in the pilot chair.
The ship displays a flashing warning on the screen. We are close enough to Revanna to recieve distress signal from the planet. It reads that the base has been compromised, assume no survivors. Shit.
"Martouf! Wake up!" I turn to him, sleeping in the copilot chair and kick his leg.
"What is happening?" Lantash asks groggily upon waking. "Martouf is still asleep."
I don't say anything, just indicate the screen.
"It appears Revanna has been attacked. I will awaken the others." Lantash says, standing and leaving quickly.
"What's going on?" Coburn asks when they are all awake.
"Apparently the base was attacked. A long range communication is telling us to assume no survivors." I tell him.
"I have run a long distance scan of the planet." Lantash says, looking up from the ship's display. "There are two Ha'tak in orbit, but sensors detect no life signs on the planet's surface. We returned too late."
"We should've been here." I say with a sigh, shaking my head.
"There is little that could have been done. No doubt the fleet that attacked this world was much larger then those two ships which were left behind as a trap to any Tok'ra who may return." Lantash states.
"So we go to Earth. There's nothing we can do here." Coburn says.
"Unfortunately, I agree. Josh, change course to Earth." Lantash says. I turn off the autopilot and enter a new course into the navigation computer.
Earth...? What is happening? Veskyr asks me sleepily upon waking, as I enter the new commands on the ship's console and it changes course.
Revanna has been attacked. The emergency transmission tells us to turn back, assume no survivors.
Are there any ships guarding the planet?
Two Ha'tak. We can't take them down, if thats what your thinking. Even with your ship's modifications one Al'kesh doesn't stand a chance against two Ha'tak. And our scan of the planet's surface indicates no life signs. We're going to Earth, from there we can try and learn what happened exactly.
There were over 100 Tok'ra on that base. I sense my symbiotes dispair, and I share it. I find it difficult to comfort him when I feel the same.
We don't know what happened. Some may have escaped. At least our mates weren't there.
I do not know what I would do had they been. We can only hope some others survived. Do we know who owns the Ha'tak in orbit?
No, nor do we know how many were originally here. These two were probably left as a trap to any returning Tok'ra.
It will take two more days journey to get back to Earth. In the mean time, run a subspace scan of all Tok'ra communications frequencies. See if there's anything out there. Veskyr says before retreating to his own thoughts. I leave him be.
"Lan- oh, sorry. Martouf, try running a scan of all our communication frequencies, see if there's any chatter." I say, turning my chair toward him.
"I have already begun to do so."
After a few minutes of silence, "I have something. A signal from Delek. Sending a coded response signal and relaying audio..."
"...Delek of the Tok'ra. With whom am I speaking?"
"Martouf. Veskyr is here with me also, as is SG-2 of the Tau'ri. I am relieved to hear you are alive. What do you know of Revanna?"
"I wasn't there during the attack. From what I understand it was Zipacna, and he struck with overwhelming force. I understand very few made it out alive. Selmak was returning from his mission with Daniel Jackson of the Tau'ri, he still had the symbiote poison. It is my understanding that they were able to use it on the Jaffa guarding the Chaapa'ai and escape. I cannot say where over this transmission, as you know."
"Understood. We are on a course for the Tau'ri. We will be there in approximately 41 hours."
"I will arrange to have Selmak meet you there so you may be fully informed of the situation."
"Inform him that we have a...prisoner." Martouf says
"Then your mission was a success?"
"Understood. One more thing; Per'sus was among those who fell at Revanna. Mapep is the acting Grand Councilor. Delek out."
Mapep? I don't think I've met him...sounds familiar though...isn't his host from Earth?
Yes, his host's name is Ben Reily. He was a Corporal with your Air Force, and after surviving a crippling injury, became host to Mapep. One of a few Tau'ri who have become hosts since we formed an alliance.
The rest of the trip back to Earth was completed in near silence. Martouf and I both stayed in control the whole time, with Lantash and Veskyr too distressed over the news of the attack on Revanna. We didn't interact much with Anshar either, other than bringing him a couple small meals. Finally, we arrived at Earth and I landed the Alkesh on a deserted air strip outside Colorado Springs. After everyone had been transported to Cheyenne Mountain and medically cleared, we gather in the briefing room to discuss the situation.
General Hammond is seated at the head of the table. Jacob/Selmak is seated at the other end of the table. On one side is SG-2, and on the other myself and Martouf.
"We believe one of our operatives in Zipacna's court was compromised. That is how he learned of our base on Revanna. He struck with overwhelming force, and thousands of Jaffa on the ground. Dr. Jackson and myself were returning, heard the reprogrammed distress signal from one of the long range transmitters, and tried to land to rescue. The ship was shot down but we managed to escape with a few surviving Tok'ra by deploying the symbiote poison near the stargate. Most of them were lost, though." Jacob says, leaning back. He looks distressed, as we all are.
"What about your prisoner? How easily was he captured?" General Hammond asks.
"He wasn't captured. He captured us, then when Ba'al attacked he freed us and asked that we bring him." Coburn puts in.
"Why?" General Hammond and Jacob both ask in unison.
"He claims he wishes to join us. We can determine the validity of this statement once we are at our new base." Martouf says.
"There is no new base. All Tok'ra who are able to are gathering at our base on Vunar. That is where we will go, as well." Jacob says, then turns to me "Your prisoner and yourselves will go there by gate. I will fly the Al'kesh, and meet you there in three days. General."
Everyone stands up and leaves. We escort Anshar through the Stargate. He is quiet. We place him in a secure room and raise the door shield. We are debriefed by the remaining members of the Council and find out that Anise has reported and she is well. Martouf moves off in one direction, and I head in another, toward the quarters assigned to us. I look forward to a long bath after all this. Veskyr hasn't said anything since we discovered that Revanna was attacked, and it's starting to worry me. I gently 'push' the symbiote.
Hmm? He half-heartedly replies
I just...I'm worried about you. You haven't said two words to me since we found out that the base on Revanna was wiped out.
I know. Over 100 Tok'ra, many of whom were my friends and all of whom were our family...our number is now a small fraction of what it was originally, and we have no way to grow in numbers without a queen. For almost 2000 years, we have fought the Goa'uld. And it looks as though soon it will all have been for nothing.
Its not necessarily like that. I think back as I take off my clothes and lower myself into the bath. The hot water feels great. Egeria may not be dead, our historians speculated that she may not have been killed. And that she may have even produced more queens for us.
That old riddle...in 1500 years we have not been able to solve it. It may not be totally hopeless, but it feels that way right now. I'm sorry...I should not be saying these things. I'm projecting my feelings on you.
You know I feel the same way. You don't need to shield me from it. I'm doing my best to send comforting feelings back to my symbiote, but its not really helping since I feel the same way. We just need a new plan.
What plans can there be? There are less then 200 Tok'ra remaining where originally there were over 1000. We can do very little.
What about Anshar? If he truly wishes to join with us, that may be of significant help. He still has a couple of ships, albeit they need repair. And he has a naquadah mine. We may be able to finally pick up where Jolinar left off, by building up military forces, a fleet with which to at least defend our worlds, at best eventually take on the System Lords. And we still have the formula for the symbiote poison.
That is a very nice thought, but I don't see it happening. It is too little, too late as the Tau'ri say.
We can't give up, Veskyr. The lives of all Tok'ra lost in the struggle against the Goa'uld will have been lost in vain if we give up. We still have allies. The Tollan, The Tau'ri. I don't know what else I can say to comfort my symbiote, as I climb out of the bath and get dressed. I wish there was more I could do.
Yes, a lot of good it has done us. Veskyr says, before retreating again.
Three days later, Tok'ra specialists, along with the chief of medicine and chief of security, are continuing their interogation of Anshar elsewhere in the base, attempting to determine if his wish to join us was truthful. From what I understand of the process, they introduced a special sedative which kept the symbiote unconcious for a few hours, long enough for the host to speak freely and answer the many quesitons they had. This sedative was developed after the incident with Tanith. While waiting for the results of that interogation, we are sitting around a table discussing the situation. Attempting to formulate a plan for the future.
"We need a way to more efficiently deliver the symbiote poison as a weapon. It will take several weeks to create more, but we can. The crystal containing the formula was saved by SG-1."
"We also need to again attempt to establish a new, more permanent base of operations. The idea was a good one, but the first attempt failed because of Apophis' arrival in the system before we left. Of course, it led to a new plan which destroyed his fleet. We have the Al'kesh now, it can be used to transport a Chaapa'ai." Selmak states, who arrived on the Al'kesh a couple hours ago.
"I agree." Mapep says, nodding.
"But where?" I ask
"I have an idea." Someone says from the entrance to the chamber. We all turn and look. It's Anshar, accompanied by Ta'seem. Or, more accurately, Anshar's host. "Forgive the intrusion, I figured you might want my help. I am Farren, Anshar's host."
"We have determined Anshar's statements to be truthful. His desire to join the Tok'ra is genuine and his words honest." Ta'seem says, dipping his head toward Mapep and turning to leave.
"Ferran, welcome. Join us. I am Mapep, High Councilor of the Tok'ra. This is Selmak and Jacob, Josh and Veskyr, Delek, Aldwin and Gerim, and Martouf and Lantash."
"I am honored. I will formally pledge my alleigence to the Tok'ra, as will Anshar when he awakens from your sedative."
"It is a necessary step in determining the validity of a symbiotes identity in the case of an unwitnessed host change, or in this case a Goa'uld wishing to become Tok'ra. I'm sure you understand."
"I do, although I don't find the loneliness pleasant." Ferran says, looking unhappy.
"I'm sure he will awaken soon. In any case, you said you have an idea? Regarding?" Jacob asks.
"Where to establish a new base. One of Anshar's planets, one unknown to the System Lords. It is located in the Tanura sector. There is no Chaapa'ai there, and the naquadah mine isn't quite run out. There is still a considerable amount beneith the surface, it will just take more then a pick axe to get at it. There are also two Ha'tak parked on the surface, though they need extensive repairs. And the planet does have a ship construction facility, though it does need repair. It was attacked many years ago, and while Anshar was able to fight off the attackers, the stationary weapons systems and power generation of the facility were significantly damaged. We abandoned it, intending to affect repairs later, but that was the beginning of the end of Anshar's empire. He also has a sarcophagus there, though he intends to destroy it.
"The Tok'ra have not had the resources to construct our own ships since Jolinar's empire fell, so long ago. This could be of great benefit." Mapep says, looking approvingly at Ferran.
"I agree. We should send a scouting party, and take a Chaapa'ai in case it looks promising." Delek says
"Make it so."
Ferran looks as if he is discussing something with Anshar, who must have awakened. "We would like to be with the scouting party." He states after a moment.
"I don't think that would be a good idea." Delek says shortly.
"It is our planet. We know the area. Additionally, the facility is protected with encrypted security codes. You won't even be able to power it up without them. Do you not trust us? Your security people and your doctors have confirmed that Anshar's wish to join with you was honest." Ferran says, his voice rising a little. The irritation is clear on his face. "Can we expect this sort of treatment regularly? What must we do beyond the extensive tests and endless questions we have already endured, in order to prove ourselves worthy of your trust!?"
"Regardless, the scouting party must-" Delek starts, looking slightly taken aback at Ferran's anger.
"Ferran is right, Delek. He will accompany the scouting party." Mapep says, sending Delek a warning look. "We shouldn't underestimate what they can offer us." He indicates Ferran "Especially in our darkest hour."
Looking as though he wished to argue further, "Of course." Delek says, nodding.
"Ferran and Anshar, you will formally pledge your allegience at a ceremony later today." Mapep says as he stands up. Then, addressing the room "Tonight there will be a dinner, both to honour all those who lost their lives in the attack on Revanna, and to toast the first former Goa'uld to join our cause in over 500 years." He turns and leaves the room, as everyone else stands up too.
See, what did I tell you? It's not all bad news. Anshar joining our cause could be enough to turn the tide.
I highly doubt that, but it's a start. Veskyr replies.
In the evening, every Tok'ra in the base is gathered in the dining hall for dinner. There are many delicious courses to sample, several varieties of alcohol from various wines to some of the stronger stuff the Tok'ra make. Before anyone starts eating, Mapep stands to make a toast. We all stand as well.
"Many of our brothers and sisters have lost their lives in recent years, both in the attack on Revanna and elsewhere. We have this dinner tonight to honour their memory. Arik tree-ac te kek." He pauses, and there is a moment of silence before he continues "We must look to the future and draw strength from the fact that our cause is still just, our resolve unwaivering. We must continue the fight against all who would threaten the peoples and peace of this galaxy in the names of those we have lost. For two thousand years, our enemies have been doing everything in their power to eliminate the Tok'ra. For two thousand years they have taken the lives of our kin, driven us from our bases, done everything they could to stop us. And we have fought them. And after two thousand years, we are still fighting them!" Mapep's voice had been rising steadily. The last sentence was nearly shouted, and it was met with a strong cheer from the 150 or so gathered Tok'ra.
He's an inspiring speaker. I say to Veskyr.
Yes, he is.
"Now, this is the first time that we have been strengthened by the joining of another symbiote in over 500 years. This one being a former Goa'uld, with military resources. He is called Anshar, and his host is called Ferran. They have pledged their allegience to us, and their resources strengthen our cause." He gestured to where Anshar was standing. "So, let us toast the memory of our fallen kin, and the newfound strength Anshar has brought us." We all raise our glasses and toast.
This wine is very good.
The cook's own creation, from a kind of berry that is found on many worlds throughout the galaxy. It is similar to your blueberry, back on Earth.
let us enjoy ourselves for tonight. We have much work to be done."
Mapep finishes, sitting down again. We all sit down and everyone
starts passing dishes and eating. Mapep's speech was indeed good for
morale. Hopefully it lasts.
I'm sitting in the council chambers around a large table, discussing the latest news. "An operative has been dispatched in one of the Tel'tak to help. We hope it isn't too late." I state, referring to the Tau'ri's request for assistance with the seemingly random meteor that was on a collision course with Earth as of four days ago.
"And what of our mission to determine the viability of Anshar's manufacturing planet as a new home base? Is the team ready to leave?" Mapep asks, looking around.
"We are. The chaapa'ai we collected from Teldas has been secured in the hanger, and all the equipment and personelle for the evaluation mission are prepared to leave." Anshar states.
"We had Anise do a quick pass over the system on her way home. She reported it was clear of activity of any kind. You may leave when ready. Veskyr, you have command of this mission." Mapep replies.
"Has Anise arrived back yet?" I ask, excited at the thought of seeing her.
"No, it will be a couple more days. She stopped to collect our operatives in the Irken and Samus systems on the way here. We are recalling everyone who can safely leave their respective undercover positions."
Damn. We'll be on the way to Anshar's base by then. Josh thinks.
Such is the life of Tok'ra, mated or not. I reply with a mental sigh.
"Also" Mapep continues to everyone at the table. "There appears to be a new Goa'uld on the rise to power. We have learned that all of the major Systems Lords are currently suffering heavy losses at the hands of the same mysterious enemy. If things continue progressing the way they are, the System Lords will have quite a war on their hands, and we don't want the one Goa'uld winning. When Anise returns, she said she has learned the possible identity of the new Goa'uld. Finally, we have been unsuccessful in our attempts to contact the Tollan of late. We have sent Jalrow to investigate. That is all."
As everyone stands up to leave the room, Anshar stops me. "Are you ready to leave? The way things are going out there, the sooner we can get the new base up and running and start building new Ha'tak the better."
"Yes, we are ready. Gather the others, we will leave in one hour." I turn and go to gather my equipment.
There's no way the Goa'uld could take down the Tollan. Their Ion cannons penetrate Ha'tak sheilds in a matter of seconds, their technology is so far above ours...Josh comments.
Let's hope so. They were our most powerful ally.
Next day, aboard the Al'kesh, Veskyr-
"We should stop here." Anshar says, indicating a system not far out of the way. "I have a secret scientific research outpost there. My chief engineer was working on a better planetary defense system against attacks from space."
"How long ago was that?" I ask.
"When he last communicated with me, he said the design for the system was nearing completion. That was just under one year ago."
"You believe he is still there?" I raise an eyebrow.
"I do not. He would have left when I stopped communiacting, assuming that I had been destroyed. Ba'al has been seeking to destroy me for years, but the plans for the system might still be in the computer. It is worth stopping to see."
"It will take us half a day off course." Marteen says casually.
"Do it." I order, giving Anshar a glance. "You never did say why it was that Ba'al wanted to destroy you so badly? It makes little sense, since by the time we found you, you were basically powerless." I still can't decide whether or not I trust him.
He was cleared. Josh says, sensing my thoughts.
That doesn't mean I have to like him. He was responsible for the death of my last host.
Anshar saved your life, and his. And it was was because of him that Anshar joined our side. In a way they saved each other.
"I stole from him." Anshar states simply.
"Stole what?" I ask.
"A cargo ship carrying seven cases of weapons-grade naquadah. I intercepted it when they dropped out of hyperspace to collect an eighth case from his mining outpost in the Caluth system, they were delivering it to Ba'al's shipyard. I disabled the cargo ship, scooped it up, and jumped back into hyperspace before anyone could do anything about it."
We drop out of hyperspace in orbit over Anshar's research outpost, not expecting any resistance.
The ship shakes with weapons fire. "Raise shields! Return fire! Who is occupying this system!?" I shout orders.
"The computer doesn't recognize those ships, but whatever they are, their weapons are very powerful. Shields are down 38% already." Thellas says.
"My shields, after two hits? That's impossible!"
Apparently not. Josh comments.
Marteen returns fire, but it has little effect.
"Sheilds are down 50%!" Thellas is practically shouting.
"Get us back into hyperspace!" I command, and we jump, narrowly avoiding another shot.
"What do you know of this?!" I turn on Anshar.
"I know nothing. I did not recognize the design either." he says, backing away from me.
The ships weren't Goa'uld. What makes you think he had anything to do with this? Josh asks me.
Yes, I suppose you're right...
I turn back around and sit down in front of the console to begin working on diagnosing my ship's damage. Primary shield emmiters four and six are down, number one is damaged but still functioning at limited output. I'll just switch to secondaries and bypass the disabled ones. I start entering commands into the console. After about half an hour the screen informs me that the shields are back up to 91% percent. Good.
Bed time...Josh thinks.
"Thellas, how long until we reach our destination?" I ask.
"Just over a day."
"I'm going to bed. You have the pel'tak."
I'm back on Earth. I'm sitting on the hood of my car, and I'm parked on the side of Hall Street on a Sunday night watching the races. Then I'm lined up for a race. The guy next to me is in a red and black Cobra Mustang. He revs, and I rev. I set my tach at 3200rpm, the flagger drops her arms, and I launch. Redline, shift. Redline, shift. I'm pulling half a car on the Mustang, and we reach the line and shut down. Win! This guy owes me $1000 for the race stakes. I circle back around and park to wait for him. He pulls up and gets out.
"Hey man, I missed second gear." The guys says.
"So? Pay up." I reply.
"That race was bullshit." he turns to walk away. Hell no. I feel a surge of white-hot anger. I follow and grab his shoulder. He turns and swings a punch at me. I dodge it, shoulder check him into the nearest car, and grab his throat. I'm holding him against the car, choking him...
I wake up to another surge of anger. My brain takes a moment to register that it's coming from Veskyr. I open my eyes, realizing that I'm not in control, and see that my hands are wrapped around Anshar's throat.
He intends to betray us! Veskyr throws the thought at me in an instant, returning his attention to attempting to choke the life out of Anshar.
"I...didn't...*cough*..." Anshar is trying to speak.
Stop! What did he do?! I mentally yell at Veskyr. He ignores me.
I see Marteen and Thellas come running into the room. That is the first time I notice that we aren't on the bridge, but in fact in the sleeping quarters Anshar was using.
"What is happening?" Marteen asks urgently.
Let him go! What about the host?! I yell at my pissed off symbiote.
Fine! He releases his grasp and Anshar crumples to the floor, gasping and trying to breathe.
"He means to betray us!" Veskyr says, looking at the others. "He tried to send an encrypted subspace message to the Goa'uld. It detailed the location of our current base, our plan to assess the manufacturing planet as a possible new base, coordinates and our current speed so they would know when we would be there!"
"I did no such thing!" Anshar yells, having regained his composure. He stands back up. "How dare you accuse me of betrayal!"
"Did the message get sent?" Thellas asks.
"No. I have in place in my ship's communication system a program which only allows messages to be sent on certain frequencies without a passcode, and when it detects someone trying to send an unauthorized message it tells them it did, but really it stores the message and notifies me in such a way that only I would notice, since nobody else knows what they're looking at. Just one of the several security features I added to this Al'kesh."
"You will be confined here until I decide what to do with you. Everyone out!" Veskyr yells, sealing the door behind us.
He claims he didn't do it? I think to Veskyr.
Of course he does! He knows I would kill him! Veskyr is still seething with anger.
Calm down, friend. We should investigate the matter further.
Yes, I suppose we should. At the very least I'll have some proof to present to Mapep.
Who do you think he was working for?
of the System Lords would gladly trade information of the Tok'ra in
exchange for his protection. But, we shall see what I can learn. My
ship's internal sensors record movement patterns and store them in
code-access memory banks, so we'll see if we can isolate Anshar's
signature and track his movements while we were sleeping.
I sit in front of the auxilary console in the engineering room, watching sensor logs from the last 24 hours. I'm tracking Anshar's signature, watching what it does.
We've been over the log three times. You know there's only one explanation. Josh says.
Yeah...much as I hate to admit, Anshar did not send those transmissions.
I go to Anshar's quarters and open the door.
"So, you di-"
"Behind you!" and before I can react Anshar jumps at me, knocking both of us to the floor. I hear a staff blast hit the wall where I had been standing. I twist around to see Marteen standing in the door. Anshar swings his legs around and knocks Marteen off his feet, and I grab the dropped weapon. Marteen scrambles to get up again, but I hit him with the Staff. He crumples, unconscious.
It must have been him.
"I believe it was he who attempted to send those transmissions." Anshar says. "I saved your life, Veskyr. For a second time. I hope this will help you to put some of your mistrust for me behind you."
"Yes, I suppose you did." I step back, breathing heavily and trying to get a grasp on the situation. Marteen, a traitor? He has been a loyal Tok'ra as far back as I can remember. He was born of Egeria, before me. "You have my thanks, Anshar. As well as my apologies."
"I believe now we-"
Thellas comes rushing into the room. Seeing Marteen on the floor and me holding a staff weapon, he examines the room quickly before asking "What happened, Veskyr?"
"I came here to release Anshar, as he wasn't the one who attempted to betray our position to the System Lords. Marteen came in as if to attack me, and Anshar stopped him. I must report this to Mapep. Please lock Marteen in this room and disable the door controls, until it is decided how best to deal with this situation."
I leave the room to report to Mapep.
We arrive in orbit over the planet on which the mine and ship construction facility are located.
"I detect nothing on the sensors." Thellas states.
"Alright, Anshar and I will transport down to the facility via the ring platform, and evaluate the situation. Leave my ship cloaked, and if we don't report or return in one hour, leave." I order, and Thellas nods.
We transport down and enter the facility. Anshar enters a series of codes into the door controls to allow us access. As soon as we enter the main hallway, various torches and lights come to life.
"This way to the control center." Anshar states, walking off toward a hall to the left.
We get to the control center. Again, a series of codes are required for access.
"I suppose this plan wouldn't have worked without you, anyway." I state with a half smile.
"I did tell you as much." Anshar says, returning his attention to the main console. He punches in a series of codes and commands and the facility begins coming to life with various humming and beeping sounds. Screens light up, and holographic projectors begin displaying various information and diagrams.
"He left a duplicate of the defense system plans in the computer here..." Anshar is saying, more to himself then to me, busily entering commands on the consoles.
"Well?" I ask after about twenty minutes, echoing my hosts' thoughts.
"Oh, yes of course. The facility is partly operational. The power generation system needs repair before we can activate the ship construction facility. According to this computer, there are two Ha'tak docked in the bay that are in need of repair, and a third that was almost complete when my jaffa were forced to abandon the facility. The first of the two that need repair is flight capable, but not combat capable. Shields are minimal, the hull is breached in several places, and weapons are nonfunctional. The second Ha'tak in need of repair is in even poorer shape, with severe external damage and no operational critical systems. The third would take only a couple weeks to complete, it was under construction and almost ready when the facility was abandoned. The naquadah mine does have power as well, and according to inventory listings...there is some stockpiled in the storage depot."
"Better news then I expected." I reply, walking around the room examining everything.
"Yes..." Anshar continues entering commands for a few moments "There we go." He points at a blinking green light on the corner of the console. "I have activated the facilities defense systems. Several of the turrets are offline, but it should be sufficient while we get a base up and running. We aren't expecting any enemies to show up anyway."
"I'll be back, I'm going to go report to Mapep." I say, turning to walk to the rings.
"Which Goa'uld did you serve?" I ask for the fouth time. Marteen continues to ignore me. So far myself and two others have attepted to interrogate him to no effect. In fact, he hasn't said anything at all since being locked up. His eyes are strangely glossy, and there is no light there. It is as if his mind has simply been shut down. "You have betrayed your queen Egeria and your fellow Tok'ra. Tell me why."
There it is. The magic word. At the name of our queen, Marteen seems to be able to overcome the programming. I see a spark of intelligence in his eyes. He blinks, looking around as if confused. His eyes fix on me, and his brow wrinkles slightly.
"Veskyr..." he says, sounding unsure of it.
"Yes, Marteen. Why have you betrayed us?" I ask again.
"I have betrayed noone..." he replies, although he looks unsure of that as well.
Try a different approach. We just saw a change in his behaviour for the first time since arriving here. Josh thinks
"What do you remember?" I ask
"I remember...getting onboard your Al'kesh. Our mission was to go and evaluate Anshar's manufacturing planet as a possible new home base. Then..." his eyes shut as he tries to remember "...nothing. Nyklos remembers nothing after that either."
"We believe you were programmed as a zatarc, Marteen. Your programmed mission was to sabatoge our attempt to establish a new base."
His eyes widen at this news. "Did I hurt anyone?"
"You almost killed me, but no damage was done. I undid your attempt at sending a message to the System Lords." I reply
"Oh..." Marteen looks down and his host comes fore.
"He is having a very difficult time with this news. You are certain no harm was done?" Nyklos asks
"No harm was done. However, we are not sure how to undo the programming. For the time being, you will have to remain here." I state.
"Then if you'll excuse me. There will be a gaurd posted at the doorway to this room at all times, and I have no choice but to raise the sheild. Do you need anything?" I ask, standing up.
"I will have some sent."
I see Delek walking down the hall toward the control room and run to catch up with him.
"What's our status?"
"We have relocated most of the Tok'ra that had gathered on Vunar, and are in the process of informing our undercover operatives of the address to our new base. The power systems have been repaired, the construction facility has been reactivated, and there are three teams working to repair and complete the Ha'tak docked in the bay."
"Veskyr says I should remind you that we know the power systems are repaired, since he's the one who supervised their repairs. Not bad, though, for only having the stargate operational for less then a month."
"We are progressing at an acceptable pace." He responds, continuing to walk toward the control room which has been serving as a temporary council chamber. When we arrive there I see Selmak, Mapep, Martouf, Thoran, and Thellas seated around a table. I sit down, and a moment later Kela'an joins us.
"Good to see you, my friend! You've been gone too long." Thellas says to Kela'an enthusiastically.
"Likewise, Thellas. Quite an impressive facility that we have acquired here. I'm told it is because a Goa'uld joined us?"
"Yes, his name is Anshar. He pledged his allegience to us and suggested this world as a possible new base, since the System Lords have no knowledge of it. The address is completely new, we brought the stargate here." I say to Kela'an, who nods approvingly.
"We have a few problems." Mapep says abruptly.
We always have problems. To be Tok'ra is to have problems. Veskyr comments, laughing in my head.
"Problems?" Kela'an asks curiously.
"We believe Marteen has been the victim of a modified version of zatarc programming. He has no recollection of the several days during which he was onboard the Al'kesh, or of trying to kill Veskyr."
"Shouldn't he have become self-destructive by now?" I ask.
"Our healers believe the program is an improved version."
"I do not understand something. You said he is now lucid and seems to be...himself again. How then do we know that the program is still present in his mind?" Thellas asks
"We do know that the program would not simply delete itself. It is believed that it is simply laying dormant, and waiting for another oppurtunity to complete its directive." Thoran states, speaking for the first time. He's been pretty quiet since his best friend Kanan was killed at the hands of Baal. The Tau'ri had rescued O'neill, but Kanan had apparently fled his temporary host. Baal's former lo'tar, Shellan, had come to us and offered to be a host and join our cause, so she could continue to fight the Goa'uld in Kanan's memory. She was not blended yet, as we had no need of a host currently.
"Well...how did you save Martouf and Lantash after they were victims of zatarc programming at the signing of the Tau'ri-Tok'ra treaty?" I ask, glancing apologetically at Martouf for bringing it up. It is an experience both would have preferred to forget.
"After he was hit with a zat'nik'tel shot, Martouf's heart stopped beating and both would have died shortly there after. He was placed in stasis until we were able to find a sarcophagus to use." Selmak says.
"I found them a sarcophogus on one of my undercover missions. I was able to get Martouf into it and healed and get him back off the planet before Bastet knew what was going on." Kela'an states.
"So...what does that mean for Marteen?"
"It means many things. First, we need to figure out a way to eliminate the program and the only way to do that may be to kill him and revive him. For now he is being kept under guard in a comfortable chamber until we solve this problem. Second, it means we need to determine at what point he was programmed, and by who. The investigation and research to solving these problems are ongoing.
"Additionally," Mapep continues "We have located a surviving group of the Tollan. They were attacked by an unknown Goa'uld who somehow managed to get around their defences. Their world was destroyed but one transport managed to escape, carrying 43 survivors. They will be arriving here in two days."
"The Tollan got wiped out? Oh wow..." Thellas says, looking down. Everyone at the table is silent for a moment.
"Yes, Jalrow reported that their homeworld was left in ruins. The surface has irradiated and is no longer inhabitable. We believe-" Mapep stops speaking
"Pardon me." Anshar stuck his head in the door. "I felt I should inform you that one of the Ha'tak will be ready for a test within the next 24 hours."
"Thank you, Anshar."
Anshar turns to leave, and an idea strikes me. "Anshar!"
"Yes?" He asks, looking at me curiously.
"Didn't Ferran say you have a sarcophagus here?"
"I do, but my intention is to destroy it." Anshar says, clearly wondering why I asked.
"Don't do that yet."
We're going to have to kill Marteen in order for your plan to work, you realize that? Veskyr says to me.
If we have the sarcophagus, there's really not much danger for him.
Mapep looks at me too, and nods in understanding. "I will talk with him."
Ask him if we can have the rest of the day off. We're both exhausted, between helping set up the Chappa'ai, repairing the power generators, and helping Anshar supervise the teams working on the Ha'tak.
"We would like to take the rest of the day off, if that's okay?"
"I want subspace communications operational by the end of tomorrow." Mapep replies, looking like he needs some time off too.
"We got this." I say, getting up. Time to head down into the tunnels we've grown beneath the facility and see if Anise and Freya want to go get some lunch.
I find Anise and Freya working in one of the science labs. I stand at the doorway for a moment, just watching her.
"Hi!" Freya is in control. She walks up and embraces us.
"What are you working on, beautiful?" I ask, smiling.
Freya blushes a little at the compliment. "Weaponizing the symbiote poison. It could prove very effective as a weapon, and Mapep also wants us to find a way to set it up as a last-line defense for this base. I will probably be installing canisters in the primary ventilation shafts, which can be triggered by remote in an emergency."
I feel Veskyr twitch a little. That stuff makes me so nervous, especially when Anise is working with it.
It was her invention, she'll be fine.
"We were wondering if you would join us for lunch?"
"Yes, we were about to head there ourselves. I heard the cook made some very good soup today."
We see Martouf sitting at a table in the cafeteria and join him.
"Hey." I say as we sit down.
"How are things going?" Martouf asks.
"Going well. Anshar said one of the Ha'tak would be ready for a test within the next day or so."
"Excellent." He says, seeming like he doesn't really care.
What's wrong with him? I ask Veskyr.
He hasn't visited Earth in over a month.
Are you blind and I just haven't noticed? He's working on a relationship with Samantha Carter and he misses her.
Sam? Really? That's awesome! I decide to ask him.
"So, whats the matter?"
"Nothing." Martouf looks back down at his soup.
"You know, there's talk of some of us going to Earth soon to negotiate for help in the naquadah mines in exchange for a share of it and maybe some of the ships we will be building here if production is quick enough for Mapep's satisfaction. You can probably take a couple days off and go visit her."
Martouf's head snaps up and he looks me in the eye. "Visit who?"
"Who do you think? Veskyr says he noticed you and Sam were close as soon as he came back from the dead. Aren't you and her...uh...on Earth we call it dating. I don't know what you guys call it before a relationship becomes very serious." I say, glancing at my mate with a smile.
Martouf glances around, then looks back to me. "Yes, we are. I haven't told anyone yet, and I do not believe Samantha has either. Do not speak of this, either of you." His expression lightened a little. "I do miss her."
"That's great, Martouf! Anise and I are so happy for you!" Freya says excitedly.
Veskyr is laughing in my head. What's so funny? I ask him.
His reaction. Half the Tok'ra on this base know about it, but nobody has said anything about it to him yet.
"Well, whenever we go to Earth to negotiate for the naquadah mine, request to come along and take a night there. Make up some excuse, shouldn't be too hard. If Veskyr has figured it out others probably have, too."
"Yes, they probably have."
Martouf's eyes flash, indicating a change in control. "Are we expecting the Tollan transport to arrive tommorrow?" Lantash asks, wanting to change the subject.
"Yes, but we don't know exactly when. Subspace communications aren't up and running yet." I say.
"I thought that's what you were working on today?" Freya looks at me.
"I was, but Veskyr wants the rest of the day off. We'll have the system working by the end of tomorrow."
you're taking the rest of today off then so are we." Freya
stands up and grabs my hand, clearly wanting me to go with her.
"Excuse us, Lantash."
The Tollan refugees arrived a couple hours ago. I am working on getting power on to the old living quarters in the far end of the facility so they have a place to stay that is more comfortable than their ship. I sense someone approaching me, and turn around to see the one called Narim.
"Were you able to make contact?" I ask. Earlier that day I had successfully activated our subspace communications, and Narim had been attempting to find out if any other Tollan people had survived and managed to escape on transport ships.
"No, it appears that we are the only survivors." Narim said, looking sad.
"How many people lived on Tollana?"
"Approximately 4.3 million. The last of our people. We had been attempting to rebuild our once great civilization." Narim says.
"I'm sorry for your loss." I'm not sure what else to say.
"Those of us who survived are trying to decide what to do. We are considering staying here, at least for now. There are too few of us to again atempt to rebuild our society, and we are vulnerable. At least here we are among friends." Narim says, sitting down and putting his head in his hands.
"I could definitely use some scientific help. Many Tollan technologies were still beyond the level of the Goa'uld, and we could use them in our fight against the System Lords." I continue working on the computer. After a few moments, the screen indicates that power has been restored to the rear-section living quarters.
Narim nods "A few of our scientists survived. I will tell them of your request. You are also welcome to have access to any technology we brought with us."
"I have returned power to the living quarters at the rear section of the facility for your people to use." I state
"Thank you." He stands up and walks away.
Later that day, several of us leave for Earth. Officially it is to negotiate for help with the naquadah mine, but we are taking an extra day each since all of us have friends to visit there. At the last minute, Mapep shows up by the stargate.
"You coming too?" I ask, amused.
"Yes, Ben would like to visit his family. Regardless, I thought I should probably head these negotiations."
"I'm not part of the negotiations, nor is Martouf. We are just going to visit some people." I reply.
"I know. Officially, it will be myself, Selmak, and Delek negotiating with Earth."
We arrive at Stargate Command. Sam walks up and hugs me, Jacob, and Martouf.
"Welcome to Earth. I'm General Hammond." Hammond introduces himself to Mapep.
"Yes, I know. Ben has told me much about you."
"Right. This way, please." Hammond leads the others out of the gate room.
"There's a car waiting for you on the surface, Josh." Sam says to me.
"Is SG1 not part of these negotiations?" Martouf asks, hopefully.
"No, we aren't officially. I'm all yours for the afternoon." Sam replies, and Martouf gets a small smile on his face.
I head up to the surface and find the car waiting for me. I drive to the small apartment the Air Force set up for me before I left the first time. I get inside, turn on my cell phone and listen to the five voice mails that have piled up since the last time I was home. I open my fridge and find a Corona. Excellent! I pop it open and take a drink.
Yuck, what is that?
It's beer. It's good.
I disagree...and its alcoholic.
Only slightly. Chill out.
Veskyr gives the mental equivelant of a sigh. We're hungry, lets go get something to eat?
I make a couple phone calls and arrange to have some friends meet me at a pizza place on the other side of town. I go downstairs and open the garage at the back of the building and get in my car. I turn the key and am rewarded with a satisfying growl from the exhaust.
Please don't do anything dangerous.
Says the Tok'ra symbiote who has gone on missions more dangerous than anything I could do with my car. I respond, laughing out loud. I find music on the radio and pull out of the garage. We meet up with some of my friends at Pizza Street and sit down.
I notice that my old friend Tony is uncharacteristically quiet, and keeps giving me strange glaces.
"What's the problem, bro?" I ask him
"Nothing man, I'm fine." He goes back to eating his pizza.
Something is bothering him. Veskyr says
Yes, but he's never been one to talk about his problems. He'll deal with it on his own, he prefers it that way.
Your friends are...interesting.
Yeah. I reply to my symbiote with a laugh. I miss spending more time with them. Well, we're not due back at Stargate Command until tomorrow morning. I'm sure Martouf is out spending time with Sam. I guess we'll go back to the apartment, watch some movies, and go to sleep.
I get back to the apartment and put on a movie, with Veskyr commenting about it the whole time.
Next day, the group of us are arriving back to the base through the stargate. As soon as I step through, I notice that something is wrong. The facility is too quiet. I look at the others, and they've noticed it too. We exchange glances, everyone silently pulls out their Zats and fans out to search the facility.
I start with the control room. Outside the door are several Tollans, most of whom appear to have been killed with a bladed weapon of some kind, and a few of whom were clearly shot with a staff weapon. I see a Tok'ra laying on the floor, crumpled against wall opposite the control consoles.
"Hey!" I run over and crouch down next to him. It's Anshar. He's still breathing, but unresponsive when I try to wake him up. He appears to have been thrown against the wall, and is bleeding from at least two stab wounds. I check him, and I can feel a skull fracture where his head hit the wall.
Those wounds look like the work of an ashrak's blade. Veskyr thinks, shuddering. I'd guess that Anshar was in here to activate the lockdown.
I remove my shirt, belt, and jacket and use them to stem Anshar's bleeding as bast I can. Then I check the control room panels, and they confirm Veskyr's suspicions. The defense system was activated about four hours ago.
It's amazing that Anshar is still alive, if this was done four hours ago. What happened here?
We'll find out.
Adrenaline pumping in anger, I pick up Anshar's ribbon device and put it on my hand.
You know those things make me uncomfortable. Veskyr says. He withdraws a little, despising the feeling of the ribbon device on my hand.
Whatever's going on here, it can't hurt to have an extra weapon.
I quickly clear the hallway and move down to the next set of rooms. I am almost done clearing this level and am about to head up to the construction level when I see a shadow moving around the corner. I flatten against the wall, weapon ready. The shadow moves to come around the corner and I jump out.
Stop! Veskyr says to keep me from shooting the Tollan.
It takes me a second to register who it is. "Narim. What is happening here?"
"I am unsure. The evacuation alarm sounded but I was unable to reach the stargate before the base went into lockdown mode." Narim says, looking shaken. He lowers his weapon, a small one of Tollan design.
"Have you seen any other survivors?"
"Not in the last three hours. I've been looking for a way out, but all the exits are sealed."
I nod. "When the base goes into lockdown mode, the exits are sealed from the inside. We were able to enter because the main entrance from the outside is coded."
Narim follows as I continue clearing the next level. I find two more fallen Tok'ra in the construction level. The we round another corner and almost run into Marteen and Mapep, and we all raise our weapons for a moment before realizing who the other is.
"What is going on here?" Mapep asks.
"We are unsure. According the consoles in the primary control room, the base went into lockdown about four hours ago. I have found three fallen Tok'ra. Anshar was in the control room, and he was still alive but bleeding badly and unconcious."
I see Ben, Mapep's host, take control. "We should keep moving."
"So I assume my plan was successful in destroying the programming?" I ask quietly as we walk, glancing sideways at Marteen.
"Yes it was, my friend. Nyklos and I thank you. How di-" Marteen stops and holds his hand up. We all stop too, looking around. Suddenly weapons fire seems to appear out of the air at the other end of the corridor. It strikes Marteen in the chest, and he falls. We all take cover around the columbs and return fire. It is a standoff, until I sense another symbiote behind me and turn around to see Jacob, or Selmak, I'm not sure which is in control, step out from around a corner, holding a T.E.R. weapon. He aims it down the hall, making the ashrak visible, and fires. The ashrak ducks quickly, and he misses. I send a shockwave from the ribbon device down the hall, and it throws the ashrak back several feet and he lands on his back. Jacob takes aim before the ashrak has a chance to get back up, and fires again. The Goa'uld assassin litterally explodes.
"Well done." Mapep says approvingly.
"Thank you." Jacob replies.
I kneel down next to Marteen and check his pulse. It is rapid and faint. His eyes flash. "I do not know if I can heal this, it may be too severe." Marteen says weakly.
"Just hang in there. We'll get you to the sarcophogus after we make sure there are no other ashrak." I say, trying to sound reassuring.
Marteen picks up his Zat and sits up with some difficulty, resting against the wall. "Just go. Come back for us when you're sure the base is secure."
Knowing it is pointless to argue, I stand and we continue our sweep of the base. We reach the rear section of the base and begin to sweep the living quarters and storage rooms. In one of the corridors we bump into Aldwin, Delek, and Vorran. They appear to be sweeping the facility as well.
Aldwin is bleeding.
"Are you okay?" I ask Aldwin.
"Yes, we are fine. Gerim is working on it."
"What's going on?"
"Its an ashrak" Vorran answers. "Three ashrak, to be more accurate. They followed one of the trade groups back through the Chaapa'ai. How they knew where to find us is a mystery."
"I ordered the lockdown protocal initiated so that no matter what happened, the address of this base would remain a secret. Most of the Tok'ra were able to get through the Chaap'ai before the lockdown was initiated. They await my signal on the safe world that the threat has been eliminated." Delek states
"How many have we lost?" Mapep asks, looking grim. I glance around to make sure we are still clear.
"Three were killed before we knew what was happening. Nine more were killed hunting the ashrak, as we were when you found us. Thoran was among those killed. Additionally, several of the Tollans were killed defending Anshar while he activated the lockdown procedure. Once the ashrak knew what we were doing, they went after Anshar because he was the one I ordered to activate the security program." Delek looked even more serious than normal, relaying the information to Mapep.
"I got one of the ashrak." Jacob states, checking his weapon and glancing around.
"We are sweeping the base in an attempt to find the ashraks and kill them. I killed one as well, and the other has not been found." Vorran adds.
Normally we would have just evacuted, but this facility is too important to our future not to fight for it. Those who stayed behind in an attempt to eliminate the threat knew there was a good chance they would be killed in defense of the base.
"Anshar is still alive, but I very much doubt his host will ever wake up again. He is bleeding from two stab wounds, and his host has a severe skull fracture from being thrown against the wall, probably by a ribbon device. Marteen was hit when we were engaging one of the ashrak, and he will need medical attention desperately as well."
As we start to move down the hall, I hear a beep from the communications device on Mapep's belt. He grabs it and presses the top button. "Kal kek m'al?"
"Quellshak prim. This is Lantash, I found an ashrak in the sarcophagus room. I killed him, but unfortunately the sarcophagus was damaged in the fight."
We all exchange a look at that news. The sarcophagus could have revived all those that were killed by the ashrak.
"Lantash, the majority of those that were on this base, both Tok'ra and Tollan, made it through the Chaap'ai to the safe world ready to move on to one of our other outposts if they were not informed that this base was secured. Get to the control room and lift the lockdown, then inform them that we have secured the facility and they may return." Mapep orders, before turning to Delek. "Take your group and check all the fallen Tok'ra. Some of the symbiotes may yet be alive, and we must try to save them."
"Someone should check Anshar. He may still be alive. I will check on Marteen."
I stand up without waiting for a reply, and walk quickly back through the facility to where Marteen was, stopping to grab a healing device. He is still breathing, and I kneel down next to him.
"The sarcophogus was destroyed." I say quietly. Marteen's eyes open and flash.
"Nyklos and I are sorry to hear that." He says weakly.
"I brought this." I say, holding out the healing device and focusing my energy on healing Marteen's host. He inhales deeply, and the wound begins to shut.
"Well, it won't help with the amount of blood you've lost, but that should make the difference. I can't do any more, we are out of energy." I say hopefully after a few moments. The wound from the weapons fire is mostly healed over.
"I should be able to save us now. Thank you. Go, I'm sure there are others that need attention more then me." Marteen responds, standing up with some difficulty. He leans against the wall for support.
I nod, and turn to go see if Anshar is still alive. As I arrive in the control room, I see that Ferran has been covered with a blanket, and there is a small tank with a symbiote in it resting on the floor next to it.
"Is that...?" I ask Delek, swallowing
host's injuries were far too severe, only a sarcophogus would have
been capable of healing the brain damage caused by the skull
fractures. Anshar has survived, but Ferran is dead."
Four other the Tok'ra symbiotes were saved, removed volunterily from their hosts that were either dead or would never wake up again, and placed in healing tanks. Two funerals were held, one for the fallen Tok'ra, and another for the fallen Tollan, so that they could bury their own according to their custom. A small monument with a continuously burning fire was built to honor all the fallen Tollan, both here and when Tollana was attacked, and placed near the primary entrance. The Tollan have decided to stay with us permanently, and a few have volunteered as future hosts to the healing symbiotes.
Three days later, several of us are gathered in the council chamber.
"The Tau'ri agreed to help us mine the naquadah in exchange for a percentage of it to be determined at a later date. They have good mining equipment that can greatly increase the yield of naquadah and decrease the time it takes to retreive it. Since the Goa'uld use slaves, they had no need for technology-based mining equipment to speed up ore extraction." Mapep is saying "In the future, there may be a share of Ha'tak vessels built here as well, but that is dependant on how quickly we can build them. What other new information is there?"
"We were contacted by Khonsu today. He says there are rumors of a jaffa rebellion beginning to circle about among the Goa'uld. There may be many jaffa who are ready to cast aside old ways and renounce the Goa'uld as false gods." Vorran reports
"We can only hope that any jaffa who does so will prove to be an ally despite history, and that we will have the courage and the fortitude to set aside the past with those who would be our allies. All those who are enemies of the Goa'uld and wish to see their empire crumble into dust must work together if we are ever to stand a chance at dismantling what they have built over these last thousands of years." Mapep says
"Wise words. If only it were that easy." Delek says.
"In time, it will be." Mapep replies.
Everyone stands up to leave.
"Veskyr, Selmak. Stay please." Mapep says
"Yes?" I ask after everyone else has cleared the room.
"I need as few Tok'ra to know of this as possible, so that there is no chance of the one in question finding out." Mapep replies
"What are you referring to?" Selmak asks
"Several months back, many Tok'ra were nearly captured on a routine trading mission. Including you, Veskyr." Mapep says "Then, someone planted a zatarc program in Marteen's mind. Most recently, three ashrak followed a trade group back through the Chaapa'ai to our new base. Many lives were lost in the attack. You both know what all the evidence suggests."
I nod, but Selmak looks less then prepared to accept the truth.
"I will not accept that a Tok'ra, born of Egeria, would readily and willingly betray us." Selmak states flatly.
"All the evidence supports that we have a spy or traitor among us. I am assigning the two of you the task of attempting to discover the identity of the individual or individuals responsible for these occurences. The seriousness of the situation requires that this investigation is conducted in absolute secrecy. You will go about your daily duties and regular tasks, only investigating this situation when you can do with complete discrepancy. Do you understand?"
"Yes." I reply. Selmak nods.
"Tell noone about this. Dismissed."
I sit down with Anise and Freya for a late dinner about a week after the attack.
"Hey." I bend over the table and kiss them.
"What's wrong?" Anise is in control.
"Oh, nothing. Veskyr is still angry about the lives lost when those ashrak attacked. It was kind of the last straw, you know? We've lost so many of our number in the last couple months..."
"We will grow strong again. This facility will give us the means to do so, and Anshar's last host will always be remembered. He helped to give us this chance, and many of us died to defend it."
"Yes, I know. So does he, he's just in a bad mood. It's been a lot of setbacks lately, and the Goa'uld are winning. They wiped out the Tollan, who were our most powerful ally."
"Enough of them survived to carry on their name, their legacy. Until enough peoples of this galaxy stand up and tell the Goa'uld that we will take this no longer, this is how life is, how it has been for a very long time. Even then, there will still be a long, bloody war to fight. Such is the way of things when those who hold the most power also hold the most evil."
"Someday we will end it." I sit there for a minute, just staring deep into her eyes.
Out of nowhere we are joined by Martouf, Aldwin, and Thellas.
Aldwin sighs. "Well, at least they saved some good food for us."
"Yes, try this. Its kind of like a potato."
"What is a potato?"
"Never mind, just try it. Something we found growing wild a couple miles from the facility here."
"It is saddening that so many more lives were lost recently." Thellas says quietly.
"You know, we never did name is this planet.
"It is because of Anshar, and his host Ferran, that we now have a better chance at eventually taking on the System Lords than we've had since the time of Jolinar's reign as a System Lord. Anshar survived, but his host did not. I intend to officially name the planet Ferr, in his honor." Everyone looks at me as I raise my glass. "In honour of those who fell in defense of our greatest hope." Everyone at the table drinks with me.
"It's a shame none of us ever got to know Ferran better." Anise says.
"I talked with him a few times. He was just that type of host, very quiet and reserved. He also had a rough history, with his own wife and child killed several years before he became Anshar's host." Gerim said, having taken over from Aldwin.
"In that we had something in common." I say, thinking briefly about my late wife and daughter.
"Pass me that bottle of wine. Everyone want a glass?" Gerim asks, trying to lighten the mood. Everyone nods.
For the rest of the evening we all got steadily more intoxicated, just drinking, laughing, and enjoying each others' company. After much convincing that he needed to relax and have a good time as much as the rest of us, Veskyr stopped filtering out the alcohol, and even he got a little drunk.
She is so beautiful...
I respond to the random thought with a laugh. My symbiote is very amusing when he's drunk. We are both feeling great though, able to relax and have fun for the first time in quite a while.
After a couple glasses of wine, Martouf admitted that he and Lantash were in a semi-secret relationship with Sam. After several hours I watched Aldwin stumble off to bed, followed by Malek. Martouf hadn't had as much to drink as the others, so he stayed for another hour. Eventually, he too got up and went off to go to bed. I take Anise's hand and pull her up. Its time for us to go to bed, too.