Chapter 4: Failures and Successes

Stargate Command

"All these planets belong to Apophis, or allies of him?" Janet asked, concerned, as she looked at the list.

"Yes. When he took over Sokar's empire and fleet, he became very powerful," Anise said, she picked up the list again. "The first one, you call is PX-325, the inhabitants call it Lazairia... it was recently claimed by Apophis. I believe he has even sent a vassal there. The planet is primitive, but there is much naquadah, and slaves to mine it."

"SG-14 and SG-15 just returned from there. They reported being attacked by Jaffa, and being under heavy fire. All members of SG-17 were killed, as were two of the members of SG-15," Janet said, reading the report.

Anise nodded. "SG-14 and the surviving members of SG-15 should be first on the list of people we test." She looked at the list again. "The next should be SG-7, followed by SG-9, SG-18, SG-2, and SG-5. We should also test SG-1 when they return, as they went to destroy Apophis prototype ship a couple weeks ago."

Janet got up from where she was sitting by the table. "I'll go talk to General Hammond about having them sent down here."

"You're clean," Janet said.

"I agree. You are not a zatarc," Anise added. She nodded at the security guards, and they released Captain Blasdale.

Relieved he got up from the chair. "Great, thanks."

"Please send in Major Graham," Janet said.

"Yes, ma'am." He left.

A few moments later Major Graham came in, looking nervous. "You wanted to see me, Doctor Fraiser, and, uh, Anise?"

"Hello, Major Graham. Yes, please have a seat," Janet told him.

Graham sat down, and Anise and one of the security guards strapped him to the chair.

"Try to stay calm. Direct your vision here." Anise pointed, then switched on the machine.

A laser like beam hit Graham's eyes for a moment, and a screen on the machine showed a circular pattern.

"We will ask you some questions, and your thoughts at that time will be read," Janet told him.

"Please answer as truthfully as possible. Describe to me your mission on PX-325," Anise said.

"Uh, well. At first, it seemed like a routine meet 'n' greet, you know? The Lazairians are a fairly primitive people."

They continued questioning Major Graham for some time, and the circle pattern on the monitor suddenly changed, growing rapidly. Anise and Janet looked at each other, but they knew the reaction could just mean the Major could have reiterated something out of order.

"Major, please repeat the last sequence. Remember to be specific about every detail, even your feelings at the time," Anise told him.

Graham nodded. "Okay, I really don't know exactly what happened, there wasn't much time to go about hypothesising. Just after…the sun went down the gliders attacked the village. We booked for the Stargate but the clearing was filled with Jaffa." He frowned. "SG-15 was already under fire... it felt like they were coming at us from all sides. Captain Blasdale came in from one side. He and Sergeant Lewis were pinned down..."

"How did you feel at that time?" Janet asked.

"What do you think? I was scared out of my mind! I still managed to shoot the Jaffa coming at us."

"Are you certain Lieutenant Astor shot that Jaffa, and that you returned with Captain Blasdale and Sergeant Lewis?" Anise prodded.

"Absolutely certain."

Janet and Anise looked grimly at each other, then Janet nodded briefly.

Anise sighed. "That will be all. Thank you, Major."

Major Graham was a zatarc - there was no doubt about it. They had him sent to a secured room, with guards outside, while the rest of the potential zatarcs were tested.

It took all of the rest of the day, before everyone that could have been exposed, had been tested. When they had finished the tests, Freya/Anise and Janet went to report to Hammond.

"We have found five zatarcs among the seven SG teams we tested," Freya said.

"You are certain?" Hammond asked.

Janet nodded. "I'm afraid so, sir."

"What do we do?"

"There is a procedure we could try..." Freya looked at Janet, who did not look happy.

"Is it safe?" Hammond asked.

"It's experimental at best," Janet admitted.

"We would not suggest this if we thought there was a better alternative," Freya said.

Hammond nodded. "What's the worst case scenario?"

"The procedure actually damages the portion of the brain that has been affected by the Zatarc technology," Freya explained.

"Which means they could lose more than just a false memory," Janet said.

"How much more?" Hammond demanded to know.

Janet and Freya looked at each other.

"I'm sorry, sir... but it won't be clear until after the procedure," Janet told him, an apologetic expression on her face. "I don't like this any more than you do, but I don't know what else we can do."

"I hate sitting here deciding the fate of one of our officers, but as you say, what choice do we have?" Hammond said. "The security of this base and this planet can not be compromised."

"Furthermore, when their programming is triggered, they will inevitably become self- destructive." Anise sighed. "There is another choice... we can put them in stasis. However, the Tok'ra do not have more than a handful of stasis chambers, so if any more are found, this will not be an option. In addition, we would like to keep any... progress, in this area a secret, until such a time when I have talked to Shau'nac."

"They'd end up being stuck in stasis indefinitely, wouldn't they?"

"Yes - or until we find a better way of treating them."

Hammond nodded. "Let's give them the choice - let them decide for themselves." .

All five people ended up deciding in favour of the experimental treatment, and Major Graham would be the first of them.

Freya/Anise and Janet watched as he was strapped to the chair by two security guards.

"I... I have to admit, I'm terrified," Graham said, looking very pale.

"I understand. Please try to stay calm," Freya told him.

"Couldn't we give him a sedative?" Janet asked.

Freya shook her head. "No, unfortunately he has to be fully conscious and alert for this to work. I am sorry."

Janet nodded, looking very unhappy.

"Listen I'm sure it all happened as I told you! I did manage to get Captain Blasdale and Sergeant Lewis out!"

"You said you were surrounded. Jaffa were everywhere. Six other SGC team members died that night, yet you and your team managed to get through the Stargate unharmed," Freya reminded him.

"I thought we were just that good," Graham admitted.

Freya nodded. "I am going to begin." She focused a light from the machine on, and around Major Graham's head.

"It hurts! Stop! Please! Stop!" Graham screamed.

"Relax. It will be over soon," Janet soothed.

"No, stop!"

Suddenly, Graham ripped his arms free from the bindings on the chair, jumped the nearby security guard and grabbed his weapon. Before anyone could stop him, Graham had turned it around and shot himself in the head with it. He sank to the ground, dead.

"You are certain there is no better way of treating them?" Hammond asked.

"I'm afraid we don't have another suggestion at this point," Anise said.

"In that case, I am going to postpone treating the rest of my people until you've studied what went wrong!"

"I am convinced the treatment will work, if it is allowed to complete. The solution is to immobilize the patient better during treatment," Anise insisted.

There was a knock on the door, and Hammond tiredly looked at it. "Enter."

It was Major Simpson from SG-18. "General?"

"I thought I'd told my guards we were not to be disturbed!"

"I apologize, General, but this is very important."

Hammond sighed. "All right. What is it?"

"Lieutenant Anderson managed to escape from the room he was locked up in. He immediately attacked the nearest airman, took his weapon, and... killed himself." Simpson looked shaken.

"What?" Hammond stared at him in disbelief.

"It was to be expected, though I had not thought it would happen so soon. When a zatarc is prevented from carrying out his or her mission, they become suicidal. As we do not know what these missions are, we cannot know if locking them up will immediately trigger the programming. I assume it will depend on the mission," Freya said. "If he had not managed to escape, he would likely have found some other way to kill himself."

"That changes things." Hammond looked determined. "The zatarcs are a threat, not only to themselves, but to the base - even when they are locked up. The treatments will continue."

Lieutenant Astor looked groggily at Janet, then frowned. "Why am I here? I thought I was on PX-325... wait! We were under attack!" She looked around with wide eyes, then relaxed when she realized she was in the infirmary and there were no Jaffa.

"Relax, you're safe," Janet said, smiling reassuring at her. "How much do you remember? What is your name?"

"Natalie Astor, Lieutenant. I'm a member of SG-14..."

"Good. Now, we're going to ask you some questions, and when you've answered those, we'll explain everything, and you'll hopefully be fine to go. Okay?" Janet said.

Chapter 5