Chapter 10 summary: When the owners of the hut show up, they bring hope of Sam and Martouf/Lantash being able to escape, eventually. However, will the still hallucinating Martouf and Lantash be able to hide they are Tok'ra?
[ Chapter 1: Pain, Sorrow, and Joy | Chapter 2: Escape and Rescue | Chapter 3: A Pleasant Surprise | Chapter 4: Escaping Together | Chapter 5: Waiting for News | Chapter 6: Lurking Danger | Chapter 7: Hallucinations | Chapter 8: Uncontrollable Emotions | Chapter 9: Happier Times | Chapter 10: They are not Gods | Chapter 11: The Trees of the Forest | Chapter 12: Collision Course | Chapter 13: Travel | Chapter 14: Enemies at the Gate and Land of the Light | Chapter 15: Another Option | Chapter 16: Undercover | Chapter 17: Going Home ]
It was late afternoon of the next day. Martouf and Lantash were cooking dinner, while Sam was making a short round of the clearing before darkness fell. She was just about to return to the building, when she noticed someone moving behind the trees. People! She raised her zat'nik'tel and armed it, but she soon realised it was not Jaffa.
There were three people, and they were dressed like peasants. They stopped some distance from the mass of plants, not able to safely pass them. The plants did not pay any attention to them, though, or perhaps they even seemed to move away from them a little. It was not enough for them to pass through to the clearing, but Sam was amazed the trees did not attack them.
The group of people was close enough for Sam to see them clearly now. It was an old couple, maybe in their mid to late sixties, together with a young man in his teens, perhaps their grandson.
She waved at them, and they waved back. Determined to help them, she fired at the trees that were blocking their path. As before, one shot with the zat'nik'tel did nothing, and neither did a second, but a third vaporized the tree. She was about to fire again, when the remaining trees suddenly moved aside, letting the old couple and the young man through.
As soon as they were in the clearing, the plants again filled the opening, and no one could pass through. Sam had a very bad feeling about this - the trees did not want to be killed, but neither were they ready to give up their prey...and they were clearly able to understand that Sam wanted the new arrivals to come through, and would have continued shooting and killing the plants, if they had not moved aside.
"You seem to have drawn quite a lot of the tikvi trees, my friend," The old man observed.
"Yes, you could say that." Sam smiled wryly. "Listen, is that your hut?"
"It is. We stay in it a few months each year while our sheep graze a nearby valley." The man gave her an appraising look. "You are not from around here, correct?"
"I am not. We - that is, my companion and I - we've been hiding in your hut...from those...trees. I'm sorry, but we've been eating some of your food and..."
The man stopped her. "Do not be concerned about that, we do not mind. You do not know of the repellent, then?"
"Repellent? Against those?" Sam pointed at the carnivorous plants.
"Yes, against the tikvi trees. If you do not use it, they will hunt you and sting you. The repellent keeps them away, and protects you from the effects of their poison."
"That's great! Then we can get out of here, perhaps! Do you have any of that repellent?"
"No, unfortunately not. We each took a dose that will last for the time we are in the forest. It leaves the body slowly, just like the poison itself."
"Damn. Well, can you tell me how to get some?"
"We will tell you which ingredients you need, but it will be dangerous to collect them, even if your companion helps you and you guard each other. We have never seen so many tikvis in one place before," The old woman told her.
"Unfortunately, my...companion will not be able to help. He was stung by one of the trees, and he still suffers from the effects."
"He is hallucinating?"
"Yes, though the episodes seems to be further apart now than before, and I think less severe."
"How long have you stayed here?" The man seemed surprised. "It usually takes months before the hallucinations stop, and they are usually constantly there, though growing less intense as time passes."
"Well, maybe he didn't get a very large dose, or something before I got him freed...or maybe he's more resistant to the poison than most..." Sam said, not wanting to draw attention to Martouf/Lantash being Tok'ra. These people would probably not know about the Tok'ra, and they would think he was a Goa'uld.
"You were very fortunate that you could free him at all." The woman said, then she smiled at Sam. "He is your mate, is he not?"
Sam blushed. "Well, eh, yes, I...I suppose he is..."
"Do not worry about him. There is an antidote, which contains many of the same ingredients as the repellent. I will show you how to make it, and he will be fine in no time."
"Grandmother, you are forgetting about one of the ingredients..." Her grandson said.
She sighed. "Ellik is correct. For the antidote you will need to incapacitate a tikvi tree and take some of the raw poison, which has not yet been sucked up into the stinger. They keep it in a sort of bulb, and you will have to extract some of it. Unfortunately, the small lightning weapon you have will not affect it, except for vaporising it, as you have found. This resistance is no doubt one of the reasons why the Jaffa will not usually venture into the forest, though they seem to have done so now."
"Where did you see the Jaffa?" Sam asked, worried.
The man nodded. "As soon as I saw you, I suspected the Jaffa were looking for you. There are rarely any strangers here, and as my dear wife just said, the Jaffa will not enter the forest without good reason. Well, the Jaffa are no ones friends, so if you are on the run from them, we have even more reason to help you. My name is Willat, this is my wife Dinna, and our grandson Ellik."
"Pleased to meet you." Sam smiled at them. "My name is Sam...Samantha Carter, actually, but people usually call me Sam."
"Good to meet you, Sam." He smiled at her. "You asked about the Jaffa. We did not see them ourselves, but two days ago, when we entered the woods with our sheep, my oldest son stopped by with repellent for our journey. He told us the Jaffa were ordered into the forest, to look for an enemy of Zipacna's. Someone who had fled his imprisonment."
"They will be slowed down by the tikvis, but they have firepower enough to kill many, perhaps enough to make the trees leave them alone. It was a very large Jaffa force which was sent into the forest," Ellik added.
"Then I must hurry and make both the antidote and the repellent!" Sam exclaimed.
"Not tonight. It will be much too dangerous," Dinna said.
While they had been talking, they had reached the hut. "I will wait for morning, then. Listen, I think I should check to see if Martouf is lucid, or if he's hallucinating before you come in. He may get, ah, paranoid if he thinks you're...well, I don't know...anything...murderous trees, Jaffa, Goa'uld - you name it." She looked apologetic.
"Do not be concerned - he does not have a weapon, though, does he?"
"No, I hid our other weapons - though, there's the kitchen knives, of course..." Sam looked concerned.
"We will be fine."
Sam nodded, and opened the door. "Martouf? I met the hut's owners - they're coming in with me."
Martouf came to the door. "You do not have to be concerned, Samantha. I am lucid, so I shall not start yelling and making a fool of myself." He gave the sheepherders and their grandson an embarrassed smile. "Hello, my name is Martouf. I apologize for any disorder we have cause to your building. I do not currently have any kind of valuables, but I give you my word I shall return to pay for the food we have eaten and any other losses we may have caused you."
Dinna smiled at him, clearly charmed by him. "Do not worry, young man. You were in need, and we are happy you were able to save yourself by hiding in our hut. I am Dinna."
"I am Willat, and my dear wife is correct. You are welcome to stay as long as you have any need."
"Do not forget the Jaffa. Sooner or later they will come here." Ellik pointed out. "Hello - I am Ellik."
Martouf nodded. "We must leave soon, then. I have made dinner, though I fear not enough for us all. I shall go to the kitchen and prepare more."
They ate dinner, mostly in silence, but when they finished, they discussed the trees and what happened to Martouf/Lantash and Sam. Dinna, Willat, and Ellik knew quite a lot about the tikvi trees, as they were called, and explained that the plants were not strong enough to keep people restrained for long, nor strong enough to outright kill a person.
Instead, they would sting people with a poison, and the affected person would then only walk a short distance away before being overwhelmed by hallucinations and unable to flee, perhaps not even try to get away from the tree. Normally, people would hallucinate constantly, for several months, with the effects slowly growing fainter, until the person was normal again.
Of course, the usual result would be that person long since having been eaten by the trees, if no one was there to save them.
The sheepherders told them that it was quite normal that the person hallucinating went through the mood swings Martouf/Lantash had experienced, also. Going from paranoia, to anger, to anguish - then eventually becoming quite amorous.
However, Dinna and Willat had never heard of anyone having lucid periods, so that continued to interest them, especially since Sam and Martouf could not tell them about Lantash.
"Well, we should go and, ah, move some things from the bedroom, so you can have it back," Sam said, remembering they had yet again strewn clothes over the room yesterday evening, in their hurry to get naked and make love.
"Oh, no, do not do that. There is a bed in each of the two smaller rooms. While they are not quite as wide, I believe the two of you will probably need the extra space more than we will. Young people like you tend to be more, ah, active in bed." Dinna winked at Sam, and she blushed.
"Thank you." Martouf smiled at her. "Hopefully, you will soon have your bed back. We must leave as quickly as we can, in order to avoid the Jaffa."
"Yes, I am impressed that our Lord Zipacna will care enough about capturing you to risk sending his Jaffa into the forest," Willat said.
"Zipacna cares little about the lives of his Jaffa."
"True, but he cares a great deal about not wasting resources. What did you do to make him want you this badly?" He asked, curious.
"We, ah, happened to cause some destruction to one of his laboratories. Also, I have information Zipacna wants badly, in order to harm my people. I will never tell him," Martouf exclaimed.
"Understandably, though I am surprised he wants it this much. No offense, but how could an ordinary young man like you have information that a god would care about? Why would he find your people this interesting? The people of one human world is of no more importance to him than another."
"You are doubting my words?" Martouf questioned, angrily.
Alarmed, Sam put a calming hand on his arm. "Sorry, he's...having one of his 'episodes'." She turned to him. "Martouf, no one's doubting you. I know what you say is the truth, but I guess it does sound kinda strange Zipacna would want to know about your people. I mean, if they were normal humans, right?" She tried desperately getting him to take the hint and not mention the Tok'ra.
"Samantha, you know Zipacna would care a great deal! If he learned all that Lantash and I know, I'm sure he would use it to attack the Tok'ra, take the knowledge about the symbiote poison and exterminate every one of us!"
"Calm down, son..." Willat said in a soothing voice. "No one is doubting you. Why do you not relax and..."
Martouf's eyes flashed a strong white-yellow, making the old sheepherder couple and their grandson gasp, while Sam just groaned and hid her face in her hand. Why did Lantash have to come fore right now?
"You are mocking me! Worse, you are mocking my host, Martouf! You do not trust him...why do you not trust him? He is telling the truth! Do you also not believe me?"
"Lantash..." Sam said, putting her hand on his, caressing it gently. "Please, no one is mocking you, calling you a liar, or anything else. You are not yourself. Please, let me take you to the bedroom. You can lie down and sleep for a little while. I'll explain everything to our kind hosts, and then you can come out when you feel better. Or I can join you in bed. It is getting quite late."
"They just want me away so I won't find out they will sell me out to Zipacna!" He said, hotly.
"They won't do that. I would never let them. You trust me, don't you?"
"Of course I trust you, Samantha. Always," His voice became softer.
"Then come with me." She held out her hand, and after a moments indecision, Lantash got up and began to follow her.
Just as he was about to leave the room, he suddenly turned to the people still sitting at the table, looking shocked. He dipped his head, and Martouf looked up, giving them a stern look.
"Don't make Lantash and me regret trusting you!" He turned and swiftly left the room. Sam smiled apologetically and followed him, making sure he went to lie down.
Some minutes later, she returned to the kitchen where their hosts were still sitting together, whispering quietly together. They almost jumped up when Sam entered the room.
"Why did you not tell us your mate is a god!" Dinna said in a low voice.
Willat slowly shook his head, looking incredulous. "I did not know the poison of the tikvis could affect even a god! It does not seem possible, but clearly it is. Though that explains why it is not affecting him more than it is."
Sam was quiet for a moment, unsure how to answer. She eventually decided she would have to tell the truth, or some part of it anyway.
She took a deep breath and began explaining, "He's not a god. Have you ever heard of the Tok'ra?" Her audience slowly shook their heads. "Well, they are the same species as the Goa'uld, but they have a very different ideology, that is, different beliefs, customs, and reactions. You noticed Lantash was letting Martouf - his host - speak? What Goa'uld would do that? He also cooked dinner for us. Not very Goa'uld, right?"
"I suppose that is correct. However, his eyes flashed, he has the voice of the gods, and you, yourself, admitted he is of the same species. Is he then not also a god?"
"The Goa'uld aren't gods either..." Sam began what turned out to be a very long explanation.
"So, these Tok'ra fight the Goa'uld. They are rebel Goa'uld - and your mate, Lantash...and his host Martouf - are Tok'ra."
"They want to free us from the suppression by the Goa'uld, and Lantash has information which Zipacna will use to kill these Tok'ra."
"Yes, and he will, if he can. Lantash would die before giving Zipacna that information, but since the Goa'uld have sarcophagi and can just revive people all the times it takes, that may not help."
Dinna, Willat, and Ellik nodded to each other.
"I will have to admit this is shocking news, but...I do believe you," Willat said, slowly.
Dinna and Ellik agreed with him, and Sam relaxed. She suddenly felt exhausted, mostly from the adrenalin that had been coursing through her, and which now began being broken down. "Thank you. I will go and tell Martouf and Lantash."
"You should go to bed. You look tired, and I am sure your mate...mates would like you to join them." Dinna smiled. "I must admit I thought it strange you would wish to belong to someone who is of the same species as the Goa'uld, but I no longer think so. He is very handsome - and very charming, when he is not affected by the tikvi-poison. I can well understand why you love him. He seems to be a good man, well...both of them, I am sure, and well worthy of your love."
"Thanks." Sam blushed, but smiled at the woman. "They are very good men, both of them...and I do love them very much." She nodded at them all. "Goodnight - and thank you for believing me, and for letting us stay here."
Chapter 11: The Trees of the Forest