Chapter 12 summary: After having taken the repellent, Sam and Martouf/Lantash begin the long journey back to the Stargate. Meanwhile, back on Earth, the SGC has found that an asteroid is on collision course with Earth!
[ 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 ]
McKay was standing in front of a large view screen with an image of an asteroid, briefing Hammond and the members of SG-1 present.
"See, we've generated this image based on satellite observations made over the last few hours. The asteroid has an irregular shape, but we've calculated its length from end-to-end to be approximately 137 kilometers. I have found that.."
"Excuse me, why are we listening to you again?" O'Neill asked, annoyed. He had not liked McKay the first time he met him, and having him here now, just reminded him that Carter was gone.
"Our planet is about to be destroyed - and, might I add I, the most brilliant scientist on the planet, am about to be killed unless you do something about this - and you're complaining about the messenger?"
"Just cut the crap and tell us what's going to happen."
"The asteroid will hit Earth. It will kill us all. What part of that didn't you understand?"
"Where will it hit - and when, Doctor?" Hammond asked, cutting through the bickering.
"Unless I'm wrong - and I can't see any reason why I would be - it will strike somewhere in the Arctic Circle. Probably Greenland or the Barents Sea. When? In just over eleven days and sixteen hours."
"How come nobody's noticed this? Except us, I mean?" Daniel wondered.
"Well, a civilian actually discovered it. The asteroid's path is highly atypical. It's a rogue well outside the plane of the solar system occupied by the planets and the asteroid belt. No one in their right mind would have thought to look for it."
"If no one had looked for it, we would just have been killed never knowing what hit us. This way we can hopefully at least do something," O'Neill pointed out.
"Do something? What are you going to do? Blow it up with a nuke? The parts of it will just continue on its way and hit Earth anyway!" McKay exclaimed.
"Could we not ask some of our friends and allies?" Teal'c suggested. "Perhaps the Tok'ra could be of assistance."
"Unfortunately, they've been on the run since the Goa'uld attacked their base at Revanna. We've already sent a message asking for their help, but so far there hasn't been any reply," Hammond said.
"The Asgard owe us a favor," O'Neill suggested.
"We could contact them through the K'tau, through their Hall of Wisdom," Daniel reminded them.
"According to the treaty with the Goa'uld, the Asgard cannot prevent natural disasters from occurring on protected planets," Teal'c said.
"Hey, the Goa'uld tried to make the Tollan send a bomb through the iris. Screw the treaty," O'Neill said.
Daniel looked at O'Neill, trying to appear convincing, "Well, one of our allies will help."
"Let's hope you're right. Otherwise we'll all be dead in eleven days and sixteen hours!" McKay reminded them, looking unhappy.
The Jaffa leader put the long distance communication device back in his bag. "The order is clear. We continue."
"But...those trees! They will kill us all!" Thoka'll cried.
"It is the duty of any Jaffa to be prepared to die for their god. Perhaps I should tell Zipacna you do not 'feel' like doing so?" The leader mocked. "We saw the prisoner - and he has been seen again today. We will continue until we capture him, even if it is the last thing we do. Understood?"
"Yes, my lord. Of course." Thoka'll bowed his head in shame.
"Prepare to break camp! We are moving out in fifteen minutes! The renegade has been seen not fifty feet from here, and a scouting group has been sent ahead. This time we will get him, men!"
Just over two days had passed, and the repellent was now ready for use. Martouf and Lantash had reacted favourably to the antidote, and had become themselves much quicker than a human would. It had been more that ten hours since they last had any hallucinations, attacks of paranoia, or other signs of the poison. As well, the last two episodes had been very light. They seemed to be completely well.
"So, here you go, my dears. I must warn you, it does taste rather bitter, but since you need the whole dosage for it to work you must be careful not to spill or cough up any of it," Dinna said as she handed Sam and Martouf/Lantash a glass each.
"Why is there more in my glass than in Samantha's?" Martouf wondered, looking sceptically at the thick, fluorescently green fluid.
"Well, you are two people, so we thought you might need more - particularly since you told us a...a symbiote usually filters out...strange things," Willat said.
"True, but Lantash would not filter out a drug we need to avoid getting eaten!" Martouf looked slightly offended.
"Forgive me, son, but we have no experience with your kind, except as...as rulers and, um, gods." He looked somewhat ashamed. "Which I now understand they are not. However, since there is no harm in getting a too large dosage, we deemed it safer to give you too much, than too little."
Martouf nodded, sighing. "I apologize. It is a prudent measure. It is merely that this...potion is rather vicious looking and the smell is noxious..."
Willat laughed. "Yes, I know. That is why I prefer mine flavoured with strawberries. It does not make the repellent pleasant to ingest, but it does help hide the worst..."
Dinna brought a large pitcher full of water and poured two glasses, then fetched two small chili-like fruits, and two apples. "As soon as you have taken the repellent, drink half a glass of water, eat the red fire-fruit, eat the apple, then drink another half glass of water. That should alleviate the worst of the taste."
Sam looked as if she was considering whether or not being eaten by the trees were preferable, but she eventually shrugged and looked at Martouf/Lantash. "Okay, I'm ready, I think."
Martouf looked at it all in disbelief, then dipped his head, giving Lantash control.
"We are ready as well - as much as anyone can be ready for this."
He frowned, then picked up the glass of repellent and looked at it for a moment before he took a deep breath, opened his mouth and poured the stuff in. He almost gagged on it, but managed to swallow the mouthful. His expression looked pained, but he continued drinking, and soon had the glass emptied. He immediately put it down on the table and grabbed the water, downing half the glass as he was told. He coughed, but kept the stuff down, then ate the chili-like fruit, followed by the apple, then the other half of the glass of water. Without speaking, he poured another full glass of water and quickly emptied it, before he sat down, looking relieved.
Sam had studied him with increasing trepidation, and now stood staring at her own glass of repellent. There was less of it than what Martouf and Lantash had drunk, but still - the glass was almost half full.
"Well, down the hatch - I guess."
Closing her eyes, she opened her mouth and took a sip, then almost dropped the glass as she gagged on the stuff. She did not spill anything, though, and eventually forced it down. She looked at the amount of fluid left - she did not think it seemed to have even diminished. This was going to take a while.
Lantash sent her a sympathetic look. "You can do it, Samantha."
Sam had managed to force the offending potion down, and they had waited some time, allowing it to take full effect. They were finally ready to leave.
"There are only about a handful of trees on guard today," Sam remarked, as she stood in the door, looking towards the edge of the forest.
"Yes. Presumably they have gone to capture the Jaffa who are looking for us. These tikvi trees must really be able to communicate over longer distances somehow - perhaps passing the information on from plant to plant," Martouf suggested.
"That would explain why no Jaffa have showed up yet - they must be having a lot more trouble with the trees than we expected." She stepped outside.
"Let's hope our enemies will continue to fight each other for a while yet, allowing us to escape." Martouf smiled, following Sam out the door.
"Presumably they will," Willat said, coming to stand beside them. "The tikvis have not had people to eat in a long time. The humans of this world know how to protect themselves if they have to venture into the woods, and the Jaffa stay away if at all possible."
"Will they not eat animals?" Martouf wondered.
"It does not seem so. I do not know why, but as far as anyone on this world knows, it has never happened. We also believe it is harmful for them to move very often, because it will damage their roots."
"Well, that makes sense, so they couldn't keep up a long hunt, I guess. As for the animals...maybe you just haven't seen it?" Sam suggested. "It sounds strange they wouldn't capture the animals, if they like meat."
"Perhaps, but no left-over animal skeletons have ever been found. The tikvis does not eat the bones, so they are left after their meal. However, they turn a very characteristic shade of green, so it is obvious when someone has been the victim of a tikvi."
"And only human bones - or Jaffa, I guess since they probably look the same - have been found?"
"Yes - except for those of a small, serpentine lifeform, which appears to have had fins. It is believed it is the primtas of the Jaffa. They, too, had been eaten."
"It would be symbiotes, yes." Martouf frowned. "Perhaps the trees simply use the sentience of their prey against them?"
"Or perhaps they enjoy the reaction of sentient lifeforms, feeding off their fears and others emotions as well as their flesh?" Sam suggested. "Never mind. This is one scientific mystery I will be happy to leave unsolved."
Dinna stepped up to them, followed by Ellik. They both carried a bag fashioned with straps, making it possible to carry it on the back, like a backpack.
"Here are food and water for the journey, as well as blankets for the night. It may become cold, as you will be going through the lower mountains," Dinna said.
"Thank you...you have our gratitude, both for this, and for your hospitality and help against the tikvi trees," Martouf said, bowing to them in the traditional Tok'ra greeting. "Good bye."
Lantash took over. "From me as well. Good bye."
"And me." Sam smiled at them. "Good bye - and I really hope the Jaffa won't give you any problems."
"I am certain the tikvis will take care of that. Farewell - and safe journey."
"I wonder why those trees hunt people," Sam mused. "I would think they'd be able to just live from sunlight and nutrients in the ground, like most plants do."
"Most likely they can, since they had apparently not had people to eat for a long time, according to Dinna and her family. Perhaps the soil is poor in something they need, and so they supplement with meat to be able to grow larger or faster? Or perhaps in order to multiply faster?" Martouf suggested.
"True - or maybe it's just easier." Sam sighed. "Or they like the taste, or whatever, if trees even can taste stuff, which sounds a bit wacky, I know."
"These tikvi-trees are unusual, so maybe they can taste their food." Martouf gave her a smile. "I will just be happy we have only met one of them, and that it did not attempt to sting us or anything."
"Oh, I agree, I'm over-joyed...also about the fact we haven't met any Jaffa. They must be keeping each other occupied."
"Let us hope it remains that way. I estimate we have walked for a couple hours, and even with the short-cut the sheep-herders told us about, it will take us nearly three days to reach the chaapa'ai. There is time yet for our enemies to catch up to us."
"Always the pessimist, hm?"
"Not at all. Despite our, ah, unfortunate mishap with the trees, this last week and a half has been most fortunate for Lantash and I. Not only have we both been brought back to life and are together again, but we have had the opportunity to spend time alone with you, Samantha." He smiled at her, a little shyly. "Despite the circumstances, much of that time has been...most pleasant."
Sam blushed. "Yes. Yes...it has." She looked away.
"Something concerns you?" Martouf looked at her, worried. "Have we done anything to anger you?"
"No, not at all. It's just...listen, don't take this the wrong way. You're both...sweet and wonderful, and I do...I do have feelings for you. Love you, I guess, and not just because of Jolinar."
"Then what is the problem, if you love us?" Martouf looked at her, feelings of pain and confusion mingling on his face. "We love you as well - as much as we loved Jolinar."
"I...I'm flattered, and I do believe you. It's just...I don't know how well things would work out. Love is not all. We're from different planets. Even if we can get over any cultural differences, it would be one hell of a long distance relationship!"
"I am sure we would figure something out. If you will not join the Tok'ra, then perhaps Lantash and I could be allowed to join Stargate Command? We have skills that could be of assistance to you."
"You would do that? Leave the Tok'ra for me? I can't ask you to do that!"
Martouf shook his head. "We would not be leaving the Tok'ra - we could never do that. It would be more like a...temporary posting to the Tau'ri, maybe as a liaison, or something."
"There are certainly many situations where a Tok'ra would have knowledge we could use, so it's not a bad idea - provided the idiots at home are willing to see it," Sam said, knowing well it would be difficult to convince them.
"Truth be told, it will also not be easy to convince the Council, but we intend to try - if you will become our mate."
"Perhaps...we should wait and see how things develop first? I'm not saying I don't want to be your mate - I may well decide I do - but this is very soon! And then there are the problems of how we would be together."
Martouf sighed, then nodded. "We will give you as long as you want, of course." He bowed his head, and Lantash came fore.
"We very much hope you will decide to become our mate - and soon. The life of a human is short, unless you decide to blend. We do not wish to lose more time together with you than necessary," Lantash said.
"I..." Sam did not know what to say. He was right, of course. If she did not blend, she would die of old age, while Martouf would be no older than he was today. She knew that if she decided to become their mate, this was something she needed to figure out. Could she do that? Become a host again? She looked at Lantash. "I can't say the thought of blending doesn't still scare me, but I do promise you I will think about it. And about becoming your mate, too."
"Thank you. Then that will have to be enough, for now." He sighed. "Samantha, we love you so much. There is nothing we wish more strongly, than for you to become ours."
Sam smiled at him, feeling a little awkward. They walked on in silence for some time, each absorbed in his or her own thoughts.
Sam looked towards where the voice was coming from, suddenly seeing her father. "Dad?" Disbelieving, she took a few steps towards the image, then stopped.
"It cannot be Jacob, Samantha." Martouf told her, looking in the direction she stared in. Suddenly, he saw Jacob as well. He shook his head. "It is an illusion. It must be."
Sam took a step more towards the image of Jacob, and it suddenly disappeared.
"You're right - I had just been thinking of him." Sam smiled, embarrassed. "I guess we really do need to be careful. It seems the tikvis realised we weren't going to fall for it, though."
"Yes, or they sensed the repellent when you approached them."
"So they really can cause illusions! I wonder if they've used that to lure the Jaffa too?"
"Presumably. The tikvi tree that captured Lantash and me could sense thoughts from us, like we did from it, so it may have learned about the Jaffa following us. Not only that, but it has probably had time to tell its brethren."
"So the trees may be tempting the Jaffa with an image of us - or you, at least. I don't think Zipacna knows about me." Sam shook her head. "I wonder how intelligent these tikvis are. It's frightening!"
They had walked the whole day, only taking brief rests to eat a little. They were still deep in the forest, and darkness was falling fast.
"Even with the help of the repellent, I still do not think it would be safe not to keep guard tonight," Martouf said. "You should sleep. Lantash and I will take turns keeping watch."
"Thanks, but you need to rest too, and I remember you telling me that it's not as restful when you're not both sleeping. Besides, your body needs rest, too."
"True, but we can manage this way for a few days without problems."
"Perhaps, but I insist. We take turns - all of us...and you two get to sleep first." She smiled at him.
He inclined his head, accepting her wish. "On one condition..."
"We get a goodnight kiss - each!"
Sam laughed and threw her arms around him. She looked at him, her eyes twinkling as she leaned closer. "Your wish is my command..." she murmured, just before their lips met.
"Sleep well?" Sam asked while they were eating breakfast. The night had been uneventful during the times she had kept guard, and Martouf/Lantash had not indicated anything had transpired during their watches either. Most of the trees seemed to be elsewhere in the forest.
"Yes, well enough." He smiled at her, mischievously. "Though not as well as in a bed, with a beautiful woman in my arms."
Sam blushed. "Well, perhaps something can be arranged...when we get back to the SGC - or the Tok'ra." She frowned. "That reminds me. We have no GDO - and I don't know where any of the Tok'ra bases are. They have all been moved - all Tok'ra had to flee after the attack on Revanna."
Martouf nodded, serious again. "A great many Tok'ra died, and the survivors will likely be very cautious for a long time. It will not be easy to get the location of any of the bases."
"And we can't go to Earth." Sam sighed. "We could perhaps go to 'the Land of the Light' - or Cimmeria." She threw a quick look at Martouf. "No, wait - forget Cimmeria. Its an Asgard protected planet, and Thor's fixed the Hammer, so that won't do."
"Do not worry, Lantash would be quite safe. The Tok'ra and the Asgard have treaties, and exceptions have been installed in all Asgard devices. No Tok'ra will be harmed."
"Oh, I didn't know that." Sam wrinkled her brow. "Though...now you're mentioning it...I think perhaps I remember Jolinar being beamed up by Thor and scanned..."
"Yes, she would have been. Since she was not born Tok'ra, she would have had to have an individual exception made."
"She was Goa'uld?" Sam frowned. "Yes, I seem to remember that now...she became Tok'ra pretty quickly, though. Well, the individual exceptions make sense. In any case, 'the Land of the Light' is our best bet - we regularly have teams visiting them, and I think they even got a radio recently, to use for telling us if they want someone to come and help, or something. We'll try them first. Cimmeria only has a Sagan box." She looked towards Martouf. "You remember? We gave you guys one the first time, so you could contact us."
"I do. They contain iridium and other elements. When they hit your iris, they leave distinct nuclear signatures that can be detected."
"Exactly." Sam smiled, surprised he remembered.
They finished their breakfast, and began walking. It was still early morning, and if they kept good time they should be able to reach the foothills of the mountains before nightfall.
Chapter 13: Travel