Chapter 15 summary: Confronted with the knowledge that Earth's Stargate cannot be reached, Sam and Martouf/Lantash must find another way home. Martouf and Lantash come up with a plan, but it is dangerous...
[ 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 ]
"Well, that didn't work!" Sam said, looking desolately at the Stargate as it shut down for the forth time. "Have you thought of a way to find the Tok'ra?"
Martouf nodded. "Yes, I believe so. In an emergency situation, most operatives will be recalled, unless letting them stay contains absolutely no danger to them or the rest of the Tok'ra. This attack was carried out by Zipacna, so normally all operatives placed among him and his allies will have been told to flee, unless there are extra-ordinary reasons not to. If the situation is grave, agents in other positions may have been recalled as well. However, there are operatives who are undercover with minor Goa'uld, unaffiliated with any of the major ones. It is unlikely any of those will have been withdrawn."
"Well, that does sound reasonable, though the Tok'ra actually hadn't recalled Jorra from his position at the court of Zipacna, and the last I know Zarin was still there as well, though she may have fled after helping my team and my dad to flee. At least I think she did that, and I doubt she could have avoided Zipacna finding out."
"Really? If the Council has left agents with Zipacna, they must be desperate indeed." He looked thoughtful. "Though I suppose it could be because the situation is different from any the Tok'ra has been in for a very long time. They may fear Zipacna intends to attack again, and so hope to learn of his plans before he puts them into effect. The Goa'uld are not usually very persistent, nor good at acquiring intelligence. After an attack on a Tok'ra base, it would be rare to have another for many years. I wonder what has changed, to make Zipacna behave differently?"
Sam shook her head. "No idea. I hope it's not our fault, for stirring up stuff in the Galaxy." She sighed. "I suppose we can't contact Jorra?"
"No, I fear that would be much too dangerous. Zipacna and many of his Jaffa know our appearance. No, we must contact one of those operatives who are at a minor Goa'uld."
"Okay. Do you know where any are?"
"Because of the time that has passed since Lantash and I got any updates...for obvious reasons...there are only a few operatives that might still be in place. I believe our best chance is to go to Korra. He was undercover at the court of Khepri. That Goa'uld was a fairly important, though still minor System Lord, allied with Ra, but after Ra was killed by your people, Khepri lost most of his influence. He is not considered a danger right now, and it is doubtful he will ally himself with anyone that is working with Zipacna. As you know, Zipacna and Apophis were among Ra's worst enemies. Korra was sent there a few months before the summit with the Tau'ri, and his mission was to be long-term, so it is highly likely he is still there."
"Okay, we'll go visit him then, and hope he's got some news for us."
Martouf nodded. "I believe that is our best option. Samantha, you must understand that Korra is undercover at Khepri's court, living in his palace. This means Khepri will almost certainly be there, and we will have to be very careful. It will be very dangerous. Lantash would be in control, of course, and we would be pretending to be a Goa'uld all the time. We cannot risk doing anything that would be out of character, so you must not question anything we say, or disobey me in any way. You will go as my lo'tar, which would be the only way for a human to be allowed to accompany me when we go to talk to Korra. One more thing, as there is a Goa'uld present, we will have to make it worth his while to allow us to visit - he will not let someone in just because they claim to be associated with an underling of his. We must appear relatively powerful and rich, and we must bring gifts."
"Wow, that's a lot." Sam looked unsure. "Aren't there any other undercover agents we can go visit?"
"Unfortunately, the Tok'ra operatives rarely have their own little domains. It happens, but it is rare, and I am not certain I can trust the information I have anymore. It is probably outdated."
"Okay, then. How do we solve the 'rich and powerful' problem?"
"The Tok'ra have hidden caches with valuables, if one of us should need them and be unable to contact a base. They are less well hidden than the information boxes on the protected planets, as there would not really be any danger from someone finding a cache. We will go and find one of them and use it to purchase clothes, gifts, and a small entourage."
"There were not supposed to be any Goa'uld presence on this world - it must have been taken over again quite recently," Martouf observed in a low voice.
"Are you sure it's the right planet?" Sam shook her head. "Of course you are. Sorry."
Martouf sighed. "It is the right world. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for previously unoccupied planets to be reconquered. We must hope the Jaffa leave after they have eaten, and that we will be able to escape safely. I hold no great hope that we will be able to get to the hidden cache, but there are many other planets with similar stashes, so that is not a problem."
They were hiding in a small patch of dense forest, waiting for a group of Jaffa to finish their meal and move away from the very inconvenient spot they had placed themselves in.
Sam and Martouf/Lantash had arrived on the planet not quite two hours ago, and immediately seen signs that a group of Jaffa had passed by less than a day ago.
They had just decided to continue on to a stash on another planet, when they had heard someone approach and had had to find a place to hide quickly. The group of Jaffa had walked up to the Stargate and dialed it up. When the wormhole had established, two of them had walked through, while the rest stayed on the planet.
Unfortunately, they had not even left the area, but had built a fire a short distance away from the Stargate. After some time, another group of Jaffa had approached the first, carrying a deer they had caught. The first group had greeted them happily, and the Jaffa had set out to roast the meat.
Sam looked out at the Jaffa and groaned softly, realising they were in for a long wait. The deer was clearly not cooked yet, and the Jaffa were entertaining themselves with songs and gambling while they waited.
"What do we do?" Sam whispered. "Jaffa do not drink alcohol, so there is no hope of them getting drunk and becoming inattentive or falling asleep - actually, they don't sleep at all!"
"There is little we can do but wait." Martouf looked about. "Darkness is falling. Perhaps, if we are very quiet, we will soon be able to sneak further away under its cover. We might find a place we can safely sleep, and maybe eat some food as well, if we are lucky. I believe that would be a good direction in which to crawl." He pointed to the left and behind him.
They had gotten some distance away from the Jaffa, and were in the small, nearby village. Martouf frowned as he looked at the place; a couple of the houses had been burnt to the ground, and there were several freshly dug graves at the outskirts of the village.
"I have been here before. The people on this planet are friendly and some of them would usually be up and about at this time. The planet is very fertile and it takes little work for them to produce more than enough food for everyone here. They are known as skilled artists and musicians, and consider enjoying life to be very important. I fear they have had a very rough awakening."
"It looks as if the Jaffa have been quite heavy-handed, yeah," Sam agreed, unhappily. "If you've been here before, do you know of a place we can hide?"
Martouf nodded. "Yes. Normally, we could have asked anyone here, and they would gladly have allowed us to stay, but I fear they may not willingly open their door to anyone right now. I would suggest hiding in one of the large, communal barns. I believe we have arrived after harvest this year, so they would be full, and there should be ample opportunities to hide."
"Unless the Jaffa have emptied or burned the places down..."
"Yes...there is unfortunately that possibility. We must hope they have not had time to plunder this place yet."
Martouf lead them to the area on the other side of the city, where the stables, barns and granaries were located. It turned out the Jaffa had looted some, but not everything. After some looking around, Sam and Martouf/Lantash found a barn with a loft full of hay.
They had just closed the door, when they heard yet another Jaffa patrol outside. Quickly - and quietly - they ran up the ladder to the loft. Sam winced when a plank in the floor of the loft creaked loudly under her feet, and she and Martouf/Lantash stood very still, barely daring to breathe, as they heard the Jaffa patrol walk past outside, the noise from their armour and marching feet disappearing in the distance.
Sighing from relief, they found a place in the hay at the far end of the room, where they could hide. Exhausted and cold from sitting in an uncomfortable position in the forest for several hours, and then walking around looking for a place to hide, they curled up in the hay and fell asleep, huddled closely together.
"Wake up! Human scum!" The Jaffa yelled at them.
Martouf sat up straight, as he opened his eyes and tried to figure out what was going on. It sounded like Jaffa - and he could sense several symbiotes. How could he and Lantash not have detected their approach? Why was it so dark in here?
He immediately realised the answer to his question, as he felt the tell-tale lingering pain and other effects of a stun grenade. The Jaffa must have decided that it was better to take precautions before searching any place that could contain hidden enemies. How unusually cautious and wise of them - perhaps the locals had been causing them trouble?
*We have been stunned.* Lantash confirmed, having just woken up as well. *I am working to negate the effects. We should be able to see again momentarily.*
"What's going on? Why is it completely dark?" Sam complained.
"Jaffa. We have been stunned," Martouf told her quickly in a low voice.
"Quiet, human, and get up!" One of the Jaffa demanded, giving both of them a nasty kick to their ribs.
Martouf and Sam stumbled to their legs, and began following the Jaffa back towards the ladder. Martouf and Lantash's vision were beginning to clear, and they decided to take advantage of the fact that they could see again, long before the Jaffa would expect them to be able to.
They surreptitiously looked around them, confirming that there were no other enemies present besides the three Jaffa who's symbiotes they sensed. Martouf gave Lantash control, and he pretended to stumble and fall.
The Jaffa swore at him, and two of them grabbed his arms and lifted him up. He swayed, then suddenly straightened and moved quickly. Seizing the two Jaffa who were still holding on to him loosely, he pushed them together so that their heads slammed against each other. While they were still stunned, he grabbed the knives of each of them, jabbing it into their symbiote pouches and making them double over.
Before the third Jaffa could react, Lantash had snatched the zat'nik'tel from one of the wounded Jaffa and twirled to face the un-injured enemy. The third Jaffa raised his weapon to fire, but Lantash was faster, shooting him once, then twice.
The Jaffa fell, and Lantash turned to the two other Jaffa, who were still doubled over. He wasted no time shooting them twice as well, killing them.
Sam had stumbled during the commotion, and was now sitting in the hay nearby. She had listened to the combat noise with increasing concern, and now when everything had become quiet, she could not be silent anymore.
"Martouf? Lantash? Are you okay? What happened?" She asked, very worried.
Having made sure the three Jaffa were indeed dead, Lantash ran to her.
"Samantha! We are fine. Are you all right?"
"Yes, mostly. I still can't see anything, but I believe the blackness is beginning to lift a little. What happened?"
"I have dispatched the three Jaffa that had captured us. We need to get out of here as soon as possible. Can you move?"
"Yes, absolutely - but all I can see is a grey fog."
Lantash nodded, then realised she could not see that. "I understand. My vision has returned to normal, so I will assist you. I will go get our weapons, which must still be lying where we were sleeping. We need the hand device if I am to pretend to be a Goa'uld when we get to Khepri's planet. They are not available for sale under normal circumstances, so we cannot get one on the planet where we will be going for clothing, servants, and gifts."
"Okay. I won't go anywhere!" Sam said wryly.
Lantash returned shortly after, carrying their weapons and the backpacks with food and water. He handed the lightest of the bags to Sam, and she put it on as she got up again.
"Is your vision any better?"
"Yeah." Sam nodded. "Everything is foggy, but I can see shapes now. I'll be fine in no time!"
"Good," Lantash said, relieved. "More Jaffa may arrive at any moment, so we really should leave as soon as possible."
Sam looked around her, the world slowly beginning to come more into focus. She noticed the three Jaffa lying on the floor.
"Lantash - are you sure you're okay?" She looked at the Jaffa, then worriedly towards Lantash. "They didn't injure you?"
He smiled, pleased at her concern for him. "No, not at all. I have been in many combat situations which were much more dangerous or difficult than this one. It was no real problem - the Jaffa did not know I could see again already, so they were not prepared for my attack. It was really very easy."
Sam nodded slowly, very relieved he had not been wounded.
They managed to find another place to hide, but ended up having to wait almost until morning before they were able to sneak back to the Stargate.
Fortunately, there were no Jaffa there right then, and they quickly dialed out, going to another planet where the Tok'ra had hidden a cache of valuables.
While they had been waiting, Sam had had ample time to think about things. The danger they had just been in, where they - where Martouf and Lantash - had risked their lives and fought the Jaffa...it made her rethink her decisions. She had more or less decided it was too difficult to make it work between them - with her and them living on different worlds and with the people at the SGC as Tok'ra unfriendly as they were.
Now, however, she realised she could not not be together with Martouf and Lantash. She loved them, and she would not give up this chance of being happy with them. It was worth the risk - and who knew? Maybe they could actually make it work. She was certainly going to try!
This planet had turned out to not have any Goa'uld or Jaffa presence, and they quickly located the Tok'ra stash. There were more than enough to equip a minor Goa'uld and his entourage, as well as buying lavish gifts.
"Are you really sure you want me to wear this?" Sam asked, stepping out of the small dressing room.
She did not exactly feel comfortable in these kinds of clothes. The shoulder-less top was short, leaving her midriff bare, and the skirt hung low on her hips. While it was ankle length, it had slits in both sides that went up to her upper thighs. The material of both was soft silk, of a deep blue colour, and over her shoulders hung a very thin, translucent scarf or veil. It was made of silk as well, but a very pale blue. She wore sandals of soft leather, with thin strips making a criss-cross pattern up her lower calves.
Lantash smiled broadly, as he looked admiringly at her. "Absolutely! Right up to the point where I take it off you..."
Sam rolled her eyes. "How surprising..."
Lantash grinned, then studied her appearance more closely. "I think you need some jewelry - it will look good on you, and it will make me appear richer and more powerful."
They went to the nearest jeweller, and Lantash picked out several pieces for Sam - a gold choker, an armlet shaped as a snake that wrapped around her upper arm, two bracelets, as well as an ankle bracelet and several rings.
"Okay, this stuff is really beautiful, but aren't you overdoing it just a bit?" Sam said.
"Not at all. As you well know, Goa'uld are not known for their subtlety. This is fairly modest."
Sam nodded slowly. "For a Goa'uld, yeah, but I mean, I'm just supposed to be your lo'tar, right? I didn't think they were usually dressed this lavishly."
"Sometimes they are, especially if they are the lo'tar of a very minor Goa'uld, who wishes to impress the more important ones. In any case, you will be, ah, more than just a lo'tar." He blushed a little. "You will be my me'tar as well. It will make you more important, and even better protected. No one would dare harm you." He sighed. "No one would normally dare touch the lo'tar of another Goa'uld, but since Korra is only Khepri's underling, and I would be even lower..."
"You wanted to take this extra precaution." Sam smiled. "Thanks. By the way - what does me'tar mean?"
"Human consort? Ah...I didn't know a Goa'uld would have a human consort."
Lantash nodded. "Minor Goa'uld without their own domain sometimes take a human consort. It is frowned upon by some, but accepted. Such a human may achieve quite a high position, though it would not usually be an enviable one. If the Goa'uld should succeed and become more powerful, he or she would most likely implant a Goa'uld in their me'tar."
"Wonderful! Well, isn't it time we found some clothes for you?"
"It is. Come."
They chose an outfit in the Egyptian style for Lantash, since that matched Khepri's culture, and a very minor Goa'uld would not insult a System Lord by visiting him wearing something from a different culture.
For a Goa'uld, the clothes were almost modest - a knee-length white silk tunic, gold-embroidered along the hem, a leather belt inlaid with gold and silver, a crescent-shaped necklace made of several strings of gold and gemstones, a red cape, and leather sandals, much like those Sam wore, except Lantash's were made with broader strips.
Sam smiled at him wearing something so far from what he usually wore. "Different, but nice. It covers up a bit much, though..."
"That problem will be solved later." Lantash winked at her. "I'll even let you undress me!"
Chapter 16: Undercover