Chapter 2 summary: When SG-1 cuts the power to the holding cells, Martouf/Lantash and Elliot immediately take the chance and make their escape.
[ 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 ]
Sam hurried into the gateroom, just as the wormhole established, called there by the public announcement system. It was the Tok'ra, so she hoped it would be her father who had come to visit.
She missed her father, and he was the only Tok'ra she felt like seeing right now. She had always felt a certain thrill when it was announced the visitors were Tok'ra. To some degree because the part of her that was Jolinar felt a connection, but she had to admit there was another reason as well. Martouf - and Lantash!
The fact that they were both now dead, meant that being reminded of the Tok'ra no longer held the same thrill for her. Instead, she felt a stab of grief. She missed him - and she would never see him again. Why had she not told him how she felt, while there was still time? She had not told Lantash either, even when he was dying. Why had she been such a chicken? Would it have hurt her if she had told him? It would have made him happy.
Sam suppressed the pain and put on her usual mask. She could do this! She focused on the Stargate, where someone was just now appearing.
"Sam." Jacob smiled at her, a little bleakly. So they brought bad news. Sam glanced at the two other Tok'ra accompanying her father. She faintly recognized their faces, from Jolinar's memories, but their names escaped her right now.
The rest of SG-1 came into the gateroom, followed by General Hammond.
"Welcome, Jacob. What brings you here?"
"Intel from one of our agents."
"Let's go to my office, then."
When they had all sat down, Jacob began to explain.
"Jorra, our operative in Zipacna's domain managed to send a short report. He says Zipacna has got Lieutenant Elliot."
"Elliot?" Sam gasped. "But shouldn't the symbiote poison have killed him and Lantash?"
Jacob nodded. "Jorra believes some of Zipacna's Jaffa must have arrived late enough that the poison had dissipated, but early enough to revive Elliot - and Lantash, presumably, though apparently he is no longer in Elliot."
Sam looked down, unsure how to react. She had to admit she very much wanted Lantash to be alive again, though her emotions confused her. She thought back to when Elliot had told her Lantash loved her. She had known he and Martouf felt something for her, but love? And as much as for Jolinar? She had not known what to say - the presence of Elliot only made it more difficult.
If Lantash had survived and was rescued - how would she react if she met him again? How did she feel about him?
Then she suddenly realised what her father had said - Lantash was no longer in Elliot! She felt a pang of fear. Did that mean he was dead - or perhaps that he had a different host? Or could he have been placed in a tank or stasis jar? So many questions.
O'Neill turned to Hammond. "Permission to mount a rescue mission to get the Lieutenant back?"
"Just a moment, Colonel." Hammond looked at Jacob. "Can't Jorra free him?"
"No, Zipacna has put Jorra - in his guise as the minor Goa'uld 'Hurtak' - in charge of negotiations with Lord Ares - a minor System Lord. Jorra happened to see Lieutenant Elliot when he was back at Zipacna's court to report, but he was sent back shortly afterwards, so he didn't have the time or the opportunity to do anything."
"That means he also can't help our team get inside, I presume?"
"Well, that sucks!" O'Neill exclaimed. "Ain't that typical? The Tok'ra come running with their problems and expect us to fix everything!"
Jacob bowed his head, giving Selmak control.
"Technically, this is as much your problem as ours - more yours, actually, given that your Lieutenant Elliot appears to no longer be blended," she sounded a bit harsher than normal - partially from being reminded of the recent death of Lantash, who had been a good friend for many years, and partially from O'Neill's usual disrespectful, disdainful, and insulting attitude toward the Tok'ra, which she had a harder time ignoring than normal. "However, since we do not know if Lantash blended fully with Elliot before leaving him - or being removed from him, whatever happened - the Tok'ra have an interest in this as well. Elliot may have knowledge about Tok'ra - and Tau'ri - secrets."
O'Neill seemed to realise he had been unfair, and decided to change the direction of the discussion. "How do you suggest we do this, then? Do you have a plan?"
Selmak dipped her head and Jacob took over again. "The beginnings of a plan, at least. Zipacna is currently preparing to celebrate the 'alliance' he has made with Ares - which to be honest is closer to Ares becoming his vassal. He'll want to make the most of it and have a huge celebration to show off his power and greatness or whatever. He's invited several major and minor allies, whom will each bring a retinue. One of Zipacna's minor allies is in reality a Tok'ra - Zarin. I will pretend to be her underling - and you will be part of our entourage, though since you've met Zipacna before, we can't risk him seeing you. That shouldn't be a problem - he is the most powerful Goa'uld of this group, and there would be no reason for him to even come across the human slaves of any of his vassals. In any case, that should get us into Zipacna's palace, and hopefully we will find an opportunity to rescue Lieutenant Elliot."
"If he's still alive by then - when will this be?"
"We're leaving immediately - as soon as you can be ready."
"Dad - do we know what's happened to Lantash?" Sam suddenly asked, worried.
He shook his head. "No, Jorra didn't know."
"How long are we going to just sit here!" O'Neill complained, never happy with just having to wait, unable to do something.
"Well, we can't very well just take a stroll in the palace!" Daniel pointed out.
"That would be...unwise," Teal'c added.
Sam sat on a bed over in the corner of the room they had been assigned, thinking about all that had happened recently. She very much hoped Lantash was still alive.
They were reasonably safe here - no one except Zarin and her retinue would normally enter, as going into the rooms occupied by another Goa'uld and their servants would be an insult.
Suddenly, the Tok'ra communicator she had hidden under her clothing, activated. She made a small jump, having been far away in thought, then quickly retrieved the communicator.
"Sam here. Come in."
"This is Selmak. I have made some discreet inquiries, and Zipacna does indeed have Lieutenant Elliot. We cannot easily get to the holding cells, however, if we could make a diversion - or perhaps cut the power to the cell block - he may be able to get out, if he is not in too bad a shape from torture - Zipacna apparently 'questioned' him briefly this morning."
"I may have an idea about that. I've been thinking about it, and this place looks very familiar. I've realised why - Jolinar was once undercover at Zipacna's court, wasn't she?"
"Yes - she pretended to be one of Zipacna's underlings for a very long time. Centuries, actually. While she was his underlord, and in charge of a small group of star systems, she would have been to his palace relatively often."
"Unless he's changed the layout, I believe I can locate the room with the power controls. If so, I can cut the power to the cell block. Both are in the western wing of the palace, I believe. How many guards are there?"
"Very few, they have either been given the day off, or are guarding the Goa'uld celebrating in the central part of the palace, on the second floor. You are correct about the location of the holding cells and the power control room."
"Okay. We'll call you later."
"Samantha...your father wishes me to remind you to be careful."
"I will. Sam, out."
Selmak had returned to the party, having to keep up appearances and pretend to enjoy the food and drink. Meanwhile, Sam, Daniel, and O'Neill had snuck out of the room they were hiding in, and gotten to the western part of the palace without being discovered.
Dressed up as human servants to one of Zipacna's underlings meant they could walk around in most of the palace without being suspected, as long as they did not risk being seen by Zipacna himself. Teal'c was somewhat more of a problem; not only did Goa'uld's human servants rarely wear any kind of headgear inside, but there might easily be some Jaffa present who would recognize Apophis's former First Prime - the shol'va. This meant Teal'c had to stay in Zarin's chambers.
The corridor to the power control room was empty, but the room itself was not. O'Neill quickly jumped back after having popped his head inside.
"Three Jaffa guards and some kind of technician!" He told the others. "One of the guards saw me!"
That was a superfluous piece of information, as shouts were coming from the room and moments later two angry guards came running out, their staff weapons at the ready.
O'Neill had joined Sam and Daniel behind the only available cover - a large statue of Zipacna which stood in a small niche in the corridor, a flame burning in a brazier beside it.
"Slaves! Come here and explain yourself! You are not permitted to be in this area!" One of the Jaffa ordered them.
O'Neill answered with a shot from the zat'nik'tel he had kept hidden under his clothing, and Sam followed up with a shot of her own. Both Jaffa were hit, and O'Neill and Sam stepped out in the corridor, shooting them one more time and killing them. It was unfortunately necessary, as there was no place to lock them up.
The third Jaffa peeked out of the power control room, trying to see what had happened to his comrades without risking his life. A zat'nik'tel shot dissipated harmlessly against the wall beside him, and he quickly pulled his head back inside.
Sam ran to the door, while O'Neill and Daniel provided backup, now and then firing off a shot to keep the Jaffa from looking out. Sam reached the door and looked inside, spotting the Jaffa and the technician inside. Both were armed - the technician with a hand device so he was a Goa'uld. He fired a blast in Sam's direction, and she quickly jumped back into the safety of the corridor.
"Carter - catch this!" O'Neill threw her the Goa'uld stun grenade Selmak had provided them with. She caught it and activated it, throwing it inside the room and hurrying to a safe distance.
The grenade detonated and moments later they could safely enter the room, after having vaporized the Jaffa in the corridor. O'Neill quickly did the same with the Jaffa inside the control room, while Sam took care of the Goa'uld, having first relieved him of his hand device, which might be useful later.
"Okay, what now? I assume you know what to do, Carter?" O'Neill said.
"Ah...not quite..." She looked around the place. "Give me a moment."
Suddenly the light went out and a sound as if of something unlocking was heard.
"What was that?" Elliot wondered, sitting up more straight. He blinked a few times in the darkness, but it changed nothing, of course.
"The power to this part of the complex must have gone out," Martouf answered in a low voice as he got up. "I believe the door to our cell has unlocked - we should attempt to escape while we have the chance...and please keep your voice down. I don't know how far away the guards are."
He started feeling along the walls to find the door, and soon reached it. He carefully pushed it, just a little, and it moved noiselessly.
"Is it open?" Elliot wondered, keeping his voice low.
"It is," Martouf confirmed. "Can you stand on your own?"
"Yes, don't worry." Elliot put a hand on the bench behind him and supported himself against it, as he tried to stand. He succeeded on his second attempt. "Damn Goa'uld! I'm sure he had me brought to him again just for the fun of it! It's not like he asked me anything new!" He stumbled towards the place he had heard Martouf's voice from.
Martouf opened the door more, and it made a squeaking sound. He immediately stopped moving it and tried if the opening was large enough for him to get out. It was, but only just. It was a good thing neither of them were fat.
"Careful when you get to the door - we can't open it much more without it making too much noise."
"Yeah, I heard," Elliot whispered.
He got to the opening and managed to get out, while Martouf held the door open and made sure it did not move any further. He silently pushed it closed again when Elliot was out, since he did not want to risk it swinging open and making more noise.
"Do you think you can get to safety yourself? I would like to find Zipacna's laboratory and destroy his sample of symbiote poison, as well as any data he may have gathered about it. We cannot allow him to keep it."
"Agreed, but wouldn't I be a better choice for that mission? I'm not susceptible to the poison."
Lantash took over, and Elliot saw the flash from his eyes in the darkness. It was a slightly eerie experience.
"I doubt enough is left to affect me, so you need not worry about that. Besides, I intend to destroy it, not release it. You are wounded - Martouf and I are not. Besides, while I have not been here before, other Tok'ra have. The basic layout of Zipacna's palace is known to me, as well as any other Tok'ra. The decision is logical - I will go."
"Okay, okay. We'll do it your way. I'll try to find someplace to hide, or a way to get outside. Good luck."
"I believe the holding cells are in this direction, but I'm not certain. Jolinar has never actually been inside Zipacna's holding cells, fortunately," Sam whispered to the others.
They continued on for a short while, listening for any signs of guards. There did not seem to be any, except for those they had dispatched earlier. Hearing someone cry out somewhere ahead, they hurried on, soon after turning a corner and continuing in the direction of the sound they had heard.
They had only taken a few steps more before they saw a man stumble into the corridor from a doorway, supporting himself against the wall. He had an activated zat'nik'tel in his hand.
"Elliot!" Sam exclaimed.
"Stay there - we'll come for you!" O'Neill called out, seeing how weak the young man was. "Are there any enemies nearby?"
Elliot shook his head, looking relieved and very confused to see him. "No. No guards."
They all hurried to him, O'Neill reaching him first and catching him as he was about to fall. "Easy. You're badly hurt."
Sam quickly checked the side corridor he had come from. "No one here." She turned back to the others, and noticed the blood seeping through the right side of Elliot's uniform. "You're bleeding."
"Yeah..." Elliot said, looking very pale. "One of...of the guards. Got me...knife. Before...could shoot..." He coughed and swayed.
He would have fallen if Daniel had not caught him. "Shh...take it easy. Don't talk."
"We'll get you out," O'Neill assured him. "Carter, doesn't Jacob have a healing device?"
"I'm sure he does. I'll give him a call, then we'll all get out of here." Sam took out the Tok'ra communicator.
"Wait...Zipacna...he has...a sample of the poi...poison," Elliot said, forcing himself to stay awake.
"Zipacna's got some of the symbiote poison?" Sam asked, alarmed.
"Sir, we can't let him keep that. We need to destroy it." She turned to Elliot. "Does he know anything else about it?"
"I'm...not sure...maybe...I may have said...something...during torture..." Elliot looked miserable.
"Don't worry about it - we'll handle it," O'Neill said.
"What happened to Lantash?" Sam suddenly wanted to know.
"Carter! Not now!"
"He's...where he belongs...with...with Martouf," Elliot said.
Sam closed her eyes for a moment. "I understand." So Lantash was dead. That was what she had expected, but the confirmation still pained her. Much more than she had expected. She took a deep breath. "Listen, I'll take care of the poison - you get Elliot to my Dad, then get out of here."
"Are you crazy? We're not leaving you here!"
"Listen, it's only a matter of time before guards come. I know this place. Better than any of you. I've been...I mean Jolinar has been here. I remember where to go - it will be in his lab, and she's been there. A large group of people will only get discovered. Go. Get Elliot out," Sam told them.
Elliot coughed violently just then, and a small dribble of blood ran from his mouth. His head fell forward, and he hung limply between O'Neill and Daniel. Sam quickly checked his pulse.
O'Neill nodded, then looked unhappy. "All right, you go, but be careful."
"Always, sir." She activated the communicator, but got the signal that told her he could not currently answer without being discovered. She handed the communicator to O'Neill so he could contact her father and tell him to meet them - and bring his healing device.
Chapter 3: A Pleasant Surprise