Chapter 5 summary: Sam and Martouf/Lantash are on the run through a dark and creepy forest. Meanwhile, home at the SGC, Sam's team mates are waiting for news from an undercover Tok'ra, hoping to hear she has made it to safety.
[ 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 ]
They had taken a short break to eat a little, and to relax some. It was now well past noon, and none of them had slept the night before. They were all getting tired, and knew they would soon have to find a place to sleep for a few hours, at least.
Twice they had seen death gliders streak across the sky, but there had been no indications that they had been discovered in the now quite dense forest.
They were following a course that would hopefully take them around the mountains, and eventually to the Stargate, from a direction where there were few or no Jaffa guards. Martouf/Lantash - and Sam - knew from the information Jolinar had gathered centuries ago, that the Jaffa never went into the woods. Of course, given a good enough reason, Zipacna would probably order them in, if he thought Martouf was hiding there.
What neither Sam nor Martouf/Lantash knew, was why the Jaffa did not venture into the forest. They only had a rather vague idea that there was a danger here, but not what it could be.
So far, nothing had shown itself, and everything seemed peaceful enough, though Sam would happily admit the place was getting more eerie as they entered deeper into the denser part of the forest. It was colder too, and even now, only a few hours after noon, the light had difficulty penetrating to the forest floor.
Martouf began to wrap and put aside the rest of the food, placing it back in the bag. "Do you wish to eat more, Samantha?"
"No." She shook her head. "I've had enough." She yawned. "What I really wish for is a soft bed. I think I could sleep for a week!"
He smiled. "I share your feeling. I, too, am weary, as is Lantash. I would suggest we sleep a few hours before we continue. This place is as good as any, and it is only going to get colder, so we will probably prefer to walk during the night. We do not have any blankets to wrap ourselves in."
"That's true." Sam looked unhappy. "This damn forest will probably get very cold tonight, and there is at least some sunlight here now, even if it's diffuse." She yawned again. "Sleeping sounds very good."
Martouf mirrored her yawn, then finished packing up the food. He looked around for a suitable place to sleep, and pointed to a patch of dry grass not far from the fallen tree they had been sitting on. "I would suggest over there."
"Looks good to me." Sam ambled over there, looked critically at the ground for a few minutes, then sat down in a spot that seemed free of rocks or anything else unpleasant. She noted to her satisfaction that the ground was dry and seemed to be free of ants. She sighed happily and lay down.
Martouf came over to her and put the bag of food up on a forked branch nearby, hoping to dissuade the wildlife from stealing it while they slept. He hung the water skin on another branch, then sat down a short distance from Sam. He listened for a moment, but could not hear anything suspicious, except for the normal sounds of the forest. He picked up a small rock and threw it away, then, satisfied the surface was agreeable, he lay down as well.
"Sleep well, Samantha."
"Thanks. Sleep well, Martouf...and Lantash."
Sam had not slept long before she awoke, freezing. The sun had moved far enough down in the sky that even the diffuse light from before was not filtering through the dense forest. It was too cold to go back to sleep.
She sat up, shivering, and began trying to rub some warmth into her arms. It was not helping much, and she was considering getting up and walking around, when Lantash spoke.
"You are cold, Samantha?"
"Yes. I think I will take a short walk. You sleep."
He shook his head. "I am able to raise our body temperature some, but we are getting cold as well. Why don't you lie down her beside me, then we can share our body heat?"
"I..." Sam blushed a little.
"Do not be concerned. I will not...ah...ravish you." Lantash smiled, a little mischievously, as he noticed her hesitation.
Sam rolled her eyes and sat down again, close to him. "Well, I suppose it's a good idea, if we're both cold..."
She lay down, then looked at Lantash who was lying on his side and holding out his arms to allow her to scoot up to him. He was smiling impishly. With a small shrug, she crawled up to him. They were just helping each other stay warm, no harm in that, right?
It was a very nice feeling! Lying close together like this, his warm body against hers, was wonderful. It reminded her of all the times she had fantasized about him. Unbidden, a memory flash from Jolinar appeared, showing her how he looked, completely naked - and how it felt when he was making love to her. To Jolinar, Sam quickly reminded herself. She blushed and was happy she had her back to him, so he would not notice.
Almost without thinking, she snuggled closer to him, accidentally rubbing her butt against his groin. He gasped, and she felt him react.
"Sorry. I...sorry." She did not know what to say.
"I do not mind." Lantash answered, then, daringly, he gave her a small kiss on the back of her head. Then he sighed. "We are both exhausted, and we should sleep."
Sam nodded, equal parts relieved and disappointed. "We should. Good night, Lantash."
"Good night, Samantha."
He held her close, burying his face in her neck. It was nice lying together like this, and it soothed his feelings. He was still disappointed by her reaction to learning of his feelings, and he did not truly dare to hope she felt anything for him.
Snuggling like this, they fell asleep.
It was mid-afternoon at the SGC when an unscheduled, off-world activation of the Stargate was announced.
Daniel, O'Neill, and Teal'c were all still on the base. Too anxious for information about Sam to go to either their off-base homes - those that had them - or their quarters here, they sat together in the mess hall. They had just fetched their fourth cups of coffee, when they heard the announcement, and they all jumped up and hurried to the gateroom, hoping it was Jacob.
They entered, seeing Hammond talking to Jacob, another, unknown Tok'ra standing beside him. It was probably a guard or assistant, since the Tok'ra usually sent one or two of those together with their representative.
"Any news about Major Carter?" Hammond asked.
"Only that she has not been captured. Jorra has not been able to find out much, since he has been sent back to Ares by Zipacna, but he is certain Sam is no longer in Zipacna's palace. It has been searched thoroughly, and they would have found her if she was there. She must have been able to escape, but Jorra does not believe it will be easy for her to reach the Stargate. The road to it is heavily fortified. It may be possible to take another way to the Stargate, through a large forest, but that road is dangerous too, as well as long." Jacob looked very worried. "Jorra promised to do his best to find out more, and see if there is any way to help Sam out, but I'm afraid it will take time."
"Let's continue this in my office." Hammond suggested. "You're welcome, too." He added, nodding at O'Neill, Daniel, and Teal'c.
Sam awoke slowly. She was still tired and groggy, but something had waken her up. It was almost completely dark, and quite chilly, but there was a pleasant warmth against her back.
It took her a moment to remember where she was...and who was lying beside her. She blushed a little when she recalled Lantash snuggling up to her, not trying to hide his feelings for her...and her admission, if only to herself, that she was attracted to him. In love with him, to be completely honest.
Not ready to confront that thought, she pushed it away. She sighed noiselessly. She wanted nothing more than to stay where she was and fall back asleep, but something told her they needed to find a safer place to stay. There was a danger here, she remembered, but not what it was. The memories continued to be just out of reach.
She spent a moment listening for anyone...or anything that might be coming for them, but she heard nothing now. Had she actually heard something before? Surely it would have awakened Martouf and Lantash first - Tok'ra had enhanced senses.
Of course, both were quite heavy sleepers, she remembered that from Jolinar, though if the noise had truly appeared dangerous...she suddenly froze. There the noise was again! It sounded nothing so much as the wind rustling in the leaves, which explained why it had not awakened Martouf/Lantash. It sounded harmless...
However, something in that noise made her hair stand on end! She gently nudged Martouf/Lantash, waking them.
"Shh...quiet," She whispered. "I think there's something out there..."
Martouf quickly sat up and looked around, then listened intently. "It sounds like the wind..." He said in a low voice. "...however, there is something not quite right." He rose very quietly and pulled out his zat'nik'tel.
Sam already had her own weapon out, and together they checked the area. Everything seemed calm - but the sound of rustling leaves were gone, which was suspicious in itself.
Martouf took down the bag with their food, and their water skin, and they quickly left the place, walking on in the direction they had set out on earlier.
When they had walked for some time, and nothing unpleasant had happened, they began to relax. Perhaps it had just been their imagination?
It was very late evening now, and one moon was up. It had trouble penetrating the thick forest, but what came through threw a ghostly light over the winding path they were currently following.
They reached a fork in the road, and Martouf did not even hesitate for a moment before he continued down one of them.
"I have been wondering..." Sam said, curiously, "...how can you be so sure of the direction? Or are you just guessing? It's been many many hours since we saw enough of the sun to make out its position, and the same goes for that pale moon that's up now - and I must admit I am completely lost."
"We are going in the right direction - following a route parallel to the main road to the chaapa'ai. Its position - and the placement of the guards posts - were in the report Jolinar gave after she pretended to be an underlord of Zipacna's. All Tok'ra have read that."
"That doesn't explain how you know our position in respect to the Stargate," Sam pointed out.
"True, but that is easily explained. The chaapa'ai is made predominantly of naquadah, and it resonates with the naquadah in Lantash's blood; we can sense the direction to it, and to some degree the distance, though the latter only roughly. You should be able to sense it as well."
"Really?" Sam closed her eyes and stood very still, trying to focus. After a little while she opened them again and slowly shook her head. "I can't feel anything - except you."
Martouf nodded. "That will be the strongest signal at this distance, however the sensation is slightly different. Organically bound naquadah, weapons-grade naquadah, ordinary refined naquadah, and raw naquadah all give a different reaction. The signal from the chaapa'ai comes from a different direction than the one from Lantash, and it is more of a hum than a tingling...if that makes any sense to you. There are precise Goa'uld words, but..."
"...but they will not mean anything to me." Sam sighed and closed her eyes again, concentrating. Suddenly, she felt it. A relatively weak signal, feeling much like a hum in her blood - and somehow pulling her slightly. It was easy to tell the direction, but she did not know how he could tell the distance - perhaps by the strength of the signal, and by practice. She opened her eyes and smiled at him. "I feel it! Cool!"
Martouf smiled back. "You will find it is often a very useful ability. For one thing, you can never completely get lost."
During the debriefing, Jacob had given them all the information the Tok'ra had about Sam and what had happened on Zipacna's planet after O'Neill and the others had left. There was little news, but at least they knew Sam was alive and not captured.
The Tok'ra operative had reported that Zipacna was furious. Not only had one of his underlings betrayed him - but he correctly suspected Zarin was a Tok'ra. On top of this humiliation, saboteurs had destroyed the sample he had found of the symbiote poison, as well as all his data about it. Not only that, but they had rescued his prisoner, meaning he had no one to interrogate for any more information about the poison. Zipacna was NOT a happy camper.
However, there was nothing they could do right now to help Sam, and that was stressing for all of them. There was nothing worse than having to wait and do nothing when your friend might be in danger. Jorra would do his best to learn more.
"Sir - regardless of the lack of any real information, I request permission to go back there and rescue Carter. We can't leave her there on her own!" O'Neill exclaimed. "I can't believe you're giving up on her."
"I'm not giving up on Major Carter, but from what I have heard, there is no way to reach her right now. Any team going to that planet would be captured immediately. We will have to wait for...Jorra to report back." Hammond sighed. "I'm sorry, Colonel, but I can't let you go."
O'Neill looked very unhappy, but did not say anything further. He knew it would not help right now, but it did not mean he would not try again later.
Worried about their team mate - but pleased Zipacna was at least unhappy, and that Sam was still free - Daniel, O'Neill, and Teal'c left for something to eat in the mess hall while Jacob stayed to talk some more with his friend, Hammond.
Jacob had just gotten up from his chair, with the intention of returning to the Tok'ra, when Hammond's telephone rang.
Hammond picked up the receiver. "Yes?" He listened for a little while. "That is good news. We will be there in a moment." He hung up and turned to Jacob, who looked at him expectantly. "That was Doctor Fraiser. She says Lieutenant Elliot is awake. Let's go find out if he has some information."
Jacob nodded. "We should probably get Jack and the others - they'll be very interested to hear if he knows anything that might help Sam."
Hammond nodded and went to give them a call over the public announcement system.
O'Neill, Daniel, and Teal'c had hurried to the infirmary the moment they heard the announcement, and met Hammond and Jacob outside the doors. Together, they went to talk to Lieutenant Elliot.
Elliot was lying in one of the beds, with strict orders from Janet that he was to stay there for the next couple of days. He sat up when he saw O'Neill and the others approach, smiling at them. "My saviours." He noticed Hammond. "General."
"How're you doing, son?" Hammond asked, smiling friendly at him.
"Pretty good, actually." Elliot smiled at Jacob. "Thanks to you, I hear."
"Selmak, actually, but we're both glad we could help."
"Lieutenant...how much do you remember from Zipacna's palace? Major Carter is still missing, but we have reason to believe she's been able to escape and is on the run. Did you see any place she could hide, perhaps?"
Elliot shook his head slowly. "No. I'm sorry, but I can't think of anything useful." He wrinkled his brow. "Did Lantash and Martouf get away too?" He sounded concerned.
The others all stared at him.
"Didn't you say Lantash was dead? Martouf certainly is, so I think you're maybe confusing someone..." O'Neill said.
"Lantash isn't dead, and neither is Martouf - he's Lantash's host again." Elliot said. "Didn't I mention that before? No, I think perhaps I did not. Well, he is - and they're both fine. Well, they were, when I last saw them, anyway."
O'Neill, Daniel, and Teal'c all looked questioningly at Jacob.
"Don't look at me! I don't know anything about it. As far as I know, they're both dead. I really don't think Ren'al and her group would have lied to me about something like this."
"Lantash said he thinks they must have kept Martouf's body in stasis after they removed him. Perhaps some of the Tok'ra scientists thought they could learn more, or something?" Elliot said. "Lantash was very angry over having been removed against his wishes, since he felt confident he could have healed Martouf and himself."
"I will look into it." Jacob looked grim. "Zipacna's Jaffa must have taken Martouf and revived him in a sarcophagus. Same for Lantash and Elliot."
"Yes, and since I..." Elliot looked somewhat abashed. "Since I didn't want to stay a host, and since Martouf was there...well, he became Lantash's host again." He frowned. "It may sound strange to some of you, but I miss him. I feel...lonely, with only myself in my mind. Enough that I may one day decide to become a host again." Elliot took a deep breath, then quickly explained what happened before SG-1 came to rescue him.
"Jorra would have mentioned it if Zipacna had captured anyone, so Martouf and Lantash must have gotten away, as well." Jacob still had a look of disbelief on his face. He shook his head. "Well, hopefully he met Sam, and they have escaped together. They should have a better chance that way, especially if they have to go through the forest." He looked a little happier, both knowing his friend was alive, and because Sam was not alone out there.
O'Neill looked as if he could not decide if he was more relieved Sam might not be alone on Zipacna's planet - or more unhappy Martouf/Lantash were the ones with her. He had to admit he was probably more relieved, despite his dislike for the Tok'ra. He was quite worried for his friend and team mate.
Chapter 6: Lurking Danger