September 14 1998, Beta site
*I know you don't want to share anything with me, lest I risk betraying you after you've gotten another host, but that's not looking as if it’s likely to happen and I'm bored out of my skull. There must be something you can tell me about yourself or the Tok'ra, or something you've experienced, without risking your people?* Sam complained.
Jolinar thought about it. *There is, Sam. I can tell you a little about my life - about some of my previous hosts, perhaps, if you would like?*
*Sure, why not? Maybe I'll end up understanding their reasoning's, even. So, why did they become hosts? I'm assuming they were sick or injured, and agreed to blend to be healed?*
*Not exactly. While it is true that some humans chose to become hosts because of that, it is far from the only reason. Understand, Sam, that not all cultures look the same on privacy and sharing, as yours do.* She sighed. *No, the biggest problem when we look for hosts is that people fear us, because we are biologically the same as the Goa'uld. Since we also have to keep our existence secret, it is not exactly easy to convince anyone that we can be trusted. Also, the life of a Tok'ra is hard and dangerous, and the hosts usually have to leave their friends and family behind.*
*Okay, what other reasons are there?*
*A wish to fight the Goa'uld. There are few other ways to do so for most humans on the Goa'uld worlds. Many join for that. Some because they wish for a different life than what they can have, with the poverty most humans live in. Maybe they have nothing left because the Goa'uld have killed their friends and family. A very few even joins because they wish to save the life of a Tok'ra symbiote - either because they were friends with it, or simply to save a fellow sentient lifeform. I do admit the number in the latter group is few, and I think we only have one host right now who joined because of that.*
*Hm, well, I suppose I can see those reasons, though I'm not sure any of them would have been my choice.* Sam was quiet for a moment. *Though I guess that's unfair - I want to believe I would try to fight the Goa'uld any way possible, even if I had grown up on another world. Knowing what I do about you - and the Tok'ra - I might have chosen to join you in order to fight the Goa'uld.*
*It is impossible to know how ones life would have been, had things happened differently.* Jolinar sounded contemplative. *I, too, want very much to believe I would have been the same person, had my early youth been different, but the honest answer is that I do not know. Sam, there is something I should probably tell you...*
*What? You sound as if it's not something I'll like.*
*Because it is not. I do not much enjoy it myself, but it is nonetheless a fact. Have you wondered how the Tok'ra came to be?*
*Yes, I have. I have wondered about that a lot, actually.*
*You know what a symbiote queen is.*
*Yes, like Hathor.*
Jolinar nodded. *Exactly. A little over 2000 years ago, a Goa'uld queen, Egeria, found she did not like the way her kind behaved...*
*So you're saying that almost all the Tok'ra are born this way? With the desire to fight the Goa'uld, to only take willing hosts, and to share the body with the host?*
*Yes, all but a very few. Sam, I am one of those few who were originally Goa'uld.*
* You were a Goa'uld?*
*A System Lord, actually, and not a minor one. I was once one of the most powerful ones - until Apophis joined the battle against me.*
Sam was quiet for a long time. *You were a System Lord. I mean, I did originally think you and all the Tok'ra were former Goa'uld, but I thought you had been very minor ones. I'll have to admit it's pretty shocking to realize you were a System Lord - and that most Tok'ra were born Tok’ra, but not you.*
*I promise, my change of allegiance is a genuine one. I am a loyal Tok'ra, and would never again become a Goa'uld!* Jolinar insisted emphatically. *I am deeply ashamed of my past.*
*I believe you. Actually, you should be proud - as opposed to the others, you actually changed yourself. That must have been very difficult.*
*I cannot take complete credit for that. My first host helped me tremendously, and I fear I would be a very different person, were it not for her.*
*Jolinar, we're all affected by those around us. Yes, maybe she helped you, but I believe that you are a good person.*
*Thank you. Would you like me to tell you about my first host?*
*Yes, very much.*
*Her name was Arnora...* Jolinar began, but she was interrupted when the door to the cell area was opened, and Doctor Nichols entered, followed by several others. *I fear my story shall have to wait, my Sam.*
"Hello again, Jolinar." Nichols smirked. "I've brought someone who would like to meet you. His name is Doctor Keffler. He is a very competent scientist, specializing in genetics. He is very interested in the healing ability of symbiotes, and we have some tests we would like to perform."
Jolinar had taken over control, and glared at the men. She and Sam both braced themselves for what was to come.
September 15 1998, Beta site
"Sam?" Daniel asked, as soon as they were allowed into the cell area. He quickly walked toward the holding cell where Sam and Jolinar were imprisoned. It had been a long time since they last had been allowed to see her.
Sam and Jolinar had been sleeping, and awoke, sitting up groggily. Sam took control. "Yes?" She smiled. "Daniel - and Teal'c... sir! I'm so happy to see all three of you!"
"Carter." O'Neill nodded at her. "How're ya doing?" He frowned. "What happened?"
"You have been injured," Teal'c observed.
"Yeah..." Sam carefully touched the newly healed and still pink skin on her cheek. She frowned as she looked at her right hand, where the little finger was missing. She sighed. "Doctor Nichols and his new friend Keffler are interested in the healing abilities of symbiotes. The bastards made a few cuts and burns, and cut off a finger, as you can see." She held up the hand.
"Oh, my god!" Daniel looked shocked. "Have they given you any painkillers?"
Sam shook her head. "No, but Jolinar has been able to block most of the pain, and except for the finger, everything else is healed already. She promises there won't even be scars. The finger will take a little longer, especially since she's exhausted from fixing everything else, but it should grow back completely in time."
"How can you be so calm about it?" O'Neill exclaimed. "I'd want to kill them, if I were you - Hell, I do want to kill them!"
"I share O'Neill's sentiment. These people do not deserve to live," Teal'c said, calmly, but very coldly.
"Oh, I agree. I think it would be safe to say that Jolinar and I might both like to shoot them - or even kill them in a somewhat slower fashion, but what can I do?" Sam gave the wall a frustrated kick, before sitting down against it, looking out through the bars at her friends.
"Sam, you've got to get out of here! Both of you must understand that! Those bastards are just going to continue until they kill you! There must be something Jolinar knows that'll make them let you out!" Daniel insisted.
"Not anything she'll tell them - and truth be told, she's got nothing useful on Apophis. Believe me. We've been... comparing notes." She gave Jolinar control.
"I know a great deal about Apophis, but nothing that is pertinent to your situation. I have no new knowledge about him, except that which I already shared about his queen. I understand your people squandered this information." Jolinar scoffed.
"Yeah, I'm not happy about that either, believe me!" Daniel said. "I'm probably way way more unhappy about it than anyone else!"
"Regardless, I do know one thing. The Tok'ra have... or had, as I do not know if they are still alive... two operatives onboard Apophis's ships. I do not know if my people knew these operatives had travelled to the world of the Tau'ri, but I suspect not. In any case, I am not exactly 'up to date' on what has happened in the last many months. I was on the run, and then hiding on Nasya - and then stuck here in your holding cell, being experimented on - for a total of almost ten months. Before that I was undercover for nearly six months, during which I only received sparse information, so I am sorry, but I really do not have anything to tell your people about Apophis!"
"Well, that's too bad, because I doubt they'll let you out otherwise!" O'Neill said, harsher than he meant. He shook his head. "Sorry. It really is too bad.“ He sighed. “There is something we need to tell you - something we need to tell Carter."
Jolinar looked at him for a moment, then dipped her head and gave Sam control.
"What is it?" Sam asked, somewhat concerned.
"I don't know if you've been told that your father is here at the Beta site..." O'Neill began.
"No, I haven’t been told! How is he? Can I talk to him?"
"We were under orders not to tell you... still are, I suppose, but frankly I don't care about that anymore." He paused for a moment. "General Hammond had asked him to help with the evacuation, and when he was injured, they brought him with them when they went offworld. Don't worry, he's healing." He quickly told her at her worried look. "He knows you're here, but you may have guessed, he's not allowed to see you."
"And he thinks I'm the enemy right now... with me being in a holding cell and all! He must think I'm a traitor!" Sam looked unhappy.
"No, no. Hammond has explained about Jolinar - and I think he’s also told him that she's Tok'ra, but I'm not sure about that. Anyway, there's something else... Carter, you're father is sick. Some kind of cancer..."
"Lymphoma," Daniel said, helpfully.
O'Neill nodded. "Yeah, that."
"How bad is it?" Sam swallowed, taking a deep breath when they did not answer immediately. "It's bad. He's dying, right?"
"Listen, Sam, they don't know... he could..." Daniel began.
"Yeah, he is. They don't have much in the way of medical care here. Nothing to treat anything more than the most basic, so... I'm afraid he is." O'Neill looked apologetic.
Sam looked numb for a moment, then got a distant look in her eyes as Jolinar spoke to her. She looked up after some minutes. "Jolinar says that a symbiote can heal him - if we’re allowed to contact the Tok'ra."
"Sorry, Carter. They'll never agree to that." O'Neill shook his head.
"Then let us go and find a healing device, and see if we can at least help him a little with that!" Sam exclaimed.
O'Neill shook his head again. "They won't let you out, Carter, not as long as Jolinar is in your head... and I told you that you wouldn't be allowed to contact the Tok'ra."
Jolinar took over again, as Sam needed time. "I do not need to contact the Tok'ra to get a healing device."
"I have my ways."
"What else could you get?" Daniel asked, suddenly interested. "Do you think there's something that could help us here at the base? Because then they might decide to like you better."
"You need food, I presume? I believe I can help you with that. The Tok'ra have 'stashes' of valuables hidden here and there for operatives who are for one reason or another unable to contact the base and needs funds and other things to, for instance, masquerade as a minor Goa'uld. There would, among other things, be valuables we can trade for food."
"That's good." O'Neill nodded. "Very good. We also have a number of other problems, but I guess food is the most immediate."
"You are in need of bathing facilities and in general of sanitary installations. As it is now, you rely on people bathing rarely, and obeying the order not to bathe near where you get the drinking water. This is obviously not working. Am I correct?"
"Unfortunately, yes," Daniel admitted.
"The Tok'ra have ways to quickly construct sanitation and such, even though we usually do not have to construct facilities for as many as 10000 people at once."
"That's great!" Daniel said, looking happy.
"Of course, you need to go to your people for those..." O’Neill observed.
"Yes." Jolinar agreed.
"Then... let's start with the food. Just tell us where this 'stash' is, and where to go for the food."
"No." Jolinar shook her head. "I have to come with you. You cannot open the hiding place - and it is not easy to find, on purpose. You need me when we go to buy the food as well."
"Listen, no offense, but the Council won't trust you - they may agree to listen after they get the goods, but not now. How are they to know you won't just walk off and go to the Tok'ra?"
"Then you three go with us. Will they accept that?" Jolinar sounded exasperated. "I guarantee you I shall return with you. Samantha wishes to see her father, and attempt to help him. You have my word that I will return."
"You trustworthiness is not in question," Teal'c said. "Not by me, though I have no confidence in this Council."
"Yeah, I know what you mean." O'Neill sighed, then made a decision. "Listen, we'll see what we can come up with. We'll be back. Just - take care of each other, okay?"
"We will, O'Neill." Jolinar sat down on the bunk, still tired.
"Jack, we can't let them stay in that cell! Didn't you see what they'd done to them? They'd burned them - and cut off a finger! How long do you think it'll take before they decide to test stuff to find out what will kill a symbiote?" Daniel exclaimed. “What do you think that will do to Sam?”
"It is likely that will happen. I agree," Teal'c said.
"I know, okay? We're not going to let them stay in there, but I really don't think the Council will ever agree to let her go anywhere." O’Neill sounded frustrated.
"What is your plan, O'Neill?" Teal'c said, sensing his friend had one.
"We can't talk here. Come."