August 8 1998, Beta site
"The building is progressing at an acceptable speed, sir," Siler said. "We now have housing in the new barracks for 1000 people."
"Good, but I think we'd all hoped to have more... by now." Hammond shook his head.
"Back to basics, sir." Siler grinned wryly. "There has been some problems during the construction - mostly because we had very few men with any experience whatsoever doing something like this. We have about 10% of our people working on building, and hope to have housing for further 1500 people ready in another week. However, housing is just one project out of many - sanitation will be a problem unless it is planned correctly from the beginning. We don't want to foul the water in the river. Now, we have built some temporary latrines, but there's no place for people to bathe, except the river."
"True - and eventually we'll need to find another food source, not to mention fuel, a way to produce electricity when we're out of diesel, medical supplies..." Hammond sighed deeply and slowly shook his head again. "And on top of that we're supposed to send out teams to look for weapons, tech, and allies to help us retake Earth. We'll be lucky if we find enough to keep this base running!"
"We need allies. Sir, what about the Tollan? They would be advanced enough to help."
Hammond nodded. "Yes, but I doubt they will - especially since the ones in charge of this base are the same people who tried to hold our Tollan refugees captive indefinitely, forcing them to share their knowledge and technology. They've also got a firm policy of not sharing technology with 'lesser' civilizations. No, I very much doubt they'd help us."
"You are probably correct, sir, but it would not harm contacting them, would it? If we can find them, that is."
"We don't have the address of their new homeworld - and no other way of contacting them. The Nox almost certainly have the address, but they won't give it to us. Not that we can contact them either, since I believe they buried their Stargate." He sighed. "We'll put the Tollan on the list of people our teams should attempt to find - whenever we start sending out teams again."
"Understood, sir. I will take care of it."
August 9 1998, Beta site
Sam groggily sat up, then groaned softly as her head started pounding. She closed her eyes while the pain slowly faded to manageable. *Jolinar? Aren't you supposed to fix things like this?*
*Yes, and I am sorry. It was much worse a little while ago, though.*
*I don't remember that.* Sam opened her eyes again and slowly focused on the clock on the wall. *5 PM? Wasn't it morning? I've been unconscious for all that time? The last I remember is that damn doctor Nichols and a group of goons coming in here.*
Jolinar sighed. *Yes and no. It has actually been more than two days since that happened. They injected us with a small amount of the Hakoor'ash - the drug the ashrak had on him. I attempted to block as much of the effect of it from you as I could, but it was... most unpleasant for you - and for me as well, as I attempted to take some of the pain in order to help you. Your screams made the doctor and the others leave, and when they came back I had managed to put us into a state of unconsciousness, which they regrettably awoke us from.* She sighed again. *I told them what the drug was for, and how it affected us. I am fairly certain they believed me and that they will not use it on us again. Regardless, the headache is the last remnant of the drug's effect, and it will soon be gone as well. It really is too bad we are not blended, as that would have made this experience somewhat easier for us.*
*Oh my god!* Sam was quiet for a few moment, trying to grasp what had happened. *How come I don't remember any of it?*
*I have blocked the memory of all of this from you, and I would very much appreciate if we refrain from thinking about this experience... though I suspect our tormentors will remind us of it the next time we do not tell them that which they desire to know.*
August 10 1998, Beta site
*I would have thought they could have given us one day off before starting to interrogate you... us again!* Sam complained as she saw Samuels enter. *Bastards!*
*I'm not sure they're going to interrogate us...* Jolinar observed as doctor Nichols came through the door.
"Ah, hello, Jolinar. We're just going to test a few compounds on you today. Won't take long, and I'm sure you won't be bothered... much by it... so be a good snake and cooperate." He grinned evilly. "Open the cell door, men," he told the guards with him.
"I have no intention of cooperating. How dare you return here after torturing my poor host so - the effects only wore off yesterday!" Jolinar exclaimed angrily.
"Yeah, you go on trying to convince us you care about her." Nichols rolled his eyes. He turned to the guards. "Hold her down and make sure she remains still!"
"Uh..." The guards looked at him, a nervous expression on their faces.
"How do we know the Goa'uld doesn't try to take one of us?" one of the guards, a young man with short dark hair asked.
"Because she knows she'll get another taste of that ashrak drug if she tries anything! So you'll be good, won't you, Jolly?"
Jolinar glared angrily at him, but decided against answering. It was not worth it anyway.
Sam woke up on the floor of the small washroom inside their cell. Jolinar was awake and in control.
*Why are we here?* Sam asked, then immediately knew, as a wave of nausea swept over them and Jolinar hurried to the toilet to see if there was anything left in their stomach to empty out.
When they were feeling marginally better, Jolinar leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes, taking several deep breaths. *As you may remember, they began by trying to determine how much tranquilizer was needed to put us both to sleep. I awoke before you did, and as they went on to test a number of other drugs on us, I decided it was better if you slept until they had finished their experiments. Our current sickness is caused by a combination of the last two of their drugs. I believe they were surprised the effect was no worse than it was. Not that it is exactly pleasant,* she remarked, sarcastically. *I had intended for you to sleep until the nausea had passed, but this constant filtering out of drugs, and healing of the injuries those bastards cause us, is wearying. I apologize.*
*You've got nothing to apologize for - it's not your fault.* Sam noticed something in Jolinar's tone. *You really are quite exhausted, aren't you?*
*Yes, and more than I should be, from this.* She slowly rose. A wave of nausea came and went, and she leaned, grateful, against the wall. *I shall be glad to get away from that stinking toilet. I assume we are to be happy it is there at all, since they probably have not installed many indoor facilities yet, but I do miss even the water-closet you had at the base on the Tau'ri. At least it usually smelled less in there.* She took the large pitcher that stood on the table and poured water in the bowl beside it, washing face and hands in it. After pouring some water to drink as well, they were both feeling better.
*Bed, I think?* Sam suggested.
*Yes, I very much agree.* Jolinar slowly stumbled to the bunk and lay down, closing her eyes.
*Jolinar? What did you mean by you being more tired than you should be?* Sam asked, somewhat worried. *Is it something I should know about?*
Jolinar sighed. *I have been in three different hosts this last year. It is physically exhausting, dangerous, and mentally tiring. I still grieve my two other hosts, one of whom was my host for... around one hundred of your years. I miss her very much.*
*Her? Of course, you said you prefer female hosts. It's just that I know so very little about you!* Sam was quiet for a moment. *I do understand that it must be hard, emotionally, if you really liked your hosts - and I do believe that you did. I can also imagine it might be hard physically, but I really have no idea about that.*
*You know very little about me because I cannot risk telling you much of anything, since you would retain that knowledge when I left you. That would endanger both my people and yourself. As for the physicals aspects... we send tendrils into the hosts brain and spine, to control the host body, and we also intermingle in other ways, in order to be able to get nutrients and oxygen, and to get rid of waste products. Some of those connections can tear and need to be regrown when we change hosts. It is physically exhausting to redo these connections. Besides all of this, I have spent several months in a host I was not blended with, and whom I of course did not suppress. I merely hid in his body. Now I am in about the same situation. It is stressful to exist in such a limbo - neither blending and sharing with the host as the Tok'ra do, not suppressing like the Goa'uld do. Stressful - and eventually dangerous.*
*Yes, and all of it weakens me. Together with this torture and these experiments, the chances are not good that I will be able to leave you without killing both of us - at least not without the help of the Tok'ra.
*But blending would change that?*
*I would be able to better protect you, and it would be less stressful for both of us. Less physically tiring for me. We would quickly get to know each other as if we had been together for many many years.*
*I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable with that - I mean, you'd know my memories, right?*
*If you allowed it, yes, though it is possible to keep some of them private. It is often done, at least early in a blending. However, Samantha, you do not wish to remain my host, permanently, do you?*
*No, absolutely not! I'm sorry, Jolinar - I do think you're a... nice person. I think we might have been friends if the situation was different, but I don't want this arrangement to be permanent. And please call me Sam!*
*Sam. Then we should not blend.*
*Why not? You said it would help you - and me.*
*It would also mean that it would probably kill you if I left you. Not physically, but you would be unable to handle the loneliness. Those few hosts we have had that survived the death of their symbiote, all committed suicide shortly after, or simply wasted away.*
*So it's because you think humans are weak? Because you guys handle changing host just fine!* Sam was angry, mostly because every time it seemed possible to do something to make things better, it always turned out not to be the case.
*Not at all. Symbiotes have an advantage - they get a new host, who they will blend with and quickly become close to. They will still grieve deeply, but they will not suffer the loneliness of the mind that the former hosts do. Sometimes, when we cannot find a new host, the symbiote will agree to be put in a tank, or the healers will do so if the Tok'ra is unconscious and too badly damaged to heal. Those symbiotes only rarely survive for long, but die from the silence and loneliness. A few will fight and live, if they have enough cause to do so - for instance if they have a mate. So you see, it is not that I think humans weak, it is that I know how horrible it is not to have someone to share everything with, not to have a voice in your mind, when you are used to it.*
*I think I understand,* Sam finally admitted, no longer angry. *It's a strange concept for me, but I do think I understand - and I also realize how terrible it must be for you, not to have a 'real' host, who will blend with you and be your... soulmate, I guess. I'm sorry about that, but - I don't really feel I'm to blame!*
*Nor do I blame you, my Saman... Sam. And I do not find you a terrible host - I love you, like I have loved all my hosts.*
*Thank you,* Sam did not know how to respond to that. She looked towards the door of the cell, hating that they were locked up, that there was a guard, and that their tormentors would probably come back soon. *I wonder if we will ever be let out? And if we do, if my people will ever accept me again, even if you left me.*
*I cannot answer that, my Sam, I am sorry.*
*It's strange, what I'm thinking of right now... what saddens me, is something completely stupid. That I'm probably never going to get... loved - by a lover, I mean.* Sam felt guilty. *I do believe you love me, but I meant...*
*Physical love? Mating?*
*That too, but also a, ah, mate, I guess is the word you would use, right?*
*It is. I am aware you are untouched. You did not have someone special that remained on your world?* Jolinar quickly hid the image of someone, just before Sam could see the person. She got the distinct impression it was a someone, though.
*No. I was engaged, though, for a short period. To an idiot, who was more in love with himself than me, and always had excuses for not having sex with me. He ended up setting himself up as a god on another world, and working the locals to death. He wasn't even a Goa'uld, so I guess your species doesn't have monopoly on that kind of behaviour.*
*Unfortunately not. Do not think of him. I can assure you, that many men would find you very attractive.* She yawned. *Now, could we sleep? I really need it, and so do you.*
*Yes, sleep sounds very good. Goodnight.*