The corridors near their holding cell had been surprisingly, worryingly empty of guards or anyone else. Sam and Jolinar had expected they would have had to knock down the first guard the met, steal his weapon, and fight their way out.
That did not seem to be necessary. However, Jolinar remained in control, as she would be able to react faster, if it should be needed.
*Do you think Cronus has attacked already?* Sam wondered, concerned.
*Possibly. Where do you believe this building is located?*
*Somewhere in Washington - from the comments I've heard.*
*That is a large city?*
*Yes, it's large - almost 6 million people. It's not the largest of our cities, but it is the capital. Our leaders are here much of the time.*
*It is a huge city... and it would almost certainly have been bombarded, if Cronus has attacked. I assure you, unless this is deep underground, or some distance outside the city, we would have felt the bombardment.*
*Okay, so maybe they've just evacuated the place already, but I'd have thought someone would have remembered to bring us.*
*I agree. They would have wanted me for interrogation - perhaps to hand over to Cronus. This is suspicious.* Jolinar suddenly stopped. *There are traces of Kek'Shree'ac - 'death mist' - in the air. It is a Goa'uld nervegas.*
*Nervegas! Are we in danger?*
*No, not at these concentrations - even a human would be relatively unaffected. It might explain why the people have fled, though.*
Suddenly, the ground shook under them.
*Bombardments from orbit?*
*Very possibly.* Jolinar walked up the steps to the next floor, and carefully opened the door and peeked inside.
Someone was sitting, motionless, against the side of the corridor, only a few feet from them. Otherwise there was no one to be seen.
*Careful!* Sam warned.
*Always.* Jolinar approached the figure, which remained still. She checked his pulse. *Dead The concentration of the Kek'Shree'ac is higher here, but not enough to have killed a human quickly. Most likely the attack happened some time ago, and the air filtration system has begun to clear the air. This gas is fortunately not very persistent.*
*Lucky - for us, anyway. Does he have any weapons?*
*Just a moment...* Jolinar checked. *Yes, he has a knife, and a... pistol?* She took both.
*Pistol - or sidearm. Yes. It's a Beretta, or M9.*
Jolinar suddenly froze. *Symbiote!* She hurriedly took several steps back, frantically looking around for a place to hide. Seeing a door, she grabbed the handle. It was unlocked.
*The ashrak?* Sam asked, as Jolinar barricaded the door with a table. *Will that keep him out?*
*It is most likely the ashrak, as I do not believe Cronus will have landed troops yet. No, it will not keep him out - not for long, anyway, but I need time to find a way to kill him.*
*Kill him? What about the Colonel, then? I thought you claimed you guys could remove a Goa'uld from its host!*
*We can, but how do you propose we capture him and bring him with us - while escaping from Cornus on a world occupied by him?*
*I... I guess that won't work, no.* Sam was quiet for a moment. *Can't we just... well, escape, and let him live - and then come back and grab him later?*
*No. He is much too dangerous. He will never stop hunting me as long as he lives - or I do. And you will also never be safe from him, even if I left you. Not when he knows your face. An ashrak is very effective, very thorough, and takes his duty extremely seriously.*
*Wonderful.* Sam 'sighed'. *Okay, so how do we kill him?*
Jolinar looked around the room. *This is a storage room of some sort. If we are lucky, we should be able to find something useful.*
*We can't just shoot him?*
*Not with this weapon - we would not be able to fire enough shots into him fast enough.*
They had not searched for long, before someone started trying to open the door. They could feel the naquadah from whomever was outside.
*The ashrak, I presume?*
*Yes, or I suppose it could be one of Cronus's Jaffa, but I still think that is highly unlikely. From what I can see in your mind, this 'fire extinguisher' is under high pressure. If we could make it explode in the direction of the ashrak, that might be enough to stun, or even kill him.*
*Yes.* Sam sighed. She had been thinking about that, and was somewhat frustrated that Jolinar was listening to her thoughts.
*As I have said before, I am not reading your mind - unless you let me, or it is necessary for our survival. However, you were thinking very loudly.*
*Well, excuse me!*
*I shall show you how to conceal your thoughts later. If we survive. Now, please take control and carry out your plan. I have no better idea.*
*How gracious of you to admit that!* Sam sighed. *I'm sorry. This is all starting to get to me.*
The ashrak forced the door open, splintering it.
Sam fired her gun several times rapidly at the top of the fire extinguisher, which had been placed so that the bottom pointed at the now open doorway.
Using what they had been able to find and rapidly put together, they had constructed a primitive launcher for the fire extinguisher, in an effort to focus all the energy in one direction.
There was an explosion - fairly loud in the small room - and the fire extinguisher flew directly at the surprised ashrak at a great speed.
He had no time to react, and was hit in the head by the metal cylinder.
Jolinar took control and ran to check on him, the Beretta at the ready. *Dead,* she observed, unnecessarily.
Sam looked down in shock at her dead commanding officer - and friend. *He's... he's dead...*
*I am sorry for your loss, but right now is not the time to grieve.*
Almost as if to put emphasis on Jolinar's words, the floor shook again - likely due to another volley from Cronus's ship.
Jolinar scooped up the MP5 the ashrak had been carrying, and left the room.
They had made it up one more floor - to the entry level of the building. They had met no one else alive, but found one more dead airman. Jolinar had quickly and efficiently stripped him of his uniform, and put it on instead of the orange prisoner clothes someone had decided to give them.
The uniform fit well enough that no one would become suspicious at a first glance, so it was a vast improvement.
*What do you suggest we do now?* Sam asked, when they stood in a door leading out into an alley - clearly the discreet back entrance to the place.
Jolinar looked up, just as a death glider passed by overhead. *Get off this planet - somehow. There is nothing we can do here alone. Also, there are important reasons to return to the Tok'ra quickly.*
*While I can't say I like the idea of abandoning my world, I also can't think of anything to do to help right now. If I try to contact any survivors from the SGC, they will probably just lock us back up.*
*Most likely, yes.*
They looked up again two more death glider passed - followed by a group of Earth fighters. They fired at each other, but disappeared from view behind the houses before Sam and Jolinar could see how the battle went.
Sam pushed her worries aside, and focused on the immediate problem. There was nothing she could do to help in the current fight for her world. *So, how do we get off the planet? We can't just walk into Stargate Command and ask to borrow the Stargate!*
*Obviously not. I was considering approaching Cronus and pretend to offer my services.*
*What! You can't be serious! You'd betray us all? Me? You...*
*Of course not! Did you miss the word 'pretend'? I would only do so in order to escape!*
*Sorry! I... sorry. I'm still a bit upset after everything that's happened.*
*Understandable. You are forgiven.*
*Would that even work, though? Pretending to be a Goa'uld, I mean. Wouldn't Cronus have been shown a picture of me already? And even if he hasn't, it's only going to be a matter of time before he gets hold of someone who has - or he sees a datafile that tells him I was taken as host by Jolinar. Besides, he's got to suspect a random Goa'uld showing up here on Earth, of being you.*
*Very true, and I do not expect the ruse to work for long. I merely need it to do so for a short time. As for how another Goa'uld might have come here? I intend to make them believe I am the almost-mature symbiote from a killed Jaffa.*
*That could work, I guess. One of our people were taken over like that, about a year ago. That symbiote was barely more than an infant, though, and had difficulties keeping control.*
*It happens from time to time, though rarer than you may think. This is mostly because the majority of times a Jaffa is killed, there are only other Jaffa nearby. They cannot be taken over while they carry a symbiote in their pouch.*
*What about the Jaffa that the symbiote was in - couldn't there be situations where he is badly injured, but not so badly that the symbiote can't heal him?*
*Yes, that is possible. However, unless the symbiote is close to maturity, it would usually not have the strength to heal the Jaffa that way either, if the Jaffa was too injured for his symbiote to heal him while in his pouch.*
*Of course.* Sam looked around at the area they were in right now. Jolinar had walked them through a number of deserted alleyways. The sky was rapidly darkening - something which would help them get around unseen.
The bombardment seemed to be concentrated on a different part of the city. Here, where Sam and Jolinar were, there had only been two hits - the ones they had felt while underground in the building before.
*I knew your planet was heavily populated - and relatively advanced as well - but I had not truly realized how large your cities would be,* Jolinar observed.
*Yeah, from what we've seen offworld, most planets have small populations. Earth is very different, but I guess that's because it's 'the first world' - and because it's been free of the Goa'uld for so long. Well, until now.* Sam added the last part in a sad tone.
*Yes, I am truly sorry for what has happened to your world, and if I could undo it I would. I know I have told you before, but I do feel responsible, since the ashrak called Cronus's ships here, in order to kill me.*
Sam was quiet for a long time. *I would lie if I said I didn't still feel a little angry at you for that, but in truth, I know it's not your fault. Only the Goa'uld are to blame - and despite what I might have said, I do know you're not a Goa'uld.*
*Thank you.* Jolinar sounded deeply grateful.
They walked on in silence for some time. The sky was now completely dark, except for a fiery glow over the inner city. The bombardment was still ongoing, and the sky was orange from the fires in that direction.
Sam forced herself not to look at it, not to even think of it - and not to think about the fact that she had killed her superior officer a short while ago.
She had become quite good at handling Jolinar being in control, which was a good thing. She no longer felt on edge and itching to control her body, as she had in the beginning.
She had now been Jolinar's host for more than five weeks, and while there were still times when they did not get along - particularly recently, though she blamed the tense situation and the grief for that - they rarely traded insults anymore. It had been a hard and stressful time, as prisoners of the NID, and there had been no one else - friendly - to speak to, so they had started to talk, and to accept each other.
They might even, eventually, become friends, Sam realized. To some degree she even thought of Jolinar as a friend already. To her own shock and surprise, she realized she would miss Jolinar if she left her. Of course, all things considered, that was unlikely to happen, so perhaps them becoming friends was a good thing.
Not quite ready to accept her feelings about her symbiote, and their possible future together, Sam focused on the immediate future. *Where are we going?* she asked.
*Cronus will not have enough troops to occupy every city, so we should go to the only one we can be absolutely certain he will land troops in.*
*Colorado Springs - because of the Stargate.*
*Yes. Approaching his troops, pretending to be a minor Goa'uld asking for an audience with Cronus, is probably our best way to do this. At least as things look right now, though I would prefer we could just have... manipulated our way through the chaapa'ai, without ever talking to Cronus.*
*Oh, I agree, but I can't see that happening. Stargate Command will be full of people that know me, at least until Cronus conquers it. In any case, Colorado Springs is quite far away. You said we needed to contact Cronus quickly, or he would learn of our appearance.*
*That is correct, but surely it is not so far away that we cannot reach it by tomorrow evening, at least?* Jolinar became quiet. *It is much farther away, is it not? I cannot even sense the chaapa'ai, which means it is a very great distance from here.*
Sam 'snorted'. *Oh, you have no idea how true that is. The distances we travel regularly here on Earth are bit larger than on most planets. Colorado Springs is approximately 1500 miles away! I'm guessing that would take us two, maybe three weeks to walk!*
Jolinar was quiet for some time. *Then we must find another way.*
*It'll still take us a couple days by car.*
*That was the way we were taken here? Or do you use some sort of air vessels for transportation? I saw earlier that you have fighter planes.*
*We do have air transportation. We were likely flown here.* Sam thought it over. *There is an Air Force Base here in this city - Bolling Air Force Base. Unfortunately, I'm certain it will have been bombed.*
*I agree, but we should see if there are still intact flying vessels there in any case. Are you able to pilot vessels such as those we will find there?*
*Yes, I'm a trained pilot.*
*Good. How far away is that base?*
*If we... borrow a car, we can be there in no time, but I'm really not looking forward to getting any closer to those explosions.*
*I would assume Cronus orders the bombardments halted soon. It has continued for fairly long already, and presumably he will wait for daylight, so he can fully evaluate the damage done.*
Sam winced as she thought of the city in ruins. Pushing the thought aside - pushing all her unpleasant thoughts aside - she again focused on what needed to be done.
*Let's find a car - I'm good at lock-picking, and dad taught me how to start a car without a key.*