Several months later.
Earlier that day SG-1 had returned from yet another attempt at locating Merlin's weapon - the Sangraal. They had just finished being debriefed, and Landry had another subject he needed to talk to them about.
"Colonel Carter will rejoin the team starting the day after tomorrow. We really need her expertise in the search for a weapon against the Ori." Landry looked questioningly at Martouf/Lantash. "I need to know if there will be any problems working with her?"
"No, sir. Not for us," Martouf said quickly, knowing it was a lie. Yes, they could work with Samantha again. They would even be looking forward to seeing her again regularly, talking to her again...but it would also be a constant reminder of what had been theirs and no longer was.
After the debriefing, Daniel caught up with them. "Martouf...I talked to Sam yesterday. Their divorce has finally gone through. I thought you would like to know."
"Yeah...from Jack, you know...or didn't you know they were no longer together?"
"No. We...have not talked much to her since she went on maternity leave...and before that...not much outside of work related."
"Oh. I was so sure you knew. I'm sorry I didn't tell you, then. They separated - Jack moved out - shortly after their son was born. I got the impression the relationship hadn't worked for months, and that they only stayed together until Sam gave birth. Jack has been given custody of the kid, since he'll be staying here on Earth. Sam wants to go back to working at the SGC - and go on off world missions again."
*This is wonderful news! Now we just need to convince her to come back to us.* Lantash sounded as close to ecstatic as he had been since Sam had left them.
"I am...sorry for her...I mean...them...that it did not work out," Martouf said. It was obvious to Daniel that the other man was not sorry at all - not that he blamed him.
Two days later.
It had been a little awkward at first, to meet Sam again. They had greeted each other, and made small talk for a little while. Then, fortunately, as the awkward silence had descended over them, and Martouf/Lantash were frantically looking for something to say, there was an announcement over the speakers to get ready to head out in 15 minutes. All the members of SG-1 hurried to get ready and meet up in the gate room, prepared to ship out.
They were going to P2X-298 in their search for clues to where Merlin's weapon, or any other ancient weaponry, could be found. They really needed it against the Ori.
With Sam back on the team, Janet had decided to stay home on the base. Since Vala was now also back on the team, having returned from the Ori Galaxy and from giving birth to the Orici, Adria - they were already six people on the team. Seven, if you counted Martouf and Lantash as two.
*We should have invited Samantha for lunch or something in the mess hall...or better, at a nice place out in town...*
*We will when we come back, Lantash. Then perhaps we can find out if she feels anything for us still.*
*Yes, though now when it actually seems possible she might be ours again, I find myself uncertain. I love her as much as I always have, but I fear she will break our hearts again. Martouf...what if she becomes our mate again, only to leave us, as she did before? I do not believe I could survive that!*
Martouf thought about it. *I must admit that thought has crossed my mind as well, but what can we do? If she agrees to be our mate again...if we get to experience such joy again, only to have her leave...it would cause a pain too deep to fathom. My heart still hurts from when she left us, it is a daily ache not to be with her.* He sighed. *Either we risk approaching her again, or we should leave the world of the Tau'ri and ask for a long-term undercover mission somewhere.*
*I agree. I shall think about it...though I believe I favour approaching her and seeing if we can be happy again.*
The planet they arrived on was nice and green - relatively lush, actually. No Ori had yet to set their foot on it, but that might happen at any time, with the speed they were spreading to the planets in the Milky Way.
"I vaguely recognize this planet," Lantash said, as they passed some temple ruins on their way from the Stargate to a nearby village. "It is called Thebe. It belongs to a very minor Goa'uld - Eris. She actually rules over only this one planet. She is always squabbling with the other minor Goa'uld in this sector, and is often out causing trouble among them. Or was, as I believe she has been forced to keep a low profile since the last disastrous incident. I visited this planet about 100 years ago, together with a few other Tok'ra. We wanted to keep a closer eye on her than we usually did, since Eris had again managed to make problems among some of the other Goa'uld - System Lords even, that time. She had taken part in one of the rare Goa'uld summits, and almost caused a war to break out. As near as we could tell, this was all started when she complimented Heru'ur's new queen on her new host, but neglected to do the same for Ba'al's queen. Goa'uld can be surprisingly sensitive in this matter. As I said, Eris is a minor Goa'uld, and she usually has no influence whatsoever, except when she clumsily meddles in affairs where she should not. She wishes to be a major player, but her attempts to gain power and influence almost always goes wrong. Despite her best wishes, what she does ends up being in our interest."
"Perhaps she actually sympathizes with the Tok'ra?" Mitchell wondered.
"No. She hates us as much as any of the Goa'uld. It is just that her misguided attempts to interfere in galactic politics generally turns out to our advantage."
"I find this whole story very interesting." Daniel said. "Eris is the Greek goddess who according to legend caused the Trojan war. Her roman counterpart is called "Discord". Never mind...according to myth, the other Gods had decided not to invite Eris to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis - the parents of Achilles - because she was a troublemaker. Eris became angry and tossed a golden apple into the party room, inscribed to 'the most beautiful one.' Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite all wanted it. Paris was picked by Zeus to choose between them. They all offered him gifts, but he chose Aphrodite because she gave him the beautiful Helen. Unfortunately, Helen was already the wife of another and a war - the Trojan war - ensued. By the way...Thebe is one of the twelve cities sacked by Achilles. It is located close to Troy. Please, Lantash, do you know any more of this Goa'uld?" He looked extremely interested.
"Not now!" Mitchell broke in. "Lantash, is this Eris likely to be home and cause us any problems? The U.A.V. didn't see any Jaffa, but they may be further away. We did find an inscription pointing to this place as a possible one-time Ancient planet, so it would really be unfortunate if we're unable to explore it. Especially since the Ori may show up here any day."
"Of course." He thought for a moment. "I do not believe Eris will cause us too much trouble. Her castle is relatively far from the chaapa'ai - about 10 of your miles. Her Jaffa live in a town outside the castle. Small human villages dot the landscape. The nearest of those should be just under 2 miles away from here. Eris is - or was then, we have not kept up on her movements since - often off world. When she is home she rarely leaves her castle. We did not see any Ancient ruins when we were here, so hopefully they are not close to their castle."
"Do the people here know of the Tok'ra?" Sam wondered.
"A few learned about us when we last visited. They swore to keep the secret, so if any knows now, it will be very few. Martouf will be in control the whole time when we are near any of the inhabitants."
The trees of the small forest thinned and they could now see some houses in the distance. Lantash dipped his head as he gave Martouf control.
They soon reached the small village and found the local inn. It was obvious that strangers such as themselves were rare, but their reception was friendly enough.
When they began asking about the Ancient ruins, however, people immediately shut up. When pressed they became very curt, even hostile, insisting the place was forbidden. It took SG-1 most of the day to find someone willing to tell them as much as the fact that the ruins were 'about half a day's journey to the south'.
That evening, the members of SG-1 were sitting in their room at the inn, discussing their progress - or lack of same.
"This is not going so well..." Daniel voiced what everyone was thinking.
"No...they're not going to let us go and search the ruins if they have any way of hindering us. It's apparently forbidden area for everyone except the gods - which may mean there's actually something worth looking at there," Mitchell said.
"Or just that Eris thinks there is or might be and doesn't want to risk anyone else finding it first," Daniel pointed out.
"At least we got a location now - and it's in the opposite direction of the castle. Back past the Stargate. That's good," Sam said.
"True..." Mitchell turned to Martouf/Lantash. "Couldn't you pretend to be a Goa'uld? Say you were sent by Eris to look for something in the ruins?"
"Normally, yes, but apart from the fact that I would need different clothing, we have also spent the day walking around asking people about those ruins. They have seen me wearing the same uniform as the rest of you, behave like a human, and worse - they have witnessed me obeying orders from you and Samantha...that is not something any Goa'uld would ever do," Lantash said.
"Well...couldn't you just have been pretending to be human for some reason? The ways of the Gods are unfathomable I presume, are they not?"
"Even so. A Goa'uld would have chosen a position of command. No Goa'uld would even be able to obey a human without it being obvious it was under great protest. Even if it was to save their own life...their pride is simply too much a part of their nature. It is something which we have used against them often."
"He's right. Trust me, I know. Qetesh could never have pulled it off. It's in their genes," Vala agreed.
"OK. We need a new plan, then," Mitchell said.
"Too bad you two got Earth ranks and have to obey orders, huh, Captains Martouf and Lantash?" Sam grinned.
"Don't say that! They're the only ones I can give orders to - you're the same rank as me, Jackson is a civilian, Teal'c and Vala are aliens." Mitchell shook his head.
"Martouf and I are aliens as well - that did not hinder us from following some training courses and eventually getting a rank assigned," Lantash pointed out.
"It's a good thing too, I guess - cuts down on the confusion if you're the only officer present and have to order the guards in the gate room around or something. Can't have them standing around there in a crisis and not know if they should obey or not!" Daniel said. "Teal'c on the other hand...no one would even think not to obey him, rank or no rank!"
"Of course, none of you - Martouf and Lantash included - obeys orders unconditionally. You only obey if you don't think you know better." Mitchell said, then grinned. "It's okay - I actually like my team that way, even if it means I can only ever suggest you do stuff!"
"Well, then you're fortunate, Cam!" Sam poked him. "You've got it just as you like it!"
"Wait a minute...I just thought of something. Couldn't we, ah, go to Eris and...oh, I don't know...convince her that we have information about something valuable to be found in the ruins and say we want to share it with her? Lantash, would she recognize you? Did you meet her face to face when the Tok'ra was here or did you only talk with the humans?" Daniel asked.
"We did meet her, all of us...we were undercover as a minor Goa'uld with his underlings. I was one of the underlings, so I did not talk much with her. She would not recognize me in either case, as it was long before Martouf became my host. Be that as it may - she would never agree to let us search the ruins without a large number of her Jaffa being there to help us and keep an eye on us - and she would be very suspicious of me travelling with no slaves and no Jaffa - except four humans and the former first prime of Apophis. It would not work."
They all sat for some time in silence, trying to get the one brilliant idea that would solve all their problems.
"You know, when we get back home we should get that final match done - we need to know who buys beer, chips, and pizza for the next competition." Mitchell grinned, his thoughts having obviously strayed to a different topic.
"What does it matter? We share only one paycheck and we will both have to go and do the purchase," Lantash sounded irritated.
"We must find a winner. It is an important part of the game," Teal'c added.
"I still do not understand why the winner must pay. Should it not be the loser?" Vala wondered.
"What are you guys talking about?" Sam looked totally confused.
"Teal'c talked them into playing something called 'Def Jam Vendetta' - it's a video game," Daniel explained. "He tried to get Vala and me to play as well...we both decided to only watch."
Sam grinned. "This I need to see. When is the next 'match'?"
"As soon as this mission is over - provided we can convince Martouf and Lantash."
Lantash pushed Martouf forward. *You talk to them.*
Martouf sighed. "We played against each other, two and two. I won against Mitchell, Lantash won over Teal'c. Now they want us to compete for first place."
"You and Lantash? How? Is that even possible?" Sam asked.
"It is possible to be in control of, say, one hand each, but it is very difficult...besides, how can I prove, say, that I lost because Lantash cheated and moved my fingers just a little?" Martouf winced. *Ouch...why did you do that? I don't need a knock on the head. You have cheated before...*
*I would not do it in a situation like this.*
*I know...sorry. I was irritated at them as well. I should not have taken it out on you...it is...difficult to have Samantha here, without being able to hold her and kiss her.*
*Yes, it is. I feel it as well.* Lantash hugged his host. "When we return from here we must talk to her."
The others had laughed a little at what they knew was happening. Sobering, everyone returned to the task at hand.
"Why can we not just go to the damn ruins, search them, and then leave without telling anyone? If the place is forbidden I'm sure no one goes there - and why should Eris have it guarded then?" Vala suggested.
Daniel thought for a moment. "I agree with Vala."
"You do?" Vala sounded surprised.
"Yes...why wouldn't I? I think the idea would work. Tomorrow we just pretend to leave and then we go back to the ruins later."
"It might work, but wouldn't someone be suspicious? We did come off as very interested in the ruins...and then we just give up and go home?" Sam remarked.
"There might also be someone who has already sent word to Eris..." Martouf suggested.
"That's a risk we'll have to take," Mitchell said. "We go with that plan."