“You are not a zatarc,” Anise reassured her. “I apologize, but we had to know.”
Sam nodded. “I understand.” She glared at the guards.
“We were told to accompany you and Anise to meet with General Hammond, if Major Carter was proven clean,” one of the guards said.
Sam just shook her head at all the secrecy, as she and Anise followed the guards.
They were not taken to Hammond’s office, but to a different room, that was clean of everything, except for one table and some chairs. Obviously, they really did fear there could be some kind of surveillance! The only people in the room, except for Sam and Freya/Anise, were Hammond, Jacob/Selmak, and a man who stood in the corner, looking away from the door.
“Okay, now when it’s been proven I’m not a zatarc, perhaps I can get some information?” Sam asked, starting to get a little annoyed.
The man who had been standing in the corner, with his back to the door, now turned. He had taken off his cloak, and wore a desert Tok’ra uniform. “I apologize for the subterfuge, Samantha, but I hope we will be able to explain it all to your satisfaction.”
Sam just stared at him for several moments. His hair was perhaps a little darker, but there was no doubt who it was. “ Martouf ?! How the hell can you be here?” She took a few steps towards him, then stopped, shaking her head as if she did not believe her eyes. “You’re supposed to be dead!”
“Not quite.” He smiled, but the smile did not reach his eyes.
“You weren’t a zatarc? It was a trick ? But how ?”
He shook his head. “No, I was a zatarc, that was no trick. However, my death was a... diversion. Lantash healed me.”
“We never saw your corpse.” Sam shook her head, and did not know what to believe. “Ren’al lied to me. You all did!” She suddenly thought of something. “What about Lantash? I saw him! In a healing tank! Or was that a trick too?” She pulled out a chair and sat down, heavily.
Martouf bowed his head, giving Lantash control. “I am sorry about all of this, Samantha. I thought you had been told.” He shook his head. ”Truly, if there had been any way to spare you the pain, we would have, and I do believe Jacob would have told you, if there had been any way for him to do so. As for the symbiote you saw... it was me... in a way.” He sighed. “I did not know this until recently, but Anise had taken a sample of my code of life, and she had used it to create a copy of me... I believe you call it a clone. He was lead to believe he was me. Samantha, whatever that other Lantash said to you, he thought he was me! There was no subterfuge there.”
“Sam...” Jacob said, putting a hand on her arm. “I am afraid we do not have the time to explain all of this. The longer we wait, the greater the risk we are discovered. Martouf and Lantash can explain the rest later.”
“That had better be one Hell of a good explanation,” she exclaimed. “Dad! How could you do this! Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you trust me?”
“He was under oath not to tell anyone, including you. Too much is at stake. Yes, we could have checked if you had been made a zatarc, but the more people we shared this information with, the more people there was who could be caught, and who could become compromised. You are, after all, part of the Tau’ri front-line team SG-1 and would often get in a situation where you could be captured and turned, or merely forced to speak,” Anise said.
“I would never speak!” Sam insisted, “and Tok’ra can be made zatarcs too, obviously.”
“Very true, which is why only a very small number of Tok’ra know about this. Of course, a human can also be made a host, in which case any information you had could become known, regardless of what you did.”
“True,” Sam admitted, though she still felt cheated. She decided to push her feelings aside for now. “So, what is this deep, dark secret?”
“All you need to know right now is that those who have been making Tau’ri and Tok’ra - including Martouf and Lantash - zatarcs, are behind this. Their goal is to destroy the Tok’ra and the Tau’ri,” Anise explained. “Making us distrust each other and weaken the alliance is part of this plan.”
“We know that there are at least a handful of infiltrators spread out over several of our bases.” Jacob said. “We believe we know who all of them are, and we are working to contain them as much as possible, without letting them know.”
“That sounds very dangerous!” Sam pointed out.
“It is. They are well hidden, and we might not have found them at all, had not Lantash managed to report on some of what he remembered, when he was still gravely injured. Anise was the one he talked to, and she started a secret investigation, slowly including me and a few others when she found evidence of treason, but not where it originated,” Jacob explained. “We came up with a risky plan, which included Martouf and Lantash.”
“So you made a clone of Lantash, and convinced everyone else Martouf had been allowed to die, and that the clone was Lantash, still healing from the injuries sustained when he was removed - which he would no doubt have fought,” Sam realized.
Anise nodded. “Yes. In reality, the injuries were due to problems in the duplication process, since this is not something we have ever attempted before.”
“Who knows about this?” Sam demanded.
“Aside from ourselves... Garshaw, Malek, and Korra knows... as does a few others, who should be kept secret. Several Tau’ri know as well,” Anise said, looking as if she felt far too many people had been told already.
“Major Carter... I have been given enough information to convince me the conspiracy is already well established here on Earth - and that they have managed to place people here at the SGC,” Hammond said.
“Before coming here, I was undercover for a period of time, with the Goa’uld who is behind this. His name is Am-heh, and he is allied with Anubis. I have strong reason to believe he has sent an underling named Petbe here to the World of the Tau’ri, in order to control the part of the organisation which is located here. I will be able to recognize him, if he can be found,” Lantash said.
“Am-heh got suspicious of Lantash, but we’re fairly sure he has no idea who he really is, just that he couldn’t trust him,” Jacob added.
“He needs a place to hide, while we try to locate the Goa’uld and his organisation,” Hammond said.
“And you need me to help provide cover so he isn’t killed before he can help bring down all of them.” Sam sighed. “Okay, I can see it’s big, and I can understand why you couldn't tell me. Doesn't mean I'm happy about it, but I can understand it.”
It was less than an hour later, when they had received ID cards, money, credit cards, and plane tickets, and were sent off to the the airport.
Martouf looked out of the window during the car ride, studying everything with interest. ”I have never before been out on the surface of the Tau'ri. It is strange to think that I will be travelling across it for perhaps many months.”
”Yes, they've never really allowed any of you outside the base, except my dad, I realize that. Teal'c isn’t normally allowed outside either.”
”Your Stargate program is secret, as is knowledge of the existence of life elsewhere in the Galaxy. I can understand why you can't risk letting alien lifeforms out among the population. If we were to behave inappropriately and so be discovered, it might compromise your program. Even if that did not happen, should one of us be injured, we might be discovered to be aliens.”
”Dad told you?”
Martouf nodded. ”Yes, many Tok'ra would like to visit the World of the Tau'ri, since it is the 'First World', the world where much of our history took place. There are some who were displeased when they learned your people would not allow them to visit.”
“I guess I can understand, and if it were up to me, you’d all be more than welcome.” Sam smiled a little. “We should talk to the General, though I think he’s merely following orders - especially when you’ve stayed here for however many months it turns out to be - perhaps the rules can be changed a little.”
“I am sure many would be happy, just to be allowed out on the surface.”
“That can certainly be arranged, and I don’t know why no one’s thought of that! Well, we don’t generally think of our planet as some fantastic place people want to see!” She grinned, then sobered. “We really do need to get some more relaxed, daily activities going for the Tok’ra and the Tau’ri to share. Perhaps it’ll help the alliance.”
“Perhaps. I would hope it. I am sad to see how the relations between our people are deteriorating. Hopefully, it will become better again when we have solved this more immediate crisis.”
They fell silent, and Sam returned to her own thoughts, now and then throwing a look in the direction of the man sitting beside her. She still had not gotten over the shock of discovering that Martouf and Lantash were alive!
All the feelings for and about them that she had done her best to bury and forget, were coming back. She knew the - clone of - Lantash had said he loved her. Almost certainly that was also true for the real one, so what remained was for her to figure out if she loved them.
She had spent a long time being confused, but there had been no denying the deep grief she had felt when she thought Martouf and Lantash were dead. She had cried for many nights, often waking from nightmares of killing them.
The dreams from Jolinar still came, though somewhat less frequently. Before they had brought her comfort, often illicit pleasure, coupled with a slightly guilty feeling of intruding on the very private lives of others. After they had died - or so she had thought - those dreams had no longer brought comfort, and just reminded her of what she could never have.
Sam threw another look at Martouf and Lantash, and admitted to herself what she in some way had known for a long time. She loved them. Yes, some of the feelings may come from Jolinar, and some from herself, but what did it matter? The feelings were her’s now, regardless where they might have come from. She loved them.
She noticed Martouf took out the fake ID card he had been provided with, and then the real one, seemingly comparing them.
“I forgot asking you about it before, but can you read English? I noticed you wrote your name, on the cards,” Sam said.
Martouf nodded. “Yes, Jacob taught me to read your language some time ago, though I have only just begun learning to write it. It is not the first time Lantash and I have written our names with your alphabet, though.” He showed her the card with his real names on.
“It looks fine, and it’s a good picture. Surprisingly, since those photos usually suck!” She leaned closer, then suddenly smiled. “You wrote one name each? The style is different!”
“Of course. They told us to write our name, and we did. I wrote mine, and Lantash wrote his.” He put the card back in his pocket.
“Can I see the other one? The fake ID?”
He handed it to her. “I am not sure I like the names they have given us.”
“Martin Lance Carter.“ Sam smiled. “Not the most creative of undercover names, I’ll admit. They seems to have just picked Earth names that had some similarity to your real names, probably in the hopes of making it easier to remember.”
“I am offended that they would think that could be a problem for me!” Lantash said, taking control and flashing his eyes in anger. “All Tok’ra have been on undercover missions, and we have all used cover names several times!”
“Yeah - well, they were in a hurry, so I guess they just made something up quickly.” Sam shrugged. “They’ve named me Sandra Carter.” She shook her head. “That’s just stupid, but I guess they decided Carter is a common enough name that no one will become suspicious - and that, if anything, people will think that’s a name we’d not pick. So... maybe it’s okay.”
“So that is why they used ‘Carter’ for me as well?” Lantash wondered.
“Uh, didn’t they tell you?” Sam frowned.
“Tell me what?”
“What did they say our, ah, relationship would be?”
Lantash looked confused. “Jacob told me you would be my ‘companion’.”
Sam shook her head. “Right. ‘Companion’. Lantash, we’re supposed to pretend we’re married - and on an extended honeymoon! That’s why we’ve got the same last name!”
“Married? ” Lantash looked very surprised, then smiled, clearly pleased. “Now I better understand Jacob’s stern comments about treating you well.” He frowned. “Your people change their names when they marry? Mates take the same name?”
“Not always, though it’s still common in my culture - and usually the woman would take the man’s name. It’s different in other cultures, and I think it’s actually a fairly new tradition. Daniel can probably tell you a lot more about it sometime.” She closed her eyes. Why did she say that? Daniel was dead! Or ascended, at any rate. “I mean... we can look it up later.”
“I have never experienced a culture that did so anywhere else, but then, having more than one name is quite uncommon across most worlds,” Lantash said.
“I guess that’s true, now you mention it.” Sam looked out the window. “We’re almost at the airport. We’ll be flying to Los Angeles, where we will stay until tomorrow evening, when we’ll continue by plane to London, in the UK... err, that means United Kingdom, and it’s a country on Earth. Los Angeles is a city here in the United States... of America.”
“Thank you for explaining, I know almost nothing about your world, and how it is divided between factions. I look forward to learning more while I am here.”