Main ~ Authors ~ Production Crew ~ Promotion ~ About Chrysalis
Doctor Janet Fraiser taped down the bandage and gave her patient a reassuring smile. "That'll help," she said. "Your larva will heal the wound in a few days, but the stitches will control the blood loss until then."
The man nodded curtly and she stood up, sighing as she surveyed their surroundings. It looked like they'd finally gotten things under control, the area now relatively calm compared to the mass chaos she'd walked into a few hours earlier. She hated these calls. Part of her loved to get a chance to go through the gate, but just once she'd like to do it when lives weren't on the line and people weren't dying.
"Doc?" She turned to see Major Griff walking towards her.
"Major," she said. "No fatalities, yet," she reported. "I'd like to evacuate some of the more critically wounded to the SGC."
He shook his head. "I can't do that without permission from General Hammond. He's not too fond of Jaffa running around the base," he said, lowering his voice. "Especially now."
"I understand that, but some of them could die without treatment, more treatment than I can give them here," she said.
"We're due to make contact in a few minutes. I'll ask him for permission then," he said.
"Thanks, Major," she said, watching him walk away. She ran her hand through her hair and stood up, spying Colonel O'Neill on the other side of the camp. Having no patients to care for at the moment, she made her way over to him.
"This is getting old," Jack complained, trying not to let the dismay he was feeling show on his face. This was bad, in oh so many ways.
"Whoever the hell Anubis' spy is, we've got to stop them," Daniel said.
"I agree," Teal'c said, his dark face also showing his sadness at the sight before them. Just a few months ago, M'Zel had led his people away from the Alpha Site, abandoning their alliance with the Tau'ri and Tok'ra, to strike out on their own, finally exploring their newly won freedom for the first time.
It had been a decision that Teal'c understood and had agreed with in a way, but it was also one he knew would not be easy. And this attack showed just how much of a mistake it had been.
The ground was strewn with bodies, both dead and dying. Unlike the attack on the Alpha Site, this one bore the unmistakable signs of an aerial bombardment, deep craters pock-marked the surface, most still smoking.
Off in the distance, Jack could see the scurrying forms of the SGC medical personnel, rendering aid even though, technically, they didn't have to. The SGC had received word of the attack just two hours before, M'Zel himself stumbling through the stargate, his clothing torn and charred, rivulets of blood streaming from multiple wounds.
As near as Jack could tell, the toll had been horrific, he was guessing maybe forty percent of the Jaffa were dead or injured. "They can't stay here," Jack said. "It's just a matter of time before Anubis comes back to finish it."
"Indeed," Teal'c said.
"What of the injured?" Rak'nor asked, joining them, himself bearing signs of the attack, his staff weapon grasped in his hand.
Janet shook her head. "I don't know. It depends on if General Hammond will let them come to Earth. Colonel?"
"It's not likely," O'Neill said. "Rak'nor, Teal'c, I'm sorry but I don't think Hammond will let a couple hundred Jaffa run around the SGC. Especially since we're no longer allies."
"M'Zel?" Rak'nor asked.
"I'll have to check with the general, but any of the critically injured that are at the SGC will probably be able to stay until they're stable, then they'll have to leave."
"And you will abandon the Jaffa?" Rak'nor asked.
"Hey," Jack said loudly. "You abandoned us. You wanted to be on your own."
"What about the other Jaffa?" Daniel asked, trying to defuse the situation. Even though they were technically not allies, he still held hope that the alliance could be reforged.
"What other Jaffa?" Rak'nor asked.
"Ishta's people," Daniel said. "There are plenty of resources there. Surely they'll welcome some of their own."
"I do not think so, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said. "The animosity runs deep between Ishta's people and any other Jaffa, especially after the last incident," he said, referring to a few months ago when they'd attempted to unite the female and male Jaffa. Eventually, the fragile alliance had failed, too many years of mistrust and hatred making it impossible for the two groups to co-exist. "They will not tolerate an invasion of so many men."
"Maybe not," O'Neill said. "But I seem to recall her saying that they had other planets, fall back positions."
"Right," Daniel said. "Nesa told me about them too. Every few months they'll move, just to be on the safe side, especially now that Moloc knows that they exist."
"Yes," Teal'c said slowly. "I remember."
"If they're not using the planet, they can't mind someone else using it," Janet said.
"Go," he said. "The rest of us will take the critically injured to Earth and brief Hammond."
General George Hammond looked up, catching sight of the woman standing on the threshold of the briefing room. He motioned for her to join them, and then turned his attention back to Teal'c. "When we arrived upon the planet, we discovered that Ishta's Jaffa were already present," he reported. "They were not…enthusiastic about sharing their refuge with others," he said, his tone indicating that he was obviously understating the situation.
They'd left Rak'nor and the other rebels on Ishta's planet, the simple fact that Ishta wasn't there had been all that had allowed them to do that. She was due to return in a few hours, and Teal'c planned to meet her and hopefully, be able to find some way to allow Rak'nor's people to stay with Ishta's.
"You can't exactly blame them," Daniel said. "Especially not after how they've been treated."
Teal'c nodded. "I do believe, however, that Ishta and her people are willing to help, if an agreement can be reached. It would be helpful if Major Carter could return with me to negotiate."
"Major Carter is assigned to the academy right now," Hammond reminded needlessly.
"Of that I am aware," Teal'c said. "However, she is…"
"Ishta doesn't like talking to people with…it's a girl thing," Jack said.
"Major Carter's not going anywhere," Doctor Fraiser spoke up.
"Doctor?" Hammond said.
"Sir, with all due respect, we've already discussed this," Janet said. She and the general had had a nice long talk just last week, unofficially expressing their concerns for the woman. Janet's professional and personal opinion was that Sam desperately needed some time off, the last few months having been especially hard on her. She'd been in the infirmary on four different occasions, each time her injuries were a bit more severe. And each time it took her a bit longer to recuperate. Janet knew that she still felt a bit weak in the knees from her recent illness and that her leg still bugged her at times, the injury she'd received during the attack on the Alpha Site one that was being most stubborn to heal.
Fortunately, General Hammond had agreed, and had called in a couple of favors, getting Sam two weeks temporary duty lecturing at the academy. They both knew that it was something the woman enjoyed doing, and it was also something that would allow her a little time to rest and relax, without them actually telling her that she was resting.
Janet stared at the general, silently steeling herself for the confrontation she desperately hoped wasn't coming. Sam needed this time, and Sam was going to get this time, even if Janet herself had to play the card that she used all too rarely, her ability to override the general's orders if necessary. She knew, if they asked her, Sam would go. And Janet was determined to not allow that to happen.
Thankfully, the general nodded, accepting her words. "The major's not available, Teal'c. Perhaps Major Kovacek…"
Teal'c shook his head. "Major Kovacek is male," he said simply.
"Janet's not," Daniel said, making the others look at him.
"Well, think about it, Jack. Sam can't go, they already know Janet—" He shrugged. "I mean, why not?"
"Because I'm a doctor, not a negotiator," she said, looking around the room. "General?"
Hammond studied her for a few seconds. "I'm inclined to agree with Doctor Jackson," he said.
"When you get right down to it, Doc," Jack said. "Negotiating with the Jaffa isn't much different than dealing with a difficult patient…you just can't drug them into submission."
"Colonel," she protested.
"I can't order you, Doctor," Hammond said. "However, I do think this will be a good solution. The Jaffa refugees need a home, and right now, Ishta's planet is the only place available to them."
"This will most likely not be a lengthy alliance," Teal'c said. "We are merely seeking permission to allow the refugees to remain until a new planet can be found, days, perhaps weeks at the most."
Janet sighed, her reluctance plain. "Ok," she agreed after a few seconds. "But I'm just staying long enough to get things settled. We're still short staffed from that bout of Chicken Pox."
"Agreed," Hammond said. He got to his feet, signaling the end of the meeting. "Doctor, Teal'c, you can leave when ready," he said, before turning on his heel and returning to his office.
Janet stepped through the stargate, pausing for a moment to hitch her bag up on her shoulder as she studied her surroundings. Even though she knew there were hundreds of types of planets in the universe, she had noticed that most of them bore a resemblance to each other, the requirements for human life seeming to determine that a planet needed to have the basics, oxygen, water and evidentially trees.
A small group of women stepped into the clearing, Ishta among them. "Teal'c," she greeted, her eyes welcoming but her voice tense. She was obviously glad to see him, but not at all happy with the situation that brought him, and her, here.
"Ishta," he acknowledged. "This is Doctor Fraiser. She has offered to come in Major Carter's stead."
"Is Major Carter ill?" one of the women asked, Janet recognized her as one of the ones that was now on tretonin.
"She was injured on a mission. She's fine, but just not quite up to going off world right now," Janet said.
"I am glad to hear this," Ishta said. "There are too few warriors in this universe."
Janet looked to Teal'c, noticing how he stiffened slightly at her words, but remained silent. "Why don’t we go find somewhere more comfortable, where we can discuss this," Janet suggested, trying to defuse the situation.
"Yes," Ishta agreed. "The sooner we discuss this, the sooner these men can leave us in peace." She turned with a flourish and stalked back into the trees.
Janet looked to Teal'c and shrugged. "Things are starting off well," she said.
"Indeed," he agreed.
"Ishta, I don't understand, these are your people," Janet said, struggling to keep her exasperation from her voice.
"They are not my people," the blond leader said. "My people live on this planet already."
"Ishta, they're just like you, they're running for their lives."
"They are not welcome here," she insisted.
Janet sighed, running her fingers through her hair. She'd been sequestered in Ishta's tent ever since their arrival, hoping that she could find some sort of arrangement that would work out for both groups, the female Jaffa and the renegade Jaffa.
She didn't think it was going to work.
"They have women and children with them. Are you going to just let them die?"
"They let our children die," Neith said harshly.
"Moloc's Jaffa let your children die, not these people," Janet said. "They're victims, just like you."
"They're men," Ishta fired back, her eyes hard.
"Yeah, I noticed that," Janet said shortly. She took a breath, calming down a bit. "This is a chance for you, for your people to become a thriving, sustainable society. Now Sam said you can go on for several decades without having children of your own, things have changed now. Moloc knows about you. None of you will ever be able to go home; you have to start a new life elsewhere. And, like it or not, that new life has to include men unless you want it to only last a generation."
"The very presence of these men endangers us," Ishta said. "They know where we are now, they know that we exist. If just one of them brings word of our existence to Moloc, we are dead."
"They won't do that," Janet said.
"Ishta, what if she is right?" Neith asked. "What if they are different?"
"Teal'c will say what he wishes to insure the survival of his compatriots," Ishta said coldly. "Doctor Fraiser, I am aware that you mean well, but we will not allow these men to remain here."
"We're not talking about forever," Janet said. "Just long enough for us to find them somewhere else to go." The two Jaffa looked to each other, communicating silently. "They fight for freedom too," she said, playing her trump card. "Ishta, you told me at the SGC that you regretted your actions, all the people that you've killed over the years, this is your chance to fix some of that," Janet said.
Ishta looked at her, then nodded. "I will permit them to remain temporarily," she emphasized the word. "They must leave as soon as possible." She shot Neith a pointed look. "Only because the damage is already done."
"Thank you," Janet said.
Ishta shook her head. "Do not thank me. Just because they remain, does not mean that they are welcome. They are not permitted to leave this planet."
"How are they supposed to look for a new home if they can't leave the planet?" Janet asked.
"You brought them here; you can find them a new home." She got to her feet. "We shall be occupied endeavoring to find our new home…as well as guarding against any of Moloc's Imperial Guard discovering our existence."
Janet got to her feet as well, watching as Neith and Ishta walked past her. The leader paused, turning back to stand before Janet. "I hope your act of compassion towards these men has not condemned my as yet unborn sisters to death," she said seriously before turning on her heel and leaving Janet alone in the tent.
Teal'c walked in, ducking under the low tent flap. "She won't let them stay," she reported. "They need to be gone, as soon as possible."
"She will not easily change her mind," he said.
"They've got nowhere else to go, Teal'c," she said. "And the wounded aren't going to be able to take care of themselves for a while. How can they run from planet to planet taking care of them?"
"They will if they must," he said.
She sighed. "They've got women and children, Teal'c," she reminded. "Kayrs, even with her symbiote, will be weak for days, maybe weeks. Mibri is due to give birth any time now. His symbiote isn't going to help P'irx's leg regenerate. It's going to take him a while to be able to get around on crutches and I don’t know how Jaffa feel about prosthesis but I know a good doctor at the academy. We might be able to get him clearance and—"
"Enough," he interrupted. "I shall speak to Ishta."
"And if she won't change her mind?"
"I shall…convince her," he said.
She frowned then shrugged. "Well, while you're 'convincing', I'm going to go check on the wounded."
They left the tent, splitting off. Janet slowly made her way to the outskirts of the settlement where the refugee Jaffa were gathered. Griff and SG-2 were working among them, showing them how to put up the tents the SGC had sent before leaving and returning back to the SGC, even humanitarian missions had to submit to the normal mission rotation, and Griff's team was due to explore another planet tomorrow.
She wished they were able to do more for them but right now, their resources were stretched to the limit. Even if the Jaffa had been more like normal humans, she doubted General Hammond would authorize them staying on Earth. The risk of exposure was too great, for them and for the SGC.
"Doc?" one of the soldiers called. He waved her over. "A couple of the kids are sick. We were hoping you could take a look."
"Sure, lieutenant," she answered. "Lead the way."
Three hours later she stepped out of the tent, arching her back to ease the tension. At times like this, she appreciated Earth and its advances all the more. The measles. That's what the kids had. A simple childhood disease that human children were usually inoculated against. And it was a simple childhood disease that was probably going to run through this camp like wildfire.
The adults would be ok; in fact, any of the children past the age of Prata would be protected by their symbiotes. But the children…why was it always the children?
The sun was starting to set and she looked around, trying to find Teal'c. They should probably get back to the SGC. Or maybe she should just get permission to leave, if what Sam had told her was true, she thought Teal'c might want to stay.
All off color jokes aside, she knew his team thought it was nice that he'd found someone, especially after the tragic nature of Shan'auc's and Drey'ac's deaths.
Catching sight of Ishta's tent she made her way over to it, vaguely wondering what the protocol was for Jaffa. Maybe there was a towel hung outside the tent flap or a 'do not disturb' sign or something.
Standing outside the tent, she stood there, feeling distinctly silly as she listened intently, her face coloring despite herself. Hearing nothing over the sounds of the camp, she slowly pulled back the flap. "Teal'c?" she called out, hoping to give them enough warning to avoid embarrassing either of them. "Teal'c, I need to get back to the SGC," she said, stepping further into the tent.
Getting no answer, she frowned. "Teal'c?" she called out, raising her voice. The furs on the bed shifted and she moved closer, her eyes widening as she saw the bare chest of the Jaffa in question, bathed by flickering candle light. And nothing else. More specifically, no one else.
Moving to the bedside, she reached out and gave him a shake. "Teal'c."
He woke up, his eyes flying open. "Doctor Fraiser."
"I'm sorry to disturb you but… It's time to go."
He nodded. "I apologize," he said, sitting up.
"It's ok," she said, stepping back so that he could stand up. She turned her back, allowing him the privacy to get dressed. "I don't even think General Hammond cares if you stay. I just needed to tell you that I was going to leave."
"I shall accompany you back to the SGC," he said.
"You sure about that?" she asked, turning back around.
"Won't Ishta mind? Actually, where is Ishta?"
He frowned, turning back to the bed. "I do not know."
"Where is she?" Neith demanded, moving to stand before Teal'c, her posture definitely a threatening one.
"She was asleep," Teal'c said. "I do not know where she went."
"You brought this upon us," Makra shouted, staring balefully at Teal'c and the other male Jaffa gathered around. "When you violated our sanctuary with these men."
"Aren't we jumping the gun a little?" Janet said, stepping between them. "For all we know, Ishta went for a walk."
"Indeed," Teal'c said. "She once told me that she preferred to kelnoreem in privacy."
"Exactly," Janet said, jumping on the excuse. "Why don't we at least look for her before we freak out?"
"We shall," Neith said, accentuating the word. "These…visitors shall remain here."
"None of us harmed her," Rak'nor said, bristling at her implied insult. "We are all fighting for freedom, regardless of our gender."
"We shall see," Neith said. She called out orders in her native tongue and Janet watched as the women gathered into small groups, obviously setting themselves up as search parties.
Some of them vanished into a tent, returning with staff weapons in hand. They passed the weapons out to the searchers, some of them ringing the men, obviously ready to keep the visitors in the camp by force if necessary.
Shooting Teal'c a concerned glance, Janet stepped forward. "Let me go with you," she said. "If something's happened, I can help," she offered.
Neith met her gaze, then nodded. "You must maintain our pace. We will not slow ourselves to accommodate you."
"Fair enough. Just let me get my bag."
Ishta struggled, the bonds wrapped around her wrist pulling her forward nearly faster than she could comfortably walk. She felt the rough hemp cutting into her skin and she gritted her teeth, promising severe retribution as soon as she could free herself.
She narrowed her eyes, her attention torn between watching where she was being led and staring at the bobbing head of the person holding her leash. She wanted nothing more than to lash out, however the gag tied across her mouth prevented her from voicing her dissatisfaction with his actions.
If he felt that this was some sort of enticing action, he desperately needed a lesson in preferred Jaffa mating rituals.
They reached a small clearing and he pulled her forward, the action forcing her to her knees. She glared up at him as he moved to stand over her, the thick rope attached to her wrists held in his hands. "Do not attempt to escape," he said.
Defiantly, she pushed herself up, sitting on the ground. He knelt before her, her leash held in his hand. He stared at her for a second, then reached to his belt, pulling out a small water skin.
Struggling a bit to keep his grasp on the rope, he uncapped it and held it out with one hand while reaching out with the other to pull the gag from over her mouth. "Drink," he ordered.
She refused to accept the skin and he sighed, pressing it into her hands. "It is just water. Drink."
"I should trust you?" she asked, inwardly grimacing at the rough tone of her voice.
"If you do not drink, you shall die," he said.
"YOU shall die for this," she threatened.
"You will discover that I am most difficult to kill," he said, his dark eyes meeting hers in an unbreakable gaze.
Her tongue swollen and dry in her mouth she considered refusing…then realized that if she was to survive, she needed to ingest the moisture. She raised the skin, gulping the tepid water down thirstily.
They had been running for several hours and she knew they were a considerable distance from the camp. She did not understand his actions. He had nothing to gain from this. If he wished to eliminate her, he had already let several opportunities pass.
She searched his familiar dark eyes, trying to discern some motive, something to explain his actions.
He said no more, simply reaching out to take the skin from her, pulling the gag back up to prevent her from crying out. He got to his feet, pulling on the rope. She struggled upright and had no choice but to follow him as he led her further and further away from the camp.
Ry'ac stepped through the stargate, taking a moment to study his surroundings. He had never been to this planet before, and from the puzzled frown on Bra'tac's face, neither had he.
They'd been just finishing meeting with some rebel Jaffa of Yu's when they'd received his father's message to abandon their present refuge and to come here, to this unnamed place.
"I thought my father would be here to meet us," he said as the wormhole closed.
"How is he to know when we would arrive?" Bra'tac shot back, slowly scanning the horizon.
Ry'ac shrugged, feeling his face warm a bit. The older warrior seemed to enjoy doing that, pointing out his lapses in judgment. He knew why he did it. How else was Ry'ac to learn if he was not shown his errors?
It still did not mean that he enjoyed such lessons however. But Bra'tac, while appearing gruff, was also kind. He did what he did with the knowledge that Ry'ac's own survival could one day rest on the lessons he learned.
"How are we to know where he is?" Ry'ac shot back, enjoying baiting the man.
"I believe we shall ask them," Bra'tac said, lowering his weapon. Ry'ac stared as several women melted from the surrounding trees, their staff weapons held with a confidence that spoke of great familiarity. Perhaps this new planet that his father had chosen had more promise than he'd first thought.
Janet followed the Jaffa women, relieved when they paused for a few minutes. She bent over, gladly letting her bag fall to the ground as she reached for her canteen. She knew she wasn't out of shape but she was definitely having a hard time keeping up with them.
They'd been travelling for several hours, quickly climbing out of the shallow valley the camp and stargate was in. They were surrounded by trees, thick enough to give them shade, but thin enough for light to penetrate.
It felt like early summer on the planet, the nights still cool but the days warm. From her limited exploration experience, Janet thought that they'd found a good home. The grass was thick and green, the multitude of flowers and other blooming plants suggesting a wide and varied ecosystem.
She'd seen a few animals back in the trees, ones Neith had assured her were only plant eaters and quite tasty. There were a few birds and too many insects for the doctor's liking.
"Humans do not have our stamina," Neith said. "It is nothing to be ashamed of."
"Who do you think is doing this?" Janet asked, ignoring the woman's words. She'd known Teal'c long enough to know that it was a mere statement of fact, not any sort of insult.
"I do not now," Neith said, looking at the five other women that had accompanied her.
"We are alone here," one of the women said.
"You believe we are alone, Sabra," Neith said. "In truth, we have been here less than a moonrise," she continued. "We have not had the opportunity to venture too far from the camp."
"So, basically, anyone could be here?" Janet asked.
"It is possible," Neith admitted.
"If someone wished Ishta harm, why did they not merely kill her in the camp?" another woman asked.
"Stefa is correct. What if they plan to use this as a distraction and attack the camp?"
The women all tensed, their concern for those left behind clear on their faces. "Even if that happens, there are plenty of warriors to protect the camp," Janet said.
"We are not great in number," Neith said.
"I'm not just talking about you, Teal'c and his Jaffa will defend the camp."
"One of Teal'c's Jaffa could have been the ones that took Ishta," Sabra said.
"I don't think so," Janet said.
"Upon that, we will have to disagree," Neith said. "Come, they get further away."
Janet capped her canteen and shoved it back into her belt before picking up her bag and falling back into step, following the women as they led her further and further into the wilderness.
The tent flap was pulled back and Teal'c looked up, frowning as Ry'ac and Bra'tac were led into the tent. "What is the meaning of this?" Meba demanded. "How many more Jaffa have you told of our sanctuary?"
"I have told no one else," Teal'c said, getting to his feet. "This is Tek'mate Bra'tac, the man who taught me all I know. And this is my son, Ry'ac."
The woman's eyes narrowed, clearly not liking but accepting his explanation. Neith had left her in command of the camp, and it was a responsibility she took most seriously. "We do not have room, or supplies, to keep caring for your people," she said. "These two shall remain in here with you. If any harm befalls anymore of my sisters, they shall receive our retribution."
She left and let the tent flap fall behind her, however, not before Teal'c caught a glimpse of the warriors stationed outside the tent. "Tek'mate," he greeted, shaking Bra'tac's hand.
"Teal'c," the old man acknowledged. "This is a most…interesting choice of refuge."
Teal'c smiled, internally shaking his head at the old man's words. "They're all women," Ry'ac said.
"Yes, my son, they are. They are refugees from Moloc," Teal'c told Bra'tac.
"Aah, yes," Bra'tac nodded. "I had heard of the false god's proclamation."
"To make better use of limited resources, Moloc has declared that all female children must be put to death and only males cared for and raised."
Bra'tac shrugged. "That is a dangerous game to play. It will only serve him for a century at best."
"He feels that it is warranted," Teal'c said sadly. "Their leader is Ishta. She was the high priestess in the temple and responsible for administering the Ceremony of Fire. She and her seconds have been spiriting the children away, without knowledge of their parents, and raising them."
"They carry weapons," Ry'ac said. "Even my mother did not carry a weapon."
"Your mother had the luxury of having a male to care for her," Bra'tac said. "And she was trained, as are all Jaffa."
The tent flap opened and the trio stopped talking, turning to face their guests. Teal'c watched as Nesa entered the tent, a heavy tray in her hands. "Meba instructed me to bring you sustenance," she said, walking forward with the tray. Ry'ac stared, not moving from her path until she stepped around him. "We have sent word to Rak'nor that you have arrived," she said. "But Meba will not allow any man to roam freely about the camp until dawn."
"Dawn will be sufficient," Teal'c said. Nesa smiled shyly, her eyes downcast but darting up as she tried to study the new visitors, without looking like she was studying them. "Thank you," Teal'c said, dismissing her. She scurried from the tent and Teal'c watched as his son followed her with his eyes.
"Meba's curfew may be most beneficial," Bra'tac said, sharing Teal'c's amusement at Ry'ac's behavior.
"Indeed," Teal'c agreed.
Her captor dragged her into a cave and she blinked furiously, trying to make her eyes adjust faster to the darkness. The man holding her lease had no such problem and led her further and further into the subterranean darkness.
They were now several leagues from the camp, high up in the mountains that sheltered their valley. They had crossed one large river and several small steams, presumably to confuse any scent animals even though she knew her people possessed none.
She still did not know why he had brought her here. She remembered waking after her and Teal'c's lovemaking and going outside to draw some water from their cisterns so that they could bathe before they ate their evening meal. When he'd first grabbed her from behind and tossed her over his shoulder, she'd thought it had been a bit of rough love play, until he'd started to leave the camp.
When she'd protested, he'd responded by binding her hands and mouth, preventing her from doing anything else but to simply follow him.
He pulled her around a sharp curve in the cave and she found herself blinking again, the dim firelight seeming horribly bright after the darkness in the cave. He led her over to the corner and gently pushed her down onto a pile of furs. He bent over her, taking the end of the leash in his hand and wrapping it around her feet, effectively preventing her from escaping. She glared at him until he pulled the gag from her mouth. "It will do you no good to scream," he said. "We are quite some distance from the camp."
"Why are you doing this?" she asked as he left her, moving about the cave. As she watched, he stoked the fire, pouring some water from a skin and putting it close to the flames to heat.
"I regret that I had to do this," he said, squatting by the fire and looking at her. "I had hoped that you would not stay, however the arrival of more of your kind has proven me wrong."
She frowned, shaking her head. "You brought them here."
"It is my hope that your people take this as a warning and simply leave," he said, ignoring her.
"They're your people too, Teal'c," she said.
He frowned. "My people…It has been a very long time since I have seen my people." He stared past her, his eyes distant and unfocused. "Please, no not force me to harm you. I hope that once your people leave, I can return home and I will leave you here, if I can." He stood up, moving to stand over her. "I shall retrieve you sustenance."
She stared as he walked past her, moving towards the cave entrance, leaving her alone with her thoughts.
"Neith?" Sabra asked as the small group came to a halt.
"We must stop for the night," she said, leaning on her staff as she pushed her fingers through her short auburn hair.
"You don't have to stop for me," Janet said, ignoring the stinging burn in her legs. In reality, she wanted nothing more than to stop, crawl in a nice hot tub and then her nice soft bed. But she'd given her word that she wouldn’t slow them down, and she would stick to it.
"I can no longer see the trail," Neith said. "We must wait until dawn."
Janet reached into her bag and pulled out her flashlight. "You can use this," she said, activating the device, but keeping it pointed to the ground. She saw the Jaffa woman smile slightly.
"Yes, we could. However, even shielded it would announce our arrival. We shall wait until dawn." She pointed towards a small copse of trees. "We shall shelter there. You should sleep, we shall meditate and rest."
"You need to sleep too," Janet said. "Without your symbiote…"
"Of that I am aware. My sisters will guard us while we sleep."
They quickly bedded down, Sabra handing out small cakes of unleavened bread and some kind of jerky for their dinner. Janet sat beside Neith, her bag beside her. She ate her food, hunching her shoulders against the chill of the evening. "I had hoped that we would find Ishta before nightfall," she said softly.
Janet shrugged. "It happens. I'd hoped to be home by now," she admitted.
"Your mate will be upset if you are not there?"
"What? No. No mate," Janet said. "I have a daughter, although she's not home right now. We're short handed at work; we need everyone we have right now."
"Then you can understand how we feel," Neith said.
"I don't approve of the waste of any life, male or female," Janet said. "What Moloc is doing is wrong…" She paused for a second, considering her next words. "But was what you were doing," she said quietly. "I understand why," she said quickly. "But…it's no different than murdering one person to transplant his organs into another person. It's murder."
"It is an act they forced upon us," Sabra said.
"I understand that," Janet said, turning to face her. "You were in an untenable position, but it doesn't change the fact that you murdered one person to save another."
"And if it had been your daughter who received the symbiote and the chance for a life?" Neith asked.
Janet paused, looking down at her hands, staring at the bits of food clasped in her fingers. She didn't feel the crumbly texture of the bread or the rough feel of the meat; she felt the cold smooth steel of a Beretta in her hand. She felt the heavy weight of the weapon, heard the smooth snick as she pulled back the hammer, smelled the unmistakable aroma of gun oil.
She could feel her finger curl over the trigger, experience the satisfaction of knowing that Nirrti's life was in her hand, literally. She reveled in the momentary burst of power and control. She'd wanted to kill her, wanted nothing more than to punish the woman for hurting her daughter. The only thing that had stopped her was the fact that if Nirrti died, she'd take her knowledge with her.
Of course, there were dozens of places to shoot a person that weren't fatal. She silently raised her eyes and met Neith's gaze. "You do understand," Neith said.
"Just because I understand, doesn’t mean that I agree," Janet said.
"Each person must do as her heart demands. I will not allow my sisters to continue to perish simply because they lack the approved genitalia. If my life must be sacrificed to save them, so be it."
"Neith, with the tretonin, there's no need," Janet reassured her.
"With the tretonin, we have merely exchanged one vulnerability for another. Where we were once dependant upon another Jaffa for a primta, we are now dependant upon the Tok'ra for tretonin." She pulled her vial out of a small bag at her waist. "If the Tok'ra fall, I shall die. I accept this fate to aid my younger sisters…But I do know that this drug is not a permanent solution, but merely a temporary one."
"We're working to find something better," Janet said. "There's research going on even as we speak."
Neith nodded. "This is what you said before. Time will tell if you succeed or fail. I do find it…ironic, that even while we struggle for our freedom from the goa'uld, they may indeed fire the last shot in the battle. For in killing them, we are killing ourselves."
Unable to respond, Janet fell silent, quietly chewing her meager dinner as the quiet darkness of the night settled around them.
The sounds of the camp awakening filtered into his brain and Teal'c slowly opened his eyes, the soft glow of daylight through the tent ceiling confirming that it was past dawn. Glancing at the slumbering form or Bra'tac, he sat up, frowning when he saw that Ry'ac was gone. At the moment, he envied his son's ability to still kelnoreem instead of requiring sleep to rejuvenate himself.
He quietly pushed the furs back and stood up, stretching lightly. Wishing to attend to his body's needs, he reached into his pack and drew out his shaving kit. He left the tent, aware that Meba's curfew was now over.
He slowly walked across the camp, acknowledging the women who were cooking the morning meal. Arriving at the spot set aside for sanitary needs, he relieved himself, then brushed his teeth, enjoying the ritual he'd adopted from his Tau'ri brethren. The Jaffa cleaned their teeth as well, often using a frayed twig or bit of rag, but Teal'c found that he enjoyed the taste and sensation of the paste.
His ablutions complete, he made his way back to the camp, eager to break his fast and receive an update on the search for Ishta.
Her disappearance made little sense. She had no reason to leave the camp, especially now that her and her sisters no longer raided other Jaffa for primta's. He had initially wondered if she'd been recalled to Moloc's home world to carry out some duty for the goa'uld she served, but if that had been the case, then Neith would have known about it. And a quick questioning of the sentries proved that no one had journeyed through the stargate since his arrival.
"That is him!" a voice cried out. He turned and stared as one of the Jaffa women headed his way, leading a small group of other women and Rak'nor. "He is the one I saw."
"Of what do you speak?" Teal'c demanded as the flap of his own tent flew back, Bra'tac joining them.
"Teal'c," Rak'nor said. "Aya said that she witnessed you carrying Ishta away from the camp."
"I did not," Teal'c said as more Jaffa gathered, Ry'ac and Nesa among them.
"I saw you," Aya said, stepping forward and staring into his eyes. "You grabbed her from behind and then when she protested, you tossed her over your shoulders and bore her away."
"If you witnessed this, why did you not speak earlier?" Bra'tac demanded.
"I am the mid-wife," she said. "Mibra went into labor last night, I have been with her, helping her to bring her new son into the world," she said loudly. "I have just returned to the camp and learned of Ishta's disappearance."
"If Ishta was struggling, why did you not aid her?" Rak'nor asked.
"I believed it was simply love play," she said. "I did not suspect something worse until now."
"Father?" Ry'ac asked, his face shocked.
"Our search teams are on a futile mission," she said, raising her voice. "If you wish to know where Ishta is, ask him."
"I did not do this," Teal'c insisted. "I would not harm one of our own."
"You took her," Aya said. "And if she is not found alive, you shall atone for her death…with your own."
Ishta slowly woke up, the faint sounds of her captor stirring pulling her from a restless slumber. She lay still, barely opening her eyes, feigning sleep in an attempt to observe him without his knowledge.
She could not understand his behavior. Perhaps he had finally broken, the years of struggle and strife taking their toll.
They had talked the last time they'd been together and she knew some of his past. Before he'd become Sholva, Teal'c, First Prime of Apophis had been well known, his ability as a leader and warrior gaining him distinction even then.
This was one reason Apophis and the other System Lords had been so angry about his betrayal. This was not just a simple Jaffa losing faith and turning away from his 'god', this was a great warrior, the son of a great warrior, committing blasphemy and defiling his oath to his 'god'.
She knew he had been tortured at the hands of Heru'ur and, most likely, more than she ever knew of. Perhaps that had pushed him too far and broke his sanity. Or perhaps it was an unknown side effect of the tretonin, something only evident among those who had been taking it the longest.
Perhaps he was exhibiting the first symptoms of a fate she'd condemned her sisters to.
He stirred and she watched him sit up, pushing back the furs he'd used to protect himself from the chill of the air. He'd given her the same and she'd spent a moderately uncomfortable night, still bound but at least she had been warm.
He stood up and she stared, the outlines of his figure all that was visible silhouetted by the dim light cast by the embers of the fire. The fur fell away, revealing a thin figure with long legs and arms. He shook his head and she saw long, thick strands of hair sway around his face before it morphed and shifted into the familiar bulky form of Teal'c.
He moved towards her and she abandoned her façade, pushing herself up and holding her bound hands protectively before her. "I shall grant you leave to attend to your bodily needs once I return," he said.
She didn't answer but simply stared as he walked past her, leaving her alone in the cave, denying that her annoyance was rapidly turning into fear.
Teal'c sat in the tent, deliberately schooling his face into an expression of calm. He ignored the warriors that surrounded his tent, insuring that he did not leave the camp. The tent flap opened and he turned his head, lowering it when he saw the face of his visitor. "Ry'ac," he said, steeling himself.
"Father." He stepped closer. "Nesa told me that you and Ishta…That you know her…knew her before." His voice quivered slightly with repressed emotion.
"Yes," Teal'c said simply.
"Why did you not tell me?"
"I met Ishta a short time ago. I have not seen you since then."
Ry'ac nodded, looking away. "Are you going to marry her?" he asked, turning back to look Teal'c in the eyes.
"I do not know," he replied honestly.
Ry'ac nodded, his eyes darting around the tent. "Nesa says that she's pretty," he said after a few minutes.
"She is most pleasant to look at," he admitted.
"Do you care for her?"
"Then she is wrong," he declared.
"Aya. She is wrong. You would never harm someone you care for."
"You once believed I harmed your mother," Teal'c said, confronting an old hurt.
"I did. I know differently now. Bra'tac and I have spoken about it. You did what you felt you needed to do."
"I did what I felt I had to for the good of our people. I wanted nothing more than to take you and your mother away from Chulak, however…I did not know to where I was going. I did not know the life O'Neill would grant me. It was conceivable that I would be tortured for information or sold to the other system lords for ransom. I could not risk you sharing my fate," he said softly. "I had hoped that I would be believed dead or captured and that you and Drey'ac would continue to live in Apophis' favor."
Ry'ac nodded. "That is what Bra'tac said." He turned to look Teal'c in the eyes. "I hope they find her soon," he said. "I look forward to meeting her."
Heartened, Teal'c retook his seat, also looking forward to the time when the two most important people in his life would finally meet.
Janet felt a cold drop of rain hit the back of her hand and looked up, squinting into the overcast sky. It looked like the rain that had been threatening all day was finally going to fall. "This is going to make it tougher, isn't it?" she asked Neith.
The woman shook her head. "These rocks make it impossible to continue to trail them," she said, nodding her head towards their surroundings. They had followed Ishta's trail since waking up that morning as it led them from the forests up to a large rock face and mountain that sheltered the valley the camp was in.
Even in the overcast daylight, Janet could see several dark shadows that suggested caves in the mountainside. "You think they're in those caves?" she asked.
Neith nodded. "It is likely. It is the only real shelter around." She turned to face the other women. "We shall investigate them one by one. You must exercise great care. He is most likely very familiar with the caves."
They nodded gravely. "And her captor?" Sabra asked.
"If he has harmed her, he shall die," Neith said, looking Janet straight in the eyes, silently warning her not to protest.
Janet took the hint, seven years of dealing with Teal'c confirming that while she may hold sway on Earth and in her infirmary, now she was in their world, and living by their rules.
Ishta watched her captor walk back into the cave, the smell of moisture on his skin confirming that she had heard the distant sound of thunder. She studied him, staring intently, trying to recapture what she'd seen this morning.
He looked like Teal'c, talked like Teal'c, walked like Teal'c…but she knew that he wasn't Teal'c. He hadn't hurt her, hadn't even touched her since he'd untied her legs and taken her outside earlier that morning. He'd unbound her hands and even allowed her a moment of privacy to relieve herself before retying her hands and leading her back into the cave.
She wanted to run, could have run…yet something kept her here. He was a mystery, an alien that had lived on her planet for weeks, yet she'd never known that he was here.
And how did he manage to maintain the illusion? This was nothing like she'd seen from Moloc, this was no mechanical image, it was real.
Instead of fleeing like she should have, she let him lead her back into the cave and retie her hands. After giving her food and water, he'd left her alone.
"Your friends are coming," he said, standing over her. He paced nervously. "They bring weapons."
"Who are you?" she asked. He frowned at her. "I saw you this morning. You're not Teal'c."
"My race is called the R'yol," he said softly.
"I have never heard of your people," she confessed.
"That is how we prefer it. My people do not like others."
"So you hide," she said.
He nodded. "I should have remained hidden."
"We will not harm you," she promised.
"My kind have been hunted by the goa'uld for generations. I could not risk that someone would discover my presence." He reached down and untied her hands. "I apologize for harming you. You can return to your friends."
"Why are you here?" she asked, rubbing her wrists, making no move to get to her feet and leave.
"I did not mean to be here," he said. "I was meeting with another of my kind. My people are fleeing. We have established a colony on a world on the very edges of the galaxy. Kal'aie knew the glyphs. He never came and I do not know how to get to our new home, so I shall live out my life here instead."
"You can live with us," she said.
A rustle at the entrance to the cave caught her attention and she struggled to her feet, moving to place herself between her captor and what she hoped were her rescuers. "Neith?" she called out, guessing who could be there.
"It is safe." She saw her sisters creeping forward, slowly peering around the corners of the cave. She felt a moment of pride at their behavior. They were behaving like true warriors. "He means us no harm," she reassured.
"What is the meaning of this?" Neith demanded, raising and arming her staff weapon.
"It is all right. I am no longer his captive," Ishta said, stepping forward, but still blocking their aim.
"We left Teal'c in the encampment. How did he get around us?" Sabra asked.
"This is not Teal'c. He merely looks like him," Ishta explained.
"He took you away from the camp," Neith said, not lowering her weapon.
"He did not harm me," Ishta insisted. "Lower your weapons."
"I beg your forgiveness," he said. "I only wished to be left in peace."
"And we shall leave him in peace," Ishta said. She waited until the women lowered their weapons, then turned to face her former captor. "If another of your kind ever comes through the chaappai, I will tell them how to find you," she promised.
"Wait." She turned to see the Tau'ri, Fraiser walk into the chamber. "You're not human?" she asked.
He shook his head. "No, I am R'yol."
"Chemically induced camouflage?" she asked, stepping closer. He nodded slowly. "I know your kind. We met one two or three years ago."
"On another planet. He pretended to be one of our people. He and Colonel O'Neill were trapped. They got out of it and he went home," she said.
He slowly shook his head. "My people no longer have a home."
"It was a colony. He left. He said they'd bury the gate, but we never tried it so…"
"You know the location of our colony?"
"No." His face fell. "But Teal'c was there. Surely he remembers the address."
"Come with us," Ishta said. "We will talk to Teal'c. If he cannot help you, perhaps some of the other Jaffa have knowledge of your race."
He looked at them, studying their faces, before nodding his assent. "I will go with you."
Bra'tac stepped out of the tent, pulling his cape around himself to protect from the chill rain. He knew a true warrior did not let a small inconvenience of rain sway him from his task, yet he also knew that those of one hundred and thirty seven years must also acknowledge the demand of their bodies.
His eyes caught sight of a familiar form slipping out of the back of Teal'c's tent and he followed it. The man was walking fast, but also stealthily, striving to use the rain to disguise his departure. Bra'tac broke into a jog, fighting the urge to call out. He could not do that. It would draw too much attention.
Determining his destination, Bra'tac took a short cut, slipping through a small copse of trees and coming out onto the trail just as Teal'c rounded the bend. "You are getting careless," he chided, standing in the man's path.
"You are getting old if you did not believe that I knew you were behind me," Teal'c said.
"You are going to the chaappai. Why?" Bra'tac demanded.
"Stargate Command possesses several search teams and technology to enable us to look for Ishta more efficiently."
Bra'tac shook his head. "She has barely been missing one day, Teal'c."
"Ishta would not abandon her people. Her absence is not of her doing."
"Of that I have no doubt. However, her people now believe that you took her away from them. Do you think that they will put faith in your friends searching for her?" Bra'tac asked. "If she is not found, they will believe that the Tau'ri are helping you disguise your involvement in her disappearance."
"At first I believed that she did indeed seek solitude to kelnoreem," Teal'c said, ignoring Bra'tac's words. "But…she would not be gone this long. She would not…she does not like the rain." He looked Bra'tac in the eyes. "Aya is mistaken. I did not harm her," he declared.
Bra'tac clasped his arm. "I know that my friend. And I know that you wish to disassemble this planet until you find her…yet you must trust in her warriors to find her."
Teal'c stared him down, then closed his eyes. "Twice in the past two years I have…lost…I have no desire to repeat that experience," he said, his voice strongly controlled.
Bra'tac sighed, knowing that words were inadequate. Loss was part of being a warrior. His own memory was inadequate to recall every person he'd seen go to the afterlife. It pained him that Teal'c would have such a life.
A small movement caught his eyes and he stared, watching as a small bedraggled group melted from the misty rain. "One day you may," he said evenly. "But not today."
Janet walked down the ramp, feeling more than a little pleased with herself. All in all, things had turned out well. Ishta was home, safe and sound. There appeared to be a fragile, but relatively stable peace between the two camps of Jaffa, and even better, Kaliel, the R'yol, had been returned to his people.
"Welcome back, Doctor Fraiser," Hammond said, walking into the gate room. "Where's Teal'c?"
"He, aah, wanted to stay behind, sir," she said. She stepped closer and lowered her voice. "He and Ishta had some catching up to do. He did say that if you wanted him to return, he would."
The general smiled and shook his head slightly. "I take it your mission was a success?"
"Yes, sir," she answered, following him out of the gate room. "Ishta's people are willing to let Teal'c's Jaffa stay with them. That's another reason he wanted to stay, to make sure everything is going smoothly."
"SG-1 is on downtime until next week, I see no reason why he needs to spend it here." He led the way through the control room and up to his office. "What about the alien you found?"
"Kaliel made it home. Thanks to the colonel and Daniel remembering the address. The R'yol expressed their thanks, even if it was followed up by a strict, 'don't call us, we'll call you'." She shrugged.
"I don't quite understand what's behind the sudden change of heart on behalf of Ishta's people," the general said, indicating that Janet take a seat. "The last I knew, things were…strained."
"Yes, sir," she said, recognizing an informal debriefing when she saw one. "And there's still some tension but…well I think things will be different this time."
Janet reached into her pocket and pulled out a small plastic bag, meticulously sealed and labeled. "I found this on the way back to the camp." She held it out to him.
He studied it, frowning as he read the label. "This looks familiar."
"Yes, sir. That's what I think too. This plant was all over the planet. I need to run some tests to be sure, but it looks like the plant SG-7 brought back a few months ago. The one the natives on P4Y392 used in their festivals."
"Yeah." She grimaced slightly. "And if some of what I saw on the planet is any indication…it still works." Despite herself, she felt her face flush a bit. Oh boy, had it worked.
The older man chuckled slightly. "You know, if it is the same stuff and works like it does on P4Y392, it's the pollen, if I'm recalling correctly, and the effects will fade with the first killing frost."
"I know, sir. Also, thanks to the Jaffa's physiology, it won't have quite the effect it has on humans but…I have a funny feeling that won't matter much."
"You're probably right. Unless there's anything else you think I need to know, I think a formal debriefing and your report can wait until Teal'c returns." He looked to his watch. "If my recollection of the duty roster is correct, you're in the middle of your weekend. Once you clear medical, you're on leave until 0900 Monday morning."
"Thank you, sir," she said, getting to her feet. She turned to leave the room.
"Sir?" She turned back.
"Thank you, sir."
She left his office, unable to totally keep the grin off her face. It felt good, she had to admit, to be able to come back from off-world and report a success. It was almost as good as being able to save a life, but in a different way.
She got into the elevator and pressed the button for level twenty-one. This had to be what Sam felt, why she kept doing what she was doing, sometimes despite the high costs, both physically and emotionally.
The elevator door opened and she stepped out, taking the familiar route to the medical center. Standing at the threshold, she stood there for a second, studying the room. It looked just like how she'd left it two days before. "Janet. I heard you were back. How'd it go?"
Sam sat on the edge of her bed, dressed in civilian clothes. "Sam? What are you doing?"
"Just a check up," the major reported. Janet was glad to see that she looked more relaxed and that there was a bit of color in her cheeks.
Janet nodded slowly, torn between being glad that her friend was healing well, and feeling a little left out that she'd obviously missed a lot while she'd been gone. Usually, she prided herself in knowing everything about her patients.
"Doctor Fraiser, welcome back," he said, grabbing and wheeling a small table of instruments over. "Since you know the drill, this shouldn't take long at all."
Janet rolled her eyes and looked to Sam for support. "Payback's a bitch," she quipped, totally unsympathetic.
Janet sighed and reached for her top, unbuttoning the heavy material as Warner pulled the curtain closed. "I want you to keep doing those exercises, Major," Janet heard the doctor chide.
"I will," she heard Sam say, her voice amazingly unsincere.
"If I even suspect that you're not doing them, I will order you to come in here every day and do them while I watch," he threatened. Janet laughed.
"That's not funny," she heard Sam say petulantly.
"It depends on your definition of funny," Janet said.
The curtain swept back. "I'll get you for this," Sam teased. Janet merely grinned. "Hey," Sam said. "How about we go over to my place and celebrate your first off-world command?" she suggested.
"Make it my place, and you have a deal," Janet countered. Sam raised her eyebrows in question. "A bath," she whispered, plucking at her stiff uniform.
Sam grinned knowingly. "I'll get a couple of things from my lab and meet you topside in half an hour."
She left and Janet settled back, submitting as Warner conducted the exam, Sam's words echoing in her brain. Her first command. Cool.
Written by: Denise
Producers: LauraJo & Vicki