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8.

I had neither been a long search, nor a long fight, though O'Neill did manage to shoot two Jaffa before they were captured. Daniel and O'Neill had taken Sam's weapon from her, and Daniel had been guarding her, so there was no one else but O'Neill to defend them against the Jaffa.

Now they had been taken to the small Jaffa camp that had been erected at the outskirts of the field with the ruins, and dragged before the local Jaffa leader.

"You caused the death of what was quite possibly the last Goa'uld queen in existence! Do you realize what you have done? You have condemned all true Jaffa to death!" the Jaffa commander screamed at them.

O'Neill threw a look at Sam - or whomever was in control. Fortunately, the symbiote seemed to realize it would not be to her advantage to give away her presence. No doubt she had taken the knowledge from Sam and knew what kind of life she risked leading if the Jaffa got their hands on her.

O'Neill made a face at the thought of his friend and former teammate being subjected to the Goa'uld queen's whims and mindrapes.

"Have you 'true' Jaffa considered a little something called 'tretonin' that we're offering?" he asked.

"Jaffa on tretonin!" the Jaffa leader spat the words, "they are no longer real Jaffa. They have lost their soul. They are weak. To be weak is to be dead, for a Jaffa!"

"Suit yourself, then." O'Neill shrugged. "If you really want to be dependent on the Goa'uld to the point you would rather die than be free of them, then that's your choice, I guess."

"What will you do when the false god Tikna learns of your failure? I am glad I am not one of you!" Sam suddenly said - though O'Neill and Daniel both strongly suspected it was the Goa'uld. They could not imagine what her plan could be, though.

"Blasphemy! He may not be an actual god, but compared to human scum like you, he is!" He hit her hard over the shoulder, striking her directly on the half-healed staff wound.

Sam - or maybe the Goa'uld - winced and cried out, stumbling to the ground. She looked at the Jaffa with surprise mixed with some pain on her face. It was obvious she had expected a different response, but whether she had expected him to agree Tikna was a false god, or strongly deny it was unclear.

The other Jaffa also seemed more than a bit taken aback by their leaders less than clear rejection of the Goa'uld's divinity.

He did not seem to notice, though. "Guard them while I contact Tikna!" he ordered.

Two of the Jaffa had just grabbed hold of Sam/symbiote and pulled her to her feet, when she, Daniel, and O'Neill were enveloped by the beams of a transporter. The two Jaffa were transported as well.

"Relieve the Jaffa of their weapons and take them to a holding cell," Malek ordered, as soon as he saw them. He hit the button on the intercom beside him. "Our people are onboard! Raise shields! Attempt to disengage from the battle!" He turned back to O'Neill and the others.

"Malek - Carter is a host," O'Neill said, quickly.

"Yes, I sense that. Guards, take her as well," Malek ordered.

The ship shuddered under a hit from the enemies weapons, but it was clear the shields absorbed most of the energy.

A couple of the guards approached the Jaffa, while another raised his weapon and trained it on Sam.

The two Jaffa just gaped at it all - the ship, Malek in a Tau'ri uniform, but obviously a Goa'uld. Or so they thought.

"S... Sorry, my Lord!" one of the Jaffa suddenly exclaimed, having decided Malek must be a very powerful god, since he had the power to transport them to his ship without using a ring transporter, but only a beam of light.

Malek's eyes flashed in annoyance. "You will cease to refer to me as 'Lord'. I am not a god!"

He turned his back to the Jaffa who were dragged away. The ship shook again, as it was hit by weapon's fire.

"Well, it was great you finally got your asses together and beamed us out of there! It was getting a little hot!"

Malek cast him an amused look. "You are most welcome!" He got a worried expression. "What about Samantha?"

Sam - or the Goa'uld - had allowed herself to be escorted out by the guards, apparently aware that now was not the time to argue. It was better to wait until they were sure the ship had escaped the enemy safely.

"The jar broke during a fight with the Jaffa," Daniel began.

"Understood. I am needed on the bridge. If you follow me, I would be grateful to you for relating to me what has transpired," Malek said.

"Sure." O'Neill shrugged.

Malek left for the bridge, with Daniel and O'Neill following him. They gave a quick summary of the events down on the planet while they walked.


"Report," Malek ordered, as he stepped onto the bridge.

"It is going reasonably well. We have disabled one Ha'tak, and only taken light damage. We are currently attempting to withdraw from the battle," Teal'c told them.

"Shouldn't a ship like this be able to do more damage than that?" O'Neill wondered.

"Their Ha'taks are a bit tougher than ours, sir. I mean, the ones in the other timeline, what we're used to," Mitchell said as he approached them. "Apparently they've been upgraded with better shields and weapons - among other things. Some of the guys from the Trust sold Asgard tech to the Jaffa at some point, and, well..."

"I get it..." O'Neill sighed. "Everyone has it now."

"Right." Mitchell nodded.

"Commander, we've lost them," a young woman reported.

"Well done." Malek now turned his attention to O'Neill and Daniel again. "You said you found a symbiote in a stasis jar in an underground complex? I assume it is the one who took Samantha as host?"

"It's the one that's in Sam, yeah," O'Neill said.

"Was there any kind of markings on the jar? Text?" Malek wondered.

"Well." Daniel looked somewhat embarrassed. "I didn't think to check if there was any markings on it - and it broke, so we left it there."

Malek nodded. "Do you believe it was the queen Tikna was looking for? Also, the complex you found the jar in, it was hidden under Ancient ruins?"

"No idea if it was a queen. Maybe. It was pretty big, if that means anything. Oh, and yeah, the underground complex was underneath some of the Ancient ruins, but I'm very sure it wasn't Ancient. It was constructed much later," Daniel said. "I'm sure of that... actually, Sam thought it had been made by the Tok'ra."

"I see." Malek frowned. "Queens are longer, but some ordinary symbiotes can be quite large, so to be sure it was a queen, it would have to be very long. Did it have any ki'hke..." he hesitated. "I am not sure what your word is... it is a kind of fleshy... tentacles, I suppose. There are three on each side of the head. The queens originally used them to lure prey to them during the spawning cycles, since they could not move much in the water at those times."

"Thanks for that image!" O'Neill exclaimed.

"Uh, we, we didn't see the symbiote clearly enough. Can't you just check? Somehow?" Daniel said.

"We can, but until then we should assume it is a queen." Malek sighed. "I believe your expression is... 'better safe than sorry'. I shall make sure a Tok'ra is among her guards, as she will soon have produced enough shri'tah'ista to ensnare any human males."

"Ah, damn! I completely forgot about that crap!" O'Neill gave Daniel a sideways glance.

Daniel groaned. "Please don't remind me!"


O'Neill, Daniel, Teal'c, Vala, and Mitchell followed Malek into the sickbay. With the ship having safely escaped the battle, it was time to focus on Sam and the symbiote she had become host to down on the planet.

"Have you examined the symbiote in Samantha and determined if it is a queen or not?" Malek asked.

"More importantly, when are you getting it out of her?" O'Neill demanded.

"Malek!" an agitated Tok'ra healer exclaimed as he entered from a side-room.

"Yes, what is it, Sawosh?"

"The symbiote is a queen!" Sawosh told them.

"Yes, we know." O'Neill rolled his eyes.

"Or expected, at least," Daniel added quickly.

"She is not just a queen, she is Tok'ra!" Sawosh smiled at Malek. "She is Egeria's daughter!"

Malek was speechless for a moment, before recovering enough to ask, "You are certain?"

"Yes. We have compared her code of life." He turned to O'Neill and the others from Stargate Command. "Her DNA, as you call it. She was spawned by Egeria."

"That is wonderful!" Malek smiled. "We are no longer a dying people!"

"That's... that's great..." Daniel said.

"Nice for you. When are you getting her out of Carter?" O'Neill asked.

"We are not! She is Tok'ra!" Malek told them, starting to get angry. "Did you not tell me Samantha volunteered?"

"Yes, but..." Daniel began.

"Since she volunteered, and the symbiote has been found to be Tok'ra, then you cannot seriously wish the symbiote be removed?" Malek looked at them, his anger changing to disbelief. "How different is that other timeline? Did you not state that we are allies there as well?"

"We are," Teal'c told him.

"It's just... our relationship isn't as good... wasn't as good, as it clearly is here," Daniel said.

"Obviously!" O'Neill snorted. "Carter only did it to save the snake. Aren't you even going to ask her if she wants to remain a host?"

"Of course they are, sir," Sam said as she entered the room. "I have thought about it, and talked with Eir - that is the name of my symbiote. I have agreed to remain her host."

"Thank you, Samantha." Malek smiled at her. "May we talk to Eir?"

Sam nodded, then bowed her head. A moment later, Eir looked up, in control of their shared body.

"Hello. I am Eir," she said. She looked at the others around her. "General O'Neill, Daniel, Teal'c..." She looked to the other side. "Vala and Cam. You are all Samantha's friends. Do not fear. That will not change. It is my hope that in time, you will become my friends as well."

"It is an honour to meet you." Teal'c bowed his head respectfully.

Eir smiled at him and bowed her head to him in return. "You as well, Teal'c."

"Eir, my queen. We are all honoured to have you among us." Malek started to kneel down before her.

"Please do not kneel. I do not deserve it. All Tok'ra are equal."

Malek rose, and nodded slowly. "You will be the salvation of the Tok'ra."

"Well, in that case I guess there's reason to celebrate. Don't you have some cake? Let's go to the mess hall!" O'Neill raised an eyebrow, grinning at the incongruous look Daniel had. "What? I'm hungry!"

"You are quite right. It is indeed cause for celebration." Malek grinned. "I am sure the cook can find us some cake! He is a very good baker. I personally convinced him to join my crew. Garshaw may never forgive me for taking him from her base!"

"Sounds good. Lead the way!" O'Neill said.

Malek bowed his head in acquiescence. "This way."

"Cake is always good!" Vala smiled at the others and walked ahead, following O'Neill and Malek.

Eir looked after them, amused, then to her host's other friends. "I suppose it is a good idea. My host is hungry as well." She dipped her head, giving Sam control.

Daniel shrugged. "I guess we all are."

"Works for me. It's as good a way as any to get acquainted," Mitchell said. "And get a bit more up to speed on this timeline."

"Indeed," Teal'c agreed as they walked after the others to the mess hall. "I expect we will need a lot of cake."



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