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2. Alone - or not

She had already looked through several of the surveillance videos, seeing nothing strange, when she got to a recording that had been made just over 30 hours earlier, in the infirmary.

She watched the members of SG-2 going through a post-mission check-up. That was hardly surprising, giving that she had also watched a video of them returning, carrying some sort of alien artifact.

Everything looked normal with the team, except that one of them - Major Louis Ferretti - had apparently been stung by something. It was difficult to tell from the recording, but the injury appeared fairly deep and consisted of three holes located in a circle, with a few centimeters in between. The wound was on Ferretti's back, just under the left shoulder. It looked ugly and painful, and Sam grimaced as she watched Janet examine it.

Ferretti appeared none the worse for wear, and Janet dismissed him after putting some sort of disinfectant on the wound, before bandaging it. Sam could almost hear her say that he should return if he had any problems. He grinned and left, seemingly all right. However, she got an ominous feeling about it all, given what had happened on the base later.

The next hint she got about what had transpired was from a video recorded many hours later. Groups of people walked around, as if dazed. Then Ferretti appeared in the picture, carrying something that let out purple smoke or mist. He clearly said something to the others and they immediately started following him, walking very slowly, as if drugged.

Sam felt her hair stand up on the back of her neck just watching it. What was that purple smoke, and why did Ferretti release it? Did it have anything to do with that injury he had gotten on the back? Had something been injected into him? Was it controlling him?

She remembered finding Teal*c's access card in the corridor outside the infirmary, and quickly found the surveillance videos of that area and started to watch.

When she got to the recordings from approximately 14 hours ago, it showed a group of the dazed people led by Colonel O'Neill. She stared in disbelief as he gave orders to capture Teal'c, who was clearly not affected by whatever it was that was affecting everyone else. He fought bravely, but went down when he was shot by a zat'nik'tel - one of the weapons they had brought back from the mission to Apophis's ships.

Sam slowly shook her head in horror as she watched while an unconscious Teal'c was carried along by the silent mob.

She switched to the recordings from the next camera, and then the next, following them as they went to the elevator, some of them going down with Teal'c, while O'Neill and the rest continued on to somewhere.

There was no surveillance in the elevator, and she did not know what floor they had gone to. She found recorded feeds of cameras in the corridor just outside the elevator on several floors, and methodically looked through them for around that period of time.

She was about to give up when she found the group again, They were on level 23. Teal'c had woken up again and was fighting back, when a horrible creature suddenly appeared from around the corner.

It was about the height of a man, but aside from a roughly humanoid shape - and four limbs and a head, it did not have much resemblance to a human. The arms and legs were jointed, like those on ants, with six segments on each, and ending in something that looked like a three-part hook. The creature did walk upright, but sloping somewhat.

The slender body was pastry white, but completely covered by long black hairs, and the head began directly on the shoulders, with no neck in between. The creature had eight small flourescent green eyes, antennae, and a mouth with large mandibles. It looked like something straight out of a nightmare.

Sam gasped out loud when the lifeform stepped up to Teal'c and a long tentacle shot out from the middle of the creature's face. A three-pronged stinger was located at the tip, and it hovered just before Teal'c for several moments, while her teammate screamed in clear horror, before the stinger sank into the flesh on the right side of his chest.

Teal'c did not stop fighting, and it took the combined forces of the people carrying him to hold him down. While they did so, the creature leaned down over him, opening its mandibles and allowing some sort of slimy fluid to run into Teal'c's mouth. The Jaffa stopped fighting almost immediately and fell unconscious.

For several minutes after watching that, she just sat there, staring at the screen without seeing the now empty corridor. What was that horrible creature and how had it come onto the base?

She shook herself. Something had to be done, and fast. The base appeared to be empty, though she had not searched all of it. Did that mean the creature had taken everyone offworld? Or - up on the surface?

She needed to make sure no one was still on the base, but first she had to contact her superiors and warn them. She frowned. From what she could tell, it had been many hours, possibly as much as 30 hours since this had begun. There was no way the base could have been out of communication for that long without anyone becoming suspicious.

She moved to find the feed from Hammond's office, just to see if the place was clear before she went there. She was about to press the button to switch to the relevant feed, when an intense wave of pain emanating from the back of her head and neck caused her to double over and gasp out loud. Images appeared before her, followed by sensations. The Goa'uld - the ashrak - had been killing her, using a hara'kesh. Heat and pain filled her senses and for several moments that was all she could feel.

Then slowly, the intense pain began to diminish. She took several deep breaths and pulled herself up from the ground, where she had somehow ended up. Sitting down on the nearest chair, she leaned back and closed her eyes for a little while, allowing both pain and the memory of the event to dissipate.

Feeling better, she hit the button to change to the feed from Hammond's office. Her head still felt heavy and her mind foggy, and she forced herself to focus on the image. What she saw almost immediately cleared her head and made her forget the pain.

General Hammond sat behind his desk, talking into the phone, looking as if nothing was amiss. After a few moments, he calmly put down the phone, and leaned back in the chair, staring into nothingness.

However, as odd as this was, Sam's attention was not on the General, but rather on the other being in the room with him. Across from the table sat another one of those creatures, calmly reclining in a chair.

Sam let out a groan. It was obvious that no one would be coming to their assistance any time soon. She checked out the feed from the gateroom, and noted several guards. No doubt under the influence of the alien creatures.

She clicked through several more feeds, seeing no one in any of the corridors - except at the top floor, where more guards were stationed. From the way they were moving, slowly, she had the uncomfortable feeling they were under alien influence too. She wondered if NORAD was compromised too, and if so, if anyone outside the mountain was. Probably not yet, she reasoned, but they soon would be, if nothing was done.

Her gaze caught movement on another screen, this one showing a corridor on level 23. A familiar looking man came out from a room, which Sam recognized as the location of the secondary power grids for the entire base. The man was Colonel Jack O'Neill, her Commanding officer.

He moved slowly, strangely, and then stopped. He leaned against the wall, his face contracting weirdly. Then something happened which Sam would never have believed - and which she would never be able to forget seeing.

She stared in shock as O'Neill - or what looked like him at any rate - grabbed the top of his head and pulled, hard, until his skin tore, revealing something shiny, wet and pale-white, from the top of which antennae slowly unfurled.

The creature continued freeing itself from skin and clothes alike in sickening slow-motion. Finally, it stepped free of the remnants of the human it had been, and stood there, stretching and flexing its body.

Sam did not know what to do or how to react. She probably had just watched her teammate transform into a terrifying alien being. Colonel O'Neill was dead. General Hammond was controlled by the aliens and had made sure no one would come to their aid - and as far as Sam knew, she was the only one on the base who was not either one of the aliens or under their control.

She gasped out loud as another sharp pain in the back of her head pulled her attention away from anything else. Moments later, she felt a presence. "Crap..." Her eyes flashed and control of her body was transferred to someone else.

*What is going on? Where are we?* a voice spoke in her mind.

The parasite. It was not dead. How could it still be alive? *Give me back control!*

There was confusion from the parasite, but then control was returned to Sam. *I apologize.*

Sam was surprised, but not about to argue. "Good... and don't just grab control in the future!"

*Of course not!* the parasite sounded offended, then puzzled. *You are clearly not Rosha. Who are you - and why am I in you?*

Sam was speechless - and more than a little sceptical. "You don't know? What do you think? You bored into my brain! Just like that!"

*I took you against your will!?* The parasite sounded aghast. *Please tell me that is not so!*

Sam rolled her eyes, starting to believe the symbiote really did not know. "Yes, you did. What did you think? That I invited you in?"

*I took an unwilling host!* it sounded equal parts shocked and dismayed. *I apologize. I do not know what could have made me do that, but I will leave you as soon as possible. Please, may I share your memories of the most recent events, so I can better understand?*

"Don't pretend you can't read my mind! Oh, and I'm Captain Samantha Carter, by the way, if you care to know my name."

*I can read your mind, but I would never do so against your will, unless the situation was grave. One more thing. Please do not speak out loud. I can hear you if you think to me.*

Sam's gaze suddenly fell on the screen where the creature that had emerged from O'Neill was now moving out of the image, in the direction of the elevator. "Shit! The situation is grave! Very much so!" She realised there was a very good reason not to speak out loud, particularly now. *So I guess, go ahead and read my memories, as much as I hate the thought of that.*

Sam had the uncomfortable sensation of someone opening all the mental boxes of her mind and peeking into them, but pushed the thought aside. As crazy as it sounded, she had more important things to think about, and if the Goa'uld in her head was not going to suppress her - for whatever reason - she would get back to trying to save the base and her friends, and possibly her world, from even more terrifying alien creatures.

*I am not a Goa'uld,* Jolinar insisted, pulling Sam out of her thoughts.

She snorted. *Of course not! You just happens to be a snake-like parasite that burrows into people's heads and steals their body!*

*I am biologically the same as the Goa'uld, yes, but not philosophically.*

Sam shook her head. *I don't know if you think I believe that or if you're crazy, but if you're not going to suppress me I have more important things to do.*

*Wait! This place is under attack! Why did you not notify me at once?*

Letting out a groan, Sam got up from the chair and picked up the MP5 she had fetched from the armoury earlier. *Perhaps the fact that a parasite has made my brain his home took my attention?*

*Her. And please, would you refrain from calling me a parasite?*

*You're female?* Sam shook her head. *Whatever, I don't care. Can you tell me anything useful? Like what these creatures that are killing my friends are?*

*I am sorry, but my people have no knowledge of them. At least none that I can remember,* Jolinar added.

Sam sighed, walking towards the door. *Any useful ideas at all?*

*Keep away from those creatures.*

'Brilliant!* Sam snorted. *I am going to go to level 23 and see what is going on.*

*Stop! Why?*

*If you must know, I remember noticing it being hotter on level 22, and I saw that creature emerge from the Colonel on level 23. I also saw them take Teal'c there, so something is going on down there.*

*I agree, but I believe it would be highly dangerous.*

*Goa'uld are cowards,* Sam observed, leaving the room. No one was in the corridor, and she set out in the direction of the elevator.

Jolinar made a mental, frustrated sigh. *If I truly took you as host against your will, I can understand your hostility. If you will not listen to me otherwise, then at least listen to this; find another weapon. I know from your memories that you have a few zat'nik'tels. They would be a better choice.*

*A bit less noisy, stun-capable, and it would be possible to disintegrate someone I don't want found. Point taken. I will see if I can get hold of one.*


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