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Daniel frowned, looking between the hatch to the access shaft and Lantash, who were again carrying the still unconscious Sam. “What about Sam? There’s no way we can carry her while climbing.”

“I can carry her,” Lantash insisted.

“Yeah, but not fast enough.” O’Neill frowned. “Maybe we could use ropes, or something...”

“Making a leverage system of ropes or something like that for lifting Samantha would take much too long. Go ahead of me, and I shall follow with her, as fast as possible. Go,” Lantash urged.

O’Neill nodded, somewhat reluctantly. “Okay.” He crawled through the hatch and was soon climbing the ladder in the access shaft.

Daniel followed, trying to crawl as fast as possible. After him came the rest of the SG team members, Janet, and then Siler.

While the others climbed through the hatch and began their ascent, Lantash put Sam down on the floor, and used a piece of rope to fashion a loop. He intended to tie it around Sam in order to minimize the risk of her falling, since he would need both of his hands for climbing the ladder.

“Go inside. I shall assist you in getting Samantha through.” Teal’c said, when everyone else was in the access shaft, and Lantash had lifted Sam up again.

Lantash nodded. “Thank you.” He let Teal’c take Sam, before he entered the access shaft.

Teal’c then pushed the unconscious Sam through the hatch, to Lantash. He managed to place her over his shoulder in such a way that she was balanced. With the rope looped around her - and some care - it would be possible for him to climb up the ladder with her, without dropping her.

When Lantash felt fairly certain Sam could not fall, he started climbing the rungs of the ladder as fast as he could, and was soon starting to catch up to Siler.

Teal’c climbed after him, intending to do his utmost to catch Sam, or otherwise assist Lantash, if it became necessary. Tok’ra seemed to have things under control, though.

They had almost reached the top, when they heard rumbling, and everything shook from the first explosions. The automated self-destruct was activating!

O’Neill and Daniel helped Lantash haul Sam up the last step, and he climbed out after her. The ground shook below them with several explosions, as Teal’s crawled out of the access shaft.

While all of them were now out in the lightly forested area, they could not feel safe yet. The explosions from the self-destruct would demolish much of the complex, and a good deal of the mountain as well. They needed to run, and fast.

“Which way to your Teltac?” O’Neill asked, knowing Martouf and Lantash had arrived in one, when they came to check on why the Tok’ra had not been able to contact the Tau’ri. The Stargate had been blocked for almost a week, by continuous dial-ins from Apophis.

“Follow me.”

Fortunately, the Teltac was hidden not far away, cloaked, and they reached it in very short time. Still, as they hurried inside, the ground under them trembled and shook, and chasms had started to open where explosions had caused parts of the mountain to cave in.

The Teltac took off mere moments later, which was not a second too soon, as an explosion caused that whole part of the mountain to crack open. There was now a large hole where the spaceship had been a moment ago.  

“Well, at least it looks as if the Goa’uld won’t get their hands on the Stargate,” O’Neill observed. “The whole mountain is breaking up and collapsing in on itself.”

“It is unlikely to cause damage to the chaapa’ai itself, though,” Lantash said. “Apophis will have his slaves - of which he will soon have a great many - hack and shovel away the stones and rubble until the chaapa’ai is accessible.”

“That’s... not exactly encouraging,” Daniel complained.

They were out of the atmosphere, and had passed the last ships in Apophis’s fleet undetected. Lantash set a course and took the ship into hyperspace, then turned to Teal’c. “Would you pilot the vessel, please. I need to examine Samantha.”

“Of course.” Teal’c took Lantash’s place, while the other man left for the back of the Teltac.

Janet sat beside Sam, when Lantash arrived. She had an unhappy look on her face, clearly not pleased that she was unable to help Sam. She most likely missed her infirmary, with her equipment and medicines.

Lantash nodded at her, then started explaining what he knew about the drug that was affecting Sam, while he took out his healing device and started scanning her with it.

Janet took Sam’s pulse, and felt her forehead. “There doesn’t seem to be any change.”

Lantash shook his head. “No, and that’s actually a good sign. More than 30 minutes has now passed, since she was exposed. Usually, at this point the condition of about half of those affected by this gas will have worsened. The fact that Samantha appears stable, means she is still fighting. That she still has a chance.”

He looked down at Sam, an expression of equal parts hope and despair crossing his features.

“Do you have a first-aid kit? I have cleaned her injuries with water and a clean cloth, but they really need to be bandaged as well,” Janet said.

“Yes, there should be a kit containing some of the same things that I have seen in your first-aid kits, somewhere. However, we usually use this.” He held up his healing device.

“Of course.” Janet nodded. “You’re going to use it on her?”

“Yes, I intend to heal her wounds. It should not take long.”


They both fell silent. Janet sighed, leaning back against the wall and observed Lantash, as he began working.

Lantash ran the healing device over Sam one more time, and finished healing the various minor injuries she had sustained in the fights against Jaffa earlier that day.

*I dearly hope Samantha survives.* Lantash caressed her cheek. *I do not know what to do if she dies.*

*She cannot die. We cannot lose her, Lantash!* Martouf replied, distressed.

*She is strong. There are no signs of her condition worsening.*

*And also none of her getting better.*

*Stop it! She will get better! Until then, we shall stay here by her side and do what little we can.* Lantash sighed, then ‘hugged’ Martouf. *We should attempt to focus on something else, or the next hours will be very hard.*

*Do you think it will help her if we gave her more of the ta’el shel’mel?*

Lantash considered it for a moment. *Maybe. It’s worth a try. Enough time has passed that it will at least not harm her, and it may strengthen her further.*

He took the small bottle from his bag, and gave Sam some more of the liquid, before settling back to wait, gently taking her hand in his.

Lantash and Martouf both thought back to what had happened over the last week.

There had been much activity among the Goa’uld after Sokar’s death, with several of them trying to grab as much of his territory as possible. Then, a little over a week ago, the Tok’ra had learned that Apophis had survived and were in control of Sokar’s fleet, as well as much of his domain.

That meant the Tok’ra had needed to send an operative to Apophis’s court immediately. After some deliberation, Palket had been chosen, since he had been undercover with Apophis before - in his previous host, so he would not easily be recognized.

Of course, that meant another operative had to be sent on the mission he were to have gone on otherwise. Since it was a potentially dangerous mission, an experienced operative was needed, and Selmak had volunteered.  

Jacob and Selmak were going to go to Earth, for a long-overdue vacation with Sam, one they had been looking forward to for some time. Now, they naturally worried Sam would become concerned when they did not show up, so Martouf and Lantash had promised to go and inform her of the changed plans, apologize, and promise the vacation would happen. Later.

Six days ago, when Jacob and Selmak had just left on their mission, Martouf/Lantash had picked up one of the GDOs the Tok’ra had received from Stargate Command, and then gone to dial the address to Earth.

Martouf had been unable to establish a connection, and, thinking perhaps he had just happened to hit on a time when someone was arriving at Stargate Command, he had thought little of it, and decided to try again a couple hours later.

The result had been the same. Now, somewhat worried, he had decided to try again once every three hours, which he had done for the rest of the day.

He had then contacted the Tok’ra Council, who were less concerned, thinking it was probably some temporary issue. The Tau’ri Stargate, with its home-made dialling device, was considered somewhat less stable and trustworthy than the other ones.

So, Martouf and Lantash had waited, and tried again the next day. When several more attempts had yielded no result, they had again gone to the Tok’ra Council and now asked to be allowed to use one of the Teltacs, to go and check on the Tau’ri.

After a lengthy meeting, the Council had given their permission, and Martouf/Lantash had left to pick up the Teltac located nearest to Earth.

The vessel was damaged, and the Tok’ra had not yet had time to repair it, so it could not fly at full speed. Thus, Martouf/Lantash had only just arrived on Earth a few hours ago.

The Teltac did have one advantage, though. It had a cloak. This meant that they had not been discovered when they passed Apophis’s fleet, and flew down to land on Cheyenne Mountain.

They had not been able to enter through the main entrance, as a large contingent of Jaffa was there. They had obviously penetrated the defences of Stargate Command, but the question was; had they captured or killed everyone, or were there still some who were free?

Martouf and Lantash had debated what to do for some time, before making a decision. They had remembered that Sam had told them of how she escaped through an access shaft during a recent foothold situation, and they had decided they would try to find a way into Stargate Command, to see if there was still anyone there they could help.

After searching for some time, they had found a hatch with an electronic lock. Using their zat’nik’tel, they had overloaded the lock, and soon they had been looking down into a deep, dark shaft. A long ladder ran all the way to the bottom, with access hatches on each floor.

It had not taken them long to climb down, but when they had reached the bottom, they found that the door and part of the wall had been partially pushed in, probably by an explosion. Rubble could be seen through a crack, and it was clear there was no open corridor on the other side.

They had climbed up two floors, to be fairly certain there would be open corridor on the other side of the hatch - which they had found closed and bolted, as expected. They needed some way to either melt through the bolts, or force them open.

Lantash had tried if it was possible to wrench it open from the outside. He had failed, of course, and only succeeded in causing a screeching noise - at the same moment as he had felt an energy signature on the other side of the hatch.

Cursing under his breath, he had climbed up a few steps and then waited to see if anyone had heard him, his zat’nik’tel ready.

It had not taken long before he heard the bolts being forced aside, and the hatch opened. He had been about to fire, when he recognized the big Jaffa who had stuck his head through, and now pointed at him with a Tau’ri weapon - an M5.

Teal’c, Daniel, and O’Neill had been very surprised to see Martouf/Lantash, and he had explained to them that he was there since the Tok’ra had become concerned, when they could not contact them.

As pleased as they had been to see him, they had still been unhappy the Tok’ra had only sent him. They had then gone on to explain that Sam had left to try and reprogram - and activate - the base’s self-destruct, while they would try to find some important data tablets, and the Tollan communicator so they could contact the Tok’ra.

They had just successfully located what they had been searching for when they met Martouf/Lantash. They had been on the way to the room where they would meet Sam a short time later. Martouf and Lantash had accompanied them there, and they had been there less than 10 minutes, when Sam showed up - and immediately fainted from the poisonous gas Apophis had just released.

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