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Martouf almost jumped when Sam suddenly spoke.

“Martouf? Lantash?” She coughed.

He hurriedly grabbed a water canteen he had fetched earlier. “Here, drink some water.” He helped her to sit up a little and held the water canteen to her mouth.

Sam swallowed several mouthfuls of water, then lay down again. She groaned softly and closed her eyes. “Damn, my head hurts!”

Martouf almost grinned from the relief, but managed to stop himself from doing so. Sam would probably not react well to such a reaction at a time like this. “It is a normal after effect from the Kek’Shree’ac. It will pass.”

Sam frowned. “Kek’Shree’ac... what’s that?”

“A poisonous gas released by Apophis,” Martouf said. “How are you feeling otherwise?” He took out his healing device and began scanning her with it.

“Like crap.” Sam sighed, trying to concentrate on giving him a more useful answer. “Well, my head hurts - worse than any hangover I’ve ever had. I’m nauseous... and my entire body hurts. Oh, and I have stomach cramps.”

Martouf nodded. “All normal symptoms, which will disappear in time. You will survive.” He smiled warmly at her.

“When did you arrive, and what are you doing here? Did the Tok’ra send you because my team contacted them?”

Martouf grinned. “No, you have not been unconscious for that long.” He looked over at the time strip. “Only for about an hour and a half, actually. When we could not contact your people, Lantash and I came to investigate, and learned of the attack. We made our way down into your Stargate Command, where we met your team.”

“I see. We’re on a spaceship?”

“Yes, we’re currently travelling in the Teltac Lantash and I arrived in, having escaped from Apophis.” He frowned, “Samantha, we also carry a message from your father. He and Selmak had to go on an important mission, so they are unable to go on... vacation with you, but they wanted me to assure you it would happen another time. Thought, I fear these plans may have to be revised.”

Sam snorted. “Yeah... I’m sure they’ll have to be revised.” She coughed again, then made a low moan. “How long until this damned headache lets up? It’s by far the worst of the symptoms!”

Martouf hesitated. “I will not lie to you - aftereffects of this gas may linger for as long as two weeks, however, they will quickly decrease in severity. Also, since you awoke much faster than normal, for a human, I expect the symptoms to disappear quicker as well. For now, you should rest. It will help you get well faster. Do you want more to drink?”

Sam groaned. “Two weeks!” She then nodded slowly. “Yeah, I think I’d like some water.”

Martouf helped her to drink from the water canteen, and put it down just as Janet entered.

She had left a short time ago, and now returned, hurrying to Sam’s side when she realized Sam was awake. “How do you feel?”

Sam repeated to Janet what she had told Martouf earlier, before settling back to try and get some sleep. It would be many more hours before they reached their destination.

It was late evening, when they finally arrived at the Tok’ra base. They had landed the Teltac on the nearest safe world with a Stargate, then gated to the Tok’ra base Martouf and Lantash were stationed at.

Sam had been examined by the Tok’ra healers - overseen by Janet - and she had been given a room at the base. The healers had prescribed a foul-tasting medicine for her, which she should take once every six hours, and told her to rest.

The other refugees from Stargate Command had left for the Alpha Site. Hopefully, the people there were fine, and Sokar had not attacked them. In any case, they had to be warned, and the base moved, before Sokar - somehow -  found the address for it.

Janet had wavered between staying with Sam to keep an eye on her, or going with the others to the Alpha site, but had eventually decided to accompany them, in case her assistance was needed. Sam was already doing much better, and there were Tok’ra healers who could treat her better than Janet, since they had prior knowledge of the gas that had poisoned Sam.

If all was well at the Alpha site, then the Tau’ri refugees would stay and help move the base, otherwise, they would be coming back quickly. In any case, someone would make sure Sam and the Tok’ra were kept informed.

Sam had taken a long bath in one of the Tok’ra pools, and managed to eat a little. She felt stronger, but still not well. The nasty drug the healers had given her kept the head-ache in check, so she would at least be able to sleep. She looked very much looked forward to that.

She was standing, lost, in the middle of a corridor which she had been certain would lead to her room, when suddenly Martouf turned the corner and greeted her.



“I apologize for leaving you to yourself for the entire evening, but the Council wished for an update on the situation on the Tau’ri.”

Sam nodded. “It’s okay, Martouf, I had assumed they would. I’m just glad they didn’t insist on talking to me also. I don’t feel like doing much of anything except sleeping. I’m actually on my way to my room, right now.”  

“Of course. I shall not uphold you for long. How are you feeling?” He looked at her with concern, obviously noting how tired she looked.

“Tired, and a bit under the weather, but much better than before. This...” She held up a small bottle containing the medicine she had gotten from the Tok’ra healers. “Is pretty effective. I just wish it didn’t taste so bad.” She made a face.

Martouf grinned. “Unfortunately, making their medicines taste good has never been as important to the healers as it is to everyone else.”

“Mm, that seems to be a universal truth.” Sam smiled a little, feeling better.

“Samantha, one of your warriors - Major Coburn - was here for a short time, bringing news of your people at the Alpha site. It has not been attacked, and they are safe.”

“Thank you, that’s a relief! So my team is staying with them for now?”

“Affirmative. They will help to move the base, and would return to meet you here in a few weeks.” He frowned. “Does it truly take that long to move one of your bases?”

“Um, yeah, I guess, if they want to bring everything. You know we don’t have tunnel crystals like you guys. The buildings have to be disassembled, moved, and reassembled.”

“It is very dangerous. You must be able to move in hours, at most, if you are to escape Goa’uld attacks. Perhaps something can be arranged... maybe you can get some tunnel crystals from us. We should raise this issue with the Council.”

Sam thought it over. “I’m not sure how happy some people would be about that... staying in Tok’ra tunnels, I mean. However... I agree with you. It might be safer.” She yawned. “Sorry.

“Forgive me, Samantha. You are tired. We can discuss this later, when you have rested. May I accompany you to the quarters you’ve been assigned?”

“Sure, I’d like that... um, actually... I seems to have gotten lost. Do you know where they put me?”

“Yes, come this way,” Martouf said. He put his hand on the small of her back, and lead her down the tunnel.

Martouf stopped outside a doorway. “These are your quarters. There is a bathroom with a small personal pool, if you prefer to bathe in private. Some clothing has been brought to your room, and there should be various toiletries. If there is anything else you need, my quarters are not far away. They are the last ones on the left in this tunnel.”

“Thanks, Martouf.” She suddenly smiled. “Janet told me what you did - how you carried me, even up the ladder in the access shaft! I can’t even begin to understand how anyone could do something like that!” She shook her head.

Martouf smiled, pleased, his expression becoming slightly arrogant. “Tok’ra are quite strong.”

Sam nodded. “Clearly... I’d never have gotten out if it wasn’t for you and Lantash.” She took his hand. “You... saved my life. Thank you.”

He looked very serious. “I am deeply grateful I was successful - and that you survived the exposure to the Kek’Shree’ac.”

She looked down at their hands, still joined, and suddenly remembered. “You were holding my hand when I woke up... on the ship.”

“Yes.” He looked unsure. “You disapprove?”

“No, no, not at all. It reminded me of when we were waiting for my dad to wake up. When Selmak was healing him, that time in the tunnels.” She smiled. “I think it was, um, you know, cute.” She blushed a little. “I felt like, well, like you were watching over me.” She shook her head. “I know how stupid I sound. I should go to bed.”

“Samantha, nothing you say is ever stupid.” Martouf hesitated, then raised a hand to her cheek, caressing it gently. “You are more precious to Lantash and I than you can ever now. The thought of anything happening to you is... terrifying to us. We... have become very fond of you.”

“Martouf...” She looked up at him, her cheeks colouring again. “I... um, thank you. I... well, I’m fond of you too.”

He looked at her for a moment, seemingly considering something, then bowed his head, giving Lantash control.

“Samantha.” He took both her hands and pulled her closer, looking intently into her eyes.

They stood like that for a few moments, just gazing at each other. Hesitantly, he leaned in to kiss her, stopping just before reaching her mouth. When she did not pull back, he closed the gap and gently touched his lips to hers.

The kiss was soft and undemanding. Sam closed her eyes and lost herself in it, for a short time forgetting all that had happened in the last few days. They both decided to deepen the kiss, and for a few moments it became more passionate, before Lantash drew back, with obvious difficulties.

“Lantash?” Sam looked at him, questioningly.

He gazed at her, an expression of desire - and regret - on his face. “I apologize for forgetting myself, Samantha. As Martouf has pointed out to me, you need to rest and regain your strength. You must allow your body the time to neutralize the last of the poison. When you are well... if you are willing, then... Martouf and I would like to... continue this.”

Sam nodded, smiling softly at him. “I would like that. A lot.”

“Then we shall look forward to it. Goodnight, Samantha.” Looking very relieved, he gave her a quick kiss, before leaving to go to his own quarters.

“Goodnight, Lantash and Martouf.”

She went into her quarters, and steered directly to the bed. She really was very tired, and she could feel a mild headache, despite the medication. Still, part of her wished she could have spent more time with Martouf and Lantash. Soon, she would, she promised herself.

Lying down on the bed, her thoughts went to her team, to Janet - and to the SGC and Earth. How had it come to this? They had been threatened before, had suffered setbacks before, but they had always eventually prevailed. Now the SGC had fallen... Earth had fallen.

What could those few who got away do? Was there even still anything they could do to take back Earth, or had they failed, completely, permanently?

Those thoughts only brought despair, and after some time, during which her mood became darker, and she grew more and more depressed, Sam forced herself to stop that line of thought. Yes, it all looked pretty bleak right now, but realistically, she was reasonably certain Earth would eventually be free. Humans had rebelled before, and they could do so again. At least she hoped so.

However, it might be a long time before that happened. Until then, what could she and the other refugees do to help? How many were they?

She tried counting it... from the SGC... 4 teams, and Siler, and Janet. That was 18 people. How many had been at the Alpha site? With those currently stationed there, and the extra that had been sent there before the dial-ins from the Goa’uld started... she estimated about 350, maybe as many as 400.

Not too bad, but they would soon run out of supplies, and it was barely enough people for a viable colony. The Tok’ra would help them, she hoped, but even then... it was obvious they could not fight Apophis directly. Their only hopes were to try and find powerful weapons - or powerful allies.

Sam snorted. Allies! Yeah, right! She remembered the reaction from the Tollan when Stargate Command had asked for advanced technology. Then there were the Nox, who were pacifists and just wanted everyone to get along. And the Asgard, who were far away, and who had not seemed inclined to help before.

No, the Tok’ra were the best bet for a more technologically advanced ally. They did not seem to mind sharing their technology - to a certain degree, at least - but they had limited resources, and were more than a little paranoid. With good reason, of course. However, the refugees from Earth had nothing to offer in return now, not even intelligence. Well, nothing except a limited amount of manpower, a willingness to take on the more confrontational missions, and - possibly - hosts.

Would anyone agree to that? Could they simply join the Tok’ra and fight the Goa’uld that way?

She doubted very many, if any, would be willing to do that. That might change, of course - with little medical technology otherwise easily treatable wounds and illnesses would be fatal and might convince some to become a host in order to live.

She sighed. Would she agree to become a host? She gave it some more thought. Could she do that again, after Jolinar? She had thought the answer was no, but now, when things were the way they were, she was not so sure that was still the case. As a host, she might fight for Earth’s freedom for a much longer time, might even live long enough to see the day when her planet was again free.

There was something else. Martouf and Lantash. Did she want a relationship with them? Possibly. Likely. If she did not become a host, she would die of old age, while Martouf would be as young as he was today. That, in itself, might be reason enough to become Tok’ra. To live longer, with Martouf and Lantash.

She sighed again. She was so terribly tired, and the headache was getting worse. There would be time enough to think about this later.

For now, she would sleep - and hopefully dream of a free Earth.


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