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I awake from a confused dream, when the door is again slammed open. I think it is many hours later, but I cannot be sure. When I wake, I am bathed in sweat, and shivering - feverish. Like from an infection to one of my injuries, coupled with the shock and exhaustion.

"You are getting a cellmate, human!" The Jaffa laughs loudly. He pushes a young woman forward, hard, and she stumbles into the cell, falling just beside me.

The Jaffa leave behind a bucket of water, and what looks to be part of a loaf of bread, then leave.

I pull myself up a little, wincing at the pain. I really want to see who my new cellmate is, but more than anything, I want to get some water to drink.

I make it to the water bucket, and drink greedily, then turn to look at the other woman.

The newest arrival does not move, but just moans softly.

"Hey... how are you?" I ask, worried.

The other woman groans, but manages to turn over on her side, then roll further on to her back. I gasp as I see how badly injured she is. Her shirt is torn, and now fall aside, so I can see she has gashes and livid marks over much of her upper body. She has a bloody lip, and her left eye is so swollen it is almost completely shut.

I look past the injuries, and see it is a beautiful, young woman, perhaps a few years younger than me, with blond hair. The one eye that is not swollen shut, is blue, like my own. I am stricken by the fact that she actually resembles me... quite a lot.

Why would anyone... torture someone like her? Who is she? I wonder if she is from Stargate Command, but I do not recognize her. Is it just some poor soul who was at the wrong place at the wrong time and got captured? Punished for her bad luck? Or is she an agent, working against the Goa'uld?

Is she even from Earth?

"Ro... Rosha. My name is... Rosha." She takes a deep, wheezing breath, which cause her to cough. That does not sound good.

"I'm Samantha Carter, but people usually call me Sam," I tell her.

Rosha nods weakly. "Greetings." She closes her eyes again, and tries to find a more comfortable position.

That choice of words and her name make me suspect she is not from this planet, though I guess she could just be from another country. Why did I think Cronus only attacked the US? I wonder if one of the other countries has sent her, in an attempt to get some information.

"I'll get you some water."

I drag the bucket a little closer, then use the ladle that is in the bucket to scoop up water to Rosha, who drinks some of it.

"Thank you, Sa... Samantha."

"Just call me Sam, it's easier." I make a movement I should not have, and gasp as a stab of pain emanates from the area along my injured ribs.

"You are injured as well."

"No kidding, but not as badly as you. What happened? Why were you taken here?"

Rosha is quiet for so long, that I wonder if she has fallen asleep, or if she does not want to answer. "You are one of... the Tau'ri... who were behind... the attack. On Cronus."

Tau'ri? She is definitely not from Earth, then!

"Yes. I helped get the weapon we used to work."

Rosha smiles. "Cronus was furious. It was a joy... to see."

"You were near him when we shot down his ship?"

"Yes. Unfortunately, he... he was not on it. He was overseeing... a building being... converted to... a temporary palace for him. I would gladly... would gladly have died, if it... had only rid the Galaxy of him!"

I can hear the passion in Rosha's voice, and I do not for a moment doubt that she means it. One thing is certain; whomever she is, she is less afraid than I am. I wonder... is she an agent from some world that fights the Goa'uld? We have not met any, but that does not mean they do not exist. The others... in the other reality... they had met more advanced human cultures, and they had met the Tok'ra. Is this a Tok'ra? If so, why does she talk like a human?

"Well, I'm glad to hear we annoyed him! Too bad those sent to sabotage the other ship - this one, I guess - were captured before they could damage it."

"They were captured... but not... not until they set off one of their... bombs. The damage was minor, and will soon be fixed... but that buzzing you hear... from the light fixtures... it was caused by the explosion."

"Then that buzzing doesn't annoy me as much as it did before!" I grin. Thinking of the people on those SG teams, I grow serious again, and ask, nervously, "What happened to them?"

"Several of them... died in the explosion... but three... three were captured. In the confusion... just after your second attack... the one on this ship... Cronus's First Prime executed them. He was torturing them, but grew... angry, probably... desperate. Cronus... Cronus was furious... but he did not deem them... worthy of re...regeneration."

"I see." I shudder, horrified by what happened to those people. People I had met, who had been Jack's friends... I push the thought away, try to forget their destiny. At least they were not revived so they could be tortured again.

"He killed his First Prime. As punishment."

That pleases me somewhat. At least the one causing them to suffer had been killed.

We are both silent for a long time, the only sound the buzzing from the light fixtures, and the laboured breath of Rosha - and myself, unfortunately. I cannot take a deep breath without extreme pain, and coughing increases it exponentially. I know I have some blood or other fluid collecting in the bruised lung... and I know I need to cough it up, or I risk pneumonia.

My mind goes in circles. I think of Kawalsky, of the other SG teams and their fate, and of my own dark future. With an effort, I push those depressing thoughts aside. Suddenly, I remember something that had made me wonder before. "By the way, why were you with him? Cronus, I mean."

Rosha hesitates for a moment. Does she not want me to know? Then, apparently she decides there is nothing to be gained from hiding the truth. "I was pretending..." She suddenly coughs, and it is almost a minute before she can continue speaking. "Pretending to be a loyal... underling for Cronus... in order to gather..." She coughs again.

"Here, have some more water." I scoop up some, and help her to drink.

She drinks gratefully. "Thank you. As I... was saying. To gather... information."

"Really? For Cronus?"

"I was not gathering the... information... for him."

"Sorry. Of course..." I cough as well. "Of course not. I thought the Goa'uld only employed other Goa'uld as their... underlings!"

Another hesitation. "They do." She clear her voice. "I... we are..."

"Tok'ra!" I realize. I stare at her with wide eyes.

"Yes," Rosha admits. "I had not thought you had heard of us. We... had been undercover... for years. Me and Jolinar. Suddenly... today... we were discovered. I do not... know why."

"Jolinar! I've heard that name..."


"I'm not sure..." I think about it. It would be easier without all the pain. "Oh, god!" I exclaim, remembering where I know it from, and realizing what must have happened. "Was it Kawalsky... I mean, Lord Deimos who knew you were a Tok'ra?"

"Yes, he reported his suspicions to Cronus, shortly after taking his new Tau'ri host. I... or rather Jolinar, as she was the one in control... was immediately taken to Cronus. He had apparently suspected a Tok'ra sympathizer at his court, and now he was certain it was me. We were tortured... for hours."

"I'm afraid that's probably our fault - I mean, we knew there was a Tok'ra at Cronus's court, well, in the other reality - and in the past, but anyway... and when Deimos took over Kawalsky, he must have found that information and realized it was probably true here too. Suspected it, at least."

I feel horrible. The terrible torture she has been subjected to is our fault!

"How could you know of us? What other reality?"

I sigh, and take a drink of water before rolling over onto my back. The pain diminishes somewhat. I start to explain.

My head is pounding, and the fever is growing worse. I am alternately shivering and sweating. My leg and my ribs ache no matter what position I am lying in.

I had not talked to Jolinar, only to Rosha, but hours later, when the Jaffa came to take her - well, them I guess - back to be interrogated again, Jolinar took control.

I will admit I became shocked to hear the symbiote voice coming from Rosha's mouth, even though I knew what Jolinar was. I was even more shocked because I have only ever heard someone talk like that a couple times before - namely when Apophis attacked us. That brings back memories. Very bad memories.

Jolinar had clearly focused all her strength while they had been in the cell with me, and she had managed to heal some of the damage to Rosha. True, they were far from completely well, but they were a lot better. It is impressive, actually.

I am worried for them, worried for what Cronus would do to them.

I am also worried for what Cronus will do to me. Rosha has explained to me that the Goa'uld would sometimes torture you to death, and then heal and revive you in a sarcophagus, only to start over again.

Sometimes, instead, they would torture you, but not so badly that you died. They would let you recover some, naturally, but not completely. Then they would interrogate you again, torture you again - hoping you were weak enough you would talk. They almost never did that to anyone but Tok'ra or Goa'uld, though.

It is hours later when Rosha and Jolinar are returned to the cell. I think I have been unconscious for most of the time they have been gone. The fever is making it hard to focus.

I managed to force myself enough awake that I can see how my new friend is doing, though.

I am shocked when I see her. Rosha is worse, much worse. She and Jolinar has been tortured almost to death this time, and I doubt very much Jolinar can heal that much damage, despite how good healers the symbiotes seems to be.

"Rosha?" I ask, concerned.

"No... I am Jolinar. Rosha... is unconscious... and I... would rather she... stays that way. We are... in a lot... of pain." She coughs violently, and blood dribbles from her mouth.

"Jolinar," I say. "I... um... I'm sorry. About what happened... to you."

Jolinar makes a sound, somewhere between a cough and a snort. "It is not... your fault. You could not... have known. Only... only the Goa'uld..." she took a deep, rattling breath. "The Goa'uld... are to blame."

"I understand. Thanks." I close my eyes. I am having a hard time keeping them open.

The room has begun to feel like it is spinning, and I am feeling hotter than I ever have before - even that one time I had a really bad flu as a kid. I cough weakly, the pain from my ribs and damaged lung is now so bad that I can only take shallow breaths. Carefully.

Jolinar is quiet for a very long time, presumably doing her best to heal her host and herself - or maybe she has become unconscious. Suddenly Rosha speaks, startling me.


"Yes?" I say.

"Jolinar... cannot heal me. She... can only... keep us alive... for a little... longer. She may... may be able... heal you. If you... allow it."

"Uhh..." I frown, not sure what she means. Maybe she is hallucinating? T I realize what she means. She is suggesting I become Jolinar's host! I feel my heart beat faster.

Yes, I know from what my other self has told me, that Jolinar is Tok'ra... and that the Tok'ra can be good allies. But to become the host of one of them? They are biologically Goa'uld - have even admitted they are the same, even if they claim to be different philosophically.

Of course, Rosha seems to love her symbiote, to trust her, and to believe in this fight against the Goa'uld as much as Jolinar presumably does. That last part I can agree with. I have lost lost almost everyone I have loved or cared for to the Goa'uld.

Still, I am not sure I can do something like this. I mean, I would be sharing my mind with someone else, with an alien.

"You... hesitate. Understand...ably. You need... not fear. She... is fierce, but kind... she will... protect her host... above all else. She... is my best friend. Please... I beg you..."

I consider the situation I am in - it is unlikely I will survive for much longer without any sort of medical treatment. Even if I do, Cronus will probably kill me. In fact, he probably will anyway - even if I become a host. Maybe especially if I becaoe a host. The Tok'ra are hated by the Goa'uld.

Which is actually a very good reason to help one of them, despite everything. Besides, I do believe they are different than the Goa'uld. If they were not, why would there even be a need to ask for my consent? She could just take me as her host. .

"I'm badly injured - and some of my injuries have become infected. I have a high fever..."

Rosha is quiet for a long time, then Jolinar speaks. "Rosha has become... unconscious again." She takes a deep breath. "It is true. I... may not be able... to heal you. I am weak."

"But there's a chance."

"Yes. But understand... if I succeed... it will be... many months... at least. Before I am strong... enough... to leave you. Then... we may be blended..."

"So this would be... permanent. Yes, I got that. I expected that. Cronus will probably kill us... before that matters."

Jolinar makes a half-snort, half-laugh. "Very... possible. Then... this is perhaps not... relevant... but... I have mates."

"Mates? You mean, uh, like a husband - eh, husbands?" I ask, somewhat confused.

"Yes. Tok'ra - host and symbiote. I will never give them up. So, I guess I should ask you if you have a mate?"

"I see. We'll, I no longer have anyone special, so... well, I'll wait until it's relevant before I make a decision on that. If we live that long."

Jolinar is quiet for a moment. "Agreed. Though since we will blend, I should tell you..." She coughs violently, and almost passes out. She spits out some blood. It takes a while before she is able to talk again. "We... should blend... im...mediately. There... is very... little time..."

"What... what should I do?" I suddenly feel terrified, but try to force myself to be calm.

"Can you... come closer? We blend... through the mouth."

I cry out from the pain when I roll over on my side, but I succeed. I scoot a little closer, and lean over Jolinar, opening my mouth. After a brief moment, Jolinar jumps into me, and I fall back, overwhelmed by a gagging sensation and pain in the back of my throat. Then all becomes black.

When I wake up, I am uncertain how long has passed - it might have been only moments, or it could have been hours. I am not even really sure if I am awake, or if I am dreaming.

I hear someone talking, but it is far away, and even if I concentrate, I can only just make out the words. Are there two people? Or is it three? They are talking together.

"The Tok'ra shol'vah is dead. Cronus will be pleased."

"Do we put her in the sarcophagus?"

"No, our lord wished her to be executed in this manner. We should merely dispose of the body."

"Can we be certain she did not escape to the other? Perhaps she took a new host?"

I feel someone turn me over on my side, and the pain in my ribs increased. I would have screamed, but I cannot even gasp... or move. I feel sluggish, as if my heart is barely pushing any blood around. The people talking beside me seems distant, dreamlike. I just wish they would leave, and let me sleep.

"No, there is no entry mark anywhere. Probably this one was too damaged. She appears dead as well."

"Good, then we can dispose of both of them at the same time. Lord Deimos informed me they had all the information they needed on the Tau'ri."

I feel myself being lift up and dragged, but soon everything fades around me and I lose consciousness again.

Chapter 4 >>

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