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Fanfic, Reflections, 8/18

Chapter 8: The Human Slave
Chapter summary: While exploring the city and looking for clues to what has happened, SG-1 and Martouf/Lantash come across an old man, now a slave.
Chapter rating: PG-13
Chapter warnings: None



It was some hours past noon the next day, when SG-1 and Lantash ventured out into the city again. The vast majority of the population was out working in the fields and other places around the city, so only small children and visitors - and a few traders - were about.

They strolled around to see what they could learn, with Lantash pretending to study the area for opportunities. Everywhere they went, flocks of small children fled, but hid behind whatever they could find and looked curiously after them.

"I don't think they get many visitors here - at least not Goa'uld and their followers, or others dressed like we are." Sam noted.

"No, I agree. We are also unlikely to learn much in this part of the city. We should avoid raising suspicion and return to the more affluent parts." Lantash observed.

"Could we take a look at that...sculpture, first? The large monument over there?" Daniel pointed. "It could have some information about what happened here."

"OK, but let's be quick about it." O'Neill said.

They walked to the monument, which consisted of several large slabs of stone, all with inscriptions, and some with drawings. As they came nearer, they saw the writing was in both Goa'uld and English.

There were projectors mounted around them, to ensure they could be seen and read at all times, so it must be considered important. No one else was around, so they could study it freely and talk amongst themselves without fear.

"Wow, it looks like some sort of historic summary!" Daniel looked surprised, and delighted. He began to look it over. "Ah...it's a reminder to the population. See?"

"Yes." Lantash said, studying it as well. "It contains the dates the Tau'ri 'misbehaved' and did something or other that was not to Ra's liking. Either the fought back against Goa'uld scouting parties or rebelled against the taking of slaves and hosts. It also proclaims how Ra finally had enough of this 'straying from the path' and made sure the Tau'ri were 'returned to safety'." He scoffed.

"It does mention a 'rebellion against the rightful removal of slaves for the use of the Gods'." Daniel said. "It happened...ten years ago? Is that correct?" He looked to Lantash.

"It says so, yes."

"Could all of this really have happened so fast?" O'Neill indicated the city and the ruins in it.

"Apparently..." Sam looked shocked as well.

"It would seem the Goa'uld continued to send Jaffa to gather slaves from the world of the Tau'ri regularly, up through the centuries, right until the time Ra returned." Lantash said. "The Tau'ri eventually rebelled openly against this continuous return for slaves. Most puzzling."

"Puzzling? Why wouldn't they get angry about that?" O'Neill exclaimed.

"That's not what I meant!" Lantash sounded annoyed. "Only that there should have been no - major - capturing of slaves in the last 2000 years."

"That's true. We know it happened now and then, but it was never widespread and probably not even noticed outside of the local area. Basically, it was just a Goa'uld grabbing a small group of people - and rarely at that. There wasn't anything to rebel about."

"Exactly. Egeria stopped it, more than 2000 years ago. It was before she truly became Tok'ra, at least officially - and before any of her Tok'ra children were born."

"Really? How did she stop it?" Daniel asked, curiously.

"Before she became Tok'ra, she was one of Ra's queens. After Hathor had been...shall we say, 'imprisoned'...she became his favourite for a short period. Egeria used Ra's infatuation to convince him to stop the slave-raids on Earth, something she had begun to feel was repulsive and wrong. He even agreed to make it illegal for others."

"How did he ever agree to something like that?" Sam looked disbelieving.

"Well, she...conditioned him slowly to the idea. A few whispered words in his ear now and then, making him think it was his idea. That he wanted to stop the other Goa'uld from getting more slaves from Earth. That it was a disadvantage for his slave-trade and an encroachment upon his rights that the other Goa'uld could raid Earth for slaves. He eventually agreed to it." Lantash explained. "Later, she rebelled against Ra and the other Goa'uld, and for a while she fought together with my Jolinar against the Goa'uld. They were very powerful - for some time - and among other things they enforced the blockade, stopping anyone from getting slaves from Earth. By the time the early Tok'ra were on the run, the slave-runs had long since stopped. While the Goa'uld would sometimes go there and capture a few slaves, the real attacks never started up again. It was one of the things our undercover agents always worked to ensure - keeping the Goa'uld feuding and luring them into believing it would be to their advantage if no one got hold of many extra slaves and used them to tip the balance. Eventually, the Goa'uld rarely thought aof the Tau'ri."

"Great!" O'Neill actually looked impressed. "I didn't know you guys had done that! Now, why didn't the Tok'ra here do that?"

Lantash frowned. "I don't know. There are several possible answers, of course..."

"Such as?"

He sighed. "Other matters could have taken their time. Maybe Egeria didn't succeed in convincing Ra in the first place. Maybe she and Jolinar were never powerful enough - military - to do anything..."

"Or maybe they just couldn't care less?"

"Unlikely." Lantash suddenly bowed his head and gave Martouf control. He looked concerned.

"There are also other possible explanations. Some more troubling than others. Maybe Egeria was not Tok'ra here...or she was killed before she could do anything."

"I didn't think you were allowed to speak - publicly, at least." O'Neill commented.

"It's dangerous for me to be in control here, yes." Martouf agreed. "Someone might notice it is me and not Lantash in control, and wonder..."

Martouf quickly dipped his head and Lantash soon looked up.

"Let's hope neither of Martouf's suggestions are the correct one. We'll be in significant trouble if it is."

"What do you mean?" Sam wondered.

"Well, obviously there are something different here - many things, actually, and they all seem to be different in an unfortunate way. A lot of things could be explained by the complete absense of Tok'ra. For instance, why the Goa'uld seem to be even worse here than they are at home."

"You're taking a lot of credit there! So you're the reason our reality isn't even more snake-infested than it is - and with nastier Goa'uld!" O'Neill snorted.

"How else do you explain it, human?" Lantash looked angry. "I realise we do not know this with certainty, but we do know Egeria obviously did not stop Ra from taking slaves from the Tau'ri in this version!"

"Listen, guys! Relax! We can't learn anything more here, so why don't we just go to Ra's capital or whatever and see if we can find someone with more information, there!" Sam said, irritated.

"It's really too bad we can't just ask someone for the information. It would be so much easier!" Daniel complained.

All of a sudden, Teal'c turned around and crashed through a bush. They heard a yelp before their Jaffa friend appeared again, dragging an old man, wearing rags.

"He was listening."

"I didn't hear a thing! I swear!" The man threw Lantash a terrified look. "I just happened to be passing by..."

"If that were the case, I would have heard you before you reached us. The ground is covered with gravel. No, you must have been hiding behind that bush the whole time, hoping we would leave before you had to move..." Lantash said.

"Please! Good Lord, have mercy on a poor old fool!" He threw himself before Lantash's feet. "I have three grandchildren I have to feed, since my son was killed in the mines and..."

Lantash looked down at him with an unhappy expression on his face. "Get up!" He ordered. "Leave us!"

"...and do not ever mention this!" Teal'c added. "If you so much as think of mentioning anything you may have heard....my Lord's wrath will reach you across the universe!"

"Of course." The man said, slowly getting up. He looked very surprised to be allowed to live. "I heard nothing, so I will tell nothing..."

"Cut the crap!" O'Neill said angrily. "All of you!" He looked at Lantash and Teal'c. "If he heard anything we've said, we can't let him go. He can't seriously believe you're a Goa'uld Lord, Lantash! No offense, but you do a pretty lousy job of it!"

"None taken. Quite on the contrary, though in this situation..." He frowned.

"What do you suggest we do with him?" Teal'c wondered.

"Please, good sir's...and madam...it's none of my business who or what you are. I see you are fine people, high above my position." He made as if to leave.

Teal'c stepped in front of him, making the man recoil.

"If he knows about us anyway, why don't we take the opportunity and ask him what's happened?" Daniel suggested.

"Yeah...that's actually a good idea." Sam turned to the man. "Do you know somewhere we can go to talk...somewhere no one would hear us?"

"They say Ra can hear you everywhere!"

"Surely, you don't believe that!" O'Neill scoffed.

The old man seemed to think it over. He gave first Lantash, then Teal'c, a worried look.

"No...but many do."

"It's a lie." Lantash offered.

The man still did not seem completely sure, but eventually nodded slowly. "OK...follow me, then."

He nervously took them to a nearby park, which had clearly not been tended to for many years. The grass was high and the trees and bushes grew wild. If it had not been for a crumbling wall around that area, they might have taken it for a patch of forest, encroaching upon the city.

They followed the man along a partially overgrown track to a small pavilion. Inside, it smelled dank and mouldy, and it was semi-dark as only a little light filtered through the many leaves and vines growing around it. However, it was obvious it had once been very beautiful.

"I assure you, no one will hear us here. I used to come here with my wife, and dream about the past, before the Goa'uld came."

"That happened 10 years ago?" Sam asked.

"Yes, but surely you must know this?" He looked at her with puzzlement.

"No, we did not know that until very recently. Please, you must understand, that whatever is mentioned here, you can never tell anyone..." Lantash began.

"I'll handle this." O'Neill said, obviously not looking forward to it.

"Yes...sir." Lantash said, stepping back.

The old man looked shocked at this.

"My Lord?! Why?"

"He's no Lord - or god, or whatever. Neither are any of the Goa'uld."

"I am Tok'ra. Do you know what that is?" Lantash asked, curious - and hopeful.

O'Neill sent him a warning look and he shut up, though he looked somewhat rebellious.

"No, my Lor...no, sir. I don't." The man answered.

-----
After some discussion, the old man relaxed enough that he could tell them what he knew. They learned there had been regular - and usually not even secret - raids for slaves. Sometimes a great many had been taken. Everyone had known about it for centuries. Known there were beings from other worlds who would sometimes arrive and capture people - people who were never to be seen again.

The numbers taken had never been large enough to endanger Earth's development, but as the populations grew larger, the raids came more frequently.

The aliens would sometimes be very bold and arrive in broad daylight, herding in the number of people they wanted, and then leave. It had been a common item on the news.

From time to time there had been small clashes between the military and the aliens, but the people of Earth had rarely been able to stop a raid. Sometimes prisoners had been taken - Jaffa. They had been interrogated. Tortured. Usually they had said very little, but the humans had learned something about their enemies from them.

Around 20 years ago, a decision had been made to fight back and try to stop the aliens. Even to go out there, among the stars and see what could be done. Perhaps some weapon could be found, that would give humanity an edge.

From the Jaffa, the Earthlings knew there was a Stargate on Antarctica, though the Jaffa regularly came by ship as well. Eventually humans had managed to find the Stargate, dig it out of the ice, and fetch it. By some strange coincidence, they had brought it to Cheyenne Mountain here as well. With the knowledge gained from the Jaffa, they had learned to activate it.

Many of the missions had been disastrous. The Goa'uld seemed to be everywhere. Some attempts had been made to attack them, but with very little success.

A number of years later, a Goa'uld who came to Earth for slaves, were attacked by a united Earth. The Goa'uld had only brought ground forces and small ships, and Earth was victorious. Now and then, that was repeated when the raiders came. 

This resistance had enraged Ra. He had suffered a fw losses in the clashes, and he was also the 'original owner' of Earth, and so it fell to him to ensure it was 'suitable' to harvest slaves on.

Lantash pointed out that it must also have made Ra look ridiculous among the other Goa'uld, if he could not keep this planet in order. Besides, Earth had a large population and it was likely profitable to sell her people as slaves.

Whatever the reason, Ra had sent a large fleet in order to punish the population of Earth, and to re-enslave the planet.

It had not taken long for the Supreme System Lord to conquer all off Earth's forces, raze many of the cities, and destroy the civilization. Many had died and more had been taken to other worlds.

Still, the population of Earth had been and was large, and the old man estimated between 2 and 3 billion people still lived there. They were forced to work hard and all of them belonged to Ra, as his slaves. It was a regular occurrence that some were rounded up and sold to whatever Goa'uld wanted more slaves. Those remaining were encouraged to breed.

It turned out their new friend had never even heard rumours of a resistance anywhere, and certainly knew nothing that could point to the Tok'ra having done anything. Of course, that was hardly surprising, as they preferred - and needed - to work in complete secrecy to not be found out by the Goa'uld.

All during the discussion, the old man kept sending Lantash strange looks. It was clear he found them all weird, but the 'Goa'uld' in particular, since it was obvious Lantash was one, but just as obvious he behaved nothing like them. In the end, the man gave them his word he would never tell anyone about this meeting, and they left, believing him.


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