Title: Archaeology (Table of Contents)
Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize is mine. I gain nothing of material value from this.
Chapter 4: Shan'auc
21 September 2000; SGC; 1900 hrs
Normally, Jack made a point of staying as oblivious as possible to his team's romantic lives.
This usually was not much of a problem. Carter's crushes tended to be confused and on aliens who lived far, far away. Teal'c's wife was just as far away, in all practical terms, and Daniel...well, true, he was a healthy, teenaged male, but he also lived on a military base under pretty heavy scrutiny with people he'd known since he'd been fourteen. Jack decided to believe nothing untoward was happening there.
But then Shan'auc arrived, and...well.
Things became complicated.
Jack-the-Jaffa-disciple left Teal'c and Shan'auc making eyes at each other in the infirmary, and he went to seek out the rest of his team and see what they'd put together between their not-inconsiderable brains.
When he approached the office, Daniel and Carter were gathered around one desk, talking with Dr. Rothman, who sat at another. "I don't know," Carter was saying. "I believe she believes she's telling the truth. I just wouldn't put it past a Goa'uld to trick her into it."
"But isn't this kind of like what happened to the Tok'ra?" Rothman pointed out. "I mean, if you concede that all Goa'uld symbiotes aren't inherently evil..."
"Well," Daniel said, "still, look at how many Tok'ra there are and how many Goa'uld there are, and even then, we know there have been a couple of traitors within the ranks of the Tok'ra. Garshaw, Jolinar, and Cordesh are the only turned Goa'uld we've met personally, right, and out of those, Cordesh was a spy and Jolinar...well..." He glanced at Carter.
"In other words, their physiology is against them," she said, ignoring the remark about Jolinar. "We'd have to hope this one's personality and...and loyalty to Shan'auc is strong enough to overcome a lot of evil that's essentially written into its genetic code."
Daniel flipped through a few pages of whatever he was looking at. "Then again..." he said.
"Yeah," she said. "Then again, some have done it. I mean, Teal'c says Garshaw is famous for being a Goa'uld turncoat, and as far as anyone knows, she's completely loyal to the Tok'ra cause."
"I'd trust Garshaw as much as any other Tok'ra, turncoat or no," Daniel opined.
Carter nodded agreement. "Me, too."
"So the question is whether or not it's worth the risk," Rothman said. "Two out of three Goa'uld-turned-Tok'ra that we know of have gone bad."
"One out of three," she corrected, scowling at him.
"One and a half," Daniel said. "One and a part-time one out of three."
"Jolinar's ultimate intentions--"
Jack stepped in. "Decide fast," he said, "because Dr. Fraiser says Shan'auc's got another couple of days, tops. You find anything?"
Al three of them shook their heads. Daniel offered, "I asked Teal'c specifically, years ago, whether he could communicate with his prim'ta, and he said 'no.'"
"He sure doesn't believe her," Carter added.
"Well," Jack said, leaning forward on the desk, "there may be a little more than meets the eye, here. I'm thinking they got history."
"History?" Carter echoed dubiously.
Jack nodded. "Oh, yeah." Teal'c was a hundred years old, and his son was something like fourteen. That left a lot of time between Teal'c's joining Apophis and his meeting Drey'auc, and it made sense, especially given that Jack was pretty sure priestesses like Shan'auc weren't supposed to date. "There was some serious sparkage when she arrived."
"Sparkage?" Daniel repeated, looking confused and actually reaching for a dictionary. "What does that mean?"
"Old flames," Jack tried. "Carrying a torch...never heard those?"
"Can you not gossip about Teal'c's sex life in my office?" Rothman said, making a face.
"Oh," Daniel said, halting his dictionary search. "Wait, but Teal'c has a wife--"
"What did I just say?" Rothman said, throwing a crumpled ball of paper at Daniel's head and missing by a good half-foot. Daniel picked it back up and hit Rothman in the glasses.
"Okay," Carter said, holding up a hand for all geekish roughhousing to stop, "the question is...what if she's telling the truth? If we use the Tok'ra as an example, we know their species isn't automatically doomed to end up on the side of the System Lords. There's a real possibility, assuming that Shan'auc isn't being fooled."
Jack thought that was a pretty big assumption to make. He didn't even trust the Tok'ra not to try to fool them, and they weren't System Lord spawn communicating in images and feelings to their Jaffa surrogate mother. "And if she's not telling the truth?" Jack said. "Then we'll have offered up an innocent human to be a Goa'uld host. Besides, the Tok'ra have genetic memory, too--how much are we actually going to get out of this?"
"Actually, sir," Carter said, "most of the Tok'ra left the Goa'uld gene pool thousands of years ago. Shan'auc's symbiote could probably tell us a lot about what the Goa'uld have learned in that time, which makes it a very valuable source of information."
"I think we need to consult the Tok'ra," Daniel said.
"Nuh-uh," Jack said immediately, because he'd had quite enough of the Tok'ra lately. Then, because the others were looking at him and he felt like he should say something that sounded logical, he added, "Besides, if we don't know whether or not she's lying, we can't risk another spy getting into the Tok'ra's ranks."
Daniel fingers tapped the top of his desk. "I just think...if we knew a little more about the Tok'ra, and how their movement was started or...or how they've been recruiting people..."
"Might as well get an expert opinion," Rothman summarized.
"Teal'c's an expert," Jack said flatly. "If Teal'c doesn't buy it, then I don't buy it, and there's no way of proving it, so what are you gonna do?"
Just then, Teal'c appeared in the doorway. "O'Neill," he said.
"Master Teal'c," Jack replied as snidely as he could. True, Shan'auc and maybe Bra'tac had been the ones to call him Teal'c's disciple; still, he couldn't help wondering if this was still some sort of payback for shutting Teal'c out during that whole Atanik thing. Teal'c certainly seemed smug enough about it.
By now, though, he'd lost all trace of smugness as he said, "I am in need of your assistance."
Jack spread a hand before himself. "I am here to serve."
Not acknowledging the quip, Teal'c continued, "Daniel Jackson, Major Carter, I am in need of your assistance also."
Rothman looked at Teal'c, but nothing was forthcoming, so he shrugged and buried himself back in his work. Daniel and Carter exchanged puzzled glances, then followed Teal'c out of the office. "Is she telling the truth?" Daniel said, walking quickly to catch up to Teal'c.
"There may be a way to determine that," Teal'c said.
Looking interested, Carter moved to catch up as well, leaving Jack at the back. "I'm not sure I understand," she said. "I know Janet's tried monitoring your symbiote's neural signals before, but we've never been able to interpret it."
"I do not intend to use Dr. Fraiser's methods," Teal'c said. "There may be another way to find our answer."
"Do you trust her?" Daniel said. "Shan'auc."
"She has spent her life as a priestess of Apophis," Teal'c answered.
"Well," Carter said tentatively, "you spent your life as a warrior of Apophis." Teal'c gave her a dark look.
"We're just asking whether it's possible that she feels the same way as you," Daniel pressed. "Do you trust her as a person?"
Teal'c was silent as they walked down the hallway toward his quarters. "I am uncertain," he finally said, and walked in.
Jack pushed the door closed behind himself once they'd all filed in, and he leaned back against the wall as Teal'c began lighting candles and placing them to form some complex design. When it became clear it was going to take a while, Daniel grabbed one of the lit candles and helped, filling in the rest of some pattern that he seemed to know. Carter was watching in interest, actually rising to her toes as if to look down at the candles and see exactly what the pattern was.
"Huh," she said thoughtfully. "That's a...a fractal of some sort, isn't it?"
Teal'c didn't pause or look up. Daniel did but looked puzzled. "It's a focusing aid. Similar patterns are found in some Tau'ri religions, too, for ritual purposes. We haven't determined whether it's an example of cross-pollination between human and Jaffa spirituality or simply drawn from a common way of thinking."
"Well, geometry could be common to both," Carter said, looking carefully at the pattern of dripping candles, "as well as practical patterns found in nature."
"Careful, Major," Jack warned as she nearly stepped backward onto one of Teal'c's candles. "Let's hypothesize later, huh?"
So they both quieted, though Carter now bent to help them fill in a few spots where she'd picked up the design. Finally, she and Daniel both stepped back out of the way and Teal'c lowered himself to a seat among the candles.
"In the deepest levels of kelno'reem," Teal'c said, staring somewhere near the center of the fiery geometric pattern, "the heart beats in extremely long intervals. It is even possible to meditate so deeply that one may stop the heart altogether. The practice is forbidden."
"Wouldn't your symbiote try to start it up again?" Carter said.
"That is correct. According to Shan'auc, it is only at this time that a communion between Jaffa and symbiote is possible."
Now, this was part of what was bothering Jack. How wise was it, really, for a Jaffa to try to commune with the snake in his stomach? As far as they knew, the only way for a person to communicate with a symbiote was to have one in his or her head, and that was always a bad idea. How much control did one have while in contact with the Goa'uld, a species that practically survived on mind control?
"Like a near-death experience," Carter was saying.
Jack saw Daniel grimace very slightly, but he remained quiet. Not moving, Teal'c said calmly, "That is correct."
"Is it dangerous?" Jack said.
Daniel frowned at him in the dim light. "Jack, he's going to be near death."
Returning the annoyed look--he wasn't an idiot--Jack clarified, "I mean for us."
Sure enough, Teal'c acknowledged, "I am unsure of what will occur if and when communion with my symbiote is achieved. It may be necessary to restrain me."
Jack wondered whether it was actually possible for the three of them to restrain a Teal'c at full fury. He suspected it wasn't. Maybe it would help that it would be a Teal'c whose heart hadn't been beating for a while. "Well," he said reluctantly, "knock yourself out." Literally.
Teal'c stared a moment longer at the candles arrayed around them, then took a deep breath and shut his eyes. As soon as he did, Jack gestured for Carter and Daniel to take up position at either side of the door while Jack stood guard between them. Both of them obeyed, though Carter looked like she still had more than a few reservations about the wisdom of this exercise, while Daniel looked like he wasn't sure whether to be intrigued or freaked.
For the first minute, Jack was professionally watchful and on guard.
And then it was just boring, so he was admittedly glad when Teal'c gasped and opened his eyes.
"I believe I saw a vision of my father," Teal'c said, sounding as stunned as Jack had ever heard him.
"It's working?" Daniel said in fascination.
Instead of answering directly, Teal'c closed his eyes. "I will begin again."
So they began to wait again.
It was supposed to be impossible--Carter and Fraiser had said so, and so had Teal'c. Still, now Teal'c was saying he'd seen something, and there was a lot they'd thought was impossible until the last few years. But what the hell were they doing, trying to talk sense into Goa'uld spawn? For crying out loud, Shan'auc was calling it her child. If that wasn't a lack of objectivity, Jack didn't know what was.
Teal'c stiffened where he sat, his hands clenching hard into fists so tight they were trembling. Daniel leaned forward. "Teal'c?"
No answer. Teal'c grimaced, and his back arched slightly.
"Teal'c," Jack said sharply, snapping his fingers. "Wake up!"
With a sound like a man choking on his last breath, Teal'c's body went limp and collapsed.
Jack stepped over a row of candles and crouched at Teal'c's side, aware of Daniel on the other side helping him pull their friend onto his back. Carter's voice was snapping into a telephone, "Medical emergency, Teal'c's quarters!"
But then Teal'c took a sharp breath and said, "That will not be necessary, Major Carter."
"Belay that order and stand by," Carter amended.
"Let's get him up," Jack said, and he and Daniel together managed to haul Teal'c back into a mostly-upright position. Teal'c was...shaky, which was an adjective Jack hadn't expected ever to have to use with his Jaffa. Then again, that thing with the heart stopping... "What happened?"
Teal'c took a long, slow breath. "I have received a vision from my symbiote. It was a memory it chose to share. Its hatred for me is great."
"Then it's possible," Carter said. "Shan'auc could be telling the truth."
"Yes," Teal'c said, almost smiling. "Yes. I must speak with her."
"We need to talk to the Tok'ra," Daniel said again, subdued, with his gaze fixed on Teal'c's belly. Maybe he was a little uncomfortable to think of the thing in Teal'c's gut as anything other than just the thing that kept their friend alive. To have it thrust into their faces that the symbiote definitely had a memory and opinions already, something capable of communicating with them in some way...that was a little hard to take.
"Yeah," Jack said. "Teal'c, why don't you stay with Shan'auc and see if there's anything else you can find out from her. The rest of us'll go to Vorash and ask someone to come back here to talk it over with all of us."
21 September 2000; Briefing Room, SGC; 2300 hrs
Jack wasn't fond of dealing with the Tok'ra as a whole, especially given that Martouf was off on another mission and Jacob still wasn't back, which meant that they'd gotten Anise. He also wasn't fond of playing nice with people to get their help. On the far-too-frequent occasion that he was put in a position to do both at once, he had discovered the best way of sucking it up and handling the situation.
"There's a situation that Major Carter and Daniel want to explain," Jack said when Anise joined them at the table, where the three of them were waiting while Teal'c and the general talked to Shan'auc.
Daniel gave him a dirty look.
"Well...uh," Carter said, rallying valiantly. "We...have a proposal for you to consider. Shan'auc, a Jaffa priestess of Apophis says that she's managed to convince her symbiote that the Goa'uld are evil. It wants to take a willing host only--it wants to join the Tok'ra, and it's offering to divulge Goa'uld knowledge in exchange."
Anise's eyebrows had shot all the way toward the top of her forehead. "This is...a most irregular request," she said.
"To be honest," Daniel spoke up, "we're not entirely trying to convince you. We'd like your advice on whether or not it's possible. It sounds like a big risk, but with a lot of possible benefit, too, for both of our peoples."
"I am not aware that Jaffa are able to communicate with their symbiotes," she said doubtfully.
"Actually, that's not what we're asking," Jack said, sticking his head into the conversation.
"Teal'c tried it," Carter explained. "It's a forbidden kelno'reem technique, maybe even forbidden expressly to prevent this kind of communion. By doing what Shan'auc suggested, he's been able to access memories from his symbiote."
"Then it is possible," Anise said, looking much more interested now. "There are many Goa'uld secrets we could learn from such an operative."
"Right," Daniel said hesitantly. "It's just...the symbiote could still be lying. How probable is this?" Anise turned to look out thoughtfully toward the Stargate. "I mean, this isn't how Goa'uld originally defected to the side of the Tok'ra, is it?" Daniel pressed.
Before she could answer, Teal'c and General Hammond walked in. They gave Jack questioning looks, and he could only shake his head that they hadn't come to a decision yet.
They sat down, watching Anise as she considered, until finally, she turned back around to sit. "The great queen Egeria," she said. "She was the beginning of the Tok'ra movement, though we did not call ourselves so until after her death at the hand of Ra."
"Egeria," Daniel said, swiveling from side to side in his chair as he thought. "She was said to be a water nymph--the counselor and consort to a king of Tau'ri Rome who taught him to be a...a just king. But..." He frowned. "That was only...two, maybe three thousand years ago. That's after Ra, after the Stargate closed."
"But the Goa'uld--and the Tok'ra--would've mastered interstellar travel by way of ship long before that," Carter said.
Anise nodded. "Knowing that Tau'ri was the first planet of humans, and the site of the first human rebellions against the Goa'uld, Egeria travelled here many times before the closing of the Stargate in an attempt to prevent humans from being taken to other planets. She was trapped here after the Egyptian rebellion, but what the king Numa Pompilius saw as her death was in fact only the death of Egeria's host. She left the planet by ship and continued to spread our movement."
Jack wondered what new host she'd hijacked to do that.
"If she is a queen," Teal'c said, "why then do the number of the Tok'ra continue to dwindle even now?"
"Maybe a better question," Jack said, "is why we've never met her before."
"Egeria is no longer among us," Anise said. "She was killed by Ra shortly after leaving Earth for the last time--but not before she spawned our movement."
"Literally," Carter said.
"Yes," Anise confirmed.
"And that's why you call yourselves Tok'ra," Daniel guessed. "In memory of her."
"And because Ra was, for millennia, the most powerful System Lord. You are correct, Major Carter--most of the Tok'ra are descendants of Egeria. Selmak," she added, "was among the first born after Egeria's break from the System Lords. He is the only one surviving from that era and one of the few who met the queen before her death."
"The original number of Tok'ra is all you have?" Hammond asked.
"Very few Goa'uld came over to our side," Anise said, "but none in the past few hundred years. Our numbers have diminished as symbiotes were unable to find new hosts, died, or fell in battle. This is why Shan'auc's offer is so provocative."
"So this could increase your numbers someday if this is true," Carter said.
Anise tilted her head. "Yes. But we cannot know for certain until the symbiote has taken a host."
"Then you'll accept our offer?" Hammond asked.
"I will make the proposal to the Council," she said, nodding, "with my recommendation."
"How long will that take?" Jack asked.
"It will not be an easy decision," Anise said. "There are great risks involved."
"Shan'auc's symbiote is fully mature," Teal'c told her. "It must take a host within the day, two at the most."
She stood from her seat. The general rose with her, taking the rest of them to their feet, too. "Then I will leave immediately," she said.
"I would make a personal request," Teal'c said, bowing slightly as he turned to her.
Jack couldn't decide whether to avert his eyes as Teal'c made his appeal to the Tok'ra to save Shan'auc's life. He ended up staring at Daniel, who looked even more confused. Jack decided he agreed with that sentiment.
22 September 2000; Level 25 Corridor, SGC; 0800 hrs
Daniel walked along the hallway and pretended he wasn't just waiting for Teal'c to come out of his room. It was odd for Teal'c not to answer when someone knocked. Daniel had only rarely been refused entrance in the past, and only because Teal'c was angry about something--even then, Teal'c at least growled at him to go away. This time, he wasn't even answering. He wasn't anywhere else on base, though, and the light was on in Teal'c's quarters, so he had to be in there.
Except he wasn't.
As Daniel turned around to start to pace in the other direction, the door to one of the VIP guest quarters--Shan'auc's room--opened. Teal'c walked out. Daniel stiffened, looking between Teal'c's happy--happy, beaming!--expression and the priestess's room. "Tal'ma'tae," Teal'c said quietly into the room, and then closed the door as he stepped out.
It was hard to interpret that any way other than an expression of love. And it might be used between two very close friends, but Daniel somehow doubted that Drey'auc or Rya'c would see it that way. Daniel had never had cause to ask Teal'c about Jaffa marriage practices, but surely it meant as much to Jaffa as it did to Abydons? He hadn't thought Teal'c would put that aside.
"Teal'c," Daniel called, speeding his steps to catch up to his friend.
"Kel sha, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c answered, still smiling, though the greeting itself--not even a greeting, but rather a happy announcement that all was well--could have told Daniel more than the uncharacteristic expression.
"Tek'ma'tae," Daniel answered more formally, because as far as he was concerned, all was not well. "How is Shan'auc?"
"The pain of carrying a symbiote past its time is extreme," Teal'c said. "Shan'auc bears it well."
"That's, uh..." He scratched his head. "So...that's why you were in her room all night?"
For a moment, Teal'c didn't answer. Then, in a low voice, he said, "Shan'auc came to us expecting to die. She has sacrificed much for our cause."
"I know," Daniel said quickly, looking away. "I'm not saying...okay. Okay. But, uh...is everything all right?"
"Indeed," Teal'c said, and walked away.
"Wait, stop," Daniel said, running to catch up again. "Teal'c, just--hold on, please." Teal'c stopped and turned back around. "You'd tell me, right, if something were...you know...wrong?"
To his surprise, Teal'c took two steps toward him and clapped him on the shoulders with both hands. "Daniel Jackson," he said, an almost feverish glint in his eyes, leaning close until Daniel had to force himself not to lean instinctively away. "If all Jaffa can be taught to commune with their symbiotes, then the days of the Goa'uld are truly numbered."
"But...you're assuming that convincing a Goa'uld in your abdomen is easier than convincing a Goa'uld in a host," Daniel pointed out. Who was to say that a Jaffa was any more persuasive than a Goa'uld? Who was convincing whom, and who was being fooled?
Teal'c placed a hand against his stomach where the symbiote pouch lay. "When they are within us," he said earnestly, "their minds hold the knowledge of their ancestors, but their will is yet to be shaped. Did we not speak of this only recently? Their will and their beliefs...that is what separates the Tok'ra from the Goa'uld, not their nature. The Jaffa can use this."
Daniel looked warily at where Teal'c's hand rested near his symbiote. "Okay," he said, trying not to sound pessimistic. "And...so Shan'auc can teach others, yes?"
"If Shan'auc lives," Teal'c said fiercely, "then I intend to be at her side." Daniel held still, feeling suddenly cold. "And if she does not, I will not allow her sacrifice to be in vain."
"But...it'll be...dangerous," he said lamely.
"I do not fear danger," Teal'c said, because of course he didn't. That wasn't what was bothering Daniel.
Both of them turned to see Sam running toward them down the hallway.
"We just got word from the Tok'ra," she said when she reached them. "They've accepted Shan'auc's offer."
Teal'c looked toward the closed door of Shan'auc's room. "When may we depart?" he asked.
"Now," Sam said. "Colonel O'Neill's waiting for us in the gear-up room."
She left, and Teal'c followed her. Daniel forced himself to remember that everyone been willing to let him leave to be with his brother and sister, so he had no right to tell Teal'c what to do, but this was different. Wasn't it? Teal'c glanced back at him, as if to ask why he was still standing there, so Daniel took a breath and followed them.
22 September 2000; Vorash; 1200 hrs
"Hebron," Jack said hours later as they trudged back from the Tok'ra base to the Stargate, preparing to return to Earth as soon as Teal'c finished talking to Shan'auc. Daniel wished he didn't have such a good idea of what kinds of things the two Jaffa were saying to each other. "I still don't think the guy understands what he's in for."
"The Tok'ra--" Sam started as they reached the 'gate and spread out to wait for Teal'c.
"Only take willing hosts," Jack interrupted. "Yeah, I know. Except when they're desperate, right, Major?"
"Jack," Daniel said sharply as Sam looked down.
"We did talk to him first, and we saw how willing he was," she said. "That has to count for something, sir."
"You know," Jack said, gesturing sharply with a hand, "they're always talking about how they switch off control, and it's an equal relationship...how do we actually know that?"
"I know it, sir," she said stiffly. "I remember Jolinar's intentions, and they don't make a habit of tricking their hosts."
"And I'm sure Jolinar was a fine, upstanding...up...crawling...snake," Jack said. "But what about this Tanith guy? Nothing against Shan'auc, but the Goa'uld have made a career of lying to Jaffa."
"Teal'c believes it," Daniel said, because that was the only assurance they had right now. And even that wasn't completely true. Teal'c believed in Shan'auc's good intentions. If Shan'auc was wrong, then they'd just doomed Hebron.
Jack raised his eyebrows. "I'll believe it when we get proof."
"There's no way to prove it," Sam said. "We'll probably have to judge based on the value of the intelligence he provides us."
Even then...Tanith could provide the Tok'ra with good information for a hundred years and then turn and betray them. Or he could provide them with bad information just once, and if it was bad enough, it could be the end of the Tok'ra, or of the Tau'ri. When a society was made up mostly of spies and undercover operatives, there were plenty of opportunities for other spies to slither into their ranks.
"Does Hebron know we're not sure about the snake in his head?" Jack said.
"Anise said he knew," Daniel said. "Knows."
"Oh, Anise said."
"Sam and I asked specifically," Daniel said, "while you and Teal'c and...and Tanith were taking Shan'auc to be implanted again. Anise said Hebron knew the situation and the risks. He's the first generation of slaves starting to fight the Goa'uld on his planet and is willing to give himself for the cause if necessary."
Jack still looked suspicious. He turned to Sam, who tilted her head in a silent 'yes, sir.' "Bet they glossed over a few parts," Jack said. "How much did your people understand about the Goa'uld when they were slaves, Daniel, before you came to the SGC?"
Daniel sighed, looking down. He was certain Anise had been telling the truth--that they'd warned Hebron of the risks--but he wouldn't be surprised if the warning had been rather short and not very explanatory.
"And I'm really getting tired of this," Jack went on angrily. "What was that about--we handed over Goa'uld secrets and they'll tell us when the time is appropriate?"
Sam opened her mouth as if to defend the Tok'ra, then closed it. Daniel couldn't really think of a good argument, either. "At least they saved Shan'auc's life," he offered. "That's something."
"Did Teal'c say something to you, Daniel?" Jack said suddenly. "Carter says you were talking to him this morning."
Daniel ducked his head as Sam looked at him, too. "He thinks this is a turning point in the Jaffa rebellion," he hedged. "That he and Shan'auc could teach other Jaffa to communicate with their symbiotes and undermine the Goa'uld that way, starting from the infants."
"So it would be a more mutual relationship between Goa'uld and Jaffa--sustaining each other's life and not enslaving each other," Sam said, but she was frowning dubiously. "I don't know--"
"Hold on," Jack said. "Did you say Teal'c and Shan'auc can go teach the Jaffa, as in--"
"Jack, let's just wait," Daniel said. "Maybe he'll...change his mind."
Which, of course, was all the answer they needed to know what had been said.
Teal'c was coming into view in the distance. Daniel turned and started to dial the DHD so he wouldn't have to answer anything else. Surely, Teal'c would change his mind once he'd had the chance to think harder about it.
But he didn't.
"I intend to live the remainder of my life on Chulak," Teal'c said, once they were all gathered again in the briefing room.
"What on Earth for?" Jack exclaimed.
"Do you not recognize the greatness of Shan'auc's achievement?" Teal'c said.
"And we got the secrets of the Goa'uld--" Daniel started.
"Or we will, once the Tok'ra stop hoarding it," Jack muttered.
"--so isn't that what we were trying to do? That's it, right?" Because Teal'c was as much a fixture in the SGC as the general--he'd been there from the start. SG-1 was strong because of how they were as a team, with Teal'c as part of it. And Daniel was as strong as he was because of Teal'c, too, and what would happen if he abandoned them to go to one of Apophis's planets, where rebellion was bubbling but many people still hated his name?
"Yeah, Teal'c," Sam was saying, "even if you could train a large enough number of Jaffa to communicate with their symbiotes, the Tok'ra have a hard enough time finding hosts."
"The point is," Jack said sharply, voicing what Daniel couldn't, "you belong here!"
"I belong where I am needed most, O'Neill," Teal'c said calmly, "and that is on Chulak at Shan'auc's side."
And what about your son? Daniel didn't voice aloud. What about your wife? What about us? What about me?
Over the intercom, a technician called, "Off-world activation!" and all further discussion had to be put aside.
In the control room, the technician clarified, "Incoming traveler, sir. It's the Tok'ra."
"Here to share squat with us, no doubt," Jack said.
"Open the iris," the general ordered.
But they'd only just returned from Vorash an hour ago--what could the Tok'ra possibly have to tell them about, especially with Tanith and Hebron still adjusting to the blending and Shan'auc still recovering? Unless it wasn't about that at all...
Anise stepped out, dressed not in her customary clothing, but rather covered in a robe that reminded Daniel of the most formal of Abydonian wear. She looked up at the control room window with an expression that Daniel couldn't quite see from this distance. Two more Tok'ra joined her, and they were carrying between them a stretcher, bearing something that looked like a shrouded body.
Teal'c rushed down the stairs. The rest of them followed.
"Teal'c," Anise said directly to the Jaffa once they were in the control room. "It is with great sorrow that I return."
Daniel could see Teal'c's calm resolve disappear as he looked at the stretcher in understanding. "Shan'auc," Teal'c whispered. He pulled the sheet back, and Daniel stared helplessly at Shan'auc's face, her eyes closed forever in death.
22 September 2000; Level 25 VIP Room, SGC; 1500 hrs
In Shan'auc's room, Daniel found a neat pattern of candles, arrayed slightly differently from how Teal'c tended to do it but just as meticulously. She must have been in kelno'reem at some point--in fact, she and Teal'c had probably spent a long time in meditation together the night before. Daniel decided he should be grateful that Shan'auc had at least had one last peaceful night with someone who cared about her.
The room hadn't been cleared yet. Teal'c was in kelno'reem in his own quarters, so Daniel went to work.
The door opened behind him before he was halfway through. Jack and Sam both stepped in, then stopped upon seeing him there. "I'm just putting these away," Daniel explained, pointing to the box where he'd been placing the half-melted candles Shan'auc must have borrowed from Teal'c.
"You can leave that, you know," Sam said. "It'll be cleaned up."
"I don't know if Teal'c will want them back."
"I don't think he will."
Daniel shrugged, carefully putting another candle in with the others. "You talk to him?" Jack asked him.
"He's not answering when I knock," Daniel said from where he was kneeling on the floor, picking at a spot of wax that had missed the holder and stuck onto the concrete. "But I suppose we should let him...uh...meditate for a while. What about Shan'auc's body? Did you...?"
"Yeah," Sam said. "Janet's taking care of everything. Once Teal'c comes out of kelno'reem, we'll..." She sighed. "I don't know what the customs are on Chulak, but I'm sure we'll try to accommodate as well as we can."
"He'll want the body burned," Daniel said. "And then he'll fast for three days. That's it, basically, as far as ritual goes--the rest is private."
"Well, we can do that," Jack said. He exchanged a glance with Sam. "I need to talk to him. I'll give him some time, but we need to know what's going on."
"He said he was leaving whether or not Shan'auc lived," Daniel said, flicking the melted wax into the box. "To put her...her life's work to good use."
"He told you that?" Sam said. Daniel nodded unhappily.
"I still think this whole 'communing with symbiotes' thing is a little suspicious," Jack said, sticking his hands into his pockets.
"Wait," Sam said abruptly. "Communing with the symbiote...you don't think he'd try it again without anyone spotting him?"
Jack thought for a moment, then pushed the door open. "I'm going to check on him."
He shut the door again as he left. Daniel stood and turned to finish gathering the candles that had been placed on top of the dresser. "This is...so weird," Sam said from somewhere behind him.
"Which part?" Daniel said.
Sam didn't answer. A moment later, she joined him. "I feel bad thinking this now, after Shan'auc..." She picked up a candle and turned it over in her hands. "I'm still not sure about this. Converting Goa'uld larva through telepathic rhetoric on a large scale..."
"Yeah. Do you think Teal'c is going to leave?" he asked her.
"God, I hope not," she said immediately. "I can't imagine what it'd be like without him here."
A sharp knock sounded at the door, but before they could answer it, Jack pushed the door open and stuck his head in. "Carter, tell Dr. Fraiser we need Shan'auc's body for testing," he said. "Teal'c thinks she was murdered."
Jack went with Teal'c back to Vorash. It was true that this was considered a diplomatic matter as well as an important strategic one, but Jack was probably the best choice; Daniel suspected his presence was mostly to make sure Teal'c didn't give into the temptation to take revenge. Ironically, for all they might have doubts about the Tok'ra's moral code, Daniel was pretty sure the Tok'ra cared about the hosts' survival--if not necessarily their will--more than Teal'c did, but they cared about Jaffa lives less. Jaffa revenge on Tanith could end well for no one.
Daniel left Sam to help Janet finish cleaning Shan'auc's skin of Goa'uld blood and keep the body until Teal'c returned for the proper rituals. He migrated to Teal'c's quarters to extinguish the candles he'd left lit there after the deep kelno'reem that had showed him his father's murder.
He left one final candle lit and bowed before it. "Ahu'at Shan'auc horu'es," he offered."Sei nehup'en, sokhi'yen qanot'as."
As he blew out the flame, Sam's voice asked, "What d'you say?"
He turned to see her standing quietly in the doorway, pushing the door further open and flipping on the lights. "Uh," Daniel said, pinching the wick to stop the wisp of smoke that was still rising. "That...Shan'auc, who suffered, is at peace. We mourn her; we remember her courage." He straightened, leaving the box of Shan'auc's candles at the foot of Teal'c's bed.
Sam held the door open for him to step out with her. "Tanith," she sighed, leading the way toward the briefing room to wait for Teal'c and Jack. "You know, however improbable it seemed, part of me was really hoping..."
Daniel didn't answer. Part of him was glad Teal'c wouldn't have reason to leave now that they knew communion with the symbiote was only false hope. The rest of him felt too guilty about that to voice the thought.
"Do you think they'll extract Tanith?" she asked as they took their seats in the briefing room to wait for Jack and Teal'c to return.
"My worry," the general said, joining them, "is that they'll want to use Tanith against Apophis. If he thinks he's a spy among the Tok'ra, he could do a lot of damage by passing false information to Apophis."
"They wouldn't..." Daniel started, but why not? If it was the first thing to come to the general's mind, it must be strategically sound. "Would they?"
"I can't imagine," Sam murmured, except Daniel thought she probably could imagine it, which was worse.
Then, Daniel remembered their brief conversation with Anise, who had told them that Hebron knew all the risks, and that he was willing to give himself to the cause. He'd been thinking that perhaps it wouldn't be so bad--that Hebron would know that he was helping the Tok'ra and would be freed once Tanith had given them information. If he didn't resist...he wouldn't be free, but he at least might not be hurt by the symbiote, and he'd probably stay relatively safe and away from the true action within Tok'ra headquarters.
But now, he realized for the first time that Hebron couldn't have known there was a backup plan. If he'd known, then Tanith would have known as soon as they'd blended. If they were going to use Tanith, the Tok'ra couldn't allow Hebron to know about it, and by presenting this to the Tok'ra--by allowing it to happen despite all the risks--they, the SGC, had done this to Hebron.
Daniel sighed and leaned forward on the table to wait for Jack and Teal'c to return.
25 September 2000; Teal'c's Quarters, SGC; 2030 hrs
Three days later, Daniel was relieved when Teal'c's voice answered his knock with a calm, "Enter." He'd tried to talk to Teal'c just after Shan'auc's funeral, but, after being denied entrance, had decided it would be wiser to wait until the official days of mourning were over.
He pushed the door open and found Teal'c in the process of extinguishing the candles, his back turned. "I just wanted to...uh...say 'hello,'" Daniel said, lingering in the doorway.
"Are you not returning home with O'Neill, Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c said.
"No, I'm staying here tonight," Daniel said. "Are you all right?"
Teal'c turned and said, "I do not wish to speak of Shan'auc."
"Actually, I was talking about the fact that you've been fasting for three days. I'm going to dinner now--do you want to...?" He pointed out the door. When Teal'c seemed indecisive, Daniel added, "A lot of personnel have gone home by now. We can go to the officers' mess if it'll be more empty--or I can get something and bring it back for you--"
"I will accompany you," Teal'c said.
Relieved, Daniel pushed the door open further and held it open for Teal'c before pulling it shut behind them. "Are you...I'm not going to say anything," he said quickly when Teal'c gave him a sideways look. "Just...tell me if you're okay and I won't mention it again."
"I am fine," Teal'c said.
Okay. So that might not have been the best way to get an honest answer. "How long can you sustain kelno'reem without food and water?" he wondered aloud.
Teal'c gave him an odd look.
"Yeah. I don't know where that came from, either," Daniel said, nervous because he didn't know what to say. "Right. So. Let's talk about something else."
"Several days," Teal'c answered anyway. "I have never maintained such a state for more than one and a half of your weeks."
"Wow," Daniel said, highly impressed. He'd never gone even two days, and then only because he'd gotten stranded one time outside Nagada during a storm and by the time his father had found him, he'd been half-delirious already. But he supposed that someone who could stop his own heart from beating could probably control other things in his body, too, especially with the help of a symbiote.
"I was in a damaged teltak with my mother," Teal'c said abruptly. Daniel looked up in surprise. "We were fleeing Cronus--I placed myself into a deep state of kelno'reem in order to conserve the ship's life support long enough for us to reach Apophis's planet."
Oh. "This was...after Cronus killed your father?" By reaching into Ronac's belly and crushing the symbiote, apparently. Janet sometimes compared a Jaffa's symbiote to an internal organ. Daniel's only experience with a malfunctioning organ was his appendix, which hadn't been crushed, and that was still an experience he hoped never to repeat. He shuddered involuntarily at the thought.
"Indeed," Teal'c said, then grabbed a tray to find some leftover food for dinner.
"Jack and Sam didn't want to bother you," Daniel said, picking something at random, "so they went home for the night. If you hadn't come out of your room by tomorrow, Jack was going to break down the door, I think."
Teal'c scowled. "That is unnecessary," he said.
"Well," Daniel said, "the last time we talked to you, you'd resigned. So if you're wondering why people have been knocking on your door..."
"I do not intend to leave the SGC for a lie," Teal'c snapped.
"Yeah, that's what we figured," Daniel said, but he sank into a seat with a lot of relief, anyway. "It's still good to hear it from you."
Teal'c sat as well and began to eat methodically. Daniel hesitated for a moment, not sure whether he should press on, but Teal'c's studious quiet made him decide against it for a while in favor of concentrating on his own meal.
His resolve didn't last long, though, and he eventually pushed his tray aside. "On Wednesday, SG-14 is going to Washington--hopefully for the last time--to get the President's approval on our current draft of the treaty with the Tok'ra."
As he'd expected, Teal'c stopped immediately. Daniel tensed, but Teal'c only said, "I see," and continued eating, if somewhat more stiffly than before.
Daniel had been waiting for an argument and been prepared to convince Teal'c of the necessity of this treaty. As much as he was wary of working too closely with the Tok'ra, and as much as he was unhappy with certain parts of the Tok'ra society, he knew they'd reached a point in this war at which the Tau'ri could no longer depend solely on surprise tactics. The Goa'uld were learning their methods, and without help, the SGC was still far behind the enemy in many ways.
It wasn't until he saw Teal'c accept the idea of the alliance without threatening to dismember or at least thrash someone, even after all that had happened with Shan'auc and Tanith and Hebron, that he realized he'd been hoping, just a little, for Teal'c's anger to validate his own.
"Anyway," Daniel said, "if everything goes well, we're going to Vorash with SG-14 after that to settle on a final date for the Supreme High Councilor to come to Earth and meet our President. Uh, it'll be Martouf, Anise, Per'sus and his advisors representing the Tok'ra, and four people from the SGC. That's the two highest-ranking members of each team, so for us it's Jack and either you or Sam, but Sam volunteered, so you don't have to go if you don't want."
Personally, Daniel would prefer that Teal'c not get anywhere close enough to find and break Tanith's neck, partly because the Tok'ra would be mad and mostly because it would break Hebron's neck, too. There was just no good way to say that.
But Teal'c seemed to agree and said, "I will remain at the SGC during that time. Has there been further word from the Tok'ra?"
"Not since you were last there, no," Daniel said. "Obviously, they have to be very careful about anything Tanith tells them, since...well..."
"I understand. Clearly, his word cannot be so easily trusted."
"Right. And there's something else--Jack and I have been talking, and...uh...Bra'tac was in contact with Shan'auc, right? We can probably assume she knew at least something about who the rebel Jaffa were on Chulak."
Daniel willed him to hear the unspoken, And Tanith saw her thoughts when she saw his.
Teal'c looked up, considered, and nodded once. "I will go to Chulak and warn Bra'tac."
"We don't have a mission this week," Daniel offered. "We can go as soon as--"
"I have gone there numerous times in recent months," Teal'c reminded him. "It is safer if I proceed alone. You do not know Chulak as I do."
"That's what the general said," Daniel admitted.
"I will go as soon as the morning comes," Teal'c said.
"Okay." Feeling awkward, Daniel cleared his throat and blurted, "SG-15's been reformed. They just came back from their first mission--a survey on a planet with unusual solar activity and an Ancient device. And, Teal'c, the images they brought back are like the equivalent of hundreds of pages of Ancient text. Sam wants to record...something, and I really, really want to take a look at the device. What do you think?"
Teal'c folded his hands on the table. "It is not necessary to step lightly around me, Daniel Jackson. We may speak of the Tok'ra or the Jaffa if you wish."
"Okay," Daniel said, "but seriously, what do you think about taking the follow-up for SG-15? If we want to read and figure out everything on that device, it'll take Sam and me a lot more time than SG-1 usually spends on purely research trips. You're okay with it?"
"I am," Teal'c said.
"Good," Daniel said. "Then maybe you'll help us convince Jack?"
"We must first resolve these negotiations with the Tok'ra," Teal'c pointed out. "Perhaps we should speak afterward of further missions."
Daniel nodded. "Right. That's true." He gulped his lukewarm coffee, then said, "Teal'c, I'm sorry about Shan'auc."
Teal'c stiffened even more but still sounded calm enough as he said, "As I said, I do not wish to speak of her."
"Then don't, okay," Daniel said in a rush, "but just let me say I know she meant a lot to you, and I'm really sorry."
It was a long while before Teal'c spoke again, but when he did, he said only, "As am I."
By then, Daniel wasn't very hungry anymore, so he cupped his hands around his mug and sat waiting for Teal'c to say something else. Once again, his patience proved shorter than Teal'c's, and he said, "I need to ask something of you."
Teal'c looked wary. "You may ask."
Daniel took a swallow of coffee for courage, then said quickly, "When the time comes, don't be rash with Tanith."
Immediately, Teal'c's face was inches from his own. "I will have vengeance for Shan'auc. No one will take that from me--not the Tok'ra and not you."
"I don't begrudge you that," Daniel said, glad he hadn't chosen to bring this up during a training session in the gym. "I'm just asking you to...to think twice before killing an innocent host."
Teal'c didn't move, except to clench his fist around a cup of water until the plastic started to bend. "There is not always a better choice, with the Goa'uld," he said.
"I know," Daniel said, still holding his coffee mug like a pathetic shield between himself and Teal'c's rage. "But if there's a choice, let the Tok'ra extract Tanith, and you can crush the Goa'uld yourself. Just... Hebron gave himself to our cause and we failed him. He deserves better."
"You mean that Shan'auc failed him," Teal'c said in a low, dangerous voice.
"I meant what I said," Daniel returned. "She came to us for help, we went to the Tok'ra, the Tok'ra found Hebron. We, as SG-1 and the SGC, failed both Shan'auc and Hebron, but we can't...make up for the death of one by killing the other, too."
Finally, Teal'c straightened. "I am not like you, Daniel Jackson. I cannot bless a man who wears the face of a Goa'uld I hate."
Daniel looked down, because his and Robert's blessings hadn't done any good to the host of Apophis, and given the slightest chance, he knew he'd kill Apophis, host and all. He hoped he would have the strength to think of the host first, but he knew all too well what it was to want vengeance. "I'm not asking you to pray for him, Teal'c. Just don't kill him, either."
"I may be forced to do so," Teal'c said. "I cannot promise you such a thing."
"Well, promise me that you'd try if you could," Daniel insisted. "If...if we're in a controlled situation, and... Please." Teal'c inclined his head very slightly but didn't answer aloud. Daniel supposed that was all he could ask for. He picked up his fork, then replaced it carefully on the plate. "You're really staying?" he said to the table.
"Indeed," Teal'c said.
"Good," Daniel said. "I didn't want you to leave."
"I was not leaving you, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said quietly. Daniel nodded, even though he had come close to doing just that. "One day, I will leave the SGC," Teal'c said, making Daniel look up. "I cannot say if it will be to rejoin my fellow Jaffa in their fight for freedom or if I will fall in battle first, but the day will come. Know that it will not be for a wish to part with the brothers I have found on this planet."
Daniel swallowed. He'd known that, but it had never come so close to being reality before. "Of course," he said lightly. "Just, uh...pick somewhere we can visit you, yeah?"
Teal'c looked like he wasn't sure whether that was supposed to be taken seriously. "I will endeavor to do so," he said.
Martouf hesitated, then said, "Your team is unharmed, Daniel. Colonel O'Neill wishes you to remain here until we have been able to attend to the victims of this attack."
And then Astor said sharply, "Victims? Attack? His team is unharmed?"
Daniel dropped numbly back into a seat as Martouf said softly, "I am sorry, Lieutenant, Sergeant. Please come with me."