Title: Archaeology (Table of Contents)
Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize is mine. I gain nothing of material value from this.
Chapter 6: The Zatarc
2 October 2000; Briefing Room, SGC; 0600 hrs
"So...we tested everyone?" Jack said when it looked to him like the danger was out of sight.
"Yes, sir, it looks like it," Dr. Fraiser said. "Every SG team has passed the detector."
"And temporary attachés?"
"Mm-hm," Daniel said, too busy inhaling his coffee to answer in words.
"The Tok'ra have also completed their testing on the High Councilor and his advisors and personal guard," Freya added. "Since they are the only ones who will be coming to Earth for the summit, there should be no further danger to the President, and therefore to the finalization of this alliance."
"What about you?" Jack said, nodding in her direction. "Have you been tested on that thing?"
"I have not been in any situations where I would have been vulnerable to Goa'uld zatarc technology," she told him.
Fraiser folded her hands on the table and leaned forward. "I guess the question is whether you would know if you had been."
"Anise is not one of our regular operatives," Martouf explained. "Any of her excursions through the Stargate would have been noted by the Tok'ra."
"I thought you were all spies," Jack said, because they were all snakes, and infiltrating things was what they did best. It was practically--and kind of literally--in their nature, along with the controlling everything gig.
"Some of the Tok'ra are researchers, sir," Carter explained, "and others are charged with coordinating Tok'ra operatives--not unlike how the SGC is structured. And there are those like Martouf--he's one of their top operatives but also has influence if not official say in political matters outside of the Council."
"Ah," Jack said. "So, Marty, you've been tested on that...zarc...machine, right?"
Martouf's eyes widened. "No," he said, sounding surprised. "I have not."
The gentle white noise of rustling paper and shifting bodies stopped.
"You've been on two missions that we know of in the last two months," Daniel said nervously.
"I have been on three," Martouf said, still in the same tone of voice.
"Just to be safe," Hammond said. "I need to make sure, and obviously, it's for your own wellbeing, too."
Martouf looked down at the table for a moment, then nodded. "Of course, General. I will submit to testing as soon as possible."
"I'm sure..." Carter started in what seemed to be her idea of a reassuring tone. "Um...I mean, what are the chances, right? Just get it over with."
"We should proceed with the testing immediately," Teal'c suggested.
"A minor Goa'uld," Martouf said, strapped into his chair as he detailed his last mission from less than two weeks ago, the one he'd been on during the Shan'auc debacle. "We believed she might have information relating to Cronus's location."
"Which Goa'uld was it?" Freya asked.
Jack turned to Daniel, who said, "Uh...Greek water nymph of forgetfulness. Drinking from the river Lethe made the dead forget their lives. She was Daughter of Discord and sibling to Pain, Toil, Famine, Murder, Lies, uh...Combat, Lawlessness--"
"I get the point," Jack said. Some family tree. "Teal'c?"
"She is indeed a Goa'uld who has been seen with Cronus," Teal'c said as Martouf continued his testimony. "She is known to travel very often in his service, but she has never risen past the ranks of the minor Goa'uld and frequently sold her services to other System Lords."
"...infiltrated her base and posed as another minor Goa'uld, working as an engineer of technology in her camp," Martouf was saying. "I discovered that she had been amassing an army to add to the forces of Cronus, who may be planning to increase his army now that Apophis has begun to shift the balance of power."
Teal'c scowled and clenched a hand into a fist at the mention of Cronus. Jack took a casual step away from him. Daniel gave Jack a look that said 'coward,' to which Jack's eyebrows answered, 'drink your coffee.'
"Shh," Carter said absently to them. Hammond and Fraiser both gave her sideways glances, though she didn't notice since she was listening too intently to Martouf's story. Daniel drank his coffee.
"...who gave Lethe the false warning," Martouf said. "While she left to determine the cause of the disruption, I was able to take control of the empty ship and escape, leaving the naquadah behind to detonate after I had gone."
Freya stared at the monitor. "The ship was empty when you attempted to escape?"
"Yes," Martouf said confidently.
Several moments passed, and then--"Ah, crap," Jack said, looking up at the monitor and realizing what this meant, because there wasn't a lot of emotion to detail about an empty ship, which meant he had to be telling a false memory.
"How did you feel?" Freya said, trying anyway.
"How..." Martouf looked up at the observation window, as if only then realizing what was going on. "No--this cannot be."
"Continue to focus your attention here," Freya said, tapping the retinal scanner again. "How did you feel when you boarded Lethe's ship to escape?"
"I...relieved," Martouf said, wrinkling his brow. "I was...relieved to be returning to Vorash. Regretful for the Jaffa civilians who almost certainly would perish in the explosion. Anxious that Lethe might have prepared a safeguard or that I would be pursued before Lethe was killed. Freya, you cannot be saying that--"
"Perhaps I should take the testimony of Lantash as well," she interrupted. "The detector may be reading the thoughts or emotions of one mind and comparing them to the other."
Martouf looked back up at the window, looking actually scared for the first time Jack could remember. He closed his eyes, look a breath, and let Lantash emerge. "Which part causes the difficulty?" the symbiote said.
"Repeat the events that occurred from Lethe's departure to your boarding of her ship to escape," Freya said.
"What would happen if you used a memory-altering device on a Tok'ra?" Daniel said, looking between Carter and Fraiser. "I mean...does it work on one or both of them?"
The two women exchanged a glance. "Well, it must work on both," Carter said, "since there have been three zatarcs found among the Tok'ra. Considering how they share thoughts between each other, programming a false memory into only one of them..." She paused, looking at Dr. Fraiser.
"It's possible that programming the host would be enough," Fraiser said uncertainly. "There are cortices in the human brain that don't have a counterpart in the symbiote brain. The symbiote can access those parts, but if part of the human mind was programmed--say, parts controlling memories and certain reflexes--that effect might bleed into the symbiote, too, without noticeable cognitive dissonance."
When their gazes jumped to Teal'c, the Jaffa said, "If this is indeed technology related to the hara'kesh, then I have never seen it used on a Goa'uld."
"The ashrak used it on us," Carter offered, "but not for memory-altering purposes. I don't know how that would work, but its other functions affect both host and Goa'uld."
"This device produces false positives, does it not?" Lantash was saying, starting to get more agitated. Jack looked back up at the monitor, where it still said zatarc zatarc zatarc.
Freya looked back up at the observation window. Hammond pulled the microphone over and said, "I recommend that you continue to be tested until we're sure--if you are a zatarc, Lantash, then we can think of measures to protect everyone, including yourself."
"Oh, god," Carter said, standing up and pacing toward the back of the room, where she stood with her arms crossed over her chest.
"It took a few tries for you and Colonel O'Neill, too, Sam," Fraiser reminded her. "Let's wait and see."
"Ah...hold on," Jack said, suddenly remembering Graham's attack on Vorash. "Someone search his stuff. See if you can find a..." He wiggled the fingers of his hand.
"Right, it just looked like a...a black band at first," Carter said, collecting herself. "Anise," she said into the microphone, "hold on for a second."
They'd been planning to test and retest for as long as it took. As it turned out, it wasn't necessary. A black ring that matched pretty darn well the thing Jack remembered from Graham was found inside one of Martouf's pockets. Jack wasn't sure how Martouf managed to look so surprised to see it there, but then, if some technology could create false memories, he wasn't going to put much past it.
Carter went to visit him where he was locked up. Jack sat at the briefing room table with everyone else and had the thought that Jacob was off on a long mission at the moment, too--all they needed was for him to be a zatarc and blow himself up, and Jack could officially say there was no one living among the Tok'ra whom he actually liked.
"After reviewing my notes," Freya said, "I fear that even keeping Martouf confined may endanger him. In at least one previous case, the zatarc lost control when it became evident he could no longer achieve his objective--and then, he became self-destructive."
"Why hasn't that happened yet?" Hammond said.
"The triggering event has not occurred," she said. "But once it passes..."
"The summit," Teal'c guessed.
"What if we push it off?" Jack said, though he knew that was just delaying the hopefully-not-inevitable.
"That could have the same effect," Freya said, "if the programmed part of his mind believes he is no longer able to fulfill the goal."
"So what do we do?"
"There is an option," she started. "We could try--"
"That thing you tried on Lieutenant Astor?" Jack interrupted. "I don't think that's such a good idea."
"I believe that it failed to work because the procedure was not complete," she said. "She did not begin to exhibit irrational behavior until it was stopped too early. Clearly, it was a failsafe to protect the programming, but perhaps it can be overcome if it is given a fair chance to work."
"Perhaps some part of Martouf's mind knew about the failsafe," Teal'c said, "and it was for that reason that he ordered Lieutenant Astor's procedure to be stopped too early."
A chill ran down Jack's spine at the notion. Tok'ra or not, he wouldn't wish a guilt trip like that on Martouf. Besides... "Or maybe she went nuts and killed herself because the procedure's screwed up," Jack said. "And if so, Marty could still kill himself." And a few other people, too, if Astor's actions were anything to judge by.
"Or even if it works, he'd end up with brain damage," Daniel said. "Right?"
"It is a possibility," Freya conceded. "However, would it not be preferable to his death?"
"Not necessarily," Daniel said. A few heads turned toward him, and he said, "I'm just saying that some people would rather die than be...I mean, what kind of brain damage are we talking about?"
"We will not be certain until after the procedure."
Jack didn't think too much of his brain, but he was still pretty sure he'd pick death over the possibility of losing some important part of himself.
"No other options?" Hammond said. "We either try the procedure and hope it doesn't kill or overly damage him, or we wait and hope he doesn't kill himself during the summit?"
"We can sedate him while the President is here," Fraiser offered.
"It is still possible that we will eventually awaken, discover that he cannot fulfill his mission, and become self-destructive," Teal'c said.
"Well, if he's unconscious, he can't get access to a weapon to use on himself. That's all I can think of--we could keep him under until we know more about this situation and...refine the cure."
"That may cause some difficulty, Dr. Fraiser," Freya said. "If indeed Lethe was the Goa'uld responsible for the zatarc technology--"
"Do you know that for certain?" Hammond asked.
"No, General, we cannot be certain, but the report that Martouf and Lantash gave of their mission said that there were no other Goa'uld in the area, and Lethe is known to be an expert engineer. It is very possible that she was the one who developed the zatarc technology and was certainly one of those who employed it."
"And if she was the one who developed it and Martouf blew up her camp," Daniel finished, "and we have no one else who's tested positive, then there's no way to learn more about zatarcs."
"Then Martouf would be sedated indefinitely," Teal'c said.
"What would happen if we did that...brain damage thing?" Jack asked. "Wouldn't the symbiote heal it?"
"If Lantash remained unhurt himself," Freya said, "then yes, he would attempt to repair any damage, but there are limitations to the healing ability of even a healthy symbiote, not to mention the limitations of a symbiote that is itself injured. The brain is a complicated organ, Colonel; it is unlikely there will be no repercussions at all, but they may be mild."
"Or they may be severe," Fraiser said.
Jack looked past the uneasy expressions around the table toward the general, who sighed. "I think we need his input here. He should have the choice."
"I must inform the High Council," Freya said. Hammond nodded her toward the control room.
Martouf's first answer was a flat 'no.' His second, several hours later, was a 'maybe.' Jack thought asking a few more times might do the trick, but he wasn't really sure he wanted to hear Martouf agree to let Anise's--Freya's--brain-carving device go to work in his head.
So everyone was left to stew, and the next time Jack checked on Martouf that night, he found everyone already in the man's room. Apparently, they'd decided to argue about treaties in here.
"So what's the consensus?" Jack said as he stepped in and closed the door behind him. Teal'c looked up, but the other three seemed thoroughly absorbed in a pile of paper.
"On what?" Daniel asked absently. "The second disclosure clause?"
"No, we've settled that one," Carter told him. "It's the other one we need to figure out."
"I believe there is still some disagreement to be resolved in the second," Martouf countered.
"There's more than one clause about sharing information?" Jack asked Teal'c. "How hard can it be? 'We will share information with you if you share information with us.'"
"There are three," Teal'c told him.
"Three?" Jack repeated.
"Did you even read this, Jack?" Daniel said, rolling his eyes.
"It is in effect one section, Colonel," Martouf said without looking up, "but we have divided it into subsections so as to leave no ambiguity of the circumstances in which information, technology, or aid must necessarily be shared."
"Are there circumstances in which we have to share aid unconditionally, in terms of participation and manpower?" Jack said, wary now, because he could imagine the SGC turning into a lab and the SG personnel into lab rats if that happened. Freya would be happy. Anise would be ecstatic.
Fortunately, Teal'c said, "There are not."
"Which is why that should be clearly stated, too," Daniel pointed out, "or someone will claim that there are situations like that, especially when someone runs into extenuating circumstances."
Jack opened his mouth to ask about something else. Teal'c gave him a look. Jack took the man's advice and shut up, then took a seat and let the rest of them finish bickering.
A few minutes later, he realized the bickering was really never going to end without someone's ending it for them, so he said, "Actually, I was wondering whether you'd made a decision about something else...Marty?"
Martouf fiddled a little more with something, and then Lantash looked up. "We have decided to undergo the procedure," Lantash said. Carter and Daniel were studiously reading their copies of the treaty, but Jack could see that they'd both stilled. "However, we will wait until the summit is closer and therefore continue to be useful until then."
"It's possible that you'll come out of this exactly the same as you are now," Carter said fiercely.
"And it is possible that we will not," Lantash countered. "The risk that we pose others is too great; our only option is to complete the procedure or be killed now. Further, the Tok'ra can ill-afford to lose any of our number. If there is even a possibility that we will survive intact when the alternative is death at our own hand, we must choose the former."
Really, there wasn't anything good to say to that.
Martouf smoothed the page in front of him. "When is the President due to arrive?"
Their heads swiveled to Jack. "Uh...not sure," he said, moving toward the door with what he was a little ashamed to recognize as relief. "I should go check, actually, but he's still coming on Wednesday. And...lots of work to do, so...don't stay up too late, but knock yourselves out."
He'd escaped the room when he realized Carter was the only Earth human in the room, and while Teal'c and Daniel probably knew the idiom, just in case--"Not literally," he told them, sticking his head back in. "I mean, don't actually knock yourself out." Martouf looked at him with that familiar, polite you're-so-weird look. "Unless you want to," Jack added, gesturing toward him. "'Cause Dr. Fraiser's got all sorts of stuff that can knock you out."
"Goodnight, Jack," Daniel said.
"Right," Jack said, pointing vaguely toward them. "Goodnight, kids."
He found Freya and Dr. Fraiser inside General Hammond's office, where they seemed to be discussing yet again the benefits of sedation versus those of the zatarc-removing procedure. "How about," Jack suggested, stepping in after a knock on the open door, "sedating him while he undergoes the procedure?"
Anise's eyes glowed, and she demanded, "Are you suggesting that we trick Martouf into--"
"Oh, yeah, because trickery's our thing," he retorted. Damn. He'd been hoping not to talk to Anise at all this time around.
Hammond got it, though, and he said, "He's decided he wants to go through with it?"
"The sedation or the...?" Fraiser asked, pointing toward her own head.
"He wants to let you try the thing," Jack told Anise.
"Will it work if he's sedated at the time?" Fraiser asked her. "It might diminish some of the...difficulties we had with Lieutenant Astor and make it easier to carry it out fully."
"Unfortunately," Anise said, "the lack of healthy tissue that we have been able to study from previous zatarcs means that we do not know exactly what parts of the brain may be affected by the zatarc technology. The advantage of our method is that it reads the conscious and subconscious mind to identify the discrepancy and acts directly on the physical connections forming that false memory."
"Meaning," Fraiser said with a sigh, "that they have to be conscious at the time."
"Sheesh," Jack muttered.
"I'd still like to give him some pain medication during the procedure," Fraiser said firmly. "It takes a lot to completely knock out someone with a symbiote, but it might make things go...a little smoother."
"That would be appreciated," Freya said. "The Tok'ra can provide an effective analgesic."
"All right, Colonel," Hammond said. "Is there anything else?"
"They're all arguing about wording things in the treaty in Martouf's room now," Jack said. "Martouf wants to wait until that's done before doing the procedure. Oh, which is why they want to know when the President's due to show up."
"On Wednesday?" the general said. "He's due to arrive at 1400."
Jack nodded. "Right."
A brief silence descended over them, before Freya broke it by saying, "Is any aid required in completing the treaty?"
"Um..." Jack said. "I couldn't really say. But I think they've got it." She nodded. "All right. I'll go and let them know, sir. I guess we'll plan Martouf's...thing for just before the President's arrival."
4 October 2000; Embarkation Room, SGC; 1400 hrs
The first thing Jack thought when the President walked into the embarkation room was that he was pretty sure he hadn't voted for that guy or even seen him before.
Hammond gave him a sharp look, though, so he kept quiet as the fake president got paraded around and introduced himself to everyone. To his relief, no Goa'uld weapons came out, and no one got hurt.
"I had to be absolutely sure," Hammond said as they watched the man leave without harm.
Jack had a sudden urge to suggest bringing the man to Martouf, just to make sure the guy really was a zatarc, except that Martouf would probably end up killing himself.
"So that wasn't the real...?" Daniel said quietly.
"Nope," Jack told him. "Decoy."
"We apologize for that," Hammond told the Tok'ra High Councilor. "If you'll excuse me again, I'll bring our real president here."
"I see," Per'sus said, nodding once. "May that be the last time such a deception is required by either of us." Hammond nodded back and left again. As they waited, Per'sus turned to Jack and Daniel to say gravely, "The Tok'ra were greatly saddened to hear that Martouf was discovered to be a zatarc."
"As were we, High Councilor," Daniel said. "Martouf has been a good friend to the SGC, and we're all hoping he comes out...well."
"Are you aware of his current status?"
"Not yet," Jack said. "They're doing the procedure right now. That's why Major Carter, Teal'c, and Anise aren't here." He didn't mention that they'd seen a human woman seriously injure a couple of SFs and thought they'd need a Jaffa just in case Martouf went nuts, or that there wasn't really any professional capacity in which Carter could claim to be there.
Per'sus nodded. "I understand, Colonel."
As they waited, Jack tried not to fidget with his uniform. One advantage of standing next to a nervous seventeen-year-old, he'd thought, was that he'd look calm in comparison. Then Jack glanced over at Daniel, who, actually, was standing nervously still instead as he watched several men in suits entering. He was ruining Jack's image.
"Thank you, George," a voice came from just outside the side doors. Jack felt his spine straighten automatically and stood at attention, anticipating the Commander-in-Chief's arrival. Daniel glanced at him and mirrored his stance, shying off to one side until Jack glared at him and he stopped moving.
Finally, Jack could see Hammond's hand gesturing inside, and a man whose face Jack had definitely seen before stepped into the room.
The general followed the President--the real one, this time--into the room. "Supreme High Councilor Per'sus of the Tok'ra," he said, approaching them, "may I introduce President Allford of the United States of America."
"It's good to finally meet you, High Councilor," President Allford said, holding out a hand.
Per'sus barely hesitated before accepting the man's hand, clearly having been briefed on their customs. "I am pleased as well, Mr. President." To Allford's credit, he didn't react beyond a twitch of the eyebrows upon hearing the Tok'ra voice. "I only regret that our meeting has been the focus of Goa'uld treachery."
"Perhaps," Allford suggested, "we should take this as a confirmation that the enemy fears the formation of this alliance and what we can achieve together in this war."
"Well said," Per'sus said, inclining his head.
They finished the initial greetings, and then came the next round of introductions--"And," Hammond said, "Colonel Jack O'Neill, commander of SG-1, and Daniel Jackson, one of his team members."
"Mr. President," Jack said politely, trying to decide whether this would be a good time to ask the man a few questions.
When no other greeting came, he glanced to the side to see Daniel looking in the opposite direction, as if he could see all the way into the med lab from here. "Mr. Jackson?" Hammond prompted.
Daniel turned quickly. "Sir? Yes, sir, I'm sorry--it's an honor to meet you, Mr. President," he said, bowing slightly.
"I've heard a lot about you," Allford said, which made Daniel look uneasy the way people's recognizing his name tended to do (for good reason, considering the kinds of things he'd gotten up to in the last years). "All of you," the man clarified, including Jack and Per'sus in his gaze. "I was quite impressed by the revisions made recently to the treaty."
"An inspiring document," Per'sus agreed.
Jack seemed to be expected to answer that, and he had a feeling this would be a bad time to say he'd been one of the people with a lot of misgivings about this whole treaty business at all. Luckily, Daniel knew him well enough to know he was at a loss for a good answer and jumped in with, "Much of the credit goes to the...the late and surviving members of SG-14 and to Martouf of the Tok'ra."
"Well," Allford said, "let's hope we can all live up to it."
"If you'd like," Hammond said, "we can move upstairs and finish up in there."
"That would be fine," Per'sus said.
As they started toward the door, Jack became aware that Daniel was no longer at his side. He turned back and saw him standing in the 'gate room, listening as Anise said something in his ear. Jack paused, knowing the significance of the Tok'ra's sudden appearance, but Daniel caught his eye and nodded toward the President and the High Councilor as they made their way to the briefing room. Jack sighed and followed Hammond.
Halfway up the stairs, Daniel squeezed past a few dignitaries and caught up to him to say, "They're done with Martouf."
"And?" Jack answered quietly from the back of the procession.
"And...we're not sure yet."
Jack resisted the urge to grab Daniel by the neck and shake out more information. It would come if he waited.
Sure enough, Daniel lowered his voice even more and said, "They...think the procedure was completed. Martouf is alive. Sam's sitting with him, and Teal'c, too...just in case. But he, uh...he's been asking for Rosha. You know, Jolinar's former--"
"I know who Rosha was," Jack said impatiently, and a little too loudly, because Per'sus turned, clearly recognizing the name as well.
By then, they'd reached the briefing room table, but before sitting, Per'sus said, "Martouf has survived the procedure?"
"Yes," Jack said. "Apparently, he's a little...disoriented."
"Dr. Fraiser thinks that could just be from the trauma and medications and it might pass," Daniel added hurriedly. "It looks like Martouf and Lantash will survive, given sufficient recovery time, but that's all we know so far. Anise is trying to help using our Goa'uld healing device."
"I'm glad to hear that," Hammond said sincerely.
"Will it be possible to see him?" Per'sus asked.
"They want to let him rest for a while and then run some scans to determine more about what damage was done," Daniel said, looking to Jack. "Um..."
"I recommend we finish up here and then see what his condition is afterward, sir," Jack said.
"I'd like to see the man myself," President Allford said, nodding. "I understand this meeting was a large part of the reason he was targeted."
"Then, please, have a seat, and we'll get started," Hammond said, gesturing to both Allford and the Per'sus while the Tok'ra and Tau'ri advisors sat at the table. Secret Service agents and Tok'ra guards stationed themselves around the room, mingling with the SGC SFs who still stood at their usual posts. Jack sat, too, and resigned himself to some time spent sitting pretty and watching names get signed.
The President, in the end, was a busy man and couldn't linger for long, so he didn't get to do much in the way of meeting Martouf except to stop in and say a fancy 'thanks for your help.' Jack watched Teal'c stand with a zat gun a foot from Martouf's head--wondered if the President knew what a zat was when he saw one--and only relaxed when Martouf opened his eyes on the hospital bed but didn't seem to have any desire to attack anyone.
"Kel," Martouf whispered, blinking slowly. "Mok tal?"
When no one said anything and Allford looked puzzled, Daniel said quietly, "He's asking, uh...what's going on. Martouf, neetra Tau'ri'i te ya daru."
"Ta... Tau'ri," Martouf echoed.
Looking worried now, Daniel glanced at Carter's tense expression as Anise said, "Kel sha--Tau'ri nok."
There was a pause as Martouf's eyes didn't seem to be able to focus properly on the people around him. Fraiser checked something on his monitor and gave General Hammond a look, but before anyone could speak, Martouf murmured, "Tau'ri cal mah?"
"He's asking if the Tau'ri are safe," Daniel said.
"Cal mah, Martouf," Per'sus said."Tau'ri Tok'ra kal nai nok. Shashan."
As Martouf's eyes fluttered closed, Fraiser said quietly, "He really needs to rest, sirs."
"Of course," the President said, and then they were shooed away. Jack looked back as they left the infirmary to see Teal'c retract his zat and Carter return to her seat by the bed, holding Martouf's hand.
Per'sus was a busy man--snake--too, so he told Anise to stay and report back with Martouf's condition once they had a better idea of what was going on. Dignitaries gone, Jack changed gratefully back into his BDUs while Daniel was too impatient even for that and settled for loosening his collar and stuffing his tie into a pocket.
Teal'c met them in the briefing room with Anise. "Is this...normal?" Daniel said anxiously, pointing to the closed door. "Martouf seems really confused."
"The man just had brain surgery, Daniel," Jack said.
What Jack had meant to say was that Martouf could be excused for being a little out of it at the moment, but Daniel only looked more alarmed. "So do you know yet what's been damaged?"
"Dr. Fraiser has identified lesions that are visible with your technology," Anise said. "However, as you know, involuntary and unwitting mind control is not a simple matter. Even the memory portions are very complex, and memory does not share a simple relationship with the anatomical features of the brain. The...neural connections, as you call it, span many different sites, even for a single event, and their patterns of connectivity as well as--"
"Ah!" Jack said, waving an impatient hand. "Do you or do you not know what's wrong?"
"The SGC's instruments have detected some sites of damage," Teal'c said, "but Anise believes more sensitive devices are necessary to know the full extent of Martouf's injuries."
"Thank you," Jack said.
"And Lantash?" Daniel asked.
"We have not yet spoken to Lantash," Anise said, "but we are certain Lantash survived the procedure; we can record the neural signals indicating more than one mind, and we are observing healing rates faster than expected for an unblended human. That we have not spoken to him yet implies that he is still attempting to repair what damage he can in himself and in Martouf."
"Where's the damage?" Daniel said. "The things that Janet can see, I mean."
"The visible lesions appear to be primarily in the region your people call the hippocampus of Martouf, as well as in regions associated with motor response to sensory stimuli. We are not yet sure about Lantash, because your people do not have a standard symbiote nervous system against which to register Lantash's neuroanatomy."
Jack raised his eyebrows at Daniel, who looked a bit lost but said, "Um. Right. Okay. What I mean is...can you predict what that's going to do to him? What's going to happen to him now?"
Carter and the general joined them at the table. "I'd like to know that myself," Hammond said.
Anise looked around the table, then blinked and let Freya out. "We must conduct more tests to fully assess Martouf's condition. We cannot make further decisions or conjectures before then."
Jack frowned in suspicion. "And if he's in no condition to act as an operative for you?"
"Then, of course, he will not act as an operative," Freya said. "There are other roles he can fulfill among the Tok'ra. With Martouf's example and his circumstances, Anise and I--"
"Oh, here we go," Jack muttered, because sentences starting with 'Anise and I' never ended well.
"--hope to better understand the technology that was used to remove the zatarc programming," Freya finished, "now that we can be sure that it functions as hypothesized."
"I hear the treaty was successfully signed with no further complications, sir," Carter spoke up, looking so upright and professional that Jack knew she was pretty worried, and not about the treaty.
"That's right, Major," Hammond said. "We can finally put that concern aside."
Jack had the fleeting thought that three of their people and more than a few Tok'ra had died for that to happen, not to mention the ones who'd had their brains scrambled or sliced up, and that was a pretty big price to pay for something that he still wasn't convinced would really pay off.
He turned now to Carter. "So...how's Martouf's..." brain? "Ah..."
"Well, he recognized me," she said. "As Samantha. And clearly he was concerned about Earth. But he seems to have lost all memory of the last...couple of months, at least, and we're not expecting him to regain that time. Frankly, if that's all it is, it's a small price to pay."
"Anything else," Anise said, "will have to wait until he is more alert."
"Dr. Fraiser doesn't think we should move him just yet," Carter added. "Thanks to Anise and our healing device, not to mention his symbiote, his recovery time should be cut down a lot--"
"And there is some reduced trauma because we were not forced to perform an open surgical procedure," Anise added. "But it does seem reasonable to allow him to recover here before returning to Vorash--that is, General," she added, "if you will permit it."
"Of course," Hammond said immediately. "Martouf is welcome here."
And honestly, Jack kind of wanted to make Anise go away, but he didn't mind keeping Martouf around for a while. The guy was growing on him.
"If that's settled," the general said, "then we need to start resuming normal operations around here. Take tomorrow to get things cleaned up and go over whatever data you need. We'll hold the next planning briefing first thing on Friday."
6 October 2000; Briefing Room, SGC; 0900 hrs
Jack hated these meetings--when they were just picking missions, there wasn't much for him to do. The science teams squabbled over who got to explore which research site, the combat units looked mean and tried to get the most exciting assignment, and the general exploration and first-contact teams got whichever planets were left over that looked too dangerous for the research teams and too boring for the combat teams. And when those were taken up, SG-1 got saddled with whatever none of them wanted to touch. Jack was convinced Teal'c used these meetings to practice the technique of kelno'reem with his eyes open.
By now, however, Daniel and Carter had decided to spice things up and had perfected the trick of ganging up so that they could snatch up the juiciest science trips before the science teams could get at them.
"P4X-639," Daniel said. "The planet your team was just on, Major Harper, where you met the archaeologist Malikai and found the Ancient device," he added to the leader of the newly reformed SG-15. "I've been going over the--"
"Whoa, wait, we were going to take that one," Rothman said, pointing to his team. Hawkins caught Jack's eye, looking like he didn't give much of a crap whether or not SG-11 took that planet. Jack shrugged. It didn't do much good to be the commander of a team when the geeks got into it.
"Ancient writing," Daniel tried.
"Alien archaeologist," Rothman countered.
"Whoops, the PhD trumps you with the archaeology," Jack told Daniel.
"Actually," Carter jumped in, "there's something I'd like to see there, too. The images SG-15 brought back show some interesting solar phenomena. We also know there's a slight radiation concern, so it's best to send as few people as possible and to work as fast as possible. So if SG-1 goes, Daniel can look over that Ancient device and talk to the archaeologist there while I set up the necessary equipment to take more detailed readings."
SG-5, a science team that specialized equally in both physical and social science, began to look around at each other. Daniel seemed to notice this and added, "And if worse comes to worst, we know from experience that Teal'c is the best person to have around if we're going into potentially radioactive environments."
"Ah," Jack said, to Rothman this time. "The Jaffa trumps you there."
"Besides," Hawkins said, "weren't there those other places you wanted to check out, Doc?"
Rothman sighed but conceded, "Well, yeah. We've been following evidence that seems to bear some relation to the evolutionary history of the Goa'uld species. I have a list of places to try, but..."
"Learning about the Goa'uld should be a top priority for us," Hammond pointed out. "Pick out the planets you think are the most viable choices for your study, Dr. Rothman. SG-1 will take P4X-639. Major Carter, put together a coherent plan for your observatory to be presented before the mission, and Mr. Jackson...study your Ancient. Now, you all have your next assignments. Is there anything else?"
Dr. Fraiser was lingering in the back of the room and spoke up, "I'd like to speak to SG-1, sir."
Hammond nodded. "Dismissed," he said to everyone else.
The four of them stayed where they were as the rest of the teams and research department representatives filed out. "Is it Martouf?" Carter said immediately when it was just them and the general.
"He's still improving," Fraiser assured her. "In fact, he's been talking a little, and Lantash did surface briefly, as well. The problem is...just from the visible damage, he's concerned that he might have continuing problems with memory and with other cognitive functions."
"Is that going to be an issue?" Jack said.
"He's having difficulty recalling certain incidents," she said, "and he does seem to be experiencing trouble with attention and new memories. Again, remember that it's only been a couple of days, but...he's very concerned."
"Particularly," Teal'c guessed, "because he cannot afford to have such weaknesses as a Tok'ra operative."
"For one, yes," Fraiser said. "He's requesting to remain at the SGC, at least temporarily, until he's more certain about what memories he's lost or what other impediments he may suffer as a result of this procedure. He doesn't seem to be aware that we signed the treaty, but he thinks the knowledge he could provide us would be a sign of goodwill between our two peoples--like the counterpart to Jacob Carter and Selmak's role on Vorash, if you will."
Jack raised his eyebrows. "Couldn't you just...tell him we already finished that treaty stuff? He shouldn't feel obligated to stay here for that."
"I told him, sir," Carter said, looking down. "A couple of times. He must have forgotten."
"Oh," Daniel said.
"I have to stress that it's too early to know for certain what the long-term effects will be," Fraiser said again, "and I suspect having Lantash will help them to adjust in the long run. But I'd like him to remain here until he's more stable, anyway, and see where it goes from there."
"We'll need to inform the High Council, too," Hammond said. "With secrecy such a big issue for them, I want to make sure they're comfortable with this idea, but as far as I'm concerned, Martouf can stay here as long as he needs to."
"Anise is going to speak with the High Council, sir," she said.
"All right," Jack said, "then we'll just have to see what happens and spend some time with Martouf in the meantime."
"Anyway," Daniel said, turning to Jack, "that's just how I feel about it. What do you think?"
Jack stuck his spoon into his mouth, chewed, and swallowed. Then he paused, and Daniel waited for his answer. Then Jack scooped another spoonful of cereal and went on eating.
"I don't think he was listening," Daniel told Sam.