"We're under attack!" Jack asked. "Right, that's it, we need to get her out of here," he said and pointed at her.
Buffy felt a little offended. She thought that everyone should be evacuated, including the Tok'ra. "Hey, Old Guy!" she yelled as everyone except Ren-Al seemed to crowd around her and head for the ring platform.
Jack spun on his heel. "Don't call me that," he said.
"Jack, we need to help. Irene is very sick. I felt it. Something is wrong with her.... And you can't just leave the Tok'ra to rot. They're your allies," she said.
Her mom spun about and looked into Irene's room, then ran inside with a stricken look on her face. "Someone, come help. I think she is dying," her mom yelled. A few Tok'ra, including the one that had passed Aria's message along, ran into the room as well.
"What's wrong?" she pressed herself through the SG-17 team and went into the quiet room. One of the Tok'ra closed Irene's eyes. She was not surprised. She had felt her sister Slayer pass. She had felt the death. She just hadn't been sure.
"Buffy, please, you need to go," her mom said.
Behind her she could hear Ren-Al saying. "The fleet will be here in less than ten minutes. We need to move as many men and as much material to our orbiting ship as possible, and then the rest will go through the gate," her symbiote said.
"But the trip to the gate takes almost five minutes on foot. We won't get everyone out in time," Jack replied.
She stepped out into the hall. She knew they were all thinking hard, but she had an idea, "Uh, guys, this base was secret, right?" she asked.
"Yes," Ren-al commented without really paying her any attention, then looked up as Aldwin came running up.
"Someone has dialled our gate. We won't be able to evacuate through it," Aldwin explained.
"Then we will evacuate as many as possible to the ship, but it will not be enough. SG-1, SG-17, I believe you should be among those evacuated. Proceed to the ring platform," Ren-al ordered.
She stood in the corner, looking around. There were too many Tok'ra. That teleporter couldn't take more than four or five people up at a time. Given just the few minutes they had, everyone wouldn't get away. "Come on, people. Move it," Jack ordered, and her mom gave her a gentle push forward. She followed along. She was sure now. She had an idea how she could help.
"Mom, this was a secret base, but whoever is coming has to know. He or she'd probably knows about the ship as well," she said as they moved towards the rings.
Her mom barely paid her any attention, either. It looked like everyone was too busy worrying to stop and think.
They were almost there, when there was more gibberish over the overhead speakers; this time it was a female voice, and it didn't sound mechanical. It obviously had an effect on Ren-al, who gaped. "That idiot!" her host cursed, Buffy realized it was the first time she had heard Ren-al's host's voice.
"What?" Jack asked.
"Anise was in command of the vessel in orbit. It serves as our mobile base and main research station. When several Al'kesh arrived ahead of the fleet, she just commanded our mothership to flee with all our scientists that were stationed up there. Rather than let anyone from the vessel get wounded or die in battle, she has taken the ship into hyperspace. If anyone survives we shall have her punished for her cowardice," Ren-al translated as the voice spoke.
She noticed her mom and Jack grow pale, then look down at her. "Oh, god," her mom said and pulled her close.
"Great, I am never getting off Earth again," she groused, making everyone look at her in shock.
"We're in grave danger, child," Ren-al said, as if she had to point out something so obvious to her.
"I know. Listen, you need to stop running around like headless chickens and pick a leader. You need to get ready for the enemy," she said.
"She's right," Jack said, "What can we do to help?"
Aldwin looked up, "We'll grow more tunnels to spread out the base in case of a bombardment."
She took a breath and was about to say something else, when Jack started ordering SG-17 to help Aldwin with the new tunnels, while they'd establish a secure post within the base.
She couldn't help rolling her eyes. Jack took another breath, getting ready to give them more orders. She cut him off, "Hey! Are you all suffering from low mental wattage? The Tok'ra need to leave this base. If you want to grow tunnels then fine, but go topside, make everyone run into the hills or the mountains or hide in the forests, and then grow some tunnels to hide in there." They all looked at her funny. "Hey, I heard Aldwin there say that the tunnels make air themselves until you can get life support installed, so there has to be a way to grow an up or down slope, as well as closing it," she explained.
"What good would that do? Together we can fight," Ren-al interjected.
"If it is a fleet of motherships, thousands of Jaffa will land and attack us here. You would all die," Teal'c said.
"We're still safer here with our weapons and technology available," Aldwin said.
"HEY!" she yelled again. "This isn't a committee. Your enemy obviously knew where your planet was. He knew about your ship and sent bombers. He will know enough about your base to bombard it and then send his troops in to mop up, when we are already smashed into a pulp. If what I remember of what my mom and others have told me about the Goa'uld is right, then overkill is the only kill they know. If you do as I told you, you will lose fewer people. Now go, take all the important stuff, set traps, do whatever, but be out of here before the bombardment starts," she said and tried using her most commanding tone. Not an easy feat when you were a growing girl of eleven, still on the wrong side of small and thin compared to everyone around you.
The Tok'ra blinked looked at each other, then Ren-al said, "She is right. Pass the new plan on to everyone. Delete the databases, take all vital equipment and weapons. And Aldwin, distribute as many tunnel seed crystals around as we have. Try to stay in groups of two or three... And listen on the emergency frequency."
"SG-17, go with Aldwin. Try and help him, then get yourself to a hiding spot. We'll keep in contact via radio," Jack said.
Her mom grabbed her hand, not saying anything. Jack, Teal'c, and she and her mom ran over to a big room nearby. It was that lab her mom had gone off to all the time. "What about Lantash?" her mom asked, while Ren-al worked at a console. The lights dimmed.
"I have turned off all non-essential systems; that means everything except life support, Lantash's storage, and the rings," Ren-al explained and walked around to the central pod. Buffy wondered who or what Lantash was. She had heard the Tok'ra name several times. Ren-al pushed a button, and a strange glass vessel with an eel-like creature floating inside rose from the table. Ren-al pushed a few buttons and detached the vessel from the table, then clamped a device with a handle on top of it.
"The storage unit will keep Lantash alive for nearly a day," Ren-al said and offered the heavy thing to her mom, who seemed barely able to carry the thing.
"Give it to me, mom. I can carry it," she said and held out her hand. Ren-al looked surprised, when her mom handed it to her without arguing, and it got worse when the Tok'ra saw her hold the container as if it was little more than a sports bag. She wondered for a moment if Irene and Aria had kept everything from the Tok'ra, because it sure looked like it.
"Let's get out of here," Jack said with urgency in his voice.
"Wait," Ren-al ran over to a round container and grabbed two handfuls of some strange crystals. Then the Tok'ra hurried from the chamber, back towards the nearest set of rings. Her mom copied Ren-al, then Jack led them from the room.
The traffic at the rings was intense and there were queues. Buffy rolled her eyes and said, "Why don't they just make a ramp to the surface? Anyone who waits here is likely to get killed," she said. Jack looked down at her with something as unexpected as laughter in his eyes, while both Major Mansfield and Ren-al gave her another look of surprise.
"It's jarring and hard to get used to, but the kid is right. Hey, Mansfield, you know about how these things work?" Jack yelled to the Major who was helping a harried looking Aldwin get the Tok'ra up topside.
Mansfield nodded, took a crystal from his pocket and hammered it into the wall. There was a glowing effect and a really high-pitched noise. Buffy had to grab her ears and held them shut while a ramp formed all the way to the surface. "Go!" Jack yelled, and as a group the Tok'ra and SG teams ran up the ramp. She decided to keep pace with her mom. She finally got to thinking about the danger. She had tried so hard not to, but it finally dawned on her that she was with her family running from a secret alien base so that they could avoid getting bombarded by spaceships. Somehow, it made her previous life seem less unbelievable. She was alternating between feeling exhilarated and scared to death.
They emerged into free air just as there was a descending whine. "Al'kesh," someone screamed.
"Scatter," Jack yelled and her mom suddenly grabbed her. She was pulled to the ground, which nearly made her smash the Tok'ra symbiote container.
Before she could look up there were several, all-too-loud explosions and orange flame plumed overhead. Gravel and dirt landed on her. "Damn it, we need to get to cover," Jack said. "SG-1, SG-17, on me," he yelled and ran for the trees, while more explosions seemed to go on all around them.
Her mom pulled her up. As a group, they and SG-17 ran into the forest, as did most of the Tok'ra. She tried to forget the smell of roasted pig in the air, because she knew there had been no pigs around. They ran among the trees, and she remembered for some strange reason that she hadn't brought a sleeping bag or a tent. Jack lifted his fist in a strange way, which seemed to mean “stop,” because he, her mom and Teal'c stopped, then crouched. She copied them, trying to figure out what to do.
"Alright, listen, we need to find a safe place to stay, and then we need to figure out some way to get through the Stargate," Jack said.
"I got the crystals," her mom said.
"We have a few, too," Lieutenant Elliot, some supposedly new guy from SG-17, said.
"I suggest we hide in the hills to the East, much further from the base. A common tactic of a seasoned Jaffa commander would be to let the Al'kesh level everything near to the gate to give them a good field of view and flat ground to land on. We need to take over under an area still covered by trees. A deathglider will not be able to easily spot us from there, O'Neill," Teal'c suggested.
"Alright, move out, people," Jack said. They all heard a strange hum in the air. They looked up, and through the canopy of trees they could see the shape of some large starship descending.
"What are those?" Major Mansfield asked.
Teal'c, while keep his eyes fixed on the ships, said, "Troop transports, a different model of the Al'kesh. We should consider the possibility of hiding in the wilderness of this world long enough to let this army come and go. It should only be a few months."
Jack looked at Teal'c, then shook his head, "If we do that, the SGC will lock out our IDC’s, or even worse they might send a search party. We can't stay here, Teal'c. I had kind of hoped we could take the gate long enough for us to escape."
"O'Neill, those Jaffa will clear the area around the gate, as I said, then land in their craft and make the area around the gate their main camp. Aside from the Tok'ra base, the gate is the only strategically important objective here. With the hatred between the Goa'uld and the Tok'ra, we can expect that they will not leave before their false god is satisfied that no more Tok'ra remain alive on this world," Teal'c explained.
They walked carefully through the forest as Jack and Teal'c discussed their options. Her mom kept out of it, seemingly more focused on her. "Buffy, zip up your jacket," her mom said.
She did as she was told. It was a bit chilly and her mom knew, better than her, how to survive on some alien planet. "Mom, will we get away from them?" she whispered, honestly not wanting Jack and Teal'c to know that she felt even a little bit of fear.
"Of course we will... But you were right earlier. This is the last time you get to go off-world," her mom said.
"But it wasn't my fault," she argued but couldn't help smiling. In the end, adventure or not, maybe safety was better -- at least until she was able to actually do something to help. "Mom, I promise I won't get in the way while we're here," she said and changed Lantash's container to her other hand.
"We need to move with stealth. Soon these hills will be filled with Jaffa patrols," Teal'c argued. There was a series of distant explosions almost like thunder coming from far away.
"It seems you were right, Buffy Summers," Teal'c said, "these Jaffa are bombarding the Tok'ra base with great precision." The bombing continued unabated.
"Well, sooner or later the Jaffa are gonna start finding Tok'ra here and there. The ruse won't last once they discover how they're hiding," she whispered.
"Damn it, I wish we had some of that anti-Goa'uld gas," Jack said.
"Ren-al said that Daniel would be taking their entire supply to the summit. I am sure if the Tok'ra had any more here, we would've seen them use it by now," her mom explained.
Ten, maybe fifteen minutes later, the bombardment stopped and they saw the Al'kesh fly back into the sky from their temporary stop-over at the crest of a hill. SG-1 lay there in the tall grass, passing Jack's binoculars back and forth between all the members of SG-1.
SG-17 was at the base of the hill constructing a small series of tunnels for them to hide in. Given that they didn't have the equipment for much more, they had to conceal the entrance to their tunnels as best they could. She had left the Tok'ra storage unit and Lantash with them.
Buffy didn't seem to merit binocular rights, so she had to make do with her other senses, and they were just telling her everyone seemed troubled by what was going on. They had yet to see any more of the Jaffa than Al'kesh and Deathgliders flying over the Tok'ra base and their landing site to the West, but Teal'c said they would show up soon.
It was slowly dawning on her that they were in a real bind. With the cloaked Ha'tak of the Tok'ra gone and the gate guarded by an army, their options weren't any many, and none of the good. Unfortunately, no one had really prepared her for this. She knew about the Jaffa weapons only from her fevered memories just after waking up from her kidnapping. She knew how to use a zat and had fired one. But she hadn't been allowed to train her combat skills much lately, nor had anyone thought off educating her in Jaffa and Goa'uld tactics and mentality. She was at a bit of a loss.
Then again, no one expected her to be any help. But she couldn't wait for Jack to decide to let her help. She knew he'd never ask. Her mom was a wild card, at the same time both more protective of her but also the one who understood her best. All her thoughts were for naught, though, because she didn't have a good plan yet.
There was a sort of descending whine she had learned to associate with the Goa'uld spaceship, but it approached from behind them. She flipped over ignoring the startled noise made by her mom. "Glider," she yelled. It seemed to be coming straight for them. She saw its weapons open to fire just like Teal'c's staff would. Adrenalin hammered into her body and her fears seemed to evaporate like dew in the sun.
The glider fired, but not at them. Its massive energy bursts slammed into SG-17 and flung them about. She grimaced. The next shots was a bit further up the hill. The pilot was walking his fire towards them. "Buffy, get down!" her mom yelled, but she knew that would be a mistake. If she dropped down here, she or someone she loved would die. Her legs started moving before she had thought more. She dashed down the hill towards her objective.
In a run she scooped up the gray, head-sized rock from the ground and in her mind the many hours of athletics training came back. She ground one of her feet in the dirt and spun her body as fast as she could. The next series of energy bursts caused explosions blanketing the glider from her view, but she wasn't looking until the last moment. The fire cleared and the Glider came in range. Using all her strength, all her reserves, everything she had, she flung the heavy rock at the left gun of the glider.
The rock sailed through the air with twice the speed of any spear ever before thrown by a human in this universe. It hit the weapon. She didn't have time to watch, as her mom appeared out of nowhere and tackled her to the ground. There was a huge noise overhead and the glider spun away, seemingly uncontrolled.
She pushed herself up, lifting her mom in the process, to see an explosion in the forest to the right of their hill. They had to leave soon. The glider couldn't have spotted them by itself. Someone had called it in. "Mom, we gotta go. Someone called in that glider. More might be on the way soon, and whoever called for it is around, too," she said.
Her mom lifted her up and brushed her off, while Jack and Teal'c ran past.
"Good work, Carter," Jack commented as he passed.
"Never, ever do something like that without warning me. I think I just aged a few years from sheer stress," her mom said and looked over her shoulder wincing.
"I can't promise that. If I hadn't done it, you might've gotten hurt... Mom, how many of SG-17 survived?" she asked, guessing what her mom was looking at.
Her mom looked down at her with sad eyes. "Buffy, we were going over the hill to take cover on the other side. It would have been safer for us to just return fire than you proving that you're never gonna be allowed at the Olympics due to the fair play code," her mom said.
"I'm sorry," she said berating herself for not having considered that much simpler option. She had just gone into battle like it was natural... Well, maybe it was, but she had to let her mom and Jack make those decisions. She was just a kid, and sooner or later something she didn't know would trip her up. She told herself to be smarter in the future.
Buffy winced as her mom took her down the hill. She guessed that Jack and Teal'c had dragged the dead members of SG-17 into the already finished tunnel. She looked around and spotted the symbiote container. "Mom," she whispered and pointed.
"Lantash," her mom said and ran over to the debris. "The symbiote is gone," her mom said.
They looked around until Teal'c stopped in front of one of the two survivors of SG-17. Lieutenant Elliot. "I sense a symbiote in this one," the huge Jaffa said.
"Lantash?" her mom asked, after dashing over to the side of the wounded soldier.
The heavily breathing Elliot looked up. "Yes, it is I," the man answered with the voice of symbiote. "I had to, I was dying and so was he. I am sorry I couldn't ask his permission until after we had blended. I promise once we have both recovered I will gladly leave him again," Lantash explained.
"I want to speak to Elliot," Jack insisted.
"I cannot help you with that right now Colonel. His mind is unconscious and I am too weak to speak for us. When he wakes, he will speak for both of us," Lantash explained then Elliot's head fell to rest against his shoulder with a sigh.
"Damned Tok'ra, would you look at that?" Jack cursed.
"Jack, why do you hate the Tok'ra so much?" she asked.
He looked at her like she was nuts for a moment, then his expression softened. "Kiddo, the Tok'ra are too secretive, too focused on their symbiotes and way more impressed with their own righteousness than they should be. I know your granddad is one of them too, but honestly, he is one of the few good ones," he explained.
She nodded, seeing that Jack really believed what he had said. She was for some reason very tolerant of the differences between races, and she could imagine that the Tok'ra believed they had good reasons for all their actions. They were secretive... And a bit too conservative for her taste, but they were also -- as evidenced by their current situation --persecuted viciously, and they fought their war using secrecy, sabotage and insurrection. There might be reasons for their behavior... Not that it really was an excuse to extend that behavior to humans, though. "I understand," she said.
"O'Neill, we should leave. I believe a patrol is approaching from the West. They may already know we are here," Teal'c said, and bent down to lift Lieutenant Elliot. She wished she was taller; then she could've helped. Her mom helped the hobbling Major Mansfield up and they ran further East.
"Sir, Daniel and my Dad have to return sometime in the next few days," her mom explained as they went deeper into the woods.
"Sssh," she said, having heard something. There was a strange noise then a staff blast impacted nearby.
"Jaffa!" Jack yelled.
She was without a weapon. She couldn't do anything. Panic and anger mixed in her mind. "Buffy, get into cover. Now!" Her mom yelled. She jumped in behind a tree. The others started to return fire, but she realized if they didn't move or eliminate the Jaffa quickly, then they would have hordes of them on their tails.
She glanced for a moment, then drew her head back as bark exploded all around her. There had been ten or maybe more. It was strange. Their staff fire seemed too random. She looked again. The staff blasts were really imprecise. Not like Jack and her mom's rifles. Or Lieutenant Elliot's, which was still slung over his shoulder. Jack and her mom would yell again if she did what she thought about. But that would be later. When they were safe.
She threw herself flat against the ground and while trying to forget that any low staff blast might sear her butt, she scampered over to Jack's hiding place. Thankfully her mom was too busy to notice, but she did hear Major Mansfield curse about something. She grabbed the weapon out of Elliot's pack. She checked it quickly, hoping the explosion hadn't damaged it. She rolled back into the grass and took a quiet breath.
She remembered how her mom had pulled her gun apart and put it back together so many times back at Winterhome. It felt like really long ago, but she remembered perfectly. One day her mom had explained all the parts, their names and what they did. Her mom hadn't known then that Buffy learned weapons almost just by picking them up. She switched the safety off and aimed.
She aimed at the knees. She wasn't much for killing people, especially Jaffa. They were slaves after all. It astounded her how easy it was. Fire a single burst, one down, fire a single burst, one more down. Only her strength kept her from flying back from the recoil, though. She realized her mom and the others must've already taken down several Jaffa, but that there had been a lot more than she had originally thought had attacked them. Still, these Jaffa were all too willing to charge into danger, as if they were assured of victory.
She took a moment to look around, while rolling to avoid a staff blast near her position. She came back to her original tree. There they were. The Jaffa weren't stupid. They were sick in their heads for sacrificing so many so that their ambush party could move up on them, but they weren't stupid. Four Jaffa were approaching from the side, taking pains to avoid being seen.
She opened fire on them. Single shots only. It was frighteningly easy. So easy, in fact, that a part of her was disgusted. Each shot hit something, unless the wind or a coincidental move of her target made her miss. She was aiming for the legs and arms. Only one got hit in his chest where his armor took the blast. The small, four-man group dropped into hiding, all of them wounded. The gunfire stopped. The silence was abrupt. One of the Jaffa she had pinned peeked out. There was a shot. The Jaffa dropped prone. She looked away in horror. She had just seen a man shot in the head.
She looked up and saw Major Mansfield giving her a look of deep pity as he replaced the magazine on his just-fired rifle. He aimed again and waited. The Jaffa made no more moves.
"What! The! Hell! How many times...? Buffy, when are you gonna listen?" Jack yelled at her, "You do not pick up a gun EVER!"
"Sir... Jack, let me," Sam said and put a hand on his shoulder. He threw her hand off, tore the rifle from Buffy’s hands and walked back to Elliot with it.
"Buffy, we just talked about this. Please, you don't want this..." Sam bent down and looked her in the eyes.
"Mom, I can't help it. I can't," she admitted and started crying. It was strange, like a compulsion, she realized. When people were in danger, she just reacted. She felt like she had to.
"Buffy, you're not even twelve yet. You shouldn't pick up a gun," her mom said while kneeling in front of her and holding her cheeks with both hands, locking their eyes.
"Mom, you know I'm not really twelve or twenty. I am meant to fight. I know it. I feel it. I can't not do it. I don't want to fight... not really... But I just can't watch and let things get worse when I can help," she explained in a low tone.
"We've got to move," Jack said still looking upset. "We'll continue East until we're out of sight of the Jaffa, then turn South for a while at least," he explained.
She sighed. At a wave from her mom she went up ahead and walked in front of their group. She tried to think about it all, but when she did the fear came back and so she decided to just look out and immerse herself in her senses.
Zipacna, the Goa'uld servant of Anubis, paced the floor of his ship's bridge nervously. His patrols had finally entered the Tok'ra base, but instead of the eagerly expected massacre they had only found a few dead. There had been a few patrols lost, but as yet no prisoners that would be of any use to him. That was a problem. He had promised his lord that he would bring back with him the recipe for the Tok'ra poison, or a prisoner who knew how to make it.
"My Lord," his first prime walked up and stood at attention. His eyes betrayed that he carried more bad news. It had all started badly enough with the Tok'ra mothership getting away unharmed.
"What!" he asked.
"A patrol reports back. They met with heavy resistance. Not from the Tok'ra, but from a group of Tau'ri warriors. They believe it is the Shol'va's group," his first prime explained and awaited his commands.
He thought it over. That meant SG-1 was on the planet. They were the Tau'ri's best warriors. He might be even further exalted by his master if he could secure them for interrogation. One of them might even foolishly have been entrusted with the Tok'ra's secrets. However, they were dangerous opponents and seemed already to have defeated his Jaffa in battle. In fact, it might even explain the apparent getaway of the Tok'ra on their ship. These Tau'ri were becoming famous for out-fighting and out-thinking the Jaffa and for having excellent intelligence capacities, although he was convinced that most of this fame was built on exaggerations. Maybe an undiscovered spy in their ranks had alerted them to their coming and they had gone to Revanna to help their allies.
But now they were caught on the planet. His army controlled the gate and his ships ruled the skies. Still they could elude capture for a while, and his master was not a patient ruler. He turned towards his first prime, "Take as large a force as you believe you need, but bring me those Tau'ri alive."
As his first prime left, he turned to his ship's helmsman. "Land my ship at the gate, I want any captured Tok'ra or Tau'ri searched, their belongings taken from them and then brought before me," he ordered and walked over to sit on his throne and think on this latest revelation. He knew the two motherships in orbit would be more than enough to handle any threat from space, or at least delay them enough to let him escape safely.
They watched as the tunnel and room formed. "Do we have everything we need to get out as well?" Jack asked the now-conscious Lieutenant Elliot as another deathglider flew across her view of the horizon. Buffy wasn't really all that excited about spending even more time in a cave, but the idea was rather neat.
"Yes, sir, the black one will collapse the outer tunnel section, and the red square one will make us a new exit," Elliot explained, apparently drawing on his symbiote's knowledge. He at least seemed to be getting better.
"Good, we'll leave the door open until anyone gets close," Jack said, and the two wounded soldiers moved into the mountain, helped by her mother. Jack stayed at the entrance with Teal'c. From the looks they were sending her, she had better not join them. She retreated back into the cave with her mom.
She found her mom and Elliot talking about Lantash and his previous host Martouf. It sounded personal, and her mom looked like it was a painful subject. She listened anyway, because her mom might need her to have someone to share with later. Maybe that was the answer. She had wondered, ever since the battle with the Jaffa, what she could do, if not fight. How she could be useful to her mother and their chosen family. Maybe all she had to do was be there, listen and accept them... That was probably it until she was old enough to join up, anyway.
"He loves you, Major Carter. He is so glad in a way to see you well, but also that you weren't there to see him at his worst moment," Elliot said looking a bit pale.
"I shared a connection with Martouf, but I...," her mom looked away her face hidden in the shadows. Buffy knew her mom felt something at least for this Martouf.
"No, Major, you don't understand... Martouf loved you, but Lantash... well, he loves you... Heh, he doesn't like me telling you, but right now he can't stop me," Elliot whispered.
"Those feelings, they're not really for me. I had Jolinar..." Her mom said. Buffy knew about Jolinar, when they had long ago talked about why she could sense Sam even through walls. It was because they had both carried a symbiotes. It had something to do with a metal of some sort.
"No, Major. They were never about that. Jolinar just gave you a connection. For Martouf and Lantash what followed was honestly all about you," Elliot explained and leaned back.
"You get some rest, Lieutenant," her mom said and looked over at her. Her mom reached over and wiped a smudge of something off her chin.
She was horrified. She looked down at herself. She was actually covered in mud. She hadn't realized. She checked her hair, it had leaves in it. Her mom smiled and opened a pocket on her pack. Her mom handed her a comb. Buffy smiled gratefully and started making sure she at least looked presentable. It was important to her.
"Sam, come look at this," Jack walked up and pointed back at the entrance. They all ran out and saw a Goa'uld mothership descend in the distance.
"I guess they felt the gate wasn't secure enough, sir," her mom said, sounding very tired all of a sudden.
"We need to find a way to contact my Dad and Daniel, when they return. If they can get down safely, they might be our ticket out of here," her mom said, waking her from her light sleep. She didn't stir, just listened. The cave was still open. Teal'c and Jack had covered it before nightfall. Her mom had put her jacket over her at some point. She actually felt moderately warm.
There was a cough and Lantash's voice said, "Samantha, when the Tok'ra base was breached a very specific and well hidden message was automatically piped through our sensor net, which will tell any returning operative to flee. Your father and Selmak will flee to one of our secondary hideouts, or maybe even further, given that someone has revealed our secrets."
"Really, couldn't we somehow manipulate that message and send another one, a different one?" her mom asked.
"It is possible. I will explain it to you," Lantash said. She felt her mom move away, and then quiet talking about crystals, science stuff, started that she couldn't even begin to understand. She closed her eyes again.
A little while later she was still trying to fall asleep, when she heard Jack and her mom exchange whispers. "You and I'll go, Carter. Teal'c says he'd like to stay and guard the others," Jack explained.
"I hate leaving her here, sir, but I am the only one who can do it and we'd be faster alone," her mom said.
"I'll tell Teal'c and Mansfield to stay in touch... let's say, every half hour," Jack said. A few moments later, she heard them leave. She didn't want her mom to go out there into danger, and she didn't want her to leave her here, either.
Zipacna paced his throne room furiously. Anubis would not be pleased. His assault on the Tok'ra base had been a complete failure. Not only had his troops failed to capture any of the Tok'ra alive, they had also so far been unable to discover any further traces of the Tau'ri called SG-1. As soon as his first prime returned, he would destroy him. He just had to pick a proper replacement and find a suitable excuse for his Lord.
"My Lord," his first prime walked into the room. He pushed a prisoner in front of him. It wasn't a Tau'ri but a Tok'ra.
"Tok'ra Kree," he commanded. "Finally... I will wring the secrets of your kind from you. How does that make you feel, pathetic creature?" he gloated.
"I will tell you nothing," the Tok'ra said in defiance.
"You won't have to. We have other means now... technology beyond your understanding," he gloated.
"Thank you. I am Aldwin of the Tok'ra, and I defy you," the Tok'ra smiled and bit down hard on something. His eyes flared and went blank.
"FOOL!" He screamed at his First Prime and pointed his hand at him. Within moments his first prime was cowering under the power of his god. He enjoyed the screams of his former favorite Jaffa and the smells as his flesh and blood boiled. He released his anger into his victim, then relaxed and stepped away from the second corpse.
He looked towards a slave and said, "Get his second in command. I hope he is prepared to serve his god better than this piece of offal."
"Carter, where is that darn thing?" Jack asked.
"We should still have a klick or two to go, sir," Sam replied. She was desperately trying to spot the small device that Lantash had promised was hidden in the middle of an outcropping of granite somewhere near this location. It was almost early morning, and it wouldn't be long until the time her dad had promised he and Daniel would be back.
It wasn’t until the early moments of sunrise, hours later, that they spotted a small cluster of moss-covered rocks sitting in the forest. They crawled into the confines below it and found the bluish-metallic Tok'ra device. She immediately started making the modifications that Lantash had suggested. It would allow them to send a short series of numbered codes and coordinates using a Tok'ra cipher.
"So where are we going to point them, sir?" she asked.
"I don't know... The cave is our best bet. We also need to come up with a way to get all the hidden Tok'ra that are still alive away from here and back to the Alpha site... I guess we'll postpone that until we can get a few more resources together and things cool down," Jack said.
She knew that could mean many lives lost for the Tok'ra but the SGC didn't have the weapons or firepower yet to defeat a Jaffa force as large as the one fielded here. "I agree, sir," she said, feeling a bit bad because she knew she was also thinking of getting Buffy back home as soon as possible. Her little girl had already seen too much horror for a child that young, and she didn't want to add to it.
The dawn cast its light into the cave, as well. She woke up feeling rested. To her surprise her mom wasn't back yet. She took up the comb again and quickly ran it through her increasingly sweaty hair. She hoped they'd get home before she became smelly. She rose, noticing that both Major Mansfield and Lieutenant Elliot were sleeping. She walked out of the cave entrance to find that Teal'c was standing watch down the hill, where he could look out under the tree line.
She walked down to stand at his side. "Morning, Teal'c," she said.
"Good morning, Buffy," he replied.
"Hey, you called me ‘Buffy’. Are you sure you're okay?" she asked.
"Yes, I am feeling perfectly fine. It was kind of you to ask. I was just practicing. After the ritual, you and I will be family of a sort too, and then I may call you by your first name as only family should," Teal'c explained.
"Really, is that why you're going to ritually protect me?" she asked with a smile.
"No... But you may consider it the reason, if you feel more comfortable that way," he said and smiled.
"Okay," she said. Since they both knew that he wouldn't tell her more, she didn't bother asking.
"So, otherwise all quiet? she asked.
"Yes, your mother did call over the radio a few minutes ago; they are currently reprogramming a beacon that will call help to us," he explained.
"Oh... Won't the Goa'uld and their Jaffa just follow the beacon's instructions, too?" she asked, a bit worried that they would get into a fight. They really didn't have the people or weapons for a big one.
"No, I believe they will not. Unlike the Tau'ri, the Jaffa method of warfare spends very little effort on gathering intelligence and listening to the words of the enemy. I believe the Tau'ri and the Tok'ra are very wise to do these things. Only a Goa'uld stands a chance of guessing it, and most are too arrogant to even consider it," he explained.
"Teal'c, did you just dis your own people?" she asked.
"I am unsure... What does dis mean?" he replied.
"Oh... right sorry. Dis... I guess it means put down... talk badly about, maybe," she suggested.
"Ah, well yes, I did. In many ways the Jaffa are truly uneducated, because the Goa'uld wish us to be so. However, the Jaffa are greatly advanced and most wise in the warrior arts and the art of war," Teal'c explained.
"One day, you'll teach me," Buffy said, and felt absolutely sure about it. It was a certainty that actually surprised her.
"I cannot. You are not a Jaffa," he said then smiled.
"I will be, right...? That's why you are doing--" she realized.
"Not entirely, but it has been a factor in my decision. One day when your mother allows it, I will train you, as my master Bra'tac trained me," he explained.
"I am gonna surprise you," she said.
"No, Buffy... You're going to surpass me," Teal'c said and sounded very happy about that.
They slipped into the system, far away from Revanna. Jacob was piloting the Tel'tak with a worried frown. There was a message on the screen and an image showed up. He read the Goa'uld text. Apparently two Ha'tak were in orbit of Revanna.
"We may already be too late. I am receiving a message. It says: 'Base compromised, expect 100% casualties.' We can't do anything here," Jacob's shoulder seemed to sag at the thought.
"You think anyone made it out?" he asked.
"We won't know until I get you back to..." Jacob's console chirped again.
"Wait, there is another signal from one of the other antennae. It is a Tok'ra code... Let's see. Tau'ri. Survivors.... and coordinates. It could be them. Oh, holy Hannah, my granddaughter might be stuck down there, or hurt," Jacob looked at the screen again. Then he bowed his head and suddenly Selmak was in control.
"Jacob is not feeling all too rational right now, Daniel Jackson. We must find a safe way to reach your friends and find out what happened without arousing the suspicion of those motherships, or any other ships for that matter. Fast and roomy as the Tel'tak might be, they are not built for any sort of combat," Selmak explained.
"I guess; what did you have in mind?" he asked, frowning at the screen again.
"Let us approach carefully and attempt a slow descent into the atmosphere. Any patrolling craft should overlook us, if we go in through a storm, then fly low along the ground until we reach them," Selmak suggested.
"Sounds like a plan," he agreed.
"My lord, sensors on the ships in orbit report that there might have been a hyperspace window opening and closing in the orbit of the neighboring planet," the Jaffa at the console explained.
He thought it over. It would make sense that Tok'ra operatives would return from time to time to the base. He might have to emplace a garrison on this rock to make sure they all died. "Make sure the orbiting ships increase patrols overhead. Have them remain with sensors locked onto the upper atmosphere. Any cloaked ship entering should be visible on their sensor from the disturbances it makes in the air. If they spot anything, shoot it down," he explained, then returned to his seat. His host body was tired, but he would not allow himself rest for now. Three Tok'ra fugitives had been spotted during the night, but so far all except the one who committed suicide had fought to the death.
They dove into the atmosphere, heading for a massive storm over an ocean. There was a sound and the ship seemed to protest. A spark flew from a panel.
"We've been spotted," Jacob said and veered off course, while increasing their speed. A pair of deathgliders appeared to be following them, firing constantly.
"I am heading for an area close to the coordinates we received. That way, if we go down and survive, rescue might not be too far," Jacob explained while another blast seemed to hit them.
"Our cloak just failed," Jacob said as a forested continent seemed to approach way too fast.
"Anything I can do?" he asked.
"Just hang on to something," Jacob replied as smoke filled the cabin.
She heard a noise much like that of a deathglider, only louder. A smoke-trailing transport ship arched across the sky, followed by two deathgliders. They were still firing on it. It made a sudden but flat dive for the ground. She immediately knew that it could only be her granddad and Daniel in that craft.
"Teal'c, they're crashing," she said and pointed.
"Yes, a moment, Buffy," he said then reached for his radio.
"O'Neill, this is Teal'c. I am afraid our transport vessel has just crashed," he said and waited to listen for the reply.
"We see it. Sam and I are closer than you. We'll go take a look, you just stay put and make sure the kid doesn't do anything stupid," Jack's voice said over the radio.
"Like I've done anything stupid," she said and pouted.
Teal'c smiled and replied, "No, your behavior has been exemplary. Had you been a Jaffa warrior I would have been proud; but, Buffy, you are not. You are a young child, and you must beware. You would regret losing more of your childhood. I know this only too well."
She looked at him and nodded. She didn't have any clever ideas anyway. "I'll be in the cave," she said.
She walked back up into the cave. Major Mansfield was up and caring for his soldier. "Buffy," he greeted her.
"Major," she said and sat down next to the remains of her mom's pack. She was insanely hungry, but she didn't want to be a bother and tried to think about something else. A glint caught her eye. It was her mom's collection of tunneling crystals. They still had a good portion. She picked one up. It was supposed to make shafts and Lantash had said earlier that they probably wouldn't need it. She held up to the light and studied the deep purple refractions.
"Jacob, hey Jacob, you okay?" he asked.
Jacob groaned, then replied, "Not really... We need to get out of here immediately. The deathgliders will be back, or some Jaffa will be here as quickly possible to capture us." Jacob rose and together they half-staggered, half-ran to the airlock.
They ran through the bushes and dove for cover, but the deathgliders seemed to have left. "We'd better go and find out who sent us that signal," he suggested.
"And hope it wasn't a Goa'uld trap," Selmak said.
"True," he agreed.
"The coordinates were in that direction," Jacob said and pointed South.
He thought he heard something in the sky. "Let's run," he said.
"Nothing like a good jog," Jacob agreed, and they both hobbled away at their best speed over the noises of the circling gliders high above.
He heard someone running irregularly. He signaled Carter to stop and watch their flank while he glanced around the rock he was leaning against. First Jacob, then Daniel, both still in their "native" Chinese Goa'uld costumes, came running out on a dirt path. They quickly reoriented themselves and turned straight to face them.
"Hi," he said.
"Jack," Daniel said after his surprised expression faded.
"Kiddo," Jacob said, and then after a moment asked, "Is she still here?"
"We couldn't get away in time," Sam explained.
"Listen, we don't have time to chat. We have a temporary camp set up. We're gonna need food, water and heat, if we're gonna stay much longer. I'd rather get my necessities from a market than the forest, so how about we come up with some way off this rock with as many Tok'ra as possible?" he said, even if the last words seemed to sour in his mouth.
"We have this," Daniel said, and held up the vial of poison gas.
He had thought Daniel would have used that on his mission, "Say, weren't you supposed to... hissss, loads of dead snakes?"
"Yes, I was, Jack, but we found out that if we did, then one Goa'uld -- the one whose Jaffa are attacking here -- would be left in control of all the Goa'uld territories, and he already has a plan to destroy Earth... Although we don't know what that is," Daniel explained.
"Let's talk on the way back," he said and took point.
"Anubis is a grave threat. We know from history that he is an unusual Goa'uld, obsessed with accumulating personal power and technology. In fact, many of the best Goa'uld inventors have served him. Such as Thoth and many others. He was obsessed with experimenting on live subjects and went to any lengths, even doing things so unspeakable that the other System Lords could not tolerate him. A coalition led by Ra and supported by nearly all the others banished him. It was thought that a smaller fleet, led by Lord Yu, destroyed Anubis' last remaining ship and him along with it. Since then until today, everyone has believed him dead. Somehow, while out there in the dark of space he has accumulated great knowledge and power," Selmak said through Jacob.
"You think he is here?" he asked, thinking it might not be that hard to kill yet another System Lord, if they tricked him.
"No, he even sent a representative to a meeting of the System Lords rather than appear himself. He is unusually coy for a Goa'uld," Jacob commented.
"Let's pick up the pace. I don't want any patrols to find us," he said, hearing a Jaffa hunting horn in the distance
"Buffy," Teal'c's voice shook her out of her thoughts and her desperate attempts at ignoring her hunger.
"Yeah," she asked.
"Your mother radioed a message in earlier. Your grandfather and Daniel Jackson have arrived alive and well. Their vessel was damaged in the crash, though, and will not be able to lift us to safety," he explained.
She wondered why Teal'c told her instead of Major Mansfield, but then realized that the Major had to be outside guarding and probably already knew. Suddenly there was gunfire outside, followed by the sounds of multiple staff blasts. One flew past Teal'c and exploded a hole in the crystal wall opposite the tunnel leading out. "Shol'va kree!" a voice yelled in challenge.
Teal'c, looking very angry for some reason, lifted his hands in defeat. She looked between his legs and saw the four staffs pointed at them. She felt the crystal in her palm. She had an idea. She looked up at Teal'c and gave him a stare, then rolled her eyes and looked at the ground next to her. He looked confused, she formed the words, "you" and "spin" with her lips and looked down next to her.
"I surrender. I am going to turn around. I will keep my arms up, do not shoot. The Tau'ri child at my side is not a warrior and cannot handle the dangers of battle. I am defeated," Teal'c said, while doing as she had indicated. He came to a rest next to her.
Two of the Jaffa approached, which wasn't what she had planned. Fortunately, the two outside stepped back and surveyed the area outside. Just as the two in front of her came to a stop, she threw the shaft crystal at their feet and jumped to the side.
She heard two screams that disappeared downwards then abruptly stopped. But to her surprise, Teal'c hadn't gotten out of the line of fire. Instead he had brought up his Zat and fired while going into a crouch. He fired for a while. Once, twice, three times, then stopped. "It is over, Buffy, we will have to vacate this camp. I will contact O'Neill. You will wake Lieutenant Elliot," he commanded.
She didn't waste time and immediately ran over to shake Elliot awake. She found him opening an eye. He secured his rifle and pushed himself up. "I am still weak, but with a little support I can go," he said and hobbled forward, clearly still in pain.
"There is a bit of an obstacle," she admitted seeing the three yards wide chasm she had made.
"I'll close it," Elliot said and threw a black crystal into her hole.
"Wait, the..." she wanted to stop him. There could have been survivors down there, but it didn't seem to matter to Elliot. She found it a bit sad, but also knew somehow that in war people died on both sides and you couldn't let that eat at you or get in the way of winning. It was a grim realization, and one she was not happy about reaching. Or was it another fragment of another person that still was her but not entirely anymore?
The hole closed. Together they left the cave. She tried supporting the wounded man as best she could but she was hampered by her height.
"There they are," Jacob said as both his group and Teal'c’s carefully came out of the forest to meet in a tiny clearing, surrounded by a particularly dense growth of trees. They looked none the worse for wear, even though Buffy had once more been in danger.
"Granddad!" Buffy yelled and dashed into Jacob's arms with a speed that would make a sprinter green with envy. She rested there for a moment, then went over to firmly take hold of her mom's hands. Carter pulled Buffy back so the girl could rest her head against her chest. Buffy had grown these last months. Puberty wouldn't be far behind.
"O'Neill, we cannot keep dodging the Jaffa patrols. Either we leave this area until they do, or we must strike at their heart," Teal'c said. Jack nodded in agreement and thought a little about the latest incident that had cost Major Mansfield his life and which had put two Jaffa at the bottom of an instant pit.
"I have an idea," he said. Everyone looked at him.
"Jacob, how large an area would that ampule of gas fill?" he asked.
"It would remove all symbiotes in a five- to eight-mile radius, then drift for about ten minutes in the air before becoming completely inert," Jacob explained.
He had a perverse thought, for a moment, thinking off Buffy throwing a rock with the ampule far, far into the main camp, but he would not endanger that kid by even taking her within one mile of that place. "I have an idea. Daniel and I will take the ampule and all our crystals, and get as close as possible to the main camp, then release the toxin. The same plan, if we get captured. On my signal, you'll head to the base camp and go through the gate, Carter will get reinforcements, and then we will get all the Tok'ra left off this rock, using all those leftover spaceships," he explained.
He, Daniel, Teal'c and Sam looked at each other. Then Daniel said, "Sweet! Let's go."
Buffy watched Jack and Daniel leave. "What Tok'ra?" her granddad asked.
"Buffy kind of told the Tok'ra to get off their asses and do something smart. She had figured out what we should have realized... That the attack on this planet and the attack on the ship in orbit meant Anubis knew where the base was, and regular hiding wouldn't work. So instead of fighting, they took what they could carry and headed for the hills with as many of those tunnel seeds as they could lay their hands on, in order to hide. Ren-al mentioned something about an emergency frequency," her mom explained as they headed in the opposite direction from Jack and Daniel.
"Really?" Selmak replied, and put a hand on her shoulder. Jacob had been informed about the no-hair-tussling rule and apparently his symbiote had remembered. "Buffy, you have done us a great service. Maybe even prevented the Tok'ra making Revanna our last stand," it said.
"Thanks... Well, Anise and her group flew off in your ship, so I guess that's something," she said.
"Yes, but too little. Anise is not what most consider a wise Tok'ra. Her choices are often too devoid of humanity, for a lack of a better term in your language," Selmak said.
"I agree," Lantash said from Lieutenant Elliot's lips.
"Shouldn't we be more... silent?" she asked, and her mom grinned. The group did fall silent though.
"This is insane, Jack," Daniel said.
"Why did you come?" He replied.
"Oh, I just wanted to point it out," Daniel said, while they watched a crooked tunnel form. Their little network of tunnels was very crooked, but given the size of the Jaffa camp they had seen earlier it was really no problem. They made it almost within a mile of the camp.
They made their last couple of tunnels, until Jack found himself looking at a ramp-up crystal. It was the last one they had. "So, when we do this, it will be complete chaos," he said.
"Do you think we have to hold our breath?" Daniel asked. Jack could only shrug, and then hammered the crystal into the wall. With a glow the tunnel started forming.
"Now!" he yelled.
Daniel pressed the stud on the ampule and threw it up the ramp. There was instantly a white cloud in the air that expanded outwards like an explosion. He was thrown back and slammed into a tunnel wall. He lay there for a few minutes, hearing the grizzly noises coming from above.
"What is wrong?" Zipacna yelled and shook his helmsman, but the Jaffa just lay on the floor clutching his gut. He suddenly felt a stark pain. And lost control of his body.
He dropped down to the floor. The pain seemed to continue forever. "Finally I am free of you. Die, bastard!" the thoughts of his host yelled triumphantly. It was the first free words the fool had thought in decades.
"Help," he stammered, but couldn't bring up the strength to move towards the communicator that would have brought one of his loyal Jaffa to his side. "I am dying," he realized.
"Yes," his host replied, sounding equally pained.
"You'll die too," he thought. He fought to make the body breathe but failed.
"It is time," his host thought back, and all faded to black.
"Buffy, stop!" her mom called out as they walked through the bombed-out landscape heading for the gate. She turned and looked at Sam.
"Buffy, I want you to put this on," her mom said and handed her an improvised blindfold.
She looked at the blindfold and was puzzled for a moment, then realized what she had been about to walk into. "Oh," she whispered.
Her mom took the blindfold and put it over her eyes. "Mom, will they be crying too?" she asked. Often even her mom forgot that all her senses were more sensitive than regular humans.
"I brought my CD-player," Lieutenant Elliot said. A few moments later she was enjoying a cello concerto from some CD. Her mom took her hand. Left only with touch, taste and smell, she felt strange as her mom walked her through something that felt like loose sand. For a long time all she was aware of was a strange sour smell and the warmth of her mom's hand.
As they walked she slowly became aware, maybe through some sort of sixth sense, of where Elliot was, where her mom was, where her granddad was. There was something else, too. She felt that she was surrounded by the dead. All her enemies were dead or dying, and a part of her was enjoying their defeat. She shuddered a little and forced that dark part of her down again by letting her fear and her empathy for the enslaved but now killed Jaffa drown it out.
There was a white flash that even shone through the blindfold and she was led up some stairs into the Stargate. She felt the metal grates of the SGC under her feet and suddenly, like a wave, all the repressed empathy she had felt made her cry as her mom took off the blindfold and the earplugs, and took her into a tight hug.
"Welcome back, Major. Where is the rest of SG-1?" the General asked, standing at the foot of the ramp.
"They are on Revanna. Sir, we need reinforcements to rescue the Tok'ra and recover our dead... Sir, could I please get Buffy into some sort of care now... She saw things... I really just want her safe in the infirmary before a quick debrief. The Colonel urgently requires our help, and if we're quick we might capture an Al'kesh or the like before any of the Goa'uld catch on," her mom explained.
"Of course, Major," the General said.
It took another few days before they let her get home. Janet had insisted on examining her completely just one more time, and then it had been Karen her therapist, who had insisted she needed crisis counseling. But all that she had wanted -- her mom -- didn't come back until today. The general had somehow known that she needed her mom, because he had ordered her mom and the rest of SG-1 to take time off, at least for a week.
They sat in the living room watching a romantic comedy. She was almost sleeping against her mom's side. "Hey, sleepyhead, I thought you wanted to see a movie," her mom said.
"I'd rather watch an action movie," she said.
Her mom laughed and agreed, "Me too. We still need to fine-tune our communication, don't we?"
"Yeah..." She felt like asking some questions, their little exchange waking her up. "Mom, are Lantash and Elliot okay?"
Her mom looked at her and nodded, "Yes, thanks to us, Lantash, Elliot, Granddad and most of the Tok'ra are fine. Lantash can't leave Elliot for the next few months, because they were both wounded, but the Lieutenant has decided it is okay. Buffy, your ideas... you were brilliant back there... I am sorry, I didn’t always react the way I should have. I just want to protect you."
"Mom, I want you to protect me. I like it when you hold me. It makes me feel safe... loved. But, mom, someday when I am older, I'll be a soldier, sort of like you," she explained.
"You know, I never thought you would just become some scientist or desk-jockey here on Earth. I tried to convince myself... recently anyway. But I guess that is not in your future. Not given who you are... how you think. I think, someday, I might even be okay with that, but not yet, okay?" her mom asked and patted her head. She didn't mind. Her mom was allowed to mess with her hair.
"You know, Teal'c said something like that too," she said.
"I know... He's a good man," Sam replied.
"Very... You're lucky you're surrounded by them," she looked up at her mom.
"I know that too... You are too, you know, surrounded by good men," her mom said.
"Good people, mom -- people, not just men... Mom, I think I've always been surrounded by good people. It feels that way," she explained.
"That's good, honey... So the Jackie Chan movie?" her mom asked.
"Yeah, definitely," she agreed.