The test of courage was not an easy one to take on. Bra'tac stood next to his friend as Teal'c waged a valiant struggle to win against the Rite of M'al Sharran, a battle against forces that defeated many before him, and indeed, may still defeat Teal'c. But Bra'tac had his own war with the fear that rose up within his thoughts as he contemplated the fate of his people. Teal'c was strong, he told himself. He will survive this. Teal'c muttered in the silence as Bra'tac tried to stem the fear that rose up within him. His friend had to survive.
Teal'c spoke up at that moment and Bra'tac welcomed the interruption.
"I am dying old man," Teal'c told him in a furious whisper. "You could save me."
Bra'tac knew this to be true. He also knew that Teal'c possessed the strength to win on his own. "You must save yourself," he said. "Only then will you understand the true meaning of life, loyalty and purpose."
"You speak in riddles," Teal'c said with hatred in his eyes.
"You know of this ritual," Bra'tac responded. He had no time for this. Teal'c must live and Bra'tac leaned closer to make sure the Jaffa heard his words. "You must win or we let you die. You are no good to us as a slave to Apophis."
"I am his First Prime," Teal'c said with fierce pride. "I am not a slave."
Bra'tac did not respond. There was no need, for he knew that Teal'c would soon understand the reality of his worth. He watched with a solemn expression as the Jaffa fell back into the memory-filled dreams that would define his fate, then turned away with the intention of retiring to the room he was given, but stopped at the sight of Major Carter.
"Is he dying?" she asked.
There was no point in hiding the truth. "He may not survive."
She stared at him for a moment, then at the bed where Teal'c battled his demons. "It's just so hard," she said quietly.
"It takes a great deal of courage to watch a friend die."
She nodded as she turned to look at him then said, "Especially when that death is avoidable."
Bra'tac bowed his head in silent agreement. He could not argue the point. "He is strong and stubborn," he told her, then smiled slightly at the memories that came with that admission. "Very stubborn," he said with a great deal of emphasis.
She returned the smile, but not for long. He could see her pain as she said, "I just wish there was something we could do."
"This is a path he must follow on his own."
"Yeah, you've mentioned that already."
There seemed to be nothing more to say. Bra'tac thought of the room filled with candles, a nice setting for an old man to practice kel'no'reem. Perhaps he would spend more time in the comfort of the lights...
"What will you do if he dies?" Major Carter said quietly.
The question broke through Bra'tac's thoughts of kel'no'reem as effectively as if she had hit him over the head with a staff weapon. He stared at her for a moment, wondering if he would be able to hide the deep fears he harbored, fears that the rebellion against the false gods would die with Teal'c. "He may still survive," he said in response, stalling for a moment or two in order to collect his thoughts.
"But if he doesn't?"
He thought about it for another moment, then said, "The rebellion will go on. I will see to it." She nodded, but Bra'tac reigned in the strength he had relied on in the past. "If he were to live and remain loyal to Apophis, he is as good as dead to our cause, leaving the fate of our freedom to those that would keep us from finding it. If he dies in the process, he will leave behind a legacy of doubt among the Jaffa to push past the oppression we were forced to endure. Either way, the rebellion will continue." He turned to look at the Jaffa in the bed, realizing that the fear he dealt with as he watched his friend battle death was fading away. "We will not give up," he vowed to the Jaffa on the bed. He looked back at Major Carter and said, "Nor will Teal'c."
He bowed once again to her and turned to leave with the knowledge that he had conquered fear once again. The test of courage is not an easy one, but Bra'tac would always win. Fear was nothing to a Jaffa.