"You coming?" Vala peeked into the locker room and looked at Sam, who was still busy putting on her boots.
"We still have ten minutes, you know? No need to rush," Sam responded without looking up. She carefully laced up the boots and thought about how weird it all felt today.
The first mission since they had defeated the Ori in this galaxy. The Replicators, the Goa'uld, the Ori, they were all gone. Soon SG-1 would be disassembled, she knew it. All of them needed downtime and there was talk of new assignments. She wanted to go to Atlantis and had almost gotten the general to grant that request. This would be one of her last missions.
"Seriously?" Vala looked at her watch. "This thing says we're ten minutes late already."
Sam grinned. After Vala appearing late for the last two briefings, Cam had threatened that he would 'adjust' Vala's watch. Apparently, he had succeeded in that task. If only she hadn't mentioned that they weren't late, the whole thing would have been hilarious.
Realization dawned on Vala's face as she saw her teammate trying to hide her smile. "That bastard," she exclaimed, but had to laugh despite herself.
"I'm almost done here, no worries," Sam said and stood up. She did her regular check-up to see whether everything she needed was in her backpack and then shouldered it. It was heavy, but it was a weight she was used to after years of going on missions.
Vala was already planning her revenge "He will pay for that," she said as the two women stepped out of the locker room.
Upon reaching the gate room, they were greeted by their commanding officer. "Ah, punctual as ever." Cameron Mitchell was hiding his smile well, however Daniel was not being quite so subtle and grinned just as Sam had before, hiding it by turning away to talk to Teal'c.
Vala looked at him, her eyes shooting invisible arrows in his direction. "You will pay for that, Mitchell."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," he said and then looked up at the control room. General Landry stood behind the gate technician. "We're ready when you're ready," Cam shouted.
The general nodded and gave the order to dial the gate, which started spinning immediately after the coordinates were entered.
Sam looked at the Stargate dialing out. She had seen pictures of the one in Atlantis, which looked different from the one on Earth. But Atlantis had been one of the main planets of the Ancients, so of course they had their most sophisticated technology there. What they could find in this galaxy was mostly just a weak mirror-image of the true wealth of Ancient technology.
"Let's roll, people. I hope this mission isn't going to be too boring for anyone," Cam said and went off to step through the event horizon.
"And with that, he officially cursed this mission," Daniel commented. "Of course something will now go horribly wrong."
"Indeed," Teal'c agreed and went through the wormhole after Cam.
Vala and Sam followed them, smiling at their teammate's banter.
The planet on the other side was beautiful. The sun was just rising, emitting a soft yellow-orange glow. The ruins that they were going to explore were about a mile away from the Stargate within an open field. The field was lined with big flowers, similar to sunflowers only red.
The team walked towards the ruins, with Daniel explaining something about the significance of what they might find here. He had already rambled on about that in the briefing only a few hours earlier and again when he had requested that SG-1 take over this mission two days before that, so nobody paid close attention to him.
Twenty minutes after arriving on the planet, the team reached the ruins.
"So, Jackson, I suppose you'll do your thing. Teal'c, go with him and make sure he's not getting himself into too much trouble. So no touching any buttons, Jackson. Sam, Vala, you're with me. Let's see what the rest of this looks like. Radio check-in every twenty minutes."
Daniel rolled his eyes at Cam's warning, but didn't object, content enough over the fact that he only had to take Teal'c with him. Teal'c was always good company when it came to translating and video-taping.
When Daniel hadfinished unpacking his video equipment and started to tape the first wall, Sam and Vala followed their team leader further into the ruins. To them, they looked like the standard ruins of a civilization run by the Goa'uld. This appeared as if it had been a temple and a palace long ago and only the walls were still mostly intact and covered in writings.
Vala could read the writings, but they seemed like the usual Goa'uld inscriptions of a temple, covered in stories about how the Goa'uld are Gods and have to be worshiped and how humans needed to go about worshiping them. She didn't quite get why Daniel was so excited about this particular planet and was happy that Mitchell hadn't chosen her to stay behind with Daniel, listening to him ramble about this discovery and then getting annoyed when she tried to distract him. She liked Daniel more when he wasn't talking about the Goa'uld so much.
Soon, the three of them came across a building that was still mostly intact. It was small, only big enough for a few people to be in there at once and just big enough for an average male to stand upright.
"Can you see what's in there?" Cam asked, trying himself to look through the narrow entrance.
"It's too dark," Sam answered. The ceiling seemed to be mostly intact and the entrance was just opposite a higher wall that let no sun shine in through the entrance.
He nodded. "Okay, let's check it out," Cam said and went in first himself, his weapon raised.
Sam went in after him. Her eyes took some time to adjust to the sudden darkness, but then she could see that the walls of the room were also lined with markings. It didn't look like Goa'uld writing to her and she said so.
"Definitely not Goa'uld," Vala agreed with her. Some of the symbols looked close to Goa'uld, but the combinations made no sense and there were other symbols that she had never seen before. And there were other things on the walls, too. A few of the symbols looked like they could be pushed down and there was one square brick that had a different color than the rest of the wall. She reached out to touch it. As soon as her fingers touched the cold surface, it began to glow. Vala retracted her fingers.
"Vala, what the..." Cam started, but didn't get very far. Sparks bright as lightning came from the area that Vala had just touched. He pushed Sam, who was standing next to him, into the direction of the exit out of reflex, but didn't get very far. Two lightning bolts came out of the wall and hit Sam and Vala. They sank to the floor.
Cam hesitated for a second and then knelt down beside Sam. Checking her pulse, he found that she was alive and he could also see her breathing. He lightly slapped her cheek and called her name, but she did not respond. When he checked Vala, he found her in the same condition.
"Jackson, come in," he spoke into his radio and started to pull the women out of the building before something else could happen.
"Yeah, I'm here," Daniel replied after a few seconds.
Cam carefully laid Vala's body onto the ground before responding. "We have a problem. Vala touched something and now Sam and her are both unconscious. I need your help to get them back through the gate."
"Where are you?" Daniel said alarmed. He hadn't moved far away from his initial position, after all only ten minutes had passed.
"Just a bit North of you."
"We are on our way," Teal'c said.
Cameron tended to Sam and Vala best as he could, but they did not wake up. Fortunately, Daniel and Teal'c arrived at his position less than three minutes later.
"What happened?" Daniel asked, staring at the two motionless bodies lying on the ground.
"You cursed our mission, Jackson," Cam said. He was trying to joke, but from the look on Daniel's face he could see that it hadn't sounded like he had intended. "Vala touched something," he said in a less harsh tone. "Then lightning bolts came flying out and they were both hit. We gotta get them to the infirmary." He picked Vala's body up from the ground and Teal'c did the same with Sam.
The walk back to the gate took longer with the added weight even though they were hurrying now. Daniel went ahead of them and dialed Earth. "SGC, this is SG-1," he spoke into his radio after entering the iris code, staying on this side of the wormhole in case his teammates needed help.
"SG-1, we can hear you, go ahead," responded the gate technician on duty.
"We have a medical situation, two injured.. We need a medical team in the gate room." Daniel informed the SGC briefly about their situation.
Only a few minutes later, the other members of SG-1 arrived and could transport the two unconscious women through the gate.
Sam opened her eyes, but her vision was blurry. Even when she blinked several times the blurriness stayed.
"Hey, you're awake."
Sam recognized the voice as that of Stargate Command's Chief Medical Officer, Carolyn Lam.
"How are you feeling?" The doctor asked and looked at the displays next to Sam's bed.
"Okay, I guess," Sam answered and tried to sit up, but was gently pushed back into her lying position. Slowly, her vision became clearer.
The doctor frowned upon looking at Sam's readings. "You are not nearly okay enough to get up yet," she said.
"What happened?" She could just make out a shape in the bed next to her now. From the dark hair she concluded that it was probably Vala.
The doctor looked at Sam. "You and Vala got hit by some kind of alien technology. We haven't yet been able to determine what the device was supposed to do, but Doctor Jackson has a team working on it."
"How is Vala?" Sam said, concerned. Vala didn't seem to be awake.
Carolyn looked over to her only other current patient. "She's doing okay. Actually, she was awake a few hours ago, but she's asleep now."
"A few hours?" Sam asked. "How long have I been out of it?" She didn't feel like she had been unconscious for a long time.
"Almost a day now," the doctor replied. "Teal'c was watching over you, he just went to get something to eat, in fact. Colonel Mitchell is getting some rest and Doctor Jackson is off-world looking at the ruins."
"Good," Sam replied. She felt a bit weak, but she knew from experience that that was normal after being unconscious, even for a long time. It just wasn't the same as being asleep.
"As soon as you are up to it, the General wants to hold a debriefing. But get some rest first; you look like you need it."
Several hours later they were in the briefing room, going over the mission. Daniel was still on the planet and had briefly called in to say that there was a lot of work to do and it would take at least another day to gather enough information.
Sam, Vala, Teal'c and Cam repeated as much about the mission as they could, with General Landry pointedly not saying anything when the part about Vala pushing the button that seemed to have triggered the device came up. He simply raised an eyebrow. Then he asked the doctor what their medical condition was.
"They are both showing abnormally high brain activity, but otherwise all tests came back normal," Carolyn replied, looking at the test results in front of her.
"Could that have something to do with the electricity they came into contact with?" the general asked.
The doctor nodded. "Possibly. Though I cannot be sure what it is. As I said, everything else appears completely normal." She sighed.
"I feel fine," Vala said, bored of having to sit in this meeting. If she felt fine and the tests said they were fine as well, then why couldn't she finally go? She just didn't see the need for her presence.
"As do I," Sam agreed.
Carolyn looked at them skeptically. "Until I have determined what causes your brain activity and whether there really is nothing wrong with you, I suggest they both stay on base." She would like to have them under constant supervision in the infirmary, but she knew that at least with Vala she wouldn't succeed with that plan.
"Really, I feel fine," Vala said, more impatiently this time. "I don't want to stay on-base."
General Landry raised his eyebrows. "Thankfully, that is not your decision to make. I will go with your suggestion, Doctor." When he saw that Vala was about to say more, he continued, "This is not open to discussion."
Vala closed her mouth again and folded her arms across her chest.
"I want both of you in for regular check-ups twice a day," Carolyn added.
The general nodded. "Good. And I want to be kept in the loop by all of you, is that understood? Goa'uld technology is never harmless, in my experience."
"Yes, sir," Cameron said.
Sam nodded. "Understood."
"Good, then. Dismissed."
She was standing up tall. The leather felt smooth against her skin - she liked that sensation. The smell of fire was in the air and it was warm. They were doing well. The city burned. She heard screams and for a moment, she closed her eyes, just taking in the scene with her other senses. The sound, the smell, it was all just the way she liked it. She reveled in the moment, her Jaffa had done well.
Soon, they would all be dead.
Vala awoke screaming and panting. She had had this dream before. A dream of the very real memory of Que'tesh winning a battle against a planet inhabited by humans serving one of the minor Goa'ulds. She had a lot of those memories still in her brain, but she usually managed to push them far away just fine. She had the occasional dream about it, but this time, this time it was different. She could still feel the smell of burning houses and hear the screams of the humans being killed by her Jaffa, pleading for mercy.
She turned on the light and just sat in her bed for a while, wishing the images and sensations would go away, as they should with a dream. But even minutes afterward, she could still recall every detail and could still feel the sensation of victory and triumph that Que'tesh had felt that day.
Closing her eyes, she lay back down in her bed and tried to go back to sleep. She did not turn off the light.
She was exhausted. Breathing heavily, she grabbed the cloth linen next to her and covered herself. She could still feel him inside of her and she reached out for him, touched his soft, but sweaty skin and pulled him close. Their lips found each other and in what seemed like a few seconds, he was on top of her again and the make-shift cover was discarded. She didn't need it. All she needed now was his lips on her lips, his body close to her body and him inside of her.
"Martouf," she screamed.
Sam woke up drenched in sweat and breathing heavily. She hadn't had such a vivid dream of Jolinar in a long time and her dreams of Jolinar with Martouf had never been this... detailed. It took her a few moments to calm down enough to get up. She drank a glass of cold water and washed her face, but even after she had dried off, she could still feel it. The dream didn't let her go. The memories of Martouf's hands and lips, they felt as real to her as the sensation of the soft towel against her heated skin.
Checking her temperature with the back of her hand, Sam concluded that at least she wasn't running a fever. Maybe this dream had been caused by the electrical shock she had experienced on the planet. After all, the human brain was completely driven by electrical impulses. An experience like this could easily enhance sensations, she told herself and lay back down. After all, Doctor Lam had said that her's and Vala's brain activity was increased, so maybe weird dreams were a consequence of that.
There was a moment of intense pain, as though she had been stabbed in the neck. But this wasn't a knife and it wasn't a sword. The thing penetrating her was moving, squirming, making its way into her body, trying to find its way into her brain and around her spine.
She screamed in pain and despair. She didn't know what it was that was doing this to her, but she knew that it would not end well. She shouldn't have let herself be captured by the Jaffa. How could she have been so stupid? She hadn't paid enough attention.
Her scream ceased. Not because she wanted it to, but because it wanted it to. She wasn't in control of her body anymore.
Then, the memories came flooding in, the memories that weren't hers and she screamed silently inside of her own head. Nobody listened to her but Que'tesh.
Again Vala awoke awoke screaming and drenched in sweat. She jumped out of her bed and ran into the bathroom where she threw up the remainder of her dinner.
This particular memory hadn't resurfaced in years. Certainly not this realistically. Vala looked into the mirror and was taken aback by what she saw - she looked frightened, her hair was wet from sweat and she had dark rings under her eyes, as though she hadn't slept in days.
Vala looked at her watch - it was four in the morning outside and the base would be nearly empty at this hour. Though she had never quite understood why the SGC operated mostly when it was light outside, she was now glad they did it like that. After throwing some cold water into her face, pulling her hair into a bun and putting on different pants, she was out of the door. She didn't intend to go back to bed anytime soon, but she also wasn't planning to head to the infirmary.
They were under heavy fire. One of the Jaffa's staff weapon blasts had already hit her leg, but only barely and so, while she was in a lot of pain, she was still able to walk. But she needed to run.
"Come," she screamed at the person behind her.
"I can't," he screamed back at her. A blast had hit directly in front of his feet and led to him falling down. Roosha was relatively sure his leg was broken and he probably also had various other wounds. This mission had gone to hell really quickly. Now they had no weapons and still almost a mile to go to get to the Cha'apa'ai.
She ran back and pulled him up. "I am not leaving you here."
"You have to." He stumbled forward a few steps and broke down again. "Save yourself, please."
The Jaffa were getting closer and a zat'ni'ka'tel blast only barely missed her. She took one last look at her friend. "I am sorry," she said and turned away to run. She was leaving her best friend behind to die.
She woke up sitting upright in her bed. Turning on the light, she noticed her pulse was once again a lot faster than it should be and took a few deep breaths to help her calm down. Sam glanced at the clock on her nightstand and saw that it was only four in the morning. Still a while to go until she usually got up.
Sam gave up on sleep for this night. She briefly contemplated going to the infirmary, but then decided against it. Weird dreams and a bit of insomnia weren't enough of an indication to go to the infirmary for her. Maybe she just needed something to keep her mind occupied that didn't have anything to do with Jolinar or trying to go to sleep.
Ten minutes later, Sam was entering the deserted mess hall. She was planning to get some coffee and maybe work on some things in her lab afterward. Halfway at the coffee machine, she stopped dead in her tracks when she saw something moving.
"Oh, it's you," Sam said when she recognized Vala as the intruder.
"Nice to see you, too," Vala replied mockingly. She had arrived in the room a few minutes before Sam and already raided the snacks machine for as much chocolate as she could get from the spare change in her pockets. Now she was sitting on one of the tables, all the sweets lined up in front of her.
Sam ignored the comment. "Couldn't sleep either, huh?" she asked and grabbed a mug off the tray. A short push on a button made the machine work its magic that would soon result in one of the planet's best natural resources - coffee.
"Nope," Vala answered. She started to think of a way to decide which of the snack bars to eat first, then got bored with that exercise and just grabbed the first one from the left.
Sam sighed. "I had some really bad dreams. What about you?" The coffee was ready now and she sat down opposite of Vala with it.
"Yeah, sounds familiar," Vala answered, her mouth still full.
"Do you think that has something to do with what happened on the planet?"
Vala tilted her head. "Might be. But why would that make us have bad dreams?"
"Well, as Doctor Lam said, our brain activity is increased. So maybe that makes the dreams a bit more... vivid?"
Vala nodded. "Makes sense to me. But I'm not really keen on going back to the infirmary right now."
"Neither am I," Sam confessed and took a tentative sip of her coffee. It was still boiling hot and she nearly burned her tongue on it. Sill, the taste helped in getting some much-needed distance between her and the dreams she had just experienced.
Vala laughed, but it sounded strange to her ears. Just sitting here and talking to another human seemed to help her forget the memories of Que'tesh. "We're being very bad patients."
After a short moment, Sam laughed along with Vala. She would go and visit Doctor Lam in a few hours, but right now all she needed was one, or maybe two cups of coffee and some company. Then everything would look a bit brighter and more real again.
Doctor Lam did a full health check on both members of SG-1 again when they came to the infirmary in the morning, but still found nothing significant. While their brain activity was still above average, it had decreased from the day before, and so she could only release them again and give them something to make them sleep better. There was nothing else she could do to help them. Their condition puzzled her because usually an increased brain activity originated in some bodily malfunction and also manifested with several different symptoms such as hallucinations and headaches, but they both claimed to not be experiencing symptoms of that nature.
In the afternoon, Daniel returned from his stay on P3X-801, the mission they had encountered the Goa'uld device on.
"Do you have anything of interest to report, Doctor Jackson?" General Landry asked in the briefing that was directly scheduled.
"Indeed I think so," Daniel said, adjusting his glasses. He rummaged through the notes he had brought back from the planet with him. "The ruins are very old, dating back to the beginnings of Goa'uld civilization as far as we can tell. The stories and legends inscribed are... amazing. Very different from what we have found so far. I think we may have actually found one of the planets that were first colonized by the Goa'uld, maybe even, at least in the beginning, when they were still blended with the Unas, certainly before the Jaffa..."
"Is this going somewhere?" Vala interrupted him. She was getting bored again.
"Well, um," Daniel stuttered, trying to find his way back into what he wanted to say. "Anyway, the place seemed to have become a sort of research facility of the first Goa'uld before it was abandoned for reasons we don't yet know. It's originally Ancient, but seems to have been significantly modified by the Goa'uld. However, from what we were able to discern about the device so far it seems to have been built to enhance the symbiont's control over the host. In the early times, many Goa'uld-human bonds failed to be established and this was an attempt to counteract that effect."
Sam saw where Daniel was going with that. "So this was why it only affected Vala and me? Because we used to be hosts?"
Daniel nodded. "I think so."
"What effect could it have on them, then?" General Landry asked, concerned about his two subordinates.
"I honestly can't tell," Daniel admitted, shaking his head.
"Didn't think so," Sam said quietly.
"What did you just say, Colonel?" Cameron asked, having heard what Sam had just said.
Sam looked up. "Nothing important."
"Well, sir, if this device somehow affected the symbiont memories in their brains or something in that direction, it could possibly explain the symptoms." Carolyn scribbled down some notes. She would need to do some more tests on both patients.
"General, I need some more time on the planet, maybe something will turn up," Daniel said. Even filming all of the inscriptions close to the device would take a few more hours and translating them a few more days.
The general nodded. "You do that. Teal'c, I'm asking you to join him."
Teal'c bowed his head. "Of course, General Landry."
"And I want both of you in the infirmary," he added, looking at Vala and Colonel Carter.
"But sir...," Sam started, but was interrupted by the general.
"There will be no discussion about this."
Vala just scowled. She was already planning to get out of there as soon as possible. Nobody would keep her in there for no good reason.
"We will meet again tomorrow. Dismissed."
Sam was bored. Doctor Lam had done another battalion of tests on both of them and still didn't seem to find anything substantial. And by the way Vala had been complaining almost constantly for the past hour, she could tell that she wasn't the only one feeling snappy about it. In fact, Sam was getting a little worried about Vala - the other woman displayed a level of both rudeness and anger that Sam hadn't seen in a few months now.
She looked over to the other bed, where Vala was lying with her eyes closed, apparently half-asleep already.
There would be no mercy. The Jaffa was kneeling in front of her, his head bowed down, his words filled with phrases such as 'regret' and 'please' and 'forgive'.
She couldn't care less about that. She stroked the ribbon device in her hand as if it were an old lover. It felt cold and smooth against her hand and slowly, she slid it over her fingers. It glowed in recognition of her birthright.
Smiling a little in anticipation of the pleasure, she raised her hand and stopped right in front of the Jaffa's head. He screamed as she willed the device to hurt him.
Vala was being pushed down on the bed by a nurse. She tried to defend herself, but soon there were more people pushing her down. She screamed in frustration.
Carolyn Lam came running at the sound. "What happened?" she shouted.
Vala saw the doctor prepare an injection out of the corner of her eyes and pushed against the hands that held her in place. She knew vaguely that she was in the infirmary and nobody was going to hurt her, but still she tried to defend herself. Someone cried out. She had hit someone. Then, a sharp pain and the needle broke her skin. Seconds later, she could feel her control slipping.
She was back in that room. That room where it had all started. The room where she had heard Que'tesh's thoughts for the first time.
"From now on, you are nothing."
"How is Vala?" General Landry asked several hours later. Since the situation was getting out of hand, he had called Carolyn in for a brief update.
Carolyn shook her head. "Not good. She is definitely suffering more than Colonel Carter, experiencing very vivid dreams and flash-backs. I have her on a mild sedative at the moment, but I am not sure how long I can keep her like this. Colonel Carter is having milder symptoms, but she also reports dreams and flashbacks from her experiences as a host and quite frankly, I don't think she is being quite herself."
The general sighed. "What do you mean by that?" He needed Colonel Carter to be able to work on a solution with him.
"She is getting increasingly irrational and easy to irritate," Carolyn answered. "I haven't seen her behave like this before."
"Do you have any idea what is happening to them yet?"
Carolyn shrugged. "If I didn't know for certain that both Jolinar and Que'tesh are dead, I would say it's their symbionts coming back," she said, her voice conveying just how implausible she found her own hypothesis.
"Actually, I think you're right," came a voice from the door. The door had been half open and Sam stepped in.
"Didn't I order you to stay in the infirmary?" Maybe this was a sign of what Carolyn had just described as "irrational", he thought.
"Sorry, sir," Sam said. "But I think Doctor Lam is pretty close to what is actually happening with me and Vala."
Carolyn shook her head. "But Jolinar and Que'tesh are dead, Colonel Carter. There are no physical remains in your bodies except for the protein marker."
"Now, see, with all due respect, that's where you're wrong. Jolinar may be dead, but her memories remained in me. I don't have much conscious access to them, but they are still there."
"So you're saying that the device might have activated those memories?" Carolyn asked.
"In a twisted way, this might even make sense." Sam saw the confused look on the others faces and explained, "Daniel said this device might have been designed to strengthen the bond between newly-bonded Goa'uld and humans, maybe designed back in the time when Goa'uld still took Unas as well as humans as host. Now, this is a very vague idea, but what if instead of on the physical bonds between host and parasite, it somehow acted on the host's brain physiology and in Vala and me, that somehow re-activated those regions that were once occupied by Jolinar and Que'tesh?"
"Is that possible?" General Landry asked the doctor.
Carolyn shrugged. "I honestly can't tell. It is certainly consistent with their increased brain activity, but other than that... I don't even know what kind of tests I could run for that, much less how I could treat it."
Sam sighed. "Neither do I. And there's another thing...," she trailed off, not really sure whether and how she should say this. It was really just a guess.
"What is it?"
Sam took a deep breath. "I don't think it's just memories coming back, General. I think it might be their actual personalities."
He wasn't sure whether he got what she was saying there. "You mean we will soon be talking to Jolinar and Que'tesh?"
Sam nodded. "Something like that, yes."
"It makes sense, in a twisted way, I guess," Carolyn said after a few moments of thinking about Sam's suggestion. "The Goa'uld, in their native state, have very small brains and it seems like only when they take over a host they really develop something we would call a personality. Most of what really makes them 'them' is their genetic memory, which also gets transferred to the next host. But the actual thinking takes place with the brain of the host, not the one of the Goa'uld. What we call 'personalities' might have been laying dormant in their brains until now and have been awakened together with the resurfacing of the memories."
General Landry was trying very hard to resist the temptation of just burying his face in his hands. This was rapidly turning out to be a nightmare. He couldn't let either of the two affected women run freely around the base like this. On the other hand, Colonel Carter seemed like she had a fair grasp on what was happening and might be able to help come up with a solution. "Do any of you have any suggestions as to what we can do now?"
"We could contact the Tok'ra. Maybe they can help us. They once used a device to suppress the Goa'uld in Ska'ara," Sam suggested.
He nodded. "We will do that. Might take them some time to respond, though," he said. The Tok'ra had been quite withdrawn from the humans on Earth for the past few years. He hoped they would help them. "Any ideas for managing the situation in the meantime?"
Carolyn shrugged. "Apart from a mild sedative, I can't think of anything. And even that might be the wrong way to go about this. It might just weaken the host and make it easier for the other consciousness to surface."
Sam didn't have any better ideas either. She agreed with Carolyn that the sedative might have exactly the opposite effect from the ones they wanted to achieve.
"Good," the General concluded. "I will have the Tok'ra contacted then. In the meantime, try to control Vala and keep Colonel Carter under observation," he said to Carolyn, who nodded in reply. "Dismissed."
It didn't take a lot of strength to snap a human's neck.
And still it filled her with pleasure. She tightened her grip around the servant's neck. He didn't struggle. He was dying for his one, true God.
Slowly, Vala became aware of her surroundings again. Her body felt numb and the memory of what had happened only slowly filtered back into her conscious mind. It had all felt so real until the needle had put a stop to it.
She opened her eyes. The light was too bright and hurt her, but she forced her eyes open despite that. She was still in the infirmary. She saw Sam in the bed beside her, speaking to one of the nurses. Sam was dressed in normal clothes and looked quite cheerful, laughing at something the nurse said.
Sam heard something move behind her and turned her head. When she saw that Vala's eyes were open and the other woman looked quite awake, she told the nurse to inform General Landry and then got up to walk to Vala's bed. "Hey, how are you feeling?"
Vala coughed to clear her throat. "Bit dizzy," she answered.
"I'll get you something to drink," Sam said.
By the time Vala had had something to drink, more people had entered the infirmary. Teal'c and Cameron came in first, shortly followed by General Landry. Only then did Vala notice that there were two airmen standing at the door. And Vala could tell what they were there for.
"Are you feeling well again, Vala Mal Doran?" Teal'c asked.
"I am fine," Vala replied, still eyeing the guards suspiciously. "Why are there guards at the door?"
The general sat down on the chair next to Vala's bed. "They are there for your own protection," he said, knowing that it didn't sound all that convincing.
"Yeah, I am sure they are." There was no doubt in her mind that they were there just to keep her inside. As though she was dangerous to anyone. She was just having a few bad memories reappear.
"We need to talk about your's and Colonel Carter's condition," General Landry went on, not paying attention to Vala's sarcasm.
"Have you found a cure? Is Daniel back yet?" Vala asked.
Cam shook his head. "He's still working on it."
"We think we might have an explanation for what is happening to us, though," Sam said. She noticed that Vala was getting a bit agitated. The sedative was wearing off very fast. "And why it is affecting you more than me," she added.
"But you haven't found anything to help me." Vala wasn't even sure she wanted to know what was happening. Deep in herself she could feel something... awakening. She didn't want them to say it. "And you seem to think I am dangerous," she said with a glance at the infirmary doors.
"We don't think you're dangerous," Cam said. He was lying and he hoped that it wasn't showing. He had heard what Carter suspected from the general and it sounded like Vala could actually become dangerous and violent.
"Yes, you do," Vala said, her voice sounding shrill even to her own ears. She felt suffocated. She wanted to go outside and not be confined by the infirmary walls. Most of all, she wanted this all to be over.
"We just think you are a bit unstable right now," Sam said, trying to calm her down. Unfortunately, it seemed to have the opposite effect.
"I am not unstable," Vala shouted and got up from her bed. How could they say such a thing instead of helping her? Did they think she was dumb as well as 'unstable'?
"Please calm down and sit," General Landry said. "That you are acting like this speaks for itself, really." "He eyed the two guards at the door, who had grabbed their weapons a bit tighter when Vala had jumped up.
But Vala didn't sit down. This was getting outrageous. "I am not a Goa'uld and I will not sit down. I am going now." She turned on the spot and hurried to the door. The guards stepped towards her. They would not let her leave.
"Again, please sit down," the general repeated.
"Vala," Sam pleaded. "Please, be reasonable. You aren't being yourself."
Vala turned to face them again. She could feel something happening inside of her. Something bad. It was like a switch being pushed. "I am not going to be subjected to this treatment," she could hear herself say. Only it wasn't her forming the words. Her body moved as though it wasn't hers, without any input from her. Before she could even form a coherent thought, she had flung one of the guards into the wall and kicked the other in the groin in one swift move.
Teal'c jumped up and ran to the door, but it was already too late. Vala Mal Doran had run past the guards and slammed the door behind her. He and Cameron Mitchell sped to the door, going after her.
"That wasn't Vala, was it?" General Landry asked.
Sam, completely caught off-guard by Vala's behavior just nodded. "I think we may have just met Que'tesh."
"Whoever or whatever that was, we need to find her," General Landry said, getting out of his chair. The base was highly secure, but if anyone knew all about it, it was Vala. She could probably escape out of a prison cell if she wanted to. "I will have more people search for her. I want you to stay on base," he said directed at Sam.
Sam nodded and stood up. She knew if Vala, or for that matter Que'tesh wanted to escape, no one would be able to stop her. Sam didn't intend to stay on base. Vala would leave the base through the ladder system that was used for emergencies, and even if Teal'c and Cam followed her that way, they wouldn't be faster than Vala. By now, Vala was probably already on the surface, trying to get away from the guards stationed around the mountain. Sam needed to get to her.
Vala had no control, but, could she have done so, she would have screamed. She knew this feeling all too well, could remember it from the many years spent imprisoned in her own mind. She watched helpless as her body ran through the all too familiar corridors and climbed up towards the surface. Vala could hear the sirens going off and knew that she was being followed. There would be dozens of people coming after her now, she knew that. And she wanted them to find her.
The thing was awakening inside of her, she knew it. But she couldn't believe it.
The guard outside the mountain were oblivious of the fact that Sam was not allowed to pass them and let her though. Sam found Vala between the trees very close to the fence that protected Cheyenne Mountain from curious outsiders. She approached her slowly, knowing that Vala was aware of her presence even though she looked in the other direction. Vala was too skilled to not notice her. Sam could only hope Que'tesh was not in control - that was a physical fight she did not want to get into.
The urge to just run was strong, but Vala resisted. There was nowhere to run to, after all. Everything was sealed off and patrolled by dozens of soldiers who protected the base from intruders as much as they protected the outside world from whatever was capable of leaving the mountain. It was probably Sam anyway, and she had nothing to fear from Sam. Right now, the source of her fear came from within.
Sam walked around Vala so that the other woman could see her. She wasn't armed, but by Vala's posture alone she could see that this was Vala and not Que'tesh. Sympathy welled up in her at the sight of Vala's face. Vala was not only confused, but also looked incredibly scared.
"I don't know what happened there," Vala whispered.
Sam shook her head. "Actually, I think you do." She needed Vala to face the full extent of the situation. Only then could they change something.
Vala knew what she meant. But it couldn't be. It wasn't supposed to be and so she didn't answer Sam.
"We both know it, Vala. That was Que'tesh, wasn't it?"
Vala just shrugged. Saying yes was just too hard.
Sam walked over to the other woman, hoping that she wasn't going to run away. When Vala didn't move, she sat down on the grass next to her and softly placed a hand on Vala's shoulder.
Vala flinched at the touch, but didn't back away. This was not the time for running. She had run away so often in her life and maybe it needed to stop here. She couldn't run away from this. "She's dead," she whispered. "She's supposed to be dead." She could feel her guard slipping and tears welling up in her eyes, but she bit on her lip, hard, as if she could just make them go away through that. She had seen the images - Que'tesh was gone from her body.
"I know," Sam said. "So is Jolinar."
"She used my knowledge to get out of the base. It was her. How is this even possible?" Vala said, knowing that the fear was apparent in her voice. She didn't care anymore. This was the stuff her nightmares were made out of, only this was real. She wouldn't wake up anytime soon. She leaned her head against Sam's shoulder, needing some physical comfort.
Sam felt Vala search for contact with her and lay her right arm around Vala's shoulder. "I can't even begin to explain how the machine did this. But I think Daniel is right and this was designed to strengthen the control of the Goa'uld over its host. And somehow, in us, it awakened what was left."
Vala wasn't sure she understood it, either. "Can you feel her?" she asked, not knowing what answer she was hoping for.
"Yes, but my reaction seems to be weaker. I think it's because Jolinar and I were never really blended. But I can definitely feel her, like she's just under the surface, waiting to come out. And I know I am already behaving differently. Jolinar was very... irrational at times."
Vala nodded. "I know what you mean. I could... feel her, too. I just didn't want to believe it. I got so angry."
Sam had an idea. "You know, I think you're right."
"Right? I didn't even suggest anything."
"No, but you made a very good point." Sam wondered why she hadn't thought of this before. "I can definitely feel Jolinar, or her remains in my brain, get stronger whenever I experience very strong emotions. Maybe we can do something with that."
Vala thought she knew where this was going and wanted to protest at first, but decided not to in the end. They needed a solution, even if it meant she would need to work on herself for that. Reverting back to Que'tesh was simply unacceptable.
"Come on, let's go back inside," Sam said, but didn't yet get up. Her fingers went to Vala's head and she briefly stroked the other woman's hair. It was soft against her fingers.
Slowly, Vala untangled herself from Sam and got to her feet. She could still feel the warmth of Sam's hand on her shoulder, but it faded quickly. She felt cold.
When Vala and Sam went back into the base, they were stopped by guards. But Sam was able to convince them that she would take care of Vala and so they only called General Landry and walked behind them, their weapons ready, as they went deeper into the base, instead of forcibly restraining Vala. Sam could feel that Vala wouldn't react well to that right now.
Cam and Teal'c met them at the elevator, having been informed of their arrival by the general. They entered the briefing room behind Sam and Vala, motioning at the guards to stand at the door once more.
General Landry wasn't sure what to say once they all sat down again. Vala was looking at the floor now, almost seeming embarrassed, but she didn't say anything. He cleared his throat.
"I don't think Vala poses a threat anymore," Sam said. "At least not for the moment," she added with a glance at the woman to her right, who was nodding. Vala still didn't say anything, though, and so Sam continued to talk. "We think we might have come up with a way to keep this under control, at least."
"That sounds promising," the General said.
"Sir, with your permission I would like to try meditation as a temporary measure until we can come up with a solution." Sam looked at Teal'c, who nodded.
"Colonel, it's not like we have a choice between several solutions here. I am happy with anything at this point." General Landry could feel himself developing a new headache.
Teal'c bowed his head. "And I would be honored to teach the two of you in meditation."
"Good, that's settled then," the General concluded. "But you will be under supervision the whole time."
Vala nodded. As he had said, it wasn't like they had a lot of things to choose from at the moment.
Vala felt uncomfortable as soon as she stepped into Teal'c's quarters. All the candles and the warmth that radiated from them should have helped to make her feel relaxed, she knew that. But for her, this wasn't relaxing. Her Jaffa had done that as well. And she didn't want to make her mind empty, or whatever it was that Teal'c did. If she stopped thinking, she would hear the echoes of Que'tesh in her mind. But she couldn't turn back now and just wait for someone else to come up with a solution.
"Please, sit down," Teal'c said. He saw that Vala Mal Doran was looking a bit distressed. That would not be good
"Thought you didn't do this a lot anymore, Muscles," Vala tried to joke, but knew that she failed horribly. She just wasn't in the mood for jokes of any kind anymore.
Teal'c sat down. "I still enjoy meditation quite often, actually. It is a very relaxing method."
"Come on, Vala, if we can beat up aliens, we can sit down and breathe regularly, right?" Sam said, noticing the hesitation in Vala. She touched Vala's shoulder and gently exerted some pressure and Vala gave in and sat down on the floor, where Sam joined her.
"Close your eyes," Teal'c said, his voice deep and calming as always.
Sam closed her eyes and concentrated on her breathing. She had joined Teal'c in meditation before, back when Daniel had been gone. It had helped her a lot then and she remembered the technique despite not having done it in years now. She felt Vala move beside her, though, and knew the other woman was having a lot more problems with this exercise.
"Close your eyes," Teal'c repeated as he opened his at the sound of clothes moving and found Vala looking at him.
Sighing, Vala tried to close her eyes again. She didn't like this at all.
Teal'c resumed his instructions. "Now, focus on your body. Feel yourself breathe. In and out." He spoke slowly, trying to get the two women into the right relaxed state with the help of his voice.
Her breathing was steady and Vala tried to fit her pattern to Teal'c's instructions. She could feel that it was doing her good and her panic slowly subsided.
"Concentrate on your middle, on your center. Feel how you are grounded through it."
On the other side of Teal'c, Sam had problems with the meditation, she couldn't focus, which was something she hadn't experienced before. This had been easy for her after the first time and even that had been different. She could hear both Vala and Teal'c breathing now. While Sam knew there were guards with them in the room, they were obviously trying very hard not to disturb them in any way.
Vala, on the other hand, was getting calmer with each passing second. She could practically feel the weight being lifted from her mind and after a while, she felt as though she was floating in the room. Teal'c said something from time to time, but Vala couldn't make out the words - she didn't need to.
"What is the matter, Samantha Carter?" Teal'c looked at Vala Mal Doran, who looked like she was already deep in meditation. He hadn't expected her to react this well to his instructions, but was glad that she did and hoped he would not interrupt her with his words. However, she seemed to remain unaffected by his voice. Only Samantha Carter seemed to be having problems.
Sam opened her eyes and looked at Teal'c, who was looking back. She shook her head. "I don't know."
"Maybe the surroundings are not helpful for you," Teal'c suggested and looked at the guards at the door to his quarters.
Sam shrugged. "I have no idea."
"Maybe you are still too restless due to recent events. It might take some time for you to achieve the inner calm you need. I am confident that you will succeed, though. You do have the tools; you just need to use them."
She nodded, understanding what he was saying. He knew she would see her own inability to relax as a failure, which it wasn't. She would just need to try again later, when her head was clearer. "Thank you, Teal'c."
She was disgusted by herself. How could she let this man touch her. Touch her like only Martouf should. But where Martouf was slow and gentle and only rough when she wanted him to be, this man was rough and hurt her just by touching her.
He smirked when he undressed her and Jolinar barely resisted the urge to run. There was no choice. He pushed her down on the bed. Jolinar closed her eyes.
Sam sat up in her bed. Once again, she was drenched in sweat and breathing heavily, only this time, she was in the infirmary. This was all getting too much. Sam knew she needed to relax and closed her eyes for a few seconds, only to open them again. The images were still there when she closed her eyes.
The infirmary was empty except for her and Vala. No nurses running around, no guards standing at the door. Maybe they were positioned outside now.
Vala was getting up from her bed. She had just been sitting on her bed, eating a piece of chocolate cake that Teal'c had brought her from the cafeteria. "You didn't sleep well, did you?" she asked.
Sam looked at the other woman. She could feel how heavily she was still breathing. How could Vala not notice that? "Do I look like I slept well," she snapped.
"Hey, no need to snap at me. I was just asking."
Sam glared. "Yes, asking a completely pointless question."
"Hey, sorry, didn't know you'd go this ballistic." Vala walked over to where Sam was sitting on the bed.
"I am not 'going ballistic', I have just had it with you and your stupid, repetitive questions."
"You need to calm down," Vala said and grabbed Sam's hand in a futile attempt to get Sam to relax a bit.
"I don't need to do anything," Sam shouted. She wouldn't let other people tell her what to do anymore. And nobody got to hold her prisoner.
"And I demand to get out of here," Jolinar said, her voice threatening. From the reaction on the human's face, she could tell that she was frightened. She was frighted herself. She hadn't thought she'd get through this time.
"This isn't you speaking, Sam. You need to fight her."
"Samantha has no need to fight me," Jolinar said.
Sam was terrified. She knew this, she had done this before. And yet, deep down on some level, she was calm. Jolinar had never been a threat to her; she had never meant to hurt her and had given her life for her. She wouldn't hurt Vala.
"Then let her go," Vala demanded, fully aware of the fact that panic was rising inside of her. She couldn't let that feeling get the better of her, she needed to stay calm. Que'tesh was a much bigger threat than Jolinar.
Jolinar shook her head. "It is not as easy as that." She had tried giving Samantha back control over her body and that had failed. Now she needed to get herself heard.
"What do you mean?" Vala tried to keep her breathing under control. She could only hope that Sam had been right with her hypothesis that they could control their former symbionts by staying calm and she had learned enough from Teal'c to have an effect now.
"I can not seem to control this. As I understand it, I am not here in any physical form. If I were, I would be able to give control back to my host."
Sam fought to gain control. She was getting more and more panicked by the second and she knew this was working against her, but she couldn't help it. At least the last time she had had Jolinar take over, Jolinar had been talking to her, explaining things. This time, she shouted at Jolinar in her head, but the Tok'ra didn't answer. Maybe it didn't work that way this time and that left no way to communicate with Jolinar. And maybe Jolinar really couldn't hand over Sam's body again; which still didn't make the situation any better.
Jolinar was confused as well; she didn't understand how this was possible at all. She was supposed to be dead, after all. Yet here she was, a consciousness inside Samantha Carter's body, had been for a day. And she didn't have her own body anymore. Neither did she have any access to Samantha's part of the brain as she had had when they were physically joined. From what she had heard in the past day she had been able to discern a vague time-frame - it was definitely several years since she had been joined with Samantha. Other than that, she had no idea what had happened.
"I need to talk to someone," Jolinar said. "Who is in command here?" she then added. They wanted to get rid of her, she had understood so much. And she was terrified of dying again.
But Sam got the upper hand again. Vala could see it by the way Sam's body suddenly seemed to sink back into itself again.
Sam stumbled back and knocked against the bed. She lost her balance and would have fallen to the floor had Vala not reacted fast and grabbed her arm to stabilize her.
"Sam?" Vala asked.
Sam nodded. "It's me," she whispered and let herself be led to her bed again by Vala.
The door to the infirmary opened and a guard came in. "Is everything alright in here?" he asked, his right hand resting at his weapon. Sam guessed that the shouting must have alarmed him.
"No, everything is fine," she answered hastily.
Vala opened her mouth, wanting to say something, but was shut up by Sam glaring at her.
The guard looked unconvinced, but left the room nonetheless.
"Sam, we need to tell someone."
"No, we don't. In fact, let's not talk about this again," Sam said and turned away from Vala. What Jolinar had just said, it made her uncomfortable and it brought up too many difficult questions. What if they had the chance to remove what was left of Jolinar? Should they really do it? She had felt how terrified Jolinar was at the thought of dying again. Did they have any right to do that to her again, now that Jolinar was left with no body of her own?
Sam looked at Vala and saw that the other woman was intimidated, even though Vala tried to hide it. "I'm sorry," she said and lowered her eyes.
"It's okay." Vala went back to her bed. If Sam didn't want to talk about it, she wouldn't press the issue any further.
Sam couldn't go back to resting, though. With Vala, what had to be done was clear. Que'tesh could not be allowed to live like that. But Jolinar? Jolinar was one of the dying race of the Tok'ra and she would never hurt anyone. She was just as terrified of what was happening as Sam was.
Two days passed without any further outbursts by either Sam or Vala due to continued sessions with Teal'c. But there was also no change in the the team's inability to come up with a solution to the problem. The ruins of the ancient Goa'uld settlement were extensive and the inscriptions were hard to translate. The Tok'ra didn't respond to their calls at all. Doctor Lam and her team were still unable to find a way to extract the remains of Jolinar and Que'tesh. Getting in new scientists was hard with the secrecy of the SGC, but Sam and Vala still knew that some of the brightest minds of the planet were working on helping them. They just weren't making any progress.
In the end and after a few complaints and some begging by Vala and Sam, General Landry could not hold them confined any longer. He wasn't going to let them go back to their on-base quarters though. He wanted them in the VIP quarters, with guards positioned outside and under video surveillance.
Sam wasn't sure how Vala managed to do it, but in the end the video surveillance was erased from the plan, but then the general insisted that they share quarters so that they could monitor each other. Neither of the women was bothered by that, both having slept in the same tent countless times on missions.
Sam was working on her computer, thinking that she could at least use some of the downtime to work on one of her projects. They had both undergone more tests these past days, but Doctor Lam didn't need her at the moment. She also couldn't help Daniel, so now she was just trying to keep from being bored and thinking too much about the situation at hand - it would only lead to her stressing and that wouldn't end well at all.
Vala, on the other hand, was completely bored. The TV was boring, books were boring and Sam wasn't being much fun, either. Catching up on sleep wasn't possible anymore - she wasn't even remotely tired by now. She closed her eyes nonetheless.
She couldn't believe it. The insolence. She was their God, how dare they do this.
Vala tried to open her eyes. She couldn't.
An uprising. Of all things that ended her reign, it was the weak humans that finally managed it.
They were hurting her. How dare they do that.
Vala panicked. She could feel Que'tesh now, in all her strength. Que'tesh was fighting for every minuscule amount of control she could have and Vala could already feel her control slipping away. It caused even more panic in her mind. She couldn't breathe. And there was no way to stop it. She opened her eyes and leapt off the bed, halfway to the door before she slowed down.
Sam saw what was happening to her friend. And she knew that the experience with Que'tesh the other day had terrified Vala even more than what Sam had experienced with Jolinar. She stepped closer to Vala, fully aware that should Que'tesh take control, she would probably try to snap her neck. This wasn't important anymore. Sam took Vala's face into her hands and looked her into the eyes. "Look at me," she said in an attempt to get Vala to focus. Vala lay her hands on her shoulder, and just as Sam thought she was getting through to Vala, she was being pushed against the wall.
Vala didn't know why she did it. She didn't even particularly care. All she felt was the pressure of Sam's body against her as she pushed her against the wall and the wetness of Sam's lips against hers. For a moment, the other woman resisted and Vala was just about to back away when Sam's lips opened up against hers.
Maybe it was just because she was taken by surprise, but Sam didn't resist as much as she could. She was almost certainly stronger than Vala, at the very least her equal in physical strength. But she did not push Vala away. The feel of the other woman's body against hers, the unfamiliar lips against hers - how long had it been since she had been kissed like this? Months, years? Had Pete ever kissed her like this? Thoughts raced through her head, but nothing really meant anything.
Vala's hand left Sam's shoulders, where she had pushed the other woman against the wall and slid further down. She felt the curve of Sam's breast, but slid down further to the hem of Sam's shirt. Her hand touched bare skin.
Sam flinched at the touch. Vala's hand was warm against her skin, her fingers grabbing her waist and pulling her even closer. Vala's mouth was still on hers. She broke away, needing to breathe. "What are you...," she tried to say, but was stopped by Vala's mouth again covering hers. There was no way to break away now, Sam knew it. Something in her wanted this, wanted to feel in a physical way, not in an emotional one. Maybe it was an after-effect of the device, she told herself. She knew she was lying to herself.
Vala's hands moved almost as if they weren't guided by her brain. One of them stroked Sam's back, while the other still pushed her against the wall. The resistance was gone now and Sam's tongue was stroking Vala's. Vala didn't think anymore, she just acted. Her right hand slid higher, exposing more of Sam's bare skin to the cold air in the process. Vala could feel the arousal starting to take over her body. It had been so long since she had been with a woman. Before Que'tesh.
Sam felt Vala pulling away slightly and grabbed the other woman's back, pulling her closer again. She put her hand under Vala's shirt, feeling the soft skin. Sam pushed her hand upwards, and pulled Vala's shirt over her head.
Vala had to pull away a little as Sam removed her shirt. She looked at Sam. The other woman's face was flushed and she was breathing heavily through her mouth. Sam's hair was ruffled. Vala grabbed the hem of Sam's shirt and removed that as well. She saw the black no-nonsense bra underneath it and almost had to smirk. Of course Sam wouldn't be the person to wear actual lingerie to work. Vala wasted no time and opened Sam's bra with only one hand.
The feeling of Vala's hand on her bra and the very skilled removal of it afterward made Sam pause for a moment. Then, before she could think about it too much, Vala had removed her own bra and Sam could feel her breasts touching those of the other woman. Sam gasped at the feeling. She had only been with a woman once before and that had been years before and in a slightly inebriated state of mind. This whole scenario was alien to her. "Vala," she whispered.
"Don't talk," Vala answered and kissed Sam again, this time gently and not demanding. She took both of Sam's hands into hers. Then she stepped away and guided Sam to the bed.
Sam followed Vala, stunned by how naturally Vala handled her partial nudity. Vala was both slim and muscular and she had a few scars on her upper body, all signs of the life she had led so far. Sam was self-conscious of her body most of the time even though she knew she didn't have to be. Military life meant her body was in good shape all the time.
Vala embraced Sam again and kissed her before gently pushing her to the bed. Sam complied immediately, but Vala could also see she was uncomfortable. She lay down next to Sam and looked into the other woman's eyes.
Maybe she should feel uncomfortable. Sam had always felt uncomfortable in situations such as this. She wondered what the other person thought about her body, whether she would 'be good' and millions of other things. But looking into Vala's eyes, she relaxed. She wouldn't be judged here.
Vala's fingers trailed down Sam's body, her fingertips lightly touching the soft skin. The other woman shuddered as Vala's fingers reached her nipples and Vala remained there for a while, just gently stroking. Then her fingers went down further until she reached the buttons of Sam's trousers. Skilled in this art, she unbuttoned the pants and pushed them downward.
Sam kicked off the trousers and the socks she had been wearing. Vala's hand was now exploring the area just above her panties. Sam could feel herself getting wet at that sensation.
Her fingers slid lower, still outside of Sam's underwear. Sam spread her legs at that, just an inch, but it was enough so that Vala gently press Sam's clit. Sam moaned softly at that and Vala just had to kiss her again. She slid her tongue into Sam's mouth, holding Sam's face with one hand while massaging Sam's clit with the other.
The time for rational thought was over and Sam moaned loudly at the skilled touch that sent waves of pleasure through her body. Then Vala's hand left its place and went lower.
Vala felt the wetness of Sam's panties through the fabric and pushed it away. Her index and middle fingers were now pressing against Sam's center, but she didn't yet slide them in. But as she felt Sam pushing against her fingers, she gave in to the other woman's demand and pushed the fingers inside.
Sam gasped at the feeling of Vala's fingers inside of her. Vala's thumb was massaging her clit again now, while the two fingers pushed in and out of her at the same rhythm. She liked to have something in there, had always enjoyed it when her partners had put two fingers inside of her while pleasuring her orally. And it had been so long time since someone had made her feel like this. She could feel that her body was already close, responding to the rhythmic pressure like it did when she touched herself. But that was usually about releasing stress or when she couldn't fall asleep. Vala was making this all about Sam's pleasure.
The signs of an imminent orgasm were obvious to Vala. But she wouldn't let Sam off the hook like that. Not yet. She slowed down her movements and then took her fingers away altogether, while already sliding down Sam's body. When she reached Sam's breasts, she started to explore the reactions she got, first gently kissing Sam's nipple, then sucking on them a bit. A gentle bite confirmed that Sam liked kissing and sucking better and she did that for a few moments while stroking Sam's inner thighs with her right hand, which was still wet.
Then Vala slid down lower, kissing Sam's stomach and belly button and then reaching her goal. She swiftly got rid of Sam's panties and Sam spread her legs further so that Vala could lie down between them. Vala kissed Sam's inner thighs first and the other woman pushed down a bit, indicating what she wanted. Vala's fingers slid back inside of Sam and Sam moaned loudly again. Then Vala's tongue touched Sam's clit, first very gently. When Sam responded well to that, Vala cupped the whole area with her mouth and circled Sam's clit with her tongue while once again sliding in and out of Sam with her fingers.
Sam couldn't hold back any longer and she didn't want to. She pushed against Vala's mouth and could feel her muscles clenching around Vala's fingers. She almost screamed as the warm sensation spread from her clit through her whole body. Vala's fingers and mouth continued what they were doing and prolonged her orgasm until she couldn't stand it anymore and pulled away.
After remaining in her position for a few more seconds, Vala moved upwards again until her head was on the same level as Sam's.
Sam kissed the other woman and she could taste herself. It tasted good, she had to admit to herself, she hadn't ever really thought about that. Sam knew Vala would never pressure her to do anything, but Sam did feel the urge to do to Vala what Vala had just done to her. Oddly enough, she didn't feel nervous at the thought, even though she had never done this before. She unbuttoned Vala's trousers.
"You... don't have to do this, Sam," Vala whispered.
Sam shook her head. "I know." She pushed the trousers down as far as she could and then gently started exploring the area with her hand, starting on Vala's thighs. Vala was wearing a thong and so Sam could stroke more of the skin on her ass. Her hand wandered to the front and deciding not to draw this out, she pushed down Vala's thong as well.
Vala was surprised by how fast Sam was doing this, but didn't say anything. She had never asked Sam about this, but just assumed that Sam didn't habitually have sex with women. In fact, she supposed that during the last few months, Sam hadn't had sex with anyone.
Kissing her way down Vala's body, Sam tried to rid her head of any distracting thoughts. Surely this couldn't be hard, could it? She was a woman after all. Sam lingered at Vala's breasts a bit, first gently kissing and then biting a little. Vala gasped, which made a small grin spread across Sam's face. She had guessed correctly, Vala was more into the rough treatment then the kisses. Sam found herself enjoying the unfamiliar territory. She had always held an appreciation for curves on a woman, and these were very nice curves. Then she slid even lower, freeing Vala of the rest of her clothing in the process.
Vala opened her legs when Sam arrived at her destination, settling between them and closed her eyes. It had been longer than she cared to admit since anyone had been in this position.
At first, Sam took a moment just to look at Vala. She hoped she wasn't making the other woman uncomfortable, but it didn't look like that. Then she gently stroked Vala's clit, getting a moan in response. She leaned in closer and put her mouth over Vala's clit, her tongue gently flickering over it.
Apparently, that was very good. Somehow, it was no surprise to Sam that Vala was a moaner, quite loudly displaying her pleasure. Soon afterward, Sam did what Vala had done earlier and slid a finger into Vala, moving it in the same rhythm as her tongue. Vala pressed against her at that and quickly, Sam had three fingers inside of Vala, eliciting loud moans and gasps from her. For no reason she could discern, Sam then used her thumb to massage Vala's perineum.
Vala gasped loudly and could not hold back anymore. She had no idea where Sam had learned that from and she didn't care. Nothing was important anymore as her body seemed to explode in heat and pleasure.
Sam was a bit taken aback by Vala's orgasm, not really knowing what to do. She rarely paid any attention to what she or her partner did at that moment, so she just continued pushing inside of Vala, but held her tongue still until Vala lay back, her body completely devoid of any muscle tension.
As always after orgasm, Vala was completely spent and her instinct was to roll on her side and just sleep. It was taking all her energy just to tug on Sam's shoulder a bit so that Sam would come up again and join her.
When Sam lay down beside Vala, the other woman was already almost asleep. Vala was facing away from her, and at first Sam didn't know what to do with herself, but then she just positioned herself behind her friend, naked skin against naked skin and wrapped her left arm against Vala's waist. Vala in turn pressed herself against Sam's body. It wasn't long until Sam, too, was sound asleep.
Vala was woken up by a sound she couldn't place the next morning. Opening her eyes, she remembered where she was and then when she looked around she could also see what had woken her. Sam had already gotten up and was getting dressed. "Good morning," Vala mumbled.
Sam almost knocked against the bed when she heard Vala speak. She was just about to pull her shirt over her head. "Good morning," she said, unsure about what else to say. This whole situation was more than just uncomfortable for her. She was also generally feeling a bit unwell, but hoped that was just from the lack of sleep.
Yawning, Vala stretched her body and then got out of bed. She retrieved fresh underwear from one of the drawers and then located the rest of her clothes on various places on the floor. She smiled at the thought of how it had gotten there.
Sam finished dressing herself and sat down on one of the chairs. She watched Vala as the other woman got dressed. The sight of Vala's body sent a shudder down her spine and she tried to push the memories of Vala's mouth and fingers away.
There was a knock at the door. Vala was still not completely dressed, but took her time with pulling the shirt over her head. Sam had turned towards her and now looked like she was a deer caught in the headlights. Smiling at that, Vala wandered to where her underwear was still lying on the floor and picked it up.
"Colonel Carter?" someone shouted from the other side of the door.
"Don't you wanna open the door?" Vala asked.
Sam stared at her for a second, and then slowly nodded. "Sure," she said, made completely speechless by how Vala was handling this situation. There were so many interpretations of this behavior and some of them were contrary to each other - maybe Vala assumed that this had been a one-night, or maybe she assumed this was going to happen again? Sam had no way of reading her and right now, she also didn't have the time. She opened the door to two airmen, looking alarmed. "Is there a problem?" she asked them, hoping that they were only looking confused because she opened the door and not because she was wearing her shirt inside-out or something like that.
"Daniel Jackson has returned, ma'am. General Landry wants to see both of you as soon as possible."
Sam looked over her shoulder at Vala, who shrugged.
"Now works for me." Vala could see the confusion in Sam's face, but she had no strength left right now to deal with it. She would never admit that to anyone, of course, but it was taking a lot of strength to hold Que'tesh back. She had woken up several times during the night, not because of nightmares, but because she could feel Que'tesh. Observing. Waiting for her chance.
They hurried to the briefing room, the guards following them. The room was already quite full with the General heading it, Daniel still in his dig clothes, Cam, Teal'c and Doctor Lam waiting for Sam and Vala, who sat down on the two available chairs.
"So, Daniel, any good news?" Vala asked.
"I think so," Daniel answered, glancing at the general to check whether he was okay with starting now. That seemed to be the case. But just as Daniel wanted to say something, he was interrupted by Vala.
"Soooo, are you going to tell us?"
He ignored her. "I think I may know how to reverse the process," he announced. Daniel saw that everyone in the room immediately got very excited and added, "I am not sure, though." He didn't want to get people's hopes up only to crush them.
"How?" Cam simply asked.
"Parts of the buildings on that planet seemed to serve as labs, back when the Goa'uld hadn't yet mastered all Ancient technology and were still trying to create their own and to adapt the parts of Ancient technology that they did understand. They were only starting to use humans as hosts back then and apparently, the process didn't always work."
"Didn't you already tell us that?" Vala asked.
Daniel sighed. "I am not talking about what happened when the blending process didn't work. One of the labs I found seemed to be used to study a condition that appeared when the reverse didn't work. They didn't have sarcophagi then as far as I can tell and apparently sometimes the process of detaching from a host didn't work and meant both beings had to die."
"Like what happened to my dad?" Sam said, trying hard not to remember more of that incident.
Daniel nodded. "I think it's comparable, yes, though not quite the same. The physical detachment of the Goa'uld seemed to work, but something else went wrong, I couldn't quite decipher what that left of the Goa'uld somehow... faulty because parts of the host's personality was joined to it. That resulted in very abnormal behavior."
"Are you telling us that there is a device designed to separate the human and Goa'uld consciousness on the planet, Daniel Jackson?"
"Something like that, yes, Teal'c. It's actually the same device, used differently. It should get completely rid of any of the personality remains in Sam and Vala."
General Landry leaned back in his seat. "Is it safe to use?" he asked.
Daniel shrugged. "We are fairly certain of our translation of what the thing does and how we need to use it, but of course we can never say for sure. And it's not like we can test it."
"So, this would be a last chance scenario?" the General asked.
"I think we are rapidly reaching the point where we have to use the last chance scenario," Carolyn spoke up looking over the notes she had received from her second in command just minutes before this meeting.
"Is it that bad?" Sam asked.
Carolyn nodded. "Not yet, but both of you could decline rather rapidly. I really can't tell when, but if we have a chance now, I strongly suggest taking it."
"The Tok'ra haven't answered yet, have they?" Sam asked, knowing what the answer would be.
General Landry shook his head. "I'm afraid not. I think if you two are willing to go through with this, we should trust Doctor Jackson's assessment.
Daniel cleared his throat. "I know this may not be the best topic to talk about now, but should we plan to go through with this, there is also an ethical question to this extraction, especially as pertaining to Jolinar. We would effectively be killing them," Daniel said, knowing everyone else would really not be happy about that.
"Oh for God's sake, Jackson. We are not dealing with human beings or Jaffa here. They don't even have their own bodies," Cam exclaimed.
Daniel had of course also known someone would say that. "No, we are not. But we are still dealing with intelligent entities and we can't just dismiss that because we are uncomfortable with that."
"I think Daniel is making a good point," Sam said. She felt all eyes resting upon her now even though she had barely spoken above a whisper.
"What do you mean?" Cam asked.
I...." Sam hesitated. "I didn't say it at the time, but Jolinar resurfaced once. And she was so confused and scared. She doesn't want to die."
"But she is already dead," Cam objected. He thought this was getting insane. Why were they even talking about this when they could help Sam and Vala right this second?
"She doesn't know that," Sam answered. "Well, she knows that she died for me, but she's still here. She doesn't understand that."
"Why did you not tell us before?" General Landry asked.
Sam shrugged. "I was terrified, sir. I just wanted her to get out of me."
"And what do you want to happen now, Colonel Carter?" Teal'c said.
There was no clear answer to that, Sam knew that. "I don't know Teal'c. But we can't just dismiss this concern and pretend it doesn't exist just because it makes us uncomfortable, as Daniel said. Doesn't Jolinar have a right to live as well?"
Cam shook his head. "I don't think she does Sam, and no offense, but I think you might not be making the best judgment here. Jolinar may have died for you, but Que'tesh would kill us if she had the chance."
Vala hadn't said anything yet and she also wasn't sure how she could possibly contribute. She didn't understand Sam, but she realized that this was important for her and so she kept her mouth shut.
"I agree with you. But Jolinar quite clearly means us no harm, does she?" Daniel asked. He actually didn't enjoy being the voice of ethics like this, but he didn't want this to be brushed over - they were talking about extracting two sentient beings from the only place they could possibly exist.
Sam nodded. "She doesn't. She never did."
"I am sorry Doctor Jackson, Colonel Carter, but I really think this is a futile discussion. We can't just leave Jolinar inside of your brain, with no way to control her at all," the General chimed in. He had not expected this discussion, especially not from the colonel. "And from what Doctor Lam just said, it sounds like we might not really have a choice here anyway. Or at least not a choice that I am willing to make."
Carolyn nodded. "Both Vala's and Colonel Carter's brain activity is still increased and even slightly increasing according to our last results. In the long term, this will be a problem and even in the short term, this is a significant strain on the brain and the rest of the body," she explained.
This did not sound good to the general. Carolyn wasn't one for exaggerations, so when she said there were concerns there was a good reason for it. "What could happen? Worst-case scenario here."
Carolyn Lam shrugged. "A number of things. Starting with fatigue, which would probably worsen their condition, and then there would likely be dizziness, insomnia and the inability to concentrate. Long-term we might even expect memory loss and more severe mental problems. Worst-case scenario? I think we might be facing the worst. The human body is not able to sustain this kind of strain."
Sam was speechless. She hadn't realized it was this bad. Yes, she knew that this level of brain activity couldn't be good in the long term, but hearing it stated like that was different. Much scarier, for once. And she was scared by what she had just heard. Even if she wanted to, and she really wasn't sure whether that was the case, her body wouldn't be able to sustain Jolinar like this, for whatever reason. The device had never been designed to be used on humans that didn't carry a Goa'uld.
"When can we go?" Vala asked quietly. She was looking at Sam, who had turned as white as a sheet at the news.
"Samantha Carter, are you not well?" Teal'c got up from his chairs.
Sam shook her head. The world seemed to spin around as she did that. Then she lost consciousness.
When Sam woke up again, Carolyn Lam knelt over her. She turned her head slightly and saw that she was still in the briefing room, so not much time had passed. "I am fine," she said, trying to sit up, but was pushed down again by the doctor.
"Not so fast."
Vala watched the scene with arising panic. Sam had also been the one who had been unconscious for longer after the incident. However, Sam had also been so much more in control the past few days that Vala would have never thought that Sam's health was already affected.
"We need to get her to the infirmary," Carolyn said and directly saw Cam walk to the phone in order to call the infirmary so they would send a gurney. "And as soon as you feel better, we need to reverse the process."
Two hours later, Sam was released from the infirmary again. They were going to go back to the planet and try Daniel's suggestion. Sam had refused any offer at help - she felt fine and wanted to go alone. And before that she wanted to talk to Vala, who was preparing to go through the gate right now.
Sam hesitated in front of the locker room, her hand on the door handle. She wanted to talk to Vala about what happened the other night, but she wasn't sure how to do it. There was no regret in her mind, but she was embarrassed by what she perceived to be weakness. They had both needed comfort, but she should have known better than to give and receive it in such a way that would only strain the friendship she had with Vala.
Besides that, of course, the whole thing was making Sam question a few things about herself and she wasn't all that comfortable with those questions. Sam had never been interested in women apart from the rather scientific appreciation for the beauty that many women possessed. Homosexual encounters were only barely tolerated in her field of work and it was hard enough for a women being a high-ranking military officer even while being single or married. She didn't need any gossip that suggested she might be 'one of those lesbians', a phrase she had heard about a bisexual colleague of hers back when she worked at the Pentagon.
During her training, there had also been comments like that from her fellow recruits. Women in the military were regarded with suspicion, especially when they didn't marry young or at least had a stable relationship. Sam had learned not to care too much about rumors back then, but it had still hurt.
There was also the question of whether she actually wanted anything to come out of that. They both hadn't quite been themselves when they had slept together. Maybe Vala just wanted to let the topic be forgotten.
She couldn't stand around like this any longer, Sam decided and gave the door a good push.
Vala was in the process of looking through her backpack when Sam entered. She looked up. "Hey there, are you feeling better?"
Sam hesitated again. "Yeah, I should be fine for a few hours or so," she answered and then fully stepped in, the door swinging shut behind her. Sam went to her locker and retrieved her beige uniform from it.
While it wasn't immediately obvious to many people, Vala was indeed a perceptive person. She had no problem feeling Sam's discomfort when she quickly changed into the appropriate clothes for the mission. Vala didn't look at Sam, not wanting to add to the woman's discomfort. "This doesn't have to be awkward, you know?"
It was said matter-of-factly, but still Sam's first impulse was to take it as an affront. Then she took a deep breath and reminded herself that this was Vala, not some random guy who she had just had a one-night-stand with and who was now trying to get rid of her. She laughed nervously. "No, I suppose it doesn't have to be." She started to tie her shows, avoiding looking at Vala.
Vala sighed. "Okay, we really don't have to talk about this now, I guess. I just want you to know that... well, I guess I don't know what I want you to know. But we can talk about that after this whole thing is over, if you want to. Or not, if you don't want to."
Sam almost had to laugh at that. Vala really wasn't the person to hold something like that against her, so why had she been so worried? She stood up and got her own backpack, not knowing what to respond.
"So, we're cool?" Vala asked.
Sam nodded. "I think we are." She shouldered her backpack.
Vala hugged her briefly. "Then let's go and get this over with."
The members of SG-1 were all silent as they made their way to their destination. A medical team led by Carolyn Lam was accompanying SG-1, but even they didn't speak a lot.
Vala barely even looked at the beautiful sight at the other side of the Stargate. She just wanted to get back to the ruins and try Daniel's plan. It couldn't get worse than it was now, after all, could it? Sam was walking beside her, obviously lost in thought as well.
Daniel led them to the same chamber as they had been in before, the one where Vala had touched the button and set everything in motion.
" So, you're gonna change the settings or what?" Vala asked.
Daniel nodded. "Something like that. I need you two to go in there and hit the button when I tell you."
Sam nodded and went into the chamber with Vala, while outside, the medical team was preparing everything for an emergency. They had brought two gurneys to be able to transport them to the infirmary as soon as possible should anything go wrong as well as all standard medical supplies. Sam knew that they were also highly-skilled people. Still she couldn't help to be nervous.
After one last look at his translations, Daniel went into the neighboring building, which he had since discovered was the control room for this technology. There wasn't a lot one could do with it, but there were three of the Ancient's beloved retractable stones that they used for all kind of things and that the Goa'uld seemed to have incorporated into their own trials at technology. He put them into the position that would hopefully do what he wanted them to and went outside again.
Vala could hear Daniel come back. She glanced outside and saw Cam and Teal'c standing, everything about their pose tense.
"Okay, I think we're good to go," Daniel said.
Vala was tempted to comment on the 'I think' part, but decided that it wouldn't make her feel better. After one glance at Sam, who nodded, she pushed the button.
There was, once again, a shot of lightning. And once again, it hit both Sam and Vala and made them fall to the ground. Cam was already on his way when they hit it and ran to Sam's body while Teal'c was doing the same with Vala. Three of the medical personnel were also moving towards them and quickly checked their vitals.
"They seem to be unconscious, but stable," was Carolyn's assessment two minutes later. "Alright people, let's get them through the gate," she shouted.
"Have our patients woken up yet?"
Carolyn nodded. "They woke up one hour after we brought them back and we have already run a series of tests. Their brain activity is down to normal again and they say they feel fine."
General Landry smiled. Good news were rare sometimes. "That's good to hear. I suppose they can't wait to get out of the infirmary?"
Carolyn shook her head. "They are both... very keen to get out."
"So I thought. Tell them we will keep them in there for another while. We can't actually confirm that they are fine again."
"I'll inform them," Carolyn responded.
The General looked around the empty briefing room. "And I suppose the complete absence of Doctor Jackson, Colonel Mitchell and Teal'c is due to the fact that they are down in the infirmary with their team members?"
Carolyn just nodded. After all, where else would they be?
Sam and Vala were released from the infirmary two days later, after what seemed almost like more tests than the whole week before. Vala briefly wondered whether there would be any side-effects from this, but then decided that anything would be better than being stuck with Que'tesh again.
Turning a corner of the base corridors on her way to watch some TV with Teal'c - a regular occurrence during which they made fun of Earth customs - Vala bumped into Sam. They hadn't seen each other since they had been cleared by Doctor Lam a few hours earlier.
"Hey, watch where...," Sam started, only belatedly realizing who she had just ran into. "Oh hey, it's you."
"Yeah, and I kind of intend to stay me," Vala responded.
Sam had to grin. "Good to hear," she said.
There was an awkward pause during which none of them knew what to say. "So, are we okay?" Vala finally asked. She knew that Sam would know what she meant.
"I don't know. Are we?"
Vala laughed. "You can't answer a question with another question."
"I can't?" Sam just couldn't help it and joined Vala in laughing. "No, seriously, I don't know."
Knowing what Sam was talking about, Vala nodded. "Well, do you regret it?"
There were a lot of things Sam thought about her night with Vala. But regret? She thought about that for a moment, but it just didn't sit right. No, regret wasn't what she felt. "No, I don't regret it."
That was something, Vala decided. "But you want us to be like before again?"
Sam shook her head. "I don't think we can be. But I'd hate for this to destroy our friendship."
"It won't. Not if we don't let it. But what do you mean when you say you don't think it can be like before?" Vala was scared of what Sam would say to this, but she needed to know.
Sam took a deep breath. She knew what she wanted to say, but she felt nervous as always when she didn't know how the person opposite her would react. "I think... I think maybe some change would be nice. Some slow change maybe?"
Vala almost laughed at both the expression on Sam's face and at the way this answer was headed. "Slow, huh?"
Hoping she interpreted Vala's reaction correctly, Sam tried to joke "Yeah, while I am all for sex before the first date, I'd like to have that date at some point in time."
"So no heading to Atlantis anytime soon?" Vala asked, knowing that Sam's plans for that completely got lost during the excitement of the past few days.
"I am rather sure that General Landry wants me around for a few more days for observation. Or possibly weeks." Sam tried not to sigh. Yes, she had been excited by those plans, but she was also very excited by what was happening right here, right now.
"So, dinner tomorrow then." It wasn't a question. Vala needed to appear so that what she was actually feeling wouldn't show.
Sam smiled. "Dinner sounds nice."