Lantash was shocked to learn that Malek has loved him for centuries. Now symbiote to the woman he loves Lantash tried to understand the many ways in which his life has turned upside down.
“I am planning to recall the operatives I have stationed with Kali and Mordu and begin a fresh infiltration with,”
“Commander! Grand Councilor!” Ocker’s echoing voice interrupted. Startled, Malek and Garshaw turned toward the opening of the meeting chamber as the dutiful guard ran through. “My apologies,” he gasped, trying to catch his breath and speak at the same time. “But word has come… that Ravenna has fallen!”
Garshaw stood abruptly as Malek’s mind reeled; Ravenna, their newest home world and largest base – fallen. How… how could that happen! Surely they had enough warning for some – if not most - to escape. Garshaw questioned Ocker, pressing for more detailed information. Something that by rights he should be doing as well; this was his base, however, Ravenna was hers and he could well understand her need to assume control – at least as much as was possible. Lives she felt responsible for had been snuffed out.
Malek tried to keep his mind on the big picture, on what this meant to the Tok’ra as a whole. He knew that he should be contacting his engineers so they could expand the base and prepare for new residents. The healers needed to be on standby to tend the wounded. Prospective hosts would need to be contacted. Malek knew all this, and a small part of his mind was concentrating on his responsibilities to his people, but the majority had zeroed in on one, heart wrenching thought: Lantash, helpless in his tank; already wounded, likely dead under a pile of rubble.
Queen mother that hurt. The pain of loss and regret seared through him even as he struggled to keep an equitable expression on his face. ‘No!’ The cry to his host was involuntary.
‘Malek… I am so sorry.’ Draven said, sorrowfully, knowing how much, and how long, Malek had loved his fellow Tok’ra. The pain of his loss was twisting through both of them.
Lantash had long been mated to Jolinar, and had had Martouf as host for over a decade, before Draven became host to Malek. Soon after blending he had learned of his symbiote’s deep abiding love for his passionate counterpart, and had just as quickly learned the object of his new symbiote’s affections was delightfully ignorant of Malek’s ardor. Through the years, Draven himself had fallen almost as deeply in love with Lantash as Malek.
They’d never planned to say anything. Had worked tirelessly to distract themselves, and when their labor bore fruit, and Malek was promoted to base commander, they gladly took the commission, hoping that perhaps distance would ease the longing. Or at least, spare them the pain of seeing their beloved happy with another.
Draven was always quick to remind him that though they both loved Lantash, neither felt more than friendship for Martouf. He also liked to remind Malek that he came from a society that held very strict, traditional views of sexuality, and therefore even if Lantash didn’t already have a mate, they wouldn’t be sleeping together.
Not wholly true of course. Yes, Draven had come from a sexually repressed culture. However, sharing their minds, and experiencing Malek’s memories and emotions meant that because Malek didn’t prefer either the male or female form, Draven was significantly more open to non-traditional sexuality than he would have been otherwise. And if the opportunity to be with Lantash came, they both knew that a pesky little detail like their desired lover having a male host would not be getting in their way.
Too much had stood in the way before. By the time Malek had worked up the moxie to tell him, circumstance had stood in the way. Lantash had been undercover in Ra’s court, and then before he had returned, Malek had been sent to Her’ur. By the time they ended up at the same place at the same time, Lantash – after being undercover with her – was in love with Jolinar. And Malek wanted Lantash to be happy, more than he wanted Lantash for himself. And Jolinar had made him happy. So had Le’naya, and then Rosha… and perhaps Samantha Carter could have made him happy as well.
‘You love him too,’ Malek’s voice was as mournful as Draven’s had been. Over the last decade they had shared their lives, love, and pain. Though Malek loved all of his hosts deeply, he had never been so well matched, and he didn’t want to understate Draven’s participation and importance in their life.
‘No! We don’t know what happened yet. There is always a chance he was safely evacuated… and even if he wasn’t,’ Malek paused a moment to gather himself, ‘even if he wasn’t, what I feel is not past tense. And neither is what you feel.’
Draven didn’t bother with a reply - they both knew he spoke truth.
Thirteen hours after word had reached Melia that Ravenna had fallen, Malek, along with Garshaw, Ocker, and two of his healers, stepping onto the Tau’ri for the first time. At the sound of metal sliding – as if from a sheath – Malek turned and watched with fascination as a shield twisted itself closed over the chappa’ai. Fascinating. He recalled how Garshaw had told the council three years ago – after her first meeting with the Tau’ri – of the barrier that protected them. Cocking his head curiously, Malek moved closer so that he could touch the cool smooth surface. Triennium strengthened he believed.
“George, you’ve met Garshaw before, and I’d like to introduce Malek and his team, Kelmaa, Marteen, and Ocker.” Malek turned at the sound of Jacob’s voice, bowing slightly in greeting. “Malek is one of the Tok’ra’s jack of all trades; operative, scientist, base commander, and member of the Tok’ra high council.”
“Oho, fancy. We high rollers now, Jacob?” Malek snapped his gaze to the one who spoke. His shoulders were relaxed, but his expression hostile. In fact… Malek took a look at the other humans. They all seemed tense, though none of the others were showing the same outright antagonistic indicators.
Jacob’s expression was long suffering. Apparently such hostility was commonplace. No wonder their alliance was beginning to become strained. If this was the attitude his brethren were met with at every turn.
Garshaw interjected before things could devolve further. “Tek’ma’tek. It is a pleasure to see you again, Colonel O’Neill, and you as well, General Hammond.” She nodded respectfully at the others, including them in her greetings.
“Councilors,” The oldest, heavier set man greeted in kind. “Thank you for coming.”
“You claimed to have some of our people here, in need of healing?” Malek wasn’t in the mood to deal with the artifice of diplomacy. Some of his brethren had survived, were injured here. His healers would help them, and then he would take them home.
“Just the one,” the obnoxious one – O’Neill, Garshaw had called him - spoke again, “And it’s inside one of my people.”
“Colonel!” His superior snapped.
“Samantha volunteered, she knew well what she was doing.” Selmak said, taking over for Jacob.
‘Samantha!’ Draven exclaimed, recognizing the name of Jacob’s daughter, last host to Jolinar. ‘Do you think…?’
‘I cannot imagine any other she would volunteer to save; and he was injured, not yet ready for another implantation.’
“Shin tel, Selmak?” Malek asked, desperately needing to know, and just as desperately holding onto his composure.
“He wants to know what’s going on,” The human with the spectacles muttered quietly to O’Neill.
Jacob heaved a heavy breath. “It’s Lantash. He needs as much help as you can give him.” Malek eyed Jacob as he spoke, noting for the first time the deep lines of exhaustion marring his face, the purple shadows beneath his eyes. “Sam volunteered to host as a last ditch effort, but he’d been keeping Lt. Elliot alive for hours, and was too weak for a blending in the first place. Sam wouldn’t give up, and insisted he try – with her. They’re deeply unconscious. I’ve managed to keep them alive with a healing device I had on me, but… I’m not a healer. There’s only so much I can do.”
Malek nodded tersely and began to descend the ramp. The spectacled-one stepped forward to meet him. “I’ll take you to the infirmary. I’m Daniel by the way, Daniel Jackson.”
“I am Malek, hosted by Draven. This is Kelmaa and her host Kali’i, Marteen and his host Nyklos.”
‘Why did you feel the need to introduce me?’ Draven asked, confused because he usually preferred to hang back while Malek had control.
‘These people are clearly uncomfortable with - if not disgusted by – symbiotic creatures. Introducing you may put them at ease, at least somewhat.’
‘They think you’re Goa’uld?’ Draven asked, incensed by the comparison.
‘If O’Neill’s reaction is any indication, then yes, I believe they see little difference between Tok’ra and Goa’uld.’
Finally entering the infirmary, Malek’s heart rate picked up at the weak energy signature he was sensing in the far bed. Kelmaa and Marteen shared a worried look.
“Lantash is very weak.” She said unnecessarily before turning to Daniel Jackson. “Where may we place our supplies? We will need them close at hand.”
Before he could respond, a little woman in white coat rushed forward. “Here, the bed next to Sam should be fine. If I need it later then we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
“Thank you,” Malek thanked her sincerely as the two healers busied themselves with the supplies in the trunk, muttering quietly to each other as Kelmaa started to scan Lantash and Samantha Carter.
Hearing her diagnosis Marteen quickly prepared a syringe of ryn’tha. “Malek?” He asked, gesturing to the prone form on the bed. Hastily, Malek turned Samantha Carter onto her side, bracing her and exposing the back of her neck to Marteen. Commander and healer shared a nod; the latter then proceeded to make three injections of the ryn’tha into Lantash. Scanner replaced with a dealing device, Kelmaa took over as Marteen stepped back, focusing the energy on the symbiote, where he twined around his host’s spine.
“Could you tell me what’s happening? And what you’re doing? I’m the chief medical officer here and I don’t know near enough about helping blended individuals.” The little woman asked.
Marteen took over for Malek, a healing device in his hand as well, aimed at Samantha Carter. Freed from any direct participation, and desperate to distract himself, Malek complied to the best of his ability. “The injection was called ryn’tha, and it strengthens the symbiote. Kelmaa is now directly healing Lantash while Marteen shores up the strength of the host. When Kelmaa has exhausted herself, I will take over.”
“If they survive until morning, I am fairly confident that they will recover fully.” Kelmaa added. “Malek, you should look at the scan results. I will support whatever decision you make.”
Not liking the ominous sound of that, Malek strode over to pick up the discarded scanner and began perusing the results, ignoring the pissing contest that was suddenly taking place around him.
“Hold on, if there are life and death decisions to be made, Sam has a will, and her Father also has a say,” The little doctor started indignantly.
“That is not what we are discussing.” Marteen snapped, without elaborating.
“What is this?” Malek hissed venomously. “This is not what Ren’al reported to the council!”
Kelmaa looked over her shoulder at him, grim and understanding. Malek held in his hand the proof of a conspiracy within the Tok’ra. Lantash had indeed been gravely injured, but not by the za’tarc programming or zat’nik’tel shots. He had been forcibly removed from Martouf; something that would only happen if he deemed it possible to save his host, and thus refused to abandon him.
“I do not believe Garshaw or Per’sus had any knowledge of this.”
“No,” Kelmaa agreed. “But it is impossible that Ren’al was ignorant. Thoran and Delek may also have been informed. I would never believe it of any of the others.”
“This is an outrage.” Malek’s head was spinning. This was… murder. Premeditated murder, of a faithful host, and quite possibly the symbiote as well. How… how could Ren’al denigrate everything the Tok’ra are, everything they stand for and believe like this?
He had to tell Garshaw.