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"Wait, you're saying Martouf and Lantash are in stasis?" Carter asks. "I thought they were dead?"

"They are as good as dead," Re'nal says. "Martouf, at least. We hope to be able to remove Lantash and get him a new host. Scans reveal that he has not sustained injuries to his own body."

"What?" Carter says, a pained expression on her face.

"Permission has not been granted to attempt removal!" Anise says, her voice hard. "That would condemn the host to death in his current condition, and as he is a willing host we do not have that right."

"He would not want his symbiote to die with him. Surely you do not believe Lantash should be sacrificed for no reason?" Ren'al says, hotly.

"You do not know that healing the host would fail! With the assistance of healers, I am convinced they will both live."

"I am not convinced of that, and there is also the matter of the zatarc programming..." Ren'al says.

Whoa! Seems like that opened up a can of worms! Or maybe that should be a bucket of snakes!

"Cut the crap!" Jacob roars. "The Council have voted on it, twice, each time dismissing you, Re'nal!"

"More are seeing my point, and fewer support you, Jacob. The Council will see reason and change its decision soon. I am convinced of this." Re'nal says.

"How can you talk about one of your fellow Tok'ra like that? So, so callously." Carter exclaims. She leaves the room rather quickly.

Unusually emotional for Carter, but I can understand her. I wouldn't have taken it as well if it was someone I cared about.

The meeting ends soon after that. We have gotten the information about Apophis, and whatever else that the Tok'ra wanted to give us. Including this about Marty. I have no idea what the truth is, or how much Anise can be trusted, but I do know how it affected Carter.

I think I should talk to Jacob before we leave, and see if he can give me a bit more information. "Daniel?"

"Uh, yeah?" He says, looking up from the datapad that Anise has given him. Something about some interesting ruins that the Tok'ra don't have time to look at, and which it seems we're now going to check out. That sucks.

"Could you find something to ask Carter about so I can talk to Jacob privately? And where is Teal'c?"

"Teal'c went to talk to, uh, Ocker I think. Some Tok'ra security chief. He wanted to ask about Tanith."

"Ah, makes sense." I nod.

"I can talk to Sam about this information I got from Anise - which is really interesting, by the way! Jack, we need to go check this out!" Daniel has this burning enthusiastic look on his face that he gets.

Which makes me both envious and worried. I roll my eyes. "Yeah, I figured you'd say that!"

"Why do you need to talk to Jacob?" he adds.

"Let's say I don't know if Anise's info on Marty is correct, but I am sure that I don't trust that Ren'al! She's way too smug and arrogant, even for a Tok'ra. Besides, I guess I owe Marty that much. He's okay - for a Tok'ra, and no one deserves being treated that way without at least getting a chance."

"Yeah, Sam seemed pretty upset." Daniel grimaces. "I can't blame her. How can Re'nal care so little about the hosts? It's really disturbing. Reminds me of the Goa'uld." He shudders.

I know this has gotta be unpleasant for him too. Talking about hosts and symbiotes and all that must remind him of Sha're.

"Okay, you get it. So, keep Carter occupied for a while, will you?"

"Of course, but why not just ask while she's there? I'm sure she's interested in the information too." He stops for a moment. "Ah. Of course."

"Yup. I don't want to, well, get her hopes up."


"Jacob? A word." I tell him.

"Yeah?"

I look around. "Don't you have anywhere more private than this?"

"You know how it is among the Tok'ra," he says sardonically. "We can go to my room. It gives some privacy."

"Lead the way."

We get there through long and confusing corridors. I kinda hope he shows me the way back, because I'm never going to find my way on my own.

"Okay, what's up?" Jacob looks to me.

I take a deep breath. "What's the deal with Marty? I mean, is Anise right?"

He gives me a surprised look. "I wouldn't have expected you to care about that."

"Let's say I do. Can they heal him?"

"Honestly? I don't know. If it's true Lantash isn't injured, then the chances are better, but Martouf is badly wounded. He was hit by six bullets - and then there was the zat'nik'tel shots." Jacob sighs.

"Shouldn't the zat shots have affected the snake, sorry, the symbiote too?"

"It always affects the one in control worst, but yes, there would be some effect. However, from what the healers have told me, Lantash was uninjured and only lightly affected by the zat'nik'tel shots. All things considered, Martouf would have survived the two shots - it rarely kills blended individuals and never when the host is in control, since the symbiote can fix any damages and restart the heart and such."

"Awesome. What about the bullets. Where did they hit?"

Jacob sighs. "One in the lower right thigh, above the knee. Another in his left shoulder."

"Should be no problem, even on Earth."

Jacob nods. "True. The other bullets hit more critical areas. One grazed the top of his lungs on the right, one hit in the upper stomach - and amazingly avoided the aorta by fractions of an inch. The worst were the bullet almost exactly in the middle of the chest, and the one to the left of it which nicked the heart."

I grimaces. "It sounds pretty bad."

"It is, but amazingly the bullets mostly avoided the organs and larger veins, so there wasn't any excessive bleeding. That means there's a chance, particularly with a strong symbiotes." Jacob hesitates, then gives Selmak control.

"It is my belief, that with assistance from one or preferably two skilled healers, both Martouf and Lantash have a good chance of surviving. They have already removed the bullets. Anise did so before she was stopped."

"If you think they can be healed, then why aren't they given the chance?"

"Ren'al wishes to examine Martouf's brain, in order to learn more about the zatarc programming. It is true that this new danger is grave, and we need to find a solution, but I am not certain this is the way."

"It's never right sacrificing someone like that!" Well, almost never, I think to myself. I know that sacrifices are sometimes needed.

"There is also the fact that most forms of brain washing - at least of the types used by the Goa'uld - will be destroyed by an electric shock."

"So Martouf wouldn't be a zatarc anymore?"

"No, and that part, I believe, everyone agrees on. However, Ren'al seems to believe there will be some information to be learned from studying Martouf's brain, something which I doubt. The area which contained the zatarc programming would have been destroyed, probably causing minor memory loss."

"So not only won't she learn anything from it, she'll kill an innocent man." I shake my head in disgust. "Why do you permit it?"

"We have not given her permission to carry out her plan."

"No, but you also haven't tried healing Marty."

Selmak sighs. "No. The Council is divided. The truth is that we have lost many people, and we have no queen. There is a growing sentiment that we must not risk any Tok'ra symbiotes without strong reason - and attempting a difficult healing is not enough from what they see."

"The host is expendable."

"Not quite, but they would rather allow a host to die - as much as they would regret it - than risk the life of a symbiote when that risk is avoidable."

"Great. You know that makes you a lot more Goa'uld when seen from the rest of us."

"Not just from your point of view. There are still many Tok'ra who do not accept this."

There's a thousand things I wanna say about the snakes, including that I'm not sure I feel like being allied to them any longer, but none of it would help one damn thing. I take a deep breath.

"So what's going to happen?"

Selmak hesitates. "That remains to be seen."

"Cut the crap."

Jacob takes control.

"What would you want me to say? I don't know!"

"Haven't you noticed how Carter is reacting to this?"

"Sam? Sure, Martouf was a friend to her, but she didn't know him that well. I assume she's affected a little due to Jolinar."

I roll my eyes at the ignorance. "She's not 'affected a little'. Don't you see she's grieving? That she can barely keep it together?"

Jacob looks at me in genuine surprise. "Jack? Since when are you an expert?"

"She is my team mate." I point out. "I'm in charge of her and the others - and it's my responsibility to know when someone is being affected to a degree where it might be a liability"

"A liability!" Jacob gets angry. "How dare you say that! If that's the way we're talking, then yeah, I have noticed something. Namely that you've been acting like you're having feelings for her. Is that why you're interested in how Martouf are doing? To get some points from her for saving her friend, so you can pursue her?"

"God! How can you know so little about your own kid! She's in love with the damn snakehead! Marty! Would I want him saved if he would be my rival? I'm not 'pursuing' her!"

Jacob's eyes flashes as Selmak takes over.

"I apologize for Jacob's behaviour. We are all affected by Martouf's condition. He is - or was - a friend. I know that Martouf has shown interest in Samantha, but not that she returned that interest. Are you certain of it?"

"Yes. She... she admitted it to me."

Selmak's head dips and Jacob takes over again. This is making me dizzy.

"I'm sorry." He takes a deep breath. "Why did she not say anything?" He shakes his head. "I'll find out as much as I can about Martouf's chances, but I can't promise I can change the minds of the Council. Selmak has supporters, but not as many as she once did."

I nod, and we say goodbye.

At least I've done what I can.


Next chapter --->
 

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