Daniel, Egeria and Ushsen walked over to the phone, the Tok'ra's knife never straying from the archeologist's jugular.
"I have learned the number for the infirmary," Ushsen said, "so if you dial another one, I will know. Once you have connected the call, ask for Aranae. She will likely not wish to leave there because Nefer is still in surgery, so you must impress upon her the need to come here immediately. Say that it is a matter of urgency, but do not make up a story in an effort to pass on a message to her. Tell her that you will explain when she arrives. If she resists coming, assure her that she will not have to remain here for long. Tell her nothing more than that. If you speak one more word than is necessary, your human lover will die before your eyes."
Egeria nodded shortly and asked for the number. She dialed it, aware that Ushsen was watching her closely. As soon as she finished dialing, Ushsen leaned in close enough to hear the other end of the conversation.
When the call was answered, Egeria told the person who she was and asked to speak to Aranae. A couple of minutes passed before the Tok'ra queen came on the line.
"The nurse said that you wished to speak with me," Aranae said.
Egeria answered in a calm, level voice with no inflections. "Yes. You must come to your VIP room. It is a matter of urgency that we talk to you immediately."
"What is this about?"
"We will explain when you get here."
"But Nefer is still in surgery. I wish to remain here for word of him."
"We will not keep you for long. You will be back before the surgery is complete."
There was a long pause, then Aranae agreed to come, saying that she would be there in a few minutes.
Thanking her, Egeria hung up, then turned to Ushsen. "I have done as you asked. Now, take the blade away from Daniel's throat. You have no further need to threaten his life to achieve my cooperation."
The Tok'ra appeared to think about it for a moment. He then pulled the knife away and gave Daniel a shove that was hard enough to push the archeologist a pace forward. A hand going to his neck to stem the flow of blood, Daniel turned to face the traitor, who had stepped back to add more space between them. Now in his hand was a small device that the archeologist guessed was some kind of weapon. It was pointed straight at him. Searching Ushsen's eyes, Daniel saw nothing there except cold arrogance.
"Were you the one who hired the Ashrak that tried to kill Egeria?" he asked.
"Why are you doing this? Is it an attempt to gain power or are you working for a Goa'uld? I suppose that one would reward you pretty handsomely for being the one to kill both Egeria and the new Tok'ra queen."
Ushsen gave a short, nasty laugh. "You think that I care if some System Lord rewards me like some fawning, faithful servant? I serve no Goa'uld. I have my reasons for doing these things, and I see no need to explain them to a mere human or to a female who betrayed her own species."
Egeria glared at him. "You are the one who is the betrayer, Ushsen. I am ashamed that I spawned one such as you."
"And I am ashamed that one such as you is my mother. Better that I had been spawned by a queen who did not choose to deny her children their birthright and the power that comes with it."
Egeria was all set to retort, but Daniel's hand on her arm stopped her. She looked at him, and he shook his head ever so slightly. She realized that he was right to stop her. Angering Ushsen would not be wise.
The Tok'ra nodded at the dead body of the SF. "Drag him out of sight." His eyes pierced into Daniel's. "And do not be foolish enough to attempt to get his weapon."
Knowing he had no other choice, Daniel grabbed the airman under the arms and dragged him to a corner of the room, where anyone standing in the doorway would not see him. The archeologist was then told to use something to deal with the blood on his neck. He pulled out his handkerchief and pressed it against the wound.
They waited in silence, the tense minutes crawling by. It seemed to take a lot longer than expected, but, at last, a knock came on the door. Ushsen stepped forward, and Daniel felt something press against his ribs.
"Answer it and ask who it is, just as you did before," the Tok'ra ordered.
Daniel did so and received a reply from the other SF that Aranae was there. The Tok'ra traitor ordered Daniel to tell the SF to let Aranae in.
As the door began to open, Daniel braced himself, intending to do something to stop Ushsen from carrying out his plan. However, what came through the partly opened door was not the Tok'ra queen. The door quickly slammed shut, and the archeologist had about two seconds to recognize what had rolled into the room before it detonated, and his consciousness fled.
When Daniel awoke, he found himself lying on an infirmary bed, a bandage on his neck and Jack staring down at him.
"Ah, finally back to the land of the conscious and cognizant, I see," the grey-haired man said.
Daniel groaned at the headache pounding in his skull. "Yes, and thank you so much for tossing that shock grenade in there," he responded sarcastically.
"Is Egeria okay?"
Jack gestured toward the next bed over, upon which lay the former Tok'ra queen. "Still down for the count, as you can see, though I should imagine that she'll be waking soon as well."
"So, how did you know that we were in trouble?"
"I'll let Aranae tell you."
Just then, Egeria began to stir. As soon as she was fully awake, her eyes went to Daniel, and she asked if he was okay.
"I'm fine," he assured her.
"Well, you are now," Jack said, "but wait until Fraiser gets through with you. She is not a bit happy that you failed to inform anyone that you had two cracked ribs from the first murder attempt."
"What?!" Egeria cried. She stared at Daniel. "You said only that you were bruised. Were you aware that you were injured more severely?"
Daniel squirmed under her sharp gaze. "I thought that a couple ribs might be cracked, but I wasn't sure."
Seeing the look on Egeria's face, Jack smirked. "Perhaps Fraiser will have to take a ticket and wait her turn for a pound of your flesh."
"Daniel, you should have told me," the dark-haired woman said. "I would have insisted that you go to the infirmary."
"That's why I didn't say anything. There's no way I was going to leave you alone, Egeria. As soon as it was safe to do so, I'd have come to the infirmary."
Egeria frowned. "Though I appreciate your concern for me, I must insist that you not do such a thing again. If you are injured like that, you must obtain medical attention immediately."
"I've had cracked ribs before, Egeria. It's no big deal. Helping to protect you from a killer was a lot more important. Besides, all Janet would have done was take an X-ray, give me some pain pills, and tell me to take it easy."
Egeria could tell by the firm tone of Daniel's voice that she would have an argument on her hands if she continued to push this. Even so, she did not like the fact that he had ignored what could have been a serious injury in favor of remaining with her. This would not be the end of the matter, as far as she was concerned.
"Speaking of that killer," Daniel said, his gaze now on Jack, "I assume that you caught him."
"Oh, yes," the colonel replied. "He was caught by the grenade's blast, just as we'd planned. He's in the brig. Jacob and Teal'c are talking to him, though I doubt that they'll get much out of him."
"He was the one who hired the Ashrak."
"He was? Well, that'll be a load off everyone's mind. We won't have to worry about another one coming along."
"Not necessarily. If any of the Goa'uld know about Egeria and Aranae, they'll still be targets. At least now we have one of those cloaking devices, so Sam can use it to make that sensor."
Just then, three women came walking in. Sam and Janet came to a stop at the foot of Daniel's bed, whereas Aranae went to her mother's. By the look that the doctor subjected him to, Daniel guessed that she'd be chewing his ears off about his failure to tell anyone that he was injured in the first attack. Fortunately, she had apparently decided to hold off on that for the present time. Instead, she told everyone that Nefer had come through the surgery well and should be just fine.
"Did you take the SF that was killed to the sarcophagus?" Daniel asked her.
"Yes, but I'm afraid that he's probably the last person it will ever heal. He was only partially healed when it stopped working. Fortunately, it had already revived him, and he was healed enough that Jacob was able to finish the job with the hand-held healing device."
"It may be possible to repair the sarcophagus, but, sadly, we would likely be unable to get the parts that we would need," Egeria said.
Daniel couldn't help but think about how it could have given out in the process of healing Egeria when she was killed. Choosing not to dwell on that, he said, "So, how did you guys know that we needed help."
"That was thanks to Mother," Aranae answered. "I was puzzled by her strangely flat tone of voice, especially since she knew that I was terribly worried about Nefer and would not want to leave here until the surgery was over. It was not at all like her to be so emotionless. I was also puzzled about what could be so important that I had to immediately go to the VIP room and why she would not explain over the telephone. It bothered me, so I decided to call Samantha."
The astrophysicist took over the explanation. "When she told me about the call, I got suspicious and went to the monitoring station. Normally, the cameras in private rooms are turned off, so I had them turn on the one in that VIP room and saw what was going on. I contacted the colonel, and we came up with the idea of using a shock grenade."
Daniel gazed at Egeria in admiration. At the time, he hadn't really thought about the tone she used during the call, but, thinking back on it now, he realized that it had been a deliberate attempt to convey that something wasn't right. Because of Ushsen's precise instructions, she could not chance using words to alert her daughter, so she had used the only thing she could, counting on Aranae's intelligence and instincts to warn the queen that something was wrong.
Teal'c and Jacob entered the room and came over to the others. There was a frown on the face of Sam's father. His head bowed, Selmak taking control
"I thought I knew Ushsen," the Tok'ra symbiote said, "but the man in that cell is nothing like the man I have known for all these centuries. He used to be so committed to our goal of wiping out the Goa'uld, and, now, he is as much like a Goa'uld as any of the System Lords. We did not get anything useful from him, except that he apparently did this to achieve some power of his own. His ultimate plan was probably to destroy the Tok'ra. He must have recognized the need to kill Aranae before she could spawn a queen or had produced a significant number of Tok'ra, and killing Egeria would mean that, even if we could clone her symbiote body again and do as we did before, we would not have her to train the new queen."
"He also saw what I did as not just a betrayal of the Goa'uld, but also of my children for denying them the knowledge and power of the Goa'uld," Egeria said. She shook her head. "I do not understand, though, how it was that he hired the Ashrak."
Selmak's gaze sharpened. "He hired the Askrak?"
"That's what he said," Daniel replied.
"But I thought that Ashraks generally only work for System Lords," Sam said.
"Maybe work's not so easy to come by lately for those guys, so they're getting less picky," Jack suggested.
"Well, he must have been really hard up for work if he would accept a contract from a Goa'uld who was not only not a System Lord but was also an unknown entity," Daniel responded, "that is unless Ushsen has gone under cover as a Goa'uld in the past and made a bit of a name for himself."
Selmak shook his head. "Ushsen has never had that kind of assignment."
"What I really don't understand is why he waited so long to kill Aranae. He was one of the Tok'ra there at the secondary base. He could have killed her weeks ago."
"Yes, but then we would have subjected every Tok'ra there to a Zatarc test. He would have had no choice but to take the test or escape using the cloaking device. It is clear that he wanted to keep his identity unknown for as long as possible, probably so that he could remain among the Tok'ra."
Daniel frowned. "So then why did he come out in the open this time? I know that a lot of people were out looking for him with TERs, but there are other things he could have done besides boldly coming to the VIP room and revealing his hand like he did. For a guy who'd gone to so much trouble to hide the fact that he was behind it all, that wasn't very smart."
"He must have had a good reason for doing it," Sam guessed.
"I wish to speak with him."
Aranae's statement surprised most of the people there. The look on her face spoke of her anger. That anger was certainly understandable. Every Tok'ra who went to the secondary base with her had sworn an oath to protect her with their lives. Ushsen had not only broken that oath, he had tried to kill her himself and had almost taken the life of the man she loved, as well as hired the man who had sought to kill her mother, the beloved progenitor of the Tok'ra race.
"I think it's time that we all spoke to him," Jack said. "I've got a bone to pick with him over that Ashrak he hired."
When Daniel got out of the bed, his injured side complained loudly. Though he hid it as well as he could, judging by the severe frown on Janet's face, he knew that she had seen his discomfort. As he passed her, she grabbed his arm.
"You are not off the hook about those ribs of yours, mister," she warned in a low tone.
He let out a sigh. "I didn't think that I was. You can chew me out later. And, yes, I'll take it easy."
As the group entered the brig, the man in the cell glared at everyone, his eyes finally coming to rest on the two women he had sought to kill. Aranae walked all the way up to the bars, her eyes full of anger and loathing.
"You have betrayed everything for which you stood," she spat, "all the things you were taught from birth. Other Tok'ra in the past have betrayed us, but I find your betrayal the most offensive of all. My heart aches for your host, who most surely is horrified by what you have done."
Ushsen stared at her condescendingly. "My host is of no consequence. Unlike the rest of the Tok'ra, I realized long ago that to allow my host to have any say in what I did or any control of this body was an insult. Hosts are merely vessels for us to use as we please. They have no value other than that."
Egeria stepped forward. "You are wrong, Ushsen. Because the Tok'ra work as one with their hosts, they benefit in ways that you clearly do not see nor are capable of comprehending. The day that I began conversing with my host and listening to her thoughts and advice was the day that my existence expanded to so much more than it was before then. Having her counsel, hearing her point of view, combining her wisdom and knowledge with mine were things beyond measure. She made me more than I was alone, and for that I will always be grateful to her."
Egeria felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up to see Daniel smiling at her. She returned the smile and covered his hand with hers. When she turned back to Ushsen, she saw that he was looking at her and Daniel with an expression of disgust.
"Your words are worthless," he said to the former queen, "you who chose to become human because of love for a weak Tau'ri. I can understand why you chose him to be the one to give you the code. He is handsome enough. But to fall in love with him?" The man snorted.
Startled, Daniel stared at him sharply. "How do you know that it was my DNA she used? None of the Tok'ra are supposed to know except Jacob and Aranae."
An expression of consternation briefly flitted across Ushsen's face. "I surmised it for myself," he claimed.
"Ya know, up until now, you've done a bang up job of telling bald-faced lies," Jack said, "but that one wasn't quite so convincing."
Selmak was now frowning. "There is one other person who may have learned about Daniel's DNA being used for the first batches of Tok'ra larvae. Aranae and I were talking about it one day, and I thought that I saw someone off in a side tunnel, but when I looked again, I did not see anyone there. I had, however, recognized the man, and, later that day, I talked to him, but he gave no indication that he had heard any part of the earlier conversation."
Jack looked at him. "It wasn't this guy?"
"No, it wasn't."
"So, are you saying that there's another traitor among the Tok'ra?"
As Daniel stared narrowly at the man in the cell, all the pieces suddenly fell into place in his head, things that had puzzled him before becoming crystal clear.
"Was he searched for other devices besides the cloaking device?" he asked.
"You bet he was," Jack replied. "We didn't want any nasty little surprises."
Sam studied her teammate and fellow scientist. "What are you thinking, Daniel?"
"That there is one possibility that would clear up some things that don't make sense. We know that Ashraks generally only work for System Lords, yet he appears to have managed to hire one even though he would have been posing as an unknown Goa'uld. He went to a lot of effort to hide the fact that he was behind the murder attempts, yet he suddenly threw that all away and came at Aranae and Egeria openly. He sacrificed his anonymity even though it would make it all but impossible to carry out any future plans against the Tok'ra since he could no longer spy on them and sabotage their efforts from within."
"And what is this possibility, may I ask?" Jack questioned.
"A mimic device."
Sam's eyes lit with excitement and understanding. "Of course! If he had a mimic device, he could pose as anyone he had an opportunity to scan, as long as he wasn't asked any questions that only the real person could answer. Without the link to the mind of the person he was posing as, he couldn't tap into that person's knowledge and memories."
Daniel had not taken his eyes off the man in the cell. When he mentioned a mimic device, he'd seen a reaction. It was very slight, but it had been there.
"You aren't really Ushsen, are you," he said. "I'd guess that the real Ushsen is dead. So, which System Lord did you pose as when you hired the Ashrak?"
It was Jacob who answered. "My guess would be Kali."
"Why do you believe it was her?" Teal'c asked.
"Because I know who this really is." Sam's father glared at the prisoner. "You might as well give it up. We've figured it out."
It was obvious that the man in the cell was not at all happy. He stood unmoving for several seconds, then opened the flap of his top. The others noticed a lump on the inner curve of his right pectoral. He pressed the lump, and the image of the person before them changed to reveal the true visage of the traitor.
Egeria gasped in horror. "Bres En!"
The High Council member stared back at them haughtily, saying nothing.
"Subcutaneous implant," Sam said. "No wonder nobody found it when he was searched. He must have a second device hidden somewhere that does the actual scans."
Aranae was as horrified as Egeria. "Three years ago, Bres En went undercover inside Kali's palace for several months. He'd have had many opportunities to scan her so that he could later impersonate her."
Jack ran his gaze over the stocky man. "He impersonated a girl?"
"With a mimic device, I impersonated Daniel, sir," Sam reminded him. "Or, rather, I impersonated the alien who was pretending to be Daniel. With a mimic device it doesn't matter what the person you scan looks like. It will project a perfect image of that person, completely masking your real appearance."
Jacob's eyes gave Bres En a hard look. "How many other people have you impersonated over these years? Who else did you use without their knowledge to get what you wanted?"
The traitor did not reply, remaining stonily silent.
"I want that thing cut out of him," Jack said. "And I want him stuck in a CT scanner or MRI or whatever will show if there's something else he has hidden inside his body."
As the two armed men who stood guard outside the brig were told to come in, Sam made a call to the infirmary and told Janet what was going on so that she could make arrangements for the scan and the surgery to remove the mimic device and any other foreign objects that the scan might reveal.
The scan didn't show any other devices inside Bres En's body, and the minor surgery to remove the mimic device was quickly performed. The traitorous High Council member was then returned to the brig.
"You guys seem to have a real problem with council members who decide to switch sides," Jack remarked a while later as they all gathered in Sam's lab. "Not that all our politicians are shining examples of honesty and integrity."
"Being a member of the High Council makes his betrayal all the more heinous," Egeria responded.
"I wonder how long ago he turned," Sam said.
"Judging by some of the things he said, I'm guessing it was quite a few years ago," Daniel answered.
"So, why didn't he do something before now?" Jack asked. "Why hasn't he been doing stuff to sabotage the Tok'ra?"
"We really can't be sure what he may have done," Jacob replied. "There have been many important missions over the years that failed. Bres En may have had a hand in some of those failures. For all we know, he may even have been the one who revealed the location of the base on Revanna to Anubis. We never did learn how Anubis discovered it."
"I don't think it was him," Daniel said. "Bres En made it quite clear that he wasn't doing these things for any Goa'uld. He didn't want a position of subservience to some System Lord. He wanted more than that. Maybe his ultimate goal was to be a System Lord himself."
"But how could he hope to achieve that without working his way up through the ranks?" Aranae questioned. "Unless he intended to kill a present System Lord and somehow take over their territories, something that would be quite hard to achieve."
"Perhaps he intended to let others open the way for his takeover," Egeria murmured.
Daniel was about to ask what she meant when he suddenly understood. "You could be right about that."
"Right about what?" Jack asked.
Daniel turned to him. "What if, all this time, he'd been hoping that the Tok'ra would succeed in their goal? I mean, think about it. If the Tok'ra actually managed to wipe out the Goa'uld, it would leave the way open for someone to step right in and take over everything. Of course, at that point, he'd have had to get rid of the Tok'ra to keep them from interfering."
"But then Egeria was brought back," Sam said, "and a new queen was created, one who could spawn other queens. Eventually, the Tok'ra would grow too numerous and powerful for Bres En to kill."
Daniel nodded. "So, he had to get rid of them. They were a danger to his plans."
Aranae's head shook slightly. "It chills me to think of how many times I sat at the council table with him as he secretly plotted against us. I never really liked him very much, but I never doubted his trustworthiness."
Sam's gaze went to her father. "What did the other council members say when you told them?"
Jacob frowned upon recalling the conversation he had through the Stargate with Ka'resh and Delek. "They were shocked, of course. It isn't an easy thing to accept. We do know one thing. The Ushsen who came through from the secondary site with Aranae was the real one. Bres En didn't start impersonating him until later."
"He probably scanned Ushsen at the time that he killed him and the other bodyguards here on the base. Impersonating Ushsen was likely a backup plan in case his first attack failed."
"So, what happens now?" Jack asked.
"We'll attempt to question him further," Jacob replied, "then the symbiote will be removed from the host."
"How can you be sure that his host wasn't a willing participant?"
"We'll perform a Zatarc test on him after the extraction," Jacob replied.
"Based upon Bres En's attitude about his host, I seriously doubt that the guy was going along with this willingly," Daniel remarked.
An hour later, four grim-faced Tok'ra came through the gate. Among them were Ka'resh and Celdeth. They were accompanied to the brig by SG-1, Jacob, Egeria and Aranae. As they stared at the man behind the bars, Celdeth appeared to be especially upset.
Aranae leaned toward Daniel and Egeria and said in a low voice, "I feel terribly sorry for her. Many decades ago, she and Bres En were lovers. She was the one who broke off the relationship, but I think that she still cared for him. At the time, she said that she ended the relationship because he'd changed from the man she had come to love. I can only wonder now if the reason for the change was that he had begun to turn from the ways of the Tok'ra."
"So, now you come to kill me," Bres En stated emotionlessly. His gaze came to rest on the new arrivals. "You think that you are better than the Goa'uld, yet you are nothing more than fools on a pathetic quest. And even if you do succeed in overthrowing them, you will still be fools because you will refuse to take the power that would be yours for the taking. You could have it all, the whole galaxy, but, instead, you will sit back and grow fat and lazy as far inferior species who should be doing your bidding are allowed to multiply like rabbits and rule themselves."
Egeria stepped forward. "You are right in one thing you said, Bres En. When the day comes that the Goa'uld fall, we will not lower ourselves to their level and dominate species that we have no right to rule. The greatest failings of the Goa'uld are their conceit and their blind lust for power. If they had not fallen victim to those things, they could have become truly great, the kind of greatness that they and one such as you are incapable of understanding. I see a wonderful future for my children, grandchildren and all the generations that will follow, a future that will bring rich rewards, ones that do not need to be taken by force. They will find happiness and contentment that the Goa'uld could never achieve."
Bres En snorted derisively. "The contentment of placid sheep." He lifted his chin arrogantly. "I for one will not die as a sheep. You come here to free my host. I deny you that victory."
Suddenly, the man before them curled forward, clutching his chest and gasping for air as he fell to his knees.
"He is killing his host!" Ka'resh cried. "We must get in there!"
As Sam called the infirmary for a medical team, the cell door was unlocked, and three of the Tok'ra ran into the cell. Bres En's host was now on the floor, convulsing, his face twisted in agony. Then he abruptly went limp. Celdeth felt for a pulse.
"His heart has stopped. We are too late," she announced in a sad voice.
"Are you sure this isn't some kind of trick?" Jack asked. "Maybe he's hoping one of us humans will go in there so that he can, you know, body hop."
Jacob, who was kneeling beside the lifeless man, shook his head. "I should have seen this coming," he said with Selmak's voice. "Bres En knew that he was going to die and that, in a situation like this, saving the host would be very important to us. He did this to spite us."
Janet and a medical team arrived moments later and began to work on Bres En's host, but they were told that it was a lost cause.
"He will have made sure that we could not revive the host," Ka'resh said with a regretful sigh.
The lifeless man was rushed to the infirmary, but, in the end, Janet had no choice but to pronounce him dead. It was a very sober group that gathered around the body of the innocent man who'd found himself enslaved by someone he had believed would be his trusted partner and friend for life. Daniel had an arm around Egeria, whose eyes were filled with tears. He understood how much she was hurting.
"We will remove the symbiote from his body, and he will be buried with honor," Ka'resh stated.
"What was his name?" Teal'c asked.
"I will perform the Jaffa ceremony for one of honor who has fallen in death."
Ka'resh inclined her head in gratitude. "Thank you, Teal'c. Wallec would be greatly honored by such a thing."
A while later, SG-1, Egeria and Jacob were in the commissary, though none of them were hungry.
"This really stinks," Jack remarked. "I hate it when a snake wins."
"Indeed," Teal'c agreed. "We can only take solace in the fact that Bres En did not succeed in his plan to kill Egeria and Aranae and that he will no longer be a threat to us or the Tok'ra."
"And Wallec died knowing that Bres En had been stopped," Jacob said. He let out a soft sigh, his gaze dropping to the tabletop.
Sam studied his face. "What's wrong, Dad?"
"Selmak was the one who convinced Wallec to be a host and paired him with Bres En. That was only thirty years ago, almost certainly after Bres En had turned traitor. He's feeling pretty guilty right now."
"He had no way of knowing what was going on."
Jacob's head dipped further. When it lifted, Selmak was in control. "But I should have suspected something. It is traditional that the old host of a Tok'ra speak to the one who is going to replace him, just as Saroosh spoke with Jacob, but that did not happen with Wallec and Injar, Bres En's previous host. Bres En claimed that Injar was too weak to talk, but there was something off in the way that Bres En was acting. All Tok'ra feel some measure of grief at the passing of their host, yet I saw no grief in Bres En nor even the smallest hint of sorrow. In fact, he seemed to be impatient to get on with the transference into the new host. I should have realized then that all was not right. Now that I think back, I had not heard Injar speak for himself for many years prior to his death, which, in itself, should have been a warning sign, for Injar was quite stubborn and liked to personally express his opinions. And from the moment that the blending of Bres En and Wallec took place, I never witnessed Wallec in control, except when Egeria asked to meet him the day she came to the Tok'ra base. I now have my doubts that it was even Wallec who spoke to her. Bres En could have simply pretended to hand over control."
"We all have twenty/twenty hindsight, Selmak," Daniel said. "And the last thing you would have wanted to suspect was that Bres En was a traitor."
"We can blind ourselves to many things that we do not wish to see," Teal'c stated.
"Been guilty of that myself a few times," Jack said.
Egeria laid her hand over Selmak's. "Do not feel guilt over this. My eyes were not blinded by centuries of knowing Bres En as an ally and fellow Tok'ra, yet I failed to see anything suspicious in his manner even though I talked to him several times while I was at the Tok'ra base."
"Then Bres En wasn't one of the Tok'ra who was with you on Estrania?" Sam asked.
"No, he was among the ones born later, after I went on the run. I never had the opportunity to truly come to know him. Perhaps if I had, I would have detected something that would have warned me of future trouble. Then again, it may be that there would have been nothing to detect. Bres En may have truly been Tok'ra in the beginning."
"The fact is that we'll never know exactly what made him change," Sam said.
That night as they lay in bed, Daniel held Egeria close, running a comforting hand up and down her arm.
"I'm sorry it all turned out this way," he said. "I can imagine how upset and betrayed you must feel."
"I am not the first mother betrayed by her own child, and I will not be the last. Bres En fell victim to the same curse as the Goa'uld, the desire for power, and, just as with many of them, it ultimately led to his downfall."
"Yeah, it's happened here on Earth a lot, too. We have a saying: power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." He paused. "I have personal experience with that."
Hearing an odd tone in his voice, Egeria lifted her head and looked at him. He failed to meet her eyes. "Of what do you speak?"
The archeologist shook his head. "It's nothing. It's getting late. We should get some sleep." He turned his face away and closed his eyes.
Egeria stared at him for a long moment, frowning. There was a story here that Daniel did not want to share with her. Instead of feeling hurt by that, she was concerned. Since they became lovers, Daniel had opened himself many times to her, revealing deeply personal things. The fact that he was refusing to speak about something could only mean one thing: that he was ashamed by this thing about which he was keeping silent.
As Egeria laid her head back down, she vowed to get to the bottom of this mystery.