Stargate Horizons


The members of SG-1 stood at the Stargate on Hak'tyl.  With them were several of the female Jaffa, including Ishta, Mala and Neith.  None of the women, who also called themselves the Hak'tyl, knew the identity of the person for whom they waited, knowing only that it was someone of importance who was coming to speak to them about an offer that would end their reliance on Goa'uld larvae.

When SG-1 – minus Teal'c, who chose to stay behind to speak with Ishta – returned to the SGC with the request for Egeria to speak to the Hak'tyl, she eagerly agreed, and General Hammond gave his permission for her to do so.  She said, however, that she wanted to make a few preparations first and would come through shortly.  Daniel, Sam and Jack returned to the planet to tell the Hak'tyl that someone was coming to talk to them.

Jack glanced at his watch.  "How long did she say she'd be?"

"She didn't say," Daniel answered.

"So, what is she doing?  Fixing up her hair?"

Before Daniel could reply, the gate started dialing, and everyone turned to it.  Seconds after the wormhole connected, Egeria came walking through, driving a gasp from Daniel's throat.

She stood before them in a long white gown, black tresses piled high upon her head, standing straight and proud and looking every inch the queen that she used to be.  Although she did not bear the same face, at that moment, she looked so much like she did when Daniel first met her that he felt like he'd been thrown back in time again.

"Nice," Jack murmured under his breath.

Egeria gracefully walked down the steps and came to a stop before the group.

Daniel took a half-step forward.  "Ishta, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Egeria, the mother of the Tok'ra race."

The introduction sent a shockwave through many of the Hak'tyl, some of whom began murmuring to each other.

Ishta stared at Egeria, who stared right back.  The Hak'tyl leader immediately recognized that this was a woman who had held a position of power.  But she also sensed something else.

"There is no symbiote inside you."

"That is true," Egeria confirmed.  "I am no longer a Tok'ra.  Do you know my story?"

"It is said that you turned against the Goa'uld and created children untainted with their evil so that they could fight against the Goa'uld.  It is also said that you tried to save the people of Earth from being taken as slaves and hosts.  Because of these things, you were hunted mercilessly by Ra until he captured and killed you."

"All of that is true, except that he did not kill me.  Instead, he placed me in stasis, where I remained for many centuries until I was found by the humans who lived on the planet where the stasis unit had been left.  I will not go into details now.  I will say only that, thanks to Daniel, I was given another chance at life.  I could have spent that life as the Tok'ra queen," her eyes went to Daniel, "but I chose instead to become human so that I could be with the man I love."

"But how can a Tok'ra become human?" Neith asked, frowning in suspicion.

"My memories and my consciousness, the essence of who I am as a person, were downloaded into the clone of a human body.  I promise that everything will be explained to you in good time."

Ishta nodded shortly.  "Very well.  Let us go to the camp."

As they walked, Daniel fell into step beside Egeria.

"Where did you get that dress?  You didn't have time to go get it today."

"I purchased it several weeks ago.  When I saw it, it reminded me of the dress I often wore on Estrania, the one I was wearing when I first laid eyes upon you.  I decided to purchase it to wear on a special occasion."  She smiled slightly.  "This was not the occasion I had in mind, but I decided that it would be more fitting for me to dress as Queen Egeria than as a Tau'ri."

"Good idea.  I think you made a much bigger impression."  A smile came to Daniel's lips.  "I know you sure did on me.  I thought for a second that I was right back on Estrania in the past."

All four members of SG-1 remained outside as Egeria joined Ishta, Mala and Neith in the meeting tent.  Out of respect for Egeria, Ishta called for another chair to be brought in so that the former queen would not have to sit on cushions.

"Two thousand years ago," Egeria began, "I was a Goa'uld queen who ruled a planet called Estrania.  Though I did not agree with many of the ways of my fellow Goa'uld, I was still one of them.  But all that changed on the day I met a mysterious man who had come to my world.  That man was Daniel Jackson."

"But how is that possible?" Mala asked.

"Unbeknownst to me, Daniel had accidentally traveled back in time to that era.  He was captured by my Jaffa, and, because he had unknowingly broken a law of my domain, I commanded that he serve me as a slave for one year.  Yet, despite his enslavement, he showed me nothing but kindness and compassion.  In the days and weeks that followed, we became friends.  He became far more than that to me.  Because of him, I came to see my host in a new way.  I began conversing with her and, eventually, allowed her to occasionally have back control of her body.  And it is because of him that I chose to give birth to larvae who did not possess the Goa'uld knowledge and all the evil that comes with it.  After he returned to his own time, I committed myself to bringing an end to the Goa'uld.  You know what happened because of that and my efforts to free Earth.  I was hunted down, captured and placed in stasis.  More than sixty years ago, I was found by the people of Pangar.  Unaware of my identity, they forced me to spawn continually so that they could use the bodies of my children for a drug they created that made them impervious to illness.  By the time SG-1 came to that world and discovered me, I was dying."

"A sad reunion for you and Daniel," Mala said.

"Daniel was not with them," Egeria replied simply, deciding that explaining the reason for his absence would be too confusing and complicated.  "Only a short while later, I died."

Neith frowned.  "Yet you sit before us now."

"Yes.  Not quite two months ago, because of a dire circumstance on another world, Daniel proposed a plan to go back in time to save a copy of my consciousness so that I could provide dearly needed information that only I possessed.  The plan succeeded, my consciousness being temporarily downloaded into the mind of a volunteer named Ria.  Also taken was a sample of the cells from my symbiote body so that it could be cloned by the Asgard and my consciousness transferred into it.  But I loved Daniel still and knew that, if I became a Tok'ra again, we could never be together.  And so I made the choice to remain human.  A clone was made of Ria's body, and my consciousness was transferred to it.  That is how I came to be in this body."

"It is an amazing story," Ishta said.

"If it is true," Neith added.

Egeria subjected her to a hard look.  "You doubt my word?  Do you, then, also doubt SG-1?  They have told you who I am."

"Yes, a Goa'uld who claims to have done all these things for the good of the galaxy.  But how can we trust you?  How are we to know that everything you did was not part of a plan for you to gain control of the galaxy?  You were a Goa'uld, and all Goa'uld are evil."

"Enough!" Ishta barked angrily.  "You will not speak to our guest in such a way."  She turned to Egeria.  "Forgive her.  It is in her nature to be mistrusting."

"I understand her mistrust," Egeria responded.  Her gaze focused on Neith.  "But your hatred is blinding you.  If what you suspect is true, would I have chosen to forsake the power and long life that comes with being a symbiote?  Would I have chosen to become human, a species that the Goa'uld look upon as far inferior to them?  You know the answer.  I would have resumed my place as the queen of the Tok'ra and continued to plot and scheme.  The fact that I sit before you as a human is proof enough of my claims.  No Goa'uld would be willing to do what I did for any reason."

Ishta stared at Neith.  "You know that what she says is true, Neith.  I will not have you accuse her of treachery again."

Neith remained sullenly silent.

"What of the Tok'ra?" Mala asked.  "Were they not angered that you chose to be human?  As their queen, did they not need you?"

"Yes, some were angry, but I think that most came to understand my decision once they understood why I made it.  In truth, I did not forsake them.  My children were in great need of a queen to spawn more Tok'ra.  They were becoming extinct, with no new generations to replace those who died.  If there had been no other choice, I would have given up my dream of being with Daniel and resumed my role as the Tok'ra queen, but there was another option.  With the help of the Asgard, my symbiote body was cloned, and the consciousness of another Tok'ra was placed within it.  She is now the new Tok'ra queen.  However, the Tok'ra are now in need of many Jaffa to carry the larvae to which she is giving birth.  Some of the rebel Jaffa have volunteered to do so, but we need more.  I wish to offer you the option of placing Tok'ra larvae into your children and, if you wish, in all of your adults as well.  If you agree, you will no longer have to steal Goa'uld larvae from other Jaffa.  No more of your warriors will have to die in battle so that the children you care for may live."

Surprised by the offer, the three Jaffa looked at each other.  Ishta was the first one to talk.

"But to do this the Tok'ra would have to know of our existence."  She paused.  "Or do they already know?"

"No, they do not yet know, nor will they, if you reject this offer outright.  But if you are willing to consider it and discuss it further, then they will be told so that you may speak directly with Tok'ra representatives."

Neith frowned again.  "Again, you ask us to trust ones whom we have no reason to trust."

"It is true that you do not know the Tok'ra, yet you must know of their history, how, for two thousand years, they have been an enemy of the Goa'uld.  My children have suffered long and hard during these millennia to free this galaxy from the oppression of the Goa'uld, most giving their lives in the fight.  I will not pretend that they are all virtuous and without flaws.  They are not perfect, and even I disagree with some of their present policies, yet their commitment to our goal is unwavering.  This alliance between your people and my children would be beneficial to both of you."

Ishta was silent for a moment.  "I must think on your proposal.  If I agree to do so, I will meet with the Tok'ra representatives, but not here.  I would not yet be willing to disclose to them the location of this camp."

Egeria nodded her head.  "Of course.  The meeting could take place on a world of your choice.  It could be on Earth, if you desire, which would be the safest for both parties."  She got to her feet.  "I will leave you so that you may discuss it."

Exiting the tent, Egeria joined SG-1.

"Well?" Jack asked.

"Ishta is considering meeting with Tok'ra representatives.  As you guessed, she is concerned about revealing the existence of the Hak'tyl to them."

"Do you think that she'll go for it?" Sam asked.

"That I cannot say.  As the leader of her people, she has to consider their welfare and safety and weigh the benefits against the risks.  I know how difficult that can be.  When I chose to actively fight against the Goa'uld, I knew that I would be placing my human subjects at risk, yet I felt that I could no longer turn my back on the plight of humanity throughout the galaxy, as well as the other races that suffer at the hands of the Goa'uld.  Ishta will make the decision that she feels is the right one for all of her people."

"Ishta is a woman of great strength and intelligence," Teal'c stated.  "I believe that she will make the right decision."

Jack looked at him, smiling ever so slightly.  "T.  You like her."

Teal'c lifted his chin fractionally.  "I merely recognize her to be a strong woman and a very capable leader.  Not many would do what she has done and do it with such skill and cunning."

Jack's smile got a bit bigger.  "Yep, you like her."

The Jaffa said nothing in reply.

Back in the tent, a heated conversation was underway.

"How can you even consider this?" Neith asked Ishta angrily.  "She was born a Goa'uld, and, though they may go by another name, all her spawn are of the same species as the Goa'uld.  If we do this, we could be putting ourselves into the hands of our enemies."

"The Goa'uld are equally as much of an enemy to the Tau'ri, yet they are allied with the Tok'ra and with Egeria," Mala pointed out.  "They cannot all be fools who have been duped."

"I have heard much about the Tok'ra," Ishta said, "and I believe that they are sincere in their desire to end the reign of the Goa'uld."

Neith's expression did not change.  "Even if they are as they claim, to trust them with our secret could lead to Moloc learning about us.  I say that we continue as we have for these thirty years."

"And do you think that Sillen would agree?" Ishta asked in a hard tone, naming a Hak'tyl who had recently died in a raid.  "What about Bren'ek or Drey'in?  What about young Kahli, who died before we could procure a symbiote for her?  What the Tok'ra offer would save the lives of many Hak'tyl and allow us to focus more attention on saving children from the sacrificial fires.  We cannot reject that offer without serious consideration.  Please leave me now.  I have much to think about on this matter."

SG-1 and Egeria turned when the tent flap opened to see Ishta's two seconds emerge.  Though Mala's expression was calm and peaceful, Neith looked like she was pretty angry.

"Something tells me that Neith doesn't want Ishta to accept the offer," Daniel said.

Egeria nodded.  "She does not trust me or the Tok'ra.  Her hatred for the Goa'uld is great."

"Well, let's just hope that Ishta is more reasonable."

It was an hour later when Ishta left the tent and came up to SG-1 and Egeria.

"I will meet with the Tok'ra representatives," she said.  "The meeting can take place on Earth."

"Great," Daniel responded.  "We'll set things up right away."

Daniel glanced over at the two female Jaffa in the gate room.  It had not gone unnoticed by anyone that it was only Ishta and Mala who had come to Earth to meet with the Tok'ra.  Neith was likely on Hak'tyl, still stewing.

As the Stargate began dialing, all eyes focused upon it.  They didn't know which Tok'ra were coming, though Egeria had requested that Selmak be one of them.

Selmak was, indeed, one of the Tok'ra who emerged from the event horizon, the other one being Aranae, a pleasant surprise to Egeria.  What surprised Daniel and his teammates was the fact that the Tok'ra queen was missing her retinue of bodyguards.

As the Tok'ra left the ramp, Egeria came forward with a smile and took the queen's hands.

"Aranae.  I did not expect you to be among the ones to come."

"Since my children are the ones in need of Jaffa to carry them, I thought it only right that I attend this meeting."

"So, where are the bodyguards?" Jack asked.

"I did not think that the Hak'tyl would feel comfortable having so many Tok'ra here, so I ordered them to stay behind."

"And the other council members were okay with that?" Sam questioned.

"Not hardly," Jacob replied with a little smile.  "She got an earful from them."

Aranae grinned.  "I pulled rank, as you would say."

Jack smiled slightly.  "Throwing your queenly weight around a bit?"

"Just a little."

Daniel was the one who made introductions, making a point of including both the symbiotes and hosts when introducing the Tok'ra to the Hak'tyl.  Agreeing with his tactic, Selmak greeted the Hak'tyl, then Jacob did the same.  Aranae, likewise, relinquished control to her host so that Fiala could greet the Hak'tyl personally.  Having no prior experience talking to Tok'ra, seeing the symbiotes willingly give back control to their hosts had a big impact on Ishta and Mala.

The group went up to the briefing room.

"First of all, let me formerly welcome you to Earth and say that I hope we can reach an agreement that will benefit both you and the Tok'ra," General Hammond said to the two Hak'tyl women.

Ishta inclined her head once, then turned to the Tok'ra.  "You are in need of Jaffa to carry your larvae, and we are in need of larvae for our children.  These things cannot be denied.  But I have concerns about accepting your proposal and what it would entail.  Our movement, our very existence, depends on Moloc never finding out what we are doing.  For this reason, we must take great care to work in secret.  I am concerned that, through the Tok'ra, Moloc will learn of us."

"The Tok'ra must also work in secret," Selmak responded.  "We lack the numbers to openly attack the Goa'uld, so, instead, we work mostly through infiltration and covert operations.  We have been doing it that way for two thousand years, so we have gotten very good at keeping secrets."

"But what assurances can you give us that the Goa'uld will not accidentally learn of our existence through you?"

"Obviously, it would be impossible to give a one hundred percent guarantee.  No one could.  But we will do all we can to make sure that Moloc does not find out about you and what you are doing."

"You must consider something as well," Aranae said.  "At the present time, we believe that the Goa'uld may not even know that Egeria is back and that the Tok'ra have a new queen.  If they ever found out, both Egeria and I would be at great risk.  The Goa'uld would want us both dead.  So, you see, we are trusting an important secret to you just as you are to us, and if our secret was revealed, it could endanger the future of our entire race."

Daniel spoke up, addressing the Hak'tyl.  "The fact is that, at this point, the secrets have already been given away.  The Tok'ra now know about your movement, and you now know about Aranae and Egeria.  That can't be undone.  The only things that the Tok'ra don't know are where your camp is and exactly how you operate.  We're already in this thing."

"You are correct, of course," Ishta said.  She returned her gaze to the Tok'ra.  "How would you provide us with symbiotes?"

Jacob was the one who replied.  "As you probably know, to reduce the risk of them dying, larvae are usually not put into Jaffa until they are several days old, so Aranae couldn't produce larvae for you on demand when you're in need of a few.  Even if she spawned the same day that we got the message from you, you probably wouldn't get the larvae in time to save any children who have entered puberty.  What we decided was that we would try to keep at least two or three larvae at the base at all times, though we're limited on how long we can keep them in a tank.  In this way, there would seldom be a time that we didn't have some available."

Sam took over.  "Because it's easier to contact us than the Tok'ra, when you need a symbiote, you would let us know, and we would pass on the request."

"Why could we not keep the larvae on Hak'tyl?" Mala asked.  "Then there would be no need for us to contact you every time we are in need of one."

"Mostly, it's a matter of safety," Jacob answered.  "If you had to suddenly move your camp or if some danger threatened it, the larvae would be at risk.  There's also the fact that every time we had to exchange the larvae for newer one, it would require us coming there to do so."

"You must understand that for most of our existence, we have lived with the belief that a day would come when the Tok'ra would become extinct," Aranae explained.  "We had no hope that we would get a new queen who could give us new generations.  Because of this, every larva who is born is very important to us."  Her eyes softened.  "Every one of my children is precious to me."

"I understand," Ishta said.  "We feel the same about every one of the children we save."

"We will do our best to keep a line of communication open between us and Earth at all times," Jacob told her.  "We realize that time is of the essence once a Jaffa enters puberty."

"I know that this might muddy the waters a bit," Daniel said, "but there is an alternative in case of emergency."

"We have a drug called Tretonin that completely ends a Jaffa's need to carry a symbiote," Sam told the Hak'tyl.  "Now, so far, it's only being used by two Jaffa, but they've had great success with it.  If a larva couldn't be gotten to a child in time, she could be given Tretonin instead."

Ishta frowned.  "She would only take this drug until a symbiote was available for her?"

"Um . . . no, she'd be on the drug permanently.  We don't know what kind of reaction there would be to introducing a larva into a Jaffa who's on Tretonin.  It could be fatal."

"But does this drug give the same benefits to a Jaffa as a symbiote does?" Mala asked.  "Will it heal their injuries, increase their strength and longevity?"

Sam glanced briefly at Teal'c, then answered.  "The Jaffa doesn't heal quite as fast, but, from what we know and have seen, in most other ways, it's a lot like having a symbiote, except that there's no longer any need to perform Kel'no'reem."

Ishta's expression was thoughtful.  "I do not believe that this is something we have to concern ourselves with at this time."  She looked at the Tok'ra.  "As the leader of my people, I have often had to suffer the sorrow of losing one of our women in battle and, more than once, have watched a child die because we could not find a symbiote for her in time.  What you offer would make that a thing of the past.  I would not be a good leader if I said no.  Therefore, I agree to your proposal."

More than one smile came to the faces of the people sitting around the table.

"We are delighted that you agree," Aranae said.  "Are you in need of any larvae now?  We presently have fifty who are ready to be put into Jaffa."

"There is one child who will be entering prata very soon, perhaps at any moment, and two others who will be doing so soon as well."

"Then we will be sure to have three set aside for you."

All the details were worked out, and the meeting came to an end.

As Ishta went to talk to Selmak and Aranae, Mala approached Egeria.

"You told us that you chose to remain human so that you and Daniel Jackson could be together," she said.  "You must love him very much to sacrifice the long life you would have had as a symbiote."

Egeria smiled softly.  "Yes, I do.  He is the most important thing in my life.  I fell in love with him the moment I first saw him, though it took months for me to recognize my feelings for what they were.  Yes, it is true that I gave up a long life span to be with him, but I consider it to be worth the sacrifice.  I already knew the pain of losing him, of living without him.  The day he left was the saddest day of my life.  At the time, I did not know that he was from the future, so I believed that he was out in the galaxy somewhere, and I longed every moment to see him again.  When the day came that I could no longer hope that he was still alive, I grieved for him.  To have been parted from him again would have been unbearable."

Mala looked over at Daniel, thinking that Egeria was very lucky to have gotten a second chance, something that she didn't get.  "When I was a temple handmaiden, I fell in love with a young palace guard.  We tried to keep our relationship a secret, for it was forbidden, but I became pregnant."  She paused.  "Moloc had my beloved executed and, on the day of her birth, sacrificed my daughter before my eyes.  He let me live so that I could suffer with the grief of losing them."

Egeria rested a hand on the woman's arm, understanding her pain.  "I am so sorry.  I would happily kill Moloc with my own hands, if given the chance.  I know well his cruelty."

Mala met Egeria's eyes.  "I wish to have a Tok'ra larva.  I do not want this Goa'uld within me a moment longer.  I want the symbiote I carry to be one who will grow to fight against the Goa'uld."

Egeria smiled and nodded.  "Come talk to Selmak and Aranae, then.  They will be pleased."

When Mala repeated her request to the Tok'ra, they happily said that they could do the exchange right away.  Realizing that, as the leader of the Hak'tyl, she needed to set an example for her people, Ishta asked for the same thing, then said that she would request that every Hak'tyl now carrying a symbiote have it exchanged for a Tok'ra.

It was decided that the exchange should take place on Hak'tyl, in front of everyone.  Selmak and Aranae returned to the Tok'ra base to let the other council members know and to arrange to bring the tank of larvae to Hak'tyl.

Two hours later, Ishta and Mala returned to Hak'tyl with SG-1 and Egeria.  With them were Selmak and Zen're, a Tok'ra who had a great deal of experience overseeing larva implantation into Jaffa.  Between them they carried a tank teeming with infant symbiotes.

Mala mounted a horse and rode on ahead to tell all the Hak'tyl to gather at the edge of camp.  By the time that the others got there, everyone was assembled.  SG-1 couldn't help but notice that Neith was wearing a sour expression.

"Women and children of the Hak'tyl," Ishta said in a loud, clear voice.  "For thirty years we have been fighting to save our sisters from Moloc's murderous decree.  To preserve the lives of the children we rescued, it has been necessary for us to take symbiotes from other Jaffa.  This has resulted in the deaths of many of us.  No longer!  These two before you," she gestured at the Tok'ra, "are of the Tok'ra, ones who have dedicated themselves to the destruction of all Goa'uld.  Because of them and the Tau'ri, we now have a new source for symbiotes.  These you see in the tank are the children of the Tok'ra queen, and they are being given to us freely so that we may carry them to maturity, when they will then be blended as one with willing hosts and take up the fight against the Goa'uld."  Ishta lifted her head higher.  "With this new source of symbiotes, I say to you now that no longer will I carry a spawn of my enemy.  No longer will I have within my body a creature that bears nothing but evil in its heart."

With those words, Ishta reached into her larval pouch and pulled the symbiote out.  Daniel winced as she took the squeaking creature between her hands and tore it in half.  Throwing the dead body on the ground, she then turned to the tank and reached inside.  Extracting one of the Tok'ra larvae, she held it high for everyone to see, then placed it against the opening of her pouch.  It instinctively slipped inside.

It was then Mala's turn, who, after making a short statement, repeated what Ishta had done.

"Who else will rid their bodies of the evil creatures they carry and, instead, carry the children of a fellow enemy of the Goa'uld?" Ishta asked.

A woman with dark, curly hair stepped forward.  "I will!"

Another woman stepped up.  "As will I!"

A third woman took a step forward.  "And I!"

Women kept coming forward until it was impossible to keep count.  Among them were girls who had not had a symbiote for long, including Synak, the girl who carried the larvae that SG-1 witnessed being taken from a wounded Jaffa.

"This is fantastic," Sam said with a smile.

"Aranae's going to have to spawn again," Jacob murmured in a low voice.  "We're not going to have enough."

Throughout it all, as one Hak'tyl after another came forward, Neith remained conspicuously silent, standing a little off to the side.  Ishta walked up to her.

"What of you, Neith?"

The reddish-brown-haired Jaffa frowned.  "Why should I exchange one symbiote for another that may be no better?"

Ishta's expression darkened.  "Why do you cling to this belief that the Tok'ra are no different from the Goa'uld?  They have two thousand years of history that proves otherwise.  At the meeting I saw with my own eyes as the Tok'ra surrendered control of their bodies back to their hosts.  That one there," she pointed at Sam's father, "is named Selmak, and his host is Jacob Carter, the father of Major Carter.  I spoke to Jacob Carter for a short while, and he told me that becoming a Tok'ra was one of the wisest and most rewarding decisions he has ever made and that Selmak is closer to him than a brother.  I also spoke to the Tok'ra queen, and I found her to be a woman of honor, strength and good character.  There was no arrogance in her, no air of superiority.  They are not like the Goa'uld, Neith.  I am not asking that you trust them unquestioningly.  I am only asking that you allow yourself to accept that they are not our enemies and could be our allies.  They may even be able to help us achieve what we have long desired: the death of Moloc."

Neith looked over at the two Tok'ra, who were busy helping the Hak'tyl women exchange their Goa'uld symbiotes for Tok'ra larvae.  There was now a pile of dead Goa'uld larvae on the ground, one that was growing rapidly.

"I suppose that if they planned to betray us, they would not be giving their young to us," she said a bit reluctantly.

"No, they would not, for they would know that their young would die with us."

Neith nodded once.  "I will carry one of them."

Ishta smiled approvingly and rested her hand on Neith's shoulder.  "I knew that you would make the right decision in time.  Come, and we will have that evil creature removed from your body."

Neith was given one of the last larvae in the tank.  The Tok'ra made sure to keep three for Nesa and the other two girls who were nearing puberty.  Jacob told all of the Hak'tyl who didn't get one that they'd return in eight days with more.  He then joined SG-1 and Egeria, who were standing off to the side, well away from the carnage of the slaughtered Goa'uld larvae.

Daniel glanced at the pile of carcasses.  "I know that this was necessary and that, eventually, all those symbiotes would have been killed anyway, but it was kind of disconcerting watching them being killed like that.  But then, that wasn't nearly as bad as watching Goa'uld eat live ones."

"Yuck," Jack uttered, making a face.

"Well, I, for one, couldn't be happier," Jacob said.  "I don't think there's even one Hak'tyl who turned down the exchange."

Sam looked over at the woman.  "They look happy."

"They no longer carry the spawn of the Goa'uld inside them," Teal'c stated.  "They can be proud that they now nurture within their bodies symbiotes who are dedicated to the downfall of all Goa'uld, including Moloc."

"Yes, about that," Daniel said.  "What chance is there that we could do something about him?  The Hak'tyl are doing what they can to save babies from being killed, but they can't save them all."

Sam nodded.  "Yeah, and it sickens me to think about what Moloc is doing.  I asked Ishta if she wanted our help to do something about him, but she said that their priority was to get food and supplies for the camp, as well as weapons.  She's afraid that Moloc may be too powerful to bring down, even with our help."

"What about that, Jacob?" Jack asked.

"Moloc is definitely powerful, and, from what we know, the Jaffa who are loyal to him serve him almost fanatically.  We don't have a spy in his ranks because he has no Goa'uld serving him.  He's too paranoid about one attempting a takeover."

"So, it would be tough to bring him down," Daniel surmised.

"Tough, yes, but perhaps not impossible."

"Yeah, but would the High Council agree to do it?" Jack asked.

"That I don't know, especially since every loyal Jaffa of Moloc's would then join the armies of some other Goa'uld, making them stronger.  That's always a concern when a Goa'uld is killed."

"Yet word has it that there are many in Moloc's army who secretly long to be free," Teal'c said.  "If he is destroyed, they can join the ranks of the rebel Jaffa and make us stronger."

"And I'd dearly love to see Moloc get what's coming to him," Jack declared.  "If there's any Goa'uld that really needs killing, it's him."

Jacob nodded.  "I have to agree.  I'll bring it up to the council and see what they say.  If nothing else, having access to Ishta's inside information on Moloc's operations will be invaluable to us.  Bringing him down might not be something we could do right now, but, in a few months, with more intel on him, it might be doable."

Jacob and Zen're left a short while later.  SG-1 decided to stay a bit longer to talk with Ishta about the intel she could provide on Moloc.  Not really having anything to contribute regarding that, Daniel wandered around the camp.  He noticed the girl named Nesa sitting on a log and went over to say hi.

"Hey there."

She looked up at him.  "Hello."

"May I sit with you?"

Nesa nodded, and Daniel settled on the log.

"So, how are you doing?" he asked.

Nesa sighed.  "I am tired."

Daniel looked at her more closely.  "Are you feeling sick?"

"No, I am all right."

The archeologist nodded.  "I'm Daniel."

Nesa studied his face.  "What are those things on your face?"

Daniel touched his glasses.  "Oh, these?  They're called glasses.  My eyes don't work as well as they should, and these help me see better."

"How do they work?"

Daniel took off the glasses and put them on Nesa.

"These make your sight worse," she said.  She returned them to Daniel, who put them back on.

"Yeah, well, they work differently for different people.  These were made especially for me."

"Could you not become a Tok'ra instead?  Then the symbiote would fix your eyes."

"Um, yeah, but I think I'll stick with the glasses."

"You do not want to be a Tok'ra?  Are they not your friends?"

"Oh, yes, they're definitely our friends," Daniel quickly confirmed.  "Well, more like allies, although Selmak is a friend, too, because his host is Sam's father.  It's just . . . complicated.  If I became a Tok'ra I'd have to stay with them, and that's something I don't want to do."

Nesa nodded, understanding.  "I would not wish to leave the Hak'tyl, although, sometimes, I think about having a husband and children.  But I do not know what it would be like to have a husband.  I have never even seen a man before you and your team came here."

Daniel smiled slightly.  "Well, as you can see, we're not all that scary.  In fact, a lot of us are really very nice."

"Do you have children?"

The archeologist shook his head.  "No, but I would like to someday."

"Would you like a daughter?"

Into Daniel's mind came an image of a little girl with Egeria's long black hair and green eyes.  It brought another smile to his lips.  "Very much."

Nesa looked away and sighed again.  "My father did not want me because I was female.  When Neith, my sister, saved me, our father discovered what was happening, and Neith had to kill him."

Saddened and horrified, Daniel laid a hand on Nesa's back.  "I'm so sorry, Nesa.  But you need to understand that what is going on with Moloc is not the way it is everywhere.  Most fathers love and cherish their daughters."

Nesa's eyes returned to him.  "You're nice.  Neith was not happy about you being brought here, but I am glad that you were.  Now, we do not have to kill any more Jaffa to get symbiotes.  I did not like that someone would have to die for me to have a symbiote."

"I wouldn't like that either, if I was in your place.  Now, you'll get a Tok'ra symbiote, which will be much better."

They talked for a while longer, Nesa asking Daniel questions about himself and Earth.  She was eventually called away by her sister.  As she walked away, she glanced back at Daniel several times.  The archeologist didn't notice, but someone else did.  With a knowing smile, Egeria walked up and sat beside her lover.

"I saw you talking with Nesa."

"Yeah.  She seems like a nice kid.  She certainly appears to be lacking her sister's temper."

A mischievous little smile played around the corner of Egeria's lips.  "She is young, but not so much a child anymore.  I do believe that womanly feelings are stirring within her."

Daniel blinked and stared at her.  "Uhhh . . . why do you say that?"

Egeria laughed lightly.  "Ah, my Daniel.  You can be so delightfully blind at times.  You did not see how she was looking at you?"

"Um . . . no."  He suddenly realized what she was implying.  "You don't mean that she. . . ."

"I believe that you Tau'ri call it a crush."

Daniel's cheeks heated up.  "No way."

"I am not mistaken in what I saw.  I am especially qualified to recognize when a female likes you in that way.  Of course, I can fully understand why she would."

Daniel ducked his head.  "Oh, boy.  Neith better not find out.  She'd probably shoot me."

Egeria laughed again.

SG-1 and Egeria headed back to Earth a short while later.  General Hammond was delighted with the news that all of the Hak'tyl wanted to carry Tok'ra symbiotes.  He was filled in on the conversation with Jacob about the possibility of going after Moloc.

"I have to agree that to bringing him down would not only be a military victory, but would also be a big moral victory," the general said.  "As a father and grandfather, I am appalled by what he is doing.  That having been said, we would have to weigh the risks of going after him.  If the Tok'ra feel that it's possible, then we can discuss how it could be done."

"Ishta is going to give us everything their intelligence network has dug up," Sam told him.  "That will be a big help to us and the Tok'ra."

Egeria and all the members of SG-1 was starving by the time the debriefing was over and headed straight over to the commissary for lunch.  The main topic of conversation was the Hak'tyl.

"So, T," Jack drawled.  "That Ishta's quite a lady, isn't she."


"I couldn't help but notice that she seems to be a big fan of yours.  She called you a legend."

Teal'c frowned slightly.  "She respects what I have done to help the Jaffa achieve freedom.  Nothing more."

"Uh huh.  All the same, I'm sure that she wouldn't mind you coming back there for a visit or two."

Daniel and Sam exchanged an amused glance, hiding their smiles.  The major then turned back to Teal'c.

"Um, Teal'c, I was wondering why you didn't tell Ishta that you're on Tretonin when we were talking about it with her."

"If Ishta is to choose to allow some of her people to take Tretonin, she must be convinced that it will not lessen a Jaffa's strength and prowess.  If she knew that I am taking the drug, from that day forward, she would look for weaknesses and may imagine ones that are not there.  It is better that she does not know until she has seen that I am not weakened by no longer having a symbiote."

"Makes sense to me," Jack said.  "She'll see that you're the same rough, tough Jaffa that your legend says you are, and then you can tell her."

The next day, the SGC received an urgent message from the Hak'tyl that Nesa had collapsed and was in immediate need of a symbiote.  The Tok'ra were contacted right away.  SG-1 met Selmak and Zen're at the gate on Hak'tyl and took them straight to the desperately ill girl.  Neith sat at her sister's side, her expression filled with worry.

SG-1 watched as Nesa's pouch was prepared for its first inhabitant, Daniel and Sam with interest, Jack with a grossed-out look on his face.  The implantation went quickly and without incident, and, within a few minutes, Nesa's strength returned, the flush of fever fading from her cheeks.

"That didn't take long," Sam remarked.

"It usually doesn't if both the larva and the child are otherwise healthy," Jacob told her.  He looked at Neith.  "She'll be fine now."

"Thank you."  The woman's gaze went to the humans and the Tok'ra.  "In the beginning, I did not want any of you here.  I did not trust you and feared that your knowledge of the Hak'tyl would endanger us.  But you have saved my sister, and for that I will always be grateful.  I know now that you are not threats to us but valued allies.  Thank you for myself, my sister, and all of our people."

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