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Between Two Evils
It had been some time since they had heard from the Tok'ra. Jacob Carter had shown up with an alternate universe SG-1 just days after they had returned from the Lost City. But the Tok'ra Council had not approached them since the mission to take out Neferteri, and ultimately Anubis. It had been Sam who had called her father, and through him, the Council, about Ba'al.
The message received from Jacob had been cryptic at best. The Council was sending representatives to speak with the leaders of SGC Gamma.
When Jacob sent word that he was bringing three Tok'ra, everyone knew that something was up. Sam was in the 'gate room to meet her father. She greeted Anise as well. It took a few minutes to recognize the other woman, and the man with them she had never met before.
"Sina?" Sam asked. This Tok'ra was the one who had brought information that had helped SG-1 destroy Anubis's massive, advanced weapon, just days after they had found Daniel on Vis Uban. For Sam, those days had brought to an end the saddest year of her life. A few months later, Casey had fallen into Daniel's arms, and their lives.
The woman smiled. "It has indeed been a long time since we last met, Samantha."
"Yes, it has," Sam smiled. "I think it was about eleven years ago."
Sina nodded. "Yes. About that."
Jacob motioned toward the man who waited patiently. "Sammy, this is Galen. He was a spy in Olokun's household, before that particular Goa'uld was killed."
Sam offered her hand. "Should I offer condolences on your lack of a position now?"
The man, of average height, and looks, smiled warmly. The action transformed his face from plain to handsome. "That the Goa'uld is dead, I accept my lack of a position most gladly."
Sam smiled. "So, what's up?"
Jacob exchanged looks with his companions. "There's a war brewing among the Goa'uld."
"We've heard rumors," Sam said carefully. It hurt her to know that her father, as a Tok'ra, kept information from them, information that could be useful to them. As a result, almost all of the information that Methos' spy network collected was classified Top Secret, and was not shared with the Tok'ra. It was a damned lousy situation, but one not of her making.
Her father looked at her, his eyes narrowed slightly. He, through Selmak, was aware of the fact that the Immortal, Methos, seemed to be able to gather information at an alarming rate, much faster than their own network. He was sure that the SGC Gamma had much more information on various System Lords and situations than they were sharing. What worried the Council was the fact that it was suspected that the Tau'ri had a great deal more information than the Tok'ra had. Which meant that the Tok'ra needed the Tau'ri…but the Tau'ri did not need the Tok'ra. Not a situation that the Council was comfortable with. "We need to talk. With Duncan."
She nodded. "He's in his office." She turned to lead the way out of the 'gate room.
The tall blonde turned around.
"You…none of you are going to like what's going to be said," Jacob warned gently.
She looked over her shoulder, shrugged slightly, hid the hurt that flared in her heart. "That's happened before."
Jacob shook his head. Selmak tried to soothe him, knowing that the relationship between her host and his daughter was always precarious at the best of times. They had made significant progress, but the trust that they had worked so hard to re-establish was now on the verge of being shattered.
Duncan called SG-1 into the conference room. Anything that the Tok'ra had to say, he wanted witnessed by his flagship team, especially since any action that would need to be taken would fall on their shoulders. The Tok'ra didn't trust their…dirty work…to any other team.
Tension filled the air; and when Jack, Teal'c, Casey, and Daniel entered the room; their greetings were cautious.
Selmak sighed. She admired these young people. Particularly Dr. Jackson and his wife. They faced each challenge bravely, did the best that they could do under extreme circumstances, and while they might complain loudly about helping the Tok'ra, not once had they ever refused. Even when the consequences of those missions had meant personal hardship.
"So, Jacob, Selmak, to what do we owe the honor of this visit?" Duncan asked, when greetings had been exchanged and introductions made.
"The Tau'ri have inadvertently created a situation among the Goa'uld which could have far-reaching consequences," Selmak said, deciding that cutting straight to the heart of the matter was the best option.
"I see," Duncan said. He sat back in his chair. "What you mean is, we've killed off a shit-load of the bastards, and now those who are left are fighting to be king of the mountain."
Selmak smiled. "Yes."
"I can't see how that's a problem," Jack said. "Since we keep killing them, there are fewer to worry about."
"We were not aware that you had even reached the sectors of space you are now…investigating," Anise said, very diplomatically. "Your total destruction of Nergal, and his compound, as well as freeing his…territories, and the other Goa'uld deaths as a result of that…war…has left a power void in that sector. Penatil is now becoming…ambitious, and is reaching out farther than expected."
"We'll knock his ass down to size," Jack muttered.
"The war that is coming could have devastating long term effects," Selmak said quietly.
"How?" Daniel asked, a frown on his face.
"If Penatil continues to defeat those that he moves against, soon none of the other System Lords will even offer token resistance. Which will make him more powerful than Anubis."
"I suppose the Tok'ra High Council has a way to deal with this," Duncan said.
"There has been a solution discussed, yes," Selmak replied.
"Okay, lay it out," Jack said.
"We have spies in position to make sure that none of the other System Lords capitulate," Selmak said. "And we wish to ensure that the situation...remains stable."
"You want us to stop using our 'gate, or at least stop going on missions," Casey said flatly.
Jacob shook his head. "No, not exactly."
"Then what, exactly?" Jack demanded to know.
"We wish to have Sina and Galen remain here at the SGC Gamma, since this is where all of the missions originate. They would either approve or disapprove any potential undertakings of each SG team," Selmak said. "We would also require full access to the information that Methos gathers."
Silence filled the room as the Tau'ri stared at their Tok'ra visitors. "Does the phrase, 'no fucking way batman', mean anything to you?" Jack asked, his brown eyes flashing with anger.
Duncan snorted, then grinned. "You realize that there is no way in hell this is going to happen," he said.
"That is what I told the Council," Selmak replied.
Casey studied the Tok'ra. "None of you believe this is a good idea," she said softly. She looked at Selmak. "You chose Sina and Galen, because they're opposed to this, and Anise because she's worked with us before, she has doubts about it as well."
Selmak smiled. "Your gift serves you well."
"Then what are you suggesting?" Sam asked. She was still shocked that her father would ever have gone along with even suggesting the idea to them.
"There are others who understand that regardless of what the Tok'ra High Council asks-"
"Don't you mean 'demands'?" Jack groused.
Another smile. Selmak was not surprised at the man's outburst. "The Tau'ri will never agree," she continued. "We also believe that while your methods lack…finesse, you are accomplishing more in just a matter of years than the Tok'ra have in several hundred centuries."
Casey's eyes went wide. "Oh, god, we've caused a rift among the Tok'ra!"
Sina shook her head. "No. There have always been those eager to do more than what we have been," she said quietly. "The Tau'ri have given us the…courage…to step forward."
Galen nodded. "Tok'ra numbers are limited, this is true. Rather than having the Tau'ri help us as equals, making our small number seem larger, the Council chose to use you as…pawns. Many of our number disagree with this as well."
"The High Council is ignoring the voices of the majority of Tok'ra," Anise told them. "This is causing more dissension than any of the previous differences of opinion."
"So, replace them," Jack responded.
"That is not so easily done," Selmak replied.
"Talek-" Sina started. She glanced at her companions. Selmak nodded. "Talek has no intention of allowing control of the Council to leave his hands."
"So what is it that you, those of you here, and those you represent, want from us?" Duncan asked bluntly.
Nervous glances were exchanged. "We need Talek assassinated," Selmak said, just as bluntly.
A pin hitting the floor would have echoed like thunder in the room. The Tau'ri stared with disbelief.
"You want us to kill Talek?" Duncan managed to ask.
"Yes," Anise replied.
"Just out of curiosity, why come to us?" Jack asked. "You've carried out assassinations before."
"We would not dare move against him. You are just as capable at arranging such things. You have assassinated several NID leaders, with no one being the wiser as to who actually killed them. You have done the same on Langara when the Langaran Council approached you about a cult leader who was becoming dangerous to the safety of their people," Anise replied.
"We couldn't have been too stealthy, if you know about it," Daniel pointed out.
"We learned of these things through the mutual sharing of information," Jacob said, a slight grin on his face.
"There is one person whom we feel would be the best for the job," Sina added.
"Who?" Duncan asked.
She felt her jaw drop open. "Excuse me?"
Selmak smiled. "Do not fear that we believe you to be a heartless killer. We do believe, however, that you of all Tau'ri deserve…retribution."
"Neferteri," she breathed.
Jacob nodded. "That's right, kiddo. Remember the Tok'ra representative you shot the very first time we met?"
Casey nodded slowly.
"He was Talek's brother. Talek never believed that it was an accident. He never forgave you."
"I figured that out on my own," Casey replied.
"Talek insisted on meeting with Daniel in person. And then threatened him with your imprisonment during the duration of the mission if you weren't left completely oblivious to the true nature of the details," Selmak continued. "I was totally unaware of this…conversation."
All eyes turned to Daniel. His jaw was working. "I couldn't let them do that to her," he said quietly. "There was this…undertone…that she would be…that she would suffer if I didn't do what he wanted. He even made veiled threats against Emmie."
"And you never thought to tell us about this?" Jack asked, his eyes wide.
"They threatened you as well, Jack. Hell, they were going to hold the entire team hostage," Daniel replied. He could still feel the anger, the sense of helplessness that had flooded him.
Casey's eyes were burning with Fire. "That no good…yellow bellied…lily-livered…scum sucking…goat screwing…camel licking rat bastard!" She was almost shouting by the time she ended her tirade.
"There's more," Selmak said, grinning broadly. Jacob had been able to stop laughing just long enough to explain the insults to her. The other Tok'ra may not have understood the details, but the got the gist of what she was saying, and were smiling as well.
"Let's hear it," Casey said. Her slender body was shaking with anger.
"Talek understood well the love between you and Daniel. He was also aware that if you witnessed him…choosing…to work with Neferteri, if you truly believed that he no longer loved you, that you would either kill them both, thus taking out the Goa'uld as needed, or that you would react as you did. He was trying to break the two of you apart. To make you suffer for what he believed you did in malice," Selmak said.
Duncan and her teammates were laughing out loud. There was no mistaking the absolute fury in her green eyes. Not one of them believed that Talek would ever walk away if she were to ever get anywhere near him.
"Give me a gun and the 'gate coordinates, I'll kill that son of a bitch right now," she hissed.
"This is why we wanted to offer you the chance to deal with him,' Selmak said.
Casey suddenly cocked her head sideways. "Did any of you ever think that maybe Talek is a Goa'uld spy?"
Nervous glances were exchanged. "No, we never believed that of him. Egotistical. Belligerent. Definitely opinionated," Selmak replied.
"Well, I'd make damned sure that anything you plan that involves the Goa'uld doesn't reach his ears," Casey said. "I don't think he's working for any particular Goa'uld. But he's up to something. He…well, the symbiote, anyway…was Tok'ra. Is related to the rest of the Tok'ra. But somewhere along the line he began to believe that the Goa'uld are right. I believe that the host is…well, just like with a Goa'uld, he's a prisoner in his own mind."
Selmak frowned. "If this is so, and the host is willing, there are Tok'ra symbiotes who are in need of new hosts. We can remove the symbiote, and destroy him, thus saving the host."
"It is good that we came to speak with you first!" Sina said, her eyes wide.
"Let me do it," Casey said. "I want that bastard to know that I'm onto him. I want him to know that I'm going to kill his sorry ass."
Selmak smiled. "Agreed."
"Okay, now how are you going to get him tied down for this?" Duncan asked.
"Our numbers among the Tok'ra are much larger than our…rivals…believe. It will be rather easy to spread the word of what Talek is, and has become. Without him ever hearing about it," Anise replied.
"Don't bet on that," Casey warned. "I suggest that you keep this to yourselves for now. Selmak, you wouldn't have brought these three with you if you didn't trust them. Don't trust anyone else. Not yet."
Selmak nodded. Jacob agreed that Casey's intuition, her sight, was too accurate to risk going against.
"Bring him here," Sam said abruptly.
"What?" Jacob asked.
"Bring Talek here. We can have guards ready when he gets here. We take him to the infirmary, and take the symbiote out," she explained.
"He will have his entourage," Sina argued.
"We have zats," Jack countered, warming immediately to the idea. It kept Casey safe from any…loyal…Tok'ra.
"If I go back, tell him that Sam and Daniel understand the reasoning behind the Council's request, and that word directly from him could convince Duncan, I have no doubt he would be eager to come," Selmak. "It would…cater to his ego."
Duncan nodded. "Whenever you're ready. For what it's worth, I understand…we understand," he said quietly, motioning to the members of SG-1, "what this is costing you."
Selmak nodded. "Thank you. Our methods are not always the same, but we desire same results in this war against the Goa'uld."
The Highlander nodded. "That we do."
A A A A A A
Just as Selmak had predicted, Talek was more than willing to accompany Jacob to the Gamma colony. No doubt the Tok'ra had convinced himself that he would be able to ascertain all that he felt the Council needed to know in far less time than it would take the Tau'ri host and the often disloyal Tok'ra symbiote. Twenty-four hours after Jacob had first arrived to speak with the Tau'ri, she and Jacob accompanied the Council Leader and his followers to Gamma.
Anise, Sina, and Galen were waiting at the bottom of the ramp. Duncan and SG-1 were as well. Talek failed to notice that Teal'c stood a bit off to the side, both hands behind him as the Tok'ra Council leader and his three assistants followed Jacob down the metal ramp.
As soon as Talek began greeting the other Tok'ra, Teal'c quickly zatted his followers. Jacob pressed a zat into his back.
"What is this?" Talek demanded, his eyes glowing with anger.
"We are doing what must be done for the good of all Tok'ra," Selmak replied. "While your host may yet be Tok'ra, you have not been for some time. Your treachery has caused your downfall, Talek."
The man began to struggle. Jacob fired the zat once, allowing Galen and Jack to grab him and pull his arms behind his back.
Within minutes Talek was strapped to an infirmary bed with a five-point restraining system. He smirked at them. It would be easy enough to convince Selmak that he was dead. Then, when he was back on the Tok'ra base on Norlonda, he would declare Selmak and her host to be traitors, and have them killed. The three with him as well.
"Well, well, well. Imagine my delight in finding you here, all tied down," Casey said from the doorway. She put her arms behind her back, held her hands tightly together. In order to keep herself from strangling the bastard.
"What do you want?" Talek asked, as if he were speaking to an errant child.
"To kill you. But, I doubt they'll let me do that. Something about saving the host. Personally, I couldn't care less. You nearly destroyed my marriage. Hell, you nearly destroyed me. But that's what you wanted, wasn’t it?"
"You attempted to kill my brother!" he spat angrily.
"Hey, if I had been better at hitting my target while on the move, I would have. And you know something?" She bent close, in order to whisper in his ear. "I wouldn't have lost a second of sleep over it."
He fought against his restraints, his face turning red with effort. "I should have instructed Neferteri's Jaffa to kill you!"
"Hard to do, if they didn't have a sword," Casey retorted. "I was pretty sure that you had set that part up. A snake is a snake, no matter who else they might try to fool. I don't trust anything that crawls inside a human being in order to survive!"
Talek turned his head. His eyes widened when she grabbed his chin with one hand, his hair with the other, and forced him to look at her.
"Did you really think that you would have drawn another breath if anything had happened to me? Have you forgotten who my Husband is? He would have destroyed you without working up a sweat!" She noted with significant satisfaction that the man's eyes grew even wider. "Right now, Daniel could take out a small planet if he wanted to. Don't piss him off. Norlonda is nothing more than a moon. He lifts his hand against it, and there won't be enough left to identify it as ever having been anything more than cosmic dust!"
"To do so would cause those who bestowed the gift upon him to withdraw it!" Talek replied haughtily, although in his own heart he was not sure that it would, or even could, be done.
"Well, now, that's not true. Seems that the Big Boys who gave Daniel that…gift…didn’t realize that it would continue to grow. He's as powerful as the Beings of Light, you know, the Big Boys who gave him the power to begin with. They won't do a damned thing to piss him off. Let me tell you something, snakehead…Daniel and I cannot be defeated! We can do things together that would make your eyeballs spin. If I wanted to, I mean, really wanted to, I could come in there, where you are, holding the owner of this body prisoner in his own mind, and I could hunt you. I could find you. And I could put some major hurt on you! I could pry you from this man's mind just as easily as I can speak to you! Maybe I should do that, and spare Selmak the trauma of being the one to kill you!" Her eyes blazed with anger.
"You would not dare!"
"I would dare!" she said coldly.
"Casey, don't," a voice said calmly from the doorway.
She glanced over her shoulder, let go of the man on the bed. "Be damned glad that The Chosen is a much more…forgiving…type than I am!" she hissed.
Daniel walked into the room, ran his hand up and down her back. "You know, Angel, I'm thinking there was another reason that Talek wanted us apart."
She looked over at him. "And that would be?"
"He wanted you for himself."
Casey rolled her eyes. "Please! I never met him before I saw him in the Council chambers after…that mission."
"That's not true, Angel. He saw you. Was probably near enough to get a dose of those special pheromones that incredible, sexy body of yours puts off," Daniel said, his eyes boring into those of the man lying on the bed. "Which Goa'uld were you with? Osiris? Or were you with Framone? Somehow I always thought that your ability to locate him was a bit suspect. Were you there at the feast he gave, just before I killed him?"
Her eyes had gone wide. "You son-of-a-bitch! You were there!"
In the monitoring room, Selmak's eyes had widened as well. Talek never had disclosed the source of information about the Immortal Goa'uld's location. She began to wonder how many of the defeats the Tok'ra had suffered were due to Talek's treachery.
"You said that all of the Knights and guests were brought to meet you, right?" Daniel asked his wife, his gaze locked with Talek's.
"That's right," she said softly.
"He was wearing a disguise of some sort, I'm sure. But he got close enough to you. You were terrified, and angry. He got a healthy dose of those pheromones. And he's wanted you ever since."
"He hates me!" Casey argued.
"Just like Ba'al, Angel. And Framone. And Zinder," Daniel replied calmly. He walked to the side of the bed opposite the door. He pulled Casey along with him. Then ran his hand over her back again, making sure that the Tok'ra could see his fingers coming close to the sides of her breasts. Talek's eyes never left her. "Admit it. You want my Wife. The real reason you wanted Casey as a prisoner while I was dealing with Neferteri was so that you could 'comfort' her when I was killed. That's what was supposed to happen, right?"
Talek shook his head. "You are Immortal. However, if she left you, broken-hearted over your desertion, unable to forgive you…" his voice trailed off.
"Oh, you sorry bastard!" she hissed. "Just so you know, it never would have worked. Daniel is the only man I will ever love. If anything happens to him, he will still be the only man I will ever love!" She looked up at Daniel, her love blazing in the depths of her green eyes.
Talek watched the Fire that lit her eyes. Watched as Daniel lifted her fingers to his lips, kissed them gently. His own mouth watered to taste her skin. He could smell her; that sweet scent that had haunted him from the first time he had been close to her in Framone's castle. Watched as the love filled those deep green depths, seeing only the Tau'ri. He screamed in pain as a needle sank deep into the flesh of his neck.
"You are a traitor, Talek, and for that you will die. Your host will be given the chance to be joined with a true Tok'ra, if Tomas is willing to do so," Selmak said coldly.
"Don't even think about playing dead," Casey warned him. "I will be checking. If you pretend, you death will be much more painful, and I can make it last for hours!"
Talek closed his eyes. He had read the reports about what The Chosen, and His Chosen were capable of. He had no doubt that now that she knew the truth, Casey Jackson would enjoy nothing more than making him suffer. As she had suffered while her husband was on a mission for the Tok'ra. Talek had never been in a position in which he, or his host, had been forced to endure pain. And he had no illusions that he could withstand the torture that the woman he yearned for would undoubtedly inflict upon him. Part of him, the part that had been proud to be a Tok'ra in his youth, insisted that he at least die with dignity. It was inevitable that he would die. How he died was totally up to him. He carefully withdrew from the mind of the host, apologizing, begging the man to forgive him, and not to judge all Tok'ra by his actions. Then he began to unwind himself from the man's spine, sending out what proteins and enzymes he could in order to lessen the pain. He could feel the poison working.
"I…I cannot feel him, cannot hear him," Tomas gasped slightly. "He begged my forgiveness, begged me to continue to serve the Tok'ra, and then he…disappeared."
"We must wait just a few minutes longer," Selmak said gently. "We cannot take any chances that he might be trying to hide, just to take over once again."
The man nodded, the movement barely noticeable, as he flinched in pain.
Seconds ticked by. Tomas moaned softly as the poison moved through his body. Dr. Montigue connected sensors to the man's body. The monitors showed that the symbiote was no longer attached to the spinal column. Brain wave activity showed only one signature. That of the host.
Selmak refused to give in to the tears that threatened fall onto the cheeks of her host. Jacob was doing his best to comfort her, insisting that Talek had been able to fool all of them, and that Casey's gift of 'sight' was the only thing that had exposed him as a traitor. Selmak reminded her host, her friend, that the Tau'ri had become quite adept at finding and exposing the traitors among the Tok'ra, something that they had been unable to do for themselves for years, it seemed.
"We must administer the antidote now, or risk losing the host," Anise said softly.
With a sharp nod of understanding, Selmak gently injected the serum that would counter the effects of the poison. She insisted on an x-ray, stating that if Talek was merely playing dead, they would be able to see that in the images. If he truly was dead, that would be visible as well.
The symbiote was no longer attached to the spinal column. And there was no movement, no readings of life at all. Within hours nothing would be left of that which had been Talek.
Tomas was released from the restraints and moved to a more comfortable bed. Food was brought in, although he was unable to eat much. "I feel so…alone," he said softly.
Casey held his hand. It seemed that Talek had prevented Tomas from being affected by the pheromones she produced. Probably, she speculated, to prevent a battle of control for the body. Something that the host might possibly have won. "Selmak says there are several Tok'ra symbiotes in need of a host," she said softly.
"He wasn't always like that," Tomas said quietly, apologetically. "When we were first joined, he was as eager to fight the Goa'uld as I was. It wasn’t until we continued to do nothing but gather information, doing nothing to stop them that he began to question the wisdom of the Council. When he met Framone for the first time, many years ago, he thought that he had found the perfect ally for fighting the enemy, one created specifically for that cause. When he learned that Framone had been taken as a host, he thought to use him. But soon it was Framone using Talek. He…used you, both of you, to kill Framone, when he finally realized that fact. I…I'm not sure when he decided that the Tok'ra were fighting against their own nature. I was allowed out only when it was necessary to 'prove' that I still existed, although he was always in control of what I said. I tried to reason with him, but…" Tomas shook his head sadly.
"It's over now," Casey said reassuringly.
"I…I'm so alone," he whispered again.
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