Author: Slainte2.0

Category: POV

Warnings: None

Pairing: Tok'ra partnership

Season: S6

Spoilers: "Metamorphosis," certainly for all Tok'ra and Nirrti episodes

Rating: PG-13, language

Summary: After Nirrti's experiments, Meg and Rukh find themselves with Jacob and Selmak at the SGC. What happens then?

Standard disclaimers apply. No copyright infringement intended. No money changed hands. I borrowed the SG-1 universe, but Meg and Rukh are mine.


A/N: What happens in a Tok'ra partnership? How do they work things out, especially if the partnership was unanticipated? What really sets the Tok'ra apart from the Goa'uld?


// // Signifies Tok'ra speaking.

//** **// Signifies conversation between Rukh and Meg.

"Meg Tierney, I like to introduce my father, Jacob Carter."

I looked from Major Carter to her father, and held out my hand. As our hands met, I could sense the presence of a symbiote.

"Ms. Tierney."

"General Carter, hello. So you are the mysterious Jacob I've been hearing about. Come in and sit down, and, please, call me Meg."

"Dad, I should get back to the lab. I'll leave you two to get acquainted." As the Major left the room, she closed the door.

As Jacob Carter came further into the room he dropped his head slightly, when he looked up, I could tell his symbiote was the one conducting the interview.

//I am Selmak of the Tok'ra. Samantha tells me you say you are also Tok'ra. I'm not familiar with a host named Meg. Perhaps you can tell me more about yourself and symbiote you are carrying.//

Nothing is ever easy. The last time Rukh had seen Selmak her host was an elderly woman, Saroosh, Nura's contemporary. Selmak may have a new host, but it certainly complicated things. For the first time in quite a while, Rukh was willing to speak as herself.

//When I spoke last to Selmak, she had a different host.//

//Saroosh was dying of advanced age and natural causes. I could do nothing more for her. Jacob Carter was also dying, but I *could* cure him, so the switch was made. Saroosh agreed. With the switch, Jacob and I are able to serve as a liaison between the Tok'ra and the Tau'ri.//

//You still haven't told me your name. We need to clear up your identity first. I can understand why you were cautious at first, but now there's no reason not to speak.//

//Many years ago I helped deliver Saroosh's first baby. What was the baby's name?//

//The baby was a girl, and she was named Calandra. Everyone called her Cally. Do you remember the name of the lullaby you taught Saroosh to sing to the baby?//

//The words were my own, but the melody was "Nightbird."//

//Rukh, is that really you? We hadn't had any word from you for so long we thought you were dead. What happened? What about Nura?// At this, Selmak and Jacob reached out to take my hands.

//Selmak, old friend, you have no idea how pleased I am to speak with you once again. I thought for a while I might never speak to one of my own again.//

//Four years ago, when Nura and I were working in Nirrti's lab on Artel, I could get messages out to the High Council through one our safe houses, security there wasn't so tight. One day, Nirrti swept into the lab, packed us all up, and shipped us off to another lab off planet. I didn't have any time to get a message out, and my communicator was hidden back in my lodgings. Nirrti wasn't taking any chances. She intended for us all to disappear, and we did. The new lab was so isolated and the Jaffa so watchful that I didn't have any opportunity to let anyone from the Tok'ra know where Nirrti had moved her lab.//

//I still don't know what has happened in the last few years. The last I knew before I started to work undercover in Nirrti's lab on Artel was that Ra was dead and Apophis' troops had lost a major battle at some unknown planet. No one I spoke with was sure exactly what had happened. From that to a Tok'ra-Tau'ri alliance and Stargate Command here on Earth, well it boggle's Meg's mind. We need you to fill us in on what's happened for the last few years. They haven't been willing to answer any of my questions here. Understandable, but frustrating just the same.//

//That's not surprising given what little you've been willing to share with them. It's not all been good, Rukh. The SGC and SG-1 have eliminated some System Lords, but others have risen in their place. We've lost the bases on Vorash, Revanna and Risa to the Goa'uld. Too many of our friends have died, and the death count has severely depleted the ranks of the Tok'ra. Finding you're still alive is the best news we've had for a while.//

//I'm afraid to ask; who are the dead?//

// Jolinar was killed by an ashrak at the SGC while being carried by Samantha, Jacob's daughter; we don't know what happened to Rosha. Saroosh died on Vorash just before it was destroyed. Martouf died as a zatarc here at the SGC attempting to kill Persus. Lantash was saved, but later died on Risa. Aldwin also died on Risa, so did Ren'al. There are so many more to mourn, losses have heavy. The last few years have been devastating for the Tok'ra. Knowing you survived means a lot. Can you tell me what happened to Nura?//

//They're all gone? All of them? What of Garshaw and Persus?//

//Garshaw and Persus survived and are still members of the High Council. Other council members did not.//

//**So many.**//

Through our link I can feel the terrible sense of loss overwhelm Rukh. I can feel her withdraw leaving me to answer Selmak's question.

"Selmak, Rukh has not been well since her previous host, Nura, was caught trying to bribe a supplier to Nirrti's lab to get information to the Tok'ra. One of Nirrti's Jaffa tortured Nura to the point of death. As Nura was dying, she asked, and I agreed, to become Rukh's host. We've both been in pretty bad shape since them. Rukh was damaged during the torture and then weakened more trying to keep Nura alive and heal me from the damage Nirrti's experiments had caused. What kept us both going was the hope we could get information about Nirrti's experiments to the High Council. Let me tell you what we know of the experiments, and maybe we can discover where Nirrti's secondary lab is."

//Rukh, Nirrti died at the hands of one of her subjects, a man named Wodan, at the secondary lab. She had been running a DNA resequencer, one of the Ancients' machines, on the local population trying to make a hok'tar. The SGC lost one of its Russian team members, and Samantha almost died after she was forced into the resequencer. Colonel O'Neill was finally able to convince Eggar and Wodan, two of Nirrti's 'subjects', that Nirrti was using them for her own purposes. Nirrti and her Jaffa were killed, and the DNA resequencing was reversed, including Samatha's. Nirrti's not going to be doing any more experimentation. The DNA resequencer was destroyed, so no one will be able to use what she had discovered.//

//**She's dead?**//

"Nirrti dead? You know, that's basically what's kept us going, to somehow let the Tok'ra know about Nirrti's hok'tar experiments, so they could be stopped. Now you say she's dead? Nura was tortured; she suffered terribly. I *killed* her to end her torture and to hide the fact that Rukh had transferred into me. Now you tell me it was all for nothing! That Nirrti is dead and her experiments died with her?"

//**Meg, be calm. We'll deal with this. We have to.**//

//I thought you would be relieved to learn Nirrti was dead.//

//We *are* relieved. We just need some time to adjust. Everything for Meg and me has centered on the need to get the information out about the experiments and somehow stop Nirrti. Now we find Nirrti's dead and the experiments over, so what do we do now? What's the point? We've been so focused on one thing, one goal. Now what?//

// Now you are free to return to the Tok'ra, who need you desperately.//

//**Do you want to tell him now? No, not now.**//

"Wait Selmak, before we say anything about the future, we need to think on what you've just told us. That's a lot to digest in a few minutes. Rukh and I need time, lots of time, to get our bearings and know what we want to do next. I don't think you have any idea just how unsettled we both are."

"I know we're not finished, but could we please have some time alone? Both of us have some adjusting to do."

//Of course, Jacob and I will return later.//

Jacob and Selmak left, and I sat down at the table, putting my head in my hands. Even Rukh, with so many years and memory of many hosts felt stunned by all Jacob and Selmak had told us. As difficult as it was for Rukh to learn of so many lost friends, knowing Nirrti was dead and we didn't have a part in her end was hard to swallow. Both of us felt embarrassed by this, but it didn't change the way we felt. Of course we were relieved Nirrti could no longer destroy lives with her experiments, but the need to personally find justice for Nura was never going to happen.

With Nirrti dead, and Ber'ac, that bastard Jaffa, and the experiments ended, there wasn't anything left for us to do. The people who had returned with us from the lab were being resettled by the SGC. Geeta, my friend, had been treated and returned to her family in Texas. She had been given a cover story after signing a confidentiality agreement not to say anything about what had happened to us or about the Stargate. Our loose ends were being all neatly tied up.

That night Rukh and I tried to come to terms with this realization, each in our own way. Since I became host to Rukh, I had learned we did have individual space and individual needs. We were still working out the relationship, but the more I learned of Rukh, the more I understood that our partnership meant as much to her as it did to me. We both needed to put the idea of justice, or to be brutally honest, vengeance, behind us. Rukh meditated and remembered words from philosophers I had never heard of before from worlds we of the Tau'ri had yet to visit. I didn't have her focus or her discipline. All that came to mind was a bit from Wordsworth read long ago that seemed to fit: "There is a comfort in the strength of love; 'twill make a thing endurable, which else would overset the brain, or break the heart…" The one good thing that had come out of all of this was our partnership, Rukh's and mine. Forced into this intimacy, this symbiosis, we had grown to love and trust each other. If someone had told me a few years ago I would have grown to love Rukh, a Tok'ra, a snake-like looking symbiote living in my head, I would have been 100% certain they were on *very* bad drugs. No way that would have happened, but it did.

As Rukh tuned in to my thoughts, I could feel her smile.

//**I didn't think I would ever end up with a snake phobic woman of the Tau'ri either. Life has, as you would say, thrown us a curve ball.**//

Nothing was left but to finally accept Nirrti was beyond our justice. It was time to set that aside and start looking forward. What were we going to do now?

The next morning Jacob and Selmak came by to show us the way to the commissary and breakfast. Jacob had talked to General Hammond. Apparently we were to be allowed a bit more freedom now that Selmak had vouched for Rukh.

//**Trust Selmak. Of course she would end up with a General who's father to one of the essential people at the SGC. Selmak probably feels weird in the General's body, though. With just a few exceptions, she's always been carried by women. I'll have to ask her how she likes it.**//

//**Don't! You'll embarrass me!**//

When we arrived at the commissary, SG-1, breakfasting over at the corner table, saw us come in. Jacob and Selmak went over and spoke to them briefly, then came back to me at the serving line. We grabbed some breakfast and found an unoccupied table.

For a few minutes we were quiet, getting breakfast out of the way. Then Jacob began to talk about Selmak and his experiences as a host. One comment led to another and soon we were talking about Saroosh and Nura. Selmak recalled their younger days, happier times, just after Saroosh had Cally, during a period of relative quiet in their centuries old battles against the Goa'uld.

//**Here come the stories. Oh, she thinks quite she's a comedian. Selmak *always* uses humor to build or reconnect bonds. She's also going to try to lighten our mood. Yesterday was difficult for Selmak, and Jacob, too. Selmak/Saroosh and Nura/I were friends for many years; to hear how Nura died couldn't have been easy. Selmak will know it's important for you and Jacob to become better acquainted and comfortable with each other, too. She's *so* predictable, but it's what makes her such a good leader. **//

//Rukh, do you remember the dinner Persus had with most of the High Council in attendance? Cally was eighteen months old and uncomfortable with a stuffed-up nose. Saroosh was nursing her, sitting back away from the group, trying to keep the baby quiet so we could listen to the strategy session at the same time. Lantash and Persus disagreed where to place Tok'ra operatives and their discussion grew more heated, then, from the back of the room, Cally said loud enough for the whole group to hear, "Done, change sides!" The look on their faces was priceless. All at once we went from discussing affairs of planetary systems to the needs of one little girl. For an instant there was a shocked silence, then first smiles, then chuckles, then guffaws burst out. Saroosh switched Cally to the other breast and soon she drifted off to sleep. The tension in the room had been broken, and the laughter had been good for all of us.//

//I remember,// Rukh replied, and a bubble of laughter started inside us both. Soon we all were laughing, Rukh providing me with a a picture of the faces, surprised at how a toddler could disrupt such a serious meeting.

Rukh immediately came back with a story of her own.

//This is the first time I've told this story and I'm going to swear you all to secrecy. Garshaw and Meroff, her host before Yosuuf, Turow and I we're doing a reconnaissance on Vesta 3 looking for naquada and checking out rumors of a buried city. During the search we hadn't found any trace of recent Goa'uld activity. When the sun went down after a hot, humid day, Meroff and Turow decided to go for a swim in the lake. We'd checked it out earlier and it looked perfectly safe. I stayed back at the ship to give them some privacy, they had little enough time alone and it was difficult for them since Turow wasn't a Tok'ra. It wasn't too long before I heard shouts. When I went outside I could see Meroff and Turow running back toward me slapping at themselves. Hordes of biting insects had descended on them. They were covered with itchy red welts – everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. That never made it into the report to the High Council, but for years I would tease Garshaw when she got a little too pompous by making a low, barely audible, buzzing sound as I walked by her. It never failed to make Meroff's, then later Yousuuf's, eyes go big and force her to turn around looking for the insects. So funny to watch.//

It seemed like a friendly competition was developing. Who could tell the funniest story? Selmak wanted Jacob to tell about Jacob's senior prank and how the chickens got in the principal's office. Then Rukh prodded me into telling the story of the great squirrel debacle. By the time we finished, we all were in stitches. Jacob and I were laughing so hard we were holding our sides in pain. When I wiped the tears out of my eyes and looked around, it was obvious we were the center of attention in the commissary, especially from SG-1. Not the ideal representation of Tok'ra dignity, but it meant a lot to Rukh and me. Our laughter was an emotional release, too. There was no disrespect, rather comfort, in remembering good times and good friends.

//**See, what did I tell you. I knew Selmak would do that. That's the fifth time she's told that story about Cally.**//

//** Selmak and Jacob seem like a good match.**//

//**Yes. Good thing.**//

When we finally stopped laughing, Jacob and I got up, loaded up the trays to clear the table and walked toward the exit. It was time to settle down and get serious. There was a lot to be decided.

//As soon as everything gets straightened out here, we'll contact what's left of the High Council to see what might be the best place for you now,// Selmak said.

//**We might just as well get this bit over with right now. Be convincing.**//

//No, Selmak, we're not going back. Meg and I are staying here. Part of our agreement was that as long as she was my host, we would stay on Earth. I'm not going undercover again. Meg needs to see her family. After that, the SGC must have something for us to do, translating or biomed research, something. Meg and I know what's at stake and we'll gladly serve, but no more field work. After what happened to Nura, I can't do that anymore.//

//Rukh, you don't have to make any permanent decisions right now. Let's get you and Meg debriefed first, then we can talk some more about the future.//

//We aren't going to change our minds, Selmak.//

At that Jacob came back into the conversation and asked about my family. I told him about my husband and the kids, and how much I needed to see them. I even made several suggestions as to a cover story, and he promised to talk to General Hammond and try to expedite a reunion. I knew everything was changed now and that I would never be able to 'reset' my life back to where it had been before I was abducted. Now Rukh and I were partners, and we still had a mission, to eliminate the Goa'uld.

Even if I couldn't go back to where things were before, I still needed to see my family and make sure they were okay, that there were no repercussions from my abduction other than missing me. One of my worst nightmares while captive was that somehow my husband or one of the kids was under suspicion of my murder. Once the authorities knew I was alive, no matter what the cover story might be, I hoped I could at least keep in touch and see them occasionally. I wanted them to be able to get on with their lives, too, without the uncertainty of what had happened to me. The kids might well be married by now and made me a grandmother. I had missed so much. As for my marriage, well, I didn't know what to expect, or what could or would happen now that "I" had become "we"; let alone the unlikely possibility the government would let me resume my life with Rukh in the picture.

"Jacob, Rukh and I want to get this debriefing over. Please convince General Hammond that I need to see my family, to let them know I'm alive. Rukh and I are willing to put ourselves in the SGC's hands in regard to the future."

"You're not making it easy, you know, wanting to stay here. I don't know what George will say, or how the High Council will react. We need you out there, Rukh."

"Rukh tells me Selmak can be pretty persuasive when she wants to be, and I'll bet you can, too. We can make it happen. There are bound to be lots of advantages to having on on-site Tok'ra at the SGC. Just point that out."

//Selmak, make the High Council understand I can't continue working undercover. I can't and I won't. Staying here with Meg is the best option. If they demand I return, I'll need a new host, and chances are I won't survive the transfer. I'm still not recovered from Nura's torture.//

//You certainly sound adamant. This might work out for the best after all. Jacob and I promise we'll do what we can. Rukh, you're being a pain in the mikta like always, but it's still wonderful to get you back. //

"I'll talk to George and get him to let you have more access to the base while we're waiting to hear from the High Council. I'll also ask him about working up a cover story for Meg. I know how difficult it must be not being able to contact your family. We'll find a way. It just may take some time. While you both are waiting, you can catch up on what's been happening and share information with the SGC. It might be a good idea to start building working relationships with some of the people here."

Leaving Rukh and me at our room, Jacob left to speak to General Hammond.

//**Do you think he bought it?**//

//**Of course he did, it's the truth. I won't risk you. If the High Council demands I return, I will, but without you. I know that's what I should want, what my duty requires, but I'm tired, Meg, it's been what you call "too long a sacrifice" for me. I think I would rather give up my life than go undercover again and have the same thing happen to my new host that happened to Nura.**//

//**Rukh, my life is so different now from what I thought it would be. I *have* to see my family, but after that we'll work something out. We will. After all that's happened, I can't go back to my old life, either, so we'll just have to make a new one together. Partners?**//



Feedback welcome. If I ever get the next story finished, Meg and Rukh talk to Sam about Jolinar and Rosha.

Slainte, 11/03