------P3X-454, Sobk Guard camp, early evening-------
"So stubborn, so prideful," Amuntep sneered savagely, his metal encased right hand extended outward towards his victim's forehead "Your reticence has proven most enjoyable to me."
Marina's watery blue eyes rolled backwards in their sockets as she fought to retain consciousness, fought to keep the words from spilling from her lips, fought against the seemingly unending pain of having her mind pried from her very skull. It was not the first time she had been tortured, certainly not the most painful method she had ever been subjected to, yet in many ways it was the most insidious. Among Time Lords, there was no greater treasure than one's thoughts. Memories of atrocities that made even the Goa'uld's petty brutality pale in comparison resided there as well, lessons of what they could have become had their evolutionary paths not diverged. Marina was a keeper of this legacy, and she found in that notion certain strength. It was a reserve that she tapped into now to once again repel the Goa'uld's probe from her mind.
"Really?" Marina gasped through clenched and bared teeth "Your…in…incessant badgering has…done…nothing but…try my patience!"
Amuntep's eyes flashed brilliant and his scowl, if possible, darkened even more "Insolence! Perhaps your next regeneration will prove more pliable."
Marina opened her mouth to say 'Not bloody likely', but didn't get the chance. Solid energy hit her, sending her flying backward as if she were nothing more than a child's doll. The blissful period of weightlessness was short lived, and her injured shoulder connected with the frozen ground. Marina could not find breath to cry out, gasping noiselessly instead as she felt the remaining bone shatter. Unconsciousness mercifully claimed her, enveloping her senses in an all numbing darkness. Weariness and anguish were two enemies Marina gladly succumbed to.
"Behold, the cost of your defiance." Amuntep sneered as he lowered his arm, closing his long fingers around the still warm focusing crystal of his hand device.
He eyed Marina's twitching form with a chilling precision honed over countless tortures. Possessing only a detached interest, Amuntep noted every shudder of the unconscious Time Lord's form. He'd dealt the prisoner a mortal blow, but Gallifreyans were an abnormally resilient race. Their powers of regeneration were legendary, as was their rumored arrogance. Amuntep's sneer deepened into a cruel smile as he thought back to the only other Time Lord he had ever questioned. He had driven it through all twelve of its regeneration cycles before finally learning of the Eye of Harmony. Unlimited energy, enough to power a conquest of the entire universe and beyond fired Amuntep's imagination. As the maddened alien crumbled into a desiccated husk, it had imparted one final secret: a map to its long forgotten homeworld and Amuntep's prize. A map which began with this uncharted planet. Sobk had rewarded him by granting a Prime and ha'tak as if he were a god himself.
"Perhaps, before my quest ends, I shall be." Amuntep sank back on his chair and waited patiently for Marina to die.
"Master," the voice of his Prime once again drew his focus "your scouts have returned from the ruins."
The hulking man kneeled as before, and refused to meet Amuntep's direct gaze unless bidden "The carvings where there as you predicted."
"Excellent," Amuntep purred "did you find the next clue?"
"Yes my lord," the Prime bowed his head even lower "but I do not believe we were the first to discover it."
"The Tauri." Amuntep mulled over this information carefully.
"Yes, my lord." The Prime rumbled "Your trackers found more evidence of their passing as we ascended the bluff. It was three humans accompanied by one Jaffa, a shol'va."
"Like those who dispatched Hathor?"
"The same, my lord. Their tracks were recent, and the centuries I posted to guard the chaapa'ai have not reported any unusual activity."
Amuntep sat forward expectantly "So, the Tauri are still here. This shol'va you speak of can be no other than the Jaffa traitor Teal'c. This is unexpected, but not unwelcome news. Sobk would be greatly pleased were we to return with both the Eye and the Tauri.
"Perhaps they are in league with the Gallifreyan my lord. We know they have other powerful allies. If she is known to them, surly they will attempt a rescue. If it is your will, I shall take the prisoner and use her as a lure." The Prime quivered in anticipation, hungry for action like a starved man hungers for sustenance.
Yes." Amuntep hissed in pleasure "Well done my servant. Take the alien, but gently. The Tauri may leave her if they fear she is already dead."
"Aw hell." O'Neill sighed as he watched a Jaffa bearing Marina's limp form emerge from the compound's largest tent.
He lowered the sight he'd borrowed from Daniel's archeological field kit, and buried his head in the crook of his arm. Tension flared between his shoulder blades, releasing the headache he'd been nursing all day long. If things had gone as planned, he would've been sitting home right now catching the Vikings game, tossing down a Bud and explaining the finer points of defensive field advantage in professional sports to a bemused Teal'c. Instead, he was stuck on some god-forsaken alien planet with big honking six-legged squirrels, freezing his ass off (again), dealing with an ego mongering Goa'uld (again) all because he was too damn scrupulous for his own good.
"Sir," Carter's voice, laced with concern, brought him back to the present "do you need an aspirin?"
Jack shook his head wearily "Being noble sucks."
"You've got a point sir, but I think that's why the Asguard and Tok'ra like us." Carter smiled as the handed over a Tylenol.
"I know." O'Neill groaned "Why can't this shit ever happen to Feretti?"
"SG-3 is abnormally fortunate in this respect." Teal'c agreed with a sage nod of his head.
Daniel shivered, drawing his fatigue jacket closer in a vain attempt to mitigate the plummeting temperature "God, I ccc…could use a c…cup of cccc..ccc…coffee right now."
"Don't go getting antsy now, it's almost showtime." O'Neill dry swallowed his pill and winced at the bitter aftertaste. "One of Sobe's goons just took Marina back to the prison tent. It looks like they worked her over pretty good."
Teal'c's customary pensive frown deepened "You say she was removed from the throne room by a single Jaffa?"
"Yeah," Jack raised his eyebrows in surprise, Teal'c was seldom an alarmist "but she wasn't in any position to offer resistance. She looked unconscious."
"Ah…" Daniel perked up "unconscious or dead?"
"I'm going with optimism here Daniel." Jack growled, but there was no real malice behind it. Daniel raised a valid point. A dead alien stranger made a pretty stupid reason to walk straight into the lion's den.
"She is not dead, at least she will not be as yet." Teal'c rumbled.
Jack spun back to the burly Jaffa, surprised by him yet again "Care to state your source Madam Cleo?"
Teal'c arched one of his eyebrows "The positioning you describe is similar to an old Jaffa battle tactic, O'Neill."
Daniel suddenly gasped "Of course! The wolf and the lamb, it's perfect. Jack, Teal'c's right! They know we're here and they're laying a trap."
END OF PART ONE