By Kate Carter
Disclaimer: This episode belongs to other people, not me. I only lay claim to what wasn't in the episode.
A/N: At one point, I had a series in mind, I was going to call it the "Beyond" series, because it basically went beyond each episode and went more in-depth, which what they were thinking, how they responded, extra scenes, etc. I never actually got around to that. I only got one finished, "Bloodlines", and it sat on my hard drive for a couple years. I found it again recently, decided it was worth posting, and voila. I don't want to hear any complaints of "Oh, that was just like the episode!" because THAT'S THE POINT. It's called a "novelization".
Warning; this is the most major spoiler possible; this is the ENTIRE EPISODE, written out, with a few extra scenes, character thoughts, etc.
The priests moved slowly, performing the ceremony of prin'tah. One lifted the glass jar containing the symbiote and brought it to the table where Ry'ac laid, as Teal'c slipped through the thin curtain to observe the coming-of-age implantation for his son. As Ry'ac's pouch was revealed, and the jar containing the larvae lifted ritualistically, Teal'c recalled the last time he'd undergone the ceremony of prin'tah. He'd screamed as the symbiote was implanted within him; it was a painful procedure. That had been when he'd seen Ry'ac, moving behind the priests, watching him. "Ry'ac!" he called. "Ry'ac! Ry'ac!"
"Ry'ac! Ry'ac!" Teal'c struggled against the bonds that held him. Gradually, he became aware that he was no longer on Chulak, but instead on Earth, in the SGC's quarantine and medical observation room. Still, he struggled, hands grasping the metal bars that held the operating frame above his pouch.
"Teal'c!" O'Neill called, concerned, over the speaker system. "Ry'ac!" he called, unable to dismiss what he'd seen. Dr. Fraiser moved forward. "Easy, it's okay now," she said, trying to calm him. With an effort, he brought his emotions under control. "He's coming around!" Fraiser said, largely for SG-1's benefit. They sat in the observation room, watching Teal'c. O'Neill sighed and bowed his head down. Everyone had been hopeful this experiment would work.
"The Goa'uld within me?" Teal'c asked, fairly calmly. He could feel the presence of the larvae within him. Fraiser looked towards the observation room, obviously allowing O'Neill the chance to tell Teal'c.
He sighed. "They had to put Junior back in, Teal'c," O'Neill said over the speaker. Fraiser elaborated. "We almost lost you. The drug didn't work, Teal'c, I'm sorry." Her tone told Teal'c that the small human doctor was truly sorry.
Daniel entered the conversation. "You were calling out something, 'ry'ac', does that mean anything?" Trust Daniel to ask that, O'Neill thought.
Teal'c was silent for a moment. Ry'ac, the name of his son. It meant more to him then Daniel Jackson could comprehend. He had not told these Tau'ri about him, however. "It means nothing," he finally said quietly.
"Well, considering it means nothing, he was definitely yelling it a lot." Daniel muttered, sitting back in his chair.
"As soon as we removed Teal'c's Goa'uld, his major organs began to shut down and he ran a high fever," reported Fraiser. She and SG-1 were reporting on the experiment which they had attempted on Teal'c.
"So the drug failed," Hammond said grimly.
"Yes," Fraiser said reluctantly, hating to admit it. "But," she continued quickly, "it proves that the Goa'uld is Teal'c immune system. Now, if we can learn about it and duplicate its effects, we can save lives on Earth."
Daniel raised the question that lurked at the back of all of their minds. "Without killing Teal'c in the process?" he asked.
"Well, I guess the boys at Langley won't be able to study a Goa'uld after all," said Hammond. The scientists at Langley AFB had expressed an interest in getting a Goa'uld symbiote, even in the larval stage.
"It is still a possibility," Teal'c said suddenly. He had been unable to rid himself of the vision he'd had during the experiment. The time for his son's prin'tah was close at hand. It was something he desired to be present for - and, he had to admit, to put a stop to. The slavery of the Jaffa by means of the symbiotes commenced at the prin'tah. He had no desire for his son to become a slave to the false gods.
The humans sitting around him stared at him in shock. "Teal'c, you can't," said Captain Carter, shocked. "I mean, you don't have an immune system without your Goa'uld, we can't play with your life like that."
"There are many hundreds of Goa'uld on Chulak," Teal'c said quietly.
"Chulak?" Hammond sounded incredulous. Teal'c suppressed a sigh. While the Tau'ri were surprisingly formidable as warriors, their pronunciation left much to be desired.
"Chyeah, right," O'Neill muttered beside him. "You're kidding, right?"
"It is one of the few worlds in all the galaxy with such an abundance," Teal'c told Hammond, trying to ignore O'Neill.
"Yeah, but Teal'c, if you'll recall, the last time we were there-" Daniel began.
"We had to shoot our way out, maybe made a bad impression." O'Neill finished.
"It's out of the question, I can't authorize it." Hammond said, amazed at the proposal.
Teal'c looked at his teammates. They all looked at him, amazed. "Then I will speak of it no further," he said, rising from the table and walking towards the door. He was halfway there when he heard General Hammond say "Dismissed." Ah, yes. For the Tau'ri, it was proper to wait until General Hammond dismissed you before leaving. He had done the same for his own troops under Apophis.
Hammond went into his office. O'Neill, Carter, Fraiser and Daniel looked at each other. "What was that?" Daniel asked, again voicing the question on all of their minds.
"I don't know," said O'Neill grimly. "I'll find out."
O'Neill knocked on the door loudly. Receiving no answer, he walked in and saw Teal'c, sitting on the floor, surrounded by candles. "Mind if I…" he started. Teal'c paid no attention. "Yeah," muttered O'Neill, suddenly uncomfortable. He shut the door. "Look, um, I'm sorry if I didn't…" he started. "You do understand why we can't go back to Chulak, right?" he asked. Teal'c merely looked at him. O'Neill shrugged. Teal'c looked back at his candles. "They'll get that drug to work, long before that thing dies inside of yo-"
Teal'c interrupted. "I am not concerned about my life," he said firmly. "I am concerned about the life of my son."
O'Neill was caught off-guard. "Your son?" he asked, amazed. He couldn't have heard that right.
"His name is Ry'ac. I have not spoken of him. Or of my wife." Teal'c spoke fairly softly. O'Neill thought he heard a trace of sadness in the Jaffa's voice.
O'Neill sat down in the nearby chair, stunned. "You left a family back there," he said slowly. He put his face in his hands, frustrated. "Teal'c. You told the gen- no, you swore to the general you had no ties back there! Why didn't you tell us the truth?"
"A warrior becomes vulnerable if his family is held hostage to the enemy," Teal'c said, finally looking at O'Neill.
"You didn't think we'd trust you if we knew," O'Neill said, finally understanding at least part of it. "Teal'c, how the hell are we supposed to trust you now, huh? You got any more surprises?"
Teal'c looked away again. "With or without you, O'Neill, I must return to Chulak," he said firmly.
"Either way is suicide, my friend," O'Neill said softly.
"Within days, my son will come of age. He will be called to the religious life of our world. He will undergo the ceremony of implantation, the prin'tah, the day when a young boy receives his first Goa'uld symbiote and becomes a true Jaffa, just as all other Jaffa before him," Teal'c said, staring stonily at the wall.
"I take it you don't want that to happen," said O'Neill.
"It is the
means by which the Goa'uld enslave the Jaffa," Teal'c looked
back at O'Neill.
"I am not the only one among my people who believes this. My first teacher, the Jaffa master Bra'tac, he knew very well the Goa'uld are false gods." He looked back at the wall. "But I cannot," his gaze swung back to O'Neill, "I will not allow my son to become a slave."
O'Neill slowly nodded his head and stood up. "I can understand that," he said quietly. "Let me talk to Carter and Daniel."
"Captain, Daniel. Hoped I would find you together," O'Neill said, entering the lab where Carter had begun working recently.
"Sir. Anything we can do for you?" Carter asked from where she and Daniel sat on stools beside the counter.
"Yeah, actually." O'Neill sat down. "Found out what was wrong with Teal'c."
Carter and Daniel looked at him expectantly, awaiting the revelation. "And?" Daniel prompted when none came.
"He's got a son." O'Neill said shortly. Carter's eyes went wide. She and Daniel exchanged looks. "But I thought-" she started.
"Yeah, so did I. Turns out, he thought if we found out about his wife and son, we wouldn't trust him."
"But that's insane," said Daniel, frowning.
"Yeah, I told him what basically amounts to the same thing. Anyway, his kid's about to go through the prom'ah, whatever, the fancy-schmancy ceremony where they put a snake in him."
"So the Jaffa aren't the hosts to Goa'ulds from birth?" Carter said. "Wow. That must mean their immune systems degenerate at some point. We really-"
"Carter." O'Neill stopped her. "Teal'c doesn't want this to happen. He says this thing is how they enslave the Jaffa. So, he wants to go back and stop it."
"What? You did remind him of why we can't go back to Chulak, right?" Daniel asked.
"Yes, but he seems to be pretty determined. So, we'll go with him," O'Neill said.
"We will?" Carter asked uncertainly.
"Yes, Captain, we will," said O'Neill.
"What about General Hammond? Did he actually approve this?" Daniel said.
"Yeah, well, that's a slight problem. I'm sure he'll approve it, though, we'll just tell him we're going to get the scientists their snake to mess around with."
"Absolutely not!" Hammond's tone was firm.
"With respect sir, we've considered the risks," Carter said.
"You have, have you?" Hammond didn't sound amused.
"Yes, and we are all behind Teal'c, sir," Daniel added.
"I can see that," Hammond said. "What I can't see is why."
"We believe there's more to be gained from this mission than a single larval Goa'uld," Carter said, attempting to be persuading.
"Such as?" Hammond wasn't buying it.
"The warrior Jaffa class are the foundation of Goa'uld power," began Daniel. "They serve as both incubators for their young and as their army, an army made almost invulnerable by the restorative powers of the larva they carry, I mean it's literately a-a Faustian bargain!"
"Teal'c said there are other Jaffa who believe in freedom from the Goa'uld as much as he does," said O'Neill.
Carter took her turn. "Imagine the strategic advantage, sir, if we could undermine the loyalty of the very group the Goa'uld depend on to maintain their power."
"How many of these other Jaffa can you be sure of?" Hammond asked O'Neill.
"We're pretty sure of at least…one, guy," O'Neill said uncomfortably.
"One?" Hammond said doubtfully.
"Yes," said Daniel, "a-and where there's one there has to be more than one."
"Oh absolutely," Hammond said flatly. "Colonel, will you join me in my office for a moment?"
There was only one answer O'Neill could give, and it wasn't the one he wanted to give. "Sure," he said, following Hammond into his office. No sir! No! No way! his mind screamed. Lot of good that did.
Hammond stood by his desk. "Shut the door," he ordered softly. O'Neill obeyed. "Have a seat, Jack," Hammond said, indicating the chair in front of the desk. O'Neill hesitated momentarily, then obeyed. He had a sick feeling in his gut and was irresistibly reminded of thirty years ago, when he would get called into the principal's office at school. Those interviews had never turned out good.
"This is not my first barbecue, Colonel," Hammond started off.
O'Neill was confused. "Sir?" he asked. Barbecuing? What did barbecuing have to do with going to Chulak?
"I'd love to get a Goa'uld larva that the labcoats at Langley can study. But I don't order my best people on a mission behind enemy lines unless I believe it's absolutely necessary."
O'Neill shifted uncomfortably. "I believe it is, sir," he said.
"Why?" Hammond demanded. "There's something you're not telling me, Colonel. If you don't want to come clean about the real motivation behind this mission, then fine." Hammond glared at him. "Mission is not approved. You will go where I tell you to go."
"Sir-" O'Neill tried to interrupt, but Hammond wouldn't let him. "Dismissed!" he barked. O'Neill glanced out to the briefing room, where Carter and Daniel sat watching him. Carter quickly turned away, but Daniel continued to watch. He stood up. Time to come clean. "General," he started. "Teal'c…has a son."
"What did you say?" Hammond asked.
"Back on Chulak. His kid's about to be implanted with one of those…larva-things, at a ceremony, and Teal'c wants to stop it."
"Why?" Hammond asked suddenly.
This confused O'Neill again. "Why, sir?" he asked.
"Teal'c was an enemy soldier. He's compromised."
"General, he was afraid we wouldn't trust him if we knew he had a family back there, was he right?" O'Neill asked.
Hammond was silent. O'Neill continued.
"When Teal'c saved our lives on Chulak, he gave up his family, sir. Don't you think we owe him something?" O'Neill said.
Hammond was about to reply when the gate activation alarm went off. SG-1 and Hammond took the stairs down to the control room. Teal'c was leaning over a keyboard, finishing dialing in an address to the 'gate. "Teal'c! What're you doing?" O'Neill said.
"Stand back from the keyboard," Hammond ordered.
Teal'c looked at them. "I am returning to Chulak for my son," he told them firmly.
"No," said Hammond. "I'm sorry, I can't let you do that." As he spoke, several guards rushed in and pointed their weapons at Teal'c. His team members frowned, watching what was basically a standoff between their friend and the general. O'Neill stepped forward. "Come on, Teal'c," he said quietly. "Don't do it this way."
Teal'c looked at Hammond. "I will risk no one's life but my own," he said. "Why will you not let me return?"
"You know far too much about this command, this facility, our defenses. I can't let that kind of knowledge fall into enemy hands," said Hammond.
"I will die before allowing that to happen!" Teal'c said, nearly growling it out.
Hammond was losing patience. "Dammit, Teal'c, that's just what's going to happen if you go through that gate alone!"
There was a moment of tension of the Jaffa and the general faced off. Then Hammond continued. "Which is why I am inclined to authorize a mission to return to Chulak and allow you to bring your son back."
They continued to stare at each other for several seconds longer, then Teal'c reached over and pressed the button to disengage the stargate. He looked back at Hammond and nodded. "Thank you, General Hammond."
It felt like a collective sigh of relief was given. The airmen lowered their weapons. SG-1 relaxed.
"When is this ceremony supposed to happen?" Hammond asked.
"Within the day," Teal'c replied.
Hammond looked at SG-1. "SG-1, you better hurry up and get prepared for this mission."
In less then an hour, SG-1 had gathered outside the gateroom. Over their normal offworld gear, they wore Jaffa priest robes, which SG-5 had brought back after a narrow escape a few weeks ago. Teal'c had drawn the symbols of the priests on their foreheads.
"I still can't believe we used makeup," O'Neill muttered. Carter had given her eyeliner pencils to Teal'c in order for him to draw the symbols on their heads.
The gate swirled open at the same time O'Neill swiped his card and entered the door. "Daniel, glasses," Carter reminded. Daniel took his glasses off and put them in a pocket. He couldn't exactly wear them on Chulak. Teal'c stopped on the ramp. "O'Neill, I am in your debt," he said.
"Ah, it's nothing," O'Neil said, pulling his hat off and putting it in a pocket.
"We shall return," Teal'c said firmly, before activating his helmet so that is covered his head.
"Ready to ship out, sir," O'Neill called to Hammond, watching them in the control room.
"Godspeed, Colonel," said Hammond. With that, SG-1 stepped into the stargate.
The four guards and two priests watched as the four figures stepped out of the stargate. When it had shut down, the priests moved forward to greet the Serpent Guard who stood in front. The Guard did not remove his helmet, as was customary; and strangely enough, his helmet's eyes did not glow. "These are scholars from the court of Apophis. I am to escort them to the temple," the Guard said, when the two priest which greeted him had performed the ritual bow.
"Why do you not show your face, my lord?" asked one, curious and suspicious.
"My helmet was damaged in combat. It must be repaired," the Guard said.
"Perhaps I can help," the priest said, reaching up to push the button which would lower the helmet. So quickly he almost couldn't see it, the Guard's hand came up and grabbed his wrist before he could touch it.
"Ne'nai, kree!" the Guard said firmly, twisting the priest's arm so that the man was forced onto his knees. The scholars behind him looked concerned. "You dare touch me, priest?" the Guard demanded. The four guards standing behind the Dial Home Device brought their staff weapons up and aimed at the Guard.
"I shall tell Apophis of your vigilance, priest. You shall be rewarded." Abruptly, the Guard let go of the priest. He stood up. The Guard stepped down from the stargate's platform and led the scholars away.
Once in the woods, the "scholars" quickly stripped their robes off and hid them, along with Teal'c's helmet, underneath some brush. A few quick rubs was all that was needed to remove the markings from their heads; Carter was of the opinion that they should keep them, in case they were forced to wear the costumes again, but the men quickly vetoed her. Daniel kept rubbing his head with the hem of his robe, apparently not believing the marking was gone. He licked his hand and continued to rub his head, following it with a rubbing from the robe, until Carter took the robe from him and put it with the rest of their now-hidden equipment.
"We will go directly to my former home," said Teal'c. "The ceremony should take place there."
"All right, Teal'c," said O'Neill. "Show us the way."
Teal'c's home was not terribly far. They walked for about twenty minutes, until they came to the crest of a hill. O'Neill, walking immediately behind Teal'c, noticed the Jaffa stiffening up as a ruined, burnt-out building came into view. The Jaffa immediately began to jog downhill. As he approached the building, he slowed and stopped. His teammates, who'd been right behind him, stopped alongside him.
"Teal'c," said Daniel, panting slightly. "This is your…?"
"My former home," said Teal'c, staring at the ruins. "A gift from Apophis for many years of service."
He stepped forward, avoiding fallen timbers until he came to where one of the large, stone walls stood. Walking around up on the small hill so that he could see it, he dropped his staff weapon, then dropped down to his knees, obviously distressed. His teammates came around to see what had upset him.
It was a large figure painted in white on the side of the ruined house. It looked to be something like a sword pointing downward, with two snake heads on either side of the handle. A line that looked like a double-headed arrow went through at an angle near the top.
"What does this mark mean, I don't recognize this?" asked Daniel, squinting at the image.
"This was the home of a shol'va," Teal'c said painfully.
Daniel noticed O'Neill's questioning look. "Traitor," he explained. O'Neill looked at the marking again. Beside him, Carter hadn't taken her eyes off of it. She was mad, annoyed, upset…obviously, this meant a lot to Teal'c, if it upset the fairly unemotional Jaffa like this.
"Well, it looks like this happened a long time ago," said O'Neill. Carter chimed in. "Teal'c, there's no reason to believe your wife and son were in the house when this happened."
Teal'c didn't seem to be listening. He stood and walked around to what had been the front of the house. He hit the burnt, blackened boards, throwing them out of the way, until he came to what had been a doorway. He sagged against it, putting one hand on the other side for support.
His teammates came down from the hill where they had observed the mark of the shol'va. They observed their friend silently for a moment, allowing him some privacy. Then O'Neill spoke.
"Teal'c," he said. "Carter's right. We don't know what's happened here." The words were barely out of his mouth when a man leaped out from behind the wall to O'Neill's left and pointed a staff weapon at him. He was an older man, with a gray and white beard, wearing the Jaffa warrior's armor. He also had the golden emblem of Apophis on his head. "Obi'kak! Kree! Kree! Kree!" he yelled, glaring ferociously at O'Neill. Carter brought her gun up, and even Daniel, who had picked up Teal'c's staff weapon, began to bring it to bear. Teal'c, aware of the disturbance, stepped out of the ruins to discover what was happening. "Tak'ma'tah Bra'tac," he said calmly.
The man looked towards him. He lowered the staff weapon and turned towards Teal'c. "Teal'c," he greeted him.
"It is good to see you, friend," Teal'c said, moving forward and embracing the older man. When they relaxed, the man gently rebuked Teal'c. "Were I an enemy, you would be dead," he said.
"My wife and son?" Teal'c asked, not caring about the slight rebuke. The man nodded. "I'm told they escaped the burning." Teal'c closed his eyes in gratitude. "I thought you might return in time for your boy's ceremony, Teal'c," the old man continued. "Brave, but unwise."
"If you were awaiting my return," Teal'c said as the meaning struck him, "perhaps there are others."
"Others don't know you as I do," the man said. "But I expected you to come alone." He shot a meaningful glance at SG-1.
"They are friends." Teal'c turned to introduce them. "Colonel O'Neill. Captain Carter. Daniel Jackson. Warriors of great skill and cunning."
Carter grinned. "Ah, Teal'c, that's-" She was cut off as Teal'c continued. "My first teacher, Bra'tac, the greatest Jaffa master I have ever known."
Bra'tac came up and looked at O'Neill. "It's an honor to meet you, sir," O'Neill said, extending his hand. Bra'tac ignored it and continued on to Carter. "You," he said, sounding somewhat irritated. "You were among the warriors that defeated the palace guard at Chulak?"
Carter nodded, smiling brightly. "A human woman!" Bra'tac exclaimed, definitely irritated. Carter was annoyed. "Hey, I'll have you know, I keep my-" she began to exclaim. Bra'tac ignored her and moved on to Daniel. "And you!" he said. "A warrior of great skill and cunning!" While the stunned Daniel offered no protests, Bra'tac grabbed his wrist and brought it to his mouth, almost as if he were going to bite it, growling at the same time. "I could snap you like kindling!" he said in disgust. He dropped Daniel's wrist and walked back to Teal'c. "How could you bring these has'shak with you?" It was obviously not a compliment.
"Hey, hey, hey," O'Neill protested. "Who you calling a hassick?" Bra'tac merely looked at him. Suddenly unsure, he turned slightly. "What's a hassick?" he asked Daniel over his shoulder.
"You challenge me, has'shak?" Bra'tac said mockingly.
"Uh, no, I don't think we came to fight you," said O'Neill.
Bra'tac inclined his head. "A shame," he said as he began to turn away. Suddenly, he swung his staff weapon towards O'Neill. O'Neill caught it and forced it up and around. Grabbing it in both hands and breaking Bra'tac's hold on it, he used it to push the man backwards, knocking him flat on his back in the dirt. He pointed the staff's business end at Bra'tac. "We're here on a mission," O'Neill continued calmly. "If you don't want to be a part of it, just say so."
Bra'tac began to chuckle. He pushed himself up on his hands. "You choose your friends well, Teal'c!" he said approvingly. "Though, were I a hundred years younger it might not have been quite so easy."
"You're over a hundred years old?" O'Neill said, amazed and somewhat embarrassed that he'd pushed the older man down into the dirt. Bra'tac nodded. "God, I'm sorry," O'Neill said, reaching an arm down to help the man up. Bra'tac grabbed his arm, then before O'Neill had the chance to think, swung his legs up and locked them around O'Neill's waist, throwing him face-first into the dirt. Bra'tac quickly popped up and retrieved his staff weapon. "A hundred and thirty-three," he said triumphantly.
"You must work out," O'Neill said, rolling onto his back slowly. Bra'tac grabbed his arm and pulled him onto his feet.
"No one has ever defied the Goa'uld and lived to tell it," Bra'tac said. "There was much talk in Chulak of the warriors of Earth."
"Really?" O'Neill said, curious.
"Our time here is limited," Teal'c said, growing impatient. He moved to where Bra'tac and O'Neill stood. "Can you take us to find my wife and son?"
"Your family is kresh'ta," Bra'tac said grimly. "Outcasts. The kresh'tal live in a handful of camps outside the city. I do not know which one your family belongs to."
"Then we should begin now," Teal'c said stubbornly.
"Teal'c," O'Neill said. Teal'c turned and looked at him. "I will not leave Chulak without seeing my son," he said firmly. O'Neill had come to know the Jaffa well enough to tell that he was telling the truth; he was firm about this. "Captain," O'Neill said, stepping past Bra'tac and Teal'c. "I want you and Daniel to go back to the stargate, take up positions where you could lay down cover fire, we might need it."
The disappointment at being excluded from this adventure was obvious in their faces. "Yes, sir," said Carter, not attempting to protest. That was her place as a soldier, and she understood it. Daniel didn't. "Uh, a minute ago we were warriors of great skill and cunning," he said, trying to remind O'Neill that they could be useful. O'Neill ignored him.
"Wait there for us for…twenty-four hours. If we're not back by then, we probably won't be."
"Yes sir, we'll be waiting. Good luck, sir," said Carter, still obviously disappointed, but not about to question orders. He nodded in acknowledgement and turned away. They began to walk back to the gate.
"If we are discovered," Teal'c said to O'Neill, "you will be brought before Apophis along with us."
"Well, we'll just cross have to that bridge when we come to it," O'Neill said. He knew the danger.
"No," Bra'tac said, misunderstanding. "The bridge is too well guarded."
"No, actually, there I was using a cliché that…" O'Neill faded off.
Teal'c looked at Bra'tac. "Kel'shak, my friend. Honor us with your guidance."
"We go south," Bra'tac said. "Those camps nearest the city. I believe your wife would go there."
"I agree," Teal'c said. As one, he and Bra'tac began to move off towards the south. O'Neill stood there. "South is good," he muttered, though no one but himself heard it. He began to move off after Teal'c and Bra'tac.
"Hey Teal'c," O'Neill said, several kilometers later as they walked through the forest. "Maybe Bra'tac's feeling a little tired, might want to take a little rest or-"
"You will follow. Teal'c and I will lead," Bra'tac said firmly.
O'Neill decided to change tactics. "No, no, no, actually, you see, I'm in charge here-"
Once again, Bra'tac ignored him. "The stargate is well patrolled. Your deceptions will not work a second time. You need my help to stay alive, human."
O'Neill gave up. "Yeah, all right, whatever, I'm easy."
"Teal'c tells me your world is without gods," Bra'tac continued. "Difficult to imagine."
"Well, it's not without gods," O'Neill explained. "A lot of people believe there's…a god. Not everyone believes in the same god the same way, but…well, let's just say, no one believes in anyone with glowing eyes and a snake in his head."
"Then you serve no one?" Bra'tac asked.
"I serve the SGC, under General Hammond," O'Neill said.
"So, this Hammond, is…?"
"Just a man. A very good, very…bald, man, from Texas."
"From Tex-as?" Bra'tac asked. "I have not heard of that planet."
"Well, it's not a planet. It's a state. In our country, on our planet."
"A state. I understand." O'Neill didn't think Bra'tac actually did.
"Sure, cover fire on the stargate," Daniel said, annoyed. He and Carter were hiking their way back, slowly but surely. "So why is it he gets to go search for Teal'c's family and we don't? Just think about it! An opportunity to see how outcasts of the Jaffa society live!"
"Daniel, he's the colonel. Like it or not, he's in charge. I'm disappointed too. Maybe not for the same reasons, but…"
They hiked through the woods in silence for a moment. "Poor Teal'c," said Carter suddenly. "What he must have gone through keeping quiet about his family."
A noise suddenly caught her attention. She threw out a hand to stop Daniel and looked around. A group of figures was coming into view on the path, not far off from where they stood. They ducked down behind some bushes and watched.
There were several priests and what appeared to be a priestess, ornately decked out in a headdress and scanty outfit, along with an attendant for her. "Jaffa priests, that's Apophis' emblem," Daniel said quietly, watching the group. "What are they carrying?" Carter asked. Two of the priests were carrying a pole on each shoulder. Strung onto the poles and carried in between them was a large, ornate box of some sort, which they were obviously treating with great reverence. They watched as the group of priests passed their position. As the group continued down the trail, a clanging sound startled Carter and Daniel.
"What's that?" Carter asked, starting. Daniel listened to it. "It's a bell," he said, recognizing the sound. It was coming from the direction the group of priests had been headed. "As in church bell?" Carter asked, coming to the obvious conclusion. "Probably," Daniel agreed. They looked at each other. "I haven't been to church in a while," Carter said, standing up. Daniel stood also, and they followed the group of priests at a safe distance down the trail.
O'Neill and the two Jaffa came out of the woods near a large encampment of tents. They stood on a hill to survey the tents. At the site of the two warrior Jaffa, the inhabitants of the camp began to scream and run for their tents.
Teal'c surveyed the camp, looking for any signs of his wife or son. His glance came to rest on a larger tent set up apart from the others. His heart quickened as he recognized the ceremonial tent in which the prin'tah was performed. He begin to run.
He ran down the hill and into the camp. People who weren't in their tents, or who had been bold enough to peek out, quickly darted back in. Those who weren't able to get into a tent dove out of the way. Teal'c ignored them all.
He ran into the large, open-roofed tent. Ry'ac laid on a table, unconscious. The priest stood over him, using the healing stone to prepare the pouch where the larval Goa'uld would be inserted.
"Priest," Teal'c said, staring firmly at him. "Stand aside," he commanded.
The priest's eyes narrowed as he recognized the Jaffa. "Teal'c," he said. "The traitor." He moved quickly to the nearby table and picked up the knife which lay there. "You dare to show yourself, shol'va?" he said accusingly.
"I have no wish to harm you, priest," Teal'c said, spreading his arms wide and letting his staff weapon drop to show him he meant it. "But I will not allow you to perform the prin'tah on my son."
The priest lunged for him with the knife. He made several swipes at Teal'c with it. Teal'c stepped back, avoiding each lunge. He grabbed the man's arm and tried to get the knife away from him.
Suddenly, a figure lunged from behind the curtain and jumped onto Teal'c back. Teal'c bobbled, but managed to stay on his feet, catching only a glimpse of black cloak. He threw the priest aside. The priest fell into the small table on which the jar containing the larval Goa'uld sat, knocking both table and jar over. The jar broke on the hard ground.
Teal'c grabbed at whoever was on his back and leaned forward, throwing them to the ground. He pulled away the hood which covered the face of the struggling person and stared into his wife's eyes. She stopped struggling. "Teal'c," she said, looking angrily at him.
O'Neill and Bra'tac came in; they hadn't been running as fast as Teal'c had. They stopped at the sight which greeted them. "And this would be…?" O'Neill inquired.
"My wife," Teal'c said gruffly. "Drey'auc."
She began to struggle again, and he pulled her to her feet. "No!" she breathed, staring at the unmoving form of the priest and the Goa'uld larvae in horror.
O'Neill pulled out his pistol and moved to where the priest lay still on his stomach. He grabbed the man's shoulder and flipped him over. He was dead, hand still clutched around the knife, which was lodged firmly in his abdomen, where he'd fallen on it.
The Goa'uld larva too, was dead. It had been cut on a piece of the broken glass and lay in a small puddle of blood.
Drey'auc turned on Teal'c. "I had to beg the priest to perform the ceremony!" she said angrily. "They brought the tablet and the tent for the prin'tah all the way to camp! Why have you returned!"
"My son will not be a slave, Drey'auc," said Teal'c, equally angry but controlling it better. "He will taste freedom, as I have."
O'Neill, not paying any attention, pulled out his small X-acto knife. He carefully used the dull edge to lift up the larva, pointing his pistol at it as he did so. It was dead, all right. It hung limply. It looked to have been almost decapitated by the glass. He briefly considered taking it home to be dissected by the scientists, but decided against it. He didn't have anything to put it in, and quite frankly, there was no way he was going to put that in his pocket.
"Freedom, Teal'c?" Drey'auc said, trembling with emotion. "You have condemned your son to death."
Teal'c glared at her.
Bra'tac and O'Neill picked up the body of the priest and dragged it out behind the tent, to cover it up with brush in an attempt to hide it. Inside the tent, the war between Teal'c and Drey'auc raged.
"Your heresy is an abomination, Teal'c." Drey'auc said. "Even by the outcasts, I am shunned."
"The abomination is my people enslaved by the Goa'uld," Teal'c said firmly.
"How can you call the gods that you served for so long your enemy?" Drey'auc demanded.
"Since the Earth people opened my eyes. The prin'tah is slavery," Teal'c said, moving forward.
"Did you see where I am raising your son?" Drey'auc demanded angrily. "Is this better than the home Apophis granted you as First Prime?"
"It is not," Teal'c said quietly.
"You have abandoned and betrayed us," Drey'auc said, obviously hurt. "Do you know what I have endured to convince the priests that we were still loyal? They were about to lift the banishment so that we could return to the city!"
"So you want this more for yourself than for our son?" Teal'c said, annoyed.
Drey'auc slapped his face. He didn't flinch.
"I must speak to him," Teal'c said, pushing Drey'auc aside and moving to where Ry'ac still lay unconscious on the table.
"No, no, he believes you are dead!" she cried, throwing herself over her son protectively.
"Dead!" Teal'c said, angry.
"It's easier than the truth," Drey'auc said. Teal'c grabbed her hair and forced her to look at him. "What have you told him, woman?"
She glared at him. "What would you have me tell him?" She pulled herself away. "That a father left his son for a people he does not know? Who are not his blood? You tell him that, husband. You witness the dishonor in his eyes."
"Drey'auc," he started, but she wasn't finished. "Come, carry your son back to the hovel that is his home," she said, turning away. Teal'c gently picked Ry'ac up and followed her.
The bell continued to ring as Carter and Daniel followed the priests. They stopped at the edge of the woods and watched as the priests went on to a small pavilion which sat at the bottom of a hill below a large building which looked to be the church in question. They sat the container down in front of some sort of tank and opened the container's lid. The priestess took a small bowl from one of the priests and dipped it into the container. She then stepped towards the tank and poured the bowl's contents into the tank. Once this ceremony was done, the container's lid was replaced, and they continued on to the large building.
"We have to get a closer look," Carter said.
The camp was a dirty, cluttered place. Teal'c gently laid his son down where Drey'auc instructed and she pulled away the sheet which covered the boy. His skin was mottled a noticeable red. He coughed several times, weakly.
"Ry'ac," Teal'c said softly. The boy pulled his eyes open painfully and looked at him. His eyes squinted as he looked to see who this was. "Ry'ac," Teal'c said again, gently.
The boy's eyes widened in delight as he recognized him. "Father," he said, his voice a mixture of happiness and pride. He lifted his hand up weakly and Teal'c took it. Ry'ac coughed several times, then looked at Drey'auc. "I knew he was not dead," he said triumphantly, before coughing again.
"How long has the sickness been in him?" Teal'c asked. Drey'auc looked at him. Her face, which had softened while looking at her son, became hard again. "Since we were driven from our home," she said accusingly. "Do you understand now?"
Teal'c looked at her. She looked back at Ry'ac. "Without the healing powers of the Goa'uld, he will die," she said, upset. She picked up a cup of water and moved Ry'ac's head to where he could drink it.
Teal'c looked at his son. "What have I done?" he asked himself softly.
O'Neill and Bra'tac found the tent and entered. O'Neill crouched down. "How's he doing, Teal'c?" he asked.
"He is dying," Teal'c said shortly. O'Neill reached a hand out and placed it on the boy's chest, checking his temperature and breathing simultaneously.
"I'm no doctor," he said, sitting back, "but I know scarlet fever when I see it." He reached into his pocket and took out several packets.
"Can it be treated by your Earth medicines?" Teal'c asked, tearing his gaze away from his son to his friend.
"Ah, there's some vaccines, antibiotics." He chose the one he wanted. "Hand me that water," he asked. Drey'auc passed the cup of water to him. He poured the contents of the packet into the cup of water and stirred it around, until the water turned orange. "Give that to him," he instructed. Drey'auc propped up his hand and gave him the contents of the cup. "I thank you," she said softly.
"It won't cure him, you know," O'Neill said. "It'll take more powerful drugs than I've got with me."
"What of your Earth doctors?" Teal'c asked. O'Neill considered this. "If we can get him through the stargate, maybe."
The tank bubbled. Thin, long shapes swam inside it. Carter watched for enemies nervously while Daniel looked at the tank. He tapped on it with a knuckle. "Bingo, Goa'uld larva," he said.
"Here in the open like this, no guards?" Carter asked, darting to the edge of the enclosed pavilion so that she could make sure no one was around.
"Well who on Chulak needs to steal one?" Daniel said, also looking around. Carter looked at him. "We do," she said.
Daniel looked at her. "Right."
She handed her gun to Daniel, and he gave her the thermos they'd brought with them to put a Goa'uld larva in. She pushed her sleeves up and handed the top of the thermos to Daniel.
"OK, we can do this," she said, not sounding overly confident. "I'm ready," Daniel said.
"OK…on three." She held her hand above the tank, ready to plunge it in and grab a larva. "One…two…three." Her hand remained above the tank.
"OK, on four," Daniel said. She nodded. "Four!" she said, plunging her hand in. She grabbed a larva and brought it up. It squealed as she stuffed it into thermos. "I really really really really hate these things!" she said as she pushed it in. It was slimy, and it whipped around hitting her arm. "There!" she breathed as it went in. She dipped the thermos into the tank to get some of the water (or whatever that was) and Daniel handed her the lid. "OK, come on," she said as she screwed the lid on and began to leave. She made it a couple steps before she heard the sound of her rifle cocking and realized that Daniel wasn't behind her. She turned. He was bringing the gun up and aiming it at the tank.
"Daniel," she said warily. "What are you thinking?"
He didn't look at her. "Just that every single one of these Goa'ulds will one day take a human life." He licked his lips. "And all I have to do is…"
"If we kill them when they're as vulnerable as they are right now, we'd be no better than the Goa'uld," she said. "Let's go."
He turned and followed her, but he only made it a few steps before he swerved back around and opened fire.
The tank seemed to fall apart as the bullets hit it. The water spilled out, taking the larva with it. They squealed and squirmed, dying on the ground. Sam turned and jumped back besides Daniel in two steps. He was staring at the tank. He glanced at her briefly, then back at the tank. Gently, she took the gun from his grasp, and he let her have it.
She moved off, back towards the woods, and after a moment, Daniel followed.
Bra'tac led as they moved through the woods. Teal'c carried Ry'ac gently. At one point, Drey'auc laid her hand on him. "He's burning!" she said, scared. They reached their stopping place and Teal'c gently laid Ry'ac down.
"Carter and Daniel should be here," O'Neill said. Teal'c and Drey'auc paid no attention. Drey'auc gasped. "Oh! He no longer draws breath, Teal'c!" she said, distraught. "Ry'ac!" Teal'c whispered. "Ry'ac!" he whispered again, more urgently.
"Teal'c. We should try to make it to the stargate," O'Neill said.
"By then it will be too late," Teal'c said. "There is another way." While Drey'auc began to cry, he rose and began to remove his armor.
O'Neill knew what he was going to do. "Teal'c," he said. "You wanna think about this? You can't live for more than a couple hours without that thing."
Bra'tac stopped O'Neill. "It is a father's right," he said. O'Neill fell silent. He could understand.
"What of you, Teal'c?" Drey'auc asked. Teal'c was silent. Together, he and Drey'auc pulled away Ry'ac's clothing to reveal the pouch. "I'm sorry, my son," Teal'c said, trembling, "that it is I who must do this to you...but I do it to save your life."
Removing the larva was not painful, but putting it in tended to be. Teal'c forced the larva out of his pouch.
"Forgive me, my son," he whispered. "Forgive me."
Carter and Daniel were walking through the woods. Daniel chewed on a granola bar as he walked. "Do you think these things need to be fed?" he said, indicating the thermos he carried with the larva.
Before Carter could reply, a staff blast came out of nowhere, hitting a tree stump just a few feet away. She gasped and grabbed Daniel's arm, turning to see where the blast had come from. Several Jaffa guards were approaching rapidly. "Go, go!" she cried, pushing Daniel away from them. She followed him, ducking and dodging staff blasts which were coming too close for comfort.
They hid behind a large stump from a gigantic tree. Daniel glanced wistfully at the granola bar he still held before throwing it away and grabbing his pistol. "What the hell do we do now?" he asked.
Carter pulled out a grenade. "Drop and cover your head, this is going to be close!" she warned. She stood up, pulling the pin as she did so, and threw the grenade. She ducked down, and they hunched behind the log as they heard the explosion.
There was yells from all the Jaffa, then silence. Warily, they stood up. Carter brought her gun up as she jumped out, ready to shoot. There was no need. All three were on the ground.
"Well that was insane," Daniel commented. Carter nodded. "Let's get back to the stargate," she said, turning and running.
"Keep coming, Captain, you're almost here." O'Neill paced back and forth. He looked at Bra'tac, who was helping tend to Ry'ac.
"The Goa'uld within him is strong. He's healing well," Bra'tac reported.
"When will he be strong enough to travel?" O'Neill asked.
Teal'c answered. "Soon. But by then O'Neill, I will no longer be." He was almost visibly getting weaker.
"Bra'tac," Teal'c continued. Bra'tac stood up. "I would to have you hear my will," Teal'c said. O'Neill grimaced, then caught sight of movement beyond where Teal'c and Bra'tac stood. "Ah, let's just put a little hold on that right now," he said, pushing past to greet Carter and Daniel.
"We better get moving, sir," Carter said.
"We've got a little problem," O'Neill said. "Um, Teal'c's kid was too sick to make it to the stargate, so he gave him his own Goa'uld to keep him alive."
"Ahh…" Daniel said, glancing back at Carter. "We have one."
"You what?" O'Neill asked in disbelief.
"We were gonna take it back with us." Daniel fumbled to unscrew the lid.
"Praise the stars, we must hurry," Drey'auc said.
"We found what looked like a monastery," Carter explained. Bra'tac looked at her, astonished. "You dare steal from the sepulcher of the temple?" he asked. "It is sacrilege!" Drey'auc exclaimed.
"Well so what!" O'Neill said. "Is it gonna help him?"
Daniel handed the thermos to Bra'tac and Bra'tac examined the symbiote. "It is young," he said. "Not yet ready for implantation. But we will try."
He and Drey'auc moved Teal'c and laid him on the ground. Bra'tac inserted the symbiote while Teal'c's teammates watched, amazed and disgusted.
The guards moved through the forest until they found the bodies of their comrades. One of them lifted a horn to his lips and blew. It echoed through the forest. He repeated it several times…
At the stargate, the priests and guards looked at each other at the sound of the horn. "Go!" a priest ordered. Several guards ran to see what was the matter…
"How you holding up, Teal'c?" O'Neill asked. They were on the move again. Teal'c had insisted on carrying Ry'ac.
"My body grows strong again," Teal'c said. They heard the horn.
"We've been discovered," Bra'tac said grimly. "All right, let's keep moving," said O'Neill.
Teal'c was distracted. "Father?" came a small voice. He looked down to see Ry'ac looking at him. "Ry'ac," he said. Suddenly, he knew what he had to do. He moved to where he could sit Ry'ac down.
"Your father has given you life," Drey'auc said softly.
"A Goa'uld?" Ry'ac looked at his pouch wonderingly.
"Your prin'tah," Teal'c said. "It is all I can give you until I return. Follow the guidance of Bra'tac and your mother, and you will become a great warrior."
"Stay," said Ry'ac, a hint of pleading in his look.
"I cannot. But the day of my return will come," Teal'c said sorrowfully.
"When?" Ry'ac asked.
"It may be a very long time, my son, but the life of a Jaffa is long. I know the day will come when we will stand side by side in battle, to free our people from the false gods. Remember, my son, remember." Ry'ac nodded, and stood to hug his father. Teal'c clutched his son tightly before releasing him to Drey'auc.
"Lay before the priests," Teal'c told her. "Tell them I tried to steal your son away."
"We will be all right, Teal'c, go," she said urgently.
"My son is fortunate to have such a mother," he said softly.
"His father will never return to free his people if he does not," her voice caught, "go now."
In the distance, the horn sounded again. As much as O'Neill hated it, he had to say it. "Teal'c, we've gotta move."
Teal'c looked at his wife and son again, then took his staff from Drey'auc and followed his friends.
He looked back once, and saw them, standing against the background of trees, sunlight on both of them.
It was a memory he would see clearly for many years ahead.
They dug through the brush pile where they'd hidden their costumes. Teal'c picked up his helmet as O'Neill came up. "All right," he said. "Here's the plan."
Bra'tac followed. "You will do as I say."
"Right," O'Neill said.
"You won't need those." Bra'tac tossed the costume out of Carter's hands and turned. They followed him.
They climbed the hill near the stargate. Bra'tac took point, Teal'c followed behind. Bra'tac walked up to the priests by the stargate. "Behold, my friends!" he called. "The traitors!"
"Halt," ordered a priest. "Come no further."
"I am to present my prisoners to Apophis himself," Bra'tac said.
"You cannot pass, Bra'tac," the priest said.
"You know of me?" Bra'tac was surprised.
"Of course, master. You were once the greatest Jaffa warrior of all. But no one may past until the palace guard arrives."
Bra'tac nodded. "I understand." He began to turn. "Then we wait."
Suddenly, Bra'tac turned and used his staff weapon to blast a line in front of the three priests. O'Neill pulled his pistol out, but Teal'c stopped him. Jumping over the line of fire he'd created, Bra'tac quickly knocked out all three priests.
"Not bad for a man of a hundred and thirty-three," he said, turning to O'Neill.
"Not bad at all," O'Neill replied. "Daniel?" he indicated the DHD. Daniel nmoved forward and began dialing home.
"What will you do?" Carter asked. "When the priests come to they'll tell Apophis that you betrayed him."
"I suppose…" Bra'tac said. He smiled. "I will cross that bridge when I come to it."
Carter and O'Neill moved up to join Daniel. Teal'c stood beside Bra'tac.
"I lack the words to thank you, Bra'tac," he said. Bra'tac looked at him. "I thank you, Teal'c," he said. "I have another young warrior to teach of new worlds, and false gods."
The stargate roared to life. Bra'tac put a hand on Teal'c's arm. "Farewell, my friend," he said softly. Teal'c nodded. "Farewell."
SG-1 stood on the stargate's platform. "Ten-hut," O'Neill commanded softly. Moving in unison, he and Carter saluted Bra'tac. Bra'tac returned the gesture by lifting his staff weapon in the air. Daniel gave a wave.
And they stepped through the stargate, back to Earth.