The word reverberated through his mind, despite his best efforts in thinking of other more important issues. Teal'c sat in a chair in the cell he had been brought to, staring straight ahead at the gray walls that surrounded him and matched his mood. He had made the decision to trust the man who claimed he could save those people in Apophis' prison, but the initial regrets were beginning to crowd out his confidence.
He was a shol'vah. He had betrayed his Lord, and in doing so, he had also betrayed his family. His wife and son would suffer for his betrayal, but perhaps Master Bray'tac would find a way to protect them. Teal'c hung on to that thought as he worked through his act of unfaithfulness. His friend would take action in protecting Drey'auc and Rya'c, while inwardly chastising Teal'c for his foolishness. Bray'tac would protect his family. After all, it was Bray'tac who instilled the doubts within him.
The word tormented him as memories of what he had done filtered through his thoughts. He had turned on his own Jaffa, the same men who had sworn allegiance to Apophis, and by proxy, to follow Teal'c. The impulse to turn on the Jaffa in favor of helping O'Neill did not come out of desperation or fear. Teal'c had calculated his move almost from the time he had first visited O'Neill's world. The weapons and the determination the warriors displayed when defending their base and the female among them proved that they were part of a powerful force. He knew then that these people were technologically farther along than any other planet he had visited. And if given the opportunity, he would use that knowledge to find the freedom Master Bray'tac wanted. He had no choice.
He turned his thoughts to the planet where Amunet's host had been found. Teal'c had been surprised to find the same weapons trained on him and his Jaffa. He did not know where those people had obtained the weapons, but he did understand the same determination that lived in their hearts. They were fighters, and he remembered the hatred blazing out of the eyes of the young man whom he had cornered.
"This is not your weapon," he had said. "How did you acquire it?"
The young man did not give him the answer he needed, but Teal'c soon learned the truth when he saw O'Neill and the young man together in Apophis' prison. Perhaps that was the moment he began to feel stirrings of hope that his people could be free. The fortitude and courage O'Neill and his people displayed were encouraging signs. These were the people he would turn to for help.
But acquiring that help was not without regrets. Teal'c stared at the walls of his cell, wondering if he had made a mistake in trusting O'Neill. There was no choice at the time he made the rash decision to free the prisoners, but now that he had time to meditate and think, he worried that perhaps he erred in his haste to find freedom for the Jaffa.
The symbiote within him stirred restlessly, mirroring Teal'c's feelings. Yet he did not dare resort to a deep state of Kel'no'reem to find solace and health. He was technically in enemy territory. The fact that he was held in a cell with a guard at the door proved without a doubt that he was not trusted by these people. Instead he would meditate quietly, while staying conscious and aware until he knew it was safe. He could not blame them for their unease and mistrust, as well as his imprisonment. He would have done the same if the situation were in his favor.
The word slipped in through his conscious thoughts again even as he tried to keep it at bay. Guilt welled up in his heart, pushing at him to make amends. Guilt mixed in with the fear that swirled in his soul like the sand storms in Chulak. He had left his family behind to face the aftermath of his decisions and they would pay a high price for his sins. It was the Jaffa way. Teal'c mourned for them. He did not know if he would ever see Drey'auc or Rya'c again, just as he worried they would not forgive him if he did.
Everything he had done was for them, he reminded himself yet again. His family would be among the free Jaffa if he was successful in his chosen path. His son would know true freedom, something Teal'c had only dreamed of until the moment he chose to believe in O'Neill. They would benefit from his sacrifices. They would understand.
Teal'c embraced the word. It meant the freedom to choose his destiny. He would never again be a slave to the Goa'uld and one day, Jaffa throughout the universe will join him in his quest to destroy the false gods.
The door opened and Teal'c stood up to face O'Neill. He had a purpose now. He would proclaim his allegiance to the people of this world, and in doing so, he would achieve his goals.
He was a traitor. A shol'vah. And he would make his son proud.