* * * * * *
Syla was roused by loud rumbles from the dragon casually draped over her.
His head was heavy, but not too much so she didn't move.
She couldn't help snickering when she realized he was snoring.
Never in her life had she dreamed of sleeping with a dragon.
Her mind reeled at just how fortunate she was.
His wing blocked her view, so she turned a bit and looked down through the spiral.
The glassy transparency distorted her surroundings, but her stomach rolled just a bit as she realized just how high up she was.
She heard an overhead buzz and smiled when she realized it must be the UAV.
She expected it to set down so that they could trace it's homing beacon, but it passed overhead without stopping.
Syla thumbed on her radio.
"Yeah, Mason. I read you. We're in...a bit of...a situation here. What's up?"
"The UAV just passed me. It can't see me since I'm under the dragon."
"Under? What...are you doing under...a dragon?"
"It's sleeping on me, sir. Sir? What's going on? You sound out of breath."
"I'm running, Mason. Running...very fast."
"Mason, we got your location...will be joining you as soon as we can. We need the UAV here."
"Are you in danger?"
"Then check in every thirty minutes. We'll...be there as soon as we can. Gorowitz out."
Syla stared at her radio; curious beyond belief about what would make her commanding officer run so fast that he was out of breath.
The man ran in his sleep...for fun.
She heard the buzz of the UAV again and listened until it was barely audible, snuggling back up to the dragon snoring on top of her.
If she was stuck here, she was at least going to be comfortable and make the most of this incredible experience.
* * * * * *
Tesaf felt increasingly uneasy as he neared the entrance to the lab.
There should have been two guards here at all times.
He could hear machines in two of the storage rooms, but was unsure of their purpose.
Angela and Hagar were the ones in charge of this part of the plan.
Now...neither was available.
Tesaf bit back a groan at the fight his host was putting up.
He was hungry again and there was no way to feed him without alerting someone that he was here.
Tesaf stepped into the lab, looking around.
"You are not human."
Tesaf whirled to confront the new threat and realized in horror the experiments had somehow gotten free.
If the Asgard had escaped, then that meant the Kaeterans had too.
"How did this happen?"
The Asgard merely regarded him for a moment before motioning with his hand.
Tesaf spun to see what was behind him and barely felt the impact before all conscious thought fled.
* * * * * *
Daniel bit his lip to keep from saying anything when Jack complained about his headache once again.
He was filling up the Bunny while Janet made Jack hold the ice on his head.
"If you're going to complain about the pain, you have to follow my instructions."
Daniel snickered at the patiently exasperated tone in Janet's voice.
She'd been their doctor for long enough to know she'd have to tape the ice to his head to get him to keep it there.
*You are just as difficult to keep still.*
Daniel smiled, not taking up Jolinar's proffered argument.
*I know. I hate lying around when there are things to do.*
Jolinar twisted a bit and Daniel covered his mouth with his hand to keep from throwing up.
*Can you warn me when you're going to do that?!*
*I apologize. I had an itch. Only your lower brainstem is capable of scratching it properly.*
Daniel fought the nausea as spots formed before his eyes.
Jolinar took control, taking the brunt of the sensations as she carefully countered the chemical releases responsible.
"What's going on?"
Jolinar looked at Amber, starting to answer before a quick mental jab from Daniel reminded her to keep quiet.
Amber raised an eyebrow and then glared at Jack.
Jack glared back and winced as Janet finished securing the ice pack to his head.
**Only you would be so ornery as to need the doctor to tape it to your head.**
**It doesn't hurt that bad.**
**You are such a liar. My head is splitting and if you don't want me giving you a decent reason to hurt, you'll...**
**Excuse me? Back to threats, huh...well fine...how's this? You do anything but be nice and sweet to me, you get to sit in the Goold's lap during breakfast.**
**And you'd put me there...how?**
**Airforce Colonels have their ways.**
Amber rolled her eyes, but watched some of the ideas running through his mind, noting them for future reference.
Janet watched Amber, envy making her sigh lightly as she checked Jack for further injuries.
Sam was leafing through the droodle book, making little marks next to her favorites.
Janet smiled a bit, jumping slightly when Jack's hand found hers.
"Hey. What's up?"
Janet raised her eyebrows, her mind wondering how much to say and how much not to.
Amber walked off without another word and Jack smiled at Janet's curiosity.
"Told her to get lost."
Janet shook her head at the casual dismissal, allowing her heart to warm a bit at the obvious preference he was showing her.
Little things kept cropping up between them and she was starting to get edgy.
"I'm just tired, I guess."
Janet looked up hastily at his wounded tone.
"Jan, we've got a problem. So let's talk."
Janet pursed her lips, feeling like she was being a child about the whole thing.
"Well? Is it Amber?"
"Partly and part of it is that I don't understand why you're tying my hands like this. You need medical treatment. We have to..."
Janet's jaw was as tight as his was.
"No more experiments."
Janet started to reply and then stopped and stared at him.
"We're not going back, are we?"
Jack didn't answer right away and Janet bit her lip.
"We have to go back. Cassandra has school, we need paychecks...Jack, we can't just leave like that."
"We can, but you're right...we shouldn't. If it's in the SGC, chances are it won't settle for that and it'll spread."
"And Amber could get ill...Jack, you could get ill and I don't have a full hospital with me, much less medical help that has clearance to work on a Tok'ra setup like we have here."
"Amber's a doctor."
"If she's the one dying, that won't do me any good."
"As long as she's conscious, I could tap into her and help you that way."
"And if she isn't conscious? Besides, can you tap into her thoughts now?"
"Thoughts? yes. Memories? No."
"Then if she's not in control and thinking straight, you'd be useless."
Jack stood up and walked a few steps away, his body radiating tension.
"I hate feeling this helpless...like I'm on a string and someone can't decide which way they're gonna yank me."
"I don't know what to say or do here. I don't like what's happened either, but the only way we can combat it is with knowledge."
"We're not going back early."
Janet stepped against the Bunny, leaning a bit and not caring about the dust it would leave on her backside as she got herself under control.
She regretted locking Sam out of the conversation now.
She could've used her friend's input, but she'd been sure it would be a personal moment between them.
Sam got uneasy when she and Jack had personal moments so now she'd have to deal with this alone unless she wanted to recount the entire conversation to Sam.
Not a pleasant option.
"Load up. Let's head to Waffle House for breakfast and then get back on the road."
Janet stared as Jack motioned everyone back into the Bunny.
"Well, guess our conversation's over."
She walked around to the driver's door and got in, ignoring Jolinar's attempt to get back in first.
For a moment she thought the Tok'ra would actually try something, but Jolinar paused only a moment before walking around and forcing the deaf Goa'uld out of his chair and into the seat beside Amber.
Jack winced as Amber's mind unleashed her opinion of him and Jolinar at that moment.
**You are too an idiot. She's right and you know it. And I'm going to hurt that Tok'ra...I can't believe she put him next to me. Move Teal'c...**
**Teal'c's meditating or sleeping or whatever. Not bothering him right now. He's been up for hours.**
**So you switch places with me.**
**Not. You can enjoy...besides I figure you deserve it for something.**
Jack groaned at the pressure on his mind.
**What are you doing?**
**Trying not to throw up. I keep seeing flashes of the interrogation.**
**I'm not sending those.**
**I don't care whether it's deliberate or not. Just make it stop.**
Jack just shook his head.
He had no clue about it.
He listened to Jolinar show Janet on the map where he'd marked the Waffle House and soon they were on their way.
* * * * * *
Terry ran faster, feeling a cramp begin in his thigh.
Harris in front of him was jumping glittery boulders like an expert Olympian as they rushed to avoid the avalanche following them out of the ravine they'd discovered.
Frome, behind him, stumbled and almost went down, but quickly regained her footing and tried to catch up.
Each held a newly hatched, still slimy dragon.
The mothers hadn't been able to save four of them, so Terry was carrying two.
They weren't light and they were curious about what was going on around them so kept shifting their balance to see.
Terry felt himself grasped in large claws and the ground fell away as he held the two squirming baby dragons as tightly as he felt he could to make sure they didn't fall.
He saw another dragon swoop down, still not making a sound and saw Harris a moment later.
He started to yell, asking about Nora, but knew the wind would make it almost impossible to hear him so he kept silent, hoping that another dragon had gotten her out.
* * * * * *
Bre choked as a vile liquid was poured across her tongue and down her throat.
Breathe, Bre, Breathe.
The old family joke did nothing but make her splutter the liquid down her chin and her right cheek.
"You will stop resisting soon."
Not in this lifetime.
Bre tried to analyze the pain...where it was and what was causing it, but she could only guess at what was causing the pain in her arm.
She hadn't been able to see for what seemed an eternity.
Not even a flash or grey light.
Pain had become a constant nag on her brain.
Thoughts ached, emotions stung, and memories stabbed.
No part of her mental process was un-touched.
She tried to stop drinking the liquid, but a strangely textured hand pulled her jaw down effortlessly.
The liquid continued pouring and she continued trying to keep up.
* * * * * *
Daniel roused himself to take over when they pulled into the parking lot.
It took a moment to re-orient himself with the outside world.
Noises startled him until his mind adjusted to the uncontrolled auditory input.
The group piled into the restaurant, Janet carefully guiding Hagar to a chair and making sure he knew what to do.
A testy waitress came up, letting them know that they'd have to wait five minutes while she tended to other customers before walking away.
Daniel's eyes met Jack's and they smiled, remembering another restaurant a while back where a really mean waitress had dumped soy sauce on Jack's head before quitting.
That had been an interesting experience.
She looked enough like this waitress that the memory was almost automatically recalled.
Daniel scratched his head, trying to figure out the strange feelings he'd been getting since earlier.
*Umm...how did you scratch yourself?*
Jolinar was comparing the Waffle House with IHOP and so was distracted when he first asked the question.
*I do not understand.*
*You said you itched and that you scratched yourself on my lower brainstem. You couldn't scratch yourself since you have no body.*
Jolinar froze, literally and mentally.
She had been itching off and on for that entire day.
She began mentally berating herself for being too slow to notice.
*While you were experiencing Kel No Reem, I began having mental twitches. I assumed they were the same as the "Phantom Limb" delusion that Amber explained to me when I mentioned the feeling to her. I am imagining that I have a body inside you and it itches.*
*Why would you want an itchy body.*
*If it itches, it means it is real.*
*But it isn't real. Jolinar, you're making no sense.*
*I will return. I have a suspicion.*
Jolinar retreated, flashing an away sign when he tried to follow her into her mind.
Daniel saw Amber raise an eyebrow at his mutter, but she was immediately distracted by something in Jack's head again.
Jack tried to catch Janet's eye, but she glared at him and then acted as if he didn't exist.
He sighed and ignored Amber's taunting.
Her headache had grown worse the longer she was near the Goa'uld so she'd slid into the seat next to him.
The waitress walked by and Amber called out.
"Umm...we're from another state and we would really like to eat...now..."
The waitress grouched a raspberry at Amber and Amber had had enough.
"You're supposed to be nice and sweet!"
"Listen, honey. I have an ovarian infection and I'm on my cycle. I can't hardly talk from the pain."
Jack's head thudding on the table repeatedly drew the attention of every customer in the restaurant.
"I hate women. I hate women. I hate women. I hate women."
Amber grinned at the jumbled, disgusted thoughts in his mind, wincing with each blow.
**Just think...you wouldn't have a real idea of what she was talking about if...**
**Shut up. You're a woman. Not talking to women. Shut up.**
"I hate women. I hate women. I hate women. I hate women."
Amber and Janet's eyes met and they both collapsed laughing.
The stress that had been building up was sliced in half and they began to relax a bit.
Jack glared at them and went back to banging his head on the table.
He continued until Amber thumped his arm hard enough to bruise.
**Cut it out! You're hurting me!**
Jack stopped and looked at her.
Jack folded his arms under his chin, glaring at Janet while ignoring Amber's manners tutorial now running in the back of his head.
* * * * * *
Lantash stretched, enjoying the freedom of the movement.
Jacob had sent word that he would be here soon.
The sooner he arrived, the sooner they could rescue SG-1.
He half expected Martouf to awaken and comment, but the recent infiltration into Heru'hur's flagship had been taxing and Martouf had been in charge for much of it.
Lantash turned to regard the young Tok'ra.
"He is resting. How may I assist you?"
Amy blushed, feeling Qesir's attraction to Lantash's host.
Her eyes uncontrollably flicked up and down his body, causing him to raise an eyebrow at her obvious interest.
"You desire me?"
Amy's eyes went wide and she choked up, unable to answer.
She turned red as Qesir's amusement at the situation rose.
*You do not need to be embarrassed. He is used to being desired by many of us. He chose Jolinar as his mate, but it was not from lack of other possibilities presenting themselves to him openly.*
*But still...I just checked him out. I look like a...a...*
*A young Tau'ri female who has endured a disease most courageously. While Lantash's heart is true to Jolinar, he will protect you avidly as he has always protected me.*
*He will be amused. That is all. We are not of your race. Do not assume we share the same limitations.*
*But he's your brother.*
*Which is why he is still standing there patiently waiting for me to finish explaining to you that you have caused no insult. We do not have concepts of incest as you do as we do not have a gender except for the queen. Simply preference of host. There is no danger of genetic mutation though there is still a deeper bond between Lantash and myself that has deepened due to our common goals as Tok'ra. It has no romantic interest in it. Martouf, however...*
Amy blushed deeper at the thoughts Qesir had about Martouf.
*I was most pleased when I saw my brother's new host. I speak with Lantash often now just so that I may enjoy the view.*
Amy closed her eyes, shaking her head.
A single soft touch on her chin caused her to shyly meet the smiling eyes of the Tok'ra in front of her.
"There is no shame here, Amy. You will become accustomed to Qesir's sense of humor. Then you will ignore her as I do."
Qesir's indignation made Amy's eyes sparkle at the teasing tone.
"She wants Martouf's body."
Lantash laughed, stepping back so as not to startle Amy and this time, he felt Martouf stir.
*Did I hear her correctly or was I still sleeping?*
*Qesir has merged fully with Amy, allowing easy conversation.*
*So what she said...*
*I did tell you Qesir seemed unusually talkative when we infiltrated Heru'hur's domain.*
*You did not think about her being interested in me in such a way.*
*I had informed her that our mate was alive. She would have made no request of you even had Jolinar not survived. Not as long as she was in the slave.*
*No longer a slave*
*No, though what she knows of the Tok'ra could cause us much damage.*
*If we send her to the planet the humans send their refugees to...*
*That is a possibility.*
Amy watched the look of intense concentration shadow Lantash's features and thought about how strange this was.
Her mind still refused to accept some things and simply couldn't grasp other things, though Qesir said it was just an adjustment period and was expected.
*Do not think about what you have left behind.*
*I know. I'm trying not to.*
*Your mother and brother could not be told. The Tau'ri have kept the Chaapa'ai a secret too long to simply allow it out like that. It was poorly managed.*
*I think so too.*
Amy wrinkled her nose at Qesir's implication, but jerkily pushed her mind back so that Qesir could take control.
"Lantash, how long until Selmac joins us?"
"Two days at the most. Then we will leave."
Qesir smiled at her brother, knowing he was most impatient to be with his mate, especially since Jolinar was in danger from the chemicals the implants seemed to release.
"We will recover Jolinar."
"I am aware of this."
Qesir smiled and walked beside her brother, enjoying the moment.
* * * * * *