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10 December 2011 @ 06:56 pm
Fic: Endurance Past the Point (3 of 19)  
Summary, notes, and warnings are located in the Table of Contents.

Part 3
Sam blinked slowly against the harsh light. It felt like moving sandpaper across her eyes. Her tongue felt too large for her mouth and swallowing was painful. Signs of severe dehydration, she thought to herself.  Lacking the energy to even sit up, she looked around only to see the same four stone walls, floor and ceiling.  In the first days of her captivity she had explored every inch of this cell multiple times, looking and feeling for any access hatch or circuit board.  There was a door; she knew that from his frequent visits.  But she could not find any mechanism to operate it from inside.  Not that she would be able to operate anything at this point.  She took a slow deep breath, her lungs feeling heavy and sluggish.  
In this room, she had lost all track of time, but she was sure that no one had come even to torment her in over a day.  Closing her eyes to avoid the pain of the futile blinking, she waited.  At first, she had been waiting for her chance to escape.  Then she was waiting for her team to come rescue her.  Now, she was resigned to waiting for death.
The sound of the door opening pulled her unwillingly to consciousness once again.  Prying her eyes open, she saw him standing there again.  Ugallu.  The Goa'uld stood looking down at her for a minute, a look of disgust on his face.  In his hands, he carried a small cup and plate.  Despite herself, Sam found herself making a noise of anticipation at the sustenance he appeared to be holding.  Weakly, she tried to push herself to a sitting position.
“No, no, Samantha,” Ugallu said in the reverberating Goa'uld voice.  “You have been too stubborn.  It is time that you give us something.  In return for which, you get these.”
Falling back to the floor, Sam groaned as she felt the impact.  Pain flared through her whole body at the effort and subsequent failure.  She panted shallowly as she looked up.  From the innocent questions regarding gender and social structures on Earth in their first interactions, he had quickly moved on to questions regarding her knowledge of Earth’s defenses, especially Stargate protocols.  Stubbornly, she shook her head.
Suddenly, Ugallu knelt beside her, taking care to hold the precious food and water just out of reach.  “You are dying.  I hold here your only chance for survival.  Will you not tell me just one little piece of information?  Just tell me your iris code and you will be rewarded.  Surely there is no harm in that.  They’ll have already changed it.”  His lowered his voice until it was hypnotic, seductive.
Sam laughed inwardly.  Did he think she was that stupid?  Interrogation 101: get the subject to give you information that seems worthless.  Once they’ve started talking, you raise the stakes. 
It’s much harder to refuse to answer subsequent questions after you’ve already responded once.
Again, she slowly shook her head, ignoring the room spinning around her.  “Not even to save your life?” he asked again.  Looking in her eyes, he saw her resolve.  Smiling, he rose to his feet and headed back toward the doorway, where ubiquitous Jaffa guards stood.  Sam relaxed infinitesimally.  This would all end soon.  She had passed the ultimate test.  She idly wondered if Colonel O’Neill would be proud of her for not breaking or pissed at her for getting herself captured and killed. 
Probably pissed, she had just decided when she heard it.  “Major, you held on.  You did your job.”  O’Neill’s voice was so clear, she found herself looking around for him, but there was just Ugallu walking toward the door. 
Suddenly he stopped, his face a parody of surprise as he turned to face her again.  “I’ve just remembered.  I can put you into the sarcophagus.  Bring you back for another try.”  He chuckled at the look of horror that crossed her face.  “But have a nice death this time.”  And he swept out the door, leaving her alone, dying, and hopeless with a new fear.  How many times can I do this?
Jacob Carter stepped through the wormhole into the SGC gateroom.  It had taken several days for him to extract himself from his assignment once the Tok’ra had first received the message from Hammond requesting his presence.  There was very little information, except for a request for anything they knew about a new Goa'uld presence, possibly calling himself Ugallu. 
Jacob saw Hammond and O’Neill waiting for him at the bottom of the ramp.  As he approached, he noted their identical looks of fatigue and a deep dread settled over him.  “George,” he questioned without even saying hello.  “Where’s Sam?”
The two SGC men started walking.  “Jacob, why don’t you come up to the briefing room?” 
Silently, the Tok’ra followed them into the hallway and up the stairs where he found Daniel and Teal’c already seated at the table.  He took a seat and waited just long enough for Hammond to be seated before bursting out, “Where is my daughter?”
“She was captured by Jaffa wearing the symbol that we sent through to the Tok’ra.  Dr. Jackson has tentatively associated with an ancient Mesopotamian god, Ugallu.  Is this a Goa'uld that the Tok’ra are familiar with?”
Jacob’s eyes widened as he connected what he was being told with the information the Tok’ra had gathered on Ugallu.  A slight dip of the head and a quick glow in the eyes let them know that  Selmak was taking over. 
“General Hammond, Colonel O’Neill, Jacob needs a moment.  I will converse with you for the time being.  There is very little recent information among the Tok’ra about Ugallu, but we have compiled what we can.
“Most Goa'uld view their hosts’ bodies merely as vessels; they do not interact with their hosts.  They pay very little attention to the sensations experienced by their human host.  Ugallu was reputed to take great delight in the sensory experiences of his host.  He enjoyed tactile sensations and scents and would often pursue situations in which he could experience new sensations.  It was for these predilections that he was ultimately exiled by the System Lords centuries ago.”
Daniel looked around.  So far, it sounded fairly innocuous, albeit rather unusual.  Teal’c was looking perplexed.  But Jack and the general both looked like they were waiting for the other shoe to drop.  And drop it did.
“He took a perverse pleasure in torture, his quest to experience new sensations often leading to his utilizing more primitive means of torture in addition to the typical Goa'uld pain sticks and hand devices.  He was known to keep a population of slaves for the express purpose of practicing these more hands-on techniques.”
A chill settled over everyone.  “He probably didn’t get to take his slaves when he was exiled, huh?” Daniel speculated. 
Selmak answered, “He did take a handful of loyal Jaffa with him, but no human slaves.”
Teal’c spoke up.  “Without humans to serve as hosts, the larvae that the Jaffa carried would die.”
Selmak nodded.  “As would the Jaffa themselves.  The System Lords felt that this was a fitting punishment.  To have his playthings stripped away bit by bit.”
“But now he’s got a brand new test subject,” Jack said bitterly.  Memories of his months in Iraq fueled his imagination even as he fought mental images of what could be happening to his 2IC right now. 
Trying to keep everyone from spiralling down a futile road, Hammond asked, “Where is he now?  Obviously, he has escaped his exile.”
Jacob’s face looked drawn as he reasserted himself.  “We don’t know. The Tok’ra were, quite frankly, baffled when they saw Jaffa still carrying his symbol.  It was the first that anyone has heard of him since his exile.  I’ll have to go back.  We are searching for him already, but I think I may need to motivate them a little bit.”  He looked around the table at the members of his daughter’s team.  He couldn’t remove the edge from his voice as he asked, “How did this happen?  Jack, how could you leave her behind?  You of all people...”
“I wasn’t there!” Jack burst out, slamming his hands down on the table.  Everyone at the table could hear the self-recrimination behind his words.  “I wasn’t there,” he said more quietly staring at his hands. 
Hammond cut in.  “Jacob, Sam was filling in on SG-5 on a standard recon mission.  They encountered Jaffa on the planet and there was a firefight.  I was the one who okayed her assignment and I was the one who made the decision to call the rest of the team back; one was already dead and the other two were injured.  If you have anything to say, you say it to me.”
Jacob looked at his old friend, desperate to lash out in fear for his daughter, yet cognizant of the fact that he would have done nothing differently.  “I’m sorry, George, Jack.”  He looked at them each in turn.  “I’m going to leave now and begin directing the search for Ugallu.  If we find anything more, I will make sure you get word immediately.”
Jack followed Jacob down to the gateroom.  As the inner circle started to spin, he opened his mouth to speak, then closed it.  There was no way he could ask Carter’s father what he wanted to know.  Trying again, he said, “Hey Jacob, can I talk to Selmak?”
The former general looked at Jack with pain in his eyes.  He could see the agonizing question on his face.  He put a hand on the younger man’s shoulder.  “Jack, I don’t know what he did with the women.  Given what we know, I can’t imagine...”  He stopped, took a deep breath.  “We’ve just got to get her back.”
A grinding noise echoed in her ears as she slowly became aware.  A widening stream of light fell across her face as the lid of the sarcophagus opened above her.  An analysis of her condition revealed that she felt significantly better; the obvious impact of the organ damage from her prior dehydration seemed to have been healed, but she was surprised to find herself still ravenously hungry.  Apparently, the sarcophagus could repair damage but couldn’t create food or nutrients.  She grimaced.  Nothing like starting behind the eight ball, she thought wryly.
Suddenly a shadow loomed into her vision, followed quickly by Ugallu himself.  Instinctively, Sam scrambled to her feet, leaping out of the sarcophagus on the attack.  She lunged toward Ugallu, surprising him enough that she was able to land a solid punch to his face.  But before she could follow it up, he activated the hand device he was wearing and she found herself thrown backwards, losing consciousness as she slammed into the wall.
He stalked over to where she was sprawled on the floor.  He smiled as he settled himself beside her.  He grabbed her arm and examined it closely but could see no scar remaining under the ugly stitches.  Such primitive reparative techniques these human employ, he sneered as he began to pull the stitches loose.  He looked at the tiny holes left behind; they would be gone after her next session in the sarcophagus, but he had plans for her before then. 
He ran his fingers up and down her arms, feeling her skin warm and soft.  His hand moved to her face as he traced the outline of brows, her cheekbones, her lips.  He followed the line of her jaw down the soft skin of her neck, feeling her fragile life force pumping.  Lower he went, resting his hand so that he could feel the rise and fall of her chest under the tunic.  He traced the swell of her breasts, closing his eyes as his host’s body suddenly reminded him of the pleasures that he had taken all those years ago. 
He stood, still staring darkly at Sam.  “Take her to her cell and inform me the moment she wakes,” the Goa'uld ordered his attendant Jaffa.  “I look forward to our next visit.”
It had become a ritual for the three of them to meet in Sam’s lab every night.  No one thought of going home.  None of them had seen Earth’s surface in over a week.  Some nights they would talk aimlessly about nothing; some nights the words just wouldn’t come and they would sit in silence, pooling their strength to face the next day.  Jack was always the last to leave.  Daniel strongly suspected that he had spent more than one night sleeping in Sam’s office chair. 
The night after Jacob’s visit was particularly somber.  None of them left the lab that night, staying here in her domain, where she belonged, wrapped in their own torturous thoughts, each refusing to allow sleep to deliver them to the nightmares they knew awaited. 
She braced one hand against the wall as her perpetually empty stomach tried to turn itself inside out.  She could hear him laughing even as the door was closing.  After the spasms passed, she tore off a piece of the tunic, now gathered around her waist, and carefully wiped away the semen and blood coating her thighs.  She looked blankly at the now damp cloth in her hand, surprised when her hand started shaking.  Throwing it away from her with what little strength she had, she jerkily rearranged the tunic and curled up in a ball in the corner of the room as far from the door as she could manage, holding herself tightly to try to stop the shaking that had now taken over her whole body.
It was twenty-five days before Jacob returned.  Twenty-five long nights where Jack’s sleep was filled with nightmares where he watched helplessly as his 2IC, his friend, was tortured mercilessly and he wasn’t there to help her.  Twenty-five long days in which Jack tried not to be resentful of other SG teams going about normal business.  Everyone had standing orders to keep their eyes and ears open for any mention of Sam or Ugallu, but the business of the SGC could not grind to a halt for one missing officer.  Hammond had at least taken pity on him and was now allowing him to travel with Teal’c or Daniel.  The two of them were visiting every ally possible in hopes of discovering some new information.  No one had any.
Jack was waiting with Hammond at the bottom of the ramp when Jacob came through.  It was evident that the stress had been weighing heavily on Jacob as well over the past weeks, but Jack didn’t care.  “It’s been weeks, Jacob,” he said in lieu of hello.  “Please tell me you’ve found something.”
Hammond looked sharply at his subordinate, but Jacob held up a hand.  “It’s okay, George.”  To Jack he said, “It’s a big galaxy out there.  Selmak had to pull a lot of strings to get as many operatives working on this as we did.  But it was worth it and I do have news.  Why don’t you call the rest of your team so we can all talk about it?”
Jack nodded abruptly.  “We’ll meet you in the briefing room in five minutes.”
Jacob shook his head as he watched the younger man stride through the door.  “You’re not giving him enough to do, George.  He looks like he’s going to explode.”
Hammond indicated that they should head up to the briefing room themselves.  “Until we get Sam back, he won’t do anything that isn’t related to finding her, Jacob.  You know that.  I’ve had to be damn careful where I’ve sent him the last few weeks.  Jack exploding in the wrong place could earn us even more troubles than we already have.” 
Jacob replied dryly, “He’s quite a dedicated CO.”  He tried to gauge his friend’s reaction.  God knows Sam would never tell him if there was something more than professional in her relationship with Jack O’Neill.  But he had wondered about the two of them for a while now.  And the haunted look in Jack’s eyes just now spoke volumes. 
Hammond kept a neutral face as he replied, “Yes, he is.”
Before anything more could be said, they heard the tromping of combat boots as Jack nearly vaulted himself up the stairs, followed soon thereafter by Daniel and Teal’c.  They all took seats at the table and looked expectantly at Jacob.
“Well, I’ll get right to it,shall I?”  He sat down as well.  “Ugallu is definitely out of exile and it looks like he wants to become a power again.  With a little bit of luck, we believe that we have identified the planet where he is currently staying.”
“You ‘believe?’” Daniel interrupted. 
“Yes, Dr. Jackson.  Given the urgency of this situation, we did not have time to perform as thorough a reconnaissance as we would have liked.  It is also difficult to plant a Tok’ra operative as Ugallu is the only Goa'uld present in the facility at the moment.  Their presence would likely be detected.”  Daniel nodded.
“We can give you a general description of the size of the encampment, but have no first-hand knowledge of the interior.  At this point, we have only noted a small contingent of Jaffa activity there.  It is our belief that their defenses will be low if we move soon.”
Jack shook his head.  “How did you get this information?  It sounds like nothing more than you’re hoping he’s there, you’re hoping she’s there, you’re hoping that we don’t all get killed going in!  What, did you guys just pick a planet at random and say, ‘This must be it!’?”
“Colonel, that’s enough.  We all are sensitive to the stresses of having a member of your team in enemy hands.  But I would like to remind you that you are talking to a decorated former member of our Armed Forces as well as Major Carter’s father!  Do you really think that Jacob would be here if he didn’t believe this was our best chance at this time?”
Jack looked like he wanted nothing more than to lash out at the general as well.  For a few seconds the two men stared at each other, neither backing down.  Jack’s mind was racing, his heart pounding.  Finally, Hammond’s words penetrated the fog of adrenaline and he closed his eyes. 
Taking a deep breath, he turned to Sam’s father.  “I apologize, Jacob.”  He would deal with the fallout from his commander later.  “You really think this is it?”  Jacob nodded.  “Okay, then.  Let’s make some plans.”
The Tok’ra grimaced.  “This is where the bad news comes in.  There’s no stargate on the planet.”  Jack’s muttered “Of course not,” was ignored by most everyone at the table.  “There is a planet relatively nearby with a gate and the Tok’ra are willing to send a ship to transport your people from that planet to Ugallu’s.  It will take several days for the ship to be in position.”
Everyone surreptitiously looked at Jack, waiting for another explosion at the delay.  Even without the current stress, his dislike for the Tok’ra and their priorities was well-known.  Instead, he simply leaned forward and said, “So we’ve got some time to get this right.”
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