“The end excuses any evil.”
It all began with a reasonable request following her father’s death.
“Colonel Carter, with your permission we would like to perform an autopsy on your father and Selmak. It is customary when a Tok’ra does not fall in the course of their duty.”
“Certainly,” Sam replied to Anise, as it was such a very reasonable request.
She knew very well that it wasn’t often a Tok’ra died of old age. Then again, Selmak had lived several thousand years without the benefit of a sarcophagus, and her father hadn’t exactly been a healthy young man when they had blended. If it would ease the minds of Selmak’s kin, then she saw no reason to deny the request.
They weren’t joking when they said ignorance is bliss.
The last thing Sam expected to hear were Anise's words: “We are very sorry to inform you that Selmak was poisoned.”
That was General O’Neill. Sam’s brain didn’t even want to process what Anise had just said, much less respond to it. She barely felt the hand on her knee that was supposed to be discreetly comforting.
“Selmak was killed with the symbiote poison.”
“I thought it killed instantaneously?”
Anise focused on the general. “It seems to have been delivered in very small doses over a long period of time, so no one would suspect - not even Selmak.”
“Then it would have to be a Tok’ra, right?”
“Unfortunately, that seems very likely. Selmak and Jacob had not been on a mission in some time.”
“The poison is a gas. If it was a Tok’ra, wouldn’t it have affected the poisoner too?”
“I believe the poison was administered in a liquid form. Perhaps put in their food or drink.”
Sam finally found her voice, but it was little more than a ragged whisper. “Do you know who could have done this?”
“The most likely suspect would be Ren’al. She worked quite extensively developing the poison, but she may be merely the pawn. I fear there are many who mistrust the Tau’ri and seek to break all alliances.”
“Freya and I are deeply ashamed that one of my people has cost you your father, Colonel Carter.”
Sam could only nod her acceptance of their condolences.
“Anise, is there any way we can just keep this information between us at the moment?” General O’Neill asked. “I need to speak to my superiors about this. They’ll be very upset to hear our ambassador was murdered.”
“I understand, General. I will keep my silence, and I will give you a copy of my findings if you would like. Please understand that most Tok’ra would not condone an action such as this.”
“Thank you, Anise.”
She could feel the power coursing through her and she hadn’t even used it yet. It was intoxicating.
“Sir!” She guiltily hid the hand wrapped in the ribbon device behind her back. “You startled me.”
“Sorry.” He leaned against her workbench with deceptive casualness. “Carter, you are aware that I get notified every time that vault is opened, right?”
“I didn’t think-”
He cut her off. “I think you’d better start. That’s what you’re good at. This,” he motioned to her gold covered hand and the components scattered across the table, “isn’t you.”
He left her staring after him. The problem was, she had thought about it. She thought about all the times the Tok’ra had screwed them over, how they had manipulated them to their own ends. They may have opposed the System Lords and their ways, but that didn’t make them any less dangerous. She’d had one of them in her. She knew how they thought. With the Goa’uld empires crumbling, she knew where their attention would next be focused: the Tau’ri.
Only a couple of days after her father’s memorial service, Sam suggested a trip to the Alpha Site to log some time on the F-302s and maintain her certification. Everyone agreed it was a good idea for her to have a change of scenery. Sam purposely scheduled her trip for a day General O’Neill would not be on base. He'd know the moment he saw her that that trip was not merely to log some flight time.
She stood at the gate ready to head out, and had to stop herself from gazing around the familiar Gate Room. Its cement walls would be the last view she had of Earth.
The final chevron locked and the wormhole kawooshed out. She looked up to the control room. Colonel Reynolds spoke into the microphone. “You’re good to go, Colonel.”
She gave a brief nod of thanks, and stepped through the wormhole.
They had an X-302 already prepped for her when she arrived, and she went immediately to the hanger to do the preflight check of the fighter. Satisfied that it was in perfect order, Sam climbed the ladder up to the cockpit. She nearly lost her footing and tumbled down when she saw the man sitting in the second seat.
“Thought you night need a second, Carter.”
“You shouldn’t be here, sir.”
“C’mon, Carter. You really think I don’t know what’s going on in that head of yours?”
She eyed him calmly. “You’re not going to stop me.”
It was a long flight to the planet where Ren’al’s laboratory was hidden. The atmosphere in the cockpit was tense with unspoken thoughts and questions.
If Jack had really wanted to stop her, he could have done so. He could have stopped her on any number of occasions. It hadn’t taken him very long to figure out what she was up to. At first, he'd thought it was merely the frustration of waiting for the powers that be to make a decision on what course to take with the Tok’ra, following Jacob’s assassination. After he had caught her with the ribbon device, he'd realized how serious she was, but had hoped his subtle warning had been enough to deter this course of action. It hadn’t. He could have stopped her at the Alpha Site - zatted her and locked her up if he had to.
He didn’t, though.
Jack, of all people, understood grief and grudges. There were times when he wondered if his own darkness had somehow tainted her during their years of working closely together. The Carter he’d met more than eight years ago would have never done this. She would have waited for the course of justice, no matter how ponderous and potentially ineffective.
“Go ahead and say it, sir. I know you want to.”
“You don’t have to this. There are other ways.”
“I know, but I have to do this.”
“It’s not like I have a whole lot left to lose, sir. I broke up with Pete. Teal’c is on Dakara. Daniel’s… gone.”
Jack sat and stared at the back of her helmet for a long while, before finally giving voice to the question he was loath to ask- both hating the neediness of it, and afraid of her answer. “What about me?”
A bitter laugh bubbled out of her. “You’ve moved on, too.”
“I’m here, aren’t I?”
“To stop me.”
“Then why are you here?”
Jack leaned his head back and stared at the passing stars through the canopy. He let out a ragged breath. “I don’t know anymore.”
It was a surprisingly simple thing to find Ren’al. Anise had provided the location of the planet where her secret lab was based. Sam had been a little shocked to realize that it was still in the place it had been since before Jolinar died. The lab’s location was known to very few, as it was used to create bioweapons for the war against the Goa’uld. She was afraid to think what it would be used for now that the Goa’uld had been all-but defeated and were close to extinction. Using Jolinar’s memories, she and the General easily bypassed the security measures. Fortunately, Ren’al was alone and was easily subdued.
General O’Neill was a silent looming presence beside her as she questioned the Tok’ra. A dark part of Sam - the part that was lusting for revenge - hoped Ren’al would not give up her answers easily.
“You know why I’m here,” Sam began.
“I do not.” Ren’al met her gaze unflinchingly. She was kneeling in front of Sam, her hands bound behind her back.
“My father and Selmak are dead.”
“That is a grave loss to our cause.” There wasn’t a lot of sympathy in the Tok’ra’s voice.
“Tell me about the symbiote poison.”
“You are as familiar with it as I. Your people have the ability to synthesize it.”
“Tell me about the liquid form of the poison.”
“I know not of what you speak.”
“I think you do. Selmak was killed using the liquid form of the poison.”
“You must be misinformed.”
“Tell me who murdered my father and Selmak.”
“I suppose it is natural that a grieving daughter would seek a cause for her father’s death, but I assure you he was not killed by the Tok’ra.”
“You know, and I will make you tell me.”
There was an arrogant smirk from the Tok’ra. “You cannot force me to tell you anything.”
“Sir?” Sam glanced over her shoulder at the general. “I think it’s time for plan B.”
He opened one of the packs they’d brought with them and pulled out a ribbon device.
Sam held out her hand and he slipped it on her. She turned back to Ren’al. The Tok’ra did not look impressed. Sam extended her arm and held her gold-clad hand in front her prisoner. “I know what you’re thinking, but this isn’t your run of the mill ribbon device. I've modified it. I think you Tok’ra are well aware of just what I can do with a piece of technology.”
“I’d tell her what she wants to know if I were you.” General O’Neill spoke up for the first time during the interrogation. “It’s not going to be pretty.”
When Jack had said it wasn’t going to be pretty, he hadn’t quite anticipated the Tok’ra’s head exploding.
Carter’s eyes were wide with shock when she turned to him, blood and bits of gore covering her hair and face. “That wasn’t supposed to happen,” she told him, sounding vaguely disappointed.
He wondered if the disappointment was over the malfunction of the new and improved ribbon device, or the fact that the interrogation was over. It frightened him a little to think that the later was true. Carter had gotten most of the information she was looking for early on, but she hadn’t been satisfied with a quick death.
“Go and get cleaned up, Carter,” he told her. “I’ll take care of this.”
She nodded and headed of down one of the crystalline hallways.
Jack pulled out a zat and fired at the corpse three times. While the body disintegrated, a lot of blood remained - but he didn’t bother with it. He left the room and went into the main lab to wait for Carter.
She came to him later with a dark passion that he couldn’t refuse. He hadn’t been able to refuse her the revenge she sought, and he couldn’t refuse her this. He didn’t seem to be able to refuse her anything.
In the aftermath, she lay in his arms, exhausted from a day of torturing a former ally and a night of fucking her CO.
She had called him ‘sir’.
And it hadn’t sounded as naughty and kinky as he’d always imagined it would. It gave him a queasy, disappointed feeling, like she was called out another man’s name.
He lay awake wondering at the power this woman had over him. He had given her everything he had to give, and she couldn’t even call him by his name.
The interrogation of Ren’al and the information that they had found in her lab had confirmed Sam’s fears. The deaths of Selmak and her father had been the first step in a wide-ranging plan to make sure the Tau’ri were kept in check. For the first time in several centuries, all the Tok’ra were gathering to discuss their future. Sam intended to end that threat, once and for all.
She told General O’Neill of her plan to infiltrate the base using a version of Nirrti’s invisibility cloak that she had integrated into her ribbon device. Then she would release the symbiote poison during the gathering.
“What about the ones that aren’t in on this like Anise? And what about the hosts?” he asked, to her surprise.
She shrugged. “Collateral damage.”
His raised his eyebrows in disbelief.
“What do you care, sir?” she asked sharply. “You’ve never cared for the snakes in any form. And look what Kanan did to you.”
He closed his eyes and sighed.
She felt a little ashamed of herself for bringing up Kanan and the memories the name brought to mind. She reached out and covered his hand. “You don’t have to come, sir,” she said gently.
He opened his eyes and met her determined gaze. “We should blow the place afterward.”
Maybe she’d seen Kill Bill one too many times, but she never expected her path to revenge to end so quietly and bloodlessly. Once she released the gas, the Tok’ra merely toppled over and died, virtually soundlessly.
“Guess that’ll teach them to drink the grape Kool Aid.”
She looked up as General O’Neill strolled into the meeting chamber of the Tok’ra base, and surveyed the array of bodies. He stopped beside her and handed her a couple of blocks of C4.
She waited until they were in the air before hitting the detonator.
General O’Neill was piloting, and she was able to watch the way the ground swelled up with the force of the explosion.
It was over.
She had avenged her father, and prevented the Tok’ra from turning their attention to the Tau’ri.
She thought she’d feel a greater sense of satisfaction.
“What now?” the general asked.
“I don’t know. I didn’t think that far ahead.”