Author: Jo Raine (Celievamp) (

Pairing: Sam/Vala

Rating: MATURE

DISCLAIMER: I only borrowed them for a while. MGM and whoever can have them back whenever they want.

ARCHIVE: Dark Matter, Area 52, Passion & Perfection. Anyone else, just ask.

Spoilers: Prometheus Unbound

Written for the Femslash Advent Calendar 2006: The Dog Days of Summer
Date in Calendar: 20 June 2006

Summary: Sam figures that she should stick to traveling by Stargate when she finds herself alone yet again on a hijacked Prometheus.

A retelling of the Season 8 Story Prometheus Unbound. Thanks to Stargate Wiki for the Transcript. And Claudia Black for the delight that is Vala. I have also re-used elements of my earlier story “A Face from the Past”.

And of course thanks to my love for her continuing encouragement.


Sam figured that the General thought she needed some time out to get over what had happened with her Replicator double – Replicarter as he insisted on calling it – which was why he hadn’t hollered too loud when General Hammond had commandeered her for the trip to the Pegasus Galaxy. And with Hammond commanding the Prometheus for this trip, he knew there would be someone looking out for her.

Daniel was generous in defeat. Sam knew just how desperate he had been to go on the Atlantis trip even though his chances of overcoming Jack O’Neill’s insistence that he was staying put were almost nil. And the thought of all that Ancient technology in situ made her salivate as well.

She had thought that O’Neill would make her stay as well. But he seemed to think a little distance between the two of them would be a good idea as well. And the Pegasus Galaxy might just be far enough away for them not to have to deal with whatever it was they had between them.

Janet had known all about it. “He loves you.”

“Does not,” Sam said, automatically. “Can’t… regulations.”

“Regulations… Jack O’Neill? Yeah, right,” Janet snorted. “Anyway, what’s your excuse?”

Sam couldn’t answer that. She could talk to Janet Fraiser about most things but not about this. She had known almost from Day One on the Stargate project that Jack O’Neill cared for her a lot more than he should. And Sam cared for him as well, only not in the same way. There had always been someone else for her, someone equally unattainable, someone even more against the regulations. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Janet was a good friend, the best friend Sam Carter had ever had. And Sam was not about to jeopardize that friendship in the hope of something more physical. Not with her record in the romance stakes.

But it was getting harder and harder to resist the diminutive physician. Perhaps some time away on the Prometheus to clear her head and get some focus would be for the best.


Sam tried not to think of her record on board the Prometheus. It couldn’t happen again, surely. She found she was looking forward to a nice, quiet trip. A fair number of the scientists on board the Prometheus were civilian, former employees of Alec Colston. They had been on a very steep learning curve these last few months but most had settled in to life at the SGC and aboard the Prometheus pretty well.

Sam had worked closely with Dr Lindsey Novak in particular. The woman was brilliant but desperately uncertain about herself and her place in this ‘exalted’ company. She had been particularly nervous around Sam for the first couple of weeks but had at last begun to settle a little, though any sign of General Hammond sent her scuttling for cover. By her own admittance, she didn’t do well in stressful situations. Her understanding of the Asgard hyperdrive and systems were second only to Sam’s. And she found the woman’s enthusiasm and neuroses… endearing.

Sam was in the lab she had commandeered when she heard the alert. Old habits died hard. She was on her feet and out the door heading towards the bridge before the message had finished broadcasting.

She passed Novak in the corridor, snagging the woman to come with her. Reynolds, Harriman and General Hammond were already in the command area. “We’re picking up what sounds like a distress call,” Hammond told her.

Sam knew that they were still in their own galaxy. Sergeant Harriman played back the signal for her. It was a voice message, badly distorted and breaking up but the voice was definitely that of a woman.

“Help… Require Assistance… have failed… lost power to… repeat, stranded and…”

“She sounds human,” Sam said. “Sir…”

“I know. We have to render assistance.” Hammond turned to Walter Harriman. “How far away is it?”

“The message is originating just over fifty light years off our designated route,” the sergeant reported. We could be there in… twenty minutes.”

“Set a course,” Hammond ordered.

Twenty minutes later they emerged from hyperspace to find two smaller ships adrift in space in front of them. “Set shields at maximum. Arm weapons,” Hammond saw no harm in being cautious.

“Looks like an Al'kesh and a cargo ship,” Major Reynolds identified the ships.

“Scans indicate they've suffered significant damage. The distress signal is originating from within the Al'kesh,” Harriman said.

Sam wondered if it was a trap. She tried to get a clear scan for lifesigns but the damage to the ships made that difficult. There was too much interference. The Goa’uld used human slaves to crew their ships. Perhaps there had been an uprising.

“Open a channel,” Hammond ordered. Harriman indicated that the communication channel was active. “This is General George Hammond of the Earth vessel Prometheus. We are answering your distress call and standing ready to assist you.”

“We can transport a portable sensor unit on board to determine life support viability,” Harriman said. Sam was already programming one ready for it to be beamed aboard the ship. Reynolds meanwhile was persuading the General to salvage the Al’kesh.

Hammond authorized Reynolds to try and salvage the Al’kesh, recognizing its potential value. Sam moved to join SG-3, her experience with Goa’uld technology would be invaluable but General Hammond indicated that he wished her to stay on the Prometheus.

She stood beside Hammond, listening to Reynold’s report from the Al’kesh. “General, we’re seeing some energy weapon damage… and we’re starting to find bodies. Jaffa, by the look of it. KIA. Four of ‘em. Looks like these folks had a little on-board firefight. Still no sign of life. We’re heading to the bridge…” Sam glanced at Hammond as they clearly heard the sound of transporter rings activating over the radio link. “Prometheus… someone just activated the…” The link went dead.

“Colonel Reynolds, say again!” Hammond glanced at Sam who was scanning the telemetry from the Al’kesh.

“Sir, our rings just activated,” Harriman reported. “I can’t…” His instrument panel remained stubbornly uncommunicative, the screens showing only static. He glanced across at Sam. All she could do was shake her head and shrug. She wasn’t getting any better answers.

“Internal communications are down,” she said. ‘Its me’, she thought. ‘I’m jinxed. I should never have let the General persuade me to come on this jaunt. I should have let Daniel go instead. He would have got as much out of the trip as me, he is the expert on the Ancients after all.’

“Colonel Carter, take a team, see if you can find out what’s going on,” Hammond ordered. “Dr…”

“Dr Novak, sir,” Novak answered, already twisting her hands nervously. She hiccupped softly.

“Get these sensors working,” Hammond looked intent. “I want to know what the hell’s going on on my ship! Sergeant, initiate emergency lockdown.”

Sam paused to lay a reassuring hand on the woman’s shoulder as she passed, two SFs falling into step behind her as they headed towards the room where the transporter rings were housed on level four of the ship.

Sam knew that the best chance of regaining control of the ship was from the engine room. She was running down the corridor when her worst nightmare suddenly rounded the corner. A Kull Warrior. ‘Holy Hannah not again!’ she thought frantically, throwing herself to the floor as the Warrior fired, taking down the SFs accompanying her. Sam rolled, scrambled to her feet and dashed up an adjacent corridor. Her mind tried to process what she had just seen and she paused. The Kull Warrior had used a zat rather than its own formidable weaponry. Perhaps it had been damaged in the firefight on the Al’kesh. Which meant that the SFs might just be stunned. She hadn’t heard a second round of firing. They had seen evidence before that Kull Warriors would ignore anything that was not their primary target as long as they didn’t try to impede their progress to that target.

The Kull Warrior ignored her and continued on its way towards the Bridge. Sam closed her eyes, trying to get her breathing under control and banish the unwelcomingly vivid flashback of stumbling for days through the scrub forest of what had been the Alpha site with one of those things after her, intent on her death and nothing else. Obviously this time she was not the target. But something or someone on the Prometheus was. She headed towards an access hatch and started to climb up, heading towards the armory where they had a stock of modified TERS that should stop the Kull Warrior in its tracks.

Internal communications and sensors were still down. She had no clue what was happening on the bridge. Prometheus actually seemed unnaturally quiet. Sam wondered how many of the crew the Kull Warrior had killed or incapacitated. All good people – most of them good friends. Resolve tightened her face. She set off towards the bridge.

She managed to make it to the Bridge without being detected. There were no signs of the crew – no bodies, no blood. Déjà vu assailed her – anyone started singing ‘twinkle twinkle’ and she would shoot first, ask questions later.

The Kull Warrior was working on propulsion. Sam raised the TERS and fired at the soldier. To her surprise and horror the gun had no effect. The Kull Warrior turned to look at her and raised a zat. Sam fired the TERS again but it was no use. “Crap…” she had time to whisper before the Warrior fired the zat. Sam felt the usual agonizing pain fire through her nervous system just before she lost consciousness.

Being hit by a zat blast was up there amongst Sam Carter’s least favourite activities. For some reason it always affected her particularly badly. She was usually down for a good ten to twenty minutes and not exactly firing on all cylinders for a couple of hours after that.

This time she woke up sitting in one of the command chairs on the Bridge, tied to it in fact with plastic restraints. The Kull Warrior was still working on the ship’s controls. Two blasts from the modified TERS should have put it down for good but it hadn’t even flinched. This was so not good news.

And why was she still alive? Not that she wasn’t grateful or anything but the Kull Warriors had shown no inclination towards taking prisoners in their previous encounters. The one that was hunting her had certainly been intent on her death. They weren’t usually the most talkative of opponents but she supposed it was worth a try.

“Hey, how’s it going?,” she asked with forced brightness. “Guess it’s just you and me, huh? It’s a little strange, isn’t it? You see that weapon I shot you with should have killed you.” The Kull Warrior ignored her. ” That’s what it’s designed to do… and I’ve just noticed but… aren’t you a little short for a Super Soldier? And… what’s even stranger is you guys don’t usually take prisoners either. I mean, it’s kinda kill first and… well, that’s generally just about it. Just the killing… I’ll just continue talking to myself here for a while because you guys aren’t usually that talk…” Sam paused, unable to repress a shudder as the Warrior turned to face her. To her surprise it spoke.

“You may prove useful.”

A Kull Warrior with the ability to think for itself beyond the absolute parameters of its mission. This was new. “Where’s everybody else?” she asked.

“I transported them to the Al’kesh,” the Kull Warrior said.

“Well you might as well send me there as well because you kept the wrong person. I don’t know anything about the ship,” Sam lied.

“But you are very beautiful.” The Kull Warrior came closer.

Sam flinched away. “What?”

The Warrior stepped up onto the platform to stand just in front of her. Sam tried to hide her alarm.

“Hey, you know, I’m flattered, really I am… it’s just that, uh, you’re not my type. And I’m more than a little disturbed that I might be yours.”

To her growing horror the Warrior began to remove its helmet. Having faced its white, translucent and singularly repulsive appearance once before, Sam had no real desire to do so again at close quarters and shut her eyes. “Oh no, you don’t have to do that… no… no…”

There was silence. Sam peeked, her eyes widening in amazement as she saw an attractive woman with storm blue eyes and dark hair tumbling around her shoulders. The stranger smiled.

“Don’t worry. I’m not going to hurt you… much, I hope.”

Many questions came to Sam’s mind as she stared up at the strange woman – how the hell she came to be wearing a Kull Warrior suit – and where had she got one to fit her in the first place. Was she working for Anubis? Who was she and why did she seem intent on stealing the Prometheus? Or was it Sam herself who was the target? She knew that several system lords had a price on her head – as a part of SG1 and because of her status as the last host of Jolinar of Melkshur.

The woman did not answer her questions, removing the super-Soldier armour until she was just in a one-piece undersuit. “I wish to send a long-range transmission using the communications systems.”

“Sorry, don’t have a clue,” Sam lied.

“You lie,” the woman smiled coldly.

“No… really, I…” Sam did not get any further. The woman slapped her across the face, hard.

“Hey!” Sam yelped indignantly. The woman came closer, smiling.

“Shall I kiss it better?” she whispered seductively.

Sam was way out of her depth with this woman. “No… just don’t do it again. Hey, look, even if I knew what it is you wanted me to do, what makes you think I’d tell you? How the hell do you think you can steal a ship when you don’t know how it works?”

“I got the sublight engines going,” the woman reminded her.

“Yeah, so you did,” Sam said thoughtfully. There was something about this woman, something almost familiar. As the dark haired woman drew nearer again, Sam realized what at least part of it was: the whisper of naquada. This woman had once hosted a symbiote.

“You really expect me to believe you don’t know how your own ship works?” the woman asked.

“I’m just a passenger,” Sam lied. “I don’t have any expertise here. When we get to where we were going, yes, but not here. My name is Dr Samantha Carter. I’m an astrophysicist from Earth… the Tau’ri?”

“You are a lot more than that,” Vala frowned. “I can sense…” She wound her fingers in Sam’s hair and pulled her head sharply forward so that she could examine the back of Sam’s neck. Sam felt a sharp tingling sensation as Vala’s fingers dug into the scar that was the legacy of her little adventure in Steveston. “I thought so.”

There was no way she was going to tell this woman about Jolinar. “We were on our way to rescue…”

“I really don’t care,” the woman said, leaving go of Sam’s hair and sitting in the command chair next to the one Sam was tied to. “You were once a host...”

“Yes, but only for a short time… look, this really isn’t necessary…”

Vala came close to slapping her again. She held out her hands in front of her mimicking two people talking to one another. “Can I have the ship? No. Okay. Discussion over.” In her frustration she slammed her hand down on the instrument panel in front of her. To Sam’s surprise a light begins to flash – communication systems were available. She would have to fix that particular quirk if she ever got out of this. “Oh… here we go.”

“Tenat of Oran. Tenat, this is Vala, if you can hear me please respond. I’ve managed to procure a vessel, bigger and better than what I had hoped for, Tenat, if you get this message, I apologise for the delay and will meet you at the designated coordinates in one day. Vala out.”

Sam listened to this in silence, her mind working on what she had learnt. The woman – Vala – was improvising as she went along. The plan to steal the Prometheus was at best a Plan B. That she had accomplished so much spoke volumes for her abilities in improvisation, daring and sheer guile. She was definitely an opponent to be reckoned with. She was also working for someone else – this Tenat of Oran. And whatever was going down was happening in a day’s time. So there was still hope she could take back control, lock up this lunatic woman in the brig and go back for the rest of the marooned crew. To that end she was rubbing the plastic tie that bound her right wrist to the chair against the edge of the stanchion.

Vala came back to stand in front of her. “Now, about the hyperdrive… Access is restricted by a code.”

Sam smiled. “Yeah. Too bad.” Without warning Vala fired an energy blast at her from the Super Soldier weapon she was wearing on her left arm. Sam bit back a scream as pain seared through her left shoulder. The blackened edges of a ragged hole in her t-shirt smoked.

“That hurts?” Vala smirked. Sam glared at her, breathing heavily. “I can fix it.” Vala held up her hand to show a device that was familiar if not to Sam then to Jolinar. It was a Goa’uld healing crystal, powerful enough to handle small, non-life threatening injuries. The question was – was Vala able to use it?

“I still don’t know the code!” she said between deep breaths, trying to control the pain. Vala smiled, moved to sit on the console in front of her, her touch deceptively gentle as she aimed the healing crystal at Sam’s shoulder and activated it. Within a few moments the wound – and the pain – disappeared.

“There. Feel better?” Vala smirked.

Sam stared at her. Vala was either a Goa’uld or had once been host to one. She watched as the self satisfied smirk faded.

“Like you, I was a host once,” she said softly. “It left me with some abilities.”

“You have naquada in your blood,” Sam said. “It lets you use their technology.”

“And you. Could you use this?” Vala asked, holding up the crystal.

Sam nodded. “I’ve made their technology work before,” she said. “Why do you need our ship? You must find it rather primitive compared to what you’re used to.”

“Well, in this case it’s the size that matters. Actually pretty much in every case,” she smirked again. Sam looked away, and then glared back at Vala as the woman began to caress Sam’s breasts in a way that left her intentions quite clear. “Tell me the code. Please.”

Sam could hardly breathe. “I don’t… I don’t know it.”

The woman pouted. “Fine.” Abruptly she got up from her seat, gave Sam a final glare and walked away.

Sam laid her head back against the head rest for a moment, trying to get her breathing – and her hormones – under control. Then she began to methodically saw through the plastic tie on her right wrist again. She could only begin to guess what might be happening with the rest of her crew abandoned on the Al’kesh. Between them, Novak and Harriman should be able to get the ship’s systems operational again and they had General Hammond with them. If anyone could get them out of this fix and keep them alive, he could.

She tried to figure out Vala’s next move. There was something about the woman that intrigued her… excited her. The shared experience of being a host was one thing, the sense of danger the woman exuded. And she was smart with it. She was probably trying to circumvent the control crystals for the hyperdrive. It was fiddly and potentially dangerous work if you didn’t know what you were doing but Sam did not make the mistake of underestimating the alien woman.

Suddenly the stressed tie snapped. Sam quickly released her other arm then massaged her sore wrists for a moment, getting the feeling back in her numb fingers before untying her feet and heading for the nearest weapons locker.

Vala was at the hyperdrive control panel. She had got as far as plotting a course.

“Lose the weapon, move away from the console,” Sam said.

“I like you better tied up,” Vala pouted.

“Against the wall,” Sam ordered. “Lose the weapon.” Vala removed the Kull Warrior weapon from her left arm, along with the glove underneath.

“This suit still absorbs zat blasts,” Vala helpfully reminded her. “So you should probably let me take it off.”

“I think I’ll turn the ship around first,” Sam said. She was pretty sure that the suit was a fake, though a good one. Kull Warriors tended to come in around a foot taller than this woman. A zat blast would probably incapacitate her.

Vala shrugged. “I don’t know. If I had me at gunpoint, that wouldn’t be my first choice.”

Sam shook her head. This woman was incredible. She moved over to the console and entered her security code. To her surprise and consternation it was rejected. Oh yes… she was hot and bright. And sneaky, Sam thought. If the situation was different, it could be love. “What’s going on?” she asked.

“Oh, I rewrote the access codes, so I’m the only one who can use the navigation systems,” Vala grinned cockily.

Given time Sam knew she could crack the encryption wide open, but that was time the rest of the crew didn’t necessarily have. “Undo it,” she ordered.

“Listen,” Vala said, the note of sincerity in her voice and in those deep blue eyes suddenly making Sam feel distinctly off balance. For a second she had a weird sense of déjà vu. “Hundreds of lives are at stake. I’m trying to save the last of my people and this ship is their only hope.”

Sam had just had an abject lesson in trusting her impressions of people when her encounter with Replicarter had gone south. She was not going to be fooled again. “Maybe if you’d mentioned that off the top,” she said somewhat acidly.

“Would you really have helped?” Vala asked.

“Look, as I tried to tell you earlier, we were also on a rescue mission…” Sam began before the proximity alarm went off.

”What is it?” Vala asked.

“A ship just appeared on our radar. It’s an Al’kesh…” Sam studied the readout wondering if it was the ship Vala had abandoned.

“This quadrant is crawling with Goa’uld vessels. Chances are it’s not your friends. I made sure that ship was fully disabled when you showed up.”

“We’ll see,” Sam said, configuring the sensors to scan the Al’kesh.

“We have to raise shields and arm weapons,” Vala continued as if Sam had not spoken.

Sam wondered which Goa’uld in particular this woman was running from. Given her winning personality she could have irked any number of people. “I’ll try and hail them first.” Her scans of the Al’kesh were inconclusive. As she walked past Vala, the woman kicked out, knocking the zat out of her hand then back-handing her across the face. Startled, Sam managed to deflect Vala’s second strike, smashing the other woman across the face with her elbow.

“Oh, oh, you hit me!” Vala cried. Sam stopped at her attack, staring at the other woman in amazement at the somewhat childish outburst.

“You hit me,” she reminded the other woman.

“Yeah, you know we could just have sex instead.” Vala’s grin was almost feral as Sam realized that she had been completely wrong-footed. Literally. Vala’s foot connected with her midriff, sending her sprawling into the console. As Vala moved in to consolidate her attack Sam managed to get a good handful of hair, pulling the now screeching woman to her knees. Vala retaliated, Sam jerking back reflexively as Vala’s elbow almost connected with her throat. She lost her balance and toppled over her, Vala moving to straddle her. Sam managed to kick her off, sending Vala crashing into a glass panel. Scrabbling, Vala unhooked a small fire extinguisher from the wall and attempted to smash it across Sam’s skull. Sam deflected the blow onto her forearm and shoulder, agonizing but not disabling. She staggered and Vala pushed her again, sending her sprawling over the console. Vala jumped on top of her but Sam managed to throw her off again but not before receiving another dizzying blow to the head. Vala leapt up, hanging off an overhead beam swinging her legs to kick Sam in the chest. Sam shouldercharged the woman as if she was a sparring bag, dragging her to the ground. Before Vala could react, Sam was sitting on her chest, her forearm clamped across the woman’s throat.

“Are… we… done?” Sam gasped. She couldn’t remember the last time she had had such a good workout and she had to admit that given the circumstances she was enjoying it a hell of a lot more than she should be. Half throttled, Vala could only nod. Sam eased up the pressure a little.

“You… know… the offer… of sex… still stands,” Vala choked out.

“Hit me or hit on me, you’re single minded, I’ll give you that,” Sam said. She brushed sweat and more than a little blood out of her eyes. She’d gained quite the laceration across her forehead at some point in their fight. She would need to doctor herself before too much longer.

“Can’t blame a girl for trying, not when the entertainment’s as good looking as you,” Vala grinned cheekily up at her. As Sam eased them both to their feet, Vala leaned in and tried to kiss her. Sam resisted at first, but the pull of the storm blue eyes became too much and she allowed the kiss.

What she realized was far too long a time later for her peace of mind where this strange woman was concerned, Sam pulled back. “This is insane,” she whispered. Again there was that weird sense of familiarity. Vala just pulled her towards her again, mischief lighting up her dark blue eyes.

“You’re right.” Without warning, the dark haired woman head butted her hard, sending Sam sprawling to the deck again, dazed and just about half blinded with pain. Without sparing her a second glance, Vala went back to the navigation controls. Sam crawled over to where she had dropped something earlier, her hand closing around the zat gun. Rolling onto her back she fired it at Vala, wincing as the woman hit the edge of the console hard as she went down. She’d been right about the suit – a fake. Sam tried to get up but as a wave of dizziness roiled over her decided just to stay at floor level for the time being.

Not for too long though, she couldn’t guarantee the stun effect of the zat lasting longer than about twenty minutes. Using the edge of a console as support she pulled herself to her feet and staggered over to where Vala lay sprawled on the deck.

She lifted Vala’s unconscious body until she was resting almost upright braced against the wall and then taking a deep breath managed to lift her over her shoulder in a fireman’s lift. Though the woman was an inch or two shorter there wasn’t much to choose between them weight wise and Sam knew that this was going to hurt very quickly. Luckily, the brig wasn’t that far away. Opening the door she unceremoniously dumped Vala inside and crouched against the wall for a moment to get her breath back and wait for the alarming reddish grey mist to fade from her vision. Once she was sure she wasn’t just going to join Vala in an unconscious heap on the floor she went to a nearby locker and secured the woman a change of clothing. Then she began to strip the woman of the remains of the supersoldier outfit, checking for hidden weaponry, firmly keeping her mind on the task at hand and not thinking at all about how it had felt to kiss the beautiful woman whose naked, toned body was displayed so invitingly in front of her. There was something strangely… familiar about this. Not just touching another woman’s body though Sam did prefer her partner’s to be conscious and responsive when that was happening, but touching this woman’s body.

“Don’t go there, Carter,” she warned herself softly. She tried to think of how she would like to be treated if the situation was reversed and act accordingly. It didn’t really help. Having checked as best as she could without getting too… invasive, that Vala was not carrying any concealed weapons she redressed the still unconscious woman in a blue flight suit and black boots before securing the brig and retreating to sick bay to treat her own minor injuries and recover her equanimity. Something about touching Vala kept setting off her ‘spidey sense’ and it wasn’t just that Vala was also a former host.

A few minutes later Sam was back on the bridge, monitoring the woman on the security camera as she regained consciousness and realized that she was in the Brig

“Ow. Oh, that's just great,” she heard the woman mutter, plucking at the utilitarian fabric of her jumpsuit in obvious distaste. She looked around the small room, homing in on the security camera.

“Yes, I can see and hear you,” Sam confirmed.

“Did you have fun taking off my clothes?” Vala asked, staring brazenly into the lens.

“It was your idea,” Sam reminded her.

“No, I meant when I was conscious, you know, so I could distract you and kick you in the head.”

“I kept my eyes closed the whole time,” Sam said, unable to resist a smirk.

“I’m sure you did,” Vala scoffed, then winced as her zat-induced headache reasserted itself.

Sam idly flicked her fingers at Vala’s head on the screen, desperately reminding herself that she was not supposed to like this woman in any way. Vala – if that really was her name - was the bad guy here, however charming, however beautiful and desirable and… Sam groaned, resting her head on the console in front of her trying to ignore the ache in her body that went far deeper than cuts and bruises and strained muscles. It had been far far too long.

“So, where are we going?” she asked.

“I told you, to save my people. Can you please let me out of here?”

Sam smiled, shook her head. “Oh… no, I don’t think so.”

Vala stared at the toilet seat for a moment, shrugged and sat down. The brig was beyond spartan; there really wasn’t anywhere else. “You know I haven’t eaten in days.”

Nope, not falling for that, Sam thought to herself. “Could you please tell me how to access the navigation controls.” It was beginning to bug the crap out of her that this woman had locked her out of her own damn system.

“It isn’t very nice, you know, starving a prisoner to death. Come on, you’ve seen me naked. The least you could do is to cook me dinner.”

Sam knew it was a monumentally stupid thing to do, that there was no way in Hades she could trust this woman with anything (except that weirdly she did) but still she found herself going down to the mess hall and preparing a simple meal before going down to the brig, zat prominently on display (she wasn’t suicidally stupid) and letting Vala out. It was surreal, sitting in the mess hall, watching this woman eat. And could she eat. There seemed to be some truth to her claim that she hadn’t eaten for days. Vala rolled an apple down the table towards her.

“Aren’t you hungry?” Sam just shook her head. Vala considered this for a moment, tearing off another hunk of bread and chewing it slowly. “You know the Tok’ra?”

“Yes,” Sam said.

“Ten years ago, a Tok'ra incited a rebellion on my planet. When people rose up against the ruling Goa'uld and, once the Jaffa had been overcome, the Goa'uld was captured alive, tortured and beaten for days on end. I was host to that Goa'uld at the time. The people didn't understand that it was the symbiote that had ruled over them so harshly. I guess the Tok'ra felt responsible. She rescued me, removed the Goa'uld symbiote, nursed me back to health.” This was the truth at last, Sam knew instinctively. There was a weird familiarity to it, something she had heard before or… Sam frowned. She felt that almost itch at the back of her mind that was usually her only warning before one of Jolinar’s memories came to the fore...

Jolinar was undercover, getting intel on Camulus, testing the resolve of the people by inciting a rebellion against Arwen, Camulus’s lieutenant who was a particularly beautiful specimen. Vicious, amoral, inventive – totally loyal to Camulus. The host was strikingly beautiful, long dark hair, storm blue eyes, a naturally regal authoritative bearing even without the added Goa’uld sensibilities. Camulus demanded much, and the mines were running out. Arwen pushed productivity higher expecting everyone, young and old to work the seams. There was one rule. You worked or you died. After months of this the people were ripe for rebellion.

It happened sooner than Jolinar expected and she was caught up in the fighting. Normally she would have left the planet before trouble started. That was the Tok’ra way. Arwen was captured, her Jaffa slaughtered. Jolinar had been forced to rescue Arwen from the rebels, proving to them that it was the symbiote that had ruled over them so harshly: the host, Vala, was innocent. Jolinar removed the symbiote, nursed the badly injured host back to health. The woman, Vala Malduran, intrigued her. She had recovered well from her privations, accepting that she was not responsible for the Goa’uld’s actions against her people. She was a remarkable woman in her own right, a natural leader. Together they began to make plans to continue to fight the Goa’uld, rebuilding the society that Arwen had nearly destroyed.

Even though her assignment was successfully concluded, Jolinar did not return to the Tok’ra. She missed Martouf and Lantash but not as much as she thought she might. She had something else – someone else – to hold her attention here. Vala. The young woman intrigued her. Weeks turned to months and still Jolinar lingered. Vala did not resist her advances but did not overtly welcome them either. A message came from the Tok’ra Council, asking her to return. She was needed elsewhere. Jolinar showed it to Vala.

“I should go,” she said.

“What if I asked you to stay?” Vala gazed at her, reached out to touch Rosha’s face, then moved to stand at her side, reaching behind Rosha to stroke down the back of her neck over where Jolinar rested, touching both host and symbiote. “What if I asked you to make love to me?”

“Then I would stay,” Jolinar said softly. The sensation of being touched was exquisite. It was something that rarely happened even amongst Tok’ra, an incredibly intimate gesture. Jolinar and Vala became lovers.

The next day Jolinar contacted the Tok’ra. There was more to be done organising a concerted resistance against Camulus. She believed her time would be better spent here.

It was the first time she had ever gone against the Council’s wishes.

The memory was insistent. Sam stood up abruptly. “I should check…” she said. “I left something…” She left the mess hall, locking the door behind her. In the corridor she leant back against the bulkhead, sliding down until she was sitting on the floor. She closed her eyes at the strong sense-memory of what it was like to hold Vala in her arms, to run her hands through that long dark mane of hair, to be held in turn by those capable clever hands, to feel the warmth of that brilliant smile, to see the flash of passion in those storm blue eyes. Vala was calling her name, sometimes Jolinar, sometimes Rosha as both host and symbiote joined in making love to the beautiful woman.

It had been so long. She ached inside, wanting the touch of another. She was caught in the memory again… her surroundings fading from her consciousness. They made a fine contrast, dark and light, of similar height and build, nearly matching each other in strength and stamina. For the first time Vala told her how she had come to be Arwen’s host, how the Goa’uld had chosen her, how she had tried to fight before realising that it was an impossible situation, how she had survived by isolating herself, by telling herself that all of the atrocities were by Arwen’s hand, not hers. She had never lost the hope that one day it would be over.

“I can never thank you enough for freeing me,” Vala said, kissing her way down Rosha’s long slender body. “For giving me back my life. For helping to free my people. Promise you will never leave me, Jolinar.”

“I can’t make that kind of promise,” Jolinar said sadly. “I have responsibilities, work to do.” Two more messages had reached her from the Tok’ra Council. The last had been a direct order to return or be declared rogue. Jolinar could not take that risk. Her time with Vala was coming to an end.

“Another lover?” Vala guessed.

Jolinar could not lie, not to her. “Yes. Martouf, host to Lantash. Lantash and Jolinar have been mated for many centuries, through several different hosts.”

“That kind of love is always difficult to comprehend,” Vala said, continuing to kiss and tease her lover. “Difficult to live up to. Will you tell him about me – about us?”

“I don’t know,” Jolinar said. “This has been very special for me, never think that I undervalue you Vala, what we have had together these past few months. I will never forget you. Never.” She rolled them both, straddling her lover’s’ body, kissing and mouthing her breasts, her fingers seeking the luscious warmth of Vala’s core, each sigh and whisper of her name driving her on. Much later they slept, entwined in each other’s arms as if they could never be parted.

Though neither knew it it was the last time. As Jolinar had known he would sooner or later, Camulus came looking, wondering why his naquada supply had dried up. Jolinar was forced to flee, leaving Vala behind. However much she cared for the young woman her loyalty was to the Tok’ra cause. Jolinar always regretted abandoning her as she had. But she had always known that Vala was a survivor.

She looked exactly the same as Jolinar remembered her. Pulling herself together, Sam unlocked the door and went back into the mess hall. Vala was still eating. Perhaps she was telling the truth after all when she said she hadn’t eaten for days. “You said your people are in trouble now.”

“Well, it was only a matter of time before the forces of another Goa’uld showed up. A system lord named Camulus. That’s when the Tok’ra disappeared. The people still refused to surrender. Camulus ordered that they be wiped out. We controlled several ships: troop transports, cargo ships, Al’ kesh. Many people were saved, flown to an inhabitable moon nearby in the system. The ships made several trips before most of them were intercepted and shot down. Camulus never knew there were any survivors so we were safe. Only problem was, the moon didn’t have a Stargate.”

“So you were trapped,” Sam said softly.

“We only had a few ships left. Not enough to relocate everyone again. It wasn’t a problem, Camulus seemed to have little interest. On the other planets in the system he’d left behind a small force to guard the Stargate. We used the ships to keep apprised of what was happening and to steal supplies and technology when we could.”

“You know that Camulus is gone now,” Sam said. “He was beaten by Ba’al.”

“And Ba’al’s forces are searching every inhabitable world in Camulus’ territory. His ships are everywhere. It’s only a matter of time before my people are found.”

“And then you got desperate and tried to steal that Al’kesh.”

“It was damaged in the firefight. I was hoping one of my ships would answer my distress call. I’m sure you can imagine how lucky I felt when this ship showed up. It’s big enough to rescue all my people and take them to a world far away… free from the Goa’uld.” Sam really did not know whether she believed the other woman or not. Vala was only doing something that SG1 had done a hundred times before.

The meal was done. It was time to get Vala back into the Brig. She protested, of course.

“You don’t have to lock me up.”

Sam smiled, gestured her forward. “Oh, I think I do.”

“What difference does it make?” Vala argued. “The ship is automatically flying to my homeworld. You can’t stop it.”

“Well, when I get to your planet, I’ll just explain the situation to your people,” Sam said. “Maybe there’s something we can work out.”

“My people are not going to trust you. You have to let me talk to them,” Vala said earnestly.

The more persuasive she became the less Sam trusted her. “No.” She closed the door to the cell and walked away.

Sam went back to her lonely station on the bridge and sat down in the Command chair. Almost immediately she heard a voice over the comm. system.

“Vala… this is Tenat. We have you on our scanners.”

After a moment’s hesitation, Sam activated the comm.. “Uh, hi.”

“Where is Vala?” Tenat asked.

“She’s here. She’s just um… indisposed at the moment,” Sam lied.

“She did not mention she was working with someone,” Tenat growled.

“No, I guess not,” Sam bluffed. “Look, I realize I owe you an explanation and its a bit of a long story really…” She was a terrible terrible liar and she knew it. She always overcooked it. According to Jack O’Neill she was just too damned honest for her own good sometimes.

“We will hear it in person and inspect your vessel,” Tenat said.

“That’s good. Because apparently we’re coming in for a landing,” Sam frowned at the display. The moon below was desert-like and seemed to have little or no civilization if the lack of energy signatures was any indication. If this was Vala’s homeworld, her people were even less technologically advanced than Jolinar’s memories had indicated.

“We will meet you at the designated coordinates,” Tenat cut communications.

“Okay then,” Sam breathed. “See you there.”

The Prometheus descended and came in for a perfect landing. Two distinctly non-human looking aliens were waiting. Sam couldn’t remember seeing anyone like them before. They were distinctly reptilian in appearance. They picked up a metal chest between them and began to walk towards the ship. Sam glanced up to the security screen. Vala was attempting to open the cell door by circumventing the security locks. There was a flash and Vala fell back. She glared up at the security camera reproachfully, sucking her singed fingers.

Sam had dressed in an amalgam of the fake Super Soldier suit and armour and her own uniform and kit. She left off the masked helmet. Exiting the Prometheus she started to walk towards them across the soft sand. The place stirred no memories within her: Sam was beginning to think that Vala had lied about this being her homeworld.

The alien’s stared at her, conferred for a moment then stared at her some more.

“Who are you?” one asked. She recognized his voice from the transmission. This was Tenat. And he obviously knew she wasn’t Vala.

“My name is… um… Leia,” Sam lied.

“Where is Vala?” Tenat asked.

“She’s inside.”

“We only do business with Vala!” Tenat said harshly.

Business. So much for the humanitarian mission story. “I’m a little confused,” Sam said carefully. “From what Vala told me I was expecting some refugees in need of transport to another planet…. Um, human sort of refugees… not that there’s anything wrong with you guys, not at all, but…” Her voice trailed into silence. Tough crowd, as the Colonel might have said.

“We have the naquada,” the other alien said impassively. “Refined weapons grade.” Tenat knelt to open the chest, revealing stacked bars of naquada. It looked pure, quite possibly weapon’s grade as the alien had claimed. Sam almost started to salivate at the thought of how many naquada reactors such a haul could power. The stakes just got that little bit higher. Sam knew she had to get her hands on that naquada. She just hoped she wouldn’t have to give the Prometheus in exchange.

“That’s very nice,” she said.

“This was the price we agreed upon. This ship is impressive in size but we cannot…”

“Okay, you know what?” Sam interrupted. “Seriously, there’s been a big misunderstanding here. The naquada is nice… really, really nice, but I can’t sell you the ship, so…” Sam was already reaching for her zat as the aliens drew their guns. “Really… that’s not necessary…” Crap. If she got out of this alive she was so going to kick Vala’s ass from one end of the ship to the other. Presuming she still had a ship after this.

“We had a deal!” Tenat shouted, waving his gun under Sam’s nose. “We must have this ship.”

Sam never thought she would be glad to hear the whine of an approaching death glider. It sure beat the whine of a seriously ticked off alien arms dealer.

“Goa’uld gliders!” Tenat screamed. “Fool – you were followed!”

Yep, her day was made. A salvo landed perilously close to the Prometheus making the ground shake and filling the air with choking dust.

“I’d love to stay and chat, but…” She managed to zat the other alien and then Tenat before turning and running back into the Prometheus. She would have loved to pick up the naquada but it was far too heavy for her to move on her own. And there was the not inconsiderable problem of the Goa'uld glider taking pot shots at her to consider as well.

Shucking off armour as she ran, Sam headed for the bridge as the Prometheus started to take direct hits. It was only a matter of time before something vital was destroyed. Sam had to get the ship off the surface.

She could see on the security camera for the brig that Vala was standing under the camera yelling up at it. She turned up the sound.

“… hell is going on?”

“We’re under attack by gliders,” Sam said. “You need to tell me how to bypass the lock you put on the systems. Now! I haven’t time to work it out myself.”

“Let me out and I’ll help you.”

Part of her wanted to believe. She had to wonder if Jolinar’s betrayal had anything to do with the way that Vala seemed to live her life now. Silently she cursed herself for being so weak. Her continuing guilt over Fifth had allowed the Replicator version of herself to overturn whatever advantage they might have once had against the Replicators and now she was allowing her former relationship with this woman to colour her actions. Vala was a criminal. She had marooned the rest of the crew on an inoperative vessel with failing life support. She had stolen the Prometheus. She had terrorized and threatened Sam. She was dealing in weapons grade naquada… Sam couldn’t shoulder the blame for that. You made your own way in this world. Another explosion rocked the ship and Sam realized she could smell smoke and burning insulation. They were running out of time.

Zat in hand, Sam ran down to the Brig and opened the door. Vala was just standing facing the door, a big smile on her face that went nowhere near her eyes. Sam made sure that Vala could see the zat. “Let’s go. Please don’t try anything.”

They headed back towards the bridge.

“What did you do with my buyers?” Vala asked.

“Do you mind if we talk about that later?” Sam asked.

“And the naquada?” Vala stopped, blocking Sam’s path.

“Move!” Sam ordered brusquely, gesturing with the zat.

“Do you have any idea what that is worth?” Vala yelled at her. Sam had had enough. Thrusting the zat back in the holster she grabbed Vala by the wrist and swiftly and efficiently got the protesting woman into an armlock and virtually frogmarched her up the corridor to the bridge. She pushed Vala towards a chair.


Sam gestured towards the command console. “I suggest you fix this before we both get blown to smithereens. Raise the shields.”

Vala glared at her then with ill grace entered a rapid series of commands into the system, freeing up the systems. As Vala raised the shields, Sam got the engines back on line again and prepared the ship for take-off. They were still under heavy fire but at least for now none of the impacts were getting through the shields. As they left the atmosphere Sam tried in vain to get the hyperdrive engines working but the Prometheus had already taken far too much hull damage.

“Incoming Al’kesh,” Vala reported. “Arm weapons!”

They were coming under sustained heavy fire from a swarm of death gliders. The Al’kesh had not fired yet: it seemed to be waiting its turn to finish them off.

“Shields are failing,” Vala snarled. Sam concentrated on maneuvering them away from the heaviest fire and targeting the lead glider. It exploded in a ball of white light, but at almost the same moment an explosion rocked the bridge. Several consoles shorted out and the air was tainted with smoke and the smell of burning insulation.

“We’re not going to be able to take many more hits like that,” Sam yelled.

“Shields are down and the weapon’s systems are crashing,” Vala confirmed. “The Al’kesh is powering up…”

“I see it… there’s nothing…” Sam fell silent as the Al’kesh opened fire on one of the gliders, destroying it.

“What just happened?” Vala asked.

“An Al’kesh just took out one of the death gliders… Oh my god, it’s your Al’kesh, it’s General Hammond and the Prometheus crew. They made it. They made it!” The Al’kesh took out a second Glider and then turned on the other Al’kesh. The Al’kesh and remaining Death Gliders retreated.

A familiar voice came over the Comm system. “Colonel Carter? This is General Hammond. Do you copy?”

Sam opened up communications. “General Hammond, sir, it’s good to hear your voice.”

“Likewise,” Hammond said. “Are you all right, Colonel?”

“We’re fine, Sir,” Sam said, glancing across at Vala.

“Are we clear to ring aboard?” Hammond asked.

Sam glared at Vala. “Unlock the system. Those gliders likely retreated to a nearby mothership. We have to get out of here now. Unlock the system.”

Vala nodded. “Okay… okay… It’s done.”

“You’re all clear, sir,” Sam said.

“Look, Sam, whatever happens, I just want you to know…” Storm blue eyes regarded her, their expression unreadable. She reached out, ran her fingers gently over the top of Sam’s spine, the gesture so unexpected and yet so shockingly familiar that Sam could only stare at her.

“You know…”

“I recognized you straight away… don’t ask me how, I couldn’t tell you. I knew you didn’t recognize me.”

“I didn’t, not straight away. Jolinar never… fully bonded with me, she… I don’t have all her memories and can rarely recall those I do have. She never meant to leave you behind, she never meant to bet….” Sam stuttered into silence. She remembered saying the same thing to Fifth.

“You were going to say that she never meant to betray me. It’s okay. I’m sure that sooner or later I would have betrayed her. We were both survivors. And we live in difficult times.” They shared an uncomfortable smile. “What are you going to do with me?” Vala asked.

“I’m not sure,” Sam said. “You did steal this ship and maroon the crew.”

Vala shrugged, held out her hands. “I suppose you’re going to want to tie me up again.” She winked then started to laugh at the fierce blush rising in Sam’s cheeks.

General Hammond quickly got his ship back in good order but Dr Novak judged (and Sam agreed) that the damage to the hull was too severe to risk an extended trip in hyperspace. They had no choice but to return to Earth.


Sam felt no sense of surprise at all at the Security announcement that Vala had escaped from the brig. “Security Team One unresponsive. And the rings on level four just activated, sir,” Harriman reported.

Sam headed for level four, stepping over the bodies of unconscious crewmen as she went. In the ring room she found SG3 all unconscious. They had been babysitting the Al’kesh. Vala had taken her old ship back. She snagged a radio from one of the bodies and reported in as she headed back for the bridge. “General Hammond? SG3 was just transported here. She’s on the Al’kesh.”

She heard Hammond give the order to lock weapons on the Al’kesh’s engines as she stepped back on to the Bridge.

“Aft thrusters targeted,” Harriman reported. The Al’kesh was already underway. “Target is...” As they watched, the Al’kesh jumped to hyperspace. Vala had thought of everything: as Sam moved to the console to track the craft she discovered that their long range scanners were being scrambled.

“She’s good…” Sam whispered, not bothering to hide the grudging admiration in her voice. Part of her was glad that the woman had escaped. She could not help but wonder if their paths would ever cross again. Sometimes the universe wasn’t so big a place after all.