Authors: Steven Savile
Tags: #Science Fiction
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I may not see you every day but that doesn’t mean
I love you any less
Neryn Var ran for her life.
The first shot fired wide, tearing into the cave wall. Stone wept as it crumbled. She threw herself forward, risking a backward glance. There were six of them. Hunters. They bore the glyphs of Jaffa on their foreheads. The lead warrior’s had been inlaid with gold, marking him as First Prime. He leveled his staff weapon, taking his time with his shot. Neryn threw herself from her feet, barely avoiding the sizzling arc of blue energy as the bolt tore into the wall.
It was a long way back to the surface and the Stargate. Too far.
“Run,” she pleaded, but the creature stopped to help her up. How did the Jaffa find her? Only the Tok’ra High Council knew of her mission, surely the Goa’uld did not know the true nature of Vasaveda’s sole inhabitant? It didn’t matter. She had been compromised. Who? When? The questions spun through her head. Someone she trusted had betrayed her to the Goa’uld. The thought paralyzed Neryn Var.
It reached down a hand for her to take. Even down here, out of the sun, the heat was searing. She pushed it away. “Just go. Run. Please. They can’t take you. You have to escape.”
“I can help you,” it promised, even as the blast from a zat’ni’katel took it high in the chest. The creature span almost gracefully, twisting as it fell. It hit the floor hard and lay there, stunned. For a moment confusion flickered across its face. Then those features that should have been so twisted with fear appeared to melt.
Neryn looked away.
She pushed herself to her feet.
She had no weapon to return fire.
All she could do was run.
She had to reach the Stargate.
She had to escape.
She had to find out who was the traitor in their number.
And that meant she couldn’t allow herself to be taken alive.
But when did she give up? When did she bite down on the false tooth in the back of her skull and release the poison that would destroy her brain? When did it become too late?
“Are you still trying to escape, Neryn Var?” the First Prime goaded. He disengaged his staff weapon as he taunted her. It was the single most insulting thing he could have done. He was telling her just how impotent she was. Shouldering the weapon meant he saw no threat. “I have such pains in store for you, Tok’ra. You will weep and you will scream as I open doorways into your flesh and mind,” he promised. The malfeasance dripped from his tongue as he stepped toward her. “You should beg me to kill you now. You should fall on your knees and whimper and plead to be put out of your misery like the wretched thing you are. Do it. Beg,” he paused a beat, waiting for some kind of response from her. She didn’t give him the satisfaction. “No? You disappoint me, Tok’ra. I would have had some fun before I killed you. Now, I see no reason to keep you alive.”
“Kill me then, Jaffa,” she spat. It was little more than token resistance but she needed to show wasn’t spent quite yet. Neryn Var drew herself to her full height. The heat had the sweat running in rivulets down her skin. She faced her would-be murderer across the short distance.
He chuckled mirthlessly. “Not yet, Tok’ra. I want to get inside your head first. I want to know all of your secrets.”
“I will not tell you anything,” she sneered. She knew he was baiting her, but knowing that didn’t stop her from rising to take it. Beside her, the Mujina stirred. She didn’t dare risk so much as a sideways glance toward it. Instead she darted a look toward the crystalline pillar no more than ten feet from where she stood. She wanted the Jaffa to see the look and misinterpret it. Her only hope of escape lay in his insufferable arrogance misinforming the next few moments. If he played her right she was dead but if he bought the misdirection she had a chance. It was that simple.
“Everyone talks eventually. Believe me. It might take a few hours, a day even, but in the end you will talk just to end the pain. There will be nothing left hidden between us by the time I allow you to die.”
She moved slowly, as though in surrender. She had a single Tok’ra burrowing crystal in her possession from the dozen they had provided for her to excavate the tunnels during her search. All she needed was the slightest of distractions to allow her to release it unseen. It was all about creating a moment of confusion to save her life.