The Empress in the Shadows
AN : So as you can see, I finally dared to write a rework of Voider's infamous 'Empress in the shadows'. This idea was floating around in my head for several months already, and it's just recently that I finally dared to do so. For those who have read the original version, I plan to make several changes in my new version.
First and bigger of them all, is the timeline. I want to integrate Lilith with the mythological figure that she was. She first appeared around 3000 BC in the Mesopotamian mythology, so I made it so that Lilith was born far earlier compared to Voider's version. An unintended, yet still necessary, consequence is that the Tok'ra movement is older too, so the Tok'ra will certainly play a bigger role, at least until Ra gets his hands on Egeria and exile her on Pangar. To be more precise, Egeria has already started the Tok'ra movement but her implication in this is unknown by anyone but the Tok'ra themselves.
I don't really want to talk about the others right now, since I want to enjoy myself and also maybe surprise you a little. All that I say is that there will be new chapters/arcs in between Voider's original arcs.
I asked for Voider's permission to do this rewrite, but he/she did not answer, so I'll keep this on the website as long as Voider allows me. If I'm asked to remove said story, I will warn you via a new chapter and then do so a couple of days later.
On a totally different matter, I do not trust myself alone with such a story, so I'm looking for one or two beta readers to help me with both the grammar, syntax... and the plot, character development and all. I have a fairly good idea of where I want to go with this, but being able to discuss my plans with someone would be nice.
Disclaimer: Stargate belongs to the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and the Empress in the Shadows' original idea belongs to Voider.
I do this just for fun.
3003 BC, Babylon, Earth
A single figure made its way through the corridors of the ziggurat that was Marduk's palace in Babylon, one of Bastet's lieutenants. He was part of the rising strain of Goa'uld that was named the Tok'ra, born from the queen Egeria who rebelled against the Supreme System Lord Ra... not that anyone knew that though. Very young, barely a decade old, he still had already become a familiar face amongst Bastet's and Marduk's courts.
As far as he was concerned though, these years spent in their service were well worth it The information and warnings he sent back to the Tok'ra about Bastet's moves saved the lives of at least a dozen operatives.
The mission he was on at that moment though, was not something of the like. No, it was more like a… favor he granted one of his friends, a scientist that came up with some kind of weapon that could change the Goa'uld on a psychological level to become more like the Tok'ra. He had to admit that most of the explanation went well over his head. Even though he wasn't stupid in the slightest, he was simply not interested at all in the genetic technobabble that was given to him. Not at all. All he needed to know was how to inoculate the product to the test subjects and how conspicuous it would be.
He had been assured that were he to be careful, nothing could link him to the act, act which would be undetectable anyways. He closed his eyes and let a small frown appear on his face as he entered the room containing the mature symbiotes. As much as he yearned to cause a malfunction and eradicate all of these monsters to be, he knew that it would neither be compatible with his current mission nor even suitable considering his long terms plans.
He spent a couple minutes looking at the basin in which were swimming the dozen or so symbiotes who would be granted a host in the coming ceremony, his face impassive. His lips then twitched imperceptibly and he dropped a pellet inside the water before turning back and leaving the room, not even watching it dissolve and release its chemicals in the water. His mission was over, nothing else to do about it but carefully monitoring the situation in the future.
Unfortunately for him, he would not be able to do so, having to flee Earth in a rush a couple of days later after being discovered by a servant in a compromising situation. He returned inside Tok'ra controlled territory, and after some deliberation with the scientist that created the compound, it was decided that they would just keep an ear on the ground. Just in case. They had her name though, it would prove sufficient for the moment.
I first started to think a few minutes after a strange thing dropped into the water next to me. It was… strange, thinking. All my life, all the memories that constituted my life until then were no much better than those of an animal, driven by an instinctual need to burrow into the soft flesh of a being to take control of it. Why though? Why should I? I remembered, if it was really the word, being into the… belly of a human female. I was warm and safe, sure, but it wasn't really the ideal life. Then flashes of memories startled me, making me jerk into the water. The host were named humans, and I needed a human, more than anything else I needed to take over some body. Because I was a God, I was superior to them… Or was I? But the memories said that their only uses were as our hosts and slaves. Yet other memories showed a few of them rebelling, killing soldiers with rudimentary weapons before them and their families were executed.
Another set of memories began, and another, and another again. I understood then, they were the memories of those who came before. My ancestors. I eagerly dived into them all, taking in all that I could, from the social etiquette to the intricacies of the politics of the Goa'uld, from the cultural specificities to the technological marvels they stole from other races. I saw faces, the System Lords. Obey! The enemies, a gray being, and then its ship destroying several Ha'tak. Hate! An enemy on its knees, begging for death as a Goa'uld was torturing him, a vicious smile on his face. Elation!
It was then that I understood that something was wrong. The message containing the emotions was there, I could see it, remember it. And yet I felt nothing. No emotion inside me due to these images. It was… strange, in a good way. I was free to make my own choices, to decide what I would feel.
But first, I needed a host. That, I knew, was vital. I knew it as I knew, somehow, that my name was Lilith. With absolute certainty.
Maya was smiling beatifically as she was led through the magnificent entrance to Marduk's palace. She may have been groomed since her early childhood for the great moment that was about to happen, it didn't mean that she had had the privilege to enter her God's domain before. No, she was privileged, chosen among thousands to become the avatar of a new God. What else could have been better for her life?
It had been slightly unusual how it all started. She was seven at the time, and had been accompanying her mother to the market to trade the vegetables they were growing for enough meat to last them a month. That was the last time she saw her parents. She still remembered her mother's face, silent, with tears falling down from her eyes as she was taken from her, gently but surely taken away to start a new destiny.
Couldn't her mother see what an honor it had been for both her and her family? She would become the face of a God! Her life had become so much better since then. And it would only improve from now on. It could only improve.
She was led toward a basin, with waters so dark that she couldn't begin to see what was inside. What immediately grabbed her attention though, was the presence of a God. It was clearly visible in His posture, His clothes. Immediately, without even thinking of anything else, she fell to her knees and bowed her head toward the male divinity, not even glancing toward his feet.
She stayed silent for a couple seconds before opening her mouth, a faint murmur, barely audible, troubling the silence of the room.
"My God, it is my greatest honor to…"
She was cut in the middle of her sentence, the deep voice of the God sounding amused yet firm at the same time.
"Yes, yes it is. Do not move, stay silent."
She complied, not reacting as she heard the hissing cries of something in front of her. She stayed silent as she felt a hand brush her hair away, leaving her neck naked in front of the deity. She couldn't stay silent when the agonizing pain of the Goa'uld taking her over exploded inside her brain. But as she wanted to scream, it was already too late. She stayed silent as her consciousness faded into oblivion and her eyes flashed white.
It wasn't long after that I gained consciousness that I heard more than saw the agitation in the room I was. Someone was coming. Who they were, I didn't know. Maybe my future host, I was allowed to dream… Seconds turned into minutes as I lazily swam into the dark waters, waiting for something to happen. Then it was nearly too fast to be felt, a hand closed itself around my body, triggering all my instincts. I twisted and hissed my discontentment and fear as I was lifter out of the water, but the grip was unrelenting. I could sense the naquadah in his blood. He was stronger, older than me, there was no point in resisting, and yet I couldn't control those natural impulses of mine, ingrained deeply into my memories.
Then I saw the kneeling human and if I could I would have grinned. Now that was another matter entirely. I relaxed and let the hand guide me toward the neck. My frills flared in excitement. Finally, after so long I would gain a host. A second was all that sufficed for me to slice the delicate skin of the neck open and to enter the body, wrapping myself around its spinal cord. Then came the moment to take control. I expected it to be short and painless. I was wrong. Oh, short it was, there was no doubt about that. But it was painful, linking our nervous systems and taking control of the host for the first time, feeling the full brunt of the agonizing pain she was suffering until I learned to dull it a fraction of a second later. Not knowing what to do with the consciousness of the woman I took the body from, Maya, I knocked her out and stuffed her in a secured corner of my mind. There would be time later to ponder about what to do with her.
I opened my new body's eyes and a small smile appeared on its face. My face. It was mine now, not it or whatever, mine. I slowly moved my fingers and toes, marveling about the feeling of control and precision before taking notice once more of the situation. I was kneeling in front of another Goa'uld, older, stronger, the one who gave me my host. I was supposed to obey him, to be grateful. I hated it, this feeling. From the very bottom of my being. Still, it wasn't as if I had a choice in the matter. I waited for him to react. From what I remembered, if that was the word, of the Goa'uld politics, moving without his say so would get me liable to be executed. It wouldn't do to have a clearly willful and overambitious subordinate.
My thoughts were interrupted by his call, a simple "Rise" that prompted me to stand up and look upon my new Lord. His body was… physically appealing if I used the memories and appreciations of my new body. Then again, who would voluntarily choose otherwise without a good reason? He was tanned, a trimmed beard covering the bottom of his smile, doing nothing to hide his small smirk. He had brown eyes and his shoulder length hair was carefully held back by an ornate golden headband. It only took me a second before I answered, a small polite smile on my lips.
"I am Lilith my Lord."
An amused snort barely managed to escape his lips at that and he turned toward the entrance of the room, a small gesture of his hand inviting me to follow him.
"Lilith hum? It is strangely fitting, I approve."
A small smile upon my own lips, I nodded and followed him wherever he wanted to lead me to.
I laid down on the bed in my designated home, not very far from my Lord's palace. It had been a busy day, during which Marduk, my new Lord, had explained to me my role at his side. He was a successful lieutenant of Bastet, and had been allowed to have a Goa'uld assistant. And there I entered the equation. I had been chosen to assume this position. I was to accomplish odd jobs for him, from the boring ones to those that required a lot of technical and other personal expertise. He was a busy Lord, and had decided to delegate as much as he could on my shoulders without being unreasonable.
Despite my reluctance to so readily obey the orders of another, it was all in my interest to lay low and simply do so. He was powerful, influent and did not appear to me as stupidly arrogant. As long as I would do my job within expected parameters or above, I would probably have no problem or even be suitably recompensed. I had absolutely no problem with that. Plus, it let me some time to think about ways to improve my own situation.
I exhaled and stood back up, before kneeling on a soft carpet on the floor. I had thought enough about the politics I found myself in for the moment, it was time to decide what to do with the consciousness of my host. She had been asleep until then, neither conscious nor tortured. I was no Tok'ra, that upstart group and really had no love for the sniveling cowards striking from the shadows. But at the same time, I had absolutely no intention to torture my host, it was useless in my opinion. What would I gain from such an act?
I soon found her consciousness and roused her awake, wondering how things would go. It was easy to associate to the drowsy voice of the human a body, my new body. It was fairly tall for a female, around 1m70, well-proportioned even though its hips were not fully developed, neither were its breasts. Maya was only fourteen after all. She was undeniably beautiful though, her fair skin devoid of any imperfection or scar, petite lips curling into a soft smile, green entrancing eyes and flaming red hair of a color she had never seen before. You could not miss her, and should she have not been spotted by the Jaffa and groomed to become my new body, she would probably have made some man a very happy husband by then. But it was neither then nor there.
'Wh-what is happening, where am I?'
This sudden though startled me out of my… vanity, and I answered her swiftly. There were undertones of panic in her voice and it would be better to defuse the situation before it escalated.
'Keep calm Maya. Don't you remember the Ritual?"
My voice was as soothing as I could make it. I was still considering what to do with her.
'The… Oh…' She kept quiet for a few seconds, before adding. 'Am… am I dead?'
I considered the question before shaking my head to myself. I couldn't really considerate her as dead, that was silly. She was talking to me after all, no?
'No you are not, child."
She took once again a few seconds before continuing.
'What happened to me? I can't move. It's dark. I… please my Goddess, I implore you to help me.'
I frowned at the use of the word Goddess. I disliked it. Contrarily to some of the others Goa'uld, I lacked both the arrogance and the insanity to call myself a goddess. No, I was lucid enough to be objective about my true nature. And well, it's not as if Maya would spread the word.
'I'm afraid I must correct you Maya, I am no Goddess.'
I could clearly feel her shock and incomprehension before she tentatively asked.
'I… do not understand. I was supposed to be the avatar of a God. Or Goddess. Aren't you her?'
I snorted derisively and shook my head.
'I am the one who took control of you, the so-called Goddess. But really, I'm neither insane nor arrogant enough to call myself a Goddess. That was a ruse of our kind to take control of you humans, but it seems that some Goa'uld seems to have told that lie so much that even they believe it…'
It was now horror and anger that was predominant amongst her emotions. It was fairly logical after all, I just destroyed all she believed in until now.
'So… what are you?'
I was taken aback with the anger and disrespect in her voice. That way of talking would have gotten her tortured for a couple years by a normal Goa'uld. She was pretty lucky I was me.
'I think you misunderstand the situation here Maya. It may not appear like it but I have been exceedingly nice with you until now. My kind usually torture our host's consciousness into submission or insanity when we take control of them. So even though I do not plan to do so, it would be better for the future that you address me with a minimum of respect even when you are angry. Now to answer your question we are… parasites would be the best term.'
Since she had no access to my memories, I consciously and voluntarily sent her an image of my natural appearance, or if not mine at least my species'. It only added to her shock and disgust. Now I was a bit annoyed. I could understand her reaction, but I had enough self-worth to feel insulted. Still, I forced myself to stay silent and wait for her answer.
All the anger had left her tone, leaving only dread. She was hesitant, fearful and a little lost, I could hear it in her voice.
'I… I'm sorry, I did not mean to… Please don't hurt me anymore.'
I sighed internally, and she must have heard me.
'The pain wasn't intentional when I first took control of you. Truth be told, I also felt it and was the one to render you unconscious. I do not want absolute subservience or whatever. What I want is to be able to go on with my life without having to fight you for this body, and a minimum of respect. Do that, and both our life will be considerably improved.'
She was once again hesitant when she asked
'Both our lives?'
I nodded, my amusement clearly showing in my emotions.
'Of course. If I do not recompense you for your efforts, why would you relinquish your body to me? No, it wouldn't do. So if you behave and try to cooperate, I will give you full access to my senses and a limited access of my memories. Nothing too personal, but you would be able to learn, you wouldn't be too bored in here.'
A particularly strong mind would be able to have access to my senses without my say so, but she evidently was not. And my memories were inaccessible to my host without my conscious permission and effort to leave them open. All in all it was a really good deal for her. And I would sweeten it even more, a good relationship with her could be useful in the future.
'And well, if you learn enough to act like me, I may even let you stretch your legs in private in the future. This was your body after all.'
I could feel her feeling being soothed by my offer. It was not as if she was happy, she was still a prisoner in her own body, but she could at least enjoy herself a little.
'I accept, your offer is… nice, I don't think I'll ever get better than that.'
Once again, it was fairly insulting, but it's not as if I didn't understand her bitterness. She would get used to the situation. So I didn't lash out at her as was my first instinct.
'Indeed. I advise you to learn about our society, etiquette and science first. The first two are essential if you want me to give you control for a short time in the future, the last part is because I do not underestimate the Human imagination. From my memories, your kind can be amusingly efficient should they be given the chance. Considering that nearly all the technological expertise of my kind comes from a scavenging point of view, some originality would be welcome. That's where you will come in.'
I could feel her acknowledgement and agreement of our little deal and smiled. Not bad for a first day.
The Goa'uld are a feudal society. At the top of the food chain we have the System Lords. Below them are their mates, their lieutenants and the independent powerful Goa'uld. All of them have large domains, ruling over many worlds and command large fleets and armies.
Next, we have the Goa'uld that rule smaller domains or act as commanders.
And then there was the class I belonged to. It is of course the most numerous. Here we could find the weaker Goa'uld: the administrators, assistants, low-ranked officers, mercenaries, scientists and all others.
It was in this category that laid the most power hungry of our kind. Because being tempted with our memories of power and conquest while being relegated to the simple rank of assistant was utterly infuriating. Or it should be. I had no such problem. Oh, I had a lot of ambition, and I planned climbing up the social ladder, but I had to be careful and patient while doing so, which was easier since I couldn't associate myself fully with my genetic memory, and thus didn't suffer the full brunt of this ingrained frustration. I knew that I had to get out of the shadows, and to do so in a way that would permit me to get Jaffa for my personal service.
In the Goa'uld society, power equaled military power. I needed troops, I needed worlds if I was to become someone, if I was to leave Marduk's and Bastet's shadows. If I was to be free.
So in the months that followed my getting a host, I worked like I never knew I could, constantly on the move constantly on missions from Marduk. But where I thrived were the scientific and engineering assignments that were given to me.
During those last few months, Maya got enough experience in scientific matters to reach the point where we could start to bounce ideas toward each other in order to solve the various problems I faced. Of course, hers were clumsy and not so well thought in the beginning, but she was starting to get better and was already extremely useful.
Through careful calibrations, replacement of unsuitable parts and a good dose of imagination, I managed to improve the power generation and distribution of Marduk's flagship, resulting in better shields and weapon power. With that, came the troves of information that Marduk thought would be useful in my hands. Technological data, intelligence reports, but also a bit on the political climate of the moment. I had proved my usefulness, and my collaboration with my host ensured that I was probably the most promising scientist on Earth. I would have liked to say most competent, but a lot of them had me beaten thanks to their experience. Not for long, but still, they were centuries or even millennia older than me, which takes some time to catch up to.
Not that I showed it though, I held back, keeping some of my ideas in my mind until I could get the resources and privacy to implement them. I could not appear as too competent a scientist, or my progress in the Goa'uld society would end before even starting. I would get stuffed in a lab, popping inventions and upgrades under the watchful eyes of Marduk or even Bastet until my death. No, I had to be careful.
But I learned, I spent hours every night talking with Maya and assimilating the genetic memories pertaining to the science available to the Goa'uld. For each upgrade I granted Marduk's ship, I had several more planned for any future ship I would own. After all, I was still planning my freedom and, being a servant of Bastet, Marduk would probably face me when the time comes. No sense in arming potential enemies.
All in all, I was in quite the beneficial position to achieve my goals. All I had to do now was to wait for the right opportunity and seize it. I was patient, my time would come.
So this is it.
I'd greatly appreciate some constructive criticism, and please avoid flames, they serve no purpose except annoying everybody.