Inspired by and in the universe of "A Star to Steer By" by Dogmatix and Norcumi over on AO3, written for the 2019 Star Fever week.
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Archive Warning: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Fandoms: Stargate SG-1, Star Wars - All Media Types, Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) - All Media Types
Relationships: Feral & Savage Opress, Darth Maul & Savage Opress, Darth Maul & Feral Opress, Vala Mal Doran & Feral Opress, Vala Mal Doran & Darth Maul
Characters: Vala Mal Doran, Feral Opress, Darth Maul, Savage Opress, Ba'al (Stargate), Asajj Ventress (mentioned), Count Dooku (mentioned)
Additional Tags: Star Fever, A Star To Steer By 'verse, GFY, Goa'uld atrocities, Sith Atrocities, Author Goofs Up AStSB canon, Long Author's notes, Hugo Award nominee
Vala Mal Doran knows pain.
Knows it deeply, intimately, like a lover, like an adversary. She's been subjugated and suppressed; she's been the subjugator and the suppressor. She's been gagged and unmade; gagged and unmade others. She's been both tortured and torturer. Forced to commit a host—a wheeze is forced past her lips—of atrocities in the name—in the place—of a goddess who doesn't even exist…
She knows agony like the enemies of Qetesh once knew it, and she revels in it.
Every step, every movement, every breath brings forth a new wave of pain and Vala Mal Doran bares her teeth in a bloody grin because it's hers. It's not a Blessing or a Gift but a possession to be held in her hands and in her soul, and she'll kill anyone who tries to take it from her ever again.
Vala stumbles toward the clavis on shaking legs and enters yet another set of coordinates, pulled from Qetesh's vile memories, with unfeeling fingers. She doesn't know if the Tok'ra will give chase and she doesn't care; she needs to get away.
After an unknown number of trips through the chappa'ai—it doesn't matter how many it takes, just run—she drops to the cold stone floor of a place that she and no one—no one breathing, no one living, no one no one no one—else in the galaxy knows.
A safe haven.
A place to rest and heal.
A place which—
She feels it the moment she crawls past the antechamber. No dust. No darkness. A humming in her bones and in her blood that can only mean one thing. She needs to leave, she needs to leave quickly and quietly, before whichever of their—her—Qetesh's enemies find her.
She needs to—
… a pair of gentle hands carefully rolls and tugs and carries her up and away… a soft, sibilant voice whispers to her in the darkness, warm and reassuring… there is nothing to fear, be calm, sleep…
It's… a surprise, to say the least. She hadn't expected—hadn't dared hope—to blink open her own eyes and curl her own fingers and stretch her own limbs for the better part of a decade. That she does now, with barely an echo of the agony she's endured recently, is baffling.
The tiny, almost non-existent, buzz of naquada that approaches has her up in seconds, casting around for a weapon, an escape—anything but soft golden walls and brightly-colored silks. There is nothing and the door slides open. Her vision doubles, triples, at the figure silhouetted by the diffused light of the hall.
It is father-Ra at his most glorious, hosted in jewel-colored scales and sharpened talons and glinting fangs; it is their lost history, their perfect containers, shaped by nature and cosmic divinity; it is beauty and terror wrapped in a fearsome and loving package that has long-since been lost to time and the arrogance of their forebears.
Then the figure moves carefully forward and it all fades away. Whatever it—they—are, Vala doesn't know, but she's knows that every un known is a threat. She steps back accordingly, distancing herself like a warped mirror image. They—it—raises a clawed hand, and hisses beseechingly… "Peace, sister."
The warp of time happens again—she knows these sounds, knows these words, knows how to shape her tongue to them though her ears have never heard them—but Vala shakes it away. The known is just as dangerous as the unknown, for her; Qetesh's memories will not overwhelm her here, not now.
The figure, with its crest of horns and soft brown face beneath sun-colored war-paint, carefully edges away from the door. She mimics it until the exit equidistant between them. An escape, offered freely; a kindness.
"You were greatly injured, sister," they say, expression gentle. "You should rest more, and heal. But you may go, if that is your wish."
"Why help me?" Vala asks after a long silence, her eyes darting between the door and her unknown kin. No, not hers—Qetesh's. She hasn't forgotten the ever-so-faint hum that marks them out as a false-god, even in such a strange and unfamiliar host.
They frown, she thinks, and tilt their head in confusion. She realizes that, although Qetesh's memories let her understand them, they don't seem to understand her. With a shudder, Vala reaches for Qetesh's knowledge and shapes her lips and tongue accordingly. "Why help me?" she says again, and their face clears, breaking into a closed-mouthed smile.
"You are our sister," they say, voice rusty but earnest, "and you came to us in pain. Why should we not?"
System Lords and their underlings hold little fondness for each other. The bonds of blood rarely factor into anything but more vitriol and betrayal. But a minor Goa'uld, perhaps, young and without territory, may put stock in such sentimentality. Stranger things had happened, surely.
Her host—Vala almost snorts—must see the confusion on her face because they give another smile, carefully keeping their fangs covered. "I am Feral," they—he—tells her. Then, gesturing to his temple, "My brother, Maul, rests now, but he will wake later and wish to speak as well. And you, sister?"
She hesitates, but while gold, his eyes hold the chill of raw ore, not a hint of inner glow. Eventually, she offers a reluctant, "Vala."
He—Feral—nods encouragingly. "And your companion?" he asks. At her rigid silence, his eyelids flutter, drooping low, and then his face crumples in sympathy. "Ah, I misunderstood. My condolences, sister. It was not a…" He pauses, clearly searching for the proper word. "… consensual Blending, then?"
Vala, still raw from everything, can't help it. She flinches and looks away.
"Barbaric, even by my standards," another voice says, stronger and smoother than Feral's, accented almost like her own. Vala looks up and sees someone who could only be Maul watching her out of Feral's face. There's a proud tilt to his chin and his eyes burn fiery orange. "Peace," he repeats, when she jolts at the change. "A forced Blending lacks any semblance of honor. You have my condolences as well, and my congratulations. It takes strength to survive such an ordeal intact."
"Are you Tok'ra?" Vala finally thinks to ask. "Is that how you knew of this place?"
The orange glow flickers and dies, and Feral stands before her again. "We know of no one called Ra," he rasps, and a clawed hand rubs the back of his neck. "But you need not fear, sister—Maul has not been Sith in many Blendings. You are safe here, with us."
A Goa'uld with no knowledge of the Supreme Lord of their race, who lets their host speak freely, and a host who calls the parasite that infects him 'brother'. Perhaps there haven't been stranger things, after all.
"You require food," a voice rasps from behind her, but Vala doesn't turn. "Do you desire meat? Or plant matter?"
Vala continues gazing at the chappa'ai from her place on the floor. Somewhere out there are former-slaves now free from their false-god and out for her blood; elsewhere, a father who allowed his wife to sell his daughter to a weapons smuggler. The man in question is long dead, of course, but his associates have equally long memories. Hunting Adria herself would be an exercise in futility.
"Sister, are you well?"
Nothing, and no one, who would care if she never resurfaced. "Do you have any berries?" Vala replies after a long, drawn-out pause. It worries Feral when she doesn't eat for too long; even moreso when she accepts whatever they offer without question. "Qetesh ate a little, but rarely any fruit."
She can almost feel how pleased Feral is by her cooperation. A week, full of quiet contemplation, since her arrival and the poor boy thinks she's got what he calls 'post-Sith malaise'. His… unorthodox… companion disagrees and often tells the Zabrak—she pronounces the word very carefully, even in her own mind—to leave off his worrying.
Her only allies in the galaxy now are a false-god evidently lacking any ambition to live up to the title and his tender-hearted host who keeps trying to feed her. Vala stifles an insane urge to giggle and watches Feral rush off to procure an appropriate piece of fruit, arguing with Maul under his breath about what exactly counts as such. She has yet to inform him that much of his private conversations with his 'brother' are, in fact, not very private at all. She wonders how long it has been since he's had someone other than Maul to keep him company. It's a depressing thought that she prefers to avoid; sometimes she can't.
Her eyes stray back to the chappa'ai…
"His name is Savage," Feral says, the holographic image slowly rotating above the device in his palm. "We have been searching for him for… many cycles."
Vala fights not to grimace.
The image ripples and distorts as much as any Goa'uld imaging device, but the sleek, powerful body of the symbiote is clear. Streaks of gold contrast finely against its—his, the missing brother of the unbearably kind duo who have spent almost a month caring for her, body and mind, his—glistening black fins. To distract herself, Vala wonders if Feral had modeled his tattoos off his second brother's pattern or if this Savage had deigned to have the pattern inked onto his trueskin in honor of the kind Zabrak who hosted them with grace.
"How were you separated?" Vala asks, instead of knocking the device out of Feral's hand. If she watches it only out of the corner of her eye, however, it becomes somewhat bearable; certainly less evocative of such violent outbursts. "And for so long?"
Something in the air shivers and she looks up to see that Maul has taken the reigns, as it were, of their explanation.
"He is my spawn-sibling. We were visiting our homeworld in hopes of finding new partners," he says, watching Vala carefully. Probably keeping a metaphorical eye on her emotional state, too, as she recently learned he was wont. "That is, new individuals with whom we could Blend and share our lives with. He found himself drawn to Feral—as I was to Feral's older sister, Asajj—and so we made our offers. However, as the ceremony was taking place, we were attacked by Separatist forces who had followed us to Dathomir."
Vala only realizes that she's been staring, unseeing, at a far-off bulkhead of their strange, unfamiliar ship, drenched in late-afternoon sunslight, when the light of the image clicks off.
"It was chaos," Maul continues, settling himself on one of the cushions laying by the door of the cockpit and gesturing for her to do the same. "Savage was meant to Blend first, but—as we later came to learn—he feared that Feral would not have strength enough to help repel the intruders, and so he Blended with Asajj instead."
She watches with a very detached kind of interest as their eyes flicker between chilling gold and burning orange. An internal struggle, Vala gathers. While the bloody, animal part of her wants to viciously assume that Maul is suppressing Feral, she's almost positive that the Zabrak feels his 'brother' is too emotional to continue and is trying to convince him to let him finish for them. Vala has learned during her stay that while Feral is the more vocal of the two, that doesn't mean Maul feels any less deeply.
For once, Maul appears to have argued successfully against his brother's mother-henning, and he quickly soldiers on.
"We learned this later, because in their weakened state, they were taken. It wasn't just an attack, but a raid. They were angry with the Jedi, with their meddling, and so they thought to take their revenge upon us, uncaring that we are not Jedi." Maul clenches a fist on their thigh and breathes very slowly. "Feral suggested that we Blend, and I agreed, in the hopes that we would catch up to the villains quickly. It took us almost a full cycle to find Asajj, and by then Savage had long been extracted, and she… allowed to escape and then tracked across the galaxy for sport. She had dared not return to the mists of our home lest she make our people a target yet again."
It almost feels wrong for her heart to constrict so, but Vala has slowly been learning to let herself feel whatever she needs at the time. Even for a—well, not Goa'uld.
That was a word in a language the two did not know, and when she translated it for them, Maul had rejected it quite vehemently. Apparently the word for their species in their 'Galactic Basic' was Jedi, but Maul grew cagey when she'd asked why he did not use it for himself. Feral had taken it upon himself to give her a brief explanation of the word's connotations, as well as that of Sith, and entreated her to use 'Nightbrother' instead. Evidently, it had its own connotations, but ones that neither had any objections to.
"I'm sorry," Vala offers, after long minutes of silence. And she is. Their brother and sister had both been stolen as surely as she herself had been. "You said, before, that you've picked up the trail again?"
Feral nods his head jerkily, then sucks in a deep breath. "We managed to track them here past the edge of known space, into the Unknown Regions, but our ship was damaged and we set down on this planet to make repairs. Our scans indicated technological advancement, but no lifesigns, and so we deemed it as safe as it would ever be. And then, before out third sunrise, you came through your chappa'ai."
Vala nods, mind buzzing. "Stargate, is the closest translation I can think of," she says almost automatically. They had all three been dancing around trading any substantial information thus far, but in light of such painful revelations… "What happened to your sister, then, if she did not return home?"
They shift uncomfortably, and if the two did not share a body, Vala is certain they would be trading uncomfortable expressions. "A former Jedi, the leader of the Separatist faction, found her before we could," Maul said at last. "He sensed the same potential in her that I did—for Zabrak have a very rare, almost unique, ability to feel the Force similarly to how we symbiotes do—and he…"
A shadow of rage passes over their face.
"I will not say he Blended with her," the Nightbrother finally spat, his strong, smooth voice like poison. "She was being hunted like prey, the idea of saying 'no' to such power and protection would never even have occurred to her. He is Sith, and even worse—the vile sort who play-pretends at civility and respect for those who share their form with him, but seizes control without mercy or remorse."
Vala stops breathing at the thought. "He possesses her?" she demands, once air and light and sound returns to the room. "As I was possessed?"
They nod curtly, gazing out of the cockpit window. "There is a nominal amount of give and take to their union, but make no mistake: it is an abomination, like that of any other Sith. The only reason we continue searching for our brother before helping our sister is that she entreated us to do so." He bares their fangs in a bloodthirsty grin. "When we find Savage, we will return for our sister, rip that serpent from her body, and feast upon his spine."
Light from the planet's triplet suns streams in at an angle, setting everything it touches ablaze, and Vala doesn't need to have access to The Force to know that Maul means every word. "Alright," she nods, steeling herself. "When do we start?"
Six months later finds them on a small, out-of-the-way moon under the control of one of Qetesh's rivals—a System Lord by the name of Ba'al.
As they stalk through the facility, some unnamed lackey stammers his way through the typical obsequiousness. Maul is clearly nearing the edge of his already frayed patience, in his high-necked black and gold leather, while Vala is focusing almost entirely on the shocking comfort of her silver Jaffa armor. If she lets herself think too much on being so deep in enemy territory, she'll lose her nerve. Better to be surprised at how well the boots cushion her feet, or resist the urge to peel the fake First Prime brand from her forehead.
It's been a trying mission thus far and it's only just started.
"I have not come all this way for platitudes," Maul sneers at the man currently falling over himself to reassure them that everything is 'on-schedule'. Vala nearly even controls her flinch at the unnatural double-toned echo of his voice. Not quite, but it's better than the first time he'd tried it out and she'd had an panic attack. "I have come to see results. "
"Of course, of course, my lord Qetesh," the man says, bobbing up and down like he can't quite decide whether or not to kowtow. "Right this way, right this way."
Vala would feel more sympathy for the man's plight, but she can spot from a lightyear away that he isn't being forced into anything. He truly believes in the 'divinity' of the false-gods, and made his choices long ago. A traitor in a millennia-long war against the Goa'uld. Besides, he truly is incredibly annoying.
He continues babbling as they traverse the golden halls ever deeper into the core of the moon. "The subject has been resistant to most of our methods, but we have recently made a breakthrough and we are almost ready to begin testing."
A chill goes down Vala's spine.
After digging up and investigating the deepest, most secretive projects of four separate System Lords, have they finally reached their goal only for Savage to have broken? Vala desperately wishes that she wasn't the requisite two steps behind her companions, that she could glance over and see the burn in Maul's eyes or the curve of Feral's reassuring smile. Anything but steadily marching behind as Maul snarls at the facility's caretaker in a fair approximation of Qetesh's casual disdain for all life.
It doesn't take much on their part to frighten the idiot into taking them directly to the stasis tank holding 'the subject'. By the time they reach the chamber door, Vala has wrestled the hope in her chest down and stuffed it into a box, no time for its distraction. The second the door opens and when they see the symbiote floating listlessly in the tank at the center, any doubt vanishes.
Grabbing the blaster holstered at the small of her back, she kicks the legs out from under the lackey, pushes him to the floor, and shoots him between the shoulder blades. Maul strides over to the tank without so much as a glance in their direction, too busy staring with rapt attention at their brother.
Before he even has a chance to touch the controls, the spell is broken by a sickening familiar chuckle. "All this trouble, all this panic amongst the System Lords, just for my little pet project?"
She can't breathe.
She breathes, and turns.
Blocking the doorway, with a smirk and Kara kesh on easy display, stands Qetesh's most hated rival. His eyes glitter with the genuine delight of facing an enemy head-on that Qetesh had always despised most about him. Out of all the System Lords to catch them snooping around their nasty little secrets, Ba'al was by far the worst.
He grins and nods at Vala like a foe well-met. "Qetesh," he says, almost pleasant if not for the calculation in his gaze as he takes in the First Prime armor Vala wears. "This is a bold move, even for you. I'm impressed."
Vala doesn't look over at the brothers as she straightens and treats the Goa'uld to a knife-slash smile. "Actually, it's Vala now," she replies, mirroring his tone. She keeps her body relaxed, unthreatening and unthreatened. Her smile gets impossibly sharper as she continues, "If the Tok'ra know how to do one thing, at least, it's kill Goa'uld."
Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth as she stares Ba'al down, sure that Maul and Feral are preparing to do something, but not daring to look away. Maul may be the biggest and baddest predator in the room, but a System Lord with a Kara kesh is not to be underestimated.
His eyes and the gold wrapped around his fingers flash as Ba'al raises a hand to strike at her—a triumphant smile on his stolen face—and then the air is crackling and Maul is moving toward the System Lord in a blur of black and gold. There's a half-second pause in which he makes a complicated motion that Vala even half-recognizes, and then Ba'al is flying backwards as if struck by an incredible force. He hits the far wall across from the doorway with a sickening thud and slumps down to the floor, dazed.
Vala springs into action, running to the control panel with a brisk, "Close the door and keep it closed until I'm done!" She rips the panel off and lets her fingers do what they will. Knowledge gained through blood and slavery guides them, the way Maul had taught her to allow. The door seals shut without her touching the appropriate crystal and Vala glances back.
They're back by the tank, rapturous expression on their face as they watch their brother, one hand extended toward the door. Years of hardship and toil, and he's right there before them. Vala can't imagine what they must be feeling. She turns her gaze back to the control crystals and lets her mind wander as she rearranges them into the proper order. Behind the door, she can hear double-toned shouting and Jaffa boots clanking against the floor; behind her, she can hear Feral murmuring to Savage, we never gave up, we never stopped searching, we will keep you safe now.
A lump appears in her throat at the love in his voice.
The crystals flash in sequence and Vala shouts "done!" before rushing over to the tank herself. Maul drops the hand holding the door closed and continues fiddling with the tank controls with both hands free. Feral doesn't stop his constant stream of reassurances until Vala, unable to stand it, finally says, "Did we have a plan for if the Goa'uld in question was actually home, by the way?"
"It's within expected parameters," Maul replies, carefully removing the top of the tank and disconnecting the thin wire filaments attached to the listless symbiote.
Vala can't help but snort. "Mikta," she fires back, firmly keeping her eyes on their weak, sickly brother. The once-glistening black of his trueskin looks grey like the approach of death; the jagged golden stripes look jaundiced. If he isn't hosted soon, he will die, and Vala doesn't need anything but her own two eyes to see it.
"Sister," Feral says, pulling their hands out of the water and turning to face her. He knows it even better than she does. "We would tell you again, you needn't do this. We can find another way. We do not wish to harm you."
It says much that the brothers give her this one last chance. It speaks of honor and respect and, perhaps, a hint of love. And if these two can be brave, so can Vala. She does nothing but look once more at Savage, freed and beginning to swim in tentative circles around the tank, before she steels herself and pulls Feral down for a soft, gentle kiss.
Vala opens her mouth and doesn't look back.
. . .
Maul will never cease to marvel at the courage of their human sister. Taken by Sith, forced to live through a decade of tortures and sins, and yet she is not broken. Bitter and angry and so, so afraid, but she is whole. As he settles himself, curling around her spine and brainstem, he finds that he admires her all the more.
Since the beginning, he had felt her fear and disgust of him echo through the Force, but those were mere echos. Here, in the heart of her, she is as wild with fear as a wounded Nexu. Yet she offers him sanctuary with an openness the he can tell costs her dearly, and all to help his spawn-sibling, whom she has never met. She doesn't know the way it feels to twine together with Savage in the pools of Dathomir; she doesn't know the gentle way he spoke of Feral, before he even was Feral, just hours after meeting him; she doesn't know the husky growl of his hosted voice berating Maul for being reckless, an elder brother at his core. But with only a weak partition between them, Maul thinks she begins to understand.
They are not the mad, Dark-filled Goa'uld, they are Nightbrothers. And they abandon no brother or sister, ever. A warm pulse echoes across the shared space of their mind and Maul smiles using their mouth. It lacks fangs, but holds a tongue unmatched for wit, but he thinks he can accept the trade with grace.
They blink rapidly as they adjust, Maul wriggling and making space for himself while Vala forces her wild mind to accept him, and watch Feral and Savage do the same by the containment cell. Barbaric thing, that, transmitting a constant stream of electricity meant to cut Savage off from the Force. It was a miracle the fool responsible hadn't fried his brother's brain.
The frozen gold of Feral's eyes turn liquid and Maul sees his last remaining spawn-sibling for the first time in years. "Maul," he croaks, and then they're enveloped into a hug that almost seems too big to be coming from Feral's body. But then, Savage as always been so. "You're here."
"We're here, brother," they reply, and Maul doesn't quite understand how this wild little thing hosting him can fear them so deeply yet love them all the same. And it's unquestionably Vala who next says, "And we won't be leaving you any time soon."
They break away from each other, and their brother surveys his new host from hair to boots. "And who might you be, sister."
Vala laughs at the non-question and Maul punches him in the shoulder with a muttered, "Kree shac, shel nok." The lack of comprehension on their brothers' face makes her laugh harder, but the question makes the space between her and Maul hum. Together, with his memories offered for her perusal, they think about the differences between a Nightsibling Blending and a Goa'uld hosting.
It takes barely more than seconds for her to decide and, with a little grin, she clasps forearms with their brother and says, "Wild. I'm Wild."
Maul thinks to himself, far away from where she can hear it, that he may come to love this sister more than any other before her.
Savage hums in acknowledgement and Feral smiles like sunshine and the moment isn't so much as jostled by the staff blasts that suddenly begin striking the door. They are together and they are strong and they will not be defeated by a madman and his slaves.
Quietly, almost certainly meant to be only to herself but not properly partitioned away, Vala counts: self, two, three, and Savage makes four. Time to go home.
Additional Notes: 1) The original summary for this was more of a "Vala's Greatest Hits" list and felt too much like I was trying to prepare readers for Who Vala Is if they didn't already know, and I'm not about that. But I feel like it's worth sharing anyway:
"Vala is eight years old when she first meets her daddy—the little trinkets he's sent her for birthdays and as "special little treasures" don't count. She also meets his new wife, who glares daggers at Vala when her daddy doesn't see.
Vala is thirteen years old when Adria sells her to an evil man named Firenze.
She's sixteen when she strangles him.
She's twenty-two years old when she's taken as a host by the Goa'uld Qetesh.
She's thirty when the Tok'ra incite a rebellion on Qetesh's favorite slave-world.
She's thirty when the local leaders of the rebellion drag her from Qetesh's throne and spend a week beating her to within an inch of even a Goa'uld host's life.
She's thirty when the Tok'ra, feeling some semblance of remorse, spirit her away to one of their bases and extract Qetesh from her body and mind.
Vala is thirty years old when, still somewhat delirious with pain, she manages to slip her Tok'ra guards and use the Stargate and her knowledge as a now former-host to flee her "rescuers"."
2) Goa'uld words: "clavis" is the DHD (dial-home device) which is used to operate the Stargate. "chappa'ai" is the Stargate. "Mikta" means ass, as in both the insult and the noun. "Kree shac, shel nok" pretty much means "bite me". "Kara kesh" is the ribbon device used by Goa'uld, it's their main weapon. Google it, they are badass and super pretty. A "Jaffa" is the genetically altered footsoldier of the Goa'uld, who would also host larval Goa'uld in a special pouch in their abdomen.
3) For those who are SW fans and not SG fans, Ra was the Supreme Leader of the Goa'uld, he found Earth first, took the first human host, and posed as a god first. Qetesh is one of his daughters, and sister to Apophis and Heru'ur. (She was also an underling of a dude named Camulus, who was actually pretty hot ngl, and her main rivals were Ba'al and Athena.) When Vala first sees Feral/Maul, she gets a flashback of a memory that belonged to Qetesh, which was one of Ra's memories of a former host, which was an Unas. Before Goa'uld took human hosts, they had Unas, whom they co-evolved with on the Unas homeworld. They're basically big Crocodile Dinosaur People. Google them, they are also super badass. Feral doesn't really look like one, but the shock of seeing a Zabrak for the first time jarred loose an old, old, old memory. Similarly, Vala knows Basic because Qetesh knew Ancient from Ra's memories, and the two are one and the same.
4) Aaaaaaand, goof the first. Star Wars symbiotes do not have naquada. Like Norc and Dogmatix, I subscribe to the world-building of "The Dragon King's Temple" by Kryal (good shit, I recommend checking it out) in a variety of ways: specifically, naquada is a heavy metal, the Goa'uld were genetically altered by the Ancients to be reliant on it (because they're pretty awful Scientific people, c'mon, they made the Wraith too), but they still have heavy metal poisoning and are thus literally insane. Ergo, Obi-Wan and Anakin do not have a naquada signature and neither should Maul or Feral. Ngl, I forgot a little bit, but I've decided to run with it. Maul was Sith, Sith have trace amounts of naquada, *handwaves*
5) Dathomirians are different from the rest of the AStSB universe, specifically the Jedi. Symbiotes from Dathomir are Nightsiblings (or Nightsisters or Nightbrothers, depending on how they identify), not Jedi, and choose hosts from the Zabrak population, many of whom are also a little Force-sensitive. Feral has just a little bit of Force-sensitivity, in the same vein as most untrained Force-sensitives in the SW universe seem to be: empathic, able to sense danger and the intent of others, etc. Feral knew from being close to Vala that she does/had hosted a symbiote, but until he actively probed her Force presence, he didn't know that a) Qetesh was gone, and b) Qetesh was, by his understanding and standards, a Sith. It's impolite to read another person's aura when they're unconscious, okay? But that kind of trauma is pretty easily spotted once you do. Also, a Zabrak only becomes a Nightsibling in return when they are or have hosted a symbiote.
6) Goof the second: it's implied by AStSB's brief mention of Ventress that she was a symbiote, and not a host. That's my fault, ngl, and in a couple different ways. I'd already gotten partially through this by the time I thought to re-read AStSB again, and it changed directions a few different times. The first time, it was going to just be "Vala escapes the Tok'ra, finds Maul and his host (Savage) injured, she hosts him when Savage dies and together they go do Things." Then it was "Point A, finds Maul and his host (Savage), they become friends, and she eventually hosts Maul when his host dies." Then it was "Point A, finds Maul and his host (Savage), they become friends, she helps them look for their sister (Asajj)." Then I remembered Feral and everything switched up so that Feral was looking for his brother Savage and his symbiote Asajj, but then I remembered that Savage was a Sith apprentice is TCW and switched everything again so that Asajj was a host. And I settled on what became this whole mess and promptly came across the bit in AStSB that implied Asajj was a symbiote. So I added in Zabraks being a bit Force-sensitive, and Asajj hosting Dooku and being his Apprentice like that. Basically, my brain is a trashfire that cannot be trusted.
7) The planet they're on having three suns wasn't originally meant to be a nod to Pitch Black, but then I remembered that Claudia Black (Vala's actress) was in Pitch Black and suddenly FUCK YEAH IT IS
8) Canonically, we have no idea what Qetesh's symbol was (Goa'uld have symbols associated with them, they were tattooed on the foreheads of all of their Jaffa, and their First Primes [the highest-ranking officers] would have the symbol cut into their foreheads and molten gold would be poured into it, s) so I took the liberty of doing the barest amount of research I could on the actual goddess Qetesh and decided that her symbol is a crescent moon flanked by a papyrus reed on the left and a lotus blossom on the right which are crossed at the stems beneath the moon.
9) Naming conventions: in "The Dragon King's Temple", it's reinforced several times that back when Unas and symbiotes coexisted together, without being crazy and power-mad, their language reflected their dual nature. They had over fifteen pronouns to refer to oneself and tended to have several names apiece, usually various combinations of the host's name and the symbiote's name, separately, together, previously together but now separated, etc. For the Dathomirians, I sort of went with something similar. Hosts have their own names, and then when they blend with a Nightsibling, they adopt a second name derived from the symbiote's name and then take their surname as well to denote lineage. So Feral has his own name, as an individual, but then as a host his name is Feral Opress, because he was supposed to host Savage Opress. He picked it out in advance, and then even though he Blended with Maul, he kept it because he knew one day he'd host Savage like he felt he was meant to. So Vala's name is still Vala Mal Doran, but as Maul's host she's also Wild Opress.
10) And finally, what sparked this entire fic, the one thing that I've been waiting for this entire time. Are you ready? Are you really, really ready? Because here it is. Here it comes. Brace yourselves…Vala Maul Doran.