Men of Conviction

When Tomin turned his back and left, she knew. There would be no rescue, no moment when his supposed love won out over his fanatical devotion to the Ori. She should have realized, of course, that this was how it would be, but somehow the man's inherent kindness had touched her. In her mind, Qetesh's voice sounded as she regarded the dead body of a Jaffa who had displeased her.

"Men of conviction are useful tools…but only for a while…"

The first few hours passed with relative ease before the thirst began. First just an itch at the back of her throat, then an uncomfortable dryness in her mouth, which she tried to tell herself was lessened when she worked up a mouthful of saliva. By the second day, though, there just wasn't anything left. She tried to keep her eyes closed as much as possible, tried not to see the villagers drinking around her or imagine cold water passing over her cracked lips, coursing over her swollen tongue and down her throat.

Fear for the baby gnawed at the back of her mind…and as the day progressed, she reluctantly admitted to a burgeoning hope that it wouldn't survive. Her mind had gotten rather clouded by then, and she wasn't sure whether the whispered recriminations she heard for even entertaining those thoughts were real or imagined.

When the world began to spin around her that night, she had the half-coherent notion that the Ori had come to punish her themselves. As she fell, she only half felt herself hit the ground and was actually surprised to open her eyes again at all. Confused, she wondered for a moment if Tomin had come for her after all. Then, the air above her erupted into a flaming manifestation of Ori retribution.

Vala drew a breath to scream, but no sound emerged. As her eyes flew open again to the site of the village altar, she let out a gasp, but her relief quickly dissipated. The heavy shackles still bound her, and as she pulled herself up, she spotted Tomin on his way out.

The Ori don't need demons, she thought bitterly, struggling again. They don't need flaming monsters to come and eat me…

"Vala?" Daniel knelt beside her, gently brushing back her hair.

"D-daniel?" she stammered. "Daniel--do something!"

"I can't," he replied, frowning painfully.

"What do you mean you can't?" Vala cried. "What are you doing here then?"

"I'm not here," he replied, sighing heavily. "I wish I was, but I'm in your head."

Vala let her eyes slowly close, feeling hopeless tears well up in her eyes, but Daniel's hands cupped her face, forcing her to look at him again. "Listen," he said softly. "Listen, Vala, don't give up."

"Why?" she asked dully. "Because the real Daniel Jackson is going to show up any minute and come rushing to my rescue?"

He shook his head slowly. "No. Because if you give up, they'll have broken you."

"So?" she almost laughed at the ridiculousness of it, but couldn't quite muster the cynicism.

Daniel leaned forward, softly brushing her lips with his own. "No one breaks Vala Mal Doran," he smiled as he faded away.
When Tomin did come for her, the first thought she had was that somehow Daniel had found a way to the Ori galaxy. It was insane; she knew it was insane, and she was only half surprised to find that the hand brushing back her hair this time was Tomin's. But it was Daniel's kiss she still tasted, and Daniel's voice she heard as he lifted her into his arms.

If you give in, they'll have broken you… no one breaks Vala Mal Doran.