'Until you meet an alien intelligence, you will not know what it is to be human' (Frank Herbert)
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Title: Red Queen
Rating: Initially PG, but later chapters will rise to T/M largely for
Nasty situation. Action/adventure, some drama, some horror, some romance.
Summary: The Tok'ra request SG1's assistance when they learn that Baal may have acquired a goa'uld queen in a human host with special powers – a hok'taur. The truth proves to be quite different, and could hold the key to the destruction of the goa'uld – or the survival of the Tok'ra.
Characters: Malek, Jacob/Selmak, Delek, Anise/Freya, SG1, Bratac, OFC (sorry: necessary for the plot!)
Story notes: Set late season 7 through season 8. I'm quite approximate with the timeline and you may consider it slightly AU in that certain characters that died during these seasons stay alive in my fic I use the characters of Malek/Darin that I introduced in Balancing the Books, but you do not need to read that fic to understand this one.
Technical notes: Spelling is British English. In general, italics is host/symbiote communication, or internal thoughts for non-blended individuals. Bold is for emphasis. Please note this fic is going to be novel-length (circa 75,000 words). 90% of it is written as of this chapter (but only about 5% formatted). The rest will hopefully be done as I go along. I will not take forever to upload between chapters.
Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate SG1 or any of its characters or even my own symbiote I make no profit from this. I also do not own the stargate, or I would go on funky adventures through it (and get my arse kicked).
I've been writing this since early 2008, so it's taken a while and a lot of effort. Please review if you read, and ask if you'd like to link or archive elsewhere. Once formatted, I hope to upload to livejournal as well.
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'The unknown, the unforetold, the unproven, that is what life is based on. Ignorance is the ground of thought. Unproof is the ground of action. If it were proven that there is no God, there would be no religion...But also if it were proven that there is a God, there would be no religion.'
(The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula le Guin)
Malek could sense their presence out of the corner of his eye, hovering tentatively outside his office door – or entrance, rather, since Tok'ra tunnels had no doors, a fact he was finding increasingly irritating this week, as it seemingly meant everyone felt they could interrupt him whenever they wanted. Couldn't they see he was busy?
"Yes, what is it?" he demanded testily. Ordinarily, Darin would have gently chided him for his terse manner, but his host was as fed up as he was, and remained in silent agreement.
"An urgent report," the centurion reported, holding up a data pad, "From outpost thirty-one."
"Thirty-one?" Malek repeated, frowning, gesturing impatiently for the pad. That was odd. The centurion handed it over hastily. Malek began scanning whilst the guard hovered. He raised his eyes, adding, pointedly, "You may go now." The man escaped in evident relief.
You intimidate him, was Darin's observation.
Good. There have to be some compensations for this onerous duty.
Really, Malek, and this time Darin's tone was gently chiding, albeit a little amused as well. You're like a sulking child sometimes.
I am not!
I'm sure Garshaw will let us get back onto research soon. Or perhaps another command.
I'm sure she won't. And stop trying to soothe me! He could hear Darin's mental laughter ringing around their skull at that, and, giving in, gave him a mental 'hug'.
Impudent boy, he nevertheless couldn't resist adding.
Grumpy old man, came the instant retort.
First I'm a child, then I'm an old man. Make up your mind. Darin just 'tickled' him, and a chuckle escaped him at that. He didn't mind Darin's teasing, of course; in fact, he treasured it. It had taken Darin a long time to become comfortable and confident enough to attempt such a thing, and they were all the closer for it, he mused. Thinking about it mellowed his mood slightly.
He had yet to be assigned a more permanent position after the destruction of the base he had been the commander of, and Garshaw had found it best to utilise him in a stopgap fashion wherever someone of experience was required. Hence he'd had a mission (successful, but with an unplanned rescue action that the Council had taken a rather dim view of), a couple of his favoured research projects, and most recently, was functioning in the capacity of Senior Information Officer at the Tok'ra's largest base. In other words, collating all the gathered intelligence and presenting it at regular intervals to the High Council, and coordinating the particulars of organising missions. His analytical skills were well-suited to the task, particularly matched with Darin's keen insight at reading people and situations. Nevertheless, they were both finding it wearying and frequently tedious.
Well what's this urgent report about then? Darin wanted to know. Did it come via Bratac?
It's possible, Malek admitted, knowing several key rebel Jaffa emplacements were in that general area. After the, in his mind disastrous, severing of the official alliance between the Tok'ra, Jaffa and Tau'ri, he and Bra'tac had kept up their own 'unofficial' contact, passing information between their peoples and providing limited assistance wherever possible. They weren't the only ones of course; there were other Jaffa and Tok'ra sympathetic to the spirit of the alliance, and Jacob/Selmak in particular were keeping up the contact with the Tau'ri as best as possible. Nevertheless, he had known immediately that this was something unusual.
The agent at Outpost 31 was not on an infiltration mission, but rather keeping a distant eye on Jaffa troop movements by the System Lords in that region. However, since Anubis had shaken everything up, their power had been decimated and the reports had been dutiful but uneventful. It was a worrying possibility that one of the System Lords might be taking the opportunity presented by Anubis' defeat to rebuild their armies and conquer territory.
Terya/Jent have always been thorough and reliable, Darin commented, as Malek scanned the report, seeing for the moment nothing more than the usual – but then, this report would have had to be relayed, and if its contents were as sensitive as the 'urgent' status implied….he applied a level four decryption, and a hidden file appeared, appended to the status report. His sense of disquiet only grew as he read it; it wasn't troop build-ups or any overt aggression by the System Lords, but something altogether more sinister than that.
I think we need to take this to the High Council.
* * *
The lavish meal lay untouched upon the table; she was still debating about the jug of wine. Perhaps it would calm her, but the thought of it made her as sick as the food she knew she should eat, but could not face. The excessive spread matched the room; generously proportioned, and furnished in a fashion that suggested someone had been aiming for restrained and impressive, with dark columns and geometric arches, but hadn't quite been able to resist the temptation to flaunt their wealth and overlaid it with gold gilt everywhere. No matter the luxury, it was still a prison; there were a couple of enormous guards with those huge…huge laser-shooting lacrosse sticks or whatever the hell they were outside the locked door, and she was still trapped here against her will. And currently still sitting hyperventilating on an overdone canopied bed large enough for her whole family because she hadn't moved for the past however many minutes, petrified like a miserable little rabbit.
"Dr Eleanor Grace Stewart, you have got to pull yourself together!" she whispered under her breath, for about the fifth time. "It's funny really," she continued, aware that she was babbling to herself, but unable to stop, "You see, it really is funny. Why, only the other day you were scoffing about those sad losers who're convinced they've been abducted by little grey aliens, and now here you are! Abducted by aliens! Albeit by someone who looks more like the gangsta rapper brother of Ming the Merciless, complete with evil henchmen. You see, it's funny, it's funny isn't it? It's ironic. This is what you get for wasting your life reading too much sci-fi. It's funny, it's funny, laugh, you can laugh about it, you should laugh about it…." She trailed off, and abruptly burst into tears instead, to her utter humiliation. If that didn't take the biscuit. She had always despised those lame female characters who burst into tears (or, worse, indulged in some high-pitched screaming) and did nothing but sit around waiting for some handsome man to come and rescue them, and what was she doing? Well, apart from the last bit anyway, as she foolishly forgot to invest in a useful bloke, before getting abducted. Lack of planning there, Stewart, she thought, with a dark, gallows humour. Then, finally, she did laugh, a little hysterically, admittedly, but when at last she stopped, she felt better. Calmer.
She also knew that foolish attempts at heroics were not what people did when they got captured. Life wasn't science fiction, even if it was currently doing a damned good impression. Everybody begged, everybody was frightened, nobody got away by making a rope from the bedsheets…actually, there was an idea. Deliberately, she put it aside until later. She had to think. She had to be smart; it was, after all, the only talent she had. And the first smart thing to do would be to have something to eat and drink. Possibly it was drugged, of course, but there didn't seem to be any necessity to do so. No, in fact, when you thought about it, the opulent surroundings suggested someone wanted to take good care of their prisoner, so the food was probably what it appeared to be.
She piled up a plate and sat down to have a hard think, a necessarily grim process. First things first. Review what had happened – and, a sudden thought – when. She looked at her watch. God, it had only been twelve hours. Twelve hours since she had left the lab and cycled home, and she'd felt a brief, agonising tingling, before passing out. And waking up in some sort of a – a spaceship (even as she thought it, it felt silly) in a much less comfortable cell. The henchmen had brought her, still groggy and half-thinking she must be dreaming, before their Evil Master (god, where was she – in orbit around planet cliché?) who had looked human but had an odd voice, and had waved some sort of a device over her before saying 'Excellent. Perfect,' and dismissing them. She'd possibly passed out again. Her memory of the past few hours was suspiciously vague But for the last few of them, she'd been here, which was definitely on a planet.
As recently as yesterday, the thought of being on an alien planet would have thrilled her to pieces, but now it was just another frightening, despair-inducing fact. Even considering the astronomically unlikely possibility that she could escape, where the hell would she go? Assuming the nearby climate was congenial enough for her to survive, she would still have to avoid Ming and the Evil Henchmen, find and get help from the local inhabitants, if there were any, and still have no hope of getting home. Wonderful. She felt tears well up again, and ruthlessly stamped on the feeling. First things first. She would do what she could; any opportunity she had to improve the situation, no matter how minimally, she would take. In the meantime, anything she could learn, she would. Grimly, she bit down on a seasoned leg of…let's assume it's chicken.