GODS

By Lorraine J. Anderson

They came again today, through the Chappa'ai. The people with two faces, with two spirits, they who talk like Gods. They come to the temple of my God, Nirrti. My village think they are Gods, but they are not. Ever since Nirrti gave me her gift, I can tell.

The villagers think they come to worship, bringing her gifts. We have not seen my God in a long time, but they go to her temple. I can tell in their minds they do not respect Nirrti. In both of their minds.

My village is a small one. We have a few houses made out of poles and leaves, just so we can keep out of the rain. We have some farmers, some hunters.

Our world is warm. We have many, many trees and many, many flowers, red, yellow, white. Our stories say that a long time ago, we were kidnaped from another place through the Chappa'ai, and were never able to find our way back. We were brought to dig in the mountains, but what the Gods wanted has long gone. They then came to take our young men, which we gave, in fear of them. Even though some thought it wrong, the young men went to save the rest of us.

The Gods have not come in a long time. Until Nirrti, a couple of years ago.

We have a head man named Thomat. We have other Gods we worship, Ra, Apophis, Ba'al... we have seen none of them in a very long time.

These three say they are Gods, but we do not know their names they give. Ja'at, Cymem, Rapha. Names I don't know. Thomat says he does not know them, either.

I am Brika. I have had trouble with many things since Nirrti gave me her gift. The others died, but I'm still alive. I have trouble. Walking, hunting. Mostly thinking. I was much smarter. I have a wife. I can no longer give her children, I can no long help her. She takes care of me. She looks at me sadly. I say I'm sorry, but she tells me that it's not my fault.

I wander the village. I wander the village a lot since my gift. Everybody is kind to me. But today I am restless. I am always restless, but today more. I think it's because of the Gods in the temple. They are wrong. I decide I need to see the three Gods. I cannot stay away. Something is wrong. I have to find out.

I come to the temple. They are dressed in flowing robes, such as the priests wore in the older days. The older God is seated in the throne. The woman is ... praying... at Nirrti's altar. The younger God is looking out at the village. He has a mad expression on his face.

"Ba'al is wasting his time sending us to this dirty temple," he says, his voice echoing.

"Patience, Rapha," the older God says. "Ba'al has his reasons. Our dear departed sister Nirrti may yet have something of use. Our brethren are stretched thin these days, and we need better hosts." He looks up sharply. "Or would you prefer to go to the Tau'ri home world?"

"Our dear departed sister Nirrti probably took the key to this device with her," Cymen spat. "She always was a bi..."

The older God smiled cruelly. "Speaking of dear sister Nirrti, look what we have here."

The three of them grinned at me. "We may never find the answer we want," Rapha says. "This slave is a prime example. One of her experiments, and she made him as dumb as a rock."

Ja'at raised his eyebrows. "You're using Tau'ri expressions. Besides, we don't necessarily need a smart host. Mine is a prime example." He smiled.

Cymen looks up. "And my host thinks your host is smarter then he lets on."

"Are you sure?"

Rapha glared at the two, sighed, and came forward. "I think I need a little amusement. I grow bored of this backwater planet." He reached toward me, a metal thing on his hand. It starts to glow.

Host? Planet. I do not understand. But the minds are more divided than ever. I look within him, and see an... eel. This is the source of the evil. I twist. The eel disappears.

Rapha screams and drops to the ground. Ja'at and Cymen stand up and look at me. I see

Cymen raise her hand. The eel in her is gone, and she falls backward. Ja'at looks at the two and starts to run, but I take his eel, too. He falls forward with a grunt.

I close my eyes and sink to the floor. I am very tired.

Ja'at groaned and turned over. Looking up at the ceiling, he says, "Carter, what was the name of the truck that hit me?"

The other two are silent. Ja'at crawls over to the woman. "Carter?"

Cymen opens her eyes. "Sir." She closes her eyes. "Sir. We're free."

"No shit." Ja'at sat up. "Daniel?"

"Jack?" Rapha starts to sit up, falls back. "Just a sec." He raises his hand to his head, spots the metal thing on it, tears it off, and throws it at the wall. "Oh, God."

"You didn't do anything with it, Daniel."

"No, but I couldn't stop him, either."

"Don't dwell on it." Ja'at's — Jack Sir's — eyes rests on me. "Did you do that?"

I bow to the floor. They weren't of two minds anymore, but I'm not sure who they are. "I made the eels go away, Jack Sir."

Jack Sir backs away. "Eew... get up. don't bow to me. I've had enough bowing the past few days."

Cymen — Carter is looking at the altar. "Sir, this device is the twin to the one on Alebran's planet. Brika's condition could be reversed."

"Two seconds from being a Goa'uld and you're already looking at the scenery, Carter. Weren't you listening to what they were saying? Ba'al sent them! Goa'uld could be here any moment."

"Or not," Daniel gets up and looks around squinting. "Ba'al seemed awfully confident of... us."

"And why shouldn't he be?" Carter spat. "We were Goa'uld."

Daniel gulps and looks sick.

"Nonetheless," Jack Sir says. "I'd sleep better at night if I had a squadron at my back. I don't care if those three were in major denial. Let's get back through the Stargate."

"The Jaffa are there," Carter says.

Jack Sir shrugs. "They still think we're Goa'uld, don't they?"

Daniel points at me. "What about Brika?"

Jack Sir chews his lip. "We better take him back with us. For study. That was one neat trick he did there."

I look at Jack Sir. I feel frightened. "Sir," Carter says. "We can't take him back with us. Look at him."

Jack Sir looks at me, then comes forward and clasps me on the shoulders. "Do you think I mean to hurt you?"

I look into his mind, then smile. "No, Jack Sir."

"Jack. My name is Jack."

"Jack. But you need to talk to Thomat."

"Thomat?"

"The chief," Daniel puts in.

"Thomat takes care of all of us." I don't add that I have a wife.

"Ah. Then let's go see the Wizard."

Wizard? I'm confused. I smile uncertainly.

I hear footsteps. Jack looks around, then motions to the other two, then me. Carter grabs a device, straps it on her arm. We exit the temple, then start running towards the Chappa'ai.. The Chappa'ai, it's only a short ways away.

Jaffa are guarding the Chappa'ai. Jack walks up to them. "We need to talk to Ba'al." he says, but his voice doesn't echo. The Jaffa look at each other. "Oh, hell," he says, pulling out his Zat'nikotel. He zaps one, and Carter and Daniel zap the others.

Daniel pushes buttons, Carter punches at the thing on her arm, the Chappa'ai swishes. I stare at the water.

Jack pushes me through.

#

"General!" Jack looks around. "I love the welcome!" People are pointing things at us. They don't look like zat'ni'katels, but the minds of the men are warriors.

The room is big. There are grey walls. I tremble. This is not home.

"Stand where you are."

Jack, Daniel, and Carter raise their hands, slowly. "General, we're clean," Daniel says.

"I can't trust your word." General raises his head. "Teal'C reported that he saw you all being taken over by Goa'ulds. He saw Ba'al capture you."

Jack sighs. "Can't deny that. Glad Teal'C got back all right."

"He said that Ba'al let him go to let us know how hopeless it was."

"Ah," Jack says. "More'n likely, Ba'al knew he couldn't subvert Teal'C. He looks at General. "Look, I know you can't trust us. Have Janet check us out, including our new friend here. His name is Brika, by the way. He was one of Nirrti's subjects."

"But Nirrti's..."

"... yeah, dead. Well, Brika's a left-over, I guess. He was the one who got rid of the snakes."

General looks at me doubtfully. "Him?"

"Pop. They were gone out of our heads."

General still looks doubtful. "Report to Dr. Frasier. We'll have a briefing later." He shook his head, then smiles. I look into his mind. He already believes. "This ought to be an interesting briefing."

#

"They're absolutely clean," Janet says. "We did a full body scan MRI, and there is no sign of the Goa'uld. Jack and Daniel don't even have any traces of naquadah in their blood, and Sam has only the amount that she had in her last checkup."

"What about him?" General says. He points at me.

"Clean, too." She looks down at a report. "His blood has some other odd things in it, but there's no sign of a Goa'uld." She smiles at me. "There's something else, General. He says he can read minds."

"I saw eels in Jack, Carter, and Daniel. They had two minds. I got rid of them."

"How?"

Janet looks at General. "He's not sure. But his brain scan shows some unusual activity in this..." she pointed at a picture... "area of the brain." She backs away and looks at me.

"So, Nirrti was successful." General runs his hand over his head. He's troubled.

"Not really, sir," Janet says. "She sacrificed intelligence for psi ability. I don't believe that was what she was after."

Jack walks in. "It wasn't. Ba'al was trying to find out what had gone wrong with Nirrti's experiment."

"I thought you were ordered to bed rest."

Jack looks blank. His mind comes back to the Goa'uld. He's fearful. "Couldn't sleep."

"Do you want me to take away bad memories?"

General looks at me. "You can do that?"

"Yes."

"No!" Jack looks at Janet. "No, I want to remember. This may come in handy later to know how the Goa'uld think."

Janet looks at him sideways and shakes her head. She's thinking he's stubborn. Without him knowing it, I make the memories hurt less. I do the same to Carter... Sam... and Daniel as they sit, awake, in their rooms.

Jack looks at me and raises his eyebrows, but says nothing.

#

They think I can't hear. I'm in the... infirmary. They're up in the meeting room, but I'm listening with Jack's ears. They're talking about me.

"Sir, we have to take him back. We can't leave him like this." That is Carter. She feels sorry for me.

"Do you think you can reverse his condition?" General says.

Carter sighs. "I'm not certain. I can ask people on Alebran's planet, but I'm not sure they would remember. They were pretty adamant about erasing every trace of Nirrti."

"Sir..." That's Jack. "Brika can be a pretty potent weapon. We can use him to erase Goa'uld from the galaxy."

"Which would involve placing him in danger," Daniel says. "I hate to do that. He's such an... innocent."

"He was normal before Nirrti got to him," Carter says.

I look at the infirmary walls. I used to be normal. I want to be back the way I was. I want to kill evil eels. I love my wife. I want my home. I hate eels. I don't know what I want.

I listen.

"We were looking for a weapon against the Goa'uld," Jack says. "We have one."

Silence.

I look into their minds. Jack's holds sympathy. Daniel's mind is filled with sorrow. He is remembering a woman. He is remembering his wife, who had a eel in her. Carter's mind is filled with one thing, then another. General is thinking about... me. He comes to a decision.

"People, it's Brika's decision."

"But I don't know what to do." I say.

Janet looks at me. "Excuse me?"

"I need to go to..." I don't know the word. "Where the General and Jack are. They want me."

Janet shakes her head. "I don't know."

I nod my head. "They need me. I can hear them."

She looks at me. "C'mon." We leave the infirmary. She leads me to another room.

General, Jack, Daniel, Carter, and Teal'C are sitting there. I didn't hear Teal'C, but I see a hate for snakes in his head. He looks at me and nods. Does he know I'm in his head? I don't know.

"Brika said he was needed here."

But what am I going to say? I think of Daniel. I know. "I'd... like to help."

"Help with what, son?" General says.

"Get rid of eels... snakes. Like you've been talking about."

"How did you..." Jack says. Carter looks at him. "Oh. Brika, that was rude."

"I'm sorry," I say, but I'm not, really.

"You don't look sorry." Jack looks grumpy.

I don't say anything.

Carter is concerned. "Did you hear us say it was dangerous? That you could be killed?"

"Yes."

"The other problem," Jack says, "is that we don't find Goa'uld on every street corner." He looks thoughtful. "But we were supposed to report in by now. When Ba'al sees the dead Jaffa...

"... he will send somebody to investigate," Teal'C says. He is very certain. He was a Jaffa.

#

"Ok," Jack says to the four warriors before him, "... You go through hot. We'll follow with Brika."

I look up at the circle. "Jack, are you ready?" General says.

"Yes, sir," Jack says.

General talks to the man next to him... Walter? The circle starts going around, things move up and down, then the water comes.

"Ok, go, go, go, go go!" Jack says. He waits, then starts through with Carter and Teal'C,

Daniel grasps my arm. He does not have the warrior mind, but will fight if he needs to. I like Daniel the best.

We go through and end up on my planet. Three Jaffa lie on the ground. They are dead. I frown, but all of the Jaffa I've met are warriors. Except Teal'C, he's a warrior, but a different kind of warrior.

"Good job," Jack says. I'm not so certain it's good.

We go to my village. As soon as people see him coming, they fall on the ground. Others in the village come out and do the same. The whole village is on the ground in front of Jack. "All right, everybody, get up!" Jack says. The expression on his face is funny. I start to laugh.

Jack looks at me, then back at the people. "Get up, I said. We're not Gods. Those guys are gone. There's nothing to see here anymore."

Daniel looks at them. "We'd like to talk to Thomat."

Thomat gets up. "I am Thomat, my Lord."

"Oh, for cryin'... I'm not Lord to anybody."

"You are the Gods in the temple."

"No," Jack says. "We're not. We may look like them, but..."

Daniel raises his voice. "This may be hard for you to believe, but Cymen, Rapha, and Ja'at have been banished by Brika. They had taken over our bodies."

Thomat raised his eyebrows. "I have heard of that. Legends. The legends tell us that one of our villagers came back, but he wasn't the same." Thomat looks sharply at me. "You said that Brika did that? How?"

"No legend," Daniel says. "They were called Goa'ulds. Goa'ulds took over our bodies, then sent us here. And, as to how Brika did it... haven't you noticed that Brika can read minds?"

"No."

"I didn't want you to... look oddly at me," I say. "I was... ashamed."

"Are you seeing my thoughts now?" Thomat says.

"No. I don't want to. You're my leader."

Daniel looks sympathy at me. "He can also kill Goa'uld. Without killing the host."

Something tickles at my mind. Hate. "Something's coming."

Jack raises his... gun, he calls it. "Goa'uld?"

I close my eyes. "Yes. And Jaffa." I read some more. The eel mind is very strong, the other mind very faint. Is this a good idea?

They come out of the woods. The villagers fall back to the ground, except for Thomat. He trembles slightly, but gestures the others to get up. They're not sure and raise partly up. The eel-man strides up to Jack, who has a gun pointed at him. "You're not Ja'at."

Jack rolls his eyes. "That was brilliant. Ba'al sending out his jester now?"

The Goa'uld's eyes flash fire. The Jaffa surround us.

"You're coming with us."

"Oh, I don't think so," Jack says.

Jack wants me to do something. I'm not so sure. I don't know.

I see my wife. She's scared. A Jaffa has grabbed her arm.

I look into the Goa'uld's mind. The eel will never let us go. I get rid of the eel. The man screams. The Jaffa look at him, then raise their zat'ni'katels. I reach into each one of them and get rid of their eels. They collapse.

I try to heal them, like I did with Jack. But I can't heal them. The eels have damaged them too badly.

I collapse. I'm very tired. I throw up. Tears come out of my eyes.

I'm surrounded by dead and dying men. The man who had the eel in his brain looks at me and is grateful. I smile at him, but he is dying. I close my eyes.

"No."

I didn't realize I said that out loud.

Tears are going down my cheeks.

I look up at Jack. "Don't make me do that again."

Jack looks sad at me.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"You won't be able to protect your people," Carter says.

Thomat looks at me. "We don't want to be protected like this."

Jack grins. "I have an idea."

#

They send the bodies back through the Stargate to Ba'al. Jack says that that ought to "freak Ba'al out, when they autopsy them," whatever that means. Carter has been to Alebran's planet and they will come and make me normal again. They will come later with other of Jack's people. Jack doesn't believe the Goa'uld will be back.

Jack and Carter and Daniel tell me goodbye. Teal'C has already returned. He saw I was itchy around him. He doesn't have an eel now, but he still makes me jumpy.

"Thank you," Jack says. The other two say goodbye.

"I'm sorry," I say. I wish I could do more, but I don't want to kill again. I tell Jack that.

"Hey," he says. He smiles. "Not everybody can do this. That's why there's people like me."

They leave.

I look forward to getting my old life back. But I will never forget, and I will always be changed.

END