“Receiving IDC transmission, sir,” the technician reported. “It’s… the Tok’ra.”
“Open the iris,” General Hammond ordered.
Jack, Daniel, and Sam hurried into the Gate room; Teal’c had remained behind on Hathor’s planet for the time being. Behind them Dr. Raully, who had been dozing on a chair outside the infirmary and whose white coat was a crumpled mess, followed at a slightly slower pace.
Three people came through the event horizon; a tall dark-haired woman, approaching middle age but still beautiful, a tall and handsome man, and Jacob Carter.
“Stand down,” Hammond ordered the security teams. “Glad to see you, Jacob, Selmak,” he greeted General Carter. “Would you introduce your companions?”
“Of course, George,” Jacob said. “Garshaw of Belote,” he began, indicating the woman. “She’s the Grand Council, that’s the number two position in the Tok’ra High Council. Delek, also a member of the High Council. Major General George Hammond, in charge of Stargate Command.”
“Welcome to Earth, Madame Garshaw, Mister Delek,” Hammond greeted them.
“I am pleased to meet you, General Hammond,” Garshaw replied. “I see our operative Mingala. I would like to hear her report.”
“Mingala?” Jack said to Raully.
“Sarah Raully was just a cover name for the operation,” Raully explained. “The symbiote is Mingala, and the host is called Thina. Although we’ve become rather attached to the Sarah Raully name and would like to keep it.”
“Of course,” General Hammond said to Garshaw. “Perhaps you might like to make use of our briefing room?”
“That would be satisfactory, thank you,” Garshaw said.
“I’ll have you escorted there,” Hammond said.
“General Hammond, I would like SG-1 to be present,” Raully said. “They could escort us.”
Garshaw raised her eyebrows. “You wish the Tau’ri to be part of this discussion? Surely it is purely the business of the Tok’ra.”
“I do, Grand Council,” Raully said. “Their input will be important.”
Jack thought she looked nervous and put a hand on her shoulder in a gesture of support. She turned her head and gave him a warm smile.
“Very well,” Garshaw said. “And we will, of course, have to interview… Hathor.” She said the name as if it left a bad taste in her mouth.
“She’s asleep,” Daniel said. “Doctor Fraiser won’t let anyone see her for a while yet. She was literally seconds from death.”
“We will wait,” said Garshaw. “Very well, escort us to this… briefing room.”- - - - -
“Well, Mingala, tell us why you believe that Hathor, a Goa’uld who was of System Lord status in the past and who could well be again, is qualified to become Queen of the Tok’ra?” Garshaw fixed Raully with a hard stare.
Raully swallowed hard. “We would prefer it if you called us Raully from now on,” she said, “unless you are speaking specifically only to the symbiote or the host.”
“Oh? That is not our custom,” Garshaw said, “but if it is what you desire I see no reason why not. Very well, Raully, explain yourself.”
Raully bit on her bottom lip and glanced to her sides, meeting the eyes of Jack, Daniel, and Sam, and seeming to draw strength from their encouraging smiles. “Hathor is not like the other Goa’uld,” she said. “We believe this is not a recent change but dates back to her acquisition of Andromeda as a host. She does not suppress Andromeda’s personality, but talks to her, and allows her control of the body; quite frequently, we believe, although as Hathor rarely uses her Goa’uld voice it is sometimes hard to tell.”
“You have evidence of this?” Garshaw queried.
“When they talk to each other they vocalize their speech, in a language we do not speak,” Raully explained. “Doctor Jackson speaks it, however, and will confirm what we have told you.”
“They speak in the Ionic dialect of Ancient Greek,” Daniel confirmed. “It’s what they spoke in Milētos, where Andromeda came from. I speak the very similar Attic dialect and don’t have a problem understanding them.”
Delek frowned. “They speak aloud to each other? That should not be necessary. Unless they are not properly blended.”
“They seem to preserve a greater degree of separation between symbiote and host than do we,” Raully agreed. “Andromeda even has skills that Hathor seems not to possess and, conversely, her understanding of some languages is not as fluent as that of Hathor.”
“Remarkable,” Garshaw said, “but there is more to being a Tok’ra than merely refraining from subduing the host.”
“We know,” Raully said. She swallowed again. “We fought together against her rebellious First Prime and we came to know her – them – well. We saved their lives and they saved ours twice. In fact they put themselves into deadly peril for our sake. They are brave, and understand the value of loyalty, and we are proud to call them friend. Friends.” She smiled. “Of course they are also arrogant, vain, avaricious, promiscuous, and manipulative. Both of them; Andromeda was a princess and shares Hathor’s sense of entitlement. Yet they have shown they can rise above their flaws.”
“That will have to be proved to our satisfaction,” said Garshaw. “What is your opinion, Delek? Selmak?”
“I remain unconvinced,” Delek said.
“I remember Egeria telling me that she had attempted to persuade Hathor to allow her host some self-determination,” Selmak said, “and that Hathor was not totally unreceptive to the idea. And that was how you started out, wasn’t it, Garshaw?”
“I was not born a Tok’ra,” Garshaw revealed, addressing SG-1. “I came to the same conclusions as Egeria did, although much later, and rebelled against the Goa’uld and joined the Tok’ra. I concede that Hathor may have done the same, especially if Egeria had prepared the ground, but I still require proof before I will back her claim. I was a very minor Goa’uld, in the service of Heru’ur and with no holdings of my own to lose, and for a System Lord to follow the same path does seem somewhat unlikely to me.”
“What do you think, Jack?” Jacob put in.
“I have to admit she’s grown on me,” Jack said. “Like… mold. She messed us up pretty bad when we first met her, and I wanted her dead more than just about anything, but this time… well, she was okay. Pressing on with that bullet in her guts, without complaining, showed that she’s got… guts. And seeing her kick Trofsky’s ass with those sweet moves made my day.”
“She fought bare-handed?” Delek raised his eyebrows.
“Yep. Actually Andromeda did the fighting, according to Daniel,” Jack said. “She knows an Ancient Greek combat style that makes Krav Maga look like Marquis of Queensberry rules.”
Garshaw and Delek both frowned in obvious puzzlement.
Jacob interpreted. “Krav Maga is an unarmed combat style taught to the Israeli army,” he said. “Israel is a small nation, surrounded by enemies, and their soldiers have to be tough. Krav Maga is supposed to be the most deadly martial art on Earth. Whereas the Marquis of Queensberry created rules for sporting combats, using only the closed hands, that were designed to make sure no-one got hurt too badly. If something’s more dangerous than Krav Maga then it must be really, really, brutal.”
“Andromeda used Pankration,” Daniel said. “Brutal is certainly a good description. The Spartans once boycotted the Olympic Games because of a rule change that prohibited eye-gouging.”
Garshaw looked thoughtful. “It could be a useful skill for our deep-cover agents, in the event of their discovery,” she said. “If… and I repeat if… we accept Hathor then perhaps she could teach it to them.”
“You mean Andromeda could teach it to them,” said Daniel. “Hathor had to hand over control to Andromeda for the fight.”
“Oh? Strange,” said Garshaw. “Surely Hathor has access to all Andromeda’s memories?”
“It’s all in the reflexes,” Jack said, “as a certain other Jack always says. I’d guess there’s a little time lag when the instructions are going from the… symbiote to the host. It’s not going to matter in a conversation but in a fight a fraction of a second could make all the difference. And, if Hathor’s going to let Andromeda do all the fighting, why bother learning the moves?”
“A valid point,” Garshaw conceded. “Perhaps that is why Lantash, who is involved in confrontations much more often than are we of the Council, leaves control to Martouf for the majority of the time.” She fixed Jack with one of her hard stares. “Well, Colonel O’Neill, do you agree with Mingala – Raully – that Hathor would be a valid choice as Queen of the Tok’ra?”
Jack squinted at her. “You don’t have heat vision, do you?”
“I do not understand your meaning,” Garshaw said.
“Forget it,” said Jack. “You remind me of somebody, that’s all.”
“You’re right!” Sam exclaimed. “Ursa!”
“I don’t think we’ve ever met any Goa’uld named Ursa,” Daniel said.
“Superman 2,” Jack explained. “The hot red-headed bad girl from Krypton. Played by Sarah Douglas.” Daniel still looked puzzled; Garshaw’s glare was beginning to get intense enough that her developing heat vision seemed a distinct possibility. “Sorry, I went a little off topic there,” Jack said. “So, Hathor. Maybe she would make an okay Queen after all, but not if you just want someone to pop out little baby Tok’ra. I can’t see her agreeing to do that and nothing else but if you give her a seat on your Council, maybe the same level as you, I think she’d go for it. And she’d bring in some new ideas. Or at least ones she’s stolen from us and from the Ancient Greeks.”
“And your opinion, Doctor Jackson?” Garshaw asked.
Daniel tapped his lower lip with his fingers before replying. “I think… she might be up to the job,” he said. “Certainly she’d make a superb Queen of an Ancient Greek city-state. And… I don’t hate her any longer. I can’t forget what she did to me but I can put it aside. I’d say you should at least give her a chance.”
“It is known that Hathor has the power to influence the minds of men,” Garshaw said. Daniel and Jack both winced. “Captain Carter,” Garshaw continued, “your opinion would be unclouded by such possible influence.”
“She went to a whole lot of trouble to try to get information out of us without doing us any actual harm,” Sam said, “and she had good reason to want revenge on us. Especially me. But she didn’t do anything along those lines at all. I think she was sincere in what she said and, if she’s willing to let bygones be bygones, so am I. If you want a Queen who’s got courage, and determination, enough to burn then she’s your… Goa’uld. You could do worse.”
“I shall take your words under advisement,” Garshaw said. “The actual decision must rest with the full High Council. What I recommend to them will be dependent upon what she says when we speak to her in person.”
“There is something else that we must say,” Raully said. “We feel the Tok’ra have made a serious error in treating the Tau’ri weapons with disdain. They may appear primitive to us but they are effective. Far more effective in combat, in fact, than anything we possess.”
“I’ll back her on that, Garshaw,” Jacob chimed in. “You might look down on projectile weapons with chemical propellants but we’ve refined them to be pretty damn lethal. They outrange your weapons, and those of the Jaffa, by so much it’s almost a joke. And they’re far more accurate.”
“We saw that demonstrated in the fight on Eskal,” Raully confirmed. “Colonel O’Neill slew eight Jaffa, and wounded two more, in less time that it took us to fire a single shot with our zat’nik’tel.”
“Perhaps there is merit in your suggestion,” Garshaw conceded, “but this is not the time for such a discussion. We should concentrate on the issue at hand; Hathor.”- - - - -
“This is not how we would have wished to meet the Tok’ra,” Hathor said. She looked down at the drab, shapeless, coveralls she had been given and frowned. “We had intended to meet them as a Queen on a throne, garbed in splendor, and surrounded by loyal Jaffa. Instead we must face them clad in this unflattering apparel, devoid of attendants, in a room provided by the good graces of those to whom we are indebted for our lives. We negotiate from a position of weakness.” She sighed. “Yet perhaps deservedly so, for it is through our poor judgment that we are reduced to this state. Alas that we trusted Trofsky. We believed him to be steadfast, lacking only in ambition, and thus a suitable First Prime for us now that we do not seek to conquer other realms.”
“We thought the same,” Raully said. “You should not blame yourselves.”
“So, are you ready to meet the Tok’ra?” Jack asked. He had better things to do than standing around listening to Hathor and Raully doing a post-game play-by-play. And now that both of them were using the plural to refer to themselves it was beginning to make his head spin.
“In a little while, Colonel,” Hathor said. “There are some things we must know first. How do our Jaffa fare?”
“There are thirty-four surviving Serpent Guards,” Jack informed her. “Most of the ones in the fight at the Gate came out of it alive and we found a few more at your pyramid. We’ve got seventy Horus Guard prisoners. Beats me what to do with them; right now they’re just tying up our resources keeping them under guard.”
“We do not believe that they know the dialing code for Eskal, as it is our understanding that Trofsky – may he rot in Tartarus – kept that to himself,” Hathor said, “and thus it should be safe to release them. We suggest that you question them to verify that they know not the address and, if it is so, then you tell them that we are dead and send them back to Heru’ur. If they claim Trofsky told them he was following orders from Heru’ur then their lives may well be spared.”
“That’s… not a bad idea,” Jack conceded.
“As for our Serpent Guards,” Hathor continued, “we would be grateful if you would convey to them that their courage and loyalty has made us proud. If we are accepted as Queen of the Tok’ra we will ask them to accompany us as our Royal Guard.”
“The Tok’ra would not be happy about the presence of Jaffa in their – our – bases,” Raully pointed out. “There is a long history of animosity, and conflict, between our races.”
“We had not been aware of the depth of this animosity until Trofsky’s actions brought it home to us,” Hathor said, “and we had not realized it was mutual – although, of course, it is logical that it should be so. Our knowledge of the Tok’ra is, we confess, less than complete.”
“If you’d come and meet them you’d learn more,” Jack said.
“A little longer, if you please, Colonel O’Neill,” Hathor said. “It would not be advisable for us to go ill-prepared into a meeting which may decide our whole future. We must consider this matter of the Jaffa. We do not cast aside those who have served us well and the loyal Serpent Guards have earned our loyalty in return.”
That earned Hathor a whole lot of points with Jack. He was used to Goa’uld doing the evil mastermind ‘You have failed me, minion! Die!’ thing, even when the Jaffa had tried their best, and he hadn’t expected to find that Hathor understood the ‘We don’t leave anyone behind’ ethos that was part of the reason why General Hammond inspired such loyalty and respect in his men.
“If it is an insuperable obstacle, or if the Tok’ra do not accept us for some other reason, we shall return to Eskal,” Hathor said. “We take it you will permit us to depart?”
“Well, that’s General Hammond’s decision,” Jack said, “but I can’t see him forbidding it. But your planet isn’t defensible with just thirty-four Jaffa and no sentry guns. Your shield would just mean you’d get trapped in a siege.”
“Indeed so, perhaps for ten years,” said Hathor, “although we would not open up for any wooden horses.” Jack didn’t need Danny to explain that one. “It is true Eskal is weakened. Even with a full complement of Jaffa it could not withstand bombardment from space. Our best defense was that the System Lords did not know of us and we can only hope that situation continues until we can rebuild.” She sighed. “We hope that it will not be necessary, but it is essential that we preserve some other options, so that we are not forced to throw ourselves on the mercy of the Tok’ra for lack of any alternative.”
“You need a fallback position,” Jack agreed.
“An apt description,” Hathor said.
“If the Tok’ra do not accept you, and you return to Eskal,” Raully said, “we shall ask that we be allowed to accompany you as a liaison.”
A request that Jack was sure would be granted, although he thought the Tok’ra council would regard it more as positioning Raully as a spy on Hathor; Jack, however, wasn’t so sure where Raully’s loyalties now lay.
Hathor gave a beaming smile. “True friend Sarah, you shall always have a place at our side,” she said. She stepped forward and hugged Raully, who reciprocated; the embrace was warm enough to have raised questions in the land of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ and Jack couldn’t help raising a finger to tug at the inside of his collar. Hathor took hold of Raully’s hand, as she released the embrace, and held it for several seconds, with the two women gazing into each other’s eyes and smiling, before letting go.
“There is but one more thing before we will be ready to meet the delegates from the Tok’ra,” Hathor said to Jack. “We desire to speak once more with Doctor Fraiser.”
“She should be free now,” Jack said. “I’ll go check.” He went into the infirmary and found Janet writing up some notes with a cup of coffee in front of her. “Hey, Doc,” he greeted her. “Hathor would like a word with you. I think she wants to thank you.”
Janet tucked a stray strand of hair behind an ear. “I never thought I’d get a ‘Thank you’ from Hathor. A blast from her ribbon device, perhaps, but nothing else. But I gather she’s not currently a threat.”
“We wouldn’t have asked you to patch her up if she was,” Jack said.
“It was a little more than ‘patching up,” Janet said. “In fact it was the toughest operation I’ve ever performed.” She picked up a little semi-circular piece of jagged metal from her desk. “This fragment from a bullet jacket was lodged in her abdominal aorta,” she said, “and the damage it had done… well, I don’t think any human could have survived. Even with the symbiote she’d lost so much blood that her heart stopped briefly mid-operation. It was an incredibly close call. In fact I’m amazed that she’s up, and walking around, in only a few hours.”
“She was walking around and kicking ass with the bullet still in there,” Jack said. “She showed a lot of guts.”
“I can confirm that,” Janet said. “I had a close-up view of them.” Jack winced. “Well, I suppose I can spare her a little time,” Janet went on. “Her companion’s use of that healing device on our wounded saved me a lot of work.” She drained her coffee cup and set it down, pushed back her chair, and stood up. “I wonder if she’d like this as a souvenir?” she said, holding up the bullet fragment. “No, probably not.” She put it down and followed Jack out of the infirmary.
“Doctor Fraiser,” Hathor said, “we wish to thank you most sincerely. We owe our lives to your skills. And your compassion toward one who was your enemy has touched us deeply.”
“I was only doing my job,” Janet said. “I try to treat all my patients equally.”
“Then your other patients are lucky,” Hathor said. Her eyes flashed, making Janet flinch, and Hathor spoke in her Goa’uld voice. “Your skill and dedication are outstanding. I remained conscious throughout, even when Andromédē’s heart stopped, and I saw the intensity with which you strove. It was above and beyond mere duty.” Her eyes flashed again and she reverted to her human voice. “We owe you more than we can expect to repay. If ever you need anything call us and, if it is at all within our power, we shall respond.”
“Well, it’s nice to be appreciated,” Janet said. “I suppose having access to your healing devices on occasion could save lives.”
“It would be our pleasure,” Hathor said. “Farewell, Doctor Fraiser. Hypiaínete
!” She bowed her head toward the doctor and then turned to Jack. “We are ready to meet with the delegates from the Tok’ra now, Colonel O’Neill.”
Jack bit back the ‘About time’ that almost came to his lips; he couldn’t really object to Hathor making sure that she was prepared for the interview and still less could he object to her taking the time to thank Janet. “Okay, Queen Hathor, Raully, come this way,” he said instead. And, when they reached the conference room, he found himself saying something he never thought he’d say to Hathor. “Good luck.”
Hathor smiled at him. “We thank you, Colonel O’Neill,” she said. She unfastened the top button of her coveralls, drew herself up straight, and stood waiting. Jack took the hint and opened the door for her. Hathor took a deep breath and then entered the room with a confident stride, Raully following at her heels, and Jack had to admit that, coveralls or no, Hathor looked every inch a queen.- - - - -Five years later…
The SGC was unnaturally quiet. Everyone spoke in hushed voices. The sound of someone sobbing echoed through the corridors.
Daniel sat in his office with his head in his hands. He was exhausted but couldn’t face going home, or sleeping in one of the rooms in the SGC; he didn’t want to dream. He knew he would see Janet’s dead eyes staring up at him,
The quiet was broken by the blaring Gate alarm and the call over the PA of “Unscheduled Gate activation!” Daniel stood up and began to move. If it was an emergency he might be needed; if not, well, at least it would give him something else to think about for a little while.
“Receiving IDC,” he heard, as he neared the Gate room. “Hathor. It’s the Tok’ra.”
“Open the iris,” came General Hammond’s voice.
Daniel reached the Gate room in time to see the event horizon parting as Hathor’s party came through. He expected this to be a formal visit in which Hathor, who had been informed of Janet’s death soon after the event, came to express her condolences. From his first sight of her he knew this was not the case.
Hathor wasn’t clad in formal robes but in grimy BDUs and the same applied to Raully and Selmak at her side. She was followed by Bron’ac and M’Zel of her Jaffa Legion. They had T-90s, the Tok’ra knock-off version of the P-90 with an extended barrel for extra range and penetrative power, slung at their shoulders. Ishta and Ka’lel of the Tok’ra’s new Hak’tyl allies came next. They too were armed with T-90s. All of them looked as if they had come straight from a battlefield. And behind them came more of the Jaffa Legion carrying… could it be?
“How long?” Hathor called, without even acknowledging General Hammond’s greeting. “How long since…?”
Hammond frowned. “I don’t…” he began.
Daniel interrupted him. “Ten hours forty minutes,” he answered. He was close enough to Hathor now that he could smell her favorite French perfume overlaid by sweat and the smell of gun-smoke.
“Then we are in time,” Hathor said, a smile coming to her face. “General Hammond, the first time we came to this base we owned a sarcophagus. It was destroyed but now…” she waved the Jaffa behind her forward, “we have obtained another.”
“And you’ve brought it to us? For Doctor Fraiser?” Hope and relief showed in Hammond’s expression.
“Indeed,” Hathor said. “She saved our lives. To save hers in return is only right.”
“You have my most fervent thanks,” Hammond said. He turned and gave orders to an airman, who scurried off, and then turned back to Hathor. “How did you obtain the sarcophagus?”
“It had come to our knowledge that Moloc possessed such a device,” Hathor explained. “We had planned an assault upon his planet, to slay that vile creature and liberate the Hak’tyl from his tyranny, but our attack was scheduled for when we could position our fleet in support. But when you sent the news of Doctor Fraiser’s death we decided to launch an immediate attack.”
“Against the advice of some members of the High Council,” Selmak added, “but the Queen said that she would go with only her Legion if we did not back her.”
“There is precedent,” Hathor said – no, Daniel realized, the hint of accent revealed that it was Andromeda speaking. “Leonidas of Sparta took only the three hundred of his personal guard when he faced the Persians at the Hot Gates.”
“And he died,” Jacob said, taking over from Selmak. “We couldn’t risk that and so we approved a full-scale operation. We hit Moloc with everything we could raise at short notice and it worked. We took him completely by surprise and his army folded up like a house of cards.”
Daniel wasn’t surprised. Hathor’s forces, trained and equipped after the manner of Earth armies but with the benefits of advanced Tok’ra technology, were far superior to the conventional Jaffa of the System Lords. The bloody reverse they’d inflicted upon the forces of Anubis at the Battle of Revanna had confirmed their ability in battle. The Legion, volunteer Free Jaffa in the personal service of Hathor, were perhaps the finest infantry in the galaxy and could well have beaten Moloc even without the rest of the Tok’ra forces. And their Advanced Needle-Threader ships couldn’t match Death Gliders in a dogfight but liberal use of air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles, to sweep the skies clear, left the ANTs free to bomb and strafe unopposed.
“We were not in a position to launch a similar operation when you were in need of a sarcophagus, Doctor Jackson,” Hathor said to Daniel, “or we would have done so. At that time we knew of no enemy possessing one who was sufficiently weak to be taken by storm.”
“That’s okay,” Daniel told her. “It worked out for the best anyway. And I’ve had… bad experiences with sarcophagi.”
Sam came into the Gate room. Her hair was tousled and her eyes were red. Daniel suspected that the sobbing he had heard might well have been Sam. “Hathor, Andromeda, welcome,” Sam said. “Is that a… sarcophagus?”
“Greetings, Samantha,” Hathor said. “Indeed it is. Janet Fraiser shall be saved and our debt repaid.”
“Janet wouldn’t think of it as a debt,” Sam said, “but we… I just don’t have the words. ‘Thank you’ isn’t enough.”
“We require no thanks,” said Hathor, “although we would not say ‘no’ to a box of Swiss chocolates and perhaps another bottle of Joy by Jean Patou.”
Sam laughed. “Of course,” she said. She moved on to greet her father.
“Surely that can’t be all you want,” said Hammond.
“Well, we shall need a resupply of Sidewinder, Stinger, and Starstreak missiles earlier than scheduled,” Hathor said. “We expended quite a few eliminating Moloc’s air force.”
“That won’t be a problem,” Hammond assured her. “I take it you… eliminated… Moloc?”
“Indeed,” said Hathor. “We had rather hoped to kill him ourselves but one of our snipers picked him off at six hundred meters. He did not think to raise a shield when we were so far away. Disappointing, perhaps, but efficient. Your enemies, as Jack taught us, cannot hurt you if they are dead. Where is Jack, by the way? We would have thought he would be here by now.”
“He’s in the infirmary,” Daniel informed her. “He was wounded in the fight but it’s not serious.”
“We have healing devices with us,” Hathor said. “We would be pleased to assist with your wounded.”
“What about your own casualties?” Hammond asked.
“Very few,” said Hathor. “Six fatalities when a Death Glider crashed into our positions and a further five during the boarding action to capture Moloc’s ha’tak. A mere handful of wounded. Their ground forces were broken and put to flight before they made it into staff weapon range. We have revived one of our dead already, during the transportation of the sarcophagus to the Chappa’ai, but could not spare the time to revive the rest. Once Janet Fraiser is restored we shall require use of the sarcophagus again.”
“Of course,” Hammond said. By this time the airman he had sent off on an errand had returned. Hammond spoke briefly to the man and then turned back to Hathor. “If you would have the sarcophagus brought this way, Queen Hathor,” he said, “and perhaps you would like to retire to the VIP rooms? I’d guess you’ll want to get cleaned up after your battle.”
“Once Janet is restored,” Hathor said. “We would like to be there when she awakens.”
“You have the right,” Hammond said. “Come this way.”- - - - -
“You are now officially my favorite Tok’ra,” O’Neill told Hathor. “Sorry, Carter, but Jacob’s just dropped to second place. Or is that third place? This two people in one body deal gets confusing.”
“That’s okay, sir,” Sam said. “After this, Hathor and Andromeda are pushing my dad pretty close in my standings too.”
“Sharper than a serpent’s tooth,” Jacob quoted, adopting an expression of mock wounded feelings.
“Hey, I didn’t say you’d dropped out of the top slot, Dad,” Sam said. “You’re still number one – but it’s down to a photo finish.”
Janet was patting herself down as if checking that all her parts were still attached. “I can hardly believe it,” she said. “Oh! Cassie! I have to see her!”
“Of course, Doctor,” Hammond said. “Feel free to take as much time as you like. I think you’re entitled to some sick leave after being dead.”
Janet turned to Hathor. “Thank you, thank you,” she said. “Not so much for me, but for my daughter. She’s lost so much already and I’m so glad she doesn’t have to lose me.”
“You saved our lives,” Hathor said. “This was only repaying our debt.”
“I was only doing my duty as a doctor,” Janet said.
“Yes, the Hippocratic Oath,” Hathor said. “We knew Hippocrates. We granted him an audience, declared that he was not guilty of blasphemy, and bestowed upon him a hundred minae to fund his medical school.”
“You did? Fascinating,” Daniel said. “You have to tell me more.”
“Later, Doctor Jackson,” Hammond said. “I think we should give Doctor Fraiser some space, for the moment, and leave the Tok’ra to get on with, uh, raising their own dead. Perhaps we should adjourn to the briefing room. Queen Hathor, the VIP rooms are at your disposal.”- - - - -
Bregman’s TV crew had been on the point of leaving the base when Hathor and her people had arrived. He’d turned around on hearing the commotion and soon had realized that something really special was going on. They hadn’t let him into the secure areas at the time, and refused to answer any questions, but he’d persevered and now his efforts were being rewarded. Not that he would be allowed to broadcast this interview in the foreseeable future, of course, but one day it would pretty much guarantee him a Pulitzer.
Although, as the sound man fitted Queen Hathor with a microphone and the cameraman positioned himself and his equipment, Bregman had to confess to feeling slightly disappointed. Hathor seemed… too human. No tentacles, no scales, not even the green skin that would be compulsory if she was a Star Trek alien being romanced by James T. Kirk. He had a feeling her glossy auburn hair might be dyed, as her complexion seemed a touch more sallow than you’d expect in a natural redhead, but that only made her seem even more human.
Undeniably photogenic, though. He’d caught a glimpse of her earlier, when he was trying to get a close-up view of whatever was causing all the excitement, and she’d been somewhat grubby and wearing battle-stained BDUs. Now she was clean, clad in a simple but elegant sage green dress with a single slim golden bangle at each wrist, and the fragrance of expensive French perfume – or some alien analog – surrounded her. Conducting the interview wasn’t going to be a hardship, that was for sure, unless she stonewalled like Teal’c had done when they’d attempted to interview the impassive alien warrior.
Hathor, though, seemed as if she was going to be co-operative. She took a close interest in the camera, and the sound gear, and commented “We of the Tok’ra have no equivalent of your TV. For centuries the Tok’ra have depended upon concealment, and upon being ready to flee at a moment’s notice, and have had neither the need nor the facilities for broadcasts of news or entertainments.” It was a pity the tape wasn’t rolling yet, as it would have made a great sound-bite, but maybe he could bring the topic up again later.
He spoke to camera. “Now I’ll be speaking to Hathor, Queen of the Tok’ra, who I’m informed is perhaps the most important ally of Earth.”
“We are flattered that you say that,” Hathor said, “but the Asgard might disagree. We are allies, certainly, and share many aims in common with the Tau’ri of Earth and co-operate in many endeavors.”
Bregman hadn’t expected her to speak at that point, before he’d addressed a question to her, but he didn’t let it throw him off his stride. “Thank you, Your Majesty,” he said. “So, you’re the ruler of the Tok’ra, which I gather is a movement rather than a planet or a species.”
Hathor inclined her head slightly. “You need not call us ‘Majesty’,” she said. “We are not absolute monarchs and have only two votes on the High Council of the Tok’ra. ‘Your Highness’, in recognition of Andromédē’s rank as Princess of Milētos, would be a valid form of address.”
“Miletus?” Bregman queried. “Where is that, Your Highness?”
“A Greek city in what is now Turkey,” Andromeda explained, taking over from Hathor. “My father was King there in what Doctor Jackson tells me would be the 9th Century BC by your calendar.”
Bregman had to fight to stop his jaw from dropping visibly. This woman, who looked to be in perhaps her late twenties, was three thousand years old. “You’re from Earth?” he asked.
“We both are,” Andromeda said. “Hathor was born there too, although four thousand years before me.”
This offered a lead-in to a topic Bregman hadn’t planned to deal with until later but he went with the flow and asked her to explain the whole ‘two people in one body’ thing. This led on to an explanation of how the Tok’ra differed from the Goa’uld.
Interesting, perhaps even fascinating, but only background material for the really big story. Bregman let her talk for a while, as it could be edited down as necessary later, but before long he decided it was time to get to the point.
“Your Highness,” he said, “I’m told you… raised Doctor Fraiser from the dead.”
“We provided the sarcophagus by which she was restored to life, yes,” Hathor said.
“It seems almost… miraculous,” Bregman said.
“No miracle, merely technology,” Hathor said. “We can claim no credit for it. It was the creation of the Goa’uld scientist Telchak but he merely adapted the technology of another, more ancient, race.”
“An amazing device nonetheless,” Bregman said. “I’m told you fought a battle to obtain it solely so that you could… resurrect Doctor Fraiser.”
“Our attack upon the despicable tyrant Moloc was inevitable,” Hathor said. “Only the timing was affected by the news of Janet’s death. We owed her our lives and, if there was any chance to save her in return, we were honor bound to try.”
“You owed Doctor Fraiser your life… lives?”
“Indeed. Her skill, dedication, and compassion brought us back from the very brink of death. It was only appropriate that we should repay her in kind.” Hathor dipped her head slightly. “This was before we became Queen of the Tok’ra and we had been enemies of the Tau’ri not long before. Yet she strove mightily to heal us, nonetheless, and succeeded.”
“You were an enemy of Earth at one time?” Bregman probed.
“Not of Earth, but of the SGC,” Hathor said. “We attempted to take over the base and use it as our stronghold. It was a foolish endeavor. We had been in stasis for two thousand three hundred years and had not grasped how much the world had changed as we slept. Our attempt was thwarted, primarily through the efforts of Samantha Carter, Janet Fraiser, and Teal’c, and we fled through the Chappa’ai.”
Bregman raised his eyebrows. Things must have changed a lot since then. “I take it your next meeting was on more friendly terms,” he prompted.
“Not at first,” said Hathor. “Once out in the galaxy we discovered that the balance of power was shifting and unclear. We knew that without allies we would be vulnerable, and likely to be captured and enslaved, but we did not know with whom it would be best to seek an alliance. Then we heard of the Tok’ra. When we discovered that their Queen had been Egeria, Hathor’s mother, and that she had disappeared long ago, we decided that they might be the safest group to approach.
“The trouble was that the Tok’ra were in hiding and thus we had no knowledge of how they could be found,” Hathor explained. “The Tau’ri were in contact with them, we discovered, and would know how to approach the Tok’ra. Yet our previous conflict made a simple request for information impossible. Therefore we concocted an elaborate scheme. We built a replica of the SGC, captured Jack and Sam and Doctor Jackson, and tried to convince them that they had been frozen for eighty years. It was not long before they saw through our deception…”