The claxons started blaring in the Control Room. Sargent Campbell's voice blared onto the radio. "Unscheduled offworld activation! Repeat, unscheduled offworld activation!"
John and Rodney bolted to the Control Room as Woolsey came out of his office. "Where are the rest of your team?" he asked.
"Ronon and Teyla are still on the mainland," Rodney said as he fell in step beside Woolsey and John bolted to his console, sitting down with a nearly-audible 'plop' and sending the hapless technician scrambling before she was sat on.
"Receiving IDC, sir," Sargent Campbell said. Then he visibly double-took and looked over his shoulder. "It's.... Colonel Carter's, sir."
"What?" Rodney gasped, leaning over Campbell's shoulder.
"Confirmed," John called. "It's Colonel Carter's ID, all right."
The radio flared to life. "--request lowering the iris immediately! We are under heavy fire! Coming in hot! Please, General! Answer me!"
Woolsey and Rodney locked eyes, then Rodney sought out John's. A decision was reached without words, and Rodney's spine straightened as his hand went to his ear. "Medical team to the Control Room. We have a team coming in hot."
Woolsey clasped his hands behind his back. "Sargent, lower the shield. Colonel Carter, wait five seconds and then come through the iris!"
"Acknowledged! I'd ask who you are, but we're a bit busy here!"
"Yes, I can hear that," Woolsey smiled.
Exactly ten seconds later, the four-person team backed through the Gate, weapons still at the ready. And the entire Control Room was shocked into silence.
The team was all female. Colonel Sam Carter, her hair long and in a ponytail that jutted out from her olive green cap, dirty and visibly tired.
Doctor Janet Fraser, apparently risen from the dead, her huge eyes blazing with adrenaline and anger and relief to be safe.
Vala Mal-Doran, who had been on Atlantis once and they had had a hard time getting rid of. She was in uniform. She tossed her dark hair and her white teeth flared in her grimy face in a cheeky grin. "Well!" she laughed. "That was fun!"
"You have a bizarre idea of 'fun'," the fourth female snarled in a lilting, accented alto. Her flame-red hair was pulled back into a severe ponytail and her green eyes were exhausted. She was trembling.
"As for you!" Janet rounded on the fourth woman. "What the hell were you playing at back there?"
"I wasn't playing at anything!" the woman gasped. "He asked me why he could read two minds, and asked me if I was pregnant!"
"So you couldn't lie?" Janet roared.
"That's enough, ladies!" Sam snapped, and Janet shook her head as she stepped back. "Look, Shep ---" John and Rodney stiffened at the name. "--- we know you two work together now, but there are times when discretion really is the better part of valour---"
"Oooh, I'll have to look that one up," Vala put in, and then hissed as Janet stomped on her foot.
"---and perhaps this was one of those times," Sam finished.
And the redhead snarled. Her eyes flashed golden and her shoulders straightened as her voice was suddenly the low growl of a Goa'uld. "So Hathor should hide herself?"
"I'm not saying that!" Sam shot back, clearly unintimidated and unsurprised. "I'm saying you should find a way to work even more closely together so this doesn't happen again!"
"Fine," the Goa'uld snarled. Then her eyes went back to normal and the redhead's human voice said, "Uh Sam? I don't think we're in the SGC."
Rodney had been quietly ordering into his radio and now all of a sudden the four women found themselves surrounded by Marines with guns pointed right at them. "Correct, ladies," Rodney said, coming down the stairs. "Care to explain why you have an active Goa'uld with you?"
Sam gaped. "Rodney? Rodney McKAY?" She glanced at his shoulder, at the colonel's bird clearly visible on his strap. "........Shep, you're right," she breathed. "I don't think we're even in our universe anymore."
She paced the small quarters, her strides even and measured. The door slid open without warning and she turned to face it, losing her bearings for a second and tripping into the wall.
"Are you all right?" His voice was laced with fond, warm amusement, not the sneering jesting she'd associated with him.
"Yeah," she chuckled. "That was not one of my brighter moments."
"We all have those." He walked in and sat on the corner of her desk, his arms leaning casually over his knees. But she knew the military body language, and saw it for what it was -- I trust you for now but I can get to my weapon at any moment.
"So what's your story?" they said at the same time, and both laughed, shaking their heads. She gestured at him. "You first. How did Rodney McKay end up in the military?"
"Believe it or not, it was an accident." He told her an abbreviated version of the attack on Atlantis that cost them Elizabeth Weir and locked him and John Sheppard into each other's set of skills. "Now, you. How did Samantha Carter end up working with a Goa'uld?"
"She's Tok'ra now," Sam said. "And it's really her story to tell."
"Then I'll get it from her," Rodney said. "You never came to Atlantis, did you?"
"No I've been leading SG-2 for the last two years."
"Is that who came through the Gate?"
She nodded. "We're second only to SG-1 in success and only because we've not been around as long as they have."
"You're not a prisoner, but I'd prefer you stay confined to quarters until dawn. Give me a chance to talk to the --- to the other members of your team."
Sam acknowledged it with a tilt of her head and Rodney rose gracefully to his feet and turned to go. "Rodney."
He turned back, an eyebrow raising.
She smiled at him. "Cool and competent looks good on you. You wear command well."
He grinned at her, and it reached his amused blue eyes. "Nice try, Sam. I'm not changing my mind."
She huffed, crossing her arms. "I did mean it, though."
"I know." And he left, the door closing behind him with a soft hiss.
Talking to the other two was an exercise in frustration. Doctor Fraser had been confused by Carson's reaction to seeing her, and the emotional Scot had blurted out that she was dead in their world. Fraser had become so distraught that Carson had been forced to sedate her, and she was not expected to waken until morning at the earliest.
Ms. Mal-Doran, however, had been awake and terminally charming. When asked about why she was on Sam's team, her smile had only grown and she had given a refreshingly candid and honest answer.
"I was bored and it looked like fun. And it has been fun."
Realising he'd gotten all he could out of her once she told him that the Goa'uld/Tok'ra/what-the-hell-ever's story was her own to tell, not Mal-Doran's Rodney left to seek out the stunning redhead.
He didn't ring the buzzer, again, just let the door open at his mental command. She had been sitting on the balcony and she turned to face him, flame-red hair spilling over her black t-shirt-clad shoulders as she did so.
"So you're Hathor," he said as he walked in and sat on the edge of the room's desk as he had done with Sam.
Her eyes flashed golden and the distorted voice replied, "I am."
"I'd like to know how this is possible. The last time anyone saw Hathor the Goa'uld, she was burning to death in a tub full of her progeny."
Her lips rose and the voice tinged with laughter. "I got better."
And Rodney found himself laughing, shaking his head at the unexpected joke.
"How do you know," she continued once the laughter had died, standing up and walking toward him with slow, measured steps. "That I shall not seduce you, male as you are, and take my way to freedom?"
"Because if that was what you intended," he said, his voice sure and even, smiling at her the entire time. "You would have done it by now."
She froze, golden eyes blinking, visibly startled. "Well," she said, regaining control, her slightly clefted chin rising. "You have the measure of me, it seems."
"There are still a number of unanswered questions to answer. And your teammates --"
"Are they all right?" she interrupted, green eyes suddenly worried, her voice the slightly accented one they'd first heard on the steps of the Gate.
Rodney's head tilted. "And you must be the host. Whom do I have the pleasure of addressing?"
She blew out the air in her cheeks. "Perhaps we'd better start at the beginning."
"I think that would be a good idea, yes."
Eight Years Previous
The goddess luxuriated in the nutrients, moaning softly as each of her children was born. The one she had used for this knelt at the base of the tub, staring reverently at her even as he argued for the life of the treacherous she-captain.
Just as she informed him of her final decision, the door opened and the woman and her failure of a love walked in. The woman shot up and the goddess threw her into the wall. Then she turned her attention to the powerful one who had been her love and her world erupted into fire and pain.
Dimly, she heard the one she had used screaming and screaming and then she had realised that she herself was screaming as well.
Not the goddess.
"Hathor is dead!" she heard the man the goddess had used scream. "That's the host! That's the host!"
Coldness struck her and then hands were on her body, lifting her from the destroyed nutrients. A second hand smaller and lighter touched her tortured skin and she heard a woman say, "Daniel's right the Goa'uld has been destroyed. This is a human female --- age approximately 30, burned over approximately 50% of her body --- Move, people! Get her to the Infirmary now!"
As the hands that held her close to a male body whirled her around and started to run, she saw the one the goddess had used --- Daniel was his name? --- lift one of the tiny worms. "Jack," he said, "this one is still alive."
And then she knew no more.
She opened her eyes to brightness and moaned, flinching slightly.
"Sorry," the woman with the eyes of a dog --- large and brown and friendly --- said as she moved the light from her eyes. "Can you understand me?"
She nodded and tried to speak, but her mouth was held open by something hard.
"Don't try to speak, you're on a ventilator." At her frown, the woman smiled. "A machine to help you breathe. My name is Janet."
She hurt. She lay there and took inventory, slowly. One of her arms wouldn't move. The other one was movable, but held down. She raised the hand and mimed scribing.
"You --- you want to write?" At her slight nod, the wo--- Janet, she mentally corrected herself --- produced a strange papyrus and an even stranger quill. She took the quill and while Janet held the papyrus, she carefully --- painfully --- scribed her name, making certain to add the royal cartouche.
Even if the cartouche did wobble like one drawn by a child and even if the symbols were not quite clear.
Janet frowned. "I... don't understand."
She tapped the papyrus with her fingertips, then tapped her leg with the same fingertips.
"This...is you?" She nodded slightly. "This is your name." Another nod. "Okay, hold on, let me get Daniel in here."
She touched her ear. "Daniel, the host is awake and coherent. She has self-identified, but it's in heiroglyphics. ....Great, I'll see you in a few minutes." She smiled down at the woman on the bed. "He's coming."
And she felt herself smile around the ventilator.
Daniel looked at the strange papyrus and then at her, his eyes large behind his false ones. "This is you?" he asked, turning the papyrus around and tapping it.
"Your name is ---- You're....."
The powerful one the goddess had tried to turn --- Jack, she had heard them call him --- raised an eyebrow. "Translate for those who can't read the pretty pictures?"
"Hatshepsut," Daniel breathed, his eyes staring at her. "She says her name is Hatshepsut. The cartouche means that she's Queen Hatshepsut."
Jack stood straighter. "Hold on --- wasn't that the woman who became an honest-to-God Pharaoh?"
And she smiled.
"Holy flaming crap! How in the hell did she end up a host?"
Janet crossed her arms. "When she heals enough for me to remove the ventilator, you can ask her then. For now, let her rest."
She closed her eyes, feeling peace steal over her as she slid into the welcoming arms of sleep.
Hatshepsut smiled as Janet, Daniel, Jack, and whom she had learned were named Sam and Teal'C walked into her room. "Hello," she rasped at them. It had not been so very long ago that the ventilator had been removed.
"Hatshepsut," Daniel said, moving to sit beside her bed. "How are you feeling?"
"Tired. In a little pain, but Doctor Janet assures me that won't be forever. My burns are healing well. To what do I owe the pleasure of all of you coming to see me together?"
Janet stepped forward. "We have news, actually..... and it's not good."
Hatshepsut studied their faces, then nodded. "Tell me."
"The pain you're in... well," Janet sighed. "It's not entirely from your burns, Hatshepsut. You have Stage 3 cervical cancer."
"What do those words mean?" she asked, frowning.
"You're sick, Hatshepsut," Sam said, stepping forward. "And... and you're not going to get well on your own. There are treatments ----"
"----but sadly," Janet interrupted, "because of the changes to your body chemistry from hosting a Goa'uld for several thousand years, they will not work."
"I am dying, then?" she asked.
They did not have to answer. Their faces said it all.
"I see." She sighed. "Then I shall face my fate like a queen."
"There is a way."
Jack looked at the Jaffa and growled, "Teal'C."
"You do not have to face this fate."
"We can't do that, big guy," Jack snarled.
"It should be her choice, O'Neill." His dark eyes met hers again. "It is not a pleasant choice, but it is a choice."
She licked her lips. "Tell me."
"I just wanna go on record," Jack said, glowering, "that I think this is the worst idea ever!"
"So....you'd rather let her die?" Daniel asked.
"Well, y---I mean----there's the---- Danny, that's not a fair question!"
She chuckled despite herself, amused at their antics.
"I mean," Jack went on, gesturing at the tank. "That's not even a normal snake! Doc said it's loaded with human DNA---"
"My DNA," Daniel said quietly.
And Jack spluttered to silence. "Aw, hell. Daniel...."
"It's okay," Daniel smiled. "I wasn't in my right mind and we all know it." He looked at Hatshepsut. "There's nothing to forgive. It wasn't you."
She closed her mouth and nodded. Then she looked back at the creature swimming lethargically in the tank. "It is so small...."
"It is a juvenile," Teal'C said. "We do not know if it shall even join with you."
"Then let us see." She squared her shoulders. "I will not die, not when there is a chance to be healed."
"That thing could take you over in a heartbeat!" Jack snarled.
"I am aware of that, thank you," Hatshepsut chuckled.
"Sir, that's why we are armed," Sam pointed out, and Jack fell into grumbling silence.
Hatshepsut took a deep breath. Another. Then she reached into the tank and lifted out the screeching young symbiote.
Green eyes bored into red ones and she hissed at it, "You will not control me, little one." She held it tighter. "You will not control me. We can work together. And we shall. Heal me --- and I shall protect you. Try to control me...." She tightened her grip until the symbiote wailed in pain. "....and I shall be the cause of your death. Work with me....and we both shall thrive."
With that, she positioned the creature and opened her mouth.
It screeched and flowed into her mouth and down her throat like water. Her body swayed and stiffened, the eyes flashing golden.
Teal'C stepped forward. "Whom am I addressing?"
Her right hand raised imperiously as the creature settled in. Her eyes closed and she swayed, then they opened and flashed golden as she turned to them. Her lips curved in a sweet, slightly seductive smile and her voice was the distortion of the Goa'uld.
"You may call me Hathor. It pleases me above others."
Hands began drifting to guns, and then the glow died away to green and the smile grew large and happy and Hatshepsut's normal voice laughed, "And I am still Hatshepsut! We exist together!"
"Whoa," was all Jack could muster.
"So that's who I am," she finished talking, and sank into the chair beside her bed.
Rodney's head tilted. "Well, Hatshepsut. That explains the 'Shep' nickname." He chuckled. "That happens to also be the nickname of my head of science."
"Oh!" she laughed. "That would explain the expressions we were getting!"
"And you became a member of a Gate Team---?"
"When Sam was given command of one, she and I had worked together enough times that she knew exactly who she wanted on her team. I was very pleased and startled when she chose me for her team."
"I understand that feeling," Rodney said, standing up. "Well, Hatshepsut and Hathor --- Welcome to Atlantis. You are not a prisoner, but I'd prefer it if you stayed confined to quarters until dawn, long enough for me to report back to the other department heads and announce that you're Tok'ra. There's still plenty of anti-Goa'uld sentiment, and I'm concerned for your safety."
She nodded her head toward him, eyes flashing golden. "Your concern is noted," Hathor replied, "and appreciated. We will remain here until dawn as you request. May we contact our teammates?"
Rodney nodded, immensely relieved that the "we" she was using was literal and not the "Royal We" that most Goa'ulds used. "You certainly may, ladies. Oh, Doctor Fraser is under sedation until morning. Her counterpart is deceased."
"I am truly sorry," Hathor said. "We will wait until dawn and then go to her."
"I'll warn Carson," Rodney grinned over his shoulder.
His last view of the redhead was a suddenly shy smile and a faint kiss of pink under the golden eyes.
A citywide announcement was made an hour later this was a Tok'ra, not a Goa'uld. The Hathor that had caused the trouble was long dead, this was a different symbiote and would not be a problem.
In the morning, the three women congregated at Janet's bedside. She opened her eyes and whispered, "I'm dead here...."
"So am I," Hatshepsut said, taking her hand. "Both parts of me."
"I'm attached at the hip to Daniel Jackson," Vala snorted.
That made them all laugh --- the thought that their Danny would ever have eyes for anyone other than Sha're and their daughters.
"I commanded Atlantis once and now command a starship," Sam grinned.
"Oooh, golden girl made good," Vala teased.
And Janet smiled, letting the familiar bickering wash over her and heal her heart. This world's Janet was gone. But she was alive and she was going to stay that way.
Suddenly claxons sounded. Janet threw back the covers and got up, jamming her feet into her boots. The four of them bolted down the hallways toward Atlantis's Control Room.
They arrived to hear Rodney bellowing, "----sure about this, John?"
"I'm positive!" John bellowed back. "I'm picking up two Wraith hive ships in orbit around a near star!"
"Shit!" Rodney swore.
"Wait a second!" Sam called. "What are the Wraith?"
All eyes were suddenly on her Team. "Get them out of here!" Rodney ordered, and Marines moved to comply.
"Stop! Wait!" Sam gasped out. "Maybe we were sent here to help!"
"I doubt it," Rodney snarled. "Get them out of here, I'll talk to them later!"
And the Marines surrounded the quartet, marching them out of the Control Room and down to Hathor's quarters.
By the time Rodney and John showed up, all four were pacing. They rounded on Rodney and John, asking questions at once.
Suddenly Hatshepsut stood back and put her fingers in her mouth. An ear-splitting whistle bolted out, and everyone shut up. "There," she said, her shoulders straight with the imperiousness she'd had as Queen of Egypt and a faux goddess. "Now, please, gentlemen. Tell us what the Wraith are and why they sent everyone into such a tizzy."
Janet smirked at her. "A tizzy? You've been talking to Siler again."
"He's funny," Hatshepsut shrugged. "Well, gentlemen?"
"Look," Rodney began. "First of all, it's a very long story and we might not have time"
John interrupted. "The Wraith are a species of space vampyres who live off the life energy of human beings. They feed through a mouth-slit on their right palm. The Ancients created them from Iratus bugs --" Here, John couldn't repress a slight shiver. "--and they're trying to locate and destroy Atlantis because they want to get to Earth, which they see as a rich feeding ground. They have a hierarchical structure much like bees, with drones serving a central, female queen."
He looked over at Rodney's expression and frowned. "What? They wanted to know and it's not that much information!"
"Please tell me I was never that tactless," Rodney groaned.
John smirked. "Nope. Can't tell you that."
"Lovely." Another sigh, and Rodney turned his attention back to the women. "The timing couldn't suck more. But, since you are guests here, we'll protect you."
Sam listened with half an ear to Vala and Janet's indignant splutters that they didn't need protection. She was more startled by what the casual exchange had told her about this world's John and Rodney.
She had never known John Sheppard, but she had known Rodney McKay. And that exchange showed her that his new demeanour wasn't entirely from being in the military. It seemed that a good chunk of personality was probably transferred when skills and knowledge had been.
And that unsettled her.
When she glanced over at Hatshepsut, she felt her back stiffen as she got even more unsettled. "Shep?" she asked, and the room went silent.
Hatshepsut turned to her with a closed-mouth smirk.
Janet rolled her eyes. "Oh, boy, here we go."
Vala burst out laughing. "Batten down the hatches, boys Shep's got a plan!"
The Conference Room, one hour later
Rodney crossed his arms and leaned back in the chair. "No."
"The way you described their social structure," Hatshepsut said, "they are hives. Queen-oriented. I'm merely proposing we send in a queen as a show of force. Queen to queen, to make sure they know this area is protected."
"And you're not going to be here forever," Rodney put in. "What happens then?"
"He's right," Sam said softly. "Vala and I can't stay here for long without doing irreparable damage to time and space."
"And we won't leave you," Janet told Sam.
Hatshepsut rubbed her forehead. "I hadn't thought that far ahead."
"Which is why you're not the team strategist," Sam said --- kindly --- laying her hand over Hatshepsut's. "It would be good if we could remain."
"But we can't," she sighed, tilting her head back against the chair back, her red hair spilling over her shoulders. "Okay, so not a good plan after all."
"I'm not so sure it's not," Woolsey said, looking at them all. "It has definite merits."
"Are you cracked?" Rodney bellowed, sitting up and waving a hand toward the women. "It's full of holes!"
"Then we plug those holes," Woolsey said. "But I like the queen to queen confrontation. That idea has definite merits."
John looked up from his screen. "Who says the queen has to be from here?" He turned it around, showing a star-chart. "Here is where the hives are." He tapped it, and they obligingly turned green. "Here is where we are." It turned blue. "Here is where we project the hives might be heading, if they're not heading for New Lantea." A sector turned yellow.
John met Rodney's eyes. "Why can't she pretend to be from there? Coming out as a pre-emptive strike?"
"There are no races my people have dealt with in that sector," Teyla said. "But they have been considering a world there to settle."
"My people dealt with a few societies there," Ronon put in unexpectedly. "They're all a match for the Wraith, and the Wraith periodically go there to remind them who's boss."
"And you're of the mind that this is another one of those calls?" Sam asked.
He shrugged. "They normally send two hives at a time. There are two hives, that's the projected area --- yeah, I'm of the mind this is one of those."
"Can you give me the names of the worlds and the societies?" Hatshepsut asked.
"Sure, no problem. Why?" Ronon asked in return.
Gold eyes flared and Hathor smiled. "So I will not which names not to use. Best not to bring down the vampyres on innocent people if this fails."
John blinked. "Use a fictional world and a fictional society! That could work!" He snapped his fingers three times, gesturing at her. "I'll call up the worlds Ronon supplies, give you a star chart for them...."
Woolsey shivered slightly. It still chilled him to see McKay mannerisms coming from Sheppard, no less so than it did the very first time he'd seen it four months ago. "Well, one hole plugged," he smirked at Rodney. "Any other objections?"
"The Wraith are telepathic," Rodney shot back. "They can sense mind-control. They'd know in a second if we are not in thrall."
"Then you go into temporary thrall," Hathor said.
"I don't like it," Rodney snarled.
"You don't have to," she snarled back. "Believe me, I don't like using that aspect of my ability any more than you like having it done. My father left me with an appreciation of freedom and free will and I prefer my --- worshipers, if you will pardon the term --- to be so out of love, not coercion."
Rodney's eyes narrowed. "Have you any worshipers?"
"A few. And I do not take advantage."
"She doesn't," Sam spoke up, and Janet and Vala were nodding. "We can vouch for that."
Rodney looked helplessly at Woolsey.
Woolsey stood up. "Be ready in two hours, ladies and gentlemen."
"My queen!" one of the scientists gasped. "A ship approaches!"
"A ship?" the queen frowned. "Who would dare interrupt us when we are recharging? Contact them!"
A moment later, a picture of the ship appeared on the Wraith ship's viewscreen. It appeared to be of Lantean design, but more elabourate. Before the queen could figure it out, a picture of the inside appeared.
Revealing a human male leaning over the camera, his dark brows drawn together over hazel eyes, a dark mark like stylised wings lifting a sun over those brows. "I think we're good," he said, leaning back to show he wore dark pants and a dark vest and nothing else save golden cuffs on his neck and wrists. He sat down.
"Good," a man with golden-brown hair said, tilting his head as he did so. He was dressed the same, but his forehead mark was golden, not dark. "My lady, we are live."
"Good," a male growl erupted from a redhaired woman who walked into the frame. She wore white robes with the same golden cuffs on neck and wrists. Her forehead was unmarked, but her eyes were blazing gold. She lay a gold-encrusted hand on the gold-marked one's hair, and he raised wide blue eyes to her with a look of naked adoring.
She spared him a smile, then looked at the screen. "Wraith queen. You are about to intrude upon my domain. I am telling you to leave peaceably."
"You are telling me," the queen laughed. "What human dares to speak to me thusly?"
"That is your error," the redhead smirked. "You mistake a goddess for human. As for who dares?" She raised her chin. "I am Hathor. You are as nothing before me."
"Nothing?" the Wraith queen laughed. "Nothing? I have two hives to your one tiny ship, and you say I am nothing?"
"You are nothing," Hathor snarled. "You are a parasite, preying upon my subjects. I am their ruler, and you have caused me untold misery. So I have come to stop your reign of terror upon my subjects."
The Wraith queen found that terribly amusing. She laughed until she had to hold onto the back of the chair in front of her. Then she raised her eyes to the screen and hissed like a serpent. "I fear you have it wrong, human.'
"Again you insult me," Hathor growled. "I begin to fear that you are blind, Wraith. That you hunger so much that it has affected your sight if you can not see that I am Hathor, not 'human'."
The queen snarled.
Hathor pressed, "In fact, I fear that you are such a coward that you dare not face me directly."
"You fear wrongly," the queen hissed. "The planet below will serve as our meeting place. Fifteen minutes." And she cut the connection.
Only then did Hathor's eyes change back to Hatshepsut's green and she sank into the central chair recently installed on the Jumper, her hands trembling with effort.
"My lady?" Rodney asked, turning to her, his concern not entirely from the thrall.
She smiled sadly at him. "It is all right, dear one," she sighed. "The plan proceeds."
He smiled and turned back to the business of flight.
"You're still certain this will work?" Hatshepsut whispered to the forms hidden behind the curtain.
"Fairly so," Janet's voice whispered back.
"Too much of a good thing and all," Vala snickered, then there was a 'crack'ing sound and her hissed, "Ouch, Sam!"
"Shut up," Sam snarled. "Shep, are you okay?"
It was Hathor that answered, "I hate this. It is unpleasant to have thralls again after so long without them."
"You truly are different from your mother," Janet breathed.
"Congratulations," Hatshepsut snarked. "It only took you six years to figure it out."
"Well, you do have all her memories, so..." But it was an old argument, lacking heat and full of affection now.
"Yes, Sam," Hatshepsut belatedly answered, "I'm okay. But I will be more okay when this is over and we can get rid of the thrall. I miss their personalities."
"So do I, but we have a job to do," Sam pointed out.
Hathor stood and put her hand on Rodney's shoulder. "Land us, beloved."
"Yes, loving Lady," Rodney smiled adoringly at her before he turned his attention to flying.
"So," Hathor said as she walked out to face the Wraith queen and her two attendants. Her own two attendants flanked her. "Not a coward after all."
"You are smaller than you appeared on the transmission," the queen hissed.
"And you are even gaunter and uglier," Hathor snarled.
The queen hissed harshly, spreading her hands.
"I repeat my order," Hathor said. "Leave this sector. Do not bother my people."
"And I inform you," the queen said, taking a sashaying step forward, "that you have made a grave error in judgment."
"Oh?" Hathor snarled. "What would that be?"
"You have delivered your people -- whoever they are -- up unto me and my drones." The queen suddenly smiled a terrible, toothy grin. "Once I have depleted their queen, that is!"
"Loving Lady!" Rodney and John shouted at the same time in warning.
But Hathor was a split-second too slow. She gasped as the Wraith queen's left claws shredded her robe open, then let out a mewling cry as the feeding hand slammed forcefully into her chest.
Then she knew nothing but a stab of pure agony as the Wraith queen began to feed upon her.
As the Wraith queen continued her feast, her hissing rose in bliss.
But then, she became aware of another sound. She slowly raised her eyes to the human face she expected to be dessicated and shriveling.
She found Hathor completely unchanged and though pain danced in her eyes, the redhead was laughing at the Wraith queen!
Startled, the queen jerked her hand away, causing a grunt of pain to interrupt the laughter before it resumed. Hathor stood proudly before her, her unbejewelled right hand gathering the edges of her torn robe around her chest, which was already healing from the feeding the marks visibly bleeding less.
"What....what is this?" the queen gasped, feeling slightly uncomfortable.
"Have you had your fill, dear?" Hathor chuckled. "Here....have more!" She grabbed the feeding hand and pressed it close again, shoving it into her own chest and making the queen moan as more sweet life-force flowed into her body.
And still the red-haired demon didn't change. And still she laughed.
"What is this...." the queen moaned, her knees buckling as she felt heavier and slower. "What....are you doing..... to me...."
"The Tauri call it gluttony," Hathor laughed. "It's a feeling of being so full that you can't move.....you feel ill....slow.....and as a matter of fact...." Slowly, she removed the feeding hand and the queen fell to her knees. "You are exactly that."
Hathor took three steps backward, staring at the creature on her knees. "How does it feel, to be on your knees before your betters?"
The Wraith queen hissed and slowly raised her head.
Hathor raised her left hand, and the elabourate golden jewelry was revealed to be a device of some kind. It pulsed with power, once, then a beam shot from it and the Wraith queen was knocked onto her back as it impacted her chest.
Hathor then turned to her entourage as the Wraith with the queen slowly began to understand something was very wrong. She went on her tiptoes to reach each of her men, kissing them lightly.
As she pulled back, each of them blinked. Adoring, love-blinded eyes changed to active, intelligent ones. Rodney and John restored to themselves wordlessly split off to either side, each catching the P-90s Sam and Janet threw to them as they raced up.
Seconds later, the Wraith drones were dead and the queen was valiantly trying to sit up, snarling out threats.
"I told you, bitch," Hathor snarled at her. "You are nothing before me." A nod, and P-90 fire poured into the queen.
Overfed or not, she had just fed and was spectacularly resistant to bullets. But they softened her up just enough. Hathor raised her hand again and one more bolt ripped through the Wraith queen.
This one, though, was at closer range and aimed at her face. This one took off part of the snarling visage and dropped her, panting, back to the ground where black blood oozed onto the soil.
Rodney crouched beside the queen, who snarled up at him and slurred, "I will not....waste my breath....for mercy. Your kind....will never give it."
"You're wrong," Rodney said. "You deserve a painful and long death. But we don't deserve to wait here for hours on end while you die. So..." He positioned the barrel of the P-90 at her ruined temple.
There was a burst of noise and she moved no more.
John straightened from scrubbing at the symbol on his forehead. "Wait there are two hive ships in orbit without a queen to control them!"
"It's being taken care of," Sam smiled at him.
"Where's Mal-Doran?" Rodney growled.
The three women exchanged warm smiles.
On board one of the Wraith ships, Vala stepped from a cloaked pod and made her way down the corridor as quickly and quietly as she could. A huge smile erupted as she heard the Wraith begin to wail as telepathic contact with their queen was severed permanently.
Making her way undetected to the control room no easy feat she stepped in and unhooked her P-90. "Hullo, boys," she purred.
Wraith spun to face her, and she took them out. Then she moved to the controls, studied them for a long moment "Grah, I hate biological controls, they're so icky...." -- and initiated a firing sequence before locking the controls onto automatic fire and scrambling them so nobody could stop them.
Moving to another console, she set a self-destruct as John had told her how.
Then she bolted for the pod, not bothering with stealth this time.
She sailed back to the modified Jumper and abandoned the pod to space, then brought the small ship in for a landing to pick up her teammates and their new friends.
"-- then the two hives blew up as we were flying away," John finished the narrative as the briefing wound down. It was with liberal winces, as the briefing was being held in the Infirmary while Carson removed the emblems on their foreheads that he had produced to make it seem as though they were really Hathor's Jaffa.
"Something still bothers me," Woolsey said as Carson finished with John and moved to remove Rodney's golden forehead adornment. "You said that you fed the queen to gluttony. But you look just the same. How's that possible?"
Hatshepsut smiled. "I was born in Egypt over three thousand of your years ago. My first symbiote gave me a lifespan of that long. I would have aged prematurely and died swiftly had I not accepted this Hathor. With her, my natural lifespan runs for thousands of more years."
"She had the years to give," Sam said. "She was the only one who did, and the only one who could have done that successfully."
"Speaking of years to give," John said as he hopped down, satisfied that he looked like himself again, "let's see about getting you ladies home so you can live out your full lifespans!"
"Sounds like a plan to me," Sam grinned.
It took another three days, and bringing in Jeannie Miller via databurst, but they managed to finish the calculations to get the dimensional window open. They made contact via radio first, and knew they had the right dimension when Hathor replied and the alternate O'Neill's response was:
"Get your snakey ass home, young lady, before I let Danny tar it!"
Hathor winced. "He would, too," she sighed. With that, the farewells began.
"Thank you for finally trusting me," Hathor said as she hugged Rodney.
"Who says I trusted you?" But Rodney was smiling. "Go home."
Hatshepsut kissed his cheek. "Goodbye." And she walked through the portal in the Gate.
"Wow, this was fun!" Vala laughed as she walked up the steps.
Janet glared at her. "You have a strange idea of fun." And they walked through shoulder-to-shoulder.
Sam lingered, looking steadily at Rodney.
"What?" Rodney asked, spreading his hands.
"I was right." She turned to head up the steps.
"What about?" he called behind her.
She paused and smiled over her shoulder. "Command looks good on you." With that, she raised her eyes to John. "Keep givin' him hell, Sheppard."
"My intense pleasure, Carter," he laughed from his console.
"Oh, I'm sure!" Her grin widened and she walked through the portal.
John paused with it open. The whole room could hear him counting slowly. "......twenty......one.....two....three....four....five....They should have made it by now." And with three keystrokes, he shut the Gate down.
Rodney took a deep breath and ran his hand along the back of his neck. "Right, then. That's..." He frowned and pulled something from his hair.
A single golden scarab, barbed so it would hold onto his hair and not fall out. On the back, carved into it, were three words in heiroglyphics.
Remember me. Hatshepsut
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