TITLE: Past Experiences Reviews
DISCLAIMER: All publicly recognisable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret Productions. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment only and not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
SUMMARY: From "Dominion" I got the impression Ta'seem had met Qetesh while Vala was her host. This story tells the background for how he got his current host and what Qetesh had to do with it.
WARNING: Minor for torture (not graphic)
SPOILERS: Some spoilers for "Dominion".
The Odyssey's ring room materialized around them. Ta'seem glanced briefly at the people waiting for him and the other Tok'ra, before he took a step forward.
"I am Ta'seem. I will be performing the surgery. These are my assistants."
"Welcome on board the Odyssey. I'm Colonel Davidson. I'm sure you know Colonel Carter, Doctor Jackson and Vala." The human male indicated the three other people with him.
Ta'seem took a step towards the one introduced as Vala. He felt his host take several mental steps back. He wished he could follow him. Knowing it was not the one that still caused them nightmares, he pulled himself together.
"Yes. I knew you as Qetesh."
"Things have changed a little since then." Vala said. She looked about as comfortable as he felt.
Ta'seem focused on the task at hand and looked away from Vala.
"News that the leader of the Ori Army had been captured came as a ray of hope to my people. That being said, the extraction procedure that we are about to undertake is extremely difficult. Even though we have refined the process considerably, there remains a very real risk that Adria will not survive."
"Well, the only other option we have is to leave Ba'al in and trust he's telling the truth, so…" Doctor Jackson said.
"Then we should begin immediately. Zanuf, the symbiote that we brought, cannot survive outside of a host for long."
"The infirmary's this way." Colonel Davidson said, ushering them all out.
Ta'seem looked quickly towards Vala before he left the room, following the others. This was going to be even harder than he had expected.
*Ta'seem...I cannot do this. I know - intellectually - that she is not Qetesh, but...I cannot make my heart listen to my mind. It is all coming back to me...*
Ta'seem sent warm feelings towards him. *I know, dear Rekan. I, too would have preferred not to be reminded of Qetesh and all the evil she did. However, she is dead. Remember that. She cannot do more harm.*
*I am sorry. She caused the death of Orman, your former host.* Rekan was ashamed he had only thought of himself, when Ta'seem had lost so much more. *Do you wish me to take control?*
*I...* For a moment, Ta'seem felt tempted. The thought of just hiding from it all - pretending Qetesh had never existed...but no. He could not do that. He had promised to protect Rekan when he took him as his host, and he would never fail him. *No. I can handle it.* He said, with conviction, wanting to convince himself as much as his host. *She is not Qetesh. It is unfair to blame her. She, too, is a victim.*
Rekan 'nodded', and gratefully he withdrew further. Ta'seem sighed, happy he could at least do this for him. He mentally put up protection against Rekan accidentally catching a glimpse of the former host of Qetesh.
It was wrong to equate the host with the Goa'uld. He, as a Tok'ra, knew that more than anyone. He looked thoughtfully at Vala, considering whether or not she even remembered him.
Had Qetesh forced her to experience their torture? Possibly. She had been one of the more depraved of the Goa'uld, and he knew she would have taken a perverse pleasure in letting the host be aware of what happened at precisely such times. He suddenly felt sorry for Vala.
As he walked the rest of the way to the operating room of the Odyssey, he thought back to the day Rekan had become his host.
They day had started normally - or as normal as any day can be when you are an undercover Tok'ra at the court of Qetesh.
Yesterday, he had finished recording his latest report to the Tok'ra, and handed it to his usual carrier, who smuggled it out. In it, he had informed them of Qetesh's recent alliance with Ba'al, as well as the fact that Qetesh was building more ships on a new planet she had taken from Bastet a few months ago.
Ta'seem felt reasonably sure Qetesh did not suspect him of anything, but his host disagreed. Orman believed she had seen him sparing the life of a slave a couple of weeks ago, and that it had made her watch him more carefully. Perhaps she even had her spies on him.
He sighed. He hoped it was not true. He had been very careful. Qetesh was more unpleasant than most Goa'uld and she was both cunning and suspicious of nature. He very much looked forward to the end of this assignment.
He sat down to eat the breakfast his personal slave had just finished preparing. He dismissed the girl, who fled quickly, grateful for not having to be in the presence of one of the gods more than absolutely necessary. Ta'seem hated seeing her fear almost as much as he hated this mission.
Just as he had finished breakfast, there was a knock on the door. It opened before he had time to say or do anything. Two large Jaffa stepped into the room and to the sides, and Qetesh floated through the door, wearing her newest atrocity.
He hurried to stand and bowed deeply.
"What can I do for you, my Lord?"
There was something to her expression - the cruel smile, perhaps, that made his heart sink. Suddenly he felt certain Orman was correct. She suspected him of something - or perhaps she already knew.
"Oh...nothing in particular. Do I need a reason for visiting one of my loyal underlings? Am I not welcome, perhaps?"
"Of course. I live to serve you. You know that, your excellency."
"Yes, you do, do you not?" She laughed to herself. "You are always so kind. To everyone. A most peculiar trait. Are you perhaps hiding something behind this friendly nature of yours?"
Ta'seem felt a cold dread grip him, echoed by his host. Was she just threatening to show her power or did she have something on him?
She snapped her fingers and a slave hurried to her. He kneeled down and held out a box towards her and opened it.
Qetesh picked up the small crystal lying inside it. Ta'seem suddenly felt a strange calm come over him, knowing his fate was sealed. It was the crystal he had recorded his report on. He highly doubted she had been able to break the encryption, but she would not need to. The very existence of it proved his guilt. His...betrayal. Did she know he was Tok'ra? Had she guessed? Had the carrier known? He had almost certainly told everything he knew. Qetesh had the means to get it out of him.
"Tell me...Emesh...if that is indeed your name...what is this?" Her voice was almost silken, and he realised she was more dangerous than ever.
He prepared himself for what he knew would follow. Tried to, at any rate.
The torture had been brutal, but Ta'seem had told her nothing. Qetesh was beside herself with anger over the betrayal. She had already tortured them to death eight times, reviving them with the sarcophagus each time. Tiredly, he wondered if she would bring them back again this time or if she had finally tired of torturing them. By now she probably knew he would not tell her anything, but to her that was not the only purpose. He doubted their torment would be over so quickly. Qetesh was not known for her mercy, and it was well known she pleasure in causing others to suffer.
Someone had apparently arrived with an urgent message for Qetesh. She let go Ta'seem and he used the brief respite to try to heal some of their many wounds. The damage was extensive and he quickly realised they were already at a point were only the sarcophagus would be able to save them. The death would not come quick, but it was a certainty nonetheless. He blocked as much pain and staunched the bleeding as well as he could, before he searched for his unconscious host. He was far gone and Ta'seem doubted he would awaken. He felt a pang of grief and loneliness, but at least Orman would not suffer further. Unless Qetesh revived them, of course.
Ta'seem had done his best to keep the torture from Orman, as the Tok'ra symbiotes always tried, but sometimes it had became too much for him to block. At least he would not have to worry about that.
He turned his attention to what Qetesh was saying, but only caught the last part. She sounded furious.
"...Ba'al will be here in two hours? Why have I not been informed of this earlier?" She raised her hand device and used it on the man until he collapsed. Then she turned to her Jaffa. "Killing this despicable slave is beneath me. Take him and make sure he dies - slowly." She was about to leave, then added. "Oh, and the weakling Tok'ra sholva is already dying. Take him as well and make sure he suffers what time he has left. I have more important things to do than sifting through his mind for any pathetic secrets!"
Consciousness was fading as Ta'seem heard her leave. He was thrown back into waking by the Jaffa, lifting him up and ungenty dragging him from the room. He mused at how strange it was he should be thankful to Ba'al for anything. At least Qetesh had given up on getting the information from him. That was something to be grateful for. His failure would not cause the death of other Tok'ra. The Jaffa continued hauling him somewhere, and soon darkness took him.
Ta'seem slowly regained consciousness. The last he remembered was being dragged along by the Jaffa. His head was hurting more than it had before, so they must have hit him - or just not been very careful when they put him here - wherever here was. It was cold and he shivered. It helped clearing his head some.
Someone was talking nearby. He tried to turn his head, but doing so made the pain much worse - and he suddenly found himself with water in the mouth. Panicking, he drew in a breath and got water instead. Coughing and spitting he got his head above water again. The splitting pain reached a crescendo and now temporarily blanked out his vision, but he did realise he was lying in water. He also found he was tied to something, with only his head - mostly - above water.
"Be careful. I did that too when I came to."
It was that voice again! Ta'seem concentrated on controlling the pain. He took several deep breaths and calmed himself down. Taking stock of his injuries he was actually surprised he had awoken at all.
Not turning his head this time, he instead focused on speaking. All that came out a first was a croaking sound, but then he got the voice to work.
A short pause. "So it is true. Qetesh conquered another god. I...guess I should feel honoured to share this fate with someone such as you."
"I am not...a god...and neither is Qetesh!" He spat her name. "Who are you?" He coughed, feeling liquid ooze out. He wondered idly if it was water he had swallowed or if it was blood?
"My name is Orman...Lord." He added, not wanting to risk that the other's wounds were some sort of trick. While there was little more they could do to him, he did have a sister with young children. He did not want them to suffer as well.
"You...are the slave...the one...Qetesh punished for...for delivering...information Ba'al was coming." Ta'seem said slowly, realising.
"Do you know...where are we?" He coughed again, then spat out something. This time he was sure it was blood.
"We are in the lake outside Lord Qetesh's palace, chaned to the racks she has there. She uses them for punishing - or executing - people who have failed her." Rekan sounded surprised. How could the god not know this?
"I see." That would fit the style of her first prime, who Qetesh had given free reign of their fate.
Ta'seem tried moving a hand. It hurt, but he managed and grabbed hold of the chain that held him in place. It was strong, but fairly thin. He was certain he would have been able to break it, had he not been so weak. He tried anyway, but soon gave up. It was no use.
He felt himself slip into unconsciousness again and it was some time before he awoke - to Rekan's anxious voice.
"Lord! Please! I beg you...can you not use your power to free yourself...to free us? I promise, I shall be your faithful servant always." There was suddenly hope in the man's voice.
Ta'seem concentrated. The words came harder this time.
"I...am sorry, but...I am unable...to do so. My wounds...too severe."
"Qetesh is indeed a powerful god, that she can conquer other gods!" Rekan said, immediately regretting it. What if he had angered this one? Surely he still had power to punish him? "I apologize, Lord Emesh...I did not..."
"She is not a god!" Ta'seem exclaimed angrily. "She..." he coughed, "...is a mortal. Just...just as you or I....or my poor host."
"Gods cannot be killed!" Rekan stopped himself, realising it appeared they could. "At least, not by mere mortals."
"If we could...capture her...without her...guards. Without her technology. You or I...could...kill her."
"You are too weak for that. Sorry! I didn't mean it! Please..." He sounded fearful again.
Ta'seem laughed bitterly, which sent him into another coughing fit. "No...you are...correct. I...am too weak. You...need not fear...me. I cannot harm you. Does not...wish to. I am...not...Goa'uld. I am...Tok'ra."
It was quiet for a long time. Ta'seem began to loose consciousness again.
"Please. Are you still alive? I cannot face death alone! Talk to me! Tell me. A...Tok'...ra. What...who are they?" Rekan sounded more desperate than actually curious.
"Our species...same as...as the Goa'uld. We...do not...share...their philosophy. We believe...sharing the body...with the host...we...take willing hosts. Only. We fight...the Goa'uld."
Rekan was quiet for a very long time, thinking about what he had been told. Could he believe this strange god who claimed he was not a god?
"You fight the Goa'uld? Truly?"
"I would like to..." He stopped himself. "No. She cannot harm me further. I can say what I mean!" He coughed suddenly. "My time is almost over. At least I will have said this." He took a deep breath, preparing to finally say what he befire had not even dared to think. "Qetesh is evil. She has beaten me. Humiliated me. Time and time again. And for doing nothing wrong! She always said I failed her, but it was never my fault! I have seen friends and loved ones killed by her. Tortured and beaten to death at her whim. For imagined slights! No more! If I could I would kill her - and all her kind!"
"All we can hope...is...that other will do so."
"I will pray to...to some other god...that I will be reborn as a...as a Tok'ra! Then I can fight her!"
"You would be a Tok'ra?"
"How badly are you wounded?" Ta'seem suddenly asked, barely daring to hope.
Rekan laughed. "Nothing can save me now, besides Qetesh's magic. They beat me, then used the painstick. Stabbed me in the side with a knife. I do not think they hit anything vital, or I would surely have died already. I am bleeding badly, though. If that does not kill me, an infection surely will. I also have a concussion. Of course, it all matter little - in this cold water I shall likely die from exposure long before anything else."
Ta'seem was quiet for a little while.
"I...may be able to...to heal you. If you...become my host. Understand, though...it could be years...before I can...leave you...if ever."
"Did you not say you were too badly injured to live?" Rekan sounded suspicious. Was it some sort of trick?
"No...and yes. My host...is too injured...for me to...heal You do...not see...my true...body. I...also am weak. Perhaps...perhaps strong enough...to heal us...both. But...it must be soon. I am...growing weaker..."
"If there is even a chance, then I...I volunteer. I would really live? I would still be allowed to use my body...sometimes?"
"Yes, we...would share it. We would...fight the Goa'uld...together. I would...do my best...always protect you..."
"Then I volunteer!"
"Understand...I...may be...too weak..."
"I understand. This way, at least we have a chance... But...how will you reach me? I am several feet away."
"I can swim."
"You are chained as am I."
"Yes, but...I can survive...outside my host...a short time. I will swim to you...as...as myself. You must be ready...to accept me."
"Just...open your mouth. And Rekan...fear not. You...may find my...true form....distasteful..."
"I promise I shall not falter!"
Already grieving, Ta'seem had then told his unconscious and dying host a sad goodbye and had left him. He had swam to a scared Rekan - feeling very cold and even more alone. His new host had managed to control his fear and had opened his mouth for him. Welcomed him. Ta'seem was immensely grateful to him. They had blended.
Somehow, Ta'seem had found the strength to tear the chain and then swim to shore. After resting for a few moments, he had crawled for cover under some large bushes. There he had healed some of their many wounds. It was lucky the Jaffa had not come back to check during that time.
It had been late night when they had weakly crawled away towards the forest and many days before they were strong enough to walk to the chaapa'ai. But they had lived and gotten away. Home to the Tok'ra and a long period of recuperation.
Now Ta'seem stood in the operating room on the Odyssey. He looked at Adria - the Orici, and the child of Vala, then at Vala who stood some distance away. She looked very uncomfortable.
Her expression was so different from that of Qetesh, so completely free from any evil, that Ta'seem was finally able to truly see her. See that she was not Qetesh, but someone else entirely. One of Qetesh's victims, just like Orman or Rekan - or countless others. How could he not have seen it before? How obvious it was! He felt ashamed.
This would be bringing back many unpleasant memories for Vala, both from the time Qetesh was extracted, but also from before. And Ba'al would remind her of Qetesh as well.
He nodded briefly at Vala, then focused on the job at hand. He would do his very best. For Vala, Rekan, and all the other innocents out there who had suffered under the Goa'uld and now the Ori.