Stargate Horizons


Daniel stared down at the drawing laid out on the table before him.  He'd been working on the entrance for the garden for three days now, and he still wasn't happy with it.  The problem was that he couldn't make up his mind whether to go with a traditional Greek or Roman design or something with a bit of an Egyptian look.

The archeologist knew that work had already begun on the garden, Egeria being eager to get it completed as soon as possible.  At the rate he was going with this doggone thing, the garden would be all done before he even had a completed plan for how its entrance would look.

With a sigh, Daniel crumpled up the paper and tossed it into the basket he was using for trash.  It bounced off the pile of other rejects and rolled across the floor, coming to a stop at the feet of the man who had just entered the room.

"I sense an air of great discontent."

Daniel looked up to see Aulus grinning at him.  "What are you doing here?"

"Egeria summoned me.  She tells me that you are attempting the creation of a small bit of architecture."

"Attempting.  Good word.  It's only an entrance for the new garden, but I can't seem to even get it down on paper."

The master builder bent down and picked up the crumpled piece of paper.  He smoothed it out and studied the drawing.

"So, what seems to be the problem?" he asked.

"I can't make up my mind on what I want it to look like.  This is the first time that I've ever designed anything of an architectural nature on my own.  I know that I'm over-thinking it, but. . . ."

"You wish for it to be something spectacular."

"Well, maybe not spectacular, but at least interesting and attractive."

Aulus waved his hand at the overflowing trash bin.  "And none of those were interesting and attractive?"

Daniel sighed.  "I suppose they probably were.  I just wasn't satisfied with them."

Aulus smiled slightly.  "Perhaps what you need to do is stop trying so hard.  You need to just let it happen.  When I am designing some new building, I close my eyes and let my imagination take me where it wishes to go.  It always faithfully leads me to what I know will be the perfect design for that building.  Perhaps you should do the same."

"Just close my eyes and let my imagination conjure up something," Daniel said doubtfully.


The archeologist shrugged.  "I suppose it's worth a try since what I'm doing now isn't working."

"Good.  Now that that is settled, I wish to scold you severely."

Daniel's brow puckered.  "Uhhh . . . why?  What did I do?"

"You did not come and talk to me about you nearly being murdered, that is what.  I had to learn about it from someone else."

"Oh.  I'm sorry, Aulus.  I know I should have told you about it personally.  I wouldn't have been able to get away the day after it happened.  The following day, I was busy working, and then Egeria approached me about the garden.  The day after that, we were off-world getting flowers for it.  Then I got so involved in the plans for the entryway, and . . . time just got away from me."

Aulus frowned at him a while longer.  "Well, all right, then.  I suppose I can forgive you just this once."  He shook a finger at Daniel.  "But do not let it happen again."

"I won't.  The next time someone tries to kill me, I'll be sure to tell you all about it."

The master builder took a seat.  "So, tell me what actually happened.  I cannot trust the veracity of what I was told."

Daniel filled the man in, including what he'd learned about the friendship between Secundus and Herminius.

Aulus shook his head.  "I have to wonder how Secundus believed that he could do this without Egeria learning that it was he who did it.  She would not have rested until your murderer was found."

"I don't know.  Maybe he planned on planting evidence that would point to someone else.  I think that, in the end, he was so focused on killing me that he wasn't thinking all that clearly.  He must have heard me tell Titus to go get help.  If I had been in his position, I'd have gotten out of there and attempted an escape through the Stargate.  Instead, he stayed and kept trying to kill me even though he must have known that Titus could return with a Jaffa at any second."

"The bloodlust of revenge can often blind the mind to all else," Aulus responded wisely.  His eyes met Daniel's.  "If you had died, my desire for revenge would have ruled my thoughts as well."

Daniel's gaze dropped to the floor.

"But enough about that," the older man said.  He rose to his feet.  "You have a garden entrance to design, and I have a gallery to which I must return my attention.  And speaking of that gallery, it has been far too long since you visited me there.  Do not let too many more days go by before you do."

Daniel gave him a smile.  "I won't, Aulus.  I promise."

Saying goodbye to the master builder, Daniel then looked down at the wrinkled plans that the man had laid on the table.  He stared at them for a moment, then left the room.  He went to the east garden and sat on the grass before the pond, frowning down at the fish, which swam over and looked at him, no doubt hoping to be fed.

After a couple of minutes, Daniel closed his eyes and followed Aulus' advice, letting his imagination loose upon the design of the garden entrance.  Not twenty minutes later, he knew how he wanted it to look.

"What do you know," he murmured.  "It worked."

He went back inside and sketched out what he'd pictured in his mind, filling in details that his imagination had left blank.  Once he was done, he went in search of Egeria.  He found her overseeing work on the west garden.  Daniel looked around, surprised by how far the workers had progressed.

"They've made a lot of progress," he said.

"Yes, it is going well."  Egeria looked at him.  "And what about you?"

"I've finally come up with something, thanks to some advice from Aulus."

The Goa'uld queen smiled.  "I thought that perhaps he might be of assistance."

Daniel showed her the drawing.  She nodded in approval.

"Yes, this is perfect.  You must get these plans to Aulus so that he can put men to work on it immediately."

Because Egeria's attention was so centered on the garden, Daniel decided to hold off for a few days on talking to her about her host.  Therefore, he focused most of his attention on work, hoping that he'd have at least a few uninterrupted days before the next crisis or big event took place.  Daniel found that thought rather ironic.  Back in his time, even though he was directly involved in a war against the Goa'uld, there had been plenty of occasions when several weeks would go by without any major issues or crises arising.  Yet he comes here, where he is not actively battling the Goa'uld, and it seems like, lately, he can't go more than a couple of weeks without something happening.  He really needed to get back home to the SGC so that he could get some peace and quiet.

Titus had dived headlong into his studies and was eagerly taking in everything Decimus taught him.  Daniel could tell that he definitely had a talent for languages, at least for learning how to read and write them.  Learning how to speak another language with the proper pronunciation was another thing entirely, something that some people he knew in his line of work never did master.  Fortunately, Titus wasn't required to learn how to speak any of the languages he was learning.

"How many languages can you read and write, Daniel?" Titus asked one day.

"Ohhh, a few," the archeologist replied.  He heard Decimus make a little noise that sounded like a snort of laughter.

"Go on and tell him, Daniel," the old man said, his eyes sparkling.  "It will give him a worthy goal to set his eyes upon."

Daniel did as asked, which made the boy gape at him.

"How did you ever learn so many?  I could never learn that much."

"Don't say that, Titus.  From what I can see, you have quite a gift with languages.  I learned that many through years of study.  Even now, I'm still learning new languages.  I doubt that I'll ever stop, at least not until I'm dead."

Deciding to take a break that afternoon, Daniel went to the west garden to see how things were progressing.  He saw that, except for his entryway and the walls that would come out from either side of it, the garden appeared to be just about finished.

He wandered around, taking in the sights, noting all the flowers there that were not among the ones they had chosen off-world.  Rather than taking Daniel along to help choose flowers from the growers on Estrania, Egeria had decided simply to select flowers and plants that were already in the other two gardens, knowing that they were all 'safe'.

Seeing Egeria at the far end of the garden, Daniel headed over to her.

"Ah, my Daniel," she greeted.  "So, how do you like our new garden?"

Daniel noticed that, this time, she'd said our garden instead of your garden, which was much better.

"It's beautiful.  You did a wonderful job of designing it."

The Goa'uld queen smiled.  "Thank you.  Have you eaten the midday meal yet?"

"No, I was going to get something after taking a walk."

"Come then.  You can join me."

As always, they went to the sitting room.  As they waited for their food to be brought, they chatted mostly about the garden and Daniel's entryway, which would take the longest to complete because of the reliefs that needed to be carved into it.

After the food arrived, they continued to talk, wandering off to different subjects.  It was after a brief lull in the conversation that Daniel decided to bring up the subject of Egeria's host.

"I was wondering if you'd had the opportunity to talk with Arria again."

"Yes, I have, more than once, in fact.  I am finding it quite enjoyable."

Daniel smiled.  "That's great.  I'm glad to hear it.  I should imagine that you're learning a lot about her."

"Yes.  Though I have access to all of her memories, speaking with her has given me an even deeper understanding of her."  Egeria paused for several seconds.  "Several times, she has been the one to initiate contact."

Surprised, Daniel looked at her closely.  "How do you feel about that?"

"I was irritated the first time due to the circumstances, but it bothers me only slightly now."

Daniel was delighted to hear that Egeria was accepting her host taking the lead and reaching out to attempt communication.  It was another step toward allowing Arria to have a say in her own fate, which, in turn, was a step closer to actually letting her occasionally have control of her body.

Daniel still didn't know how he was going to approach Egeria about that last thing.  Obviously, he couldn't just say something like, "Hey, now that you're talking to your host, I was thinking that maybe you'd let her come out and chat with other people, too."  Oh, yeah.  That would go over real well.

For something that big, he was going to need some pretty powerful ammunition.  Gentle persuasion probably wouldn't be enough.  Egeria had to be made to see that sharing control with Arria was the way it should be.

All at once, a thought came to Daniel.  When you wanted someone to see that a certain course of action was the right thing to do, one of the most powerful arguments was to use the example of others.

"A few years ago, I met some people that I came to have a lot of respect for," he said, hoping he was doing the right thing.  "Like the Goa'uld, they are symbiotes living inside the bodies of hosts, but in the most important ways, they are very different from the Goa'uld."

Her interest piqued, Egeria leaned forward slightly.  "How so?"

"With these people, the symbiote and host share control.  The host is not imprisoned inside their own body.  They have a say in everything.  When talking to one of these people, sometimes, you will be talking to the symbiote and, other times, the host.  It all depends on the circumstances and who wishes to be the one in control at the moment.  The symbiote and host are true partners in every way.  It's really quite something."  Daniel paused.  "Though I can't say that I'd be eager to be a host even like that, if there was some reason that made it necessary, I would consider it.  It . . . wouldn't really be a bad thing, unlike what happens to people like my wife."

Egeria stared down at her own plate of food, affected more than she would have thought she'd be by what Daniel had just told her.

"These symbiotes, do they share control out of necessity?" she asked.

Daniel shook his head.  "No.  If they wanted to, they could take over complete control, just like the Goa'uld do.  They share control because they believe that it would be wrong to do otherwise.  It is a fundamental part of their society, who and what they are.  I admire them for that."

Laying her plate down, Egeria got up and went to the window, her thoughts now troubled by one particular thing.

"You must wish so dearly that the Goa'uld were that way," she said in a low voice.  "If they were, you would not have lost your wife."

"Yes, I do wish they were that way, more than I can say.  Sha're was already a host when I met them, and I couldn't help but think, 'If only the Goa'uld were like that.'  But then, if they were, Sha're would never have been made a host at all since this race takes only willing hosts."

Egeria stared at some dark clouds building on the horizon, heralding the possible coming of rain.  Daniel's words filled her mind, all the things he'd said . . . and not said.  She knew what he was thinking, what he must be thinking, that if there was any Goa'uld who should, more than all others, be like that race of symbiotes, it was her.

"I wish to be alone for the present," she said.

Daniel got to his feet, suddenly concerned that he'd made a mistake.  He hadn't wanted to upset her.  That was the last thing he'd want to do.

"Egeria, I'm sorry if what I said upset you.  I didn't mean to do that."

The Goa'uld queen turned to him.  "It is all right, Daniel."  She gave him a small smile.  "We will talk again tomorrow."

Hesitating a moment, Daniel nodded, then left.  Egeria returned her gaze to the clouds, which were approaching rapidly, already almost upon them.  She thought of the symbiotes about which Daniel spoke, a species that, like the Goa'uld, could have complete control of their hosts' bodies, yet chose, instead, to share that power.  And they did it for no other reason than that they believed it was only right for them to do so.  Her fellow Goa'uld would sneer at them, would deride them for not taking what they had the power to take.

As for Egeria, she did not sneer, for, in doing what they did, they were showing more courage than the Goa'uld.  For an adult Goa'uld, taking complete control of a host's body required no courage, no strength of character.  You entered the body, connected to the brain, and, after a brief struggle with the host's mind if they were unwilling, it was done.  But to share control would require the courage to relinquish command of the body within which you lived.  It would be like Egeria handing over her kingdom to another as she stood back and watched.  Would she be able to do that?  Would she have the courage?

At that moment, it began to rain, gently at first, then coming down in torrents.  She thought of the freshly planted flowers, wondering if they would survive.  Did it really matter if they didn't?  They were only flowers, inanimate objects without a heart, without a mind . . . unlike her host.

Egeria left the sitting room and then the palace, walking out into the west garden.  She was alone there, the workers having fled indoors.  Within seconds, she was soaked to the skin, but she paid no attention to it as she lifted her gaze to the sky, blinking away raindrops.

After a few moments, she heard Camilla call to her, asking if she was all right.

"Leave me be!" she snapped.  She sensed rather than saw her Lo'taur flee back inside.

From a window, Camilla watched her queen, wondering what was wrong.  Had something happened?  Why did Egeria stand out in the rain like that?

Worried and not knowing what else to do, Camilla went to the library in search of the one person who might be able to find out what was wrong with Egeria.  When she got there, however, it was to learn that Daniel was not there.  Decimus suggested that she try his quarters.  She headed over there and hesitantly knocked on the door.

"Come in," said Daniel's voice.

Camilla entered to find him standing at the window.

"Camilla?  Is something wrong?" he asked, surprised to see her.

"Yes.  I-I mean, I do not know.  Queen Egeria, she. . . ."

Daniel took a step toward her.  "She what?"

"She stands out in the rain in the west garden.  When I tried to speak to her, she yelled at me.  She has never yelled at me before, not ever."

'Crap,' Daniel cursed silently.  "I'll go talk to her," he said aloud, walking past the Lo'taur.

Daniel knew that this was his doing.  He'd gone too far, pushed Egeria's mind into a direction she was not yet ready to take.  Once again, he'd jumped in when he should have approached more slowly, with greater caution.  So, what was he going to do to fix this?

Arriving at the door that exited onto the west garden, Daniel paused in the open doorway and watched Egeria.  She was standing as still as a statue, her wet clothing plastered to her body, eyes appearing to be looking at the sky . . . or perhaps at nothing at all.

Cautiously, he stepped out into the rain and approached her.

"Egeria?" he inquired softly, questioningly.  There was no reply for several long seconds.

"The Goa'uld are cowards," she said at last, not turning to him.  "I am a coward."

"What?  No!  Why do you say that?"

"Because it is true.  No Goa'uld would ever have the courage to do what the symbiotes you told me about do.  To relinquish control, give up command.  It is unthinkable!  It is more than just a matter of pride, of conceit or ego.  I am no stranger to those things.  I have felt pride in my own skills and accomplishments.  I have felt the conceit that is within all Goa'uld.  But I have neither pride nor conceit in the fact that I am able to take control of a host's body.  Why should I when there is nothing extraordinary about it?  It is a power born to every Goa'uld, a physical ability developed through the evolution of our species from its primitive beginnings.  There is no more reason to feel pride or conceit about it than a bird should feel that way about being able to fly."

Egeria finally turned around and met his eyes.  "Yet, saying all those things, that giving up control of my host's body would not damage my pride or wound my ego, I still do not think I could do it.  I am over two thousand years old.  For all those centuries, I have been in control of the body in which I resided.  To relinquish that control, to be a mere observer as this body was used to do things I did not will it to do. . . .  It is a disturbing thought, a . . . frightening thought."

Daniel did not speak for a while.  He knew what he wanted to say, but he also understood Egeria's feelings.  If he was in her position, he couldn't say that he wouldn't feel the same.

"Egeria, I do understand why you'd feel that way.  It's natural that you would.  When I told you about those symbiotes, I admit that I'd hoped that you might someday consider doing the same thing.  You know how I feel about the plight of a Goa'uld's host, how personal it is to me.  I've made no secret of that.  But I never intended to try to make you do something against your will."

He paused, then said what he knew he had to say.  "There are a lot of things I'd like to say, but I'm only going to say one thing now.  For all the years you've been inside Arria she has been what you said, an observer as her body was used to do things she did not will it to do.  But here's the difference.  She's had no choice in the matter, no other option.  Once she agreed to be your host, that was it.  Control of her body was lost, and she had no way to get it back.  But if you were to release control to her, you have the power to take it back at any time, in an instant.  Regardless of whether or not you are controlling that body at any given moment, the truth is that you would always be the one who had the real control, the one with the power over what is done with it.  It's that way with the race I spoke of, too.  They just choose not to look at it like that."

Knowing that he'd said all he could, Daniel turned and left.  He went back to his room, ignoring all the stares he got over being sopping wet and silently apologizing to the people who would have to mop up the trail of water he was leaving.

In his room, he dried off and changed clothes.  He then found a servant and asked them to get a message to Decimus that he would not be returning to the library today.  After that, he went back to his room and just sat and stared.  Even if today was not a day he was supposed to have off, he didn't think he'd be able to do any more work.  It would be hopeless for him to even try to concentrate on translations when something so vitally important was hanging on the line.

Daniel began to wonder if this whole thing had been a terrible mistake, if he should have just served the year of slavery that he'd been sentenced to and let Egeria find her own way to the decision she'd ultimately make.  What if, in meddling, he screwed it all up, made it so that Egeria would never become a Tok'ra, never give birth to the Tok'ra race?  He should have just left her alone.  He should have known that playing with history, even just a little, could lead to disaster.

Egeria sat before the window in her chambers, staring out at what lay beyond.  The rain had stopped, and the sun was beginning to peek through the clouds.  The Goa'uld queen was only peripherally aware of these things, her mind mired in the thoughts that would not go away.  Despite the truth in Daniel's last words to her, the idea of giving up control of the body she was within, even for a moment, still disturbed her greatly, and that shamed her, for it made her not only a coward, but also a hypocrite.  She felt contempt and disgust for her fellow Goa'uld because of their cruelty, their lust for power, the way they brutally enslaved humanity.  Yet here she was, unwilling to give up, even for a short while, the power she had over her host's body.  Here she was, keeping her host in unrelenting enslavement, with not even a moment of any semblance of freedom.

On that day she first talked to Arria, she had thought about the irony of being a wise and just ruler to her subjects, yet granting no rights or freedom to her own host.  But that thought had not remained in her mind as it should have.  She had come to enjoy speaking with her host, but that was not giving freedom.  It was no more than a jailer speaking with a prisoner in a cell.

Egeria sensed her host calling to her, asking to speak.  She didn't know if she wanted to hear anything the woman would say.  Wasn't it obvious what Arria would tell her?

It was several minutes before Egeria finally opened herself to communication.

'You have something to say,' she said in her mind.

'I . . . I have been so terribly afraid to say what is in my heart,' Arria admitted, the fear she was feeling reflected in her mental voice.  'This thing that Daniel suggests, you must know how desperately I would wish it to be.  It is not the thought of being able to control my own arms and legs, to move under my own power that makes me ache with longing.  It is . . . it is to be able to speak with my voice, share my thoughts with others, to be heard.  There have been so many things I wanted to say to people.  I wanted to tell Numa that I cared about him, too, that I thought he was a good and wise man, but he died never even knowing me.'  In her heart, she started to cry.  'I want to tell Daniel things.  I want him to know me, not just what I look like.  I love him, too, Egeria, and I cannot even talk to him.'

Deeply affected by Arria's admission of love, Egeria focused her attention on her host's emotions and saw the true depth of them.  The same love for Daniel that was in Egeria was also in her host's heart.  They loved him as one.  What would it be like to love someone and never even be able to talk to them?

'I am powerless in all this, Egeria,' Arria said.  'You are the only one with the power to decide.  If you decide not to do it, then I will have no choice but to continue living each year, each century, unknown and unheard by all but you.  But if . . . but if you decide for it, I will be so very happy and so very grateful.'

Arria fell silent, leaving Egeria to her thoughts, to the decision that she alone had the power to make.

The room was getting dark.  That fact didn't impact upon Daniel's consciousness until he looked at his watch to see what time it was.  With a sigh, he got up and began lighting some candles.  He was on the third one when there was a knock on his door.  He opened it and was surprised to see Egeria on the other side.

"Egeria.  I, uh. . . .  Please come in."  He stood aside to allow her to enter, closing the door after her.  When he turned around to look at her, there was a strange expression on her face.  In the next moment, he received quite a shock when she suddenly wrapped her arms around him and started to cry.

Alarmed, he asked, "Egeria, what's wrong?  What is it?"

The woman pulled back, her eyes scanning Daniel's face so intensely that it made him uncomfortable.

"I-I am Arria, Daniel," she said in an emotion-filled voice.  "I am Arria."

Realizing what she was saying, Daniel drew in a sharp breath.  "Oh my God," he whispered.  "Arria?  It's really you?"

A brilliant, joyful smile spread over her face, and she nodded.  Laughing, Daniel pulled her into his arms to hug her tightly.

"Thank you, Egeria," he murmured low in her ear.

After releasing her, Daniel led her over to a chair and sat with her.  "How are you feeling?"

"It feels . . . strange.  It has been so long since I had control of my body that, for a moment, I almost couldn't remember how to make it work."  She lifted her hands and stared at them as if they were alien things.  "To will my hands to move and see them do it, to . . . to think up words to say and then be able to speak them."  Her eyes filled with tears again.  "It is wonderful, even though I know it is only temporary."  She looked at him.  "There are so many things I have wanted to say to you.  Mostly, I have wanted to say thank you.  Thank you for talking to Egeria about me, for saying the words that made her choose to speak with me.  I was so lonely before then."  Arria took both of his hands in hers.  "And thank you for this as well."

Daniel shook his head.  "I didn't do this, Arria, Egeria did."

"But it is you who planted the thought in her mind.  If you had not, this would never have come to be."

"Maybe, maybe not.  It might still have happened one day."  Daniel couldn't very well tell her that he knew it would have happened someday, even if he had never come here.

Arria got to her feet and wandered around, touching things almost like a very young child discovering the wonders of tactile sensations.

"I have thought about your wife often," she said, surprising Daniel.  "I think about what it was like for her, to have been wrested away from your side and control of her body taken away from her against her will, to know that she might never again be reunited with the one she loved."  She turned back to him.  Seeing his face turned to the floor, grief upon it, she was instantly sorry for her words.  She rushed forward.  "Oh, I am so sorry, Daniel!  I have brought you pain.  My words were thoughtless.  Egeria is rebuking me for what I have done."

Daniel blinked away the tears that burned his eyes and lifted his gaze to hers.  "No.  It's all right.  I . . . think about that a lot, too."  He swallowed the tightness in his throat.  "Let's not talk about me or Sha're.  Let's talk about you.  After all, you're the one who's getting to talk aloud for the first time in several hundred years."  He got Arria to sit back down.  "So.  Tell me about your life before you met Egeria.  I know next to nothing about you except that you're Etrusci."

Arria told him about herself.  She and her family were freeborn, but they were also poor, sometimes barely scraping by.  Her brother died when he was only two, a tragedy from which her mother never fully recovered.  She lost both of her parents when she was nineteen.  After that, she survived the best she could by doing things like mending garments for others.

"I'm surprised you didn't marry," Daniel remarked, "especially as beautiful as you are."

Arria blushed at the compliment.  "My mother did not want me to marry.  Since my brother died, she wanted to hold onto me tightly.  Father could have done something about it, but he let her have her way.  After they died, I was then free to marry.  I was courted by a boy in our village and fell in love with him.  But, one day, he got drunk and tried to . . . to force himself upon me.  He was stopped only just in time by another.  After that, I refused to have anything more to do with him.  For a long time afterwards, I could not bear the thought of a man touching me in that way."

"I'm sorry," Daniel said, feeling for her.  He understood all too well how deeply rape could affect someone.

"And then I became ill, and no man would come near me, fearful that they would get the sickness from me.  When I met Egeria, I did not have many more months to live.  I would be dust in a grave, forgotten and unknown, if not for her."

Daniel studied the woman before him.  There were so many things that he wanted to ask her, but he didn't want to get her into trouble.  This thing that was happening now was so fragile.  If Arria said something that angered Egeria too much, the Goa'uld queen would probably take back control and might never release it again.

"Will Egeria let you talk about your feelings about being a host?" he asked hesitantly.

Arria was silent for a moment.  "She says yes, but only because it is you who is asking."

"How has it been for you?  You said that you were lonely before Egeria began talking to you."

"Yes, I was lonely, with no one to talk to, no one with whom I could share my thoughts and feelings.  For me, that was the worst thing about being a host.  But I know that it could have been so much worse, that it would have been worse if I had been taken by another Goa'uld.  Except for the loneliness, my life as a host has not been a bad one.  There are things Egeria has done that have not pleased me, but, in her heart, she is a good person.  In truth, rather than the occasional things she did that I did not like, I believe that it was the differences between us that bothered me more."

"What do you mean?"

"For nearly all of the time that I have been her host, Egeria has been one who holds herself mostly apart from others.  I know that this is because of who and what she is, and I did understand it, but it was still not easy for me.  She is one who seldom touched," Arria took his hands again, "whereas I am the opposite and touch often.  There were so many times when I wanted to touch someone who was in Egeria's company.  I love to talk with people, to learn about them."  She smiled.  "My father once said that I could talk the moon out of the sky.  And when I am with someone I love and trust, I will open my heart to them.  But Egeria was not like that.  Except for those about whom she truly cared, she did not have personal conversations or friendly discourses, and even with Numa she rarely conversed with deep emotion.  This bothered me often because there were so many things I wanted her to ask, and learn, and say."  Arria looked into his eyes.  "But then you came into our lives, and all this changed.  She sees things with new eyes now and no longer holds herself apart from everyone around her.  She touches more and laughs more."  Arria's expression became tender.  "And she opens her heart more, though it is only to you that she does so.  You have been a blessing to her . . . and to me."

Daniel looked away, a bit embarrassed by her words.

Arria sighed.  "Egeria says that it is getting late, and is it time for her to resume control."

Daniel looked at her.  "Will she let you have back control again someday?"

"She says it is possible."  Arria gave him one last smile.  "I have so enjoyed talking with you."

"I've enjoyed talking with you, too."

The eyes of the woman before him flashed.  The body language changed, the spine straightening, the face becoming less open and unshuttered.

"Daniel," said Egeria.

He had half-expected her to speak with the voice of a Goa'uld, just like what happened when a Tok'ra switched from the host to the symbiote.  But, as had been the case from very early on, she spoke to him with a human voice.

"Egeria.  Thank you so much for what you did.  I can't tell you how much it means to me."  He smiled.  "You see?  You were wrong.  You're not a coward."

Egeria got to her feet.  "You were right to say what you did.  My mind was so focused on just the idea of giving up control that I was not looking at the truth of the matter, that I would actually not be giving it up."  She turned to him.  "But what I know you wanted to say is what truly weighed upon my mind as I stood in my chambers.  In refusing to let Arria have even a moment of control, I was acting no better than the other Goa'uld.  I was selfishly clinging to the power I had over this body, enslaving someone without even granting the most basic freedom of being able to talk to others, to touch.  It shamed me."

"So, how do you feel now that you let her have control for a little while?"

"It was strange and rather disconcerting at first.  I came very close to taking control back right away.  I do not know if I would ever become accustomed to it, but it did not leave me with an unpleasant feeling."  She smiled slightly.  "I can sense how happy it made Arria.  She is singing.  I have never before heard my host sing."

Daniel smiled.  "I'm glad.  I really hope that you will do this again sometime."

Egeria lost her smile.  "You must understand, Daniel, that to the people of this world I must always been Queen Egeria.  They can never meet Arria.  It is only to you that she can ever speak."

Daniel nodded, understanding what she was saying.  The humans of this planet did not really know what a Goa'uld was.  They believed that the person they saw with their eyes was Egeria herself.  Only the Jaffa knew the truth.  If Egeria's human subjects were to find out what she really was, there was no telling what kind of ramifications it might have.  Even so, he knew that, if history played out the same, there would be a day when Egeria's host had far more freedom.

"I must go now," the Goa'uld queen said.  "I will be quite busy with matters of state tomorrow, so there may not be an opportunity to converse with you."

Daniel rose from the chair.  "Okay.  I'll see you another day, then.  Before you go, I do want to say something.  I have so much respect for what you did.  I don't think you truly realize how momentous it was."

"Thank you, Daniel.  For you to say that means a great deal to me."

Saying goodbye, she left the room.  For a long while, Daniel just stood in place, the knowledge that he actually did it almost overwhelming him.  There was still a long way to go, and he didn't know what it would take to get Egeria to spawn larvae without the Goa'uld genetic knowledge, but what happened today was an amazing moment in history, the true beginning of the Tok'ra race.

Suddenly realizing that he was famished, Daniel headed out the door, eagerly looking forward to what the days ahead would bring.

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