aurora_novarum: (Sam & Teal'c)
[personal profile] aurora_novarum
Title: Path of Good Intentions
Author: [personal profile] aurora_novarum
Warning/Spoilers: Secondary Character Death; Violence; Spoilers for Continuum
Word Count: ~6,000
Summary: "Teal'c… I will always regret that you never became my First Prime." –Ba'al "Stargate: Continuum"

Author's Notes: Thanks to [personal profile] beanpot for being a rockstar beta. Written for [personal profile] princessofgeeks in the [ profile] tealc_ficathon on a prompt about Teal'c's life in the alternate timeline. This fic was going to be based on a completely different FiaD prompt 64 hours ago. Eeep.

"Stop staring," Fro'tak muttered to Teal'c as they stood side-by-side.

But he could not help it. It was rare for so many of the gods to be in one place. Only at special moments were the children of the gods chosen, and this was the first time Teal'c would witness it. Apophis had ordered all his Jaffa and human slaves present to greet his brothers and sisters, and as Master Bra'tac wryly noted when rehearsing the honorific with all the chal'til, Apophis could not resist showing the glory of his army. Goa'uld loved ostentation.

Teal'c stood at attention, self-conscious of the latest growth spurt that made his clothes much too small for him, no matter what his mother did to tailor them. Soon he would fit into true warrior garb, not just the apprentice robes of young chal'til. But fussing with his sleeves was secondary to watching the gods go past.

There was Ra in all his splendor, nodding to Apophis. Heru'ur and Cronus flanked the high god. Teal'c must have made some expression at seeing the murderer of his father because Fro'tak elbowed him.

"Master Bra'tac warned..." His friend's hissed warnings died off and Teal'c soon discovered the reason why. One of the other Goa'ulds was staring directly at him. Teal'c did not realize he would be noticed. He did not recognize this god on sight, either from clothing or appearance – but gods could change physical form. This was a slight man with fair skin and closely cropped hair extending to a facial beard. The opposite of Cronus in nearly every way, different too from Apophis who had courtesans shave his golden skin daily.

Teal'c stood at attention staring back at this new god before belatedly recalling Bra'tac's lessons and lowered his eyes. Through his lashes, he continued to watch the god, who seemed more amused than insulted at Teal'c's transgressions. The Goa'uld only turned away when one of the women at his side, it looked to be either Nirrti or Amateratsu from the jewelry, whispered in his ear. Teal'c released the breath he did not know he was holding.

The procession of gods moved forward into the court, passing the sepulcher. The chal'til line up was now allowed to disperse. Teal'c stayed, staring transfixed at the door where the gods walked, still wondering about the unusual one.

"Should you not be headed back to the barracks, my young warrior?"

Teal'c jumped at the voice. His mother stood, one eyebrow cocked imperiously high on her forehead, wrinkling the darkened tattoo mixture of signs of Apophis and Cronus.

"Did you..." He stalled, trying not to sound so excited, but could no longer contain himself. "Did you see the bearded man, the one in red and black?" He did not know how to describe the mocking eyes and piercing attention he felt when the god had turned his eyes on him.

Mother frowned in thought. "You mean Ba'al?"

"Ba'al?" Teal'c looked up, trying to remember his teachings. "One of the oldest system lords."

Mother had been a songster in Cronus's court, singing tales of his victories. Her knowledge and wisdom had made her an asset to Apophis when they fled, insuring their position and Teal'c's training would go forth. She knew more about the gods than anyone, outside of Master Bra'tac.

Mother nodded, a gentle hand between his shoulders herding him back towards the barracks. "Indeed. A system lord, but a minor one. Many in Cronus's court mocked him for spending too much time with stack'tak'no, the magic of the gods. But your father believed it was jealousy because Ba'al had outmaneuvered Cronus at a key stronghold." She paused, considering further. "Ba'al is clever, but not strong."

Teal'c frowned in disappointment. "Not strong like Apophis or Ra?"

Mother stopped in front of him and grasped his shoulders. "Teal'c, did I not tell you why we came to Chulak when we were exiled?"

"Because Apophis is enemy to Cronus, and the strength of his house rivals Ra."

"Indeed." She nodded solemnly. "And you are training to be a strong warrior for our lord Apophis."

"I am." Teal'c stood proudly, hoping she would see the pin on his cloak, but too self-conscious to point it out to her. He could not resist adding. "And Master Bra'tac is the wisest teacher."

She smiled then and nodded. "I have met none wiser." She fingered the pin he had earned for defeating five others in his class. "Be strong, my young warrior, and you will serve Apophis well."

He bowed before her. "I hope to make you proud."

The next time he saw Ba'al, Teal'c was already a decorated warrior in Apophis's army. Bra'tac had singled him out for special service and Teal'c hoped at some point to be Bra'tac's kin'tra, his second. Another step to his goal of serving Apophis as First Prime.

It was in this role Teal'c served as one of the honor guard at the summit at the Tobin system. Ba'al had taken the unusual step of agreeing to board Apophis's ha'tak with a small honor guard of his own, rather than speak from their respective tel'taks via vid screen. Teal'c was amongst those sent to escort the rival Goa'uld from the ring room.

Ba'al's eyes glowed, and he smiled as he looked at the escort. Teal'c had become used to seeing the gods over the years, so it was only when Ba'al smiled with that same insolent amusement at him that he recalled that meeting so long ago. "So the young chal'til has grown to a fine warrior for Apophis."

Teal'c's eyes widened at the god's recall. He bowed his head with respect, though kept his back straight to refrain from deference to anyone outside his god Apophis. Bra'tac stepped in front of Teal'c, and Teal'c raised his eyes surreptitiously to watch the exchange.

"Have my warriors shown you disrespect, my lord?" Bra'tac did not deign to even bow his head, sure in his place as Apophis's chosen First Prime.

"Of course not, Master..." Teal'c caught the Goa'uld's smile widening. "...Bra'tac, is it not? Your leadership of your warriors shows honor and courage sung throughout Goa'uld befits the army of my brother Apophis, of course."

Teal'c lowered his eyes, not daring to respond to the insolent tone of the Goa'uld. If he did not know better, he'd suspect Ba'al was insulting Apophis more than praising him.

Bra'tac seemed not to know how to respond either because there was a long pause before Bra'tac cooly replied. "You give me and my warriors great honor, lord."

Ba'al continued his smirk for a moment before his eyes flashed and he adopted the imperious tone Teal'c was more familiar with from Goa'uld. "Kel Apophis?"

"This way, Lord Ba'al." Bra'tac led Ba'al and his entourage from the room, Teal'c and Vel'ar marching in unison behind.

"How do you get the attention of Lord Ba'al?" Valar asked.

Teal'c shook his head. "I saw him once as a mere child. I'd almost forgotten." Only now that it had been brought up did he recall his mother's teachings of the clever god.

"The gods see all, I suppose. Not just Apophis." Va'lar whispered with reverence and straightened his serpent armor.

Teal'c frowned, thoughtful as he lowered his own serpent shield. "Indeed."

Teal'c had guard duty outside the chamber, so he knew not the words of gods. They were still in conference by the time the relief guard arrived and Va'lar and he were able to return to chambers. Neither spoke of Ba'al's strange fascination with Teal'c.

So it came as a surprise when their squad was called to present before Master Bra'tac. Bra'tac paced, frowning more than usual. "It is the will of our Lord Apophis that our best warriors ally with Ba'al's in a planned attack against Cronus. Ba'al has conceded the greater strategy lies with Apophis and has ordered our group to lead all warriors, including his own."

Teal'c blinked and glanced at Va'lar in surprise. Goa'uld made and broke alliances often, but the Jaffa armies worked concurrently, not intertwined in attacks. For Ba'al to give command of his troops to Apophis, and by concession, to Bra'tac, was unheard of. Bra'tac still seemed shocked at the turn of events himself.

"Ba'al will be on an al'kesh with an elite group of his warriors and us. Our hat'ak, overseen by Apophis himself, will coordinate the attack. We will launch our al'kesh from here and land at this remote facility. From there we will split up as designated to deplete the forces and secure the naquadah refined there."

Bra'tac continued explaining the plan, ensuring all the squad knew their roles.

"We will depart soon. Prepare." As the Jaffa filed out, Bra'tac called Teal'c back.

"Lord Ba'al seemed unusually interested in you, Teal'c."

Teal'c shook his head in wonder. "I know not why, Master. I have seen him once, as a child at the Choosing, but never spoken to him. Would not the gods be aware of all of us?"

Bra'tac scoffed. "The gods care not for the small fortunes of Jaffa, especially not those who do not wear their mark." He frowned. "But Ba'al is not like other Goa'uld."

"My mother said he was clever, but not powerful." Since stationed in the top squad, Bra'tac had encouraged Teal'c to be frank when they were in private.

"Your mother was right," Bra'tac nodded. "But cleverness is a power in itself. I have heard rumors in recent years of how Ba'al has taken key advantage at pivotal moments in battle, aware of tactics before they've been enacted. It is likely why our master Apophis has agreed to this alliance. Ba'al is a serpent. Not like the primtas we host in incubation, but a viper who waits for the right moment to strike, and then kills before you realize the poison has entered you. Be careful in dealing with this Goa'uld, Teal'c."

"Shall I not follow his command?"

Bra'tac was stern. "You shall follow his orders as Apophis has told us. have a good head on your shoulders, Teal'c. Use it."

"Of course, Master Bra'tac."

Teal'c followed the directions Ba'al and Bra'tac had directed, sectioning off from his companions at the junction, each taking a different path. His was the far left one. It looked like the least likely to find anything. He sensed no presence of a naquadah deposit.

He opened the door to find Cronus at a console.

Teal'c couldn't believe it. He was face to face with the murderer of his father. He raised his weapon to exact the revenge he long dreamed about as the Goa'uld shouted "Jaffa, kree!"

A blast from a zat'nik'tel froze Teal'c and he fell to his side on the cold, slick flooring. He could see Cronus's First Prime lowering his weapon.

"So, it is Apophis's minions attempting to steal from me? Stupid fool." Cronus loomed over him and kicked at his pouch. "We will show your master what it means to have his dogs stray into a god's territory."

Cronus suddenly flew backwards, crumpling to the floor from an unseen blow. Another blast felled his Jaffa, his neck turned at an unnatural angle. Ba'al stepped into Teal'c's field of vision, his ribbon device still held before him.

"Cronus, you must learn to spend more time paying attention to the dangers behind you rather than gloating. It will and has proven your downfall."

Cronus spat blood. "You should talk." He raised his own ribbon device, but the energy passed over Ba'al, repelled by some kind of personal shield Teal'c had never seen a god use before.

"This is what you get for not playing with your toys enough. You've atrophied on developing further defenses. Same old bag of tricks." Ba'al smiled. "Except of course, for your Eye."

Cronus's eyes glowed. "You...cannot know..."

Ba'al punched a few buttons on the console and instead of the expected crystal, pulled a strange disk out of the drawer that was exposed. "You'd be surprised at the things I know, brother. How you worked on developing the power of your Eye in this lab, but could never get it to quite work. Of course you would died before seeing Anubis steal it away from you, anyway. I figured at least this time, you can see what befalls it."

Cronus laughed. "You've spoken more and more jibberish these last years, Ba'al. Playing your games on the outer systems. The others have noticed you losing your edge. You're either crazy or a fool...or perhaps both."

"Strong words for a god on the ground." Ba'al remained unflustered. "I bet you do not recognize this Jaffa, do you Cronus? Doubtful. Only a boy, a minor slave when you would've noted him. Perhaps you recall his father though. Ro'nak."

Cronus's eyes widened.

"What do you say, Teal'c, shall we kill this weakened creature?" Ba'al turned back to Cronus. "There's nothing like a Jaffa with incentive, Cronus, and this one has for years had one drive: to see your death."

Teal'c struggled to rise, the effects of the zat still coursing through his nerves. He could barely move a muscle, but willpower gave force to his movements. He stood.

Cronus's eyes widened. He started to stand, but another blast from Ba'al knocked him back. Teal'c almost thought he could detect panic in the Goa'uld's voice. "Gods cannot die! Ba'al, what foolishness do you play with in these lessers' ears. If we fight, let us do it, or are you too cowardly to face me yourself?"

Ba'al's own eyes glowed. This time, it was no ribbon blast, but a dagger that flew, slicing at Cronus's shoulder and pinning his clothing to the wall. He stalked towards Cronus, hissing with each step. "Do not dare to confuse caution with cowardice. Your death was at the hands of a machine, a mere shadow of a soul." He glanced back at Teal'c.

"Shall you know more of your future, Cronus? Of your weakness to poison, your salvation by mere humans?" He leaned close and whispered something in the Goa'uld's ear, the ribbon device glowing a threat. Teal'c could make out nothing that was said, but Cronus's expressions told their own story: shock, anger, fear, confusion, calculation.

Ba'al leaned back. "Do you agree, brother?"

Cronus did not look happy, but there was something in his own expression as he nodded. "I vow it shall be so."

Ba'al smiled, but his nod was respectful. He turned on his heel and headed out of the room. "Come, Teal'c."

Teal'c was confused, but training helped where thought could not. A god commanded. He must follow. His limbs still weakened, he stumbled out of the chamber behind Ba'al.

"My lord..."

Ba'al's eyes flashed as he turned and faced Teal'c. "You wonder why I did not allow you to kill him after all? I kept you from your vengeance?"

"My lord." Teal'c's eyes widened at the implication he would question the will of a Goa'uld. "I...I wonder how you know of my father."

Ba'al smiled then, as if recalling a secret. "Ah, yes. Your father was wronged by Cronus, Teal'c. I admit it. He had a good strategy for the battle, and Cronus a poor one. Sadly, my brother believes too much in brute force. Apophis has the same weakness."

"My lord..." Teal'c did not know what to say at this blasphemy against his master, juxtaposed for such talk about his father.

"Oh, it's not a fault on them per se, Teal'c. It's their nature. Ask your Master Bra'tac." He leaned close conspiratorially. "After all, we're not really gods."

Teal'c reeled back in shock, almost falling, his eyes widening at this strange revelation, as much for the statement as for the source. Ba'al cocked his head, watching for a moment before shaking it and continuing on. Teal'c, more from instinct, followed.

"Oh, has Bra'tac not shared that bit of wisdom with you yet?" Ba'al laughed. "He will. And he's right."


"Don't get me wrong, Teal'c." He flexed the device that so shortly before had brought a Goa'uld to his knees. "We are strong, we are powerful. We have lived eons. By several definitions, we are gods. But not by Bra'tac's eyes,, I think not by yours either.

"Apophis and the others rule by force and cruelty. I've found...over time...that there is a better way. I know they say I'm not the most powerful of the system lords, but I will outlast them all. That's been proven, er, will be proven as the future comes to pass."

Teal'c just stared at this god...not god. Only his mother had spoken so frankly to him. Even Master Bra'tac couched his words. Teal'c could not believe the honor of seeming the confidant of a Goa'uld.

"But I have not answered your question, warrior. You asked me how I knew of your father." Ba'al stopped. "I know it in the same way I know that your Jaffa master's dreams of your people being free are good and valid.

Teal'c' swallowed, careful not to betray Bra'tac, who had been like a father to him for so many years. "He...he would be surprised to hear you say this."

Ba'al frowned slightly, nodding. "Yes, I believe he would. Perhaps we should not share this with him...yet. Will you keep my secret, Teal'c?"

"I..." Teal'c worried. Was this a test? Or was Ba'al asking him to be shol'va to his chosen god? Ba'al smiled as if knowing Teal'c's thoughts.

"I ask you not to betray Apophis–no, at least, not now. I keep my word to my brother in this alliance. We have defeated Cronus's forces and captured this facility, sharing in its booty. See, there he goes now. Surprising he was here at all, really." Ba'al pointed to the tel'tak flying away, dodging fire. He did not appear surprised at all at Cronus's presence or disappearance. "I ask only that you refrain from sharing these most recent events. You will keep a Goa'uld's confidence? Allow them not to notice the man behind the curtain?"

Teal'c glanced around. "There is no curtain here, my lord."

Ba'al sighed. "No, no there isn't, Teal'c. And no O'Neill with his ridiculous idioms either. I ask again, will you keep my secret?"

Teal'c forgot his confusion at Ba'al's odd comments at the dangerous tone to Ba'al's request. Few were asked by any god...any Goa'uld a question twice, not with all their faculties intact. Ba'al had asked three times. "Of course, I will, my lord."

"Good man." Ba'al slapped his shoulder as he fingered the strange disk he had taken from Cronus. "I knew I could count on you. I foresee great things in your future, Teal'c of Chulak. Great things indeed."

Teal'c did not forget about Ba'al in the intervening months that led to years. How could he? Aside from the shocking secrets Ba'al had given him, Ba'al's troops went on joint missions with Apophis every few months. Though none put Teal'c in contact with the system lord himself.

He couldn't shake the feeling that Ba'al was still watching him. Despite Ba'al's confession they were not gods, there was something preternatural about this Goa'uld. Apophis appeared to become more wary in his dealings.

Even Bra'tac appeared shaken, especially after one mission. Teal'c wondered if the First Prime had had his own personal encounter with Ba'al. But to ask would mean revealing his own, and Teal'c took his vows seriously.

Then came the day that Ba'al came to visit Apophis's court on Chulak. This time, he brought his consort. Teal'c was one of the guard ordered to watch the visitors. Ba'al had not even brought his own Jaffa to protect himself and his queen, a show of faith.

When they got to the designated guest quarters, Ba'al waved all the serpent guards away but Teal'c, who he studied a few moments longer before nodding and giving that predacious smile. "Show your face, Teal'c. I know it is you."

Shocked but not surprised the Goa'uld recognized him in his serpent's head, Teal'c lowered the helmet. Ba'al nodded his satisfaction and turned to his queen.

"What say you, my queen, to our escort? Is he not a fitting body guard for gods?"

"So this is the protégé of Apophis's court that has you so enraptured, my lord?" The female Goa'uld circled Teal'c, her brown eyes sparkling as she played with her dark hair and studied him as a herder checked his animals for readiness to slaughter.

"This is Teal'c, Q'etesh. He has proven a nimble warrior with a good head for battle."

"Yes, so you've said before." Q'etesh turned from Teal'c, already looking bored. "I still don't see the fascination you have for the armies of other Goa'ulds."

"Our own forces of course, are quite competent, especially yours, my sweet." Ba'al caressed her chin. Teal'c stayed still, both fascinated and fearful at so much attention on him. "But it always helps to be aware of the forces of our enemies." He glanced at Teal'c and smiled again, nodding in a way that seemed to share its own secret. "Or allies. It's good to be aware of...potential, after all."

"If you say so." Q'etesh sprawled amongst the cushions, checking her nails. "You're already aware Apophis and Amaunet are working against you. The old queen's spawn are starting to cycle primtas. You can be sure as soon as she's mature for hosts again, they'll betray the alliance."

She quirked an eyebrow. Teal'c could not see Ba'al's expression, he was facing away, but Q'etesh was openly challenging. "Or did you not want your prized protégé to hear we already know of his god's plans?"

Ba'al leaned forward. "You know your humor is what I love about you, my queen. No, I have no worries about Teal'c. He is loyal in his confidences. As I have learned from Master Bra'tac." He glanced back at Teal'c again. "You may share my tale with him now, Teal'c, if you choose, but only him."

Q'etesh pouted. "What tale, Ba'al? You know I hate it when you become secretive."

"We all have our secrets, my queen." Ba'al turned back to her. "But I will share this one. One day our Jaffa guard here will become my First Prime."

Ba'al turned again to Teal'c, his eyes glowing as Teal'c stared in confusion. "You may go now, Jaffa. Kree."

Teal'c bowed low and departed, his mind a maelstrom at this strange conversation.

He was not certain if he should speak to Bra'tac as Ba'al had suggested or not. It was strange enough for a Goa'uld to suggest, rather than order, a Jaffa to do anything. He wished he could speak to Drey'auc, his new bride. She was loyal to Apophis, but understood politics in a way that reminded him of his mother. She did not know of his previous encounters with Lord Ba'al. Perhaps the fresh insight would be good. But she was nowhere near. Bra'tac had mentored him, but he was First Prime of Apophis. Would he see this confession as a betrayal to their god? A betrayal to Bra'tac himself?

As it turned out, he need say nothing. Bra'tac saw him in the munitions room, stared for a moment and chuckled. "You have spoken with Ba'al."

Teal'c froze. Bra'tac nodded. "You may have mastered your expressions before the gods, but you cannot hide your heart from me, chal'til. I know you have watched and been watched by that false god for ages. I know not all he has told you, but I know you must beware."

It took a few moments for Bra'tac's words to sink in. "False god?"

Bra'tac sighed. "Ba'al has spoken to me, as he has no doubt spoken to you. I did not plan to speak to you of this yet. But Ba'al has his own timeline."

Teal'c said, "Ba'al knows much. He has given Apophis winning strategies for battles in which he did not take part. The Goa'uld may not be gods, but Ba'al is wise amongst them."

"Hasshak." Bra'tac pressed his hands to either side of Teal'c's head and glared. "How many times have I told you to use your own senses in battle. Fight with your own wits?"

"Many times, Master. I have learned much."

"And yet, when it comes to Ba'al, you are a tek'to pup waiting for a bone. Ba'al is a Goa'uld, one of the masters of our own servitude."

"But if he helps free us?"

Bra'tac nodded, his expression shrewd. "So he has told you of those plans as well. As I suspected. If he frees us, he will do more than even the Sodan and Tok'ra of legend proport to do. The test will be if he sees us as men, or as tools to his own power. He is a Goa'uld, like the others who enslaved us."

Teal'c said nothing, merely digesting all these words. Bra'tac sighed. "Has he told you of his plan now?"

Teal'c shook his head. Bra'tac grunted and muttered half to himself. "So, the betrayal he leaves to me. Serpent."

He led Teal'c back to another section of the cargo bay, where more weapons were stacked and a few other Jaffa Teal'c recognized were gathered. "Here is the plan of our Lord Ba'al."

"I will kill you!" Apophis roared. "Shol'va!"

The battle had gone as planned four months later, an uprising of immense magnitude. Apophis did not expect the ha'taks to decloak in orbit. That technology was thought impossible, as was the strange weapons it fired, more powerful than any mothership normally could channel.

The defeat came when Apophis called for reinforcements, but was instead faced with a guard loyal to a new god.

The plan was for Bra'tac, Teal'c, and Pe'kal to hold him for Ba'al. But Apophis had survived millenia with good reason. He always had a backup plan.

They'd zatted and removed his ribbon device, but did not know Apophis had his own secret stash of weapons on his throne. He struck Pe'kal with a zat. Teal'c barely missed being hit himself, dodging behind a pillar to maneuver to a better line of fire.

It was enough time for Apophis to grab Pe'kal's staff weapon.

It was enough time for him to fire.

Teal'c fired his own weapon, striking Apophis's shoulder and making him lose the staff weapon. Behind him, Teal'c heard a thump. He turned, missing the wounded Apophis's escape through a hidden panel.

His full attention was drawn to the sight behind him.

Bra'tac was still alive, but the wound was mortal, striking directly at the symbiote pouch.

Teal'c rushed to his teacher's side. Bra'tac grasped his shoulder, but his strength was already weakened. "I die free."

Teal'c feared Ba'al's wrath when learning of Apophis's escape. But Ba'al was surprisingly philosophical about the event. Q'etesh was not so sanguine, her brown eyes sparking the Goa'uld glow and her olive skin flushing.

"It is no matter, my sweet." Ba'al patted her hand on the throne next to his as he turned to Teal'c with predatory gleam. "We have our prize. We have Chulak. But where is Master Bra'tac to share this victory?"

"My lord, Master Bra'tac..." Teal'c bowed again so Ba'al could not see the emotion on his face. As it was he could barely choke out the words. "Apophis killed him, my lord."

"I see." Teal'c looked up to see Ba'al schooling his face into something impassive. Perhaps Ba'al too was touched by Bra'tac's death? Then why did Teal'c think the Goa'uld was suppressing a smile. "Unfortunate of course. Master Bra'tac was a good and wise warrior."

Q'etesh rolled her eyes. "You're more concerned about these Jaffa than the system lord that slipped through our fingers. Apophis will not accept this betrayal lightly. He's probably already enlisting others to rally against you. But I'm sure you'd rather stay here and perhaps even heal your Jaffa pets."

"No. No, what's done is done." Ba'al rose and clapped his hands. "Bra'tac's death will be a rallying cry in the cause for Jaffa freedom."

"Freedom?" Q'etesh rose too, looking at Ba'al in shock.

"Freedom, with us to define them, my queen. Us, and our new First Prime." He whispered in her ear, and Teal'c felt the uncomfortable sense of both Goa'uld watching him with the unholy glow in their eyes. He clapped his hands and motioned to his lo'taur, standing nearby. "I think it's time we made that official. Are you prepared to accept the mark of Ba'al, Teal'c?"

Teal'c blinked. The Goa'uld was asking him, not demanding it. "I am, my lord."

Ba'al grinned.

Teal'c held great power under Ba'al, more even than he had known Bra'tac to wield. His name was whispered amongst enemy Jaffa as much as the system lord's.

Teal'c did not wish for such notoriety for his own sake, but if it served to give hope to his brothers, he was not sorry. And yet, there was a cautious distance kept by Ba'al. Sometimes he would stare at Teal'c as if he was another man than the one who served him loyally. Teal'c always wondered how else he must prove his devotion to thisGGoa'uld.

He was under no such confusion when it came to Ba'al's queen. She tolerated Teal'c but did not like him. The feeling was mutual. Ba'al was devoted to her, keeping her with him in all battles, but Teal'c wondered if she had the same regard for her lord.

Then came the day she was injured. An overload at a console in her chambers. Teal'c supervised the technicians arrived to repair the damage as Ba'al rushed to his consort's side.

Q'etesh was caustic. "Something you didn't predict for once, Ba'al. Are you losing your touch?"

Ba'al shook his head, pressing his lips to her injured hand. "This body will scar, my queen. Time to choose a new host."

"I won't take one of those wenches in your harem, Ba'al."

Ba'al's eyes flashed, and he grinned. "Perish the thought. We will return to your main planet to choose a host of your liking. Shall you go to the sarcophagus until then, or be nurtured with a priestess?"

Q'etesh's eyes flashed as well, but there was no humor in her expression. "Is this your way of ridding yourself of me after all?"

"No, my sweet. I will even have my First Prime guard your priestess." He turned to Teal'c. "Did you hear me, Teal'c? On pain of death, nothing is to happen to Q'etesh while she awaits her new host. So vow."

Teal'c nodded solemnly.

"Your pet Jaffa dispatched for my care. I'm touched." Q'etesh started to laugh, but it choked into coughs.

"It must happen soon, love." He ordered his ha'tak to move quickly to her base and a priestess sent for. It was good they were not far away. A mature Goa'uld like Q'etesh could only survive a few days while inside a priestess Jaffa.

Ba'al, as usual, kept his promise, and Q'etesh's and the priestesses every need and want was met on the trip. Teal'c led the priestess to her court on the world before moving amongst the guards at the back of the room. It was the queen's right to have her honor guard at the choosing.

That was why he was surprised at the human slave who sidled up to him. How had she slipped past the inner circle of guards?

Any shock she may have felt at his presence disappeared with a wide grin. "Muscles, you seem like a fella in charge. Why don't you just let me slip out the back? No one will even notice. Just meld into the crowd. Shouldn't have even been here. After all, who's going to miss one puny human slave?" The charm in her voice belied the fear in her eyes. Teal'c pitied her, but he was helpless. The quest for Jaffa freedom was hard fought even with Ba'al's help. To free the human slaves would take more resources and destroy his work for his brothers.

"Ah, look, my queen. Teal'c has already discovered the perfect host. Her hair is like your own, although the complexion is paler." Ba'al surprised them both appearing at their side.

"Let me go!" The human made no attempt at charm as Ba'al grabbed her by her hair and led her up to the pedestel.

"My lord..."

Ba'al's eyes flashed as he turned back to Teal'c. "Yes, Jaffa?"

Teal'c stumbled at this unusual fierceness from his master. "This slave seems troublesome. Perhaps another would be more suitable for Q'etesh?"

Ba'al smiled. Teal'c's distraction had let the female kick Ba'al, making him loosen his grip. Teal'c was impressed. The slave had unusually good fighting skills. She ran towards the exit, but more Jaffa stopped her.

Ba'al laughed. "She is a spitfire, isn't she? I think this host may give Q'etesh some added spice. What do you say, my queen?"

The symbiote seemed to give its approval, leaving the priestess.

Teal'c fought down the distaste in his mouth. So used to Ba'al's rhetoric of freedom and focused on battles, he'd forgotten the casual attitude and cruelty the Goa'uld showed to others. Perhaps he was so used to humans accepting their place as chattel, he had not thought they may have dreams of freedom themselves.

If anything Ba'al seemed to keep Q'etesh by his side more since she changed hosts. He showed more satisfaction and yet more impatience. His manuevers became more intense. The only time he left Q'etesh was soon after the blending. That was when he showed Teal'c Praxyon and explained his final instructions should the unimaginable come to pass.

Teal'c felt honored to be shown the location that Ba'al had shared with no one else.

One day soon after their return, Teal'c came to Ba'al's chambers to find him immersed in watching a square object. A scene was playing out on it, similar to Goa'uld communication devices, but flat. A human or Goa'uld in drab clothing was lecturing on something to people around a table. Teal'c blinked. If he didn't know better, he'd say he was one of the people at the table. But he'd never been to such a place in his life.

Ba'al closed the box as soon as he realized Teal'c's presence. "Jaffa, kree."

Teal'c bowed, brushing the strange sight away from his mind. "My lord, Ra reports his tribute from Abydos will arrive soon."

Ba'al smiled. "Wonderful news, Teal'c. Ra, Nirrti, Amaunet, and soon Yu to be by our sides. Heru'ur and Zipacna are dead. Is it not the greater satisfaction to see your enemy grovel in subservience at your feet? Remember our first joint venture, when we held Cronus's life in our fingertips? But we kept him alive, and he has served our needs well since."

Teal'c nodded, a mere twitch in his cheek was the only evidence he outwardly showed at not being allowed to complete his vow to avenge his father.

Ba'al chuckled, as if reading his thoughts. "Death is a final vengeance, but too quick and some could argue, merciful. Alive and impotent under your command is a sweeter vengeance."

He blinked then and turned to Teal'c, as if expecting a response. Teal'c tilted his head, considering those words before replying. "But would not allowing them to live prove a danger, my Lord?"

Ba'al studied Teal'c for several moments before slowly nodding. "Perhaps, Teal'c. That is why I'm always thinking ahead." He turned away and started absently touching his collection of poisons. "That's why the system lords are so short sighted, and all like Cronus will fall under my rule. They fail to see the bigger picture." He looked up then, staring directly at Teal'c. "They do not see, as I do, the potential in working in partnership, not in subjugation, with proud and courageous people such as the Jaffa. The benefits are exponential. Do you not agree, Teal'c?"

His calculating expression left Teal'c cold. An old memory surfaced of Bra'tac's naming Ba'al a serpent of whom to be wary. Strange how he remembered that now, after all this time. Ba'al had been sure to keep his promises, even show Teal'c more than any Goa'uld shared with a First Prime. He stood frozen for a moment, wondering what in his subconscious was rebelling when his god was being so open to him. Stiffly he nodded and said the only response appropriate. "Indeed."


Date: 2013-08-26 09:03 am (UTC)
fignewton: (teal'c diplomacy)
From: [personal profile] fignewton
Lookit what I recced! ::bounces::

I do wish you'd extended this to Teal'c's POV of the events of Continuum. But this was fabulous, and it's a pleasure to rec it.

Date: 2013-08-27 11:50 pm (UTC)
aelfgyfu_mead: Aelfgyfu as a South Park-style cartoon (Default)
From: [personal profile] aelfgyfu_mead
Chilling. I have some sympathy for Teal'c, but he's really not the same Teal'c—and I just feel bad for Vala.


aurora_novarum: (Default)

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