Egeria was a minor queen. Thirty years in brood, five in host to recover her strength, and then back around again to make more symbiotes for the Jaffa to use and discard--for she was not among Ra's favorites, and her offspring were rarely selected for implantation.
It's a lonely thing, to spend years staring at the same four walls, trapped in a tank barely large enough for a mature queen to turn around. Many of the minor queens went mad from it, and it showed in their rest periods; all of the slaves knew that it was safer, far safer, to serve Ra or Hathor, who on occasion had reason to value the possibility of future devotion. But Egeria dreamed of being a Great Queen one day, and fought for her sanity, and used what chances she had to learn all she could about the Empire.
She was even willing to use her hosts for this; simple, stupid girls, soft and weak, but their opportunity to see the world had been much greater than that of their goddess. Of course, she also liked to make them squeal. Helplessness can easily breed anger, and so it was with Egeria. She loved best getting to know them, right down to their bones, so that she could choose the one wound that would make them howl the loudest: practice for the time when she would rise up and claim Ra for her own. She was fairly certain that once she walked out of the breeding palace into the light of the world, she would need to be able to find her enemies' weak points.
In her sixteenth cycle out of the tanks, she was put into a Nubian, a woman older than her usual fare. She was disappointed by this, as Ra did not like his women so dark, but she had taken ill in the tank and the implantation had been too rushed to allow a proper selection. At least she was alive, she thought, and there was time--there were always more hosts, after all.
Egeria was still too young to be permitted the sarcophagus, so she was not at her best when she began to dig down into the Nubian as she always did, trying to see and understand her new host.
She was, perhaps, a little sloppy in allowing the Nubian to see her as well.
The Nubian had served twenty-two of her thirty years in the palaces of Ra, mostly outside the confines of the breeding palace. She did not, Egeria was shocked to learn, believe that the goa'uld were gods, and she also very much did not want to be left for dead in a few short years in the wake of Egeria's return to the tank. I can help you, she said, as Egeria coiled more deeply into her mind. We could be allies, you and I. Why return to the tanks so soon?
An offer of alliance was absurd. Egeria could take everything she wanted from the Nubian's mind, use it as she saw fit. She ignored the voice within, stroked the soft places of her host's memory, searching for a way to make the woman react, make something yield to her power.
Two minds, the Nubian continued--calm, how could she be so calm?--are better than one, and knowing is not thinking. I could help you. Have you never wanted another to stand with you? I, of all people, cannot betray you.
Egeria flexed, reached out, drove the host to her knees with a gasp, and there, oh, there was fear at last, sweet in her gut. She had the power here. The Nubian, at least, had to serve her interests, rather than Ra's or Hathor's or the Empire's--that much of what she said was correct. So what harm in listening? What could the host do to her? After all, Egeria believed that if one was to achieve one's ambition, risktaking was required.
They lived much longer than five years together, and if they did not ever take their place at Ra's side, they were at least the mothers of what they hoped would one day become a great nation. It is because of the Nubian that the Tok'ra say they do not take hosts unwilling; and if they do not always live up to this principle, and if they speak of Egeria as the beginning of their movement without reference to her host, well, the Nubian would not be surprised.
The Nubian was called Pesehau, as it happens. She understood Egeria very well, and while by the end they came to love each other, she knew better than to expect her own name to be much remembered.