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Once Upon a Ha'tak

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Once upon a time… as an astrophysicist set off for testing a teleportation beam, she asked each of her three teammates what he would like from the Asgard. The first teammate wanted a ship named after himself, the second pulse cannon technology, but the third, whose name was Daniel, the youngest, prettiest and sweetest of the three, said to Samantha, "I'd really like a little insight into the Asgard's account of the history of the Milky Way galaxy."

When the astrophysicist had successfully finished the testing, she set off for home. However, a sudden solar storm blew up, and her F-302 could hardly make headway in the coronal mass ejection. Irradiated and weary, the astrophysicist had lost all hope of reaching a spaceport when she suddenly noticed a faint energy signature in the middle of a debris field. As she drew near, she saw that it was a ha'tak, apparently abandoned.

"I hope I can salvage its parts for repairs," she said to herself. When she reached its landing bay, her scans indicated no life signs, and though she hailed, nobody came to attack her. Plucking up courage, she docked inside and disembarked, armed with a zat'nik'tel and her fully loaded P-90. Next to the main hangar, a splendid machine shop awaited, fully equipped.

The astrophysicist lingered, still shouting for the commander of the ha'tak. But no one came, and so the eager astrophysicist helped herself to some shield generators.

Overcome by curiosity, she ventured upstairs, where the corridor led into magnificent rooms and halls. A hyperdrive crackled in the engine room and a laborotory looked very inviting. It was now late, and the astrophysicist could not resist. She lay down on a workbench and fell fast asleep. When she woke next morning, an unknown hand had placed a mug of steaming coffee and some fruit by her weapons.

The astrophysicist had breakfast and after tidying herself up, went downstairs to thank her generous host. But, as on the evening before, there was nobody in sight. Shaking her head in wonder at the strangeness of it all, she went towards the hangar where she had docked her ship, tethered to magnetic nodes. Suddenly, a stolen Asgard database caught her eye.

Remembering Daniel's request, she stopped to pull out a data crystal. Instantly, out of the library, sprang a beautiful beast, wearing splendid clothes. Two gray eyes, gleaming angrily, glared at her and a deep, Goa'uld voice growled: "Ungrateful woman! I gave you shelter, you availed yourself of equipment and supplies, but now all the thanks I get is the theft of my data! I shall put you to death for this slight!"

Trembling in pain from the ribbon device beam, the astrophysicist knelt before the Beast. "Look, I'm sorry. Don't kill me! I'll reimburse you for what I took. The crystal wasn't for me, it was for my friend Daniel. I promised to bring him back some Asgard history from my journey."

The Beast lowered the ribbon-device-clad hand she had aimed toward the unhappy astrophysicist. "I shall spare your life, but on one condition: that this 'Daniel', unaccompanied, return the crystal after he's finished with it. The data is decrypted by touching this key strip to it."

The intrigued astrophysicist, wondering if the Beast were Goa'uld or an undercover Tok'ra, took the crystal and keystrip, and promised that they'd honor the bargain.

When she reached home, her three teammates ran to greet her. After she had debriefed them of her unusual adventure, Teal'c was disappointed that no starship yet bore his name, Jack was still impatient for energy cannon technology, but Daniel was so curious over the data crystal that as soon as he touched the keystrip, it snapped onto his wrist like a bracelet! It had no effect on the crystal, and not even Sam and Dr. Lee could get it off his wrist.

Daniel said, "Jack, let me go to the ha'tak. I'll see if I can get this undercover Tok'ra to remove the bracelet."

The general agreed after Sam's assurance that the ha'tak was incapable of propulsion, and Teal'c's reminder that Daniel had comported himself well as Lord Yu's lo'taur.

The astrophysicist hugged the archaeologist. "Be careful."

So Daniel was led to the ha'tak. The Beast, however, had quite an unexpected greeting for the archaeologist. Instead of menacing doom as it had done to Sam, it was surprisingly flirty.

In the beginning, Daniel was wary of the Beast, and rebuffed its advances. Then he found that, in spite of the monster's sexy human host body, his horror of it was gradually fading as time went by. He was given one of the finest rooms in the ha'tak, and sat for hours, reading in front of the holoscreen. And the Beast would sit, for hours on end, only a short distance away, pestering him. Then it started to discuss philosophical subjects, till in the end, Daniel was amazed to discover that he was actually enjoying their arguments.

The days passed, and Daniel and the Beast became good friends. Then one day, the Beast unbuckled the man's belt.

Taken by surprise, Daniel did not know what to say. Have sex with such a repulsive monster? He would rather die! But he did not want to hurt the feelings of one who, after all, had been kind to him. And he remembered too that somewhere inside, something of the host remained.

"I thought I would never get over my wife," he began shakily. "But I mean, you and I are so completely opposite and wrong for each other, it's not even funny."

The Beast nodded sadly. "I wasn't suggesting you have serious feelings, Daniel."

Life went on as usual, and nothing further was said. One day, the Beast presented Daniel with a magnificent surveillance device. When Daniel looked into it, he could see his teammates, far away.

"You won't feel so lonely now," were the words that accompanied the gift.

Daniel stared for hours at his distant team. Then he began to feel worried.

One day, the Beast found him weeping beside the device. "What's wrong?" it asked, kindly as always.

"Jack, the closest thing I have to a best friend, is gravely ill and close to dying. I must see him again, before it's too late."

But the Beast only shook its head. "No! You will never leave this ha'tak!" And off it stalked in a rage.

However, a little later, it returned and spoke solemnly to the archaeologist. "If you swear that you will return here in seven days, I'll let you go and visit your friends." It released the bracelet from Daniel's wrist.

Daniel smiled. "Thank you. I swear that when I return, I'll bring back supplies."

In reality, the general had fallen ill from a broken heart at knowing his archaeologist was being kept prisoner. When Jack embraced Daniel again, he was soon on the road to recovery. Daniel stayed beside him for hours on end, describing his life in the ha'tak, and explaining that the Beast was really not the typical Goa'uld, but not a Tok'ra either. The days flashed past, and at last the general was able to leave his bed. He was completely well again. Daniel, Sam and Teal'c were happy at last.

However, Daniel had failed to notice that seven days had gone by.

Then one night he woke from a terrible nightmare. He had dreamt that the Beast was dying and calling for him, twisting in agony. "Come back! Come back to me!" it was pleading.

The solemn promise he had made drove him to leave home immediately. "Hurry! Hurry, Mitchell!" he said from the backseat of the F-302, goading the new SG-1 leader onwards towards the ha'tak, afraid that he might arrive too late. He rushed through the chambers, calling, but there was no reply. His heart in his mouth, Daniel ran into the throne room and there crouched the Beast, its eyes shut, as though dead. Daniel threw himself at it and hugged it tightly.

"Don't die! You can fight this! I believe in you…" At these words, a miracle took place.

The Beast awoke, and spoke without a trace of the Goa'uld flanged voice. "How I've been longing for this moment!" she said. "I was suffering in silence, and couldn't tell my frightful secret. An evil witch, Qetesh, turned me into a monster who committed the most horrible atrocities on my friends and loved ones. After the Tok'ra extracted her from my head, I impersonated her in order to fund a smuggling ring with her naquadah holdings. Only the friendship of someone willing to accept me as a person, not as a sexual object or a god to be feared, could transform me back into my real self. Thank you for helping me rediscover the person I used to be: Vala Mal Doran."

"Come back to my homeworld, Vala," offered Daniel, "and get to know my friend Sam better, and Jack and Teal'c and Mitchell."

"Hey there," greeted Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell. "We're pretty awesome."

So Vala returned with Cam and Daniel to Earth. She was befriended by Lt. Col. Samantha Carter the astrophysicist; found that Gen. Jack O'Neill was a great leader from his post in the Pentagon; tasted delicious pies baked by Cam's mother; and discovered that she and Teal'c, former First Prime of a System Lord, made an unbeatable pickup basketball team indeed.

She became a probationary member of SG-1, then later a full teammate. And that's why, to this day, they may still be out there exploring the galaxy.

(But she never stopped flirting with Daniel.)