The sun beats down on them, its blowtorch heat scalding their skin. Wavering shimmers off in the distance are the indication of even more searing rock and sand, which this planet seems to have an endless supply of. Syresh is currently in charge of their body, having sent Rodney to sleep some three hours ago. He dozes fitfully in his corner of their mind, vague images emerging from his subconscious.
Syresh thinks she sees the 'Gate looming in the distance, but is unsure. It's quite possibly just another large rock that's vaguely round in shape. A few paces more, and she collapses to the ground in the meager shade of a scrub bush, cursing the sand and the sun and the damn Vorians who put them here in the first place. The Vorians had seemed so nice, so cultured. It was supposed to have been just a meet-and-greet mission, but like so many others, it had turned South right after the ceremonial 'greeting' meal.
Two thoughts cross her mind before Syresh passes out: one, that she's always hated desert planets, no matter how starkly pretty they can be; and two, that maybe it'd be better to just claim religious or cultural differences at the next "greeting" meal and not eat any of the food, just in case.
“Syresh. Hey, Syr, time to get up.”
The voice is female, and something cold and slightly clammy is placed on their brow. They swim to wakefulness, Syresh opening their eyes. A pair of boot-clad feet is in the immediate vicinity of their gaze, the hard leather of the footwear coated lightly with dust and grime.
~Wha-~ Rodney asks his mind-voice confused and muzzy.
I don't kn- Wait a minute.
Syresh gingerly rolls over onto their back and looks up at the upside down face of a young woman, her dark blonde hair held back with a simple leather tie. She looks familiar, and as the brown-clad woman rises from her crouch, a memory swims into the forefront of their mind.
“Jesra?” Syresh asks in disbelief, attempting to push their body up off the ground. “Terev? But that's- That's impossible. You're dead.”
Jesra smiles as she helps them up off the ground and Syresh/Rodney come to a wobbly halt on their feet.
“Let's just say we're here, and leave it at that,” Jesra says, and then bows her head, allowing Terev to come to the forefront.
“Well, you've definitely changed, my love,” he says, and Syresh is so overcome with emotion, so startled, that she shoves control of their body at Rodney and curls up in her corner of their mind, doing the Tok'ra equivalent of hyperventilating and shaking in terror.
~Syr? ~ Rodney asks, ignoring what has to be a figment of their combined imaginations and focusing on his symbiote.
She's silent for a while, and Rodney is starting to get worried when she finally speaks, her voice holding a wail of frantic sorrow.
This is impossible . An illusion. Jesra and Terev are dead. They've been dead for thousands of years. They died at the hand of Ra, the bastard.
These last words are said with such venom that Rodney is shocked. Syresh is not one for strong negative emotions, so he's taken by surprise at the intensity of her hatred for the long-dead Goa'uld.
~He was your mate, wasn't he? I thought you said-~ Rodney begins, but Syresh cuts him off, her voice ragged with anger and pain.
What I told you was true. You are not my first male host, and I don't have a mate. Not anymore.
Rodney turns to the hallucination, obviously brought on by lack of water and the intense heat, which somehow seems to have lessened a bit while they were unconscious, and speaks to the spectral woman. "Well, now that you've managed to thoroughly piss off both me and Syresh, what do you want?" he asks, his tone as biting as it would've been had one of his scientists done something just as monumentally stupid as the Tok'ra in front of him.
“We simply want to show you the way to the 'Gate,” Terev says, shaking his head. “That's all. You were going in the right direction, by the way.”
“Oh, good. Well, if that's all, show us to the damn 'Gate and then go away.” A weary nudge from Syresh prompts him to add, in a sulky tone of voice, “Please.”
Terev/Jesra shrugs their shoulders and then starts walking off towards the rounded shape in the rapidly cooling distance, their brown clothes almost blending in with the darkening sand. Rodney follows after, gently coaxing Syresh into a state of near-calm.
Stupid deserts. Always playing tricks with your mind. She grumbles as they make their way towards the 'Gate. That's one of the reasons I hate them. Always have, always will.
~I'm not fond of them either. The sand gets everywhere. ~ Rodney says, and Syresh laughs, which was Rodney's intent. He's glad of the sound, and even more so of the sight of the DHD, whole and unbroken in the near-distance. The apparition of Terev/Jesra is gone, and Rodney stumbles up to the DHD, his mind racing. 'Home.' He mutters, and dials Atlantis, already yearning for a hot bath and a long, cool drink of water. The 'Gate splashes out in its familiar surge of energy, and Rodney nearly runs through the event horizon before Syresh reminds him to send their IDC so they don't go splat on the shield.
When they arrive back in Atlantis, tired, sand-covered, and most likely dehydrated, they collapse onto the cool metal floor, grateful to be back home, where reality, as bent and bulging as it is with everyday oddities, is firmly apparent in the solid structures of Atlantis- and most importantly, in the living faces of the Expedition and their teammates, who crowd around them, touching them carefully with hands warm with life.