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While There Is Life

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:It is done.:

Concealed in the tall grasses of this planet with her Crown Guards - those most loyal of Jaffa, those even her Horus Guards had not suspected had come to her call - Amaunet watched SG-1 carry "her" body away. Along with that most annoying of humans, her host's husband.

Something stirred in the depths of her mind. My Dan'yel...

:Hush, fool! He lives, for that suits my purposes. But I could snuff him, in an instant...:

Her host subsided. Excellent. For now came the Shol'va, Teal'c, keeping a watchful guard as SG-1 departed this planet. Dark eyes scanned their hiding place-

And saw nothing. Amaunet let lovely lips curl in a cruel smile. Did the Tau'ri know naught of Names? She was Amaunet, The Hidden One, of the Ogdoad, the eight who had existed before the Two Lands were ever created. She would not be seen if she did not wish it.

Nor would she be slain. But appear to die; yes, that she would do.

It was simple practicality. Apophis was dead, or vanished, his Horus Guards scattering as other System Lords encroached on his planets. And without their protection, a Goa'uld Queen might become... property. A mere source of larvae, to be snatched up and raped for progeny by any Lord who dared lay hand on her.



At last; something on which she and her host agreed wholeheartedly. Which was well. For the deception she had just set in place required a certain cooperation on her host's behalf.

Apophis had never known why it was so difficult to find her an acceptable host, why mere beauty was not enough; why she used the sarcophagus so rarely, though it meant she needed new hosts almost as often as one of the accursed Tok'ra. And never, never would she have told him. Survival outweighed love. Always.

For the Hidden One's hosts had to be... special. Gifted, in ways so few humans were now gifted among the worlds the Goa'uld claimed as theirs. Dangerously gifted, so that Amaunet might use the skills she had honed through millennia of wary practice.

Skills that had let her hold three minds in her thrall, and make them believe the scene Teal'c would have recounted to that annoyance, O'Neill: That Amaunet had held Daniel Jackson in a ribbon-armed grip, nearly slaying him, before the Shol'va had fired his staff weapon and extinguished Amaunet - and Sha'uri - forever.

When in fact, none of that had happened at all.

Oh, the human had been blasted by a ribbon device, indeed; a device held by another, weaker Goa'uld, placed into a body she had crafted to mimic her host's. A Goa'uld Amaunet had controlled, surely as she controlled her host, with the strength of her mind alone.

Her control over the Shol'va and Tau'ri had been lighter. A mere clouding of their minds, so that any jarring details were glossed over by the overwhelming certainty that they had faced - and slain - Amaunet. Even so... it wearied. It wearied.

"My Queen?"

Neferure, chief of her Crown Guards, bent near, concern visible even through the bronze mask of her armor. An energy bow was slung over her lithe, dusky shoulder; not as terrifying a weapon as a staff, perhaps, but far more accurate. "The ship is ready to depart on your orders, Lady of Bows."

"We will wait." Amaunet's gaze fixed on the activating Stargate. "Until they are gone."

Sha'uri watched the dimness that was all Amaunet would let her see, straining to pick out the silvery flash as Dan'yel and his friends vanished through the chappa'ai with her father. My Dan'yel...

He would truly think her dead this time, as Amaunet had planned. And as the Queen had planned, he would hunt the boy with all that was in him, drawing the SGC and System Lords' attention away from any thought that Amaunet might still exist.

Gods, she hated this creature!

But she had yielded, allowing the demon within her full use of her mind. Waiting. Watching. Biding her time.

For every time the Queen used that... strangeness in her, Sha'uri learned a little more.

She had always been the odd one, from the time she was small; able to see, more often than not, those lost in sandstorms miles from the village. Able to hear, if she listened, words no one had spoken. Able to know, once in a great while, what might happen.

As Sha'uri had seen, and listened, to Dan'yel the first time they had been alone, sensing the will to help that was in him, so unlike the fear and fury of the armed men about him.

As she had known, that dread day O'Neill came back to Abydos, that Dan'yel would die if he stayed with her.

So she had kissed him, and sent him away. Praying to any true goddesses that might hear that she had seen what-might-be in time; that whatever doom might fall, it would spare her love and her people.

And some had been spared. Her father was alive, alive; as Skaara was, even if Klorel still held him in thrall.

And Dan'yel... Dan'yel now knew of the harcesis, those few fragments she had gleaned from Amaunet's mind. Perhaps it would aid his people. Perhaps.

Oh, my Dan'yel, Sha'uri sorrowed. Your heart is broken, and I helped the demon do it...

But her love was stronger than most knew. And he had friends to hold him fast, keep him in this life until she could somehow learn enough to turn the tables on the demon holding her, and win her freedom.

And win it she would, Sha'uri swore; in the hidden depths of her mind, where even the demon could not touch. For she was alive, and Dan'yel was alive.

And while there is life, there is hope.