John was taking notes on Ba’al’s treaty obligations with Selkhet when a stray emotion interrupted his reading. Anger. Unfairness. Arrogance. John stood so fast that his chair slid backward and all the servants looked at him.
John turned around, but in his heart, he already knew where the feelings were coming from.
One of the guards stepped forward. “My Lord? Do you have orders?”
“Get Oshu,” Lord Yu said in a reverberating voice, and John realized he had no control over his body.
The jaffa bowed deeply. “Yes, my Lord.” He turned and headed out of the sleeping chamber, but John found himself riding along as Lord Yu headed for his audience room.
“Prepare my tea,” he ordered a servant. The unpleasant aftertaste of the beer bothered him.
‘Hey, that was good beer,’ John objected.
‘Beer is the drink of commoners. You are not a commoner,’ Yu said, but the words were not audible as much as they simply formed in John’s head. And then suddenly John was dragged along as Lord Yu rummaged through all John’s memories of the SGC. He quickly dismissed John’s work in the labs as a lightswitch, but the moment he found the day that John had watched Rodney save the world and had then asked him to join a gate team, Lord Yu slowed and explored each minute of the interaction and all the team’s work since then. ‘Dr. McKay is the best person to examine the artifacts.’
John groaned as Lord Yu focused in on the one person John had hoped to hide.
‘You cannot hide anything from me, just as I cannot hide from you. We share thoughts, which is why so many of the goa’uld choose hosts with weak minds. The young are much less likely to bother us with their opinions.’ Lord Yu also sent a general sense of amusement at John’s strong opinion that Yu should drop dead.
Yu was nearly to the first room where John had seen him when Oshu came hurrying down the corridor. “My Lord. How may I serve you?”
Lord Yu stopped. John could feel such strong emotions. Oshu was the perfect replica of the son Yu had fathered with a human woman—the woman with almond eyes who smiled in John’s memory. She was brilliant and difficult and beautiful and loyal and all things Yu found perfect in humanity, and her son had carried so many of those same traits. Oshu was the last bit of that beloved son left, the last in a line of clones. But he had turned to Ba’al for leadership. Yu felt both the furious anger of having been betrayed and the shame of having driven his Oshu to such an act.
Oshu stood with his head bowed.
“What punishment would you recommend?” Lord Yu asked. John pushed with everything he could toward mercy. Oshu had been trying this whole time to protect Yu.
“Death, my Lord,” Oshu said without hesitation.
‘That’s not helping matters,’ John complained, but only Lord Yu could hear him.
Lord Yu spoke to John, and John had the feeling that he was supposed to be grateful that his captor graced him with conversation. ‘He failed to uphold his lord before all others.’
‘Actually, I think he was trying to hold you up.’ John didn’t form the actual thought, but he did know in his heart that if Yu was cruel enough to kill someone who loved him as much as Oshu loved him, that John would do everything he could to destroy Yu.
Lord Yu had a moment of amusement at John’s temerity, but John pointed out that Yu was weak and he had to get along more than he had with his last host.
‘You gave yourself to me,’ Lord Yu said, clearly considering John’s threat a form of going back on his word, and his thoughts immediately turned to John’s team.
‘And you have me. That’s the deal. But if you want me to help you hold your empire together, if you expect me to actually work for you, I have to know that you are someone worth working for,’ John pointed out. He expected Lord Yu to dismiss his concerns, but his thoughts went quiet as he considered John’s words.
Lord Yu finally spoke Oshu’s sentence. “You will report to discipline for 45 lashes,” Lord Yu said.
Oshu fell to his knees and put his forehead to the ground. “Your mercy is endless, my Lord.”
Lord Yu turned away, and that meant that John choice but to look where Yu was walking. “Bring the prisoners,” Yu ordered as he stepped out from behind the tapestry and took a seat at his tea table.
‘No. No, you can’t do this. Absolutely not,’ John cried out silently, but Lord Yu ignored him. Slowly John became aware of Yu pushing certain facts and conclusions toward him. If the other three returned, they would argue to retrieve John. The tok’ra likely had operatives inside Lord Yu’s kingdom, and they would carry stories of Yu’s new host. And the first time Yu used the Gatekeeper’s technology using John’s ATA gene, spies would carry word to the other system lords, and the tok’ra. There was no way to keep the secret.
John settled down as he realized that Lord Yu was right about all of it, but he didn’t like it. This would kill Anders, and John was fairly sure it would kill Rodney. He played at keeping his distance emotionally, but in two years, they had shared some moments. John would miss making fun of bad science fiction with him. Every time Rodney lost a bet, John made him watch Back to the Future. The movie wasn’t half as entertaining as Rodney’s rants. And he loved racing cars, even if Rodney always cheated by souping up his car. John would never forget the day O’Neill had caught them in one of the back corridors. John had expected a formal reprimand. Instead O’Neill had confiscated one of Rodney’s backups and made it a three way race.
But that wasn’t his life anymore. John really hated the triumphant glee he felt from Yu. ‘Fine, you’ve won,’ John complained, but given that he was locked inside his own head until Yu fell asleep again, there wasn’t much else he could do.
Yu drank his tea, and John amused himself by blasting Yu with thoughts of how horrible it tasted. John could tell that he was starting to annoy Yu, but then the guards escorted John’s team into the room. All three had their arms chained to long bars across the shoulder just like John had been wearing when the jaffa first brought him to this planet.
“Sheppard,” Anders whispered, horror in her voice. “Oh Christ. That’s what he wanted.”
“Why did you do that to Sheppard?” Rodney demanded, but then the guards forced them to their knees. John silently pleaded with Yu. He didn’t actually make any promises, but he did stop complaining about Yu’s beloved tea.
“You bastard,” Anders snarled. John was afraid to do anything for fear that Yu would retaliate against his team.
“You trespassed on my planet. Our treaty does not protect you when you are within my territory,” Lord Yu announced. Anders and Rodriguez had gone stone faced, but Rodney kept looking at John like he couldn’t understand what had happened. “However, by taking this host, I have learned a number of interesting facts,” Lord Yu said. “Your people seek to fight the Ori, so as with Anubis, we may have a common enemy.”
Anders spoke up. “Give Sheppard back and we might be able to talk about working together on that.”
“Sheppard is mine. He surrendered himself in return for the use of the sarcophagus for you three.”
“Sheppard, you’re an idiot,” Rodney snapped, which from Rodney was a sort of declaration of love. “You have a masochistic streak that a professional hooker would envy.”
Rodriguez gave Rodney an odd look.
“Dr. McKay,” Lord Yu said, and now he turned all his attention to Rodney. “My host feels you are the most qualified expert on Earth when it comes to the gatebuilders and their technology.”
“He does?” Rodney sounded surprised, but he quickly shifted into arrogance. “Of course I am, not that everyone understands my greatness.”
“McKay,” Anders warned, her voice low and dangerous.
Lord Yu smiled and put his tea cup down. “Lieutenant, I assure you that nothing Dr. McKay says will change your situation. Colonel Sheppard has already paid for your lives.”
John mentally cringed. All three of them would be in therapy after that. Lord Yu was really a dick of the first degree.
“From me, Colonel Sheppard learned that I have entire warehouses of Gatekeeper technology.”
Oh no. No, no, no, and more no. John furiously sent mental waves to Rodney, ordering him to stay away from the bait Yu dangled in front of his face. John mentally begged him to just shut up.
“You have Ancient equipment?” Rodney asked with that greedy tone he got when someone else had toys he wanted. He definitely hadn’t been hugged enough as a kid. John silently sighed as Rodney did exactly what he shouldn’t do.
Lord Yu smiled at him. “Release the scholar,” he ordered the jaffa. One stepped up with the key and unshackled Rodney. Anders tried to stand, but the guard shoved her back to the floor. “Perhaps it is time to discuss new alliances. I will have my guard prepare a ship to take us to one of my laboratories.”
“Rodney, no!” Anders said. Lord Yu stood.
“Dr. McKay will have time to make choices later. Right now he will come with me.” Yu turned and headed back to his rooms, but John could hear the servants rush to fulfill Yu’s commands. Yu wished Oshu was the one coordinating the travel plans. The others inevitably forgot some comfort that Yu enjoyed.
‘And you nearly killed him,’ John pointed out.
Yu ignored him. John had a feeling he was going to be ignored a lot.