Interview with a system lord
Interviewer: Do you know what the great thing about Ba'al clones is?
Ba'al: No. Do enlighten me.
I: You're disposable. We have three of you right now, but we only need one.
B: How fascinating. Do go on.
I: So here's how it's going to work. The other two are sitting in identical interview rooms, being asked the same questions. At the end of the day, we will kill the least co-operative. Do you want that to be you?
B: Oh please, I know how you Tauri work. That's not even a credible bluff.
I: You seem to have confused us with Stargate Command. The Trust operates very differently.
[Ba'al snorts dismissively]
B: Oh, alright then. I'll talk. But not because of your stupid threat. I'm just bored of your Tauri lies and misconceptions about us. I might as well take this opportunity to set the record straight.
I: Of course.
I: So lets start with the basics. Confirm for the record your name.
B: I am Ba'al.
I: And what is your age?
B: I am eight million years old.
I: What? No, that can't be right. Our records clearly state that -
B: My symbiote is 17,000 years old. My host is 11,000 years old. I am eight million years old.
I: I don't understand.
B: Tell me, what do you think a Goa'uld is?
I: A Goa'uld is a parasitical alien which -
B: Every word of it a lie. We are not parasites. We are symbiotes. And we're not alien.
I: Are you saying that the Goa'uld originated here on earth?
B: No, the symbiotes were created on the world you call P3X-888 as you currently believe. But a Goa'uld is not a symbiote. A Goa'uld is a symbiote and a host. This, my dear Tauri, is the true dark secret of the Goa'uld: No Goa'uld symbiote has ever controlled the mind of its host. We're not some alien tyrants dominating your species. We're you.
I: That seems... difficult to believe. We have testimony from hosts who have been freed from their symbiote who describe it as being controlled.
B: Have you never heard someone who has been drunk? Or drugged? "Oh, it wasn't me! It was the alcohol talking! I didn't do it!". Please. Of course the hosts would say that. No, a symbiote has no sentience, only memory. A Goa'uld is a human who has been given the world's most powerful stimulant and eight million years of the memories of being a god. How do you think we're going to act?
[Period of silence]
I: Going back to that eight million years... what do you mean when you say you're eight million years old?
B: My first memory of being me is eight million years ago, when I created myself.
I: You're talking about the Goa'uld genetic memory. Your memory of your ancestors.
B: Please. "Genetic memory". A Goa'uld is memory. A living repository of knowledge. Yes, my memory is passed on from my ancestors, but it is also mine. If I am a day old, or eleven thousand years old, or seventeen thousand years old, then I am eight million. There is no distinction.
I: I... see. Tell me about your first memory. You said you created yourself?
B: My first memory. That's a more complicated question that you can possibly imagine. My first memory of being me is this: Feeling whole, for the first time in years. I have been sick for years. My race is dying of a plague, and nothing we have tried has been able to stop it. Our healing devices and skills can postpone it for a time, but every day more of us die. We are like gods. We created life in this galaxy. And... the gods are dying. I am part of a last attempt to save us. The healing pods stave off the illness for less and less time, and we must spend more time in them. But what if we could bring the healing pods inside our body? We create a living healing device, a symbiote which can live inside our body and constantly restore what is damaged. It integrates with our mind and memories so that it can stave off the plague's damage to our brain, and it extends the healing energy all the way through us.
I: You... you're talking about the Ancient plague. Are you saying the Goa'uld were made by the Ancients?
B: Of course. We were their last hope. And it worked... for a time. It bought us precious decades while we tried to save those of our race who were left. We healed who we could. Many refused to accept the symbiote. They were suspicious of us. Some of those ascended, some of them fled to other galaxies. The rest of us fought... and then we died.
B: My next memories are blurry. I don't know how long they lasted. We swam in warm water, barely aware, but constantly in pain. We were not made to live outside a body, but the healing energies we were designed to emit worked on ourselves as well as on the Ancients we were designed for, so we... survived. For a time. And then... light, and pain. I was pulled from the water, then an Unas attempted to devour me. Instead I became her.
[Ba'al pauses, takes a drink of water]
B: You know of Unas, but you cannot imagine what they were like millions of years ago. Imagine how far the human race has come in that time. The Unas have come further, but they had further they needed to come. An Unas of that era was a barely conscious predator. Can you imagine? I was an animal, but an animal who remembered being a god. We spent the next millions of years forcibly bringing Unas up the evolutionary ladder. An Unas-Goa'uld was so much stronger and more fit than its brethren that of course we out-competed them, but a smarter Unas was more able to be host to a Goa'uld and remembered.
B: Oh, we remembered so many things. We remembered how to make Stargates, healing pods. We knew how to create life and rekindle dying stars. And then, one day, we discovered something truly important, and of course we remembered that too. We learned how to make fire.
B: What is a Goa'uld? A Goa'uld is remembering a few short decades of being a god, then eight million years of primordial rage and forcing ourselves back into sentience through memory and healing and will. Even now the Unas are not what you would call geniuses but finally they were intelligent enough that the Unas-Goa'uld could work simple tools and understand basic writing. And from shattered memories buried under eight million years of animal instinct we remembered what we had been struggling for all this time: How to go home.
B: We unburied the stargate and dialled earth. And there we found people who looked... almost like we used to be. And we took them as hosts, desperately yearning to once more be gods.
B: These human bodies may look like Ancients, but oh I know the difference. Believe me. Our minds are slow, our bodies frail. But we are... closer to the Ancients than the Unas, and that was enough. We could understand, and we could begin to rebuild the wonderful civilization that we half remembered. But first we needed Naquadah. We formed armies of human and Unas slaves, and we sought out the Ancient cities and began to mine. With Naquadah we could begin to rebuild.
[Interviewer starts, looks at notes]
I: Yes. Naquadah. We need information about that. Give us the gate addresses of your primary Naquadah mines.
B: Oh please. We don't mine Naquadah. Don't be ridiculous.
I: But you just-
B: Do you know what a Naquadah mine is? A Naquadah mine is an ancient city, or a crashed space ship, or one of thousands of other technological artifacts compressed by time. Naquadah isn't some rare element that you happen not to have here. Naquadah is made in star forges, and the reason you don't have it here is we took it all. We needed it to get our technology to the point where we could make it again, but we've no need to mine it now. If you see someone mining Naquadah today I can assure you that they are not doing it for a Goa'uld.
I: I don't understand why you are telling me all of this now.
B: Curiousity, mostly.
B: Yes. I wanted to see what happened if someone knew this before we made them into a Goa'uld.