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Aberrant: Stargate Universe - Settling in


Mr Fox

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Cam felt a bit responsible for Eight being here even if he hadn't technically been in charge of the last mission, he was still the ranking officer. Still, he had a gut instinct that Eight could be trusted, at least to the degree that enlightened self interested was on their side. The SGC had things Eight and his brothers wanted and they very definitely had things the SGC wanted. No normal Goa'uld would ever have put up with the arrogance that Caine purposefully threw at them, Cam was convinced that these guys really were different. They were the prototypes that had resulted in the To'kra. Not that dealing with the To'kra was always pleasant, but they had proven themselves to be decent allies in so far as their mutual dislike of the Goa'uld were concerned.

It would remain to be seen how this Eight would feel and react to their mission to bring down the other System Lords, but in the meantime, he knew that Eight was in for a lot of scrutiny and it wouldn't necessarily be comfortable. Cam would have to stress to the IOA that this guy was a guest and should be treated with respect as a foreign dignitary instead of a prisoner. For whatever misguided reason the IOA seemed to trust him.

So it was that Cam decided he should escort Eight back to his quarters and make sure the guards understood to treat him well. Entering the 'guest room' Cam wasn't surprised to see that it was not much more than a stone walled room with the bare essentials of furnishing.

"Eight, welcome to Earth, sorry that these quarters are not so grand as the ones in your home. I'll ask to have some luxuries brought in to make it a bit more comfortable. I hope you understand that no insult is meant. Our people have been at war with the Goa'uld System Lords for several years now and it will take some time for people to learn to trust you. Once they do you'll find that we do right by our allies and even more so by those who we consider our own."

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"I have no quarters at home," Eight said simply. "There is nothing in my personal experience that I can compare this with. I do admit that my brothers have more elegant rooms than these. That was Ra's choice, not our own. We would be content with less." A slight smile curved his lips as he took another look. "Or so we believe. I think I will test that belief personally now."

He still resolved to make the best of it. He put his bag on the chair, which was built of metal and some strange shell, and quickly unpacked his few things: a spare set of robes, a book, some toiletries and his data pad with its stylus. He took the empty bag and his clothes to the closet and found it empty.

"Colonel Cam Mitchell, I believe that I need Earth clothing," Eight said suddenly. turning to look at the ex-pilot. Part of becoming one with a people was to blend in with them. The less 'alien' he looked when they looked at him, the less they would think of him as alien. "Would it be difficult to procure such garments?"

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Mitchell grinned, he'd just been thinking of how to politely suggest that Eight wear regular BDUs. It wasn't so much about the people on base as it was about missions. It would be difficult for potential allies to trust the SGC if they appeared among them with and obvious Gou'ald.

"Not only is it possible, I can take you to get some now if you wish."

With that Cam led Eight up several floors to the quartermasters office. They were escorted by a pair of armed airmen, but that was only to be expected for the time being. Cam ordered the quarter master to provide several changes of clothes. The quartermaster in turn ordered one of his people to measure Eight so they would get the right sizes. The whole process took half an hour but once they were done Eight had a armload of military issue clothing.

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Eight was fascinated by the process. So much effort, all to get clothes that looked the same as everyone else's! His robes from home were pretty much one-size fits all, and while he acknowledged that being one of eight clones completely changed the definition of one-size, it had still been much more simple.

The two men and their shadows went back to Eight's room. With a great deal of enthusiasm, Eight changed into his new clothes. When he stepped back out of the room, he looked like any other muscled man in BDUs.

"Could I see more of the base?" he asked, tilting his head. The temperature around the guards plummeted, and Eight carefully added, "Non-critical areas, of course."

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Cam chuckled. "Sure. However, I will have to ask that you check your hand ribbon device into the armory. Except for guards on duty no one is allowed to carry weapons within the facility. Anytime we go out on a mission you are welcome to carry that or one of our weapons if you choose."

First he led Eight to the armory to check in his weapon, but then gave a basic tour, of the workout facilities, and the mess hall and recreation lounge.

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Eight's hands closed instinctively, the links of the hand ribbon cutting into his skin. His immediate reaction was to say no, but he had known that as some point, he'd have to trust these strangers, in order to Learn. So his fingers relaxed, and he nodded, as if it meant nothing.

But it meant he was that much closer to being helpless.

Eight rejected such thoughts. He would be helpless only if he allowed himself to be. He stood a little straighter in his new, stiff clothing and followed Colonel Cameron Mitchell to the armory. He wondered if they would try to learn how his device worked, and forgave them that curiosity. They loved to Learn, too. He carefully removed his hand ribbon and passed it too the guard, who handled it like it was a snake. "Thank you," Eight said to him, and the man jumped.

"You're welcome," he stammered in reply.

Eight enjoyed the "tour". He liked the new word, too, repeating it to himself several times. It had an interesting sound. It was not as interesting as the tour itself; the Taur'i were so strange, but fascinating. Their wide variety in appearance was overwhelming, especially when you considered the two sexes. He was still confused about the gender markers of the faces, and had to sneak a quick look down at their bodies to verify. He would Learn, and that was good.

"What is that?" he queried in the mess hall.

"That? Jello, it's a food," Colonel Cameron Mitchell told him. "Try it if you want."

He did, using a utensil after determining that the 'Jello' wouldn't hold together in his fingers. It was sweet and fruity and cold, and Eight nodded as he swallowed. "Sweet," he said. "Good." As he finished, he decided he would like this world, and its desserts.

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Gwyn put a couple of plates of doughnuts down on the table and sat down opposite Eight, "Colonel, Eight mind if I join you? Jelly is ok I suppose, but I've always prefered doughnuts myself. There should be something you'd like on one of those plates if you liked the Jelly."

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Eight nodded and took a bite of the donut. The too-sweet confection spread over his tongue and the goa'uld stopped himself from rudely spitting the food out. He chewed and swallowed, wondering how anyone could like this. The Jello tasted like sweet fruit at least.

"Very sweet," he said simply, carefully picking his words. He didn't want to offend, so he said no more as he set down the donut and tried to get the white powder off his fingers.

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Gwyn could see he didn't like it. He guessed it was partly being so new to his host body, but Eight shouldn't try playing poker anytime soon.

"Yeah, some of them can be. That's why I brought several different types. However, perhaps you'd rather try some of the different fruits we have here, they may be more to you liking?"

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"Perhaps," Eight said warily, eying the dangerous little rounds of cake. After a moment, he asked, "Is one less sweet than that one?"

Gwyn pointed to a plain cake donut, and Eight picked it up. He tried it then nodded. Without the white powder or anything else on it, it wasn't overwhelmingly sweet. "Good," he said. He looked at Gwyn, his dark eyes thoughtful before he asked, "Which one is your favorite?"

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"Well, when I was growing up virtually the only one we could get was one of those, a strawberry jam filled one." Gwyn points to one dusted with white granules, "Now I've tried more different varieties in the last couple of years, and this country has a wider choice than most areas of the country I was born in, I prefer these apple and cinamon filled ones." He picks up and takes a bite of one with a dusting of white powder.

"Part of the difference is in this white powder on top of most of them. It's called sugar and has a sweet taste, indeed it is about the most common sweetner used in cooking in both this country and the one I was born in. The granules and powder are just different size bits of the same thing, although they have different names."

"Would you like a drink to go with that? They have water, the milk of an animal called a cow, some different fruit juices or you could try the coffee."He finishes by indicating his own mug.

"It's a bitter tasting hot drink that is also a very mild stimulant, although most people don't notice any effect from it. To reduce the bitterness most people have a small amount of milk mixed with it, which gives it this brown colour. Without the milk it is very dark, almost black in colour."

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Eight nodded. "Fruit juice, to start," he said, and was pointing to the dispenser. After a couple of false starts, a woman took the cup from him and worked the machine.

"Let me guess," she said, grinning. "You're new to Earth?"

"Yes, I am Eight," he said, offering his hand as he had seen others do.

"Sargeant Hollins," she replied with a smile. Eight glanced back at Cam, pleased that he was interacting so well with a Taur'i. Cam and Gwyn both seemed more amused than normal, as if there was a joke he wasn't getting. "So, Eight, can I ask what world you're from?"

"Yes, I'm from Ra's Library," he said, nodding. "Where are you from?"

"I, uh, Ra's Library?" she asked, her eyes going wide. "Like the evil goa'uld Ra?"

"I have no knowledge of his evil," Eight said, saddened that he seemed to have said the wrong thing. "I just like to Learn. I and my brothers were built for it."

"Built?"

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Gwyn sighed and got up from the table, then went over to the talking couple. "Thank you for you help Sergeant." He said sincerely, but it was still clearly a dismissal.

"Eight, let's see if anything else of the food here is to your taste."

He tries to draw Eight over to the listed menu of the day, "How do you feel about eating the cooked dead flesh of an animal? Most humans do, although they probably don't think of it in those terms, but some only eat prepared vegetable matter."

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Yseult entered the mess hall, eyes downcast and hands gesturing to herself, working out ideas for the goa'uld anti-toxin. She'd only came to the mess because her specialist physiology was demanding sustenance, and it would not be denied.

She was about to step up to the counter when she looked up and noticed Eight for the first time. Her uncanny, turquoise eyes narrowed to slits, and she couldn't quite keep the displeased look from her fine featured face.

Yseult did not trust the goa'uld - any of them. Even the Tok'ra - by all accounts allies of Earth - didn't receieve her full confidence. Dealing with Anise had put an end to that - she had definitely proven that the Tok'ra's goals were not the same as the Tau'ri. And now, there was a new breed of goa'uld running around the Mountain. What did this one want? she wondered.

With a soft sniff, she made herself a plate - which seemed far to full for a woman of her build - and took a seat at the other end of the mess hall, away from the smiling goa'uld. She sat down and calmly started eating, her free hand once again marking points for her ponderings, but every so ofter, Yseult would look up and give Eight a brief, narrowed eyed stare.

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"I do not think I mind eating dead animals. I have not had the opportunity, but my brothers tell me it is good. It is a rarity on my homeworld," he said. His tone was a bit distracted, staring at the dishes. Many of them offered meat, making this a rich world, by the standards of his home. He'd already learned that, but it was different to see the proof of that.

He would Learn which meat he liked the most, but for now, he said, "I am not hungry, Specialist. We will try meat later."

However, the glaring woman was disrupting him. He could feel her eyes, heavy on his skin. Finally, he took his eyes off of the menu and said, "That woman hates me. Therefore, I will go be an ambassador to her. Excuse me, Specialist."

Before Gwyn could do more than sputter, Eight was striding across the room to stand over Yseult's table. "May I please join you? And also, if you would please let me know the proper form of address, as I have no wish to offend you, even through ignorance."

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Yseult kept her eyes on her food, trying to ignore the mild mannered goa'uld and his irritatingly pleasant smile. Finally, she gave up with a sigh. Yseult looked up at Eight, her face carefully neutral, unable to conceal the tightness of her sculpted jawline.

"You may refer to me as Doctor... Sierra, and you may join me. If you must." The blonde's tone left no doubt that she was merely saying the words for politeness sake.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Eight took a seat and folded his hands before him, his eyes fastened on her. "I would like to ask you a question." He paused,trying to determine if that was the proper way to state that request. Remembering that there were 'good' words that should be used, he amended, "May I please ask you a question? I will warn you, you may find it discomforting, so if you deny my request, I will be disappointed but will understand. I am finding that there are many avenues to Learning, so I can find an alternate one rather than impose upon you."

He was so damned... polite! It would have been noteworthy in a human; in a goa'uld, it was unbelievable.

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Yseult looked at the goa'uld for a long moment, trying to figure out if his irritating politeness was a ploy or not. With a sigh, she gave up, annoyed, unable to tell.

"Very well, ask your question," Yseult said, her voice cool, but tinted with curiosity. "I make no promises about answering, however."

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"Why are you so angry at me?" The question was asked without rancor or anger, but simple curiosity. Yseult couldn't tell if her answer would upset him or not, or if he was truly more interested in the answer than in the emotions it might draw forth in him. "Has no one explained that I am not like other goa'uld?"

He looked slightly self-conscious and said, "I apologize. That was two questions; I only asked for one. It is... a bad habit of mine, to be caught up in Learning. If you will only answer one, please answer the first." He fell silent, clearly waiting for her answer.

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"I am not angry with you," Yseult exclaimed, sounding angry. The blonde beauty exhaled sharply through her nose, blowing away a loose strand of honey-hued hair. "I do not have a problem with you in particular, my problem is with goa'uld in general."

Yseult dropped her fork onto her tray with a clatter, then folded her arms and recrossed her legs primly. Her odd, turquoise eyes were hot as she glowered at Eight beneath lowered brows.

"The goa'uld, even our putative allies, the Tok'ra, act smug and superior, though I can see little reason why. You are parasites, who take from your hosts with out giving anything in return. Even your purported gifts are actually chains - you do not enhance the immune system of a host, you co-opt it. A goa'uld in its true form can do little, it takes enslaving the will and body of a more capable species for it to be able to affect the world to a meaningful degree. And then, for the most part, it steals and adapts the technology and skills, even language, of its host and creates a culture based on domination and subjugation - though as parasites, it could hardly create one that does not."

Yseult was getting quite heated, her hands gesturing emphatically. "Even the Tok'ra, despite their protestations of an enlightened world-view are unwilling to evolve as the true beings that they are, little more than snakes. They seem only willing to progress riding their hosts, us, humans. They could easily evolve into a new species, harcesis, but seem to prefer being parasites."

Yseult saw Eight open his mouth to say something, but cut him off with a pointed finger. "Yes, I know that you are not like other goa'uld, or at least seem to be. A goa'uld queen can choose what traits to impart to her offspring. This simply makes goa'uld, and you, more analogous to highly sophisticated tools than a truly sentient, self-determining species." Yseult blatantly eyed Eight's form up and down, a sneer twisting her beautiful face. "A tool that still needs to be encased in something more worthwhile to be of any use."

"In short, I find the entire goa'uld species repugnant. Perhaps, a goa'uld can rise above its inherent deficiencies, but I have yet to see it, and find it unlikely." Yseult turned her attention back to her food, picking at it while ignoring the goa'uld's presence.

"You may go."

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"No." The simple word was said with force, but not with malice. "You have taught me something, and now I will try to teach you. I will speak, and you will chose whether you Learn or not."

His dark eyes bore into hers. "The harcesis is an imperfect method of reproduction, yet we could do that. We could, were we not determined to live ourselves, to Learn for ourselves. My brothers and I have not harmed another, only used what we created. The Tok'ra are allies with those they host, regardless of your views on the matter. The Tok'ra give the greatest of gifts to their hosts - knowledge, strength and even a new family. There are many who lived longer lives, who saw and Learned amazing things, because a Tok'ra accepted them as a host.

"You could Learn much from all of us. And even all you could Learn makes you detest us more, you can still Learn," Eight said, standing, "but only if you will not blind yourself to knowledge. And if you do, that is your fault. I wish you well in your Learning, Dr. Sierra. Should you wish to Learn from me, I am ready to Learn from you. Until then, I would appreciate if you would not glare at me. I have tried to be open, and you have denied it. I will not attempt it again."

Turning, he began to walk away.

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Yseult's eyes went wide with shock and she felt nearly ill at the trace of guilt she felt running up her spine. She took several deep breaths, then shook her head.

"No, wait! A moment, if you would, please?" Yseult almost strangled herself trying to get the words out, her hand reaching across the table, but stopping short of actually touching Eight.

"Perhaps... I have reacted too harshly, and it... is unfair of me. I am... sorry. I have had experiences with goa'uld, both System Lords and Tok'ra, and neither was pleasant. That is not excuse, and for that I am sorry. Perhaps, you truly are different from the others, only time will tell."

Yseult's eyes dropped to her plate, and she continued in a low voice. "I too greatly value knowledge and learning and what you say has... merit. For my sake, and your, I will try to ameliorate my behaviour."

"However..." Yseult looked back up at the goa'uld Librarian, heat back in her eyes - not anger or hate, but promise. "If you are playing us false - even if purely because of a conditioned response implanted by your Queen - then you will have cause to regret it."

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When she asked him to wait, he did, turning to listen to her. She was aware that he held himself back, not rejoining her at the table.

"I have no desire for any treachery," Eight said, his voice plaintive. "I know that many goa'uld have played you false, but the Tau'ri have killed and experimented on my kind." Now he moved back to the table, sitting down and stating with sadness, "We have not been very kind to one another. And we could Learn so much from one another, that it seems a waste."

He sat a little straighter and said, "That is all I want, for my brothers and myself. To Learn. It is my driving goal for me." He gave her a smile, waiting to see her reaction to that.

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You truly may not have any desire for treachery, but it may be buried inside you nonetheless. And we may have killed and experimented on some symbiotes, but not nearly to the degree that the goa'uld have.

Yseult returned Eight's smile. It was weak and forced and tight-lipped, but still, it was a smile. She straightened her shoulders with an effort and stretched out her hand.

"Let us see what we can Learn from each other."

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