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Gods and Heroes

A reader asks, "I've been trying to find your Legacy series prequel short story that was in the official Stargate magazine, but it doesn't seem to be for sale as a back issue on the website anywhere. Are there scans of the story you can link me to?"

As far as I can tell the magazine is completely out of print and the only way to get a copy is to find it on eBay or something. (It's issue 33 March 2010.) I don't know of any scans of more than the opening page up anywhere. However! Since it's completely out of print, I'll put the full story up here for those who want to read it and can't find/afford a collector's copy on eBay.

Gods and Heroes is a story about Teyla, set just before The Rising, the first episode of Stargate Atlantis. Which makes it perfect for you Numinous World readers who don't know Stargate to go ahead and dive into, because you don't actually need to know anything first! I'm definitely playing with some of my usual themes.

It is indeed a prequel to the Legacy series, so it may be interesting to those of you who are following and speculating on Legacy! I'd truly love to hear what all of you think!

They came to the Ring of the Ancestors in spring, up from the valleys where they had passed the long, bleak winter, and made their camp across the water from the ruined city of Emege. Teyla saw it through the haze of fog, and once again she wondered.

It had been so long since they had tried the city. Who knew what valuable things might be left, things that could be used or sold?

"It is all gone long ago, child," Charin said, handing her soup to drink as she worked. "Everything of value salvaged, everything worth using taken. There is nothing there but old bones."

"The bones of our people?" It seemed wrong to her that they should lie there rather than be consigned to fire, even if they were long dead. After all, they were people.

"The bones of our dreams," Charin said. "I went into the dead city once, when I was a girl." She lifted her white head, her eyes misted with cataracts as she looked unerringly across the water toward the tallest tower. "Nothing but stone and twisted metal, all else fallen to dust. Emege fell many and many a year ago, Teyla. There is nothing left."

"And yet it was great once." Teyla pushed the hair back from her eyes.

Charin shook her head. "We live in the twilight of the world, daughter. Our great days are past, and perhaps there will come a time when there are no humans at all. Once and away we were like gods ourselves, living in peace and health beneath the rule of the Ancestors, but that is gone. And once we dwelled in Emege."

Teyla smiled. "That is how the stories begin. Once, when Arda ruled in Emege…." She took a sip of the warm soup. "Do you suppose there was ever a hero named Arda?"

"As much as there was a City of the Ancestors," Charin said. "Which is to say, perhaps, once and away there was a man people made stories about. Or perhaps there was more than one man and the stories came together. But it does not matter, Teyla. Stories are true, whether they happened or not."

"I know." She drank again, tuttle root soup, nourishing and good. "They are our blood, and in them we endure."

"When you were small," Charin said, "You wanted to be in a story."

"I have not wanted that for a very long time," Teyla said, and it was true. When you are a child you dream of changing the world, but when you are bigger you know it cannot be. There are other things that come and dreams die. The most you can hope for is to do the best you can.

"You were the one who sang of gods and heroes," Charin said, and her voice quavered with reminiscence. "Who wanted all the old tales, every wonder, every mystery, brave deeds and great sorrows and great loves."

Teyla looked down into her mug of soup. "We are the heroes, mother. The only ones we will ever find. Perhaps no one will make tales of us here in the twilight, but we will know. We must be the heroes we seek, or there will be none at all."

"You are young and strong enough to believe that," Charin said. "But I am old and I do not think the world changes when heroes make it. That which is, is. That which will be, will be."

"We cannot see the cause of things," Teyla replied. "And we can never see the results of our actions to their ultimate conclusions. Who knows what changes the world? Only the Ancestors can see that."

"And now you dream of nothing but walking through gates," Charin said, but a smile softened the sharpness of her words. "You have us out of camp when it is barely spring, eager to be at Gate Field before the first planting."

"If we are here first we will have the best location," Teyla argued. "Other people will come to trade, but if we are first beside the Ring we will have the best trades. Our wares will be first-seen."

"And you will be gone as soon as the last tents are hung," Charin said. "You will be off through the Ring to trade and to talk, to persuade men they must come here and bargain with us, and you will not still your wandering feet until autumn comes."

"It is necessary," Teyla protested. "Someone must go and trade. It falls to me."

Charin reached up and touched her cheek with a crabbed hand. "My daughter, take pride in it! You are a good voice for our people." Her eyes focused past Teyla, on the broken towers seen vaguely through the mist. "We have grown insular, Teyla. We look too much to the past and too little to the future. We are too sure of what the future holds."

"No one knows what the future holds," Teyla said. "It is futile to think we know our fate." And yet that sense of fatalism pervaded all of late. They had been too deeply culled. There were too many gone, of their own and the other bands. No family was untouched, and even the years since the last culling had brought little hope. We are like animals that hide in our den, Teyla thought, waiting for the predators to dig us out. We have no fight left in us. And how should we, when half our numbers are gone? When our camp still echoes with mourning? How can we fight when we taste nothing except the bitterness of ashes in our mouths?

"And what do you think the future holds?" Charin asked. "Teyla Who Walks Through Gates, what answer is there?" The Satedans used to come to us, in their might and their pride, but they come no more and their gate no longer works. You are right to bear no children, to have no one you love to lose."

"I love many," Teyla said, but even as she spoke she knew it was not true. There were those she would ache to lose, but no one whose death she could not survive. There was no one whose loss would shatter her. Perhaps it was true, what others had said about her from time to time, that she had a heart of stone.

Charin shook her head gently. "You walk away, and that is what you are. That is what you will be, unless something amends it."

"And what shall amend my life at this point?" Teyla asked rather tartly. "I am thirty three, Charin, and I am no longer a young girl who may be shaped by the wind. The course of my life is set." She raised her head, not toward the broken city, but toward the Ring of the Ancestors where it stood gleaming in the mist. "When traders come we will be first, and our wares will fetch the best price. Perhaps we can trade for off-world medicines again this year. We could use more of the antiseptics that keep a wound from going putrid. I will go to Hoff when the first trades are finished and see." She handed the empty mug back to Charin. "Many thanks for the soup. It is just what the day required."

She went back to her work, but if from time to time Teyla raised her eyes to the ruins half seen across the water it was with a crease between her brows.

The rain came down on the roof of her tent where Teyla lay alone in the night. All around her were the noises of the camp, half muffled by the rain. Somewhere a baby cried fitfully, and there were whispers, the sounds of one turning to another in the darkness, and over it all the rain. It lulled her to sleep, whispering promises in words she could not understand.

Teyla slept, and she dreamed of the green depths, of fish sporting between submerged towers, reflected in the dark windows. It was surprisingly peaceful. If this were the Land of the Dead, it was quiet and cool.

Perhaps, she thought, it is that place and I am a restless spirit there, appearing as a ghost to the dead as they do to the living. Perhaps I haunt the dead. Perhaps I whisper to the Ancestors in words they do not understand, chiding them for forgetting their wayward children.

You did forget us, she said to a window, curling like a fish back and forth upon herself in the wavering water in sharp accusation. You left us. You abandoned us. What mother would do that, what father? Who should leave their child to the Wraith? And yet you have forgotten us, all your children, though thousands cry out in prayer.

The window had no answers for her, her reflection dark against the glittering glass of the highest tower. It was dull, tiny panes that might be bright colors in sunlight dimmed to the shades of the deep. The city slept. And if there were ghosts, they slept too.

I am dreaming, she thought. I lie on Athos, and I dream of things that cannot be. Once, things were different. Once, in some forgotten golden age. All peoples have stories of such things, but were they ever true? Or is it just that we long for what we do not remember, a place of safety and wonder, when we were gods and heroes?

It seemed to her that in her dream she turned away, leaving empty windows waiting, swirling like a restless fish on the currents of that strange ocean. There is nothing for me here, Teyla thought. Better to make of the world what I can than to dwell on shadows.

And yet, as the towers behind her faded from sight in the green water, she thought there was a flash of blue fire, as though lightning jumped inside the tower, one pulse of light striking out, windows lit from behind.

Teyla woke in the cold hour before dawn, a heavy hoarfrost lying on the grass. Last year's leaves whispered in the wind, and the stars of winter still shone bright in the sky in herald of the waxing sun. It was morning, but daylight came late so early in the year.

The camp was quiet. There were no alarms, nothing to wake her. All was well.

Her dream had been a dream of peace, and yet there was a strange unease to it, as though patterns shifted like light on the surface of a pool, winds changing direction before some still distant storm.

She rose and dressed without kindling a light, put on her heavy embroidered coat. Her breath made mist in the air as she left her tent and walked down by the lake.

The dead city waited across the water, broken towers dark hulks in the starlight. Once, when we dwelled in Emege….

Charin is right, Teyla thought. There are no answers there. Surely. Generations of Athosians have scoured the ruins. There are no secrets to be uncovered, no treasures to be found. If I am dreaming of lost cities, it is only because we have come here to Gate Field, and the dead city weighs on all of us. Better to think instead of the caves where the survivors of Emege hid.

It came to her that she had not been back there in many years, those caves of her people decorated with the tales of their slaughter. As a child she had played there often with Ayahdu and the others, but most of her agemates were now dead, taken by the Wraith or killed in all the ways that a hard life offers. It seemed too much to go there, where the walls still echoed with their childish voices, knowing they were forever silenced. Easier to walk through gates, to see new horizons beneath new skies that did not hold bad memories.

In her mind's eye she saw a coin rising, spinning in the light, the toss of a coin that decides all.

Where would she go? To Hoff or to Belkan? To Ramphi perhaps, where their winter-gathered furs would fetch a good price? They had good pelts to trade, so that might be best.

She went into the eating tent, where Amri had already kindled fire and was heating water for tea. She waved her greeting, but almost no one was there yet except Halling.

"You are up early," she observed.

Halling shrugged. "Jinto was up, and he's as quiet as a stampede. Best to make a start to the day. We must put the stakes out to claim the lower meadow if we want to put it to the plow this year, before any other camp arrives." He looked at her sideways. "We are first this year."

"I know we are early," Teyla said. "Charin has already complained. But what is the value in being late?"

"I'm not complaining," Halling said, getting up heavily. "Once we have the fields staked out you will be away through the Ring?"

"Yes. Ramphi, I think," Teyla said. "In three days or four."

"I have two white narga pelts that should do well, if you will take my chit."

It was a formality, of course. She had taken Halling's chits for years, made his offworld trades since they were both adolescents. "I will do so," Teyla said. "The Ramphi like white fur. You are right that they will get a good price. And they will look well for Athosians."

She followed Halling as far as the fire, where Amri was stirring the dried leaves into the water at a hard boil, then lifting the dish from the fire and covering it.

"It will take a moment to steep," Amri said, and Teyla nodded.

Her eyes flickered to the door. Lightning? She thought she had seen a distant blue flash through the edges of the tent flap, but she heard no thunder and it was not repeated. Nothing, then. It was nothing. Her Gift would have warned her already if the Wraith had come through the Ring, slender Darts preparing to swoop down on her unsuspecting people. But there was not the slightest hint of that, not the smallest prickle of foreboding that heralded a Culling.

A few others were coming in now, Jaden and Thaque with their new baby. Of course they were up, looking bleary and sleepy. Charin, who never stayed abed late. Toran, who was too young for her but courted her anyway. Teyla had a word from each, assurances of good trades, comments about the weather that were thinly veiled complaints about being in the highlands so soon, Toran's awkward compliments as to how nice she looked this morning. She was going to have to find a way to discourage him gently. He was not for her, nor she for him.

Tea, and a start to the day. Tea, and the beginnings of trade.

"Halling is giving me his white narga pelts to sell on Ramphi," Teyla said to Jaden. "I remember you have those lovely skins from the traps last fall, all speckled with winter colors coming in. I would take your chit if you wanted me to take them to Ramphi as well."

Jaden cradled her chin in her hands, the baby sleeping in a sling across her chest. "That could be," she said. "How much do you think they will bring?"

Teyla shrugged as if to say she could not commit. "The Ramphi like exotics, and those caught at the turning of the season are special to look at. I think I might get a good price."

Behind her the tent flap opened again, Halling's step, but instead of just coming in he spoke formally. "It is Halling. I bring men from away."

So soon? Teyla thought. Their usual trade contacts would not expect them encamped in Gate Field so early in the spring. Still, it boded well for the season that men came already. "Enter," she said, and turned, rising, to greet the travelers.

And in that moment everything changed.



( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 28th, 2011 08:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Nov. 28th, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC)
I like it!
The ending is actually right from Rising, at about the point when Teyla meets John and the others from Atlantis, at least part of the Military.
Nov. 28th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it!
Nov. 29th, 2011 02:04 am (UTC)
That's really cool! ?it ties the stories together seamlessly. Thank you for sharing it.
Nov. 29th, 2011 09:23 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Nov. 29th, 2011 02:30 am (UTC)
This is awesome! So glad you shared this and now I have to go back and watch Rising. I so love the unique twist you give to Teyla.

Thanks so much for sharing.

And I have a question about Allegiance. In the scene where Teyla shows John her lair was there something more, I can so see something more *wink*
Nov. 29th, 2011 07:03 am (UTC)
I would really hope so.
I have always been for a John and Teyla relationship and actually a marriage between the two. I also like that Torren also calls John "Da". So the it would actually be a perfect relationship for the two and it has been clear for a very long time that John and Teyla do care about each other.

Thus the next logical step would be a relationship. And even though I haven't read/officially gotten Allegiance yet (have ordered it as a book, should be arriving soon); I would have to hope that Teyla showing John her lair would have a significant meaning to something more between the two of them. *Wink* :) :D
Nov. 29th, 2011 05:40 pm (UTC)
I think sharing her lair with John is definitely a step forward! :) I doubt he's planning to sleep on the floor....
Nov. 29th, 2011 09:25 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you like it!

About the lair scene -- well, as you know Allegiance isn't my book, so I can't 100% say what Melissa and Amy were thinking. Or rather Amy, as that's her scene. But I definitely think there was something more! We've certainly seen "sharing tents" as a metaphor in fandom often enough! I think they're together at this point, even if they're not managing to talk about feelings with feeling words.
Nov. 29th, 2011 06:05 pm (UTC)
I would agree.
I guess they could be together by now, highly possible. How long was Atlantis stuck/grounded on Earth? Who else would Teyla spend time with on a world she didn't know?

Maybe we'll eventually find out for sure though. It is starting to seem that there are more than just hints to something happening in their relationship, so maybe they are together and no one officially knows it, like other members of John's and Teyla's Team and the others as well.
Nov. 29th, 2011 06:53 pm (UTC)
Well, neither one of them are the type to talk about their feelings a lot! :)

And remember, the authors are constrained by what MGM will allow onscreen, so Melissa and Amy have to work with that!
Nov. 29th, 2011 08:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks for putting this up online! I really like the story, getting Teyla's everyday life before Atlantis.
Nov. 30th, 2011 06:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I enjoyed writing it!
Nov. 30th, 2011 02:59 am (UTC)
Oh, I love, love, love this. Beautifully rendered. Your lifelike details always get me in the gut. How do you do it? Thanks for sharing your writing with us and painting such a detailed portrait of life on Athos. :) I missed your touch in Allegiance. (I think I can just tell, lol.)
Nov. 30th, 2011 06:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I really appreciate it. I love Teyla, so it had to be her story.
Dec. 6th, 2011 06:57 pm (UTC)
Nice! Lovely to see a little of Teyla from before that fateful meeting. You paint the picture really well, I could almost feel the frost in the air as they make their early start. Interesting thought that if Teyla hadn't decided to get to the Gate field early, there would have been no one for Summner and Sheppard to meet!! Fate obviously played a part. Teyla certainly continues to live up to her name of 'She who walks through gates' once she teams up with Sheppard and co! Thanks for sharing.
Dec. 6th, 2011 08:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! And she did dream true -- the last thing she saw under the sea, the blue spark jumping in the highest tower, is the Atlantis gate opening for the first time in 10,000 years....
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )