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Favorite Part of The Avengers

And now we pass to the books not yet published, to The Avengers, book 4 of the Stargate Atlantis Legacy series, which will be out in perhaps 8 weeks! It's so hard to pick my favorite part of The Avengers, because there are many. I love Cadman's long action sequences with Ronon in the middle of the book. (Is it spoilery to say that Cadman has been borrowed from Carter to do a lot of Lorne's usual work because Lorne is on crutches after the attack in Allegiance?) I love and adore Sam's sections, especially Sam commanding the Hammond. I love John in the clutches of the Wraith, because what's better than Sheppard and a Wraith queen or two? I love Rodney trying to remember who he is, and his strange dreams that may or may not contain a kernel of truth.

But most of all I love this scene, Teyla and Todd, Steelflower and Guide. It's a little spoilery, because this is the scene in which they start putting all of it together.




She turned about on the satin pillows, her eyes on him. *Who is Osprey?* she asked.

*A story,* he said, only mildly surprised. *I will tell you if you want. It is no secret.*

*Yes.*

Guide put his feet up on the bed and began. *Long ago, in the first days of the world, there were the First Mothers. Osprey was one of them, nine in all. Nine queens and ninety-nine men, blades and clevermen alike, for that is how people were made. That is how we were born in the ice of the first world, beneath the light of the moon. To each queen were given certain gifts, no two alike, for no two lineages are the same. We all count our names from them, from the First Mothers, and each tells its own story. I am a blade of Night, that mother who took her name from the darkness between the stars, but I know Osprey's story well.*

A scarlet haired girl upon his knees, using him as her chair while she frowned and scowled over the braiding of living threads, while he told stories to her heart…

*She is queen of mists and shadows, strong in mind, weaving illusions to hide and deceive. She is a white flower, a white bird, a fog rising among the trees. She is the shadow of clouds trailing across the moon.*

*Wraith,* Teyla said quietly, her mind closed to him. *Revenant.*

*Osprey queens are strong minded,* Guide said. *And there is no illusion they cannot penetrate. Yet they are impossible to read if they do not wish it.* He looked at her keenly, a thought occurring to him. *Why do you ask?*

Her eyes did not leave him. *I have dreamed of her,* she said.

He nodded slowly. There was no sense in trying to keep his thoughts from her, not so close with her attention focused upon him. And yet he was not surprised. *We do not know what cleverman played with your ancestors' genes to such effect,* he said. *Nor whose genes he gave you. But it may be Osprey as well as any other.* He stopped, and at her silence went on. *It is part of being a queen,* he said. *To some extent lesser or greater, all queens remember. They share in some part in the memories of their foremothers, experience and knowledge the legacy of the blood they bear. For most it is a small thing, dreams and hazy memories without context. Some great queens claim to remember details, to recall with clarity things that happened to their foremothers. That is part of Death's allure. She claims to recall all that Coldamber knew, that Death in her time who led the first assault of the Great Armada.* His mental voice was dry. *Whom you killed beneath the sea, Teyla Emmagan. You killed her, Death who fed on Emege, who drank the blood of the children of Athos.*

He felt the flicker of her mind, and showed her Coldamber as he remembered her, when he was a blade scarce fledged, young and uncertain, expecting to die in the next assault, fodder for the weapons of the Ancients to screen the real attack. One look from Coldamber and he had gone to his knees, his face against the deck she walked upon.

*And does Death remember?* she asked quietly.

*I do not know.* Another light winked out, and he looked at her in the darkness, lovely and shadowed as any he had ever seen, the young queen with her mind like flame. *But you may well be of Osprey.* He did not want to add it, but it slipped between his reaching fingers. *Snow was.*

He could not stop the grief that welled, surprising as rising music, stark and pure as though it were hours old, and she caught it like a bird in her hand, held it to her chest. *I am sorry,* she said. And still her mind was closed to him.

They sat in silence in the darkness for a long time. He thought that perhaps she slept. Humans had to sleep so often. She could not go thirty of their hours without sleep and be sharp. It was best she sleep now. The last lights died. He waited. He kept the watch. The ship's ventilation systems breathed softly.

"I will tell you a story," she said aloud, and her voice sounded rusty in the soft air. "You have given me a story, Guide. Now I will give you one, a story to rend worlds and tear the veil from the stars."

"Tell me a story," he said.

She cleared her throat and began, her voice soft at first but gaining power as she spoke. "Once, long ago and far away, in the beginning of the world, there was a queen who had three daughters. She was a strong queen, but not a particularly good mother. She was inattentive, and over-absorbed with her own concerns, uninterested in nurturing her children."

"Her eldest daughter was born when she was very young, and for the most part she was left to her own devices. Her mother was often away, and when she did see her would set her tricky puzzles to solve, or try to teach her vast tomes of knowledge in a single night. And yet when this daughter had need of her mother, her mother was gone. But she was a resilient girl, and she learned to depend upon none except herself, to survive alone."

"As sometimes happens," Guide said.

"Indeed." There was a soft rustle in the darkness, and he saw the faint gleam of skin and satin as she moved. "The second daughter was the child of her choosing, and at first she was beloved, and her baby antics were her mother's delight. But time came when her mother grew bored with all that, and she was left more and more to the care of others and to her own private games. Having been doted upon, she missed her mother dreadfully, and she worshipped her and thought she could do no wrong even though now she was neglected."

Her voice hardened, strengthening in the dark, resonant and seeming to touch him to the bone. "The youngest daughter was unwanted and unwelcome, the bastard child of congress the queen did not wish to admit to, and she was cast out to make her own way. No one watched over her babyhood and no one guided her steps. Thus she grew full of bitter resentment for the matrimony that would never be hers, for her mother's regard and the full share that she should have had. And so in time this youngest daughter led a war against her mother and her sisters, and plunged all into disarray. Her mother she killed, and the favored middle sister she ground beneath her heel, wrenching from her sister all the tears and sorrow she could not gain from their mother. All the queen's vast holdings were hers, an empire uncountable. And so the eldest sister fled to a place far away, and there lived in obscurity, seeking to forget all that had been lost."

Her voice softened, and he could see what she saw, the pictures that she spoke. "The story begins as all stories begin, in the blue fire of a gate. A gate opened. A city rose from the sea, and legends walk. We stand in the time of story, my Guide. Blood binds to blood and like to like. Three sisters dwelt apart, one toiling in a distant land, one a slave, and one a queen. But that cannot be the end of the story, can it? How, Guide, shall this story turn?"

Like vast blocks beneath the earth moving in darkness, a piece fell into place soundlessly, like a deep subsonic shockwave spreading endlessly through the night. Stories too vast and too dangerous to tell, boxes with no keys, shadows cast by no light -- all those things and more ran through his mind. Guide saw, and so did Teyla Emmagan.

"We are the story," she said.

Sheppard's blood running through his veins, bringing him to life in the depths of Kolya's prison. Sheppard beneath the sea, falling on his knees to Coldamber. Snow turning to see him, her eyes lighting in a smile like Steelflower's, warm and full of mysteries. The spires of Atlantis against the sky, the secret turnings of the hive, Earth's Stargate flaring deep within its concealing mountain.

Sheppard and Guide. Snow and Teyla Emmagan. Waterlight and Alabaster and Jennifer Keller bent over her work. Osprey vanishing like mist and Amitas clothed in white, and a woman from the distant plains of Earth going about her work with a weapon in her hand, her green eyes bright as Sheppard's.

"We are the story," she said. "We hold it all within us." Her voice choked and steadied. "And I do not know how it can end except in rivers of blood."

"I do not know either," Guide said, and reaching took her hand, as though she were his queen indeed, as though they were long lovers.

She did not flinch, only closed her small fingers around his. "I do not know," she said.

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Comments

jansma
Feb. 11th, 2012 12:00 am (UTC)
Yeah. I agree with Shawn.
jo_graham
Feb. 11th, 2012 12:42 pm (UTC)
He's definitely onto some things! Yes, indeed.