The Gentle Warrior

February 2013 Silmarien Szilagyi

Teyla Emmagan, Stargate Atlantis. Warrior. Leader. Mother. Born on the planet of Athos, Teyla joined the Stargate Program's Atlantis base under unconventional circumstances. After being taken captive by the wraith--the Pegasus Galaxy's insect-human hybrid villains--, she's rescued by Major John Sheppard, who leaves quite the impression with Teyla. She quickly realized the Atlantis expedition had advanced technology that would be much more effective in the Athosians' fight against the wraith, so she joined the base, initially out of a desire to protect her people. However, as she interacted with the expedition members, she began to form close bonds with them--particularly John Sheppard. In the end, though her loyalty to her people remained unerring, the Atlantis personnel became her new family.

Teyla may look like your average human woman, but don't let her beauty and petite frame fool you; she could knock you senseless before you knew what hit you. Yet despite her obvious combat skills, she always opts for diplomacy and kindness before violence. When the men on her team become too hot-headed, she's the voice of reason that shines through the testosterone. Her calm nature can soothe even the battle-hardened Ronon Dex--no small feat, considering the pent-up anger and grief he carries. However, even Teyla's benevolence isn't limitless, and woe to he who incurs her wrath. When her people--including the father of her unborn child--are kidnapped, she stops at nothing to save them. She behaves uncharacteristically, even going so far as to threaten torture for the information she seeks. But if the fate of your loved ones depended on that information, wouldn't you do the same? I would.

Although the Athosians are human--albeit transplanted from Earth by the ancients--, Teyla's appearance is once again deceiving. She possesses unique abilities that allow her to sense when wraith are near; to communicate telepathically with the wraith; and even to pilot certain wraith ships that can only be controlled by those with wraith DNA. Because the wraith are enemies, you can imagine Teyla is initially disturbed by these "gifts," especially when she considers the implications. Somewhere in her family's past, someone acquired wraith DNA. Now before you consider the so-called obvious explanation, I have a less sordid though perhaps equally unsettling one. The wraith, though partially descended from humans, don't eat human food. Instead, they feed on the energies of humans through a sucker-like opening on their right palm; this method of feeding is a variation on that of the iratus bug--the insect half of their lineage--which latches onto humans' necks to absorb energy. But that's unimportant for this article, except to explain how the wraith DNA entered Teyla's family. Perhaps others in her family manifested the abilities, too, but they nevertheless were a shock to her. Eventually, she accepts her gifts and uses them many times against the wraith. How's that for poetic justice?

A femme fatale doesn't always have to kick butt--though Teyla does that, too--; she can also be gentle without losing the title. And Teyla is certainly special when it comes to her skills. Yet I believe it's her combined strength, morality, compassion, devotion, and willingness to give others a chance that make her such a powerful and likeable character.