Nishta is a biological compound used by the Goa'uld to brainwash others into doing their bidding.
How Nishta Works
Nish'ta is a biological compound that, once inhaled, infects all tissue in a person's body, including the brain. As a result, it makes a person's mind extremely pliable and subject to brainwashing (3.02 "Seth"). Nishta is fast acting, it affects all of a body's tissues in about an hour.
An electrical shock can counteract the effect of nishta. It has to be strong enough to kill the organism, but weak enough not to kill the host. A powerful jolt of electricity or a zat blast has proven effective. However, the virus is very smart. If the nishta has not completely spread when the electrical shock is transmitted, it will give the organism safe harbor in which to mutate. Then it will overtake the body once again. However if the nishta has completely run its course through a body's tissues, once the shock is transmitted, the person becomes immune to its effects. Nish'ta cannot then reinfect a host.
Jacob Carter explained that nishta would not work on himself or Teal'c, presumably because of the symbiotes they carried as Tok'ra and Jaffa (3.02 "Seth"). However, nishta did work on Rya'c and he was a young Jaffa, so there is inconsistency in Jacob's theory (2.08 "Family"). The naquadah in Samantha Carter's veins as a result of her previous experiences as a Tok'ra host did not make her immune from Seth's nishta (3.02 "Seth").
Hathor was able to excrete a similar mist directly from her body (1.14 "Hathor"). But Hathor's mist was weaker than the full nishta compound, which was more encompassing (3.02 "Seth"). However, like nishta, once the effects of the mist were countered, the person then became immune (2.22 "Out of Mind Part 1").
The Goa'uld Apophis, and later Ba'al later used another brainwashing technique against Jaffa, but this was stronger to overcome than Nishta, requiring removal of the symbiote and being brought to the verge of death by the right of Mal Sharran (5.02 "Threshold", 9.14 "Stronghold").
Apophis brainwashed Teal'c's son Rya'c likely using nishta (2.08 "Family"). Apophis got the boy to denounce his father publicly, then act as a bomb to attempt to destroy the Tau'ri after they "rescued" him from Apophis. Drey'auc noted the difference in Rya'c and the replaced tooth where the bomb was placed, and they were able to stop him before he hurt anyone. Desperate to break through the brainwashing, they decided to subject Rya'c to a zat blast as a form of electroshock therapy to bypass the effects. The cure worked. Afterwards, Rya'c did not have any memories of events that occurred while he was under the effect of nishta.
When SG-1 and Jacob Carter/Selmak started tracking down the Goa'uld Seth, who had been keeping a low profile on Earth through the centuries, they found him to be a cult leader in Washington state (3.02 "Seth"). Based on reports about the brainwashed members of the cult, including a young man named Tommy Levinson, Selmak believed Seth was using nishta on the people. Once exposed to the gas, the members of the cult would do Seth's bidding without question. Knowing Seth would easily detect Selmak and Teal'c, it was determined that the other three members should infiltrate the compound alone. To protect against the nishta, Carter rigged earplugs for each of them to emit an electric shock. Teal'c and Selmak, listening to events via the ear device would know when to activate them.
The team found a back entrance to the compound, but were captured. Seth's nishta emanated from two staff like devices near his throne. They were activated by controls within Seth's ribbon device. The three members of SG-1 fell unconscious. When they recovered, nishta had taken hold of them and they blindly followed Seth's instructions. Seth detected the remnants of Sam's symbiote. Teal'c activated the shock to protect the team and their plan. The team became immune from the nishta, but Seth was aware of their deception and ordered them killed.
SG-1 overpowered the young men who were leading them away, zatting them, including Tommy. Now immune to the nishta, Tommy was confused and had partial amnesia of events, but remembered enough about things to point the team to more zats and other weapons. SG-1 were able to lead the rest of the cult members to safety. Seth tried to escape, but was killed by Samantha Carter.
As stated above, the Goa'uld Hathor used a similar biological compound to gain control over the SGC (1.14 "Hathor"). She was able to excrete this strange mist directly through her breath, and apparently it was part of her own biological makeup, either naturally or through unknown means. Once exposed to it, any human male would feel compelled to her bidding. Janet Fraiser conjectured it was a cross between female pheromones and sodium pentathol (truth serum).
Even at that, the men still had some cognitive thought. Jack O'Neill, not exposed to the mist as often, approached with some subconscious suspicions about Hathor. Further exposure to the mist quelled his questions, and he could not resist when Hathor created a Jaffa pouch in his abdomen. Daniel Jackson, the person most exposed to Hathor's presence, actively tried to resist when he realized she wanted to use him to create more of the Goa'uld symbiotes he so hated, but his resistence had little force and when she breathed on him once again, he acquiesced to her demands.
Hathor's mist had no effect on the female physiology, nor on Jaffa, so Samantha Carter led Teal'c and the rest of the women in the base in an uprising against the Goa'uld queen. After an initial defeat when they couldn't fire on their male counterparts, they were captured. Janet Fraiser realized the drug was likely pheromone based, and therefore likely to make the men on base libidinous. Taking advantage of this fact, the women lured their guards into their cell and neutralized them. Their second strike was successful.
Like nishta, once Hathor's mist no longer had any effect over the men, they could not be reinfected. Hathor resorted to guile and an elaborate mockup of the SGC to gain intelligence from SG-1 after she had kidnapped them during an offworld mission because she was aware of this weakness (3.01 "Into the Fire Part 2").
- Col. Jack O'Neill
- Dr. Daniel Jackson
- Capt. Samantha Carter
- Dr. Janet Fraiser
- Jacob Carter
- Tommy Levinson
--Aurora 14:21, 11 July 2007 (PDT)