Chapter 10 summary: As Jolinar and Egeria look for allies for their new resistance, they find someone close to them can no longer be trusted. What has caused this? Is the sarcophagus perhaps to blame?
[ Chapter 1: Getting the first host | Chapter 2: Getting Acquainted | Chapter 3: Realizations | Chapter 4: Life and Discoveries | Chapter 5: Choices | Chapter 6: Daily Life? | Chapter 7: Ra's World | Chapter 8: A meeting | Chapter 9: Decisions | Chapter 10: Treason | Chapter 11: War | Chapter 12: On the Run | Chapter 13: A New Life | Chapter 14: Development | Chapter 15: Return | Chapter 16: Home ]
About a week later, Travik arrived, bringing with him the sarcophagus Jolinar had long wanted to buy. She had not been able to quickly replace the one her father had owned, and then she had had other things on her mind. Sarcophagi were still quite expensive, despite it had been 800 years since their invention. It was an unfortunate fact of Goa'uld society, that new technology were not quickly distributed throughout the galaxy. However, she could have easily afforded one in the last couple of decades. It had just not seemed important - and besides, she enjoyed sleeping in her bed. Now, however, having joined Egeria's resistance, she could well imagine there was a risk she might have use for a sarcophagus. She would probably get more enemies soon, should they learn anything of their organisation before they were ready. Egeria owned a sarcophagus, inherited from her father, but as far as Jolinar knew she did not use it.
The first day of Travik's visit, Jolinar did not mention Egeria or her organisation. They had a pleasant dinner and spent some enjoyable time together. Then, just after the next day's evening meal, Jolinar asked him to go outside with her for 'some fresh air'. They went to her favourite, secluded place.
"I assume you have something you wish to discuss with me? Something secret and potentially dangerous?"
Jolinar sighed. "How did you know?"
"Your mind has been preoccupied with something since I arrived, despite your best attempts to hide it...and now we are outside, in a place where no one can hear us. It was pretty obvious."
Jolinar sighed again. "I suppose it was. I have never been good at hiding anything from you. Never mind. I will get straight to the point. I...I was approached by a friend of mine, who shares my ideas for the future of the Goa'uld and the galaxy. This friend agrees that humans should be treated as equals, not taken as unwilling hosts or suppressed. That if Goa'uld society continues on its current path, it will eventually destroy us all. We should do something about it, and..."
"Wait...Jolinar!" He sighed, interrupting her. "Please. You know I agree with you on much of that, but neither I - nor my host, have any wish to live our lives differently than what we do. I do not want to know what it is you are getting involved in. I am certain it is both dangerous and illegal - and if I don't know, I am not responsible for anything. You need not worry. I will not tell anyone - after all, I do not know anything - and I wish to continue trading with you, as well as being your friend. But I have no wish to get involved in anything."
Jolinar nodded. This was what she had expected, but she had still hoped he might have said yes. "I understand. We will never speak of it again."
Some weeks later. Jolinar again met with Egeria. This time Olagin was there as well. He was a rather tall, heavy-set man with a relatively handsome face. His hair was dark and shoulder-length. He seemed to be in his mid-forties.
After many long discussions he agreed to cooperate with Jolinar and Egeria. He had little military might to contribute with, but could provide them with intelligence - something just as important. He had been friends with Egeria's father for over a 1000 years, but he was close to 7000 years old. He knew almost anyone who was of any importance. He had no real enemies and could go everywhere, visit anyone. He would be able to keep an eye on everything that happened and learn if someone suspected anything.
When he had left, Egeria and Jolinar continued their meeting. They needed to discuss the matter of finding willing hosts for Egeria's children.
"So he agreed. I almost thought he would not." Jolinar said.
"I was certain he would. He often complains of how the Goa'uld society are evolving. He wishes us to return to how things were many centuries ago."
"Do you believe he is correct? That the downfall has accelerated or only truly begun in the last centuries? Or is he perhaps merely dreaming of past times?"
"At first I thought the latter, but now I am no longer so sure. I have listened to his stories, and I have also done some secret research. He does seem to be on to something. The power-hunger and the megalomania - the total focus on oneself...while our species has always had power-hunger and arrogance, it does seem to have worsened. I do not know what could have caused it. Perhaps it is an inevitable result of the accumulated genetic memories from so many others before you. All who fought and yearned for power? Perhaps it is something else - or even a little of both. We will see if we can determine the cause, but for now we have more important things to focus on."
"True. I will talk to my internal security. They always look for dissent. I shall have them send to me those humans suspected of being involved in uprisings, those who help run-away slaves, or who do not obey their leaders. Then I can talk to them myself. If they are sincere and wish to fight the Goa'uld, I will talk to them about becoming hosts to symbiotes who share their wish to fight the oppressors. Symbiotes who will share control of the body with the host. If they are still interested I will send them someplace where they can wait until your children mature. Regrettably, I shall have to kill those who would not be trustworthy hosts, but that would have been their fate in any case, so nothing is lost."
"Yes...it would. I think I will ask Svenn to be in charge of receiving those selected. Do you have anywhere they can be hidden?"
Jolinar thought for a while.
*What about Cordesh?* Arnora suggested. *He can be trusted, can he not?*
*I believe he can - especially if we only tell him that we are training the humans for some special task. I have never been able to tell if he agree with our ideas or not. However, the unusual way he got a host means he owes me loyalty - and I also suspect he at least acknowledges that his host's personality still remains. One day I shall have to confront him and learn the truth.*
*The let us try that.*
"Arnora suggests we hide them on one of my mining planets, governed by a Goa'uld of the name Cordesh. I believe he can be trusted, at least in some limited manner." Jolinar said.
"Good. Then we will do that. Jolinar...I assume Travik did not wish to join our cause?"
"He did not...he did not even wish to hear about it. As he said - if he does not know anything, there is nothing for him to either hide or betray. I do not believe he would ever betray us. He agrees with many of our ideas, but he and his host just want to enjoy their lives. They will still trade with us, though, which is useful."
"Yes, I have heard he can get anything for you - for a price."
"I believe that is true. I finally bought a sarcophagus from him - he delivered it 3 weeks ago."
"So you decided to buy one, and not just rent it from the guild?"
"Yes - in my position I felt it would be expected that I own one."
Egeria nodded. "Have you tried it yet? I have my father's as you know, but I have yet to use it. I simply haven't gotten around to it, but I think I will soon. Everyone seems to be using them nowadays - and they speak very highly of it. As you know, it enables you to keep the same host for...well, they think almost indefinitely. You feel stronger, better, more powerful - and you only have to sleep an hour or so per night, at most - in the sarcophagus, of course."
"Yes, I have heard the same. They seem to have finally spread to more than just the major System Lords - and perhaps a few more. Now it seems all of even the minor System Lords have them. I agree that the advantages sound good, but I actually enjoy sleeping. It is one of the few times were Arnora and I can truly relax...and we always spend a little time talking before we drift off to sleep. And dreaming can often be therapeutic - if I understand correctly, you do not dream when using a sarcophagus."
"No, you do not - and that worries me perhaps a little. Besides, I also agree with you regarding sleep - it is pleasant. But to only loose one hour a day to sleep sounds attractive - when we have so much to do. Olagin wants very much to try the sarcophagus. I told him he was welcome to use it as much as he wanted. He claimed it was only because he had heard so much good about it - and because he wanted to be able to work hard for our alliance for as many hours as possible. Perhaps...but I suspect the real reason is that he has gotten used to looking the way he does and do not wish to have to change his host before it is absolutely necessary. I believe he has had the current one for more than 350 years, and he was not a young man when he took him as host. Anyway, that is his concern. I do not care for his reasons - he is welcome to use it."
The Goa'uld had guilds to take care of many things. Many of those Goa'uld who were not either System Lords themselves or their underlings worked there. Those guilds consisted, among others, of scientists, technicians, and repairmen. The System Lords and their few Goa'uld minions could not themselves do all the work that need to be done to the ships and other technology. On the other hand, they could not very well tell their Jaffa or their human slaves about how most of the technology worked, because 'knowledge of Goa'uld magic is forbidden'. This work was then done by Goa'uld employed by the various guilds.
One of those guilds were in charge of building and repairing sarcophagi. Since Goa'uld technology was made to last, there was very little repair needed. The guild would sell or rent sarcophagi to those who wanted one. If the Goa'uld chose to rent it, he or she would pay a small sum yearly for its use, and the guild would do a check up on it every year and repair it if it was needed. Since the sarcophagi rarely needed repair, and since the owner had an expected lifetime of 10000+ years, renting out a sarcophagi was a good affair indeed for the guild.
The guild knew, of course, that there were some side effects to the use of the sarcophagi. It caused addiction, power hunger - even madness. The addiction they only considered a good thing, since it kept them in business. As for the other effects, they did realise it might lead to the eventual downfall of the Goa'uld, but probably not for tens of thousands of years - and meanwhile the guild would be rich. It was amoral and egoistic, but not really unusual.
Some days later, Jolinar returned to her empire. She instructed her intelligence service to keep an eye out for any dissidents. They were to bring them to her, in good condition so they would survive her interrogation of them. She blamed the initiative on suspicion of unrest among her slaves. Her forces accepted this without suspecting anything, as it was nothing out of the ordinary.
It did not take long before the first slaves were brought in. Jolinar talked to them herself, and managed to divide them in two groups. Those few who were criminals, and then the vast majority who had fought back only in desperation, when the injustice had become too great to bear. Those she talked to further, succeeding in sorting out the few who were truly willing to join a resistance against the Goa'uld - and were even willing to take the chance that what she told them was true. That there really were symbiotes who were different.
She knew she could not be certain if they were really volunteering to be hosts or if they merely desperately chose the chance to live. However, she comforted herself by the fact that she knew the symbiotes they would be host to were Tok'ra. And while their lives would be hard and dangerous, they would be alive. In general, they would even be better off than the human slaves - they would be pretending to be Goa'uld much of the time when they had became hosts, and would thus live in relative luxury. She knew they would become friends with their symbiotes - as it should be. Soon they would not want it any differently. Still, she looked forward to a time when someone they trusted - someone who was not a System Lord - could interview the potential hosts. That would make for less fear and more true volunteers. They would be in situations were they could say no and live - and they would know it was so.
Their plans went well for a long time. Olagin reported all major happenings in the many Goa'uld domains, any alliances, and if anyone might be open to an approach. Egeria spawned many more Tok'ra larvae, who were placed in the pouches of both hers and Jolinar's Jaffa. Jolinar continued raising forces and growing in power - occasionally taking over a planet. At the same time she always looked for potential hosts, something made necessay by the growing number of Tok'ra.
She managed to find quite many who would consider being hosts, as there was always dissent somewhere. Those she found to be willing, would often suggest others - when they had finally been convinced of her sincerity. A few highly trusted humans became a sort of 'recruiters', looking for others of a like mind. It was a very dangerous job. They would be tortured to death should they ever be caught - and there were some slaves that would report them, either in the hopes of gaining favours, or out of genuine fear of such heresy.
All together, Jolinar had to work very hard to find even half the hosts needed. This was despite the fact that she had started immediately, when there was 10 years before the first Tok'ra symbiotes would mature. Still, 50% of a clutch getting hosts was far, far above the number who would normally be allowed to take hosts. Since the Goa'uld did not like the competition they only allowed a few to be implanted. Egeria knew this very well, but she also wanted all her children to live. She did not think of them as future rivals - and indeed they would not be. They would be allies, and they were very different from how Goa'uld usually were. They would have a wish to cooperate and even sacrifice themselves so as not to risk their fellow Tok'ra.
Then, about two years after Egeria had first come to Jolinar to speak about her plan, there was a large Goa'uld summit. All Goa'uld of consequence would meet - including, of course, Egeria and Jolinar. A relatively powerful Goa'uld of the name Geb would be hosting it. He had for a long time been the only one who had not accepted Ra as the Supreme System Lord - something even Apophis and Zipacna did, albeit grudgingly. They were still hostile, but knew they could not truly do anything against Ra.
Geb would now finally pledge his allegiance to Ra and swear to his acceptance of the other Goa'uld's supremacy. Everyone else was invited as well, partly to officially reaffirm their loyalty wows and their allegiance, and partly to witness Ra's victory. Finally he would truly and in every way be the Supreme System Lord.
Egeria would have to be at the summit a few days before Jolinar, because of some private arrangements which were being made for Ra, his family, and his closest allies.
Then, the day after Egeria had arrived at the summit - and before Jolinar were to leave for the event - Egeria, her lo'tar, as well as a large number of her Jaffa showed up at Jolinar's palace. Egeria immediately asked to speak with Jolinar and were quickly shown in. She seemed quite shaken and in a hurry, but also determined. Jolinar sent anyone that might listen out of the room, before she told her friend to explain what had happened.
"Egeria...welcome. I had not expected to see you here, now. I was preparing to go to the summit and thought we would meet there?"
Egeria sighed. "Jolinar...something has happened. I...I cannot tell you all the details, but my First Prime is dead - protecting me and...shall we say...important future allies - against Ra's Jaffa. Ra is extremely angry at me for the moment and I thought it prudent to leave before anything worse could happen."
Jolinar paled. "This is bad...very bad." She was quiet for a moment. "I will support you as much as I can. You and your Jaffa can stay here, of course. If Ra decides to come for you, it may be difficult, but I will try to protect you."
"Thank you, Jolinar." Egeria looked relieved.
Some time passed. The relationship between Ra and Egeria remained tense, and she stayed with Jolinar. However, other matters occupied Ra's attention, and he did not make any openly hostile moves against his former queen and ally.
The newly formed Tok'ra organisation had its first crisis. The relationship between Egeria and Jolinar on one side, and Olagin on the other had grown more and more strained. Egeria and Jolinar had noticed him slowly change and begin to disagree with them on more and more points. A few months after Egeria's break with Ra it came to an open confrontation during a meeting.
"You will cause all of us to be killed by Ra!" Olagin snarled angrily. "You are insane not to keep in good standing with him!"
"Calm down. I am not at war with him, just not in his favour - nor do I wish to be. He will be the downfall of all Goa'uld, as long as they follow his mad power struggle."
"Mad power struggle? I do not blame him for wanting power, I only wish I had more of it!"
"You? You have never wanted power before...and now you do?"
"Of course I want power! I am a Goa'uld! It is only natural that I want power!" He looked indignantly at Egeria. "To think I have wasted all this time with you and your failure of a father! Not to mention your ridiculous band of heretics! Well, no more! From now on I work only for myself!"
"What about the future of the Goa'uld - our culture and society?" Jolinar asked. "I thought you were worried about the future of our entire species, if we continued on the path led by Ra."
"Such nonsense. There is nothing wrong with how we live - the only thing wrong is that I am not a System Lord! And, so what if our life style should lead to the eventual fall of the Goa'uld? I doubt it will happen in my time!"
"Just like that? You don't care about anything or anyone but yourself? About the suffering it will cause in the galaxy for everyone else? For the Jaffa? The humans?"
"They are slaves! Their only function is to serve us - indeed, the Jaffa only exists because of us. Why should I care what happens to beings who are not even truly intelligent? Who must struggle each day for a miserable existence? If anything I would say they are better off dead!"
Jolinar and Egeria looked at each other. Then Egeria again turned towards Olagin.
"I see...I assume this means our cooperation has ended?"
"That it has - you should be eternally grateful that I do not inform Ra or any of the other true Goa'uld about all your little disgusting - and heretic - ideas. You think I don't know. You talk to your hosts!" He made a face, turned and left without another word.
Egeria and Jolinar just stood there, shocked and stunned. An expression of sadness crossed Egeria's face before she quickly hid it.
"I wonder what has changed him like that. It's like he is a totally different man all of a sudden." Egeria said.
"It is not totally sudden - I have noticed small things during the last several months, but I did not know him well enough to be sure it was unusual for him."
"Now that you mention it...I have noticed it as well. I suppose I did not want to see it. I told myself that he was just stressed. I wonder what caused it?"
"You are quite certain he was never like this before? Yes, of course you are - and he did agree with us that Goa'uld society is evolving in a wrong direction. Quite strongly in fact, even if he never shared our views about hosts."
"He is only 7000 years old, so it is not old age...perhaps he is sick?"
"How could he be sick? Goa'uld are never sick! Besides, has he not been using your sarcophagus regularly? It should cure anything."
"True. He has been using it - very frequently, in fact." Egeria said. "He used it very rarely at first, but he soon became very fond of it and he has used it more and more. To be honest, I think he has been using it every day recently. Well....I suppose now he shall have to find another place to satisfy his addiction. He is not using my sarcophagus anymore!"
"Addiction..." Jolinar looked thoughtful. "Could it really be?"
"What?" Egeria looked questioningly at her friend and ally.
"The sarcophagus...Arnora thinks it causes some sort of addiction, and she may be right. We have used it from time to time, and I must admit that I have started to notice...unpleasant sensations, feelings, when too long passes between each use. What if it truly is a side effect of the sarcophagus? And what if it is not the only one? What if it, uh, messes with our minds as well as our bodies?"
"I...you may be right."
*She is right...I have noticed what she says as well. When we started using it...first it felt good, we felt powerful...but I have started noticing changes in how we react to others, to everything around us. Not often, but sometimes.* Egeria's host Ariane, commented.
*Yes, you're right. I didn't see it at first, but when you pointed it out, I did. I remember now. Perhaps the sarcophagus has effects not only on the body, but on the mind as well...*
Jolinar had been quiet while Egeria talked to her host. When Egeria looked up again, Jolinar nodded.
"I see you too have noticed..."
"Yes. It was Ariane who detected it first, actually. She is quite correct, and so are you. When she pointed it out I could see it was true. Not only do we feel withdrawal symptoms when we go longer than normal between using the sarcophagus...our behaviour has also begun to change. There has even been the rare times when I thought the idea of the Tok'ra was foolish...when I felt a strong desire for power. And...and sometimes...I have felt that as...as a superior, I deserved it. Ariane tells me she has felt it as well. When we first noticed, we pointed it out to each other and we were terrified. Then we reassured each other that it must be normal, since we both felt so. Now I am no longer so sure."
"It is similar to mine and Arnora's experiences. If this is indeed due to the sarcophagus..."
"Then we cannot risk using it, or we would surely become like the others! We would be lured in by the feeling of power and care less about the effects of our actions on others. We have managed to see past the madness and the evil of our genetic memories, but the sarcophagus may be an even stronger...too strong - temptation."
*I believe it is - I feel its power, and it seems it would surely turn me mad and power hungry. Make me not care about others. And I don't even have genetic memory.* Arnora told Jolinar.
Jolinar nodded. "Agreed. We must help each other get through the withdrawal - and then we cannot use it again unless it is absolutely necessary."
"No. We do not use the sarcophagus - ever again. No matter what. And I must tell my children this - and those yet to be born...I shall make sure this is part of the knowledge they are born with. This is how it must be for all Tok'ra. Anything else is too dangerous. The lure of the thing is too powerful for us to risk it."
Jolinar again nodded. "You are correct, of course...Egeria, another thing...can we trust Olagin not to tell anyone?"
"I think so. If he was still the old Olagin, I would say yes, without hesitation. Now? I can only hope the core part of his character has not changed."
"We cannot risk that. We should have him detained before he gets away, if it is not too late already. I do not know why I did not think of it earlier..."
"He does not really know much...and he has been a friend of my family...of me. But you are right, of course. Perhaps...perhaps we can still reverse the damage done by the sarcophagus, if we get to him quickly."
"Agreed." Jolinar ran to the nearest guard post. "Jaffa, kree! Stop Olagin before he leaves through the chaapa'ai!"
The Jaffa paled visibly and fell to his knees. "I am sorry, my Lord. He has already left the planet." He bowed his head, certain of the severe punishment he could expect for this failure.
Jolinar felt a surge of anger, and was about to lift her ribbon device and use it on the guard.
*Incompetent fool! I shall teach him...*
*Jolinar! NO! This is not who you are - this is because of the sarcophagus! Yes. I too feel anger, but we must recognize the source. It is not the fault of this poor Jaffa that he let a presumed ally leave without having been given further instructions. We can blame only ourselves for not thinking about this earlier.*
For a brief moment, Jolinar wanted to punish her insolent host, then she felt intense shame. She restrained herself with difficulty and took a deep breath. She felt the anger dissipate and her head clear.
*You are right, of course. Thank you.* She hugged her host quickly, then focused on the terrified guard. "Understood. Dismissed." She turned around and left the relieved Jaffa.
Now truly convinced of the dangers of the sarcophagus, Egeria and Jolinar went to one of Jolinar's most distant planets, which did not have a chaapa'ai. There they stayed until the withdrawal symptoms finally disappeared. Fortunately, they had not yet started using the sarcophagus very often, but the process of weaning themselves off it was still immensely unpleasant and painful. After almost a week had gone by, their bodies and minds were almost returned to normal - for both symbiotes and hosts. The chemical imbalances disappeared and they were again able to heal themselves normally, after that had been done by their sarcophagi for some time.
Meanwhile, Olagin - desperate for a sarcophagus - had found a new Lord to work for. In order to gain favours, he slowly told him all he knew about Jolinar and Egeria. All about their ideas and their cause. He fortunately knew little, but what he did know was more than enough to make Jolinar and Egeria bad company. His knowledge included the name 'Tok'ra' - against Ra - and their heretic ideas of acknowledging the survival of the host personality. Had they not been who they were - a powerful System Lord and one of Ra's former queen's, they would doubtlessly have been killed instantly. As it was, they were merely ostracized at first. However, this gave the other Goa'uld a casus belli against them. It did not take long before several tried to take advantage of Egeria's and Jolinar's alienation from the other Goa'uld. Soon they were fighting almost constantly.