Chapter 11 summary: Jolinar's power grows and she eventually takes on one of her fellow full System Lords. She almost wins, but then Apophis joins the battle against her. After her defeat, her power wanes and the Tok'ra are soon on the run.
[ 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 ]
Amongst all the bad news, there were also happy events. One of these were the ceremonies held each time new Tok'ra symbiotes matured and took their first - willing - hosts. The very first time this was to be done, Jolinar and Egeria went to the planet where Egeria's lo'tar, Svenn, had been receiving and training the future hosts. Together they brought all those of their Jaffa that carried mature symbiotes, as well as tanks with larvae ready for implantation in the soon available pouches. They had talked much about how this should be done, and decided on a procedure.
Jolinar sat over to the side of the room and watched. Several elevated stone slabs had been constructed and placed in the room. On each of these benches, one of the volunteers would lay down. As they walked in and did so, Jolinar noticed that they all seemed tense - some of them even very nervous. However, they all looked determined. Egeria wanted to be in charge of this herself the first time. She had removed the mature symbiotes from the Jaffa, then placed them each temporarily in a water-filled low sided tray. Each time she had taken out a symbiote, she would take a new prim'ta from one of the tanks, and place it in the Jaffa, stroking the small larvae lovingly first.
Egeria then took the trays one at a time and walked over to the volunteers, while helpers stayed with the others. The other symbiotes waited patiently. They were much calmer than any symbiotes Jolinar had ever seen before. Normally they would all have jumped at the human helpers and taken them as hosts.
Egeria let the symbiotes take a look at the potential host and if it approved, she placed the tray on the bench, just beside the person waiting there. That person would then turn slightly to the side and open the mouth, where after the symbiote would jump inside quickly. Jolinar looked on in surprise - she had never before seen symbiotes entering through the mouth. To do so would mean the symbiote would always remember the look of horror on the hosts face - Jolinar did not think she would be able to look herself in the mirror if she had entered thus.
*Why not, my dear friend? There are no look of horror or disgust - the hosts are willing.* Arnora pointed out.
Jolinar realised this was true. *Of course - that changes it. But why do it anyway?*
*To avoid that unsightly scar we have on our neck. I think I would have preferred that you entered through the mouth and have avoided the scar.*
Realising this would be true, Jolinar hugged her host, apologizing again. Her host hugged her back, assuring her that she no longer needed apologies from her friend. They watched in silence as each of the symbiotes chose a host. The new 'headmates' then spent some time seemingly unconscious. When asking, Egeria told them that they were blending - merging their thoughts, memories, feelings. They were doing immediately what had slowly happened over time for Jolinar and Arnora, as they had opened up more and more to each other. These pairs would know each other well - and be quite close friends - immediately. Jolinar felt a slight envy over this.
Afterwards, when all was successfully completed and all the symbiotes had hosts, there was a big celebration welcoming them to the Tok'ra. All had gone well, though they decided to change one thing next time - a better way must be found for host and symbiote to chose each other. All the blendings seemed to end up being good matches, but it would be good if there was a way to increase that possibility. They would think it over and find a way.
A short time after this first batch of Tok'ra had taken hosts, Egeria formally declared war on Ra. He had already taken all her planets, except for three which were considered of no strategic value. Of course, the planets also did not contain much easily accessible naquadah or other minerals worth mining.
Egeria continued to spawn Tok'ra children, but she no longer had more than a handful of loyal Jaffa, so they were placed in the ranks of Jolinar's many Jaffa.
Jolinar, being Egeria's ally, decided to throw her considerable forces behind helping Egeria against Ra and all other Goa'uld who now saw their chance. Zipacna - despite being Ra's sometimes enemy, and at least always on unfriendly terms with him - ended up being a constant nuisance. Jolinar and Egeria knew he would need to be eliminated. With him gone or at least subjugated, they would be rid of a very dangerous opponent as well as gain large territories, many Jaffa, human slaves, and resources. It would give them the opportunity to build many ships.
Having made the decision, Jolinar collected her forces and declared war on Zipacna. Now, more than 70 years after she had started her reign, she was finally ready to eliminate the enemy she suspected of sending the ashrak that had killed her father.
The first battles went well. Jolinar made a surprise attack and quickly took control of the three closest of Zipacna's planets. They were the ones he had used as a base for the many border skirmishes between him and Jolinar over the years.
These planets were very rich in easily accessible naquadah deposits. They also housed many human slaves, and Jaffa. This gave Jolinar resources and some extra manpower, giving her the opportunity to quickly rebuild the parts of her fleet that had been damaged or destroyed. Most of Zipacna's Jaffa either fled or pledged their loyalty to their new Lord. She had, after all, proven she was a stronger, more powerful god. Those who would not change their allegiance were slaughtered. Now was not the time to show leniency, if Jolinar was to have a chance of succeeding.
After a few years, both Zipacna and Jolinar had rebuilt their armies. Jolinar now possessed better and larger resources. Thus she had been able to complete her repairs quicker than Zipacna and build more new ships. They were now close to being evenly matched and soon the two powers clashed again.
Jolinar had taken the main part of her fleet and sent to Nervona VI where Zipacna had a large shipyard. She hoped to destroy it while his forces were patrolling elsewhere. She had timed it so that at the same time her fleet arrived and attacked, she sent many of her Jaffa forces through the gate to attack the shipyard itself. Hopefully the battle in space would keep the attention away from the chaapa'ai long enough for her Jaffa to make it through safely.
Zipacna was taken by surprise, but unfortunately for Jolinar, his forces were by coincidence stationed in one of the neighboring systems.
Thus, while Jolinar's forces were bombing the shipyard from her ships, as well as attacking other parts of the settlement with her Jaffa, Zipacna's forces arrived in the solar system. By sheer luck Jolinar's people detected them before the enemy was fully upon their position. Because of this they avoided the trap Jolinar herself had set for Zipacna's ships in her first battle with his forces so long ago.
"My Lord! We have detected a large number of ships entering the system. It is Zipacna's fleet!" Her first prime reported, having hurried to his Lord's room.
Jolinar got up quickly, pushing the plate aside. "Make sure all my ships know. Move immediately from orbit and turn so our main guns are trained on his ships. I shall be on the peltac momentarily.
The Jaffa bowed and left to carry out her orders.
Jolinar had been eating lunch in her room, discussing their future tactics with her host. Neither had expected Zipacna's fleet would arrive until after they had finished destroying the shipyard and all other military installations in the system.
Hurrying to the pel'tac, they tried to lay plans for how to best fight their enemy's fleet. Had he sent the entirety of his ships? Some of them? Or only a few? They arrived on the pel'tac, worried and prepared for the worst.
"Report." Jolinar demanded.
"We have moved out from orbit and into formation. We are hidden behind the closest moon. Zipacna's ships have just left hyperspace....scanning..." The Jaffa entered a few commands at the panel. "There are 8 Ha'tak and 10 Alkesh. They are releasing death gliders now."
Jolinar sighed deeply, moaning silently to herself and her host. Aside from Zipacna's own Ha'tak - and one Alkesh - this was all of Zipacna's forces. She, herself, owned 12 Ha'tak and 9 Alkesh. She had brought 9 Ha'tak and 7 Alkesh for this campaign, wanting to make sure she could do the job quickly and be prepared for any eventuality. The rest of her ships patrolled those parts of her domain which bordered untrustworthy neighbors. Her extra Ha'tak would even out his 3 more Alkesh, though. She decided they could do this.
"Order the death gliders to launch and assume alpha formation - hold that position until I give the order. Tell the Alkesh to split out into two groups and flank our Ha'tak - which we will fan out into a half circle. Then quickly go for his Ha'tak." She looked at the display. "He has his ships in a triangular formation. It protects them, but we should be able to surround him. He will not be able to fire at more than a few of our ships, if we force him to keep formation. We, on the other hand, can hit all of his. Focus the firepower on the lead Ha'tak - don't bother destroying it. Go for weapons and then engines. If it blows up it is just an extra bonus. Then continue on to the next."
The Jaffa relayed the order and Jolinar followed the results on the screen. She saw the Ha'tak blow up moments later, while her own ship had barely gotten its shields scratched. She sent the death gliders in to fight their counterparts, then surveyed the results of her Alkesh's maneuvers. They were doing well and were firing constantly at two of the Ha'tak. Her own main ships joined them and soon two more of Zipacna's ships were history.
As they started the attack on the fourth of the enemies Ha'tak, one of Jolinar's Alkesh blew up. This was soon followed by the shields failing on one of her Ha'tak. It was burning clearly.
"Tell that Ha'tak to break off and get to safety - if we can repair it that's worth more than what little they can yet do."
The battle was going well, when one of the Jaffa at a control panel suddenly turned to her. "My Lord. More ships are approaching. One Ha'tak and an Alkesh."
So Zipacna had called in the rest of his forces - this gave her an opportunity to end his reign once and for all. He had now lost 6 Ha'tak and 5 Alkesh, so even with the reinforcements he only had 3 Ha'tak and 6 Alkesh. Jolinar still had 7 Ha'tak and 6 Alkesh, all with most of their shields left.
The question was - why did he do this? There was no way he could win, and he must know that. Trickery, perhaps?
"Call for my other ships to join the battle. Tell them to hurry."
"Yes, my Lord. Immediately."
Jolinar's forces made quick work of Zipacna's forces. He was down to a single Ha'tak and no Alkesh, when Jolinar got an unpleasant surprise.
"More ships are approaching..."
"No. Our ships report they will be here within the hour. The new fleet approaching are a large force - many Ha'tak and Alkesh, of unknown ownership."
Jolinar quickly overviewed what she had left. 9 Ha'tak and 8 Alkesh. An enormous force that could easily handle most other Goa'uld, except a very few. Like Ra, or perhaps Apophis...who was loosely allied with Zipacna...
"Enemy ships dropping out of hyperspace...10 Ha'tak and 7 Alkesh...it is Apophis's fleet."
Before Jolinar had time to do anything, he started firing at her ships who shot back. A lucky shot took out one of Apophis's Alkesh, but Jolinar knew she could not win this. Even with the rest of her fleet here, it would be a miracle if they destroyed his fleet. In either case she would loose her entire fleet, and she could not let that happen if she were to hold her empire. She turned to her first prime.
"Give the order to withdraw. Tell our reinforcements the same. We will meet at Servana."
"Yes, my Lord Jolinar!"
Jolinar withdrew her fleet and ordered her Jaffa ground forces to return home as well. Most of the shipyard had already been destroyed, as well as almost the entire military settlement of the planet. It would be some time before Zipacna could build new ships there. He had other worlds for that, but they did not have as plentiful resources, so the building would be much slower. Jolinar herself would be able to rebuild relatively quickly, unless Apophis decided to pursue. It really was unfortunate he had decided to join the battle!
Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of her bad luck. Apophis sent his fleet to her border planets - those she had taken from Zipacna several years ago. He destroyed her facilities and fortifications there. When she arrived, the planets had been occupied by Apophis's Jaffa together with some of Zipacna's Jaffa.
Before Jolinar was able to recapture those worlds, other of her systems were attacked. First by Cronus, and then by Bastet. Relatively minor System Lords, but on the rise. Taking advantage of her status as an outcast no one would help.
Jolinar's empire did not fall quickly. Very slowly, over more than 20 years she lost all her planets except for the original one, Malkshur. That, too, was now under siege. She, Egeria - as well as a number of Tok'ra, were now all trapped on this world, unable to flee. The Tok'ra were those who had not been elsewhere and gone into hiding when Malkshur was besieged. Together with them were also those of Jolinar's Jaffa who was still alive. They were carrying Tok'ra. Many of the Jaffa had been killed, so a large number of Tok'ra had also died before being able to take a host. Also, many Tok'ra had fallen while in hosts, in direct clashes with the enemy Jaffa. There were many Tok'ra who had fought in groups alongside Jolinar's Jaffa.
Some of the young Tok'ra had silently taken positions at the courts of various System Lords, in the hope of gaining information this way. It was unpleasant for them to have to pretend to be Goa'uld, but they could do it. This way many were able to hide, but not Jolinar, of course. She was far too well known. She did not wish to abandon her host for another and live under a secret name for a while. So she was now trapped on Malkshur.
Egeria needed a safe place to spawn Tok'ra symbiotes - and Jaffa to incubate them. The last part was the real problem. Jolinar had only about 400 loyal Jaffa left, and of those only few needed new prim'tas. They could wait for the young Tok'ra to mature and then Egeria could spawn new - that would get them about 400 Tok'ra every 12 years. But only if they could find willing hosts for them. Lately it had not been quite as difficult as it had at first. There were now Tok'ra who had never been known as Goa'uld. They could work in anonymity among humans - pretending to be human. But they only had Malkshur to recruit from and there were not that many volunteers on the planet. Of course - this was likely irrelevant, as the world would not be besieged for an indeterminate amount of time. Sooner rather than later it would fall to Apophis, and then they would all be killed. That could not be allowed to happen. They needed to get at least Egeria safely away from Malkshur.
"Egeria, I am so sorry. I have failed you - and the rest of the Tok'ra. My empire - and my Jaffa - are all but gone. Them too, I have failed. We are under siege. Even if by some miracle we should get away, I cannot give you any more Jaffa in which to incubate your young." Jolinar looked like she was about to give up.
"It is not your fault. It all went wrong because I got us outlawed with my animosity towards Ra. I should have tolerated him instead of behaving as I did. Without that, Apophis would never have so daringly joined the battle against you - and Cronus and Bastet would surely not have chosen to attack. As it is, they and all the Goa'uld have a casus belli against us. Jolinar...you have done all you could and more. But we will find a way - I know we will."
"Yes, Mother, you are always so certain we will succeed. No matter how badly everything goes. I have always wondered about that. Is it just your conviction in the worthiness of our cause that make you believe it will succeed eventually? Or is it something more..." Selmak, a young Tok'ra, asked. She had just returned from her second undercover mission, and had been included in the discussions of the newly formed Tok'ra council.
"You know I cannot tell you that, sweetie." Egeria smiled. "But trust me. I know."
Jolinar had been considering the various options. She had only one plan, but she believed it might work. It would be very dangerous and many of them would likely be killed - if not all of them.
"As you know, they have been keeping the chaapa'ai dialed constantly to prevent us from storming it and getting away through it. I no longer have a Ha'tak, but I do have 2 Alkesh and a Teltac. I have talked to some of my Jaffa, and they are willing to make a diversion with the 2 Alkesh. Meanwhile, Egeria, Selmak, and as many others as possible will take the Teltac and flee. The rest will hide in the mountains and follow through the chaapa'ai when it is no longer guarded or kept active. Apophis will hopefully believe everyone are either dead or has fled in the ships. Therefore they should lower their guards here quickly and not search too carefully for those who are staying. The question is - to where would we flee?"
"Your former underling, Cordesh...he can be trusted, can he not?"
"Yes, I believe he can. However, he is now officially a vassal of Zipacna. If he is to be of any use to us as an undercover agent - as he promises he will be - then we cannot destroy his cover by going to him."
"Then I suggest we hide on one of my worlds." Egeria said. "I still have three planets. They are far away from everything - and only one of them even has a small castle. However, all of them have villages with friendly people and plenty of food. They don't have much easily accessibly naquadah and other minerals, though..."
"That is unfortunate, when it comes to rebuilding our forces - but it will likely protect us against most attacks." Jolinar said thoughtfully.
"Yes. We Tok'ra will have to change our tactics. First we had actual military forces and fought battles with large armies consisting of both Tok'ra and Jaffa. We fought in the way the Goa'uld have fought. Then, as our power decreased, we changed to smaller attack forces, and then even further to mostly using stealth attacks. Now we will have to go all the way and focus almost exclusively on subversion, infiltration...we must become undercover agents, working inside the Goa'uld society. Jolinar, I know you prefer more direct action, but it will not be possible - at least not for the immediate future." Egeria said.
"I know." Jolinar smiled sadly. "However, we will persevere...we will succeed! Even if it should take thousands of years."
"What about the Jaffa, then? For the next generations of Tok'ra?" Selmak wondered.
"Some of my brave Jaffa will hopefully live and join us in our new fight - they have willingly joined our cause, so they will surely do what they can to help..." Jolinar said.
Egeria nodded. "True, but that is a temporary solution as best - and only for some of the little ones. Most will grow up in lakes, as our ancestors did. That may actually be a good thing. Despite the fact that I have mitigated their bad memories and made sure it will never make them evil - ascertained they will share our ideals - I still wish for my children that they shall not be alone with those memories when they do surface. Also, even without the nightmares the genetic memories often cause, growing up in a pouch is very lonely. I would spare them that as much as possible. When they grow up in ponds and lakes, we can talk with them - they can talk with each other...play...since they are not Goa'uld and do not consider each other rivals, they will surely enjoy the company."
They all agreed it would have been nice to do that instead of being in a pouch. So they decided it would indeed be a good idea for Egeria to let the new generation of Tok'ra be raised in lakes. Having friends and siblings to look after them. It would be closer to the childhood their hosts had had and surely much better for the little ones.