Chapter 12 summary: Jolinar, Egeria, and several of the other Tok'ra have been hiding on Malkshur, Jolinar's original home planet and now all there is left of her once great empire. They are under siege and need to find a way off the planet as well as a new place to hide.
[ 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 ]
The decision had been made to try Jolinar's plan. While some of her Jaffa made the diversion in the Alkesh, Jolinar, Egeria, and as many others as would fit on the Teltac, made a run for it. Apophis's forces apparently had not expected this, and they managed to get away, as did one of the Alkesh. The other was shot down.
They flew as fast as possible to the nearest unguarded planet that had a chaapa'ai. There they opened a wormhole to a planet they knew to be uninhabited. From there they continued on to one of Egeria's worlds - the one with the castle. Hopefully their taking a route past another planet on the way would throw the followers off their track.
They arrived on the planet late in the afternoon. It was a short walk to the castle. It had been unused for years, and it showed. They would have to spend some time repairing and cleaning it. After having checked out the place, the subdued survivors assembled in the kitchen. There they had started a fire in one of the ovens, and it was agreeably warm.
"The place is...liveable, I guess...or it will be. But what really matters is - are we safe here? It is known that Egeria has these worlds, even if it is perhaps not common knowledge. Would our enemies not seek us out here?" Selmak asked.
"I believe we will be quite safe here." Egeria said. "To the Goa'uld we will appear completely harmless, so they will have no reason to pursue us. We have no armies anymore - and no resources with which to rebuild." She looked at Jolinar, who nodded.
"That is so. And I think I understand what you mean. In a traditional sense, we are no longer even a potential threat - and the Goa'uld are nothing if not traditional."
"Exactly. They cannot imagine there is anything we can do now. Indeed - they cannot fathom that we will ever be able to do anything but eke out a miserable existence. Or surrender and become someones underlings. They cannot see outside their traditional way of fighting. As long as they are not given cause to believe we can harm them, we will be left alone."
"Yes...you will be left alone. I doubt I will. Thus none of you will be safe if I stay here for long. Apophis, Zipacna...and to some degree also Cronus...they all hate me with a passion. They will no doubt send one or more ashraks after me - if not a fleet."
"Then what will you do, Jolinar?" Egeria looked worriedly at her friend.
"First I shall go and find Travik, and see if he will trade me what we need. He knows I have relatively large, hidden funds which it will take me some time to access. He can perhaps help me with that. I also have some hidden resources here, as you know Egeria. That should be enough to repair this place and maybe outfit some of our people as Goa'uld underlings. If they are to work as undercover agents among the Goa'uld, they have to play the part. We will need resources and materials for this place, as well as a small amount of weapons. We also need to live until we can harvest or buy from the humans. They need to increase the amount they grow if we are to live on it as well. And we need as many people as possible, of course, to replenish our ranks - and more. Egeria, I know you will spawn those, but we must think of the future. The children will not cost much to rear until they are ready to take hosts. By then we will need to feed and clothe - and arm - an ever increasing resistance. That is what the Tok'ra truly are now. Then - when our resources are secure for the immediate future, I will travel the Galaxy and help look for hosts."
Egeria nodded. "It sounds like a plan. So...we will use this planet as a base of operations for now. Eventually, the Goa'uld will realise we have ways to fight them still. Some of us will unavoidably get caught and they will learn there are Tok'ra among them - infiltrating every part of their society. When that happens we cannot stay on either of my three planets any longer. If we are to use them for raising our young, then these worlds must seem as inconspicuous as possible. We cannot risk an attack in a nursery!"
"Of course not...and therefore this place can only be a temporary place for us to stay - only while we wait for all our kind and our allies to gather here. We need to see how many lived. During my travels I will also look for potential base worlds. We should have several and only stay a few of us in each place. That way they can not all be targeted when the Goa'uld learn we are still fighting them." Jolinar suggested.
After a short discussion the others agreed. They divided up the most pressing duties and started working on repairing the castle and setting up their base.
Over the next several months most of the surviving Tok'ra, many of Jolinar's Jaffa, as well as some of the humans who had joined their cause and waited to become hosts, found their way to the new base. It actually turned out that most of those who had stayed behind on Malkshur, had eventually managed to slip away safely through the chaapa'ai. Apophis had - as expected - given up the siege soon after Jolinar and Egeria's escape, and the search he had made of the planet had been less than thorough.
Just as they had suspected the Goa'uld thought about the Tok'ra as they would any enemy Goa'uld. They believed that without Jolinar a System Lord with forces, the Tok'ra were harmless. They left them alone.
The resources Jolinar had hidden away on Egeria's worlds were now used to setup the base. They set up many of the Tok'ra as operatives at the courts of various Goa'uld. Soon they had people everywhere and got much information back.
Jolinar then again went to Travik and asked him for help. This time in accessing some of her funds that were stored in naquadah - on Ra's world. It was a sort of bank used by the Goa'uld, and the currency was weapons-grade naquadah. The actual mineral was stored on one of Ra's worlds - no one knew which. When Jolinar's empire had started to fall, she had invested in quite large amount of naquadah there - but under a false name. She did not have the opportunity to access her funds, since they would be claimed by Ra if it were to be known that she was the owner. However, being the well-connected trader he was, Travik would be able to get to it. It would have to be done carefully, through middlemen, but it could be done. Jolinar met with him and he agreed to arrange it so she could withdraw from it when she needed - for 10% of the total sum. Jolinar knew well that this was an extremely fair deal, one he only gave her for old times sake. He would have to pay the various middlemen, and there were a not insignificant amount of risk involved.
Having assured access to these large funds, Jolinar knew the Tok'ra would have what they needed until they could begin to acquire resources in other ways.
Meanwhile, Egeria had chosen a few nice lakes and ponds on those two of her planets which did not have a castle. There she regularly spawned new Tok'ra. Several of the adult Tok'ra who already had hosts lived with the humans in the local villages. They were tasked with looking after their younger siblings. They made sure there were no large fish or other dangers in the water and fed the symbiotes regularly. And they talked and played with them often. The little ones always liked it when one of the adult Tok'ra swam in the water with them and petted them or played with them.
Jolinar travelled, looking for hosts and suitable base-planets. Several times she was stalked by ashraks, but she always managed to get away. From time to time she returned home to the other Tok'ra - to report, get updated information, and to relax.
The Tok'ra had established their base in Egeria's small castle and began placing more stealth operatives among the Goa'uld. Not long after one of their agents returned with important information. He had been stationed at Ra's court as a minor underling. He made sure to talk with the other Goa'uld there, and from time to time with the servants as well. Because of his job he had access to much information that would otherwise be hidden. As well, most would work on either one or other project and not see all documents. He, on the other hand, were in a position were he was able to see everything as a whole. Also, he was intelligent enough to be able to put the things he learned together. He then made further, discreet inquiries.
When he finally learned Ra's secret he was astonished and hurried to inform his queen Egeria and the rest of the Tok'ra council.
"My queen Egeria...I have important news."
"We - and all the Goa'uld - have long been convinced of Ra's great military power. That belief is false!"
"What!" Egeria and the others in the room looked at him with shock and disbelief.
"That can't be true. You must be mistaken!" Selmak said.
"It is true. I have brought proof."
Telen went on to explain that Ra - while a System Lord of decent power - in reality was not even on the level Jolinar had been when she was most powerful. He squandered much of the immense wealth that flowed to him, from the tributes everyone paid. He built extravagant pleasure palaces on each of his worlds, and bought exotic goods and slaves. When he could have constructed the biggest fleet of all times and raised the largest Jaffa army anyone had ever seen. But what he lacked in military planning skill, he more than made up for with his scheming and plotting. He played the other Goa'uld against each other and made allies here and there. No one knew he did not have the military power to come after them. Thus everyone feared him and bowed to him. The result was that he kept his power - but he would hardly be able to conquer new worlds if he wanted to - unless it was from very small opponents.
Learning this was a shock to the Tok'ra, but it also helped them plan their longer term strategies. Since Ra was not as powerful as was thought, and as he was likely to continue to waste his resources on luxuries and pleasure instead of military, the Tok'ra decided to try and make sure no other Goa'uld became all-powerful. It was surely better to have many small and medium-sized warlords to contend with, than one who could truly rule them all. In particular, it would be easier for the Tok'ra and any other resistance to avoid detection when the Goa'uld were bickering and competing among themselves, and not exchanging information. Also, if one were to become all-powerful, he or she would be much harder to fight and trick, and it would be more difficult to sneak in an operative or pretend to be someone at his court he just did not know.
For the same reasons the Tok'ra needed to avoid the Goa'uld allying themselves closely and cooperating. This would lead to a sharing of information and to them together becoming very powerful. Fortunately, it was easy to keep them enemies and competitors. The Tok'ra hoped to continue to play the Goa'uld against each other until the day when a way could be found to kill all the System Lords and/or convince the Goa'uld to change their ways. The Jaffa and the human slaves would also then have to be convinced the Goa'uld were not gods and work together with the Tok'ra. That, however, was for the future. For now it would be much too dangerous to announce their resistance to anyone but themselves.
The Tok'ra had now decided on a course of action, and set out to follow it. They placed operatives everywhere, but particularly at the courts of the major and minor System Lords. This gave them information about everything that happened among any of the Goa'uld. This was something no one else of their kind had done before. I was sometimes relatively quick and easy to get an agent in place as a trusted underling for a System Lord, but often it took a long time. This did not matter much, for the life of a Tok'ra is very long - even that of a host. They had the time and infinite patience to carry this off. In time they even tried placing Tok'ra in position as very minor System Lords. This, however, was very expensive and their funds were rarely sufficient.
Aside from keeping an eye on everything, the Tok'ra operatives slowly, over the years, manipulated as much as they could. They caused some Goa'uld to make bad decisions, and some to reject fortuitous alliances. They set one Goa'uld against another and made sure no one single System Lord became too powerful. At the same time the Tok'ra gathered resources, technology, science - and they also began their own research into most areas. They began inventing things on their own on a much larger scale than the Goa'uld ever had.
From time to time the Tok'ra succeeded in lessening the misery for the slaves on some of the worlds - especially those where they pretended to be their Lord.
Now, more than 30 years had passed since the Tok'ra had begun their new existence as a true resistance. They had fought with stealth and intelligence, instead of using only force. They had moved on to other base worlds, so as not to endanger the children growing up on Egeria's planets. Those it was not a problem to hide - symbiotes in lakes were not easily detected, not were their guardians - Tok'ra who lived as humans in the nearby villages.
When the Goa'uld had realised the heretic Tok'ra still fought them - just in a different way - they had come to look for them in the only place they thought possible; the castle on one of Egeria's worlds. Finding no one there, they did a quick search of all those three planets. When their investigations turned up nothing, these worlds were ignored and the Goa'uld eventually began searching all over the galaxy.
For safety's sake, the Tok'ra had split up among many resistance cells, stationed in bases on different worlds. This way not everyone could be caught or easily compromised at the same time. From time to time a base had to move, when it had been detected.
Their constant problem was that it was difficult to find safe base planets. If they chose to have a base on a world where no one else lived, it meant they had no population to hide among and they were discovered immediately if anyone should happen upon them. On the other hand, hiding a military base on an already populated planet meant endangering these people - as well as further danger to the Tok'ra since many people would then know of their base location. They desperately needed another option.
One of the current Tok'ra bases was located in a mountainous region. There they had hidden it in caves and tunnels. This was one of the best places for a base - and the type of location they looked for when surveying possible base planets.
Sevil/Tanna was a young Tok'ra stationed at this base. Sevil, the host, had worked as a chemist on one of the few more evolved worlds, which had been abandoned by the Goa'uld long ago. His young Tok'ra symbiote, Tanna, very much shared his interest in science, though her interest was more in the field of geology. Most symbiotes had a preferred gender. She identified as female, and had always wanted a female host, but as a Tok'ra you did not always have a choice. She was more than happy to have a willing host - and one that shared her passion for science even. They had quickly been getting along much better than anyone - themselves included - had expected. They were the best of friends.
Their combined interest in chemistry and geology had led them to explore and examine the crystal formations found in their current home. One day they got an idea that might help the Tok'ra get better and safer bases. They immediately started working on their project.
It took them several years to develop the first working prototype. Eventually they were ready to show it to Egeria and the rest of the Tok'ra council. Jolinar came into the room just as they started, having arrived on the planet a few moments before.
Sevil nervously stood before the council. Tanna gave him a quick hug before he started. "We believe we have a solution to the problem we have of finding safe locations for our bases. As you all know, we have for several years tried to place them on uninhabited planets that have mountains close to the chaapa'ai. Mountains which already contain caves and tunnels which we can expand for our use. That works...but aside from the fact that they are hard to find, we cannot easily shape them to our needs. We cannot move them closer to or further away from the chaapa'ai. There is a limit to how much we can widen and lengthen the tunnels and caves without it being visible from the outside. The caves are often cold and wet - and there are always problems with rats, snakes, spiders, and so on, no matter how hard we work at eliminating them. Tanna and I believe we have a solution. We dig our own tunnels in the ground. We can then put them in any location which have suitable soil, and shape them as we wish."
"You know...we have tried that. It is very difficult to dig out the tunnels quickly, especially if you want to do it safely. It is also difficult to ensure the continuing safety of the tunnels. Timbering and bracing walls and ceilings are not a total guarantee against cave-ins. If all of this are to be done properly it takes a long time - time were we are exposed and the tunneling may be detected. Even aside from the risk of collapse and need for speed, we still need to dig the tunnels into a soft-ish mountain side or hill side. This means we need to locate some of those near the chaapa'ai." Selmak said, smiling at the young man.
"I suggest digging our tunnels quite deep and fully underground - say, in the desert out there. Then we do not need a hill- or mountainside. If they are fully sealed, no one can easily detect us if they do not know we are there. We will use ring transporters to go in and out."
"It is not a bad idea." Egeria said, "but as Selmak noted, it takes a long time to dig out those tunnels, especially since care must be taken to stabilize them against collapse. This is even more difficult to do in sand - and in a flat terrain. I understand this could be done while we still stay on the former base, but what if we have to move base quickly? It would be risky to go to another base and potentially compromise that as well. Selmak's other point is valid also - the construction can be seen on the surface while we build, and afterwards it may be hard to camouflage it quickly and effectively."
Sevil bowed his head briefly, giving control to Tanna.
"That is true. However, our idea solves this problem. This 'tunnel-crystal' will utilize the available materials to create crystals which will be patterned so that they leave behind tunnels. These tunnels will be lined with those very thick crystals. Allow me to demonstrate."
She went outside, followed by the council members. A short walk took them to the spot she and Sevil had chosen for their demonstration. It was a flat, hard patch of sand in the desert not far from the Tok'ra mountain base.
Turning the crystal in her hand, she slammed it hard into the ground, while pressing the mechanism that triggered it.
Everyone in the audience gasped, as a broad tunnel opened in the sand in front of them. The end of it quickly moved away from them, glowing brightly. The glittering blue sides were covered with hard, thick crystals. People walked to the closest and touched them carefully. They were still a little warm, but were cooling quickly.
Egeria tapped the crystals gently, then knocked hard on them. They did not move or crack. "Seems solid enough..."
"Yes, they should easily be able to withstand an Ha'tak landing on top of the ground above them. Even tolerate being bombed for a while, so a Goa'uld dropping bombs on the ground just to see if we are there, will not harm us."
"Impressive! We will have to further test the stability and safety of the tunnels, of course, but this may indeed be the solution to our base-problem." Egeria turned to Tanna. "Well done!"
She smiled. "Thank you...we have ideas for how to start the construction entirely underground, with the setting up of a ring transporter. Also, it should be easily possible to modify the crystals to make chambers - even furniture..."
"Excuse me?" The meek voice of Per'sus, junior member of the council, was heard. "I...I thought...how do you get air down there? I mean, until you get some sort of ventilation set up?"
"That is a good question. As it happens, that is not a problem. The creation of the crystal releases oxygen in copious quantities, and the air is as good as it is on the surface. There are no dangerous by-products. There will be more than enough air and heat created to give us time to set up ventilation and climate-control systems. There will even be luminosity enough to see by, until we get that set up as well."
After some more discussions, the council retired for the day. Egeria went to talk with Jolinar, who had kept to herself over at the side of the group. Not being a member of the council anymore - by choice, since bureaucracy was not something she enjoyed - she felt a little like an outsider.
"Jolinar! Good friend. It has been almost a year since we last saw you. You have been sorely missed - and you too, Arnora." Egeria smiled fondly at her friend.
Jolinar smiled back. "Hello, Egeria, Ariane. Yes, unfortunately I am rarely able to return to any of the bases."
"I wish you could stay. It would be nice to have you here, and you would be a valuable addition to the council, if we could but convince you to rejoin it."
"I would enjoy staying her some time, for sure, but politics and diplomacy is not my style. I greatly prefer action, as you well know, compared to the interminable meetings." She smiled. "At any rate...my visit here is short. I wished to give you some information I came upon..." She rummaged around in a pocket and found a data crystal which she gave to Egeria.
"This is all you want? Report in and leave? You have friends here, never forget that. You need rest!"
Jolinar sighed. "That may be...I cannot stay. It would not do, for either me nor the rest of you." She smiled faintly, trying to change the subject. "So people have started doing that head-bow thing when they change between host and symbiote? I remember there was talk about it when I was last here. I can understand why it is a good idea. It hides the eye-flash which bothers some of the future hosts. Also other humans as well as Jaffa that we meet. Too many are reminded of the Goa'uld when they see it. There is also the advantage that it gives you a moment to focus after being given control - especially for the host it takes some time getting used to the switches."
"Yes - as well, it is a formal way of showing everyone around you that control has changed. It is another thing to set us apart from the Goa'uld."
Jolinar nodded, then decided she had better get going, so as not to endanger her friends. "Egeria - that data crystal I gave you...it also contains information about how to find and access my hidden funds and resources, should you and the Tok'ra need them..."
"Jolinar?" Egeria suddenly felt fear grip her. "What is wrong?"
"You have been stalked by ashraks before."
"True, but none like this one. He is more talented than any I have met before. I cannot elude him. I fear this may well be our last meeting."
"But...surely he will not kill you, even if he should catch you - which I doubt will happen." Egeria tried to comfort both herself and Jolinar. "You are a System Lord...was a System Lord at any rate. They would never kill you."
"No...perhaps not. I have not committed any crimes as unspeakable as Anubis - by far. So you are right - they will likely not kill me - it is not that long ago that I was one of them...but they may well put me in a stasis jar. Indefinitely. Hidden somewhere or on display for whomever it is that wants me." Jolinar looked even more distressed. "And my poor Arnora...her they will almost certainly kill..."
Egeria looked down, not knowing what to say. Finally she went to Jolinar and put her arms around her, hugging her tightly. Jolinar hugged her back. There was nothing more to say.
It was less than a week later when the Tok'ra heard that Jolinar had been captured and brought before Apophis. He did not bother with torturing her for information, but merely gloated over her capture. He then pronounced her 'hako thra terak shree', or 'banished to oblivion' as punishment for 'heresy against doctrine'. Jolinar knew it meant she had been condemned to spend eternity in a stasis jar.
Knowing that the punishment would be carried out immediately, she turned her attention inward and spent her last waking moment on saying her goodbyes to Arnora. She knew well that her host would not survive the Goa'uld extraction process, which really just amounted to crudely cutting the symbiote out of the host.
Jolinar and Arnora had been together for almost 150 years - and they had become the best of friends. Arnora assured Jolinar she in no way regretted having been her host, and would not have wanted to live her life in any other way.
Having decided it would be the most merciful, and having obtained Arnora's permission, Jolinar was about to kill them both when they were hit by a zat'nik'tel shot. When Jolinar came to she had already been extracted and barely had time to register anything before she felt herself being lowered into a powerful sedative. Around her she saw the sides of a stasis jar. She was already unconscious when the lid was sealed and the stasis field activated.
The Tok'ra soon learned that Jolinar's stasis jar had been put up on display in one of Apophis's palaces. They laid a plan to free her and a small group of Tok'ra volunteered to try to carry it out. Unfortunately, it went very badly. They got inside the palace and even to the room Jolinar was stored in, but they were detected before they could get to her. Several of the Tok'ra were killed. Apophis then moved the stasis jar to a small unknown temple on one of his lesser worlds. There Jolinar remained hidden for almost 1000 years.