Chapter 14 summary: Merina and Jolinar begin their life together and soon their fate is intertwined with that of the planet. Things begin to change for the better, but what will happen when Jolinar is recognized for what she is?
[ 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 plan worked surprisingly well. Merina and Jolinar allowed it to be seen that Merina had learned Goa'uld very quickly and was very good at it already. Both reading and writing it. It did not take long before this was noticed. They were transferred to a position as assistant to the temple librarian, who was in charge of all the documents and books in the whole temple. Merina no longer had to 'waste' her time on hard manual labour and spent most of the days in the library, reading. This meant she could hide from those few others who were angry at her sudden and very early promotion.
Almost half a year passed. Outside it was now hot and dry - the worst drought in 30 years. It happened from time to time, but before there had been the possibility of help from other planets. Not so now. The desperate population tried to save their crop by carrying water in buckets from the river to their fields. It did not help much. They quickly turned to the temple and began wailing prayers to Apophis. They asked for his forgiveness and his return to the planet, in order to save them in their need.
Merina looked worriedly at the sky. It was as usual clear without any clouds. She and Jolinar knew well that Apophis would not hear the prayers and would probably not have helped them if he did. They were currently walking back to the library after the mid-day meal.
*If it does not soon rain, the harvest will fail and we shall all starve!*
Jolinar sighed. *They should build irrigation to water the fields.*
*It has been attempted, but there is no elevated water source for many many miles. Nothing before the distant mountains. Even if we could build a canal there, the water would disappear into the porous sand of the desert long before it got here.*
*There are many ways to seal the canals against leakage. Even wood would work to some degree...however, you have recently dug a new well which holds plenty of water. There is also a river close by this village. Admittedly, it has less water than usually, but why do your people not utilize these water sources?*
*The villagers are trying, but it simply takes too long moving the water using only buckets and digging irrigation ditches does no good. The area between the river and the fields are flat. The water will not run.*
They had now gotten back to the library. Jolinar had taken control as no one was around, and she now walked over to the selves, scanning the titles on the volumes.
*Have you no knowledge of any sort of water lift? I could show you how to build several, but I assume it would seem suspicious that you all of a sudden got this knowledge. And we cannot reveal my presence, of course - not yet, at least.*
*What are you looking for?*
*A book which describes how to make a primitive water lift - then you can pretend to have read that by coincidence, and show it to the head librarian. Hopefully, she will go to the village elders and suggest it is built.*
Jolinar continued rummaging around the shelves.
*Wait...hmmm...even Apophis cannot have been stupid enough to deem knowledge of technology as basic as this illegal...hah, here.* She pulled out a book and dusted it off. It had clearly not been looked at for centuries. Jolinar opened it. *Damnation! It is written in ancient Goa'uld!*
Merina looked at it. *But I at least recognize the letters...I think I will be able to read it, given a little time.*
*Yes, because you gained parts of my knowledge about it in the blending. I can read it - it is in my genetic memory, inherited from my Goa'uld queen. I did only share some of that with you, as much of it is...unpleasant. I rarely look into it myself, unless I need it...such as now.* Jolinar made a decision. *We shall have to pretend you have taught yourself how to read this, secretly...*
*Is that even possible?*
*Yes. It is possible...given long enough time. However, they don't know how long it would take, given only knowledge of the current, common dialects of Goa'uld. But you are a genius - they know that! They will not question it.* Jolinar grinned, then went to sit at the table with the book opened in front of her.
Quickly sharing the knowledge of ancient Goa'uld with Merina, Jolinar then gave over control. Merina read through the section about water lifts, as well as that about leak-proofing wooden canals using wool or similar fibers. She then went to the head librarian and showed her what she had found. The librarian praised her and immediately went to talk to their leaders. A short time later, they sent for Merina. She spent a relatively long time explaining how the water lift were to be built and the canals sealed. Jolinar had decided it was more important that it was easy to understand and could be built fast, than that it was advanced. Thus the water lift they would be building was one of the most primitive forms, called a 'shaduf'. This type had an upright frame on which was suspended a long pole, about a fifth of the way from the end. On the long end hang a bucket, and on the short end was a weight - usually made of stone or clay. A person would stand beside it and constantly dip the bucket in water and empty it out in the canals. The water would then run through various ditches to the fields were it was needed. It was, however, hard work for the person operating it.
Already the day after Merina had explained the construction, building began. The irrigation system - lift and canals - were built surprisingly quickly. People were well aware of the importance of the project and worked long and hard.
Soon the irrigation system was finished and people took turns manning the shaduf. It was relatively hard manual work, but could not easily be automated in any way. However, it worked and the crop grew well. Famine would be averted for another year.
Jolinar knew well that it could be done both better and easier, even with the very primitive means available there. She looked through the books for descriptions of either a water wheel or an Archimedes's Screw. When after some time she had found neither, she ended up drawing them herself and writing down the descriptions. Merina then took her suggestions to the head librarian and said she had been inspired by various other inventions in the book. The librarian was very impressed by her ideas, and Merina was again taken to the leaders of the village.
They too liked her ideas very much and agreed to have an Archimedes's Screw constructed and installed. They were also interested in her suggestions for a watermill, which she had drawn up as well. It would function using the water wheel.
After the Archimedes's Screw had been constructed, Merina introduced a windmill to drive it, whenever the wind was blowing. There were now only need for someone to occasionally supervise the water lifting part of the irrigation system, and no one had to manually lift the water. This impressed the village elders so much that they decided Merina should stop being a priestess at the temple and work directly and exclusively on improving the village. She would assume the position of a sort of village engineer.
Over the years, Merina/Jolinar did their best to help develop the village and those nearby. This partly alleviated Jolinar's guilty conscience. She felt remorse at not being able to fight the Goa'uld directly, but especially about having been a Goa'uld herself. She had subjugated her people, even if her rule had been less harsh than that of many others. Jolinar also felt some guilt that she - a convinced Tok'ra - had taken an unwilling host, despite the circumstances.
Merina and Jolinar soon became leaders of a small, but growing group of apprentices, whom she trained. She carefully selected those she found to be intelligent, choosing from all parts of society. Her students first learned to read and write, then were slowly taught what they needed to help in the work to develop of the village.
More than 15 years had passed. Despite a thorough - but secret - search of the surroundings of the villages, they had not found any Goa'uld ships. Soon it would become necessary to disclose that Merina was host to Jolinar. Already people had remarked on the fact that Merina still looked much like a teenager. In a society were people worked hard, usually outside where they were exposed to the weather, the majority looked much older than their years. However, Merina and Jolinar had still not found a good way to reveal Jolinar's existence.
Today they were sitting in their office, working on an idea to improve the sewage system of the village. They were just taking a break to get something to eat, when the head of the apprentices looked inside.
"Merina - do you have time to speak with us for a little while?"
Jolinar quickly gave control to Merina who looked up. "Yes, of course, Reshnak. Please come in."
He went inside, followed by all the other apprentices. They looked quietly at Reshnak, expecting him to speak for all of them.
He seemed nervous, fidgeting a little as he stood there before his master. "Well...we have been thinking...you know...besides giving us much technical knowledge, you have also taught us how to read the ancient texts...we have learned much from those..."
"Yes...?" Merina prodded when he did not continue.
"Over time we have...noticed some things...some signs...for one thing, some of us knew you before you entered the temple. And while we often recognize that person still...sometimes you are...different..."
"I have changed over time, of course, because of my experiences. There is nothing strange in that. Everyone does that. After all, 15 years has passed since then..."
"Yes, we understand that...however, this leads to another oddity. You have barely aged in those 15 years. And another thing...a couple months ago, you were injured in the mill. Your injuries were grave, yet only days later you walked like before - though only when no one looked. You pretended to limp when you thought you were being observed. I might also point out that the deep gash on your arm..." he pointed, "...was soon gone, without even leaving a scar!"
"And what is your conclusion? That I am unusually healthy?" She said as she reached for the apple she had been about to eat before they entered. She took at bite from it.
"No. There were certain...references in the old texts. References to beings such as yourself. Forgive me, but I believe...we believe, that you are not quite human. Are you a Goa'...uld?"
Merina was quiet for a while, letting Jolinar take control. "And what if I am?" She said, using Merina's voice - realising they would not know to understand the differences between Tok'ra and Goa'uld.
"Then...nothing. We owe everything to you. Our knowledge, our lives - all the progress our villages have seen. 15 years ago we were barely eeking out a living. Now our granaries are overflowing. Starvation is a thing of the past...sewerage has removed many diseases. Bottom line...you can count on us - and your teachings are spreading to other villages. But there are those who would fear you, if your true nature became known."
"Imminently logical...you have made all the right conclusions..." Jolinar's eyes flashed, drawing a gasp from the audience. When she spoke again she used the characteristic flanged voice of a symbiote. "I am Jolinar of Malkshur. Over 1000 years ago I was a mighty System Lord who did battle among the stars and fought the false gods who imprison mankind."
Reshnak and the other apprentices had taken a step back against the wall. "Forgive us..." Reshnak began.
"Fear not. The person you have worked with for the last 15 years is really a combination of Merina and I, as we have both spoken to you, using her voice."
"So...so Merina is still there?"
"Yes, we are two people who can both control the body. Sometimes I am in control, sometimes she is." Jolinar smiled a little at them. "It is, in many ways, a relief not to have to hide my true identity to those I have worked so closely with for years...to those I have come to consider my friends."
Having had her identity revealed, Jolinar no longer had to worry about her apprentices. Soon she had re-established a good relationship with them and they no longer feared her.
*This...that our apprentices know. It is a good thing - also because it means we could now maybe have a relationship with Reshnak. He is interested, that is obvious...as am I...and you want him too, Jolinar, do not deny it...*
*I will not deny it - as you well know, our feelings are one. However, I am not so sure it is a good idea. We will live for so much longer than him - he will live another 50-70 years...at the most...probably less, as this is still a very hard world to live in. By then you will not even look 30! Such a relationship will only bring us sorrow.*
*You are right, of course...but do you mean we can never have love? That we must refrain from taking a mate - forever?*
*I do not relish the thought either, but...I am not saying we can't have shorter affairs. All I am saying is that we must be careful not to become too deeply involved emotionally.*
*I am not so sure that is truly possible. I really wish we could take Reshnak as our mate and live a normal life with him - if there only were a way of making him live as long as I.*
Jolinar hugged her host. *I know, my dear Merina. I wish that as well. However, the only way I know of is to contact the Tok'ra and have a symbiote blend with him. Apart from the fact that we do not know if he would even want that, there is also currently no way off the planet. Not except for unburying the chaapa'ai, and I will not risk your people being suppressed by the Goa'uld just for our sake. That would be wrong.*
Merina sighed lightly. She admitted to herself that Jolinar's attitude was probably the wisest. That did not stop her from wishing it was different.