Chapter 7 summary: Jolinar travels to Ra's world to pledge her loyalty.

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[ 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 ]

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Next day, Jolinar began preparing for a trip to visit Ra and make obeisance. As a System Lord, even one of the smaller, she had to do this within 3 months of rising to the position. Ra wanted to keep everyone in their place and not take any risks.

As a gift, she would bring several of those hunting falcons her planet was so famous for. One had to please Ra.

*Ra is the Supreme System Lord, as I explain before. Several thousand years ago, he found the Tau'ri, and on that planet he found the humans. They were a much better host species for us than earlier ones, such as the Unas.* Jolinar explained.

*Why? And who are the Unas?*

*On the planet my species originated on, there was also a species of humanoids. Well, there probably still is, no one has been there for many, many millennia. This species is the Unas.* Jolinar showed her an image of one, from her genetic memory.

*They are scary!*

*Only different...alien. Anyway, my ancestors started taking them as hosts. While walking around on the surface of the planet they found the chaapa'ai. They did not know what it was, but they were curious of it. A few started to try and figure it out. Eventually they did - though it took a very long time. They were persistent - and there was probably not much else to do! Those first ones travelled to another world. From there, eventually, on to another. Only very few left at first, and their expansion was slow. It also took a long time for them to figure out new addresses. Another problem was that the Unas are not optimal hosts for us - by a long shot. Only a small percentage of symbiotes are able to survive taking them as hosts. The majority of those even find it also difficult to survive long in them. Many of the Unas will die as well. The Unas are genetically much more different from us than humans are. That could be helped by getting DNA from them and incorporating it with the DNA of the new symbiotes, who would then be able to take the Unas as hosts. However, the process of acquiring it is difficult and unpleasant for the queens, because of how Unas procreate. To sum it up...our physiologies are simply badly matched. As a result, the 'civilized', star-faring Goa'uld were dying out. Then, about 8000 years ago, Ra came upon a planet with a primitive, humanoid species - the humans...you. You are a perfect match for us. Your bodies are very easy to repair, and with DNA acquired from this host species, the queens spawn symbiotes who always succeeds in taking a host. Getting the DNA is even easy and pleasant. You are also so much easier - and more pleasant - to live in...and so on. Your nervous systems and mind work as ours...*

*Yes, I get the point. In short - we are a dream house...I get it...*

*You are a perfect host-species, yes...and we should be grateful for it, not treating you like we do.* Jolinar pondered for a moment. *It was an immense advantage for Ra - he and his queens had great success. Their offspring took hosts and lived - and he gained more allies by making these good hosts available to everyone - and then selling some of the many humans as slaves, as well. While you are not as strong as the Unas, you are quite resilient, quick learners, agile...there are many advantages, not the least of which is that you breed well. Slowly, Ra schemed and maneuvered - and occasionally fought battles when he knew he could win. He is very intelligent - and ruthless. Now he is Supreme System Lord. The one everyone has to listen to - and who decides how everything is done, how Goa'uld society...our very way of life, is.*

*And now we are going to meet him...I'm not so sure I like that, but I suppose we have to. At least we will not have to stay long at his court, will we?*

*We do not. From what I have heard, that is also not something anyone wishes. Note, however, that it may take some time before we are allowed the audience, as he likes to make people wait. It makes them feel unimportant. He generally does not treat people well, not even his own family...and he suspects everyone. I feel sorry for his queen, especially the lower ones. Hathor, his first queen - and daughter - does not like her competitors.*

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Somewhat anxious, Arnora/Jolinar began their journey to meet Ra. The gate-addresses to most of his worlds were not common knowledge. This was no doubt a security measure, as Ra was known to be somewhat paranoid. Probably with good reason. Thus they had to travel in the way prescribed. First by their own ship to a predetermined planet. From there they were taken by gate to a secret world, and finally the last piece of the journey were done on board one of Ra's ships. For all they know, the planet could in reality be relatively close to the point of departure.

Finally, they arrived on the planet Ra was currently making his home on. He was very fond of this world and had spent the majority of his time on it since the Great Outrage - when human slaves had made an uprising on Earth and he had left.

Jolinar arrived with her servants following, bringing the gifts she had for Ra, as well as her relatively large luggage. As they were led up the broad road lined with tall trees, Jolinar studied her surroundings. To her left, she could see the outer parts of the famous palace gardens. They were large - covering almost 5000 acres. They were filled with exotic trees and plants, and a large number of smaller animals as well. She had heard much about their beauty, and hoped to get the opportunity to see them, and perhaps wander in them for a while.

Soon they got to the palace. It had been partly hidden behind the many large trees, but it was huge. Jolinar knew it had more than 1500 rooms. The outer facade were built partly from granite, and partly from marble and obsidian. The interior was constructed almost exclusively from semi-precious stones - onyx, obsidian, turquoise, malachite, jasper...much of it decorated with intricate gold designs.

The servants were admitted through a side door, while Jolinar was taken through the front gate and into a luxurious room where she was told to wait. She sat down on a soft, red velvet chair and looked around. The floors seemed to be made from jade, and the walls were covered with pictures and brocade tapestries. The illustrations were of historic battles and scenic views of the Tau'ri. Everything was heavily inlaid with gold. Looking up, she noticed that high over her head there was a domed illustration in obsidian and gold. It showed the sky with planets, stars, and other celestial bodies. Here and there stood small tables made from rosewood. On them were classic alabaster vases as well as beautifully painted porcelain figurines, no doubt imported from Lord Yu's domain.

*A bit much, don't you think?* Arnora commented dryly.

*I agree - it is tasteless. But Goa'uld art is not exactly known for its subtlety, and Ra would have to go to extremes for it to be noticed. Besides, this will likely quickly be popular among those who follow the modern styles - just as the fashion at the court is always copied.*

*Yes, I've noticed your fascination...*

Jolinar blushed shortly before she got the reaction under control *If I am ever to be one of the major System Lords, I will have to behave - and dress the part.*

*And that is the only reason, of course...wait...you want to be a major System Lord?*

*Yes. Did we not agree that the current way of the Goa'uld is wrong?*

*We did, but I thought you meant nothing could be done about it.*

*Hmmm. Perhaps I did. I have changed my mind, though. I believe I can change it, if I am but powerful enough...*

Arnora mentally rolled her eyes. *Oh, so now you wish to be Supreme System Lord? Good luck with that!*

*Quiet! Someone is coming. I need to concentrate on behaving correctly. For now, at least, Ra need to believe I am trustworthy...*

A small group of people came into the room, following a lo'tar. He went over to Jolinar, stopping at a respectful distance and bowing.

"Ra is unfortunately busy and will be so for the rest of the day. Regrettably, you shall have to return tomorrow, when he may be able to find time in his busy schedule. Also, there will be a celebration tomorrow, in honor of Ra's newest queen's first batch of larvae. You are invited to attend, of course."

"I quite understand. I shall return tomorrow, and I will of course attend the celebration. It is a great honor, which I am thankful for."

*Wonderful...now we have to stay another day - and we even have to attend a dreary party. Jolinar, can't we just say we need to be somewhere else?*

*That would be a grave insult! We cannot reject his invitation.*

A servant led them to one of the luxurious guest rooms. It was richly decorated and had expensive, comfortably looking furniture. When the slave had left, they sat for a moment looking at their surroundings. On the nearest table was a large platter with various fruits, as well as a pitcher containing some sort of sparkling fruit wine.

*At least the place looks nice...* Arnora commented. *The bed looks very appealing - maybe we should take a nap after eating some of the fruit?*

*Ra is knows for his luxurious palaces. It is not because he really has any great wish to treat us nicely, though, he merely wishes to make sure all his underlings are suitably impressed and appeased.* She sighed. *But for now there is little to do except relax and wait. I agree, we should enjoy ourselves.*

*I just thought of something...is the food and drink safe to consume, or could it be poisoned?*

*I doubt very much anyone would dare disgrace Ra by assassinating someone in his palace. It would be a grave insult indeed, and would instantly make the guilty part hunted by all Goa'uld. No one would dare do that - and Ra himself has no reason to. It would also be an insult to even suggest something like that. We either risk it and eat the food - and I think it a negligible risk - or we wait for our own slaves to arrive here with my clothing and other things. Besides, Ra has a sarcophagus, so you need not worry.*

*You know well I don't like you using your slaves as food tasters.*

*We have no sarcophagus yet - nor does that truly guard against all poisons. It is regrettable that I have to use the slaves sometimes, but I have enemies. Until that changes...besides, I only very rarely use food tasters.*

*Partly because doing so openly could cause doubt about your status as a god - yes, I know.*

*You know well that I don't have any illusions that I am a god - but my people have to believe, or...*

They were interrupted by a knock on the door, which Jolinar quickly answered, happy not to have to continue this discussion.

"Enter."

A group of slaves came in, led by her lo'tar. "My Lord, we bring you your luggage - as well as the honourable Kepi."

"Give me Kepi and place the luggage beside my bed, then leave me."

*You have decided to not have someone else taste the food first?*

*Yes - I must have a reckless nature...*