"Hurry up!" Daniel yelled, as yet another explosion was heard from the depths of the ship.
"I am attempting to do so!" Lantash exclaimed, frustrated. He suddenly figured out how the controls worked, and hit the buttons, then sprinted for the rings where the others were waiting. "Got it!"
He had just taken his place, when the rings came up around them. The last thing they noticed before being transported to the planet, was the explosions reaching the ring transportation room.
They materialized on the planet below, inside a room. The place looked deserted, and had signs of having been looted.
"It looks like there's been fighting here." Daniel observed. "Are you sure this place is safe?" He looked at the rubble in the corridor they were walking through.
"Reasonably sure. No Goa'uld owns it, and it was not marked as being an Ori world, when I ordered the ship to fly here," Martouf said. "Last time the Tok'ra visited, Jaffa had raided the castle and the cities near the Stargate. It is not unusual, when the Goa'uld owning a planet is suddenly killed." He bowed his head, letting Lantash come fore.
"At least this planet has not had large, easily accessible deposits of naquadah, gold, or other valuables. The population here has not been working solely in mining, building, or whatever, but has produced their own food. Many of the worlds which are now free, are starving, or fighting amongst themselves. They have no food production, having imported that from other worlds - and also no functioning leadership."
"That sounded very bitter." Sam looked at him, surprised.
"You must admit they're better off without the Goa'uld!" Daniel said.
"Yes and no. The Goa'uld are evil, oppressive rulers, but removing them from power must be done in such a way as to minimize any negative effects on their subjects, if at all possible. The Tau'ri may have succeeded in killing off most of the Goa'uld, and while that is a good thing, you have not thought about the consequences to the worlds which have not ruled themselves in a long time, if ever. Planets which have no food production, because all was imported so they could spend all their time mining, or whatever they were forced to. People who genuinely believed the Goa'uld were gods, because they had no way of knowing different. There are hundreds of these worlds - the populations are desolate, starving, dying - ready to embrace whomever comes to them and offers to lead them. Whomever comes to them, pretending to be gods, and promises salvation."
"Such as the Ori."
"Yes." Lantash sighed. "The Tok'ra has tried to help these people, but it is difficult. They are suspicious. If the Tok'ra openly admit to being Tok'ra, the population will suspect a Goa'uld trap. Pretending to be humans invariably makes people ask who we are and how - and why - we would help. Aside from that, they are so many, and their need is so great. The Tok'ra has managed to help only a fraction - and the Tau'ri have not listened when we have approached them about it." He shook his head. "Never mind. Having lived among the Tau'ri, and fought alongside you for several years now, I do understand. You try to help, but your ways are different. However, I am Tok'ra, and I sometimes wish things could have been done in another way."
Sam nodded. "I guess we do have a tendency to bumble along and not really think much about the consequences." She suddenly frowned, looking more closely at the hallway they were currently passing through. "I recognize this...but I don't think we've had a mission here, have we?"
"No, not one I've been on, that's for sure," Daniel said.
"I really get the feeling I've been here before...I wonder if Jolinar ever visited this place?"
"Jolinar certainly has been here many times before," Lantash told them. "Cava was one of three planets, which constituted the last of Egeria's small domain. Ra allowed her to keep them, even after she turned against him, probably because there is little of value here. There is naquadah, but it cannot be mined without advanced machinery, which the Goa'uld do not wish to let their slaves use. In any case, this was the place where the early Tok'ra hid, after Jolinar's empire fell."
Sam nodded. "Of course, I remember some of it now."
"Lantash, if you've been here, you know the shortest way to the Stargate, right?" Mitchell said. "We should probably leave as quickly as possible, before the Ori decide to send someone down here to make sure if we really were killed or if we perhaps didn't escape before our ship exploded."
"I have never been here before, but I do have knowledge about the planet in my genetic memory. The world was eventually retaken by Ra - maybe 350 years ago, but by then it had not been used for centuries. The Tok'ra did not use this planet after Egeria was lost to us, and as most of you know, I was in her last batch of larvae."
"The world was sacred to you." Daniel realized.
"Not in so many words, but...yes, in a way. It was Egeria's planet, and the first world for my people to seek refuge on, after they had been forced to begin fighting in secret instead of openly. In a way, the beginning of the life we have lived ever since, even if there were no underground bases yet. Though, I believe some of the first were eventually built here."
"Then I'm sorry the palace looks like this." Sam gave Lantash a reassuring smile.
"Thank you, but it does not truly bother me," he said, his expression belying his words. "In any case, Egeria's legacy is not dependent on a specific place."
They stepped out on the courtyard and immediately noticed a large crevice running across the ground, all the way through one of the walls and out as far as they could see, widening out.
"Earthquake?" Daniel wondered.
"Looks that way - though since this isn't Earth, it wouldn't be an earthquake," Sam said. "I think it happened not too long ago. The plants growing in the cleft are not well established. Look - this tree is probably no more than a couple years old."
"I agree. It's strange, though, as this area has always been geologically stable." Lantash frowned.
They jumped across the gap in a place where it was narrow, and left the courtyard through a smaller door beside the large gate. Outside, there were more evidence of a quake - or actually several quakes. Wide crevices, ruined buildings, fallen trees - were everywhere. In many places the road was undermined, or had disappeared completely. Finally they came to a point where they could no longer continue - a large chasm stretched before them, with no clear way around it. It looked deep and treacherous, and it was obvious it would be impossible to cross it without equipment they did not have. They had to find another way.
"The chaapa'ai is at most a mile away, in that direction." Lantash pointed. "It should be just behind the small forest."
"On the other side of the chasm." Sam added.
"Yes, unfortunately." He admitted.
"Is there a village on this side of that thing?" Mitchell asked.
"There should be one not far from the castle, in the direction opposite of where we went."
"Okay, let's go see if they know what's happened here - and if there's another way to the Stargate."