Reviews


[ Chapter 1: Captured | Chapter 2: Surprises | Chapter 3: The City | Chapter 4: Hiding in the Mountains | Chapter 5: The Attack | Chapter 6: Prisoners and Slaves | Chapter 7: Blended | Chapter 8: Thunderstorm | Chapter 9: Another Goa'uld - and a Tok'ra | Chapter 10: Free at Last | Chapter 11: To Earth | Chapter 12: Enemies and Friends | Chapter 13: Selmak | Chapter 14: Mates ]

As they continued walking in the direction they hoped would lead them to a city, Rosha told them about the Tok'ra and how they were different from the Goa'uld. They finally arrived at the outskirts of a large city, shortly before dawn. SG-1 was beginning to believe Rosha was telling the truth, even if they were still somewhat suspicious. The whole idea of 'good' Goa'uld was so strange that it would take some time to accept.

"We need different clothing." Rosha observed.

"Agreed. Maybe we can steal something nice from someones clothes line." O'Neill suggested.

"I brought a small amount of valuables - gold, silver, and some jewels. We will trade some of that for clothing, food, and lodging. We will need a safe place to hide for some time. Stolen clothes may be recognized and thus call attention to us, so that should be avoided." Rosha explained.

"OK. Makes sense, I guess." O'Neill shrugged.

They hid in some bushes near the city wall, until the people inside began to wake up. Sam, having been chosen for the task, entered the city, wearing Rosha's cloak around her uniform. If she kept it wrapped closely around her, no one could see her BDUs underneath.

She found a store that sold clothing, and bought enough for all of them. As Rosha had suggested, she chose outfits that were neither the fanciest, nor the poorest looking. If they were to rent a room at a guesthouse or an inn, they could not show up looking like beggars. On the other hand, if they appeared to be even slightly well-off, they would call attention to themselves on any Goa'uld world. It would be best to look like peasants or travelling craftsmen.

Sam hurried back to the others and they all changed into the local clothing. They buried their own clothes, making sure to hide all traces of them. They could not be caught wearing anything that looked like uniforms here.

After their long journey through the forest at nighttime, they looked sufficiently scruffy for it to be conceivable they had travelled a long way - which they actually had. The clothing, however, were new and clean. Following Rosha's suggestion, they all dusted themselves with sand and dirt, and rumpled the clothing somewhat. This made it look more used. They all wore cloaks, which would serve well for hiding various things under. There was a hood attached, which Teal'c pulled up to hide his tattoo.

O'Neill hid the zat'nik'tel in a pocket, while Sam kept the hand device - despite Rosha's complaints that someone who could actually use it should carry it. They did not trust her that much yet, so her arguments fell on deaf ears.

-
They soon walked along the narrow streets of a fairly large city. It seemed to be built in greco-roman style. They felt as if they had been transported back in time. It was strange to watch people go about their daily life, dressed in clothing that would fit in a movie about ancient Rome.

Daniel was itching to be allowed to study the rather large temple they passed, talking about all he could learn if he were just allowed to go there for a few hours. He could barely contain himself when he saw a group of priestesses going to perform some sort of ritual. A working temple! O'Neill and Rosha took turns trying to convince him it was a bad idea, and he eventually relented - for now, at least. He gave the temple one last longing look and sighed as he followed the others towards an eatery they had spotted.

No one had stopped them, and apart from a few curious looks, no one seemed to be paying much attention to the group.

They went into the establishment and sat down. They had chosen a somewhat secluded corner of the room. A servant appeared almost immediately and took their orders. It was now nearly midday and this place only offered one dish for this meal. It turned out to be some sort of soup with large pieces of vegetables and what looked like potatoes. With this they were served a hard but tasty bread, and cheese. Both of these were supposed to be dipped in the soup.

Together with the food was served a kind of thin beer, which the other patrons were drinking. Rosha and SG-1 ordered that as well, except for Teal'c, who asked for water instead. They looked a little strangely at him, especially since he insisted on keeping his hood on, which covered most of his face, but they gave him what he wanted. Fortunately, they were a little early for the noon meal, and there were few others in the inn. This also meant they would be able to talk relatively unhindered.

"Centuries ago on Earth - well, in some places at least - the water was often contaminated and unhealthy to drink. Because of that, everyone, including children, drank weak beer instead." Daniel explained.

"Ah. That's probably why they looked so strangely at Teal'c." O'Neill turned to the Jaffa. "I know you're probably immune to whatever's in the water - and I know you don't like alcohol, but we shouldn't do anything that causes people to...notice us, you know. I think you really should drink the beer."

"Yeah, it's not very strong or anything." Sam added.

"Jaffa does not indulge in alcohol. Ever." Teal'c insisted.

"His standpoint does have merit. The Jaffa have been genetically engineered to not get intoxicated from alcohol. It will have no effect, unless consumed in large quantities, in which case they will immediately get very sick, but not drunk. However, Teal'c, I assure you the quantity needed for you to be adversely affected by this brew probably supersedes what you can contain. At any rate, your prim'ta will filter most of it out. You can safely consume it, and this will avoid us drawing unwanted attention." Rosha explained.

Teal'c looked at her with some surprise.

"Thank you. It is valuable information. I do not believe any Jaffa know this. We have only been told we will not get intoxicated, but will get vilely ill. Of course, you would know. I should have realised."

"Why would the Goa'uld do such a thing?" Daniel wondered.

"It was done in order to assure a strong fighting force that was never incapacitated by alcohol and was always ready for battle, should it be needed. It is for the same reason the Jaffa were engineered in such a way as to not need sleep, but only kel'no'reem from time to time." Rosha told them.

"Not surprising. Damn snakes!" O'Neill said angrily. "They don't give a damn about anyone but themselves!"

Since they had finished eating, they decided to leave before drawing any further attention to themselves. The place was starting to get full and their seats were immediately taken when they left.

They walked through the narrow streets for some time before they found an inn. The place seemed clean, but poor. It would do nicely as a place to hide, fitting their assumed personae.

Using invented names, they rented two small, connected rooms. They made sure the innkeeper heard they were in the city looking for work, so he would not get suspicious at their reasons for staying there.

They immediately went up to the rooms, in order to have the privacy to make plans to get away from the planet, and out of Cronos's domain.

"If we had our GDOs we could go to Earth..." O'Neill sent Rosha a dirty look, "...however, someone took them away from us, so now that's not an option."

"I do not know what GDOs are, but we brought all the things taken from you on the Alkesh. Jolinar had it moved there before going to free you. I am sure I do not need to remind you we were shot down, and that is the reason I cannot give you any of those things back." Rosha sounded angry.

"Besides, we couldn't get to the stargate anyway - not while they're searching for us, so it doesn't matter right now." Daniel said, trying to mediate.

Rosha and O'Neill threw each other another unfriendly look, but said nothing further about the matter. Instead they continued trying to figure out what to do. However, they had not been working on their plans for very long, when Rosha gasped and grabbed the table hard.

"What's wrong?" Sam asked, concerned. She - as well as her team mates - no longer truly suspected Rosha of lying. They were still apprehensive and uneasy at the thought of a host - and especially a symbiote - among them, but they were well on the way to trusting Rosha. They no longer doubted she was the host and not the symbiote trying to trick them.

"Jolinar..." Rosha looked up, smiling happily now. "She is waking up - and she is feeling much better."

The others looked at her a little strangely. They did not know what to say or feel - fear, surprise, relief, even a strange happiness since Rosha was so obviously elated and relieved. It was hard not to believe it was genuine. This, too, proved to them that a Tok'ra was very different from a Goa'uld. That they really had willing hosts - hosts who loved them, even, and worried for them.

Rosha kept sitting there with a blank expression for some time. The members of SG-1 looked at her and then at each other, unsure of what to do.

A little while later, Rosha smiled at them again.

"I apologize...I was merely talking to Jolinar and letting her know the main things that has happened during the time she has been unconscious. She is currently going through my memories of the period for details, but she will be ready to talk to you in a moment..."

O'Neill made a face.

"I realise that is...effective, but I'd hate to have someone look through my memories!"

"We each have some private thoughts and memories, which the other respects as such and know not to look at. However, the longer you have been blended, the fewer those are." She considered how to make them understand. "It simply...ceases to be of importance."

Rosha then did something strange. She closed her eyes and bowed her head. A few short moments later she lifted it again. The expression on her face was now subtly...different.

"Hello, again."

The distortion was back in the voice and they immediately realised it was now the symbiote, Jolinar, who held control of the body.

"Eh, hi." Daniel lifted a hand and waved a little, feeling stupid.

"Hello, Jolinar of Malkshur. I am honoured to meet you." Teal'c surprised them all by saying.

"Teal'c...it pleases me to meet you as well. The choice to break from Apophis and no longer serve the false gods cannot have been an easy one. I salute you."

"OK. Enough with the mutual admiration club already. Do you have a plan to get us away from this place? Preferably without being captured by Cronos's Jaffa..." O'Neill said impatiently.

"Perhaps. That depends entirely on where we are. The first shot that hit us after dropping out of hyperspace damaged the navigation systems on the Alkesh, so I can not be certain of the planet. The first thing on our agenda should be to determine the name of this world, the city, and who is its local ruler."

"That makes sense. Carter and I will go out later today and ask some questions."

"Maybe I should go instead?" Daniel suggested, wanting a closer look at the temple and the city. "I know more about talking to people from foreign cultures and I'm...um..."

"More diplomatic? Yeah, well..."

"I am the logical choice." Jolinar said. "I have far more experience in infiltration on alien worlds, as well as knowledge about Goa'uld planets, than either of you could possibly have."

"That may be, but...no offense, but I doubt a Goa'uld is exactly the most...uh...low-key spy we could choose."

"I can easily pretend to be a human, and my host is as much a Tok'ra operative as I am, remember that...and please also remember...I am not Goa'uld!" Jolinar bristled.

"Perhaps, but you're not going!"

"You still do not trust me. Even after talking to Rosha as much as you have." Jolinar observed.

"No." O'Neill admitted. "But if it means anything, we're trusting you more than I'd ever expect I'd trust a Goa'uld...Tok'ra. In any case...Carter and Daniel goes."

-
Later in the afternoon, when most of the population had returned to their work and any Jaffa had left the eating places as well, Sam and Daniel went out into the city to gather information.

It would not do to just simply ask someone - it would surely rise suspicions. Who travelled to a planet without knowing the name of it? Did humans even travel to this world? Jolinar had suggested they probably did not. Human slaves - and Jaffa for that matter - usually were not allowed to leave their world without being ordered to by the local Goa'uld. Also, humans normally had no idea how to operate the Stargate.

In any case, whether these humans sometimes met travellers from other worlds or not, showing themselves to be foreigners was not a good idea when the Jaffa were looking for strangers. It was better to be careful and circumspect in their questions, even if it might be more difficult and time-consuming to get information that way.

Sam and Daniel decided they would be less conspicuous on their own, and so split up. They spent several hours walking the streets and visiting the inns; listening to people talking and trying to glean information. When they finally returned to their rooms at the inn, it was already dark. The others had ordered food sent to the room and it was waiting for them on a table. Tired, both sat down and looked hungrily at the food.

"So, did you get the information? Took you long enough!" O'Neill said, hiding the worry he had felt for his people behind his usual sarcasm.

"We did, actually." Daniel looked at Sam.

"Yes." Sam reached for a piece of bread, and gratefully accepted the bowl of gruel Jolinar handed her. "We split up and have spent the day hanging out at markets and inns. I'm fairly certain the name of the city is Ti'sianna. No clue on the planet, though."

"Does that mean anything to you?" O'Neill asked Jolinar.

"No, unfortunately not. I have never heard the name before."

"Go on." O'Neill nodded at Sam and Daniel.

"As I said, I didn't hear them mention the name of the planet - hardly surprising, I guess - and I couldn't think of any way to ask that wouldn't give us away as strangers. People seem...nervous, I guess. Probably because of the search going on. Daniel had more luck, though."

"Yes. I managed to get the name of the local Goa'uld - he's called Deimos. I wonder if he's anything like the Greek mythological..."

"I know something of him..." Jolinar interrupted, "...I have even met him. He is indeed one of Cronos's underlings. He rules over the world of Aeaea."

"Will he recognize you?" O'Neill asked.

"He may, yes. In any case, this is very bad news. Deimos is both very ambitious and very paranoid."

"Meaning?"

"He will do anything in order to gain favour from Cronos and perhaps receive a larger domain. He must not learn we are here! Also, his paranoia means he will have guards and probably spies everywhere. The chaapa'ai will be guarded night and day. It will be very very difficult to get away from this place, but we also dare not stay too long, least we be discovered."

"The stuff about lots of guards is true - I saw several Jaffa, something I thought was very strange. The city isn't that important, or do you think so?" Sam said.

"No, I agree. There are too many Jaffa in the streets, Rosha noticed that as well, when we arrived."

"Looking for us, no doubt." O'Neill grumbled.

"No doubt." Jolinar agreed.

"OK. Here's what we'll do. We'll stay a few days. Lie low. Then, when this Demon-fella moves his search elsewhere, we'll try to find the stargate."

"The chaapa'ai...Stargate, as you call it, is some distance away, but the signal is still noticeably, especially when there are few other distractions. I can tell the direction, of course, but not the exact distance. However, I estimate we should be able to reach it in 4-6 days, if we walk at a brisk pace for all the dark hours. We would need to hide - and sleep, of course - during day time."

"You can sense the stargate? Wicked!" O'Neill grinned.

"How does that work? Do you have instruments that detects it, or do you actually feel it, with your body, I mean?" Sam was immediately interested.

"We - symbiotes - have naquadah in our bloodstreams. Naquadah resonates with itself - we sense that resonance. It is not just the chaapa'ais we feel, but also other symbiotes, as well as various naquadah-powered technologies."

"Useful - that means you can tell if there's Jaffa approaching, as well, isn't that right?"

"Yes, and that is useful. However, all Goa'uld can sense each other, so if any of those are present, they will detect me as well. That is normally not a problem, though. When we go undercover, we either pretend to be a Goa'uld, in which case the energy signature merely is one of the things that means we can actually pull it off successfully - or we pretend to be a human, usually in a place where Goa'uld would rarely come, so we are safe there as well. The Jaffa cannot sense us, fortunately."

"OK. So, we wait a few days, then walk to the stargate, hiding during daytime. We'll find a way to handle any guards when we get there. Easy plan! Now, let's eat!" O'Neill grabbed one of the earthen-ware bowls and filled it with the gruel.

-
After eating, Teal'c went into the other room to kel'no'reem, while the others prepared for sleep. Sam or O'Neill would stand guard until Teal'c finished his meditation, whereupon he would take over.

"I guess you don't want me to take a turn at standing guard, am I not correct?"

"No offense...I do believe you're no ordinary Goa'uld. I may even believe your host is a willing one, and it's really her we heard before. Can't say I understand why anyone would wanna do something like that, but that's no business of mine..."

"But you still suspect me. I can understand that. I would behave likewise, where our roles reversed. So, no offense taken." Jolinar smiled a little.

"I'm taking first watch. 2 hours. If you want to you can keep me company - unless you want to go kel'no'reem or whatever it is you do. If you need any rest, that is." Sam said.

Jolinar grinned. "We are not genetically engineered. We need to sleep, just like you do - and for about the same amount of time, unless a sarcophagus is used. However, if it is necessary, a Tok'ra host and symbiote can take turns sleeping, for a while at least. We much prefer sleeping at the same time, though, and it is also much more restful."

"Oh. How would a Goa'uld handle that? I mean, what if the host wakes up first. That'd be bad, wouldn't it?"

"For the Goa'uld, yes. However, they generally use a sarcophagus, in which case they only need an hour or so of rest per day - and there is no risk of the host doing anything in the meantime. If they do not have that option, they have to either put the host into so deep a sleep that it does not wake up until they do, or keep the control over the host while they sleep. It is somewhat less restful, but it is possible."

"Of course, you don't have any such problems, even if you don't have a sarc. Neat!"

"Correct - and we do not use the sarcophagus. We believe it takes away the good in your heart. It is partly why the Goa'uld are as bad as they are."

"That's interesting, but I've used it before without any ill effects." Daniel said. He had heard them talk together in low voices, and decided to join the discussion.

"Oh, hi, Daniel. Couldn't sleep?" Sam smiled.

"The negative effect is negligible and temporary if you only use it rarely - and only when you truly need it, for healing and resurrection. The worst problems are seen after repetitive use by someone who is already healthy. Since it causes both addiction and euphoria - among other things - many will use it again and again if they have access to it. It is so addictive and alluring, that we dare not allow use of it even for healing or resurrection."

"Interesting..." Sam said, "...lucky we don't have one on Earth. I can think of a few people who might misuse it."

They spent a while longer talking, before Jolinar and Daniel went to sleep. O'Neill was already snoring. Sam joined the others some time later, when Teal'c had finished his kel'no'reem and took over the guard duty.

-
Next day. They had ordered breakfast delivered, and were currently sitting around the table. The breakfast was not much different from the other meals of the day. Like the evening meal, it consisted of gruel, albeit made of a different grain. This was more similar to millet, where the evening gruel had been made of barley. The bread was slightly less hard - probably because it was newly baked. The cheese seemed fresher as well.

"What I wouldn't give for a cup of coffee!" Sam said, looking abysmally down into her mug of thin beer.

"Hear, hear!" Daniel said, sleepily. His eyes were only partly open, and he looked as if he wanted to go back to sleep again. "This beer isn't exactly my idea of a refreshing drink."

"Stop whining!" O'Neill grinned. "It's a nice day outside - and you're complaining about the lack of coffee."

"Indeed. It cannot be healthy to imbibe something containing stimulants on a regular basis." Teal'c added.

"You like coffee?" Jolinar wondered.

"Yes, do you know of it?" Sam looked suddenly alert.

"We encountered it once when we were undercover at the court of the Goa'uld Adro. It is popular among the people of some of his worlds. I never cared much for it, though. It is bitter, and as Teal'c says, it contains a stimulant. I agree that it should not be necessary to drink something like that." Rosha said. "Though I suppose it could be useful for waking up one's symbiote..."

"Jolinar's asleep?" Sam wondered.

"Yes, she is tired from yesterday. It took a lot out of her to heal the injuries from the crash."

Sam nodded. "I can understand. Poor her."

O'Neill thoughtfully dipped his bread in the porridge, made a face at it and took a bite. When he had chewed it for a while and managed to swallow it, he turned to Daniel.

"There's something I've been thinking about...how did you get the name of the local snake here? Waited for someone to mention him accidentally?"

"No. They kept referring to him as 'our Lord' - when they even mentioned him. First I tried finding something in the culture to identify him by, but all I learned is that it's related to Greek culture, which isn't particularly surprising, considering Cronos is..."

"Yes, that's fine, Daniel, but what did you do?"

"I simply asked why they only referred to 'our Lord' as that, and didn't use his name. They looked at me as if I was strange, but they still didn't mention the Goa'uld's name. Or say anything else, for that matter. So, I kinda pressed on and...you know...challenged them to not be afraid and try and say his name."

"I'm not sure that was such a great idea, but what did they say?"

"Um...well, they replied that if I desired to hear it spoken out loud, then I could just say it myself, if I thought I was safe from bad luck. They seemed to think I was trying to get them into trouble or something. By this time I realised I was drawing a bit of attention, so I said that of course I didn't want to say his name, and that I was just kidding. Then one of them - a very young boy - suddenly stepped forward and asked me if I had forgotten that his name was Deimos. The others reacted badly and started to hush him and tell him it was incredibly bad luck to say his name out loud and what not. However, this gave me the opportunity to get away, and no one followed, so I think we're safe."

"That was very unfortunate." Rosha said, gravely. "There are only few worlds were the mere mentioning of the name of the ruling Goa'uld is considered bad luck. Usually it is only in cases where he or she is even more ruthless than normal, or extremely paranoid, having spies everywhere. The locals fear mentioning their 'god's' name will draw unwanted attention to them."

"Yes. They did react as if that was the case here."

Rosha nodded, "As Jolinar told you yesterday, Deimos is a very paranoid Goa'uld with many guards and he probably has spies spread out through the population. If one of those witnessed Doctor Jackson's little performance, then I fear we may soon find ourselves pursued."

"Listen, I didn't know they would be all weirded out over their god's name, for God's sake!"

Rosha studied him thoughtfully, pondering what he had just said. She took at deep breath.

"Be that as it may - we are no longer safe here. We should..."

"Never mind. What is done is done. We'll just have to hope no one noticed. We'll wait it out as we had decided to - sooner or later it'll all quiet down. Then we can leave. End of story. I'm going to go and take a nap." O'Neill announced.

Rosha looked as if she wanted to say something, but then her eyes flared as Jolinar took over.

"If you insist on being fools, will you at least give me back the hand device. We only have two weapons, and none of you can use that one."

"...And a good morning to you too...by the way, can't you just teach us?" O'Neill said, still loathe to give a weapon to a Goa'uld - good or not.

"No. You need to have naquadah in your blood in order to activate it."

"Oh...that's interesting!" Sam said.

"It is the case for much Goa'uld technology. That way you will not only not risk any of your servants taking it and using it against you, the very fact that they cannot use it will enforce the belief it is 'Goa'uld magic'."

"Very true. Ingenious - and devious, at the same time." Sam nodded.

O'Neill sighed and made a decision.

"OK. I guess I can trust you to fight on our side in this case. You'll get the ribbon-thingie if we're attacked. If!"

"An enemy might attack before there is time for you to graciously give me back my hand device. It would not be in my best interest to betray you - have I not explained this with sufficient clarity? I am a Tok'ra. The Goa'uld hate me more than they hate even the shol'va Teal'c."

"Yes, so you said...and if you're actually one of these Tok'ra - provided they even exist - then you're completely right. It wouldn't be in your interest to betray us. However, people don't always do what's in their best interest. Besides, this could all be an elaborate Goa'uld plot for all I know." He shrugged. "I'm sorry, but I must protect my people."

"A plot? In order to gain what?" Jolinar scoffed. "And letting me have a weapon and be able to defend us all is in the best interest of your people. We are all best protected when as many as possible of us are armed and prepared to fight!"

"It'll be as I say!" O'Neill got up and walked towards the sleeping area. "And now I really will be taking that nap. Be nice, kids!"

Jolinar looked after him in confusion.

"I am not a 'kid' - neither is Rosha. We are both significantly older than the rest of you, with the possible exception of Teal'c. Does he not know this?"

"He knows. It's just - his way of speaking. You'll get used to it, if you end up staying with us for a longer time. And don't take what he says too seriously. It's not that he doesn't trust you, not really. It's just his way." Daniel said, smiling a little.

"Yeah, if he didn't trust you, he'd have you tied up and guarded. Don't worry, he'll come around."

Jolinar nodded. "I feel much relieved." The expression on her face hinted that she was not being serious. "Now, I would like to go for a round in the city and see if I can learn anything - detect any danger. Is this permitted?"

"Eh..." Daniel looked uncomfortably at Sam, unsure what to say.

"Yes, go ahead!" O'Neill shouted from the bed, having apparently been listening to their conversation.

"Thank you..." Jolinar bowed her head in mock respect. "I promise I shall be back before the evening meal..."

Sam and Daniel tried to hide their laughter. O'Neill snorted at them all and pulled the blanket up, trying to hide under it.

Jolinar grabbed her cloak and pulled it around her before going outside. She took some of the valuables she had brought and put into a pocket. She then gave Rosha control, preferring not to impersonate her host, unless it was absolutely necessary. They both took a few moments to prepare themselves before going out into the city. It was important to take on the personae they would be playing, as closely as possible. Ready, they went out to inspect their surroundings and judge the danger.

-
*Finally! They were driving me crazy with their lack of trust!*

*It was aggravating, that is true, but you cannot truly blame them for their suspicion. The concept of a 'good Goa'uld' is a strange one, and even if their minds believe, we must wait for their hearts to follow.* Rosha pointed out.

Jolinar sighed. *Ever patient and rational...you are correct, of course.*

They walked about in the streets of the city for several hours, taking care to appear to just be a woman doing some shopping.

*There really are unusually many Jaffa - even for a Goa'uld as paranoid as Deimos.* Rosha commented.

*Yes, I agree. It is as we feared. They are looking for someone. Notice how scared the population looks? This is obviously worse than normally.*

*I wonder if they actually know we are in this city, or if they merely suspect it. It is unfortunate we do not know if the people here have been told anything.*

*Perhaps we should simply inquire, then? Surely they have not been officially informed about us - no Goa'uld would do that. There might be some useful gossip.*

Rosha considered this. She made a decision. *I believe you are correct. I agree, we should attempt to inquire, but carefully!*

*Of course, have I ever been anything but patient and diplomatic?* Jolinar smiled mentally. *Though I admit it might be a good thing it is you who will be doing the talking.*

Rosha snorted. *Patient and diplomatic! You would not know the meaning of those two words, if your life depended on it!*

She scanned the area and picked a salesman who was peddling some kind of fruit. She went there and joined the small crowd that was gathering, talking together in low voices.

Rosha greeted them politely, smiling to them. She picked up a few of the fruits and examined them carefully. They turned out to be some kind of oranges. After studying them for a little while, hoping people might say something useful, she bought a large bag of the oranges. She then went on to inquire the salesman about the best place to buy fine cloth. She told him she came from a village behind the mountains, and was looking for the special cloth they sold here, as her best friend was getting married.

The crowd had stopped talking when she approached, since they did not know her. They had said nothing while she examined the fruit, but they had apparently now decided she was harmless and had begun to talk again. Perhaps the little story about her looking for something nice to wear for her friend's wedding had worked. They had clearly been listening.

Before Rosha left the fruit stand, she turned to the group of people chatting.

"I apologize for intruding upon you, but do you know why there are so many Jaffa here? I do not remember ever seeing so many before in one place! Of course, I have not been to the large city before, so..." She said in a low voice, looking shyly around her. "They are not here looking for slaves, or hunting for hosts, are they?" She added, fearfully.

"Do not worry, my child. They do not seem to be rounding up people. Rumour has it renegades are hiding in this part of the world, perhaps even in our city. The Jaffa are merely looking for those." An elderly woman told her, smiling kindly at her.

"Well, they won't be renegades for much longer - the Jaffa are very effective and they always seem to know everything that is going on." One of the men said, giving her a meaningful look. "A stranger such as yourself should be careful."

"Thank you for your kind advice. I will be. I do not intend to stay longer than it takes me to buy some fine cloth." She bowed lightly. "Good day, good people." She left.

*So, they are looking for us...just as we assumed.* Rosha sighed.

*Yes, that was to be expected. We also got confirmation that this city is full of informers - this is not a good place to stay.*

*At least they did not seem to find us suspicious.*

*No, I am fairly certain we were dismissed as harmless - if there were even informers among that group, which I consider unlikely.*

*But Daniel Jackson's clumsy questioning about the name of their Lord...*

*Yes, I fear that could very well have drawn the wrong kind of attention...*

*At least the many Jaffa here means there are many energy signals from symbiotes to hide among - even if it also makes it harder for us to be on guard - if we should be deemed worthy of...other kinds of hunters...*

*Surely you do not think Deimos would waste his resources on an ashrak just for this?* Jolinar sounded sceptical.

*Maybe not Deimos, but Cronos looks very stringently on traitors - and all Goa'uld hate Tok'ra. Cronos may well decide it is worth it. It is probably too soon, but the earlier we can leave this city, the better.*

*Ever careful, but I agree with you, Rosha. It is not safe here. Now, if we could only convince the Tau'ri to listen to reason...*

They had been walking to the cloth story they had been recommended. It was the safest thing to do, if they were followed. They had reached it now, and entered. After spending some time looking at the merchandise, they purchased a bolt of the finest cloth for dresses.

Afterwards, they slowly made their way back to the inn where they were staying. The bolt was heavy, and though it was no problem for a blended human to carry it, a normal human of Rosha's size and build would have a hard time with it. They had said no to the store's offer to bring it to the inn - where she had said she was staying with family - it was too risky to let them go there with her, should they notice something about SG-1 they found suspicious. Thus, they walked slowly instead, pretending to be heavily burdened by the cloth.

It was almost evening, and it would be dark soon. This meant anyone following her would find it sensible she chose to stay until morning, before setting out on a long journey back to a village behind the mountains. Fortunately, this inn was one of only two in the city, and by far the cheapest of the two, so it was also the expected place for her to go. No one would suspect anything. If anyone even followed her. She was fairly certain that was not the case.

Back at the inn, SG-1 had just ordered dinner to be brought up - for all of them. If they were surprised to see her back they did not show it. Sam even gave her a small smile when she greeted her. They were definitely beginning to trust her, which was a great relief to both Rosha and Jolinar. It was tiresome and unpleasant to be distrusted.

Rosha told them what had transpired and what she had learned, She again suggested they should at the very least move somewhere else - perhaps to the other guesthouse, if not leave the city.

After some discussion they ended up deciding to stay for tonight. They would go to the other inn tomorrow morning, dressed in different clothing. There they would stay for another day or at most two. If the Goa'uld had not called of the search by then, or at least moved it elsewhere, they would take their chances anyway, travelling by night.

Jolinar and Rosha reluctantly agreed to the plan. At least O'Neill had relented and given her back the hand device. She felt safer having a weapon, should someone make a surprise attack on them.


<< Back to Chapter 2 | Forward to Chapter 4 >>