Chapter 11 summary: Being in Oceanus's former host turns out to be impossible, and the Tok'ra have to find a solution - quickly.
[ Chapter 1: Goodbyes | Chapter 2: An Audience | Chapter 3: A Conspiracy | Chapter 4: Promotion | Chapter 5: Minor System Lord | Chapter 6: An Old Acquaintance | Chapter 7: Diversions | Chapter 8: Plans | Chapter 9: Happy Moments | Chapter 10: Culmination | Chapter 11: Complications | Chapter 12: Daily Life | Chapter 13: Exposed | Chapter 14: A New Host - and a New Master | Chapter 15: New Challenges | Chapter 16: A Necessary Sacrifice | Chapter 17: Information Gathering | Chapter 18: A Surprise Visit | Chapter 19: Bad News | Chapter 20: War and Power | Chapter 21: Emergencies | Chapter 22: Found Out | Chapter 23: In the Tunnels | Chapter 24: Undercover at Bastet's Court | Chapter 25: Discovered! | Chapter 26: Rosha | Chapter 27: Host | Chapter 28: Getting Along | Chapter 29: Safe | Chapter 30: Lantash | Chapter 31: Shared Missions | Chapter 32: Taking A Chance | Chapter 33: Danger and Betrayal | Chapter 34: Some Realizations | Chapter 35: Hiding | Chapter 36: Time for the Truth | Chapter 37: Home | Chapter 38: Together | Chapter 39: Martouf ]
"Malek? Are you ready? Will you be able to play the role of Oceanus believably?" Jolinar asked, concerned.
Malek had asked to be alone with his host, and had been so for the last many hours.
Now, though, there were matters to attend to. One of Oceanus's underlings had arrived, bringing important information. They would not be able to stall him for long without raising suspicion.
Worse, Cronus had sent a message that he would be arriving in ten days, in order to properly celebrate the victory in the war. Oceanus was going to be praised, and rewarded - most likely with a greater personal domain.
Cronus would stay for three days. It would be the true test of Malek's skills, to see if he could convince him that he was his brother.
"Malek?" Jolinar repeated, knocking gently on the door this time, and quickly checking no one saw her. It would look suspicious indeed for her to knock on the door to the quarters assigned to her.
Eventually, the door opened, and Malek stepped aside to let her in. He looked harried.
"Jolinar..." He acknowledged, then shook his head, as a partial answer. "This will be more difficult than we had anticipated. This host - Sekar - is not only mad from the many times he has been in the sarcophagus, but he is also deeply traumatized. It would seem Oceanus has 'allowed' him to experience most of his atrocities. Kept him suppressed, but not really blocked. For thousands of years! Highly unusual - and cruel."
Jolinar gasped. "Oh, no!"
Malek nodded. "I am afraid he is by now quite evil himself, though I am not really sure he is sane enough to be considered that. In any case - hardly a surprise. I have put him to sleep. I cannot reach him, which is to be expected. I cannot even begin to imagine the horrors of having experienced all a Goa'uld does - and much of what he thinks, too. To feel it all, but never be able to do anything. Did he begin to feel it was himself? Some part of him? No one should have had to experience this. Most Goa'uld at least block their hosts out completely much of the time, but Oceanus seems to have derived pleasure from his host's shock and suffering. As it took more and more to get that reaction from Sekar, Oceanus went to ever greater lengths to achieve it." Malek shook his head again. "As it is, it will make it much easier for me to get to Oceanus's secrets - and to pretend to be him - since Sekar experienced it, and thus has the memories of it."
"Then our plan may yet succeed." Jolinar smiled bleakly.
"Yes...however, I...I do not believe I will be able to remain sane myself for long, if I stay in him. My only option is to suppress him completely and take what I need from his mind. Tear it from him, without consent. It is distasteful." Malek spat, looking disgusted.
"Take what you need - we will find you another host and let poor Sekar's sufferings end."
Malek nodded. "It would be the merciful thing to do, but how can I impersonate Oceanus, then? Claiming he took a new host while no one looked may be a bit of a stretch, when my impersonation will probably be a little off as well."
"Yes, however, I think I have an idea for that. What if the transfer was not without reliable witnesses? What if Cronus was present?"
The Tok'ra hurried to carry out Jolinar's plan. Ten days was not much time to take care of it all, especially since there were several things they needed to do. Things that would normally have taken months - if they were lucky."
Another problem soon surfaced; the withdrawal symptoms Sekar - and thus Malek - suffered were many times worse than what they had expected. Malek fought against the sarcophagus addiction constantly for the first week, and was only able to show himself rarely during that time, and only with much help from the Tok'ra healer.
It was very difficult for Malek to control the symptoms, and it was more than one time they caught him just in time to stop him from using the sarcophagus, and so they made sure always to have one of the Tok'ra stationed there. Finally, the day before Cronus would arrive, the symptoms began to diminish, and he was able to suppress most of it, aided by a drug Ta'seem gave him.
Despite it all, the Tok'ra had everything ready when Cronus arrived. The Goa'uld System Lord had a rather large entourage, consisting of his queen Rhea, of course, several underlings, and a few of the more important allies.
Malek managed it through the first day without Cronus suspecting anything, and without anyone noticing his discomfort. He began to believe he might actually succeed in impersonating Oceanus.
On the evening of the next day, the first part of the big celebration was held, and many entertainers had been brought there to perform during the lavish dinner. This was also the time for enacting the first part of the plan to get Malek a new host.
It had been very difficult, but the Tok'ra had managed to find a young man, Mih'ak, who was willing to not just become Malek's host - and share the risk of impersonating Oceanus with him, perhaps for centuries - but also pretend to be Oceanus's new lo'tar, put himself in harm's way, and then be taken as host in a way that was distasteful to all the Tok'ra.
It was nothing short of a miracle he had been found, but he had no greater desire than to avenge his sister - who had been taken as a host a few years ago - by fighting the Goa'uld.
'Oceanus' sat at the table of honour, with his brother Cronus and sister Rhea to one side, and his mistress, 'Siwa' to the other. A little further down the table sat their various underlings and important allies. The closest and most important were Artemis, Zeus, and Hera.
Mih'ak stood in his new lo'tar clothing, ready to obey 'Oceanus's' smallest wish instantly. Cronus noticed quickly, since Oceanus generally always had female lo'tar's - and since the usual one had been there yesterday.
"I see you got a new lo'tar - not really your style, is he? What happened to the other one?" Cronus wondered.
"Yes - I liked her!" Zeus grinned lecherously. Oceanus's lo'tar had been a very voluptuous young woman - with great skills, which Zeus had not failed to take advantage of.
"Ah, well...she angered me. I assure you, she has paid for her transgression - and lack of, what shall I say, flexibility!" Malek assumed a lustful expression, and the other Goa'uld quickly looked away.
Then came the third day, the day of the big, official celebration. It was held in the large courtyard outside the palace. 'Oceanus' stood beside Cronus on the platform, their First Prime's and lo'tar's beside then, guards around them.
Before them, on the large plaza, stood a large number of Jaffa, all wearing the symbol of Hades, the Goa'uld Cronus had defeated. Around them stood many of Cronus's and Oceanus's Jaffa, keeping guard, and further away were a great mass of people. Human slaves from the city around the palace, who hoped to get an entertaining show. They had been given the day off in order to properly offer worship and pay homage to Oceanus.
'Oceanus' smiled arrogantly as he gazed out over his people and his prisoners. He turned towards Cronus.
"Great Lord Cronus, I hereby give you the lives of these 500 Jaffa. They all accepted the dishonour of surrender, rather than fight to the death. No doubt because they realised their former god was weak compared to you, Lord Cronus!"
"No doubt." Cronus smiled, looking condescending at the Jaffa before them. "They should have died for their god, but I accept their lives."
Without warning, fighting broke out among the enemy Jaffa. The guards rushed in to stop it, but somehow a few of the enemy Jaffa got hold of weapons, and suddenly shots were fired in all directions.
On a hidden sign, 'Oceanus' jumped in front of Cronus, just as a shot zipped through the air and past the guards that had assembled around the Lords on the platform, in order to protect them. It would have hit Cronus, had 'Oceanus' not stepped in front of him.
'Oceanus' cried out and started to fall, looking at the hole in his chest with a shocked expression. The Jaffa guards scrambled to fill any openings in the wall around the Goa'uld, looking unsure of what was expected of them otherwise.
"Oceanus!" Cronus exclaimed. He caught the man he thought was his brother, and half-turned towards the two Jaffa, "Bring his lo'tar - now!"
The scared man was immediately pressed down on his knees in front of the Goa'uld Lords. 'Oceanus' tore out of his dying host, and quickly burrowed into the neck of his lo'tar.
*I am very sorry to have to do it this way, Mih'ak, and for any pain I am causing you, but it is regrettably necessary.* Malek said, moving in place as quickly as possible and sending out tendrils, connecting to the host's nervous system and blocking his pain. He sent warmth and comfort to the man, and reassured him he was Tok'ra, and there would be nothing to fear.
A few moments later, 'Oceanus' flashed his eyes, flexed his fingers, and with an arrogant, satisfied smile, rose and stepped over to Cronus. He bowed slightly.
"Oceanus! I am grateful to you for saving my life, but what were you thinking?!" Cronus exclaimed.
"I did not really have time to think, brother." He smiled wryly. "It was fortunate you had my lo'tar brought to me. My old...vessel was fading fast."
"Fortunate indeed. It will take some time getting used to, though, after all these years."
"Yes. Perhaps it was time for a change." He grinned lecherously. "Yesterday I had begun to regret taking a male lo'tar - now I see it was advantageous. I would have regretted having to change my...habits, and I feel confident my dear Siwa will prefer it this way."
Cronus nodded. "Ah, I see your Jaffa have finally gotten these enemy scum under control."
"Yes, it was a...most unfortunate occurrence."
Cronus laughed shortly. "You are the only one I know who would make such an understatement. I would be furious."
"Do not mistake me. Heads will roll. Eventually, for some of them..." He smiled evilly, lustfully.
"Ah, yes. I thought you might see this as an opportunity to indulge yourself. Well, you have certainly earned it."
"It is good Cronus has finally left! Brotherly sharing in the killing of Jaffa - even if it was only a few of them - is not my kind of fun. Especially not when Cronus expects me to be as insane as his brother!" Malek complained. "It was a good thing he accepted my wish to indulge myself in private with the rest of them!"
"I would feel more empathy with you if I had not had to pretend to be Oceanus's loving consort for more than a year!" Jolinar said.
"I know." Malek nodded, then suddenly grinned, a little naughtily. "You know, you cannot very well suddenly stop fulfilling that role, or Cronus will be suspicious. However, I can promise you I will be a better - and most thoughtful - lover!"
"Very funny, Malek! Yes, I will visit, of course - and you will visit me. We will pretend, but nothing more." She smiled wryly. "It will, however, be an excellent opportunity for exchanging information, which I will be in a much better position to deliver to the Tok'ra than you, trapped with Cronus as you will be much of the time."
"Well, I had to try..." He had a mischievous glint in his eyes.
Jolinar rolled her eyes. "Of course." She leaned in and gave him a quick kiss. "I would have expected nothing else! However, you should be nice, or I will tell Selmak and..." Jolinar thought for a moment, what was the name of Selmak's new host? She had gotten her ten years ago, but Jolinar had only seen her once...ah, yes, "...Serinna. You know, I may even put in a good word for you. And do not deny it. I know you are interested!"
Malek blushed, but did not deny anything. It was really too bad he would be on a mission as a Goa'uld, perhaps for centuries.
Chapter 12: Daily Life