Chapter 12 summary: Jolinar has a visitor from the Tok'ra tunnels, coming to ask her for emergency aid for a planet in need.
[ 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 ]
After returning home to her own planet, Jolinar set out to find a way to place Kanan at the court of one of Cronus's allies, since Malek now had the position at Cronus's own court.
As for Malek...while he was now in a much more powerful and influential position than Jolinar, he was also much more vulnerable, especially so early in the mission. Nothing could be allowed to endanger his position, so Jolinar would have to continue being the entry point for any operatives the Tok'ra needed placed in Cronus's and his allies domains.
"My Lord, a trader has arrived, wishing to be allowed an audience."
"Well, show him in, then!" Jolinar said, immediately feeling better. She had been in a foul mood recently, since she had had to execute several rebellious slaves, that her much too eager First Prime had uprooted."
*I am surprised Travik is back already. It has only been a few months. He does not usually visit this often.* Jolinar mused.
*Perhaps he missed us?*
*Or perhaps it is not him...* Jolinar looked up to see the young man who entered the room and walked towards them, trying to look arrogant and confident.
*Lantash! What is he doing here? How dare the council send him on a mission? With that host? What if they were caught?* Jolinar sounded angry.
*Well, this is not really a dangerous place to send them - and the council probably thinks it is time for Lantash to learn about being undercover and pretending to be a Goa'uld.* Sannya giggled. *You are correct, he is failing miserably at looking arrogant. How surprising - he is usually pretty self-assured!*
*Usually he is just being himself, not impersonating someone else. As for his training - that can wait! No mission is completely harmless! His host...Sivnir, is too fragile to risk! Last we spoke to Selmak, she said he absolutely refused talking to Lantash about his experiences. Not everyone needs to go on missions. There is much work to do in the tunnels as well. Besides, Lantash is obviously not ready to impersonate a Goa'uld. Just look at how nervous he appears!*
*Well, it is not that bad, but he clearly needs the practice. Jolinar, it is a dangerous Galaxy we live in, and he was born to play a dangerous part. All Tok'ra are, whatever they work with. That is how it has to be, if we are to ever win this war. You told me that yourself, and you are correct.* Sannya sighed. *Yes, I worry about those kids too. Him and the other Tok'ra in Egeria's last batch. How can we not? We looked after them. Found hosts for them. But now they have to take care of themselves.*
*You are correct, of course.* Jolinar did not sound convinced.
*Because that is not all, is it? You do feel for him. In another way than for the others. Not as one of those kids we looked after...you have a...crush on him. As much as he had...or still has? on you. Why did you not tell him? I like him as well.*
*You know why. We have been over this more than once. Be quiet. He is ready to address us.*
"Lord Siwa. I salute you." Lantash bowed deeply, then straightened. He was quiet for a moment, looking at her, clearly appreciating her cleavage. "I have come to trade..." He was quiet again for a moment. "I am Karvik."
*He is ogling us!*
*Yes, and almost forgetting to introduce himself. He will soon learn - proper etiquette - among other things.* Jolinar smiled to herself.
"Welcome, trader Karvik. What are you selling?"
Lantash looked as if he was annoyed at having forgotten to give this piece of information.
"A...wide variety of valuable rarities, the likeness of which you have never seen. Please, allow me to show you several items."
"Not now. If you will join me for dinner in my personal chamber this evening, you can tell me all about your goods. I have something more important to attend to right now, but I shall have a room set aside for you."
"Thank you, my gracious Lord." Lantash bowed again, and followed a servant out.
"Leave us." Jolinar told the slave who had just poured the wine. She waited until she had left the room, then turned to Lantash. "Eat - and tell me what it is the council wants. I assume you have not come here to join my court?"
"No. We - are not yet ready for such missions." Lantash looked somewhat embarrassed, feeling he should have been able to help his host by now, and that it was only his inexperience that prevented it. "The Council have sent me because the Tok'ra needs some goods for a mission of charity. Food, mostly, which you can probably provide from your planet. We also need a few things for the Tok'ra."
"I can probably provide it, unless it is large amounts. Will they...ah...pretend to trade for it, or shall I have to fake the records?" Jolinar asked, already knowing the answer.
"Unfortunately, the Council cannot find the resources right now. There has been a famine on Mehlket IV. They desperately need our help."
Jolinar nodded. It was as she had expected. The Council felt their resources could be better spent on other things, and that Jolinar could make the necessary provisions.
"I understand. I will send food. However, the population of Mehlket IV is quite large. I cannot send that much food anywhere, without it being discovered. It will be impossible to hide that the revenue is missing from my budget. We will need to at least pretend there is a trade."
"Could the goods perhaps be stolen en route somewhere else? Could someone be blamed?"
"Possibly..." Jolinar thought hard about it for some time.
*Could Travik not handle the transactions?* Sannya suggested.
*He does not want to be involved, you know that.*
*He has traded with the Tok'ra before - could we borrow from him, perhaps?*
*I already owe him, as you know, but perhaps...well...it would be too difficult to remove enough food from our planet to feed the population of Mehlket IV - without Cronus discovering it. Travik will probably accept that we pay him off slowly, in amounts that can easily be hidden. Yes, that is what we will do!*
"Sannya suggests I buy the food from a trader I know, and then pay him back in installments small enough to escape Cronus's eyes."
Lantash nodded slowly, looking disbelieving. "He will agree to that?"
"Yes, probably. He trusts me - more or less. I have traded with him since before I became a Tok'ra."
"Wait...he's a Goa'uld? He knows you're Tok'ra? Are you insane?"
"He is no...ordinary Goa'uld. He talks to his host. He does not use a sarcophagus. He agrees with us in many things."
"Then why is he not Tok'ra?"
Jolinar sighed. "It is not so simple. He does not want to be involved."
"There is no excuse to not fight the Goa'uld! If he agrees with our cause, he should join us. Anything else is hypocritical. Worse! He is..."
"Lantash! Stop!" Jolinar looked angry for a moment, then resigned.
*He is young...* Sannya pointed out, calming her.
*I doubt he will ever change. He is fiery - and opinionated...and as you said, when he is himself, he is quite self-assured as well.* Jolinar shook her head slightly, then addressed Lantash. "The world is not always black and white. One day you will learn that." She sighed. "I will contact the trader and send for you when I have acquired the goods."
"I'll stay. I wish to see that he is indeed trustworthy."
"Then we are in agreement?" Travik said.
"Yes. You will deliver the goods to the designated location, and I will pay you back in ten installments over the next ten years." Jolinar agreed.
"How will we know you can be trusted?" Lantash demanded.
"Well, I am giving Jolinar a very fair - and unheard of - stay on the payment. And she trusts me!"
"Yes, apparently. I wonder if you have some sort of hold on her?" He looked at the other man suspiciously.
"Lantash! You have gotten what you came for. Go home to the tunnels where you can leave Sivnir in control. You need a censor! And tell the Council the goods will be delivered. Both those to Mehlket IV, and to the..." Jolinar looked quickly at Travik. She had almost broken the unspoken agreement not to mention the Tok'ra. "...to your people. And stop worrying about Travik knowing your real name. Yes, I can see it on your face! Anyway, I told you, you can trust Travik!"
"Very well. I shall do as you ask, Jolinar." Lantash got up, and just before he left, he threw Travik another look. Then, he suddenly turned around and stepped up to Jolinar, leaning in and giving her a quick kiss. He left hurriedly before she could say anything.
Jolinar shook her head, looking after him.
"My, my...he is a feisty, fiery one...he was born by Egeria, I assume?"
Travik nodded. "You gave all of them hosts, did you not? Everyone in the clutches, I mean."
"Yes, of course." Jolinar frowned.
"That was obviously a bad idea. It means you get all kinds of people, just like the humans do. In that, at least, our ways are better. Not everyone should have been allowed a host - that one would obviously have made a bad Goa'uld. Tell me, do you think he is a good...whatever it is you are?"
"That is none of your business, and you will stop such talk immediately!" Jolinar said, angrily.
She knew very well the Goa'uld normally only allowed a few of the many symbiotes in Jaffa to take a host and survive. There were millions of Jaffa, who each needed a new symbiote every 10-12 years or so, when the one they carried matured. While it was not unheard of for a Jaffa to live and be healthy until they were 120-130 years, the Jaffa had an average lifespan of maybe 70 years, because of battles and other hardship. This still gave a lot of symbiotes, many more than what the Goa'uld wanted, since the majority would become rivals.
To solve this problem, the Goa'uld let the symbiotes fight for a host, something which ensured that only the most driven and aggressive ones won - and got a host. This was one more reason why the Goa'uld all seemed so power-hungry.
It was not inconceivable that some of the others would have been more reasonable, even if the accumulated effect of their genetic memory and frequent use of sarcophagi might negate some of it.
The Tok'ra did not do as the Goa'uld. To them, more people did not mean more rivals, but more friends and allies - fellow fighters. Everyone was needed, and it was only an advantage that this meant they got people with interests and abilities in many different areas. It also further increased the difference in behaviour between the Tok'ra and the Goa'uld, because you got a more normal mix of personality types - much like in a human population.
Travik shrugged. "As you wish...you do know he has a crush on you, right? A bad one."
"I know, me and all other women - since before he took his first host, which is not that long ago. Do not remind me."
Travik shook his head. "That may be, but he has feelings for you in particular, and that is probably one of the reasons he does not like me. Jealousy. He blames me...for various things. At least he is correct about some of them." He looked at Jolinar with amusement in his eyes. "I have several hours before I need to leave..."
"Then let us not waste them!" Jolinar smiled suggestively at him.
*What are you concerned about?* Sannya wondered
They were standing by the window, looking out while Travik slept. It was raining, which did not improve upon their mood.
*I am not concerned. Not really. I am just...thinking.*
*Brooding.* Sannya corrected. *About Travik.*
Jolinar sighed. *Yes - and Lantash. As much as I like Travik, I can also see Lantash's side. It is difficult to accept that someone can see the evil of the Goa'uld - disagree with it, even - but not want to be involved. Not want to fight.*
*Travik is not a bad man. Thoughtful. He is one of the few pleasant things about this mission. That said, I got angry with him too - especially when he suggested Lantash and other should not have been allowed to take hosts. That they were not good enough.*
*Yes. We do not just need leaders - we need people who can contribute in many different areas. Not all Tok'ra are suited for undercover missions as Goa'uld, but we have many other jobs that need to be done. Scientists, cooks, healers...actually, it is essential we have people who are willing to perform tasks a Goa'uld would not normally agree to, or which he or she might even feel were below him or her. We cannot and will not rely on human servants, and besides, volunteers would be rare - and even more rarely trusted.*
*I am sure it also makes the tunnels a more pleasant place to stay, having people with different interests and personalities. Besides, this means we get more creative minds - and scientists - than the Goa'uld, who only think of power and conquests, and who would never think to cooperate on anything.* Sannya observed.
*I shudder to think how the Tok'a base would be if everyone had a more typical Goa'uld mentality...were arrogant...well, more arrogant, as we all must admit to some of that.*
*Think of the tunnels filled with Delek's!* Sannya shuddered. *Our way is clearly better.*
*True. However, I still think I will rejoin Travik on the bed?*
*Sounds like a good idea.*
Chapter 13: Exposed