Chapter 17 summary: Jolinar gains another Tok'ra underling. 

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[ 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 ]


It did not take long before it was obvious the plan had worked. Cronus openly declared he would never ally with Sokar, and Sokar called Cronus a liar. All was well again.

With Malek placed on Kiwh, Jolinar only had one open position. She had originally made the decision to keep a couple of the Goa'uld underlings who had been vassals of the former Lord of this world, but the majority of the positions were filled by Tok'ra.

Now one of the two Goa'uld had proven untrustworthy, and she needed someone else in charge of her small military forces, whenever she, herself, did not have the time to control them.

*In a way, having a Goa'uld in that position might be better - a Tok'ra would likely only keep it until they could be snuck into a Goa'uld court.* Jolinar remarked. *It really is not a position which benefits from frequent changes.*

*That may be so.* Lisha agreed. *But a Goa'uld cannot be trusted not to betray you, should the opportunity arise - and he or she would be just as likely, if not more so, to leave for a more influential position, which, to be honest, would be most positions.*

*Very true.* Jolinar sighed, then looked up as a servant approached.

He respectfully kneeled in front of her throne, at the correct distance for a human.

"My Lord. A 'Lord Nidar' wishes to be allowed an audience."

"I will grant that. Bring her." Jolinar said, recognizing the name as one the Tok'ra Jalen might use.

"Yes, my Lord." The servant rose, bowed deeply, and left.

*I think the choice of our next military commander has been taken for us.* Lisha observed.

*I agree.* Jolinar sighed. *As we should have expected.*

Shortly after, a young woman with fiery red hair and sparkling green eyes entered the throne room and walked to within 35 feet. It was the permitted, polite distance for an unfamiliar Goa'uld of lesser rank. She bowed deeply.

Jolinar looked at her, a bit exasperated. She liked Jalen. She had not yet personally met Thirna, her new host, but she had seen a picture of her in the data updates given regularly to all Tok'ra - to be memorized and destroyed if you were undercover, of course.

No, what was annoying her was that the Tok'ra Council yet again had made the decisions for her. Choosing the person they felt suited the position.

Oh, well. Perhaps a Tok'ra was the best choice. At least she would never dream of betraying Jolinar, and there was something to be said for security and trust.

"Greetings, Lord Siwa. Your reputation as a great and powerful leader is known far and wide. I was hoping you might consider me for a position?"

"Very direct and to the point. I like that." Jolinar turned to her guards, suddenly tired of having to keep up the pretense. "Leave us."

They bowed and obeyed, quickly leaving the room.

"So, Jalen...I assume you were sent here to become my military commander? Do you bring any other orders? Or news?"

"Yes, Jolinar, I am. An no, no other orders - or interesting news. Listen, I know you are not fond of the Council making decisions for you - at least not in such trivial matters. Do you have any other reasons for not wanting me here?" Jalen looked a bit miffed.

"No, not at all. I know you are a competent tactician. It would be difficult for me to find a better commander. Besides, I like to think of you as a friend, so - no, only I resent the fact that I was not consulted."

Jalen nodded. "I understand. However, you know the Council - and especially now, when the local leaders of our base consists of Delek, Cordesh, Ren'al - and sometimes Thoran. As you know, Selmak has taken leave for a longer mission and Garshaw is a temporary liaison to those young friends of ours...the Tollans."

"Yes, I heard. A human culture having been free for a long time, and becoming quite advanced. Very interesting - and very reassuring."

"We may eventually sign some sort of treaty with them. That is all I know."

Jolinar nodded. "Good. Do they bring hosts?"

"Yes, they have agreed to see if there are some individuals whom their emerging medical technology cannot yet cure, and who might agree to be host in return for health and life...but no others will volunteer, as far as I know."

"Well, that is how it is in many cultures, unfortunately. We are grateful to them all, of course. Jalen, as for the position as military commander? It is yours."

Jalen smiled. "Thank you."

-----
Except for minor changes among the Tok'ra she employed, and the occasional small war, the next 50 years passed without incident.

Jolinar had acquired another planet in the period, and 'Lord Siwa' began to have real influence. She used it to place the Tok'ra she employed in good positions, and to gather as much intelligence as she could.

The data she passed on to Zipacna - who often shared it with Apophis - were always well chosen. It was never directly wrong, and always good enough that they were satisfied with her work. This way the Tok'ra ensured Apophis and Zipacna acquired no new major allies, and that their empires grew only marginally.

However, the animosity the Tok'ra groomed between these two Goa'uld on one side, and many of the other players on the other side, meant it was rarely difficult to get Apophis and Zipacna to intervene against other Goa'uld, who were about to ally or to acquire new territory.

The result was that the status quo was maintained, not just for Apophis and Zipacna, but for many of the other Goa'uld as well. For once, all went as the Tok'ra wanted it to.

Jolinar also used her information gathering network for one other thing, namely her search for any and all information about Egeria - and for mentions of a 'first world', as quoted in the riddle Egeria had left them.

*'Hidden like my oldest friend; three are waiting; each of their worlds a first'...first world...one could be the Tau'ri, as you have suggested before. It is even called the 'first world'. It has been, for a long long time.* Lisha suggested. *Why do you suddenly not believe this?*

*I agree, it is likely, but then again...what if it is too obvious?*

*Egeria made very sure no one else knew of this, so she did not have to be that subtle. She also wanted you to succeed.*

*True.* Jolinar sighed. *All right, so let us assume one of them may be the world of the Tau'ri. However, we have no way of going there to search. Not without information about where. It is more populated than other planets, with many possible locations for hiding a symbiote. It would be even more difficult to find one there, than somewhere else, unless we can get more precise information.*

*Then we should try for the others. What other 'first's' are there?*

*Countless...firsts of this and that...* Jolinar sounded morosely. She had been through this many times with Sannya.

*First's that are relevant to the Tok'ra!* Lisha sounded exasperated.

*Very well...* Jolinar sighed again. *There is the world the Goa'uld originated on - unless it is mythological, though I guess our species had to come from somewhere, so perhaps not... However, that location is lost in the mists of time.*

*Then she would not have chosen that one. Pick another one...not from myth!*

Jolinar took a deep breath. *The planet Egeria herself was born on, perhaps? No...she would not have chosen something that made her seem special. That is just not her personality. Maybe the first planet she spawned Tok'ra on?*

*Or the planet where the Tok'ra were officially founded? Did you meet somewhere special?*

*Yes. Malkshur. My home world.*

*That is good! Do you have any idea where she would have put a queen?*

*No...yes, maybe...there are some old ruins, with secret tunnels under...but it matters little. The planet is heavily fortified. Zipacna took it from me, and after some power shuffling, it currently belongs to Apophis...or I think he gave it to his underling, Tikna. Searching for a queen there would be dangerous - if even possible, and if we found her, she would risk being discovered and killed by the Goa'uld.*

*There is no way you can get that planet? Since you are Zipacna's vassal and allied with Apophis?*

*I doubt very much I could maneuver myself into a position where I could get Malkshur - and I do not want to make myself suspicious. They know very well it was the Tok'ra Jolinar who owned it.*

*All right, then. What about the planet Egeria spawned the first Tok'ra on?*

*Ra took it back - he had originally given it to her, and for many years he did not care about it, even after Egeria had turned Tok'ra. However, he took that whole area of space maybe 50 years ago, and it will probably be another 100 years or so, before he has finished looking at all the planets again and decided it is worthless. By then we can maybe search it.*

*So right now we are no better off than we were before.*

*That is not completely true. We may now have an idea which worlds Egeria hid her daughters on. When - or if - we figure out more precisely where on those planets she hid them - and the Goa'uld have become less powerful, if that is ever going to happen...* Jolinar sighed. *We may find them then.*

*If we cannot currently search actively for Egeria's daughters, then perhaps we should focus our search on looking for Egeria herself. That, too, would bring the Tok'ra more people.*

*Yes. That is what we must do, surreptitiously. However difficult it will be in the position we currently hold.*

*Jolinar...why have you never told anyone but your hosts of this riddle?*

*Well, I actually did tell the Council about my belief Egeria is still alive, and in a stasis jar. Few believed me. This would perhaps seem even less believable - and absolutely less certain - and if so, no one will search for information anyway, but the knowledge about the queens would be out, and enemies might find out.*

*So you dare not risk it. I can understand, but what if you die without finding her daughters or telling someone else?*

*It is a dangerous life I am living. My death is always a possibility. Better the queens stay hidden than the Goa'uld find them. However, you are correct, and I will consider telling someone - one day.*

-----
Jolinar and Lisha continued their information gathering in the years that followed, and now and then they would happen upon small pieces of information about Egeria.

*I believe this old letter may refer to Egeria.* Jolinar excitedly indicated the text on the screen.

*I agree...'the queen of the heretic'...the Tok'ra...it can only be her!*

*There is nothing about where she was taken - if she was indeed taken anywhere. There is only a cryptic comment about her being punished for her misdeeds - and that she would be on display for a limited time.*

*That could mean she would then be killed - or that Ra would not dare have her on display for longer than that, not wanting to risk someone freeing her.*

*True - or even steal her to keep for themselves, as she would be a great prize.*

*At least we know he did not kill her right away. That is something.*

*It is...something.* Jolinar agreed, filing the information to a data crystal, which she would send with a courier to the Tok'ra. She hoped it would at least help convince some of the Council members.



Chapter 18: A Surprise Visit