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[ Chapter 1: The mission | Chapter 2: Nephtys Attacks | Chapter 3: The New Host | Chapter 4: Going Home | Chapter 5: Rejoined ]

-
Next morning, close to noon.

The Tok'ra had arrived home very late after several last-minute meetings, followed by two receptions and a dinner. They were still sleeping in their rooms at the guesthouse. Today they would return home, having made the bitter choice to accept failure. The planet would almost certainly fall to Nephthys within the week, and there was nothing left for them to do.

They awoke to the sound of someone hammering on the door to Zarin's room. Jena, who was more of an early riser than Zarin, dragged herself to the door and carefully listened for any danger. Hearing only the one person calling to her to open the door, she decided to chance it. She did not sense a symbiote. No Jaffa then, which was good. She opened the door.

It turned out to be the aide of one of the politicians who had been told the truth about the Tok'ra. He almost fell into the room, obviously exhausted from having hurried to get there.

He looked at Jena, then at the others as they sleepily staggered out into the hallway. His expression was slightly fearful. "Statesman Sujun told me to bring you this message: 'Your prophesy has come true. Nephthys has come. Her underlings arrived early this morning and her ships are now here. The politicians were questioned and you were betrayed by chairman Sholnek. Jaffa are on the way. Sokkolf's forces are trying to defend the city, but they are loosing badly. Save yourselves. Do not die for our stupidity. Run!' That is the entire message." The aide jumped at the sound of a distant explosion. "Good bye." Scared, he looked over his shoulder, then ran. Outside the booming voice from Nephthys's speaker systems could be heard, followed by a distant thunder.

"Thank you!" Jena shouted after him, immediately realising he would not have heard it. Zarin took control, as she and the others ran back into their rooms, quickly dressed and grabbing the most important. Less than 15 minutes later they were all out on the streets.

Most of the explosions were coming from the northern and eastern directions where the governmental areas were. They ran to the nearest autorail station and found that the trains were still running. The Tok'ra boarded the first train going towards the south-western suburbs.

They had almost reached the outskirts of the city, when the power went out and their train stopped. The Tok'ra got off and looked around. There were fewer people here, except for those exiting the train with them. Most of those immediately started running around in confusion. The explosions and weapons fire could still be heard, and seemed to be coming closer. They could not stay here.

"I recognize this area." Jena said. "We are only one stop from the station were we stepped off when we visited Kori."

"Yes, I believe you are correct." Johan looked blankly at them for a moment, while communicating with his symbiote. "Malek suggests we go to Kori's house and hide until nightfall in the old shelter were we met with Kori the second time. The city will be dark without the electricity and we may be able to escape undetected...I agree with him. We need to hide somewhere - soon, before the Jaffa land troops here. We were betrayed, so Nephthys know there are Tok'ra on the planet. We will be a high priority target. Kori's place is relatively close and he will not report us if he sees us."

The others agreed and they all started to walk in the direction of Kori's house, trying to stay in the shadows and keep to the safest and quietest route.

-
Meanwhile, another place in the city.

Atli had decided to spend the day visiting some of his friends from school. He had not seen them all year while he had been at the university. They lived close to the governmental area of the city, so he had taken the autorail there. Shortly after getting off the train he had heard a strange noise from above. When he heard it again, he and everyone else looked about. They soon spotted a huge pyramid shape in the sky. It spat out swarms of small ships, which zoomed across the sky. Then a huge 3-dimensional hologram - at least Atli thought it was a hologram - appeared in the sky, just below the pyramid. It looked like a beautiful, but very arrogant woman. She was dressed tastelessly in golden robes. A few seconds went by before she flashed her eyes and started to talk in a strange, flanged voice.

"I am your Lord Nephthys. I have come to claim what is rightfully mine. As a sign of my power, I will now let the fire of heaven fall upon this world."

Moments later, Atli heard a sonic boom. It was followed by a burning meteor, streaking across the sky. A little later the ground shook from the distant impact.

"If you do not immediately surrender and worship me, I will eradicate you," the voice continued.

Suddenly the sky was filled with different ships, coming from the garrison outside the city. The battle for the planet now began above the heads of the terrified population.

Atli ran as fast as his legs would carry him to the closest city-transport station. An autorail train was just about to leave, and he threw himself inside it a few seconds before the doors closed behind him.

Scared and with a pounding heart he let himself fall down into one of the seats. Only one or two other passengers were there - most people had just scurried around in a panic instead of going anywhere in particular.

It was not until now that Atli regained enough of his senses to realise, that in a stroke of luck he had actually boarded a train going in the direction of his parents house.

He heard several explosions and looked out of the window. A fierce battle was raging in the air. The defenders were putting up quite a fight and several alien vessels were blown out of the sky and crashed down near the central train station. However, it was clear that the attackers had superior numbers and that they were gaining the upper hand. Fires had broken out across the city. Terrified, he looked away, glancing at the the people on the train. They did not seem to be interested in talking - studiously avoiding to look out the windows - looking as if they were trying hard to pretend none of this were happening.

The city transport had just pulled into the station nearest his parents house, when a large explosion was heard and all power went out.

Atli pushed open the door and got out, then quickly ran up the stairs to the street. Carefully looking around, he ran to the other side where he would be covered by the trees.

Several airborne vessels skimmed cross the sky while he hurried home. Another one flew past and landed not far away, just as he threw himself inside his parents house and locked the door after him.

Hearing the door close his parents ran into the room, followed by his sister. His mother embraced him, looking extremely relieved. "Oh, thank Anubis on his mountain that you are safely home. The times are ending," she cried. "The gods of old have returned to let their wrath fall upon our blasphemous heads. This is the punishment for approaching the Ring of the Gods - for trading with foreigners who use what is only permitted for the gods..."

"Mother! This has nothing to do with the chaapa'ai or the visitors from Toven. Someone calling herself Nephthys arrived in a flying ship - a spaceship - shaped like a triangular mountain."

"That is what Anubis lived in. It is as the old stories tell us - Nephthys has the signs of the Gods?"

"Her eyes did glow - and her voice was somewhat like thunder, as is foretold - still, I think she may be using our stories to scare us..." Atli had started to calm down. He was safely home with his family, and he could now think more clearly and rationally about what he had seen.

"We will talk of this later," his father said, returning from having received a tele-communication. "I have just received word that all who are associated with the government are being rounded up and killed, their families taken to Nephthys - as hostages presumably. She has occupied the governmental palace. We should leave immediately."

Just then, someone hammered hard on the door and ordered them in a loud voice to open it. Atli's parents turned white and panicked. Then his mother, Aldis, regained some of her senses. She grabbed hold of him and his sister Svala, pushing them ahead of her. Their father nodded to her and motioned at them to go with their mother, as he slowly went to open the door.

Hurrying them to the room furthest away, Aldis pushed first her daughter, then her son into a closet each.

"Stay there and be quiet NO MATTER what happens." She pushed a basket in front of Atli's hiding place, making it look as if none could have entered it. She was about to do the same for Svala when she heard angry voices inside the house, and Kori trying to question the intruders. Realising it would be safest for her children if she were not standing close by, she quietly closed the door behind her and went to the next room. She then pretended to emerge from it as a group of noisy, large men came dragging her husband. Kori was trying to reason with  their leader.

All the men were dressed alike, in some sort of uniform - wearing chain-mail perhaps? - and on their foreheads they all had the same symbol, something that looked a bit like a goblet.

Aldis just stared at them for a moment, in total shock. Before she had time to think of what to do, one of the Jaffa had grabbed hold of her.

"You are the wife of Kori?"

"Yes," she answered, scared.

"Search the rest of the house. If you find any others bring them here," the leader ordered a group of his men.

Terrified, Atli sat absolutely quiet, barely daring to breathe. He could hear the loud, angry voices in the corridor outside. What did they do to his parents? Would they find him and Svala as well? Suddenly the door to the room was opened and a large man entered and started to search the place.

There was a small crack along the edge of the closet door, and Atli could see the man walking around, looking everywhere. Soon he was standing just outside the closet. Atli held his breath, certain that the door would be ripped open and he would be found and dragged out to some horrible, unknown fate.

However, nothing happened. The man just took the lid off of the large basket and looked inside it briefly, then walked on. Atli was just starting to breathe easier, when the man stopped beside Svala's closet. He was about to continue his search elsewhere, when a small sneeze was heard from inside.

The man yanked open the closet door and Svala almost fell out, only to be immediately captured. She yelled and kicked at her enemy, but he was much too strong for her to escape. The man carried her out to the others in the corridor.

"I found this one. There were no others."

"Good." The leader looked around. All his men had returned. "No one else anywhere?"

"No, my Lord."

"Then take Kori and his wife outside and execute them - as a warning to the population of this world of what will happen to them if they try to resist or be anything other than the slaves they are. Take the girl to Nephthys palace."

Carrying their crying and fighting prisoners off, the Jaffa left the house. All was quiet again.

Atli stayed in his closet, too shocked to do anything else. His parents were probably killed by now - and who knew what fate awaited his sister - and what had he done? Nothing! He had done nothing to help them. He hated himself for it, but he had enough survival instinct to stay where he was. He did not dare leave his hiding place for a long time. What if they came back?

-
The Tok'ra arrived at Kori's house shortly after the Jaffa had left. They found two bodies outside the house and no one alive in the vicinity. Zarin carefully looked around for any sign of enemies. Seeing none she snuck over to the two dead.

"Staff-blasts. Jaffa did this." She turned them over, seeing it was who she had feared. "It is Kori and his wife," she said sadly.

Malek nodded. "Nephthys is killing everyone who is even remotely a part of the government. That was to be expected - she does not wish to leave anyone for the people to rally around in a rebellion."

*I hope it is not our fault they are dead - poor Kori and Aldis...I wonder where their two children are?*

Zarin gave her host a hug. *It is most likely as Malek said, and they would have been killed in any case...I grieve for them as well...as for their children - they were probably taken to Nephthys, to be either slaves, hostages - or hosts.*

*Hostages?...but their parents are dead!*

*They and others like them would be held hostages to assure that the people obey. Nephthys will also patrol with ship and likely deploy orbital weapons platforms. The majority of the population will probably not believe she is a god - at least not at first. That is the 'problem' with more advanced civilizations and the main reason why the Goa'uld keep their planets at such a low level of development...Nephthys must rule with fear and terror for a long time, before new generations grow up and believe her to be a god.*

The Tok'ra looked around the house and garden. All was quiet and they proceeded to the bomb shelter, to hide there until night fell.

-
Much later that day.

Atli had been sitting in the closet for several hours. He had tried to move around a little, but he was terrified of making any noise. He had lost almost all feeling in his legs. When almost an hour had past since the men had left, he had decided to leave his hiding place. He had just started to push the door open, when he heard someone - voices! They had somehow been able to walk around in the house without making noise and he had not heard anything until someone spoke just outside the room. The voice had said something about the house being empty and that they should leave. He did not think it had been the same who had killed his parents, but he was not ready to chance anything. Also - the next voice he heard was strangely distorted, much like Nephthys had been, but it did not come through a speaker, so that could not explain it. Perhaps this were some of her people? That would be even worse! Especially since they apparently did not need a speaker system to talk that way - what if Nephthys really was a goddess - and an evil one?...but if the intruders had been gods, should they not have known he was here?

Confused and scared, he had quickly made the decision that it would be far too dangerous to leave. Now, however, almost two hours more had passed and no further disturbances had happened. He was starting to get hungry, and he really needed to relieve himself. He listened for a little while, holding his breath. All was quiet. He carefully pushed the door open a little bit, enough so that he could get an arm out and start pushing the basket away. It went well for a little while, until he tried getting up to a half-standing position, to be able to reach out and get the basket fully out of the way. His legs were numb from sitting like this for so long, and he fell out of the closet, tripping the basket over with a loud crash. Hitting his arm on a chair, he yelped out, then quickly shut up and lay still for several minutes, listening.

Feeling reasonably certain that no one had heard him, he got up, rubbing at his arm. Thankfully it was neither broken nor bleeding.

-
It was early evening. Atli had managed to eat a little, and was trying to think of what to do now. He felt very young and very alone, missing his parents and his sister. He tried to decide on a course of action, but his thoughts inevitably returned to his family and he started crying again. Eventually he pulled himself together and decided he had to do something, anything, to keep his mind off what had happened.

He should leave - who knew, perhaps the men with the tattoos on their foreheads would learn that he existed and return to capture him. Atli felt terribly guilty about having escaped when his parents and sister had not, but most of all he felt guilty at having done nothing to try and stop the intruders.

Slowly he started to pack a few things he would need into a backpack. Clothing, tinned goods and energy bars, a blanket, several bottles of water, rope, fire starters,...as he continued adding things he realised he needed cooking gear - something portable. While he was still living at home his parents would sometimes take him and his sister on a camping trip. He remembered that they used to store the gear in a room at the back of the old bomb shelter.

Putting all the rest into his backpack, he thought for a moment, then went to his parents bedroom and took all his family's jewelry. Money would probably be worthless now, but he took that as well. Just before he left, he went back and took pictures of him and his parents and sister - including the new ones that had been taken just a week ago.

Having put on his jacket he then took a last look around him, shouldered the backpack and went to the shelter to pick up the cooking gear before he left. He had decided he would try to get to the northern part of the country where his mother's aunt lived. He could hopefully stay with her, at least for a while.

Inside the bomb shelter it was very dark. The power had gone out many hours ago and had not been restored. The shelter had an emergency generator, of course, since it was built for wartime. He felt the urge to power it up in order to restore some feeling of normalcy, but decided against making any unnecessary noise. He should be able to find what he needed using his flashlight. If that was not enough, he seemed to remember there should be some battery-operated lanterns somewhere.

He snuck around inside the building, quickly locating what he was looking for. It was on the top shelf, of course. Great! Typical! He moved an old chair over and stepped up on it. He had just grabbed the cooking gear when someone stepped into the dark room. He almost fell off the chair and nearly dropped both flashlight and cooking kit, just from the shock. His staggering made the light beam hit his face.

"Atli?" The figure in the doorway asked. "We thought you had been captured together with your sister when the Jaffa...the large men who serve Nephthys...came earlier."

Atli stepped down from the chair and shone the light towards the voice...he seemed to recognize it...where had he heard it? The he recognized him.

"Johan...Johan Malek...is that not correct?"

"Yes, it is." Johan said. "I am very glad to see you got away. Come - my friends are in the other room. Tell us what happened."

Atli nodded and followed him, not really wanting to talk about the events of the day, but grateful to no longer be alone. While he did not know these people well, he had met them before and he knew his father had trusted them. That was enough for now. He greeted the others and wearily sat down to tell his story.

"...and that is all I remember...one more thing...who are these men who serve Nephthys? They are scaring...huge and muscular with...a sort of tattoo on their forehead. It looks like...I don't know...a cup perhaps, or maybe a goblet? Though there were some other symbols on it as well."

"They are called 'Jaffa'," Jena said. "They are actually slaves, servants of Nephthys. They are almost always extremely loyal. The goblet-like image you saw on their foreheads is her symbol - it marks them as hers. Others like Nephthys have their own Jaffa, with their own symbols."

"Where will you go now? You cannot stay in your parents house, but I see you have realised that already." Johan indicated the young man's backpack.

"Yes...I have family in the northern territories - my mother's aunt lives there and I hope she will let me stay there...perhaps help her on her farm...I have no plans for anything else...I doubt the university will reopen soon."

*If ever...* Zarin remarked to her host.

"We will also be going north, trying to get to the chaapa'ai. Hopefully it will not be heavily guarded - yet. We expect to attempt to leave the city around midnight, when it is very dark." Jena said. "If you want, you can accompany us some of the way - it is a long walk to the chaapa'ai and your knowledge of the area could be very useful."

"I would like that..." Atli said. *Very much!* he added in his thoughts. He much preferred walking with these people than trying to travel the whole way alone. He had secretly feared having to be all alone, walking through the darkness tonight.

"Good. That is what we will do, then. There are several hours yet before it is time to leave. We should take the opportunity to rest and get something to eat."

"There is plenty of food in the house...I can go  and fetch some of it. What we don't eat or take with us will rot anyway...I suppose it is safer spending the time until we leave out here in the shelter?"

"Probably no one will come back to look for you - yet at least. The Jaffa will not care...however, staying out here is the safest. We will go with you and bring here what we need." Jena said.

After picking up food, water, blankets, and whatever else might prove of value to them on their trek, they returned to the bomb shelter to await midnight.

-
A few hours later.

*Zarin, have you noticed? Our young friend is just sitting over there in the corner, not talking to anyone, looking as if his world has just ended - which it has I guess, but I do think we should try and talk to him - he has been like this since we ate.*

*Yes, I know. I am not so sure he would appreciate our interference...his parents have been killed, his sister abducted by Jaffa - his entire civilization brought down and any dreams he might have had for his future life have been crushed. Perhaps he would like to be alone with his thoughts and memories.*

*Maybe so, but I believe it would do him good to talk...perhaps we should ask if he would like to come with us when we leave this planet? There is very little future for him or anyone else here. The most he can hope for is a life as a slave...it would be such a waste of his talents!*

*No one should be a slave, but would he want to leave with us? I do not believe he would appreciate going with us to the base...and how would he react when he learns that we are the same species as the Goa'uld who have just robbed him of everything...I doubt he would look on us with friendly eyes.*

*You give him far too little credit. It will take us several days to reach the chaapa'ai by foot. It is quite far away and we can only travel by night, and we will have to evade the Jaffa patrols. It will give us time to get better acquainted and by then he may be able to understand the difference between the Tok'ra and the Goa'uld.*

Zarin snorted, but then sighed and gave in to the wishes of her persistent host. *Very well. You may be right.*

Jena got up and walked over and picked up a cup of tea for herself and one for Atli. She went and sat down next to him, as she handed him the tea.

"Here. Have some hot tea - it will be a long and hard journey and we will all need to be in as good a shape as possible."

Atli took the cup without a word, but gave her a weak smile. They sat in silence for a little while, then Atli looked at Jena.

"What do you think will happen to Svala...my sister? Is she still alive? Honestly?"

Zarin and Jena thought back to the young girl they had seen at the dinner. She was already very beautiful, and it was clear that she would most likely become a host.

"Yes, I am quite certain that she is alive...it is likely she has been taken as a host...the Goa'uld...Nephthys people...they are really parasites who need hosts to interact with their surroundings..."

"A host? What does that mean? Nephthys is a parasite? Will Svala be herself?"

"Her personality and all that she is will be suppressed, but she will be alive. The technology exists to remove the parasite, and if you are very lucky then maybe, one day, you might be able to rescue her."

"That sounds horrible! Poor Svala!" Atli looked devastated, then hope shone in his eyes. "Could we not go and attempt to rescue her now?"

"I'm sorry, dear Atli, but that is completely out of the question. Your sister...Svala...she and others like her would be kept in a secure place, very heavily guarded. In all probability she is not even on the planet anymore, but will have been sent back to Nephthys home world."

-
About an hour later Atli had fallen asleep. Jena shook him gently. "Wake up...it is time to leave."

They walked quickly through the dark, deserted streets. They were very careful not to make any noise. Only once did they hear people - a small group of Jaffa who seemed preoccupied with the bakery goods from the store they had just raided.

*The Jaffa seem totally absorbed - I guess they have never been to a planet like this, where there is plenty of food and everything. It must be strange for them to see non-Goa'uld technology.* Johan observed.

*Yes. I wonder if it will make them question Goa'uld magic. Perhaps that is one reason why Nephthys took out their power grid.*

*I certainly hope it will give her problems, huge problems...*

They were currently walking through one of the suburbs. It would soon be time to find a place to hide for the day. While the time was only shortly after 3 in the morning, the eastern sky was already starting to become rosy - not surprising, given it was summer and the capital were fairly high on the northern hemisphere.

"Atli...how well do you know this area? Is there some place close by where we can hide during the day?" Johan asked. "It would be too dangerous to walk around when the sun is up and people start getting out."

"There is a school two streets from here. I attended it while we lived here for a few years. It is summer break and no one will be there - besides, I doubt any parents would have sent their children out for anything the day after having their planet occupied by an evil god...alien parasite...whatever!" He looked around the street they were on - dawn was breaking slowly and all was quiet. It looked deceivingly beautiful and peaceful. There were no signs at all of the terrible things that had happened yesterday.

"All right. It sounds like it a plan. Lead the way."

They arrived at the school less than 30 minutes later. It looked completely empty. It was surrounded by a large schoolyard and sports-grounds. A small forest could be seen nearby. They walked until they found a window that had been left open. Atli glanced shyly at Zarin. "I think I am the smallest. If one of you would help me up, I can probably fit through the window."

*How rude!* Zarin snickered to her host. *I think he was implying that you are fat, and that you would stand to loose a few pounds...I, on the other hand, am slim as a willow...*

*He wasn't looking at our waistline, and you know it! Besides, you shouldn't be talking. Remember how you gorged yourself after our last mission?...and who had to run it off again? Next time you will get your share of the exercise!*

Meanwhile, Lantash helped Atli, and he crawled through. Soon he found and unlocked a door, letting the others in.

"There is no power, so it is quite dark. There is an old shelter here somewhere. We found it one year and played in it...it should have a generator and I think even a small shower unit."

"Sounds very nice. We may all wish to shower before we leave tonight, but for now it is safer to stay in a room with multiple exits, if anyone should show up." Jena said.

They spent most of the day sleeping and talking. Exhausted from the recent days mental and physical exertion, Atli fell asleep and slept almost all of the day. The Tok'ra went to an adjacent room and discussed their situation, planning how to get away from the planet.

Lantash went looking for a tele-ball. The locals had managed to reverse engineer a Goa'uld long range communications device left behind by Anubis. The result was the tele-ball. It was still expensive, but available in all major cities. If Lantash found one, he hoped there might be an official newscast which would give useful information about the current situation. It would be nice to know if Nephthys had imposed martial law, for instance.

After a while he found one in the staff lounge and turned it on. Every channel repeated the same communique over and over again. Nephthys's first prime began by announcing that the audience would be honoured by a message from their Goddess Nephthys. Then she appeared on the screen, flashing her eyes and began speaking: "I am your Goddess, Nephthys. I have come to claim what is rightfully mine! Worship me or I shall strike you down without mercy. You have done surprising well during the time you were left to fend for yourself. However, most of your gadgets are blasphemous, an insult to the Universe and I am here to provide much needed guidance. It will be a difficult transition, but afterwards your lives will be in accordance with the will of the Universe. Your are to be commended for your excellent mining operations, which I will allow to continue in my name. My loyal Jaffa have been deployed to keep order during these trying times. Do not tempt them with foolish disobedience, as they are neither as intelligent, nor as merciful as I your beloved Goddess..." she continued along these lines for quite some time. Disgusted Lantash turned off the transmission.

*We will learn nothing more from that self-absorbed tyrant...*

*Agreed, Lantash. We should return to the others and tell them what we have learned.*

Returning to the others, they quickly reported what little information had been contained in the broadcast. After a short discussion, the Tok'ra took turns keeping watch and sleeping, trying to get as much rest as possible before the nights journey.

-
Late in the evening shortly before midnight, when the sky was almost dark the little group resumed their march.

The first half of the night went smoothly. The streets were empty and they soon reached the outer parts of the city. However, just as they were about to turn down the road which would eventually lead them to the chaapa'ai, they spotted a Jaffa patrol. Atli and the Tok'ra hid behind a picket fence while the guard passed, then carefully continued on. They had not walked long before they encountered another Jaffa patrol and then yet another.

"We are getting close to the chaapa'ai - Nephthys predictably has stationed a contingent of Jaffa in the area. We will not be able to get closer this way..." Milek looked at Atli, "...do you know another way to the chaapa'ai, one which will provide us with more cover?"

"My mother would not let me get close to it, so I have only ever seen in once...I walked through the forest." Atli pointed towards the outline of trees which could be seen behind the houses. "The forest is fairly thick, and the path is a good deal longer than the direct route, but it is almost unused. I have a compass and I believe I can find my way through it fairly quickly. About a year ago, two of my friends and I went on a hiking trip which took us that way and out on the other side - just so we could see the chaapa'ai for real. The trees stop maybe 100 feet from it." He had a far away expression, obviously lost in memories.

"Perfect! This means we will be able to walk during part of the day."

Looking around for any signs of enemy activity, the group quickly ran for the treeline. Following it they soon found the entrance and the beginning of the path Atli had followed a year ago. It did not look well travelled and were partly overgrown here and there.

Following Atli, who walked in front with his compass, they slowly made their way through the forest. Here and there other paths branched off. In some places the way were so covered with plants that they could hardly see it, but they always managed to find it again and continued. The forest were quite dark and it felt almost cold even if it was the middle of the summer.

It was shortly after noon when they reached a more open part of the forest. A decision was quickly made that they should take a few hours break and get something to eat. The trunk of a fallen tree and a couple of large rocks served nicely as chairs for the weary group.

After the light lunch, Atli sat looking out over the place. It was so very peaceful. Except for a few birds and the trickle of a nearby brook, all was quiet. For a short moment he could almost imagine that none of all this had happened - that his world had not been attacked and when he returned home his parents and sister would be waiting for him.

Sighing deeply, he looked at the Toven traders who currently were not talking, though some of them seemed to be having some sort of internal communication. Perhaps some sort of meditation or a religious ritual? Either way it was not his concern. They were friendly, and he was really starting to like them all. They treated him with respect, not like some adults who never really listened to what he had to say. Still, they were a strange group - perhaps because their customs were different? Sometimes their personality seemed to change within a matter of minutes. He prided himself on his keen observation skills, but this was not something he had noticed at first. But as he spent more time with them it became increasingly obvious.

The sun was shining down on him and it was very warm. Insects were buzzing lazily and he was starting to feel sleepy. It did not really matter that his new friends were a little strange and he soon feel asleep.

-
Several hours later Jena gently shook him awake. He had slept peacefully without any nightmares about the death of his parents, the end of his civilization, or alien body snatchers claiming his sister.

"It is time to go. We hope to traverse half of this forest while it is still light enough - and these winding, overgrown tracks makes the going much slower."

"Yes. I'm coming." Atli got up and took out his compass. Finding the direction they were soon on their way.

They walked most of the afternoon and evening, taking only short breaks to eat. The forest were quiet except for the animals, and they met no one. Once, during the early evening, they saw a vessel cross the sky. Atli recognized it as one of the ships that had attacked the planet a few days ago. Johan told him it was a 'death glider' - a type of ship used by the Jaffa for planetary attacks and surveys. Probably they were currently using it to intimidate the population, and to convince them that it would be a very bad idea to fight back.

"Your civilization is quite different from those ruled by the Goa'uld. You are much more advanced and it will take Nephthys far more time and effort to suppress the population. Goa'uld rule by fear and intimidation, and by suppressing all knowledge. They pretend to be gods and use advanced technology to convince people of their supernatural abilities. Your civilization will not be easy to cow." Johan said.

"I hope you are right. There are those who still believe in the old gods, and many more are superstitious...like my mother is...was..." the young man became quiet as he was overwhelmed by his memories.

It was getting too dark for them to make their way through the forest, and they stopped in a clearing in order to sleep until dawn. They made camp and went to sleep, except Lantash who took the first watch.

His host was asleep, so he sat down and contemplated their situation. He soon became aware of the fact that he was not the only one awake. Quietly he got up and sat next to Atli.

"You should sleep," he said softly, using his hosts voice. "It will be a very long walk tomorrow and you need your strength."

"I know. It's just...I can't stop thinking about my family, my planet...my life as I had imagined it would be - and what it is now likely to be. Is it selfish of me to worry about my future, when I am alive and free, when so many are not?"

"It is understandable...how did you imagine your life?"

"I had hoped to continue my studies - to become a scientist, maybe study the chaapa'ai...figure out how it works - perhaps even one day travel to other planets if we succeeded, or if we managed to build a spaceship capable of interstellar flight..." he blushed, "but most of all I had hoped that my neighbors daughter would one day become interested in me...and perhaps marry me..." he sighed, "...but now I have to hide on my mother's aunt's farm and work there...if I don't get caught by Nephthys's people..."

Lantash looked thoughtful. What he had to say was not pleasant, but he felt the young man deserved to know. "You should know that you may not be safe there either. Nephthys is very persistent and thorough. She will want to kill everyone who is even remotely connected with the government, and to capture their families. Sooner or later she will realise that you got away - and she will not give up looking for you. The fact that you are intelligent, a student of science, and would make a handsome host, makes the situation even more dangerous. You have been taught some of the knowledge that she is desperate to eradicate from your people - by making you a host she will not only remove a potentially dangerous enemy who can teach others, but the Goa'uld controlling you will absorb your knowledge and make an excellent underling."

"Then what should I do?" His look of despair was quickly exchanged for one of anger and determination. "Do you know what I would like to do? I would like to kill Nephthys, with my bare hands preferably - and all her evil kind...and then I would free my sister...Jena said the technology exists to remove a parasite, if one of the creatures should have taken control of her."

"That is true, but you have no great chance of success alone..."

"Then let me go with you to your planet...from there I can go to other worlds, right? Somewhere there must be someone willing to fight these Goa'uld! I will find them and join them, or create a resistance myself!"

Lantash thought for a while about how to respond to this, then decided to take the chance. "I understand you well...and I will reveal something for you. We are not who pretend to be - we are not traders from Toven. We are really part of a resistance movement who fight the Goa'uld - this is why we knew Nephthys would be attacking your world."

"Why did you not say so immediately?"

"My people have fought the Goa'uld for centuries. Since it is very dangerous - most planets are after all occupied by Goa'uld and the populations believe they are gods - we keep our identity concealed. Members of the resistance have visited your world since you became free from Anubis, pretending to be traders as this is a good excuse to travel to other worlds. We dared not risk telling the truth - until desperation made us do so. When still only a few listened to our warnings, Nephthys attacked and won. Someone betrayed us and we had to flee...Atli...I apologize for having deceived you, but it was necessary - both for your own and our safety."

"I understand...I am not angry at you...do you think I could go with you? Join your resistance?"

"Yes...perhaps in time, but it is a hard and very dangerous life. I suggest that you accompany us to the planet Tollan where you can stay with friends of ours. Their technology is superior to that of the Goa'uld and you will be safe there. I have no doubt they will give you sanctuary for a few years. You will have time to think and to come to terms with recent events. Your pain and anger will never vanish, but you will learn to control and harness them. If you choose to join our resistance, then it must be for life as we cannot allow anyone to leave with knowledge about us. Then, when you have had the time to think, you can make your choice."

Atli did not look happy. "I do not need to wait! I know I want to fight Nephthys - more than anything else in the world!"

Lantash smiled. "Let us wait and see. For now, you leave the planet with us." *If we manage to get away - the Jaffa may be guarding the chaapa'ai too diligently for us to approach it* he thought. "Go to sleep."

-
Early next morning everyone were getting ready to continue the journey.

"Oh, no!" Atli said, frantically searching the area where he had slept. "I've lost it!"

Jena came over to help him. "What is it you have lost? We really need to be going soon, if we want to reach the chaapa'ai today. The longer we wait, the more likely it is that Nephthys has stationed a large garrison of Jaffa there permanently."

"The compass - I can't find my way through this maze without it."

They searched for a little while, but did not find it.

"I were fiddling with it last night when I couldn't sleep - I could have dropped it anywhere..." Atli looked miserable. Now they would waste a lot of time finding their way through the thick forest, all because of his clumsiness.

"Do not worry...we will find the way without it." Johan said.

"How?"

"Ehrm...the sun is up...we can use that...and there is more moss on the trees in the direction facing north...yes, we will manage..."

Atli nodded and did not say anything further, though he highly doubted these measures would work. The majority of the forest were too thick and the trees too tall, for the sun to be seen, or for it to reach the trees enough to have any influence on the moss.

As the day passed, however, he had to admit it did look as if they were going in the right direction. On the rare occasions where they passed through a clearing in the forest and could see the sun, it was always standing in the correct position. Impressive - and another oddity to add to his list.

The trek was uneventful, and they reached the edge of the forest just as the sun was setting. Johan snuck closer to the edge and hid behind a large tree. He scrutinized the area around the chaapa'ai for a little while before returning.

"There are four Jaffa on guard. I do not remember seeing any buildings in the surrounding area, so I assume they are stationed in the nearby town. We will have to wait and see if there are guards at night as well, though it is very likely. On most planets the chaapa'ai is either guarded around the clock, or not at all."

They waited. About an hour later, the guards were replaced by another group.

"It is as we feared - it is continuously guarded."

"Why would it be? No one on the planet knows how to use it." Atli wondered.

"They know we are here - remember, we were betrayed. Nephthys is aware that we are not just traders, but members of a resistance movement, known and hated by all Goa'uld. Our capture would be of a high priority for her." Lantash said.

"Then what can we do?" Atli sounded close to despair. Their escape was so near, and yet infinitely far away.

"We have weapons, but nothing like staff weapons. Our zat'nik'tels have limited range, so we will have to get fairly close. But first we need to determine the length of their shifts. Then we can attack just before the change of guards, when the Jaffa will be weary and their attention will be drifting." Johan looked up: "It is almost dark, but both moons will be up tonight. They should provide us with enough light to target the Jaffa.  A standard shift is about 4 hour which keeps the Jaffa from getting bored and lowering their guard."

"It is summer. In another 6-8 hours the sun will have long since risen - there will be no darkness in which to hide."

"That is unfortunate, but it can not be helped. We will rely on the fact that only 4 guards are present at a time, and hope reinforcements are far away - and that Nephthys does not decide to transport slaves or goods through the chaapa'ai just then."

When 4 hours had passed, the next group of guards arrived. It was decided to wait just over 3 1/2 hours, since the guards would then start to tire and look forward to replacement, while those new guards would still be far enough away to not be able to assist in any way.

[ Chapter 1: The mission | Chapter 2: Nephtys Attacks | Chapter 3: The New Host | Chapter 4: Going Home | Chapter 5: Rejoined ]