Chapter 5 summary: As Jolinar is starting to get to know her empire, Zipacna is threatening its borders. Jolinar has to make several choices, not just about her empire.
[ Chapter 1: Getting the first host | Chapter 2: Getting Acquainted | Chapter 3: Realizations | Chapter 4: Life and Discoveries | Chapter 5: Choices | Chapter 6: Daily Life? | Chapter 7: Ra's World | Chapter 8: A meeting | Chapter 9: Decisions | Chapter 10: Treason | Chapter 11: War | Chapter 12: On the Run | Chapter 13: A New Life | Chapter 14: Development | Chapter 15: Return | Chapter 16: Home ]
A few days later reports began trickling in about 'border skirmishes' near Zipacna's territory. It had been expected that he would attack sooner or later, but Jolinar had very much hoped it would have been later - much later. At least it was not open war - yet.
Still, over the next several weeks, even these 'skirmishes' turned quite bloody. This was especially the case when one of her remote mining colonies, Vetara, experienced a full ground assault and not just ships fighting it out in orbit.
Jolinar had awoken in the early morning to reports of ships bombing Vetara. She immediately hurried off in her flag ship, to see what happened herself. This had to be stopped, now, before Zipacna got too bold and decided to try to take over one of her main worlds.
When her ship was about to arrive at Vetara, together with two of her Alkesh, she received a transmission from the planet. Three enemy Alkesh, as well as one Ha'tak were in orbit. They had landed troops after a rather lengthy bombardment - a bombardment which was still continuing.
Jolinar considered the situation for a moment. She realised she might not have enough ships to win. She owned three Ha'tak - she should probably have brought at least one more of them. If only she had not been totally inexperienced...then she might have felt more assured. As it was, she would have much preferred to command an overwhelming power. That would surely have made them either surrender or flee. With the situation as it was, she felt certain Zipacna's forces would stay and fight. Worse - they stood a good chance of winning against her.
Briefly she considered fleeing. Then her anger at this affront to her ownership of this world and its resources won against her doubts. Jolinar decided to take the battle. While she only had two Alkesh against the enemy's three, her flagship was larger, stronger, and better equipped than a normal Ha'tak. She could win this battle - and she intended to. She had an idea...
Jolinar's small fleet dropped out of hyperspace, as close as possible to the enemy ships. Fortunately, they seemed to have missed her approach. They were still bombing the planet and thus had their main batteries trained on the surface. As deep inside the planet's gravity well as they were, it would take them some time to overcome inertia and turn towards Jolinar's ships. She hoped this would win her at least one or two shots before they could respond with full force.
"Do you wish me to target their weapons, my Lord?" her first prime asked.
"No. Target their directional and maneuvering thrusters. Fire at the Ha'tak first."
Jolinar's flag ship, as well as her two Alkesh, concentrated all their firepower on the enemy Ha'tak's maneuvering thrusters. Zipacna's ships now began to move, very slowly. Jolinar let out a sigh of relief. She had been correct. Especially the Ha'tak - being slow to turn under the best of circumstances - struggled to free itself from the orbital lock.
She soon realised that she had actually underestimated how sluggish all the enemy ships would move. Her fleet managed to get off several shots before the Alkesh's were free and could attack her fully.
Her people were very good at what they did. Jolinar felt a brief surge of pride when she saw they had already managed to disable the Ha'tak's directional thrusters. When her ships had moved a little to the side, they were entirely out of the line of fire from the large ship's main weapons. Of course, it had other, smaller weapons that could hit a target in any direction, but the heaviest guns were locked in place and could thus be avoided.
"Brilliant, my Lord!" The first prime said. Realising his master's plan, his heart swelled with pride at serving such a clever and mighty god.
Jolinar nodded graciously. "Now, order our Alkesh's to attack the nearest of their enemy counterparts with all their firepower. This ship will continue firing at the Ha'tak. Take out weapons first, then engines."
She watched the screen, seeing her Alkesh's turn away from the Ha'tak and begin attacking one of the enemy Alkesh. Good. Currently all the enemy's fire was concentrated against her flagship. It could take it - for a while - and it should not be a problem for her minor ships to take out one of Zipacna's Alkesh in a quick attack.
Soon the first of Zipacna's Alkesh's exploded with a brilliant flash. Satisfied, Jolinar watched as her own minor ships then turned and focused their fire on the nearest remaining enemy. She could see from the readouts that one of her ships were partly damaged, but the pilot did his best to keep the intact shields towards the enemy.
Jolinar's adversary still fired at her mothership most of the time, which took some of the load of her smaller ships. It was indeed a good thing that the enemy Ha'tak could not train their heaviest guns on her! As it was, she still had about 80% left of her shields.
Checking the panels again, she saw that the majority of Zipacna's Ha'tak's weapons had been disabled. It was going well.
Then her first prime reported. "My Lord, we have lost one of our Alkesh!"
*Damn.* Jolinar thought. "What is the status of the remaining enemy Alkesh's?"
"One is severely damaged and starting to break up. The other has shields at 50%."
Jolinar nodded. "Good...and our Alkesh?"
"Shields at 20% and dropping."
Jolinar sighed. She suddenly felt an unexpected regret for the lives lost on her ships - for her loyal subjects giving their lives for their god...for her. Hopefully, she could make short work of the enemy Ha'tak and take on the two remaining Alkesh's before they destroyed another one of her ships. Before more brave men lost their lives for her. She shook her head slightly. What was wrong with her? This was not how a god should think! Her subjects existed only to serve her!
Jolinar sensed the protest from Arnora - and realised a small part of her agreed with her host! She _did_ regret the loss of lives. Trying to convince herself that she was only concerned with the unneccesary loss of valuable resources, she turned to look at her first prime again.
"Hit that Ha'tak with all we've got! Their weapons are almost gone, so take us in closer and take out their engines."
"Yes, my Lord. At once!"
Her ship pounded the other relentlessly. All of a sudden, a large flare could be seen, followed by a small burst of fire. Jolinar ordered her ship to increase the distance, so as not to be hit by the explosions. This was a wise precaution. The ship's engines must have lost containment and it was now breaking apart. Soon there would be nothing left but debris. Jolinar felt elated.
"Success, my Lord Jolinar. Very impressive. You are a glorious leader. I salute you!"
Jolinar nodded to her enthusiastic first prime. "Turn our ship around and attack the two remaining Alkesh."
The damaged ship disintegrated at the first shot from the bigger ship. The other took off, shields gone, with one last blast against Jolinar's remaining Alkesh. It began falling towards the planet, burning.
"Do we pursue?"
Jolinar weighed her options. She felt a burning desire to kill all the enemies, for daring to attack what was rightfully hers. To avenge all her dead Jaffa.
*Perhaps we should let them flee, this time. To return in fear and spread the word of your skill and power? The damage to your enemies moral might well be worth more than the - admitted - pleasure of killing them and taking revenge.* Arnora suggested.
Jolinar wanted nothing more than to dismiss her host. She felt strong, invincible - truly a god! Despite that she considered what Arnora said. The idea did have some merit. The rumour of her strength and skill would spread and put fear and indecision into the hearts of the enemy's Jaffa. She made her decision.
"No - let them run. They are not worth it. Take me down to the planet and deploy troops to assist our Jaffa down there against Zipacna's men. Call for reinforcements through the chaapa'ai, if needed."
"It shall be done." The Jaffa bowed deeply.
"Oh...and send someone to retrieve any survivors there might have been from our crashed Alkesh. I wish to speak with them."
Jolinar had arrived at her fortress on the mining planet. It - and other fortifications - had sustained heavy damage during the bombardments, but the fortress had not fallen to the attacking Jaffa. It would likely have happened soon had she not arrived with her forces. The fortress was built partly into a mountain, and was very defensible and hard to bombard. It was the only reason it was not in worse shape than it was.
Her local governor - a Goa'uld called Aziz - had welcomed her and apologized profusely for the state of the place and the 'laziness' of the defending Jaffa.
Jolinar listened with only half an ear. Her good mood had quickly become subdued. As she saw more of the devastation it evaporated completely, despite Aziz's assurances that the human slaves would be forced to work day and night until the place was again worthy of their god. To be honest, it angered her that he should speak with such carelessness about her people.
Having been assured there were no longer any fighting or other danger near the fortress, she decided to see how the area around it, and the nearest village, had fared. She instantly regretted it.
Jolinar turned around to look at the fortress for a moment. It was now obvious that the only thing that had protected it from the devastation that had hit the rest of the place, was the fact that it was partly built into the mountainside. The damage to it could have been much worse.
Turning back towards the village, it was clear it had not been so lucky. Everything was in ruins. Wherever she looked, the only thing left seemed to be burning rubble. Ignoring the warnings and protests from Aziz - and the worried look on her First Prime's face - she wandered among the devastation. She looked at the dead and dying with wonder and horror. Here and there the occasional slave...human was only lightly wounded. As she walked further away there were Jaffa laying among the humans - warriors who had fought for her. At least the Jaffa had been warriors and died fighting. They had had a chance. The human slaves had just been innocents, killed as collateral damage.
*They were all my responsibility. I am their god! They had done nothing. Nothing! And they died anyway - just because they were my subjects.* Jolinar lamented. Every last bit of elation at having won was now completely gone, as were her feelings of invincibility and superiority.
Her host had nothing to say and merely tried to comfort her distressed symbiote.
After seeing several severely wounded human children, Jolinar made a decision. She turned to Aziz. "Bring me a healing device. Immediately!"
Aziz looked strangely at her for a moment, uncomprehending.
He turned quickly and yelled an order at one of the guards, who ran to comply.
Not long after, Jolinar had the healing device in her hands. She immediately put it on and activated it, kneeling down beside a boy of about 10. He had burns to one arm and all the way down the left side and leg. She healed him, then moved on to the next of the wounded, ignoring the surprised and awed boy's thanks.
She continued to heal wounded until she almost fainted from exhaustion, and still there were more - so many more that those she had healed were utterly insignificant in comparison.
*Jolinar! Stop! You can't heal them all. You must stop before you drive yourself further. We will pass out very soon - and if we do so it will cause irreparable damage to your image as a god.*
*As a god! I am no god! If nothing else, this has shown how obvious that is. It must be obvious to everyone - I know it is very clear to me. Before - I knew rationally that I was not a god. Now? Now I know it in my heart and with my soul! Now I truly believe it! Arnora. What can I do? You are right - I cannot heal all. How do I explain that? What will they think?*
She got up, more than a little shaky. She met the eyes of Aziz. She did not like what she saw there. The contempt was clear. He knew! Knew she felt compassion for the slaves - for the humans and the Jaffa. Knew that she no longer saw them as merely tools and weapons - resources to use as she pleased. She saw them as fellow sentient lifeforms. Perhaps not as fully equals yet - but well on the way to it.
*Aziz must die.* Arnora said with conviction. *The rest? Gods work in mysterious ways. Tell them that you healed a few of the innocents to show them that their god is there for them. They will be in awe - they are already looking at you with much more than respect. The healed children will worship you, as will their friends and family. This may actually help you, if played correctly.*
*You are right, of course. I do not know what I should do if I did not have you.* She hugged her host warmly. *First we will walk back to the fortress. When I have regained some strength, I will take care of Aziz.*
They walked back to the fortress, at a leisurely pace. Aziz did not say anything, but it was obvious from his attitude and the looks he gave her that he no longer held her in high regard. He was ashamed to have such a Lord, and Jolinar could no longer trust him. When they had entered the hall of the fortress, Jolinar turned towards him. She had taken off the healing device and replaced it with a hand device earlier. No one had wondered at that, as most Goa'uld System Lord's wore them almost constantly.
"You have failed me, Aziz. I am most displeased. You will make amends with your life!" She raised her hand with the ribbon device and activated it before he had time to do or say anything. Her eyes glowed briefly.
Jolinar then began the process of killing Aziz with the hand device, but to her surprise, she found little satisfaction in ribboning him. She no longer felt any real hatred towards him, only pity - and a slight disgust because of his views, despite the fact that they were likely all he had ever known as truth. She just wanted Aziz dead. Instead of the slow, painful killing, she instead concentrated her power and sent out a shock wave, throwing him very hard against the wall and killing him. She turned away.
"Yes, my Lord...excuse me, but I would like to inform you that the survivors from your crashed Alkesh has been found and brought here."
"Excellent. Bring them to me."
*Jolinar, remember that you are now in need of a new - loyal - governor for this world.*
*I have not forgotten. We will worry about that later.*
The survivors were brought forth - 3 of the Jaffa could walk with some difficulty, and one lay on a stretcher. His wounds surpassed anything his prim'ta would have a chance of healing. Jolinar went to them.
"You have all pleased your God." She turned to the three standing Jaffa. "When you are restored to health there will be a celebration of this victory. I will not forget your sacrifices. Dismissed!" They bowed deeply and left.
Jolinar turned to the dying Jaffa. When she approached, she saw his symbiote stick it's head out, look around, and then return to the pouch with a distressed squeal. There were no possible hosts around, only Jaffa and Jolinar herself.
*It is almost mature, is it not? Jolinar...could it be your new governor?*
*Don't be ridiculous! It is only just an adult. It has no experience - and you want this child to govern my world for me?*
*It is closer to maturity than you are! Perhaps, if it got a host with some knowledge it could use...take, I guess? It would be grateful to you for saving it's life...and it would have no allies with whom to scheme...*
Jolinar thought about it. *You are correct. It may work!* She turned to the Jaffa still standing there, waiting for their god's orders.
"Who are the human slave with the most knowledge about this world? The highest placed human?"
"That would be Jeroz of Dorpat - he assists in the administration of this planet." One of the Jaffa said.
"Bring him." She looked at the dying Jaffa. "Quickly."
A very short time later, a slim, medium-sized man in his early thirties was brought before her. He had a frightened expression on his handsome face.
*He will do nicely.* Jolinar walked over to the now dead Jaffa and unceremoniously reached in and grabbed the symbiote from the pouch. It hissed defensively. Jolinar went over to Jeroz, carrying the unsettled symbiote. When it saw the man, it got a surprised expression on its face and fluttered excitedly with its fins.
"Jaffa - hold the man down..." Jolinar stopped just before the now terrified man, held down by the uncomfortably looking Jaffa. "Today is your lucky day - you will be honoured with being the host of a god."
Jolinar held out the symbiote and let go of it, just in front of Jeroz. It immediately launched itself towards him and burrowed into his neck.
The Jaffa let go of Jeroz, who fell forward as his eyes glowed. Moments later the Goa'uld stood. He turned to Jolinar and looked at her for a moment. Then he bowed deeply for her.
"My Lord Jolinar. I am Cordesh. It will be my honour to serve you. I am forever grateful for your generous gift of this host."
Jolinar smiled graciously. "Cordesh...yes, you can indeed serve me. I currently find myself in need of a governor of this world, as the former made the error of displeasing me greatly."
"That error I would never make, most honourable Jolinar."
"Good. Then you will be my new governor. As you may have seen from your hosts mind, there is much to be done."
"I pledge my loyalty to you - and promise to serve you faithfully. I shall make sure this planet and this fortress is quickly restored to a state worthy of you."
Jolinar nodded and accepted his many assurances of loyalty, knowing full well that he could only be trusted until he felt his position was strong enough - and he had had time to look for allies or a stronger Lord. For now, however, and probably for the next several years, she could trust him to be loyal.