Chapter 13 summary: Cronus discovers Jolinar cannot be trusted, but she manages to avoid him discovering she is a Tok'ra.
[ 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 ]
Jolinar and Sannya continued slowly building their strength and power, as a minor System Lord. For a long time all went well, and more than 150 years had passed since they first set out on their mission.
With the access they had to information from much of Cronus's area of influence, they secretly gathered data about Egeria and the daughters she had spawned. Or tried to gather data, since there was very little to be found. It was hardly surprising, since Ra would be the one most likely to know what had happened to Egeria, being the one who captured her. As for her daughters, they were a complete secret to everyone, and even among the Tok'ra, Jolinar was the only one who knew anything.
Instead, Jolinar looked for any and all mentions of 'first' worlds, especially in historical data. She found a few, but none that seemed promising, except maybe the Tau'ri, and the original world of the Goa'uld - but the location of that was shrouded in antiquity.
Most of their days were spent on doing the things minor System Lords normally did; overseeing the planet, trading, fighting smaller wars with neighbors, making sure the local population continued to believe her an almighty god - and partying and living a life in comfort. Aside from that, she visited allied Goa'uld and tried to learn about them. Listened to their conversations, and secretly controlled a small network of slaves that spied on their masters - though she normally made sure they thought her a god who was just more powerful than the ones they spied on.
Then, one day, they got an emergency message from Malek. It was sent on a secret frequency, and heavily encrypted, but it was still dangerous to send. It would have to be very important for him to risk it.
Making sure no one could hear them, they nervously activated the secret message.
"Jolinar...Sannya...unfortunately, Rina has been captured. She has not revealed anything, as far as I know, and she probably will not. However, Cronus may suspect you anyway."
Jolinar felt a cold fear run down her spine. Rina was the latest Tok'ra operative, which had infiltrated the court of Seshat, Cronus's newest ally and a former ally of his arch-enemy, Apophis. She concentrated on the message again.
"They do not know with certainty she is Tok'ra, though they suspect it. Inform the Council I am unable to free her. You need to try to distance yourself from her, as quickly as possible - find some cover story so they will not learn you are Tok'ra. No matter what happens, they cannot know you are Tok'ra! It would endanger nine operatives and every position we have gained in Cronus's domain."
Jolinar listened to the rest of the message with a heavy heart. It gave her some data she needed to pass on to the Council, as well as information for when she would be called to Cronus.
The only reason this had not happened yet, was that Cronus was occupied with a minor skirmish with Zipacna. If they were very lucky, it would last a few more months, perhaps, then Jolinar would be called to be interrogated by Cronus.
*Can we not just run?*
*No, unfortunately not. If we do, it would seem that we confirm our guilt and thus we throw suspicion on all the operatives who have been placed after being at our court.*
*What can we do, then?* Sannya sounded frustrated.
Jolinar was quiet for a long time.
*Make ourselves suspicious in other, more obvious and likely ways. We will then merely appear to have been either neglectful about Rina, or directly harmful towards Seshat - and Cronus. We must make them think we work for another Goa'uld, who will give us more power. That is the only thing they will believe, because all minor Goa'uld are constantly suspected of this. We could perhaps pretend to feel scorned because 'Oceanus' broke off our relationship shortly after getting a new host. Becoming his queen would have brought me much influence.*
*Well, I guess it sounds like it might work, but will we not be killed for this just as well?*
*We very well might, but not if we manage to get away before we are caught, but after Cronus has become convinced we conspired with someone else. Apophis, perhaps...*
*And, in either case, the other operatives are safe from suspicion of being Tok'ra...we do need to make it clear we did not start conspiring with Apophis until recently, though, for this to work...* Sannya sighed. *For the Tok'ra!*
They searched through what information they had on Cronus and his more important allies. The Tok'ra operatives had been very effective and gathered much intelligence. Jolinar and Sannya made sure to pick only things that she or Rina - or Jaffa and humans - could have had access to, so that no one else would be implicated.
She then secretly contacted Apophis, and offered him some of the information, in return for promises of power and star systems. She made sure these dealings were always done covertly enough that Cronus would later believe she had tried to hide them, but clumsily enough that he would find them, if he just looked at her affairs with a more than cursory glance. And he would look very hard, she knew. Hopefully, he would look until he found what she wanted him to find, and then look no further, being satisfied he had discovered her crime.
"Siwa...what is your excuse!" Cronus almost screamed at her.
"My excuse for what?" Jolinar said, pleading ignorance.
"You know what! You are conspiring with Apophis! My worst enemy! How dare you do that! You, who I allowed to rise to your current position from nothing! You owe me everything! I even - graciously - allowed you to become involved with my own brother! And you betrayed us both!"
Jolinar sighed silently. She was satisfied their deceptive trail of lies was good enough to ensure Cronus would think them an ordinary traitor, and not a Tok'ra - a heretic. It was clear they had succeeded. They had been on their way to leave the palace, when Cronus's Jaffa had arrived unexpectedly, forcing her to follow them.
"You should have the audacity to chastise me! You have the nerve to send your henchmen to pick me up - without any explanation. Without even letting me change my dress or bring spare clothing?! Like a...a...lowly human slave! And you dare talk to me about Oceanus! I loved him and was loyal to him, and what did he do? He left me and took up with that harlot Venus! He promised me I would be his queen!" Jolinar spat, furiously, doing a very good impression of being scorned and insulted.
"So you are that petty? That is why you betrayed us? You thought seriously a great and powerful man like my brother would want someone like you for his queen? A nobody, without a known history or even famous ancestors!"
"If you have finished insulting me, perhaps I can leave? I have more important affairs to attend to."
"Leave?!" Cronus roared. "You will never leave! You betrayed me to Apophis!" He turned to the Jaffa standing beside Jolinar "Hit her with the stick!"
The Jaffa grinned evilly and turned on the pain-stick, pushing it into Jolinar's side. It was obvious he took great pleasure in his work. Jolinar gasped, but managed not to scream.
"You will tell me everything!" Cronus demanded. "How much information did you give the kree'shree gonach? How long have you been betraying me?" He motioned to the Jaffa who again and again zapped Jolinar with the pain-stick.
"I will tell you nothing!"
"Do you know Oceanus is visiting? I ought to let him handle this! If I did not fear he still had a soft spot for you...though more than likely he would be so enraged and hurt he would kill you much too quickly and get no information. Well, perhaps he will remember the existence of the sarcophagus..."
Cronus lifted his hand and began using his hand device - both to torture and to attempt to catch any stray surface thoughts of Jolinar's.
She focused completely on her anger and hatred of Oceanus - and Cronus. The betrayal she felt. She thought of nothing else. Meanwhile, she did her very best to block the pain as well as she could from Sannya.
Finally, Cronus gave her a break, and she fell forward, only to feel the pain-stick against her moments later. Then again, and again, before the pain from the ribbon device took over. Nothing existed in her world except for the pain. Finally, mercifully, she blacked out.
Jolinar groggily sat up in the sarcophagus, having just been revived - again.
*I hate this thing! I had sworn never to use it again!* Jolinar complained.
*It is not like it is voluntary...* Sannya remarked, as the Jaffa almost pulled her out and onto the floor. She was still too groggy to stand. *What time was this?*
*Fifth...sixth? Maybe more. I lost count. Hopefully, Cronus will not find torturing us to death to be entertaining very many more times. Though I fear he may.*
*Let us just be grateful it is not Malek being forced to do this.*
They looked up as they heard an explosion coming from somewhere in the building. The Jaffa also heard, and seemed confused for a moment. Shouts of "Fire" could be heard, and then the alarm sounded.
Jolinar had had time to collect herself a little and now took advantage of the confusion. She hit the nearest Jaffa hard in the symbiote pouch, then snatched a zat'nik'tel from one of the two other Jaffa.
She quickly jumped behind a nearby pillar, but not quite quickly enough. Her shoulder was grazed by the knife wielded by the Jaffa she had just stolen her weapon from.
Jolinar winced, but the wound was superficial, and she clamped down on the pain. Ducking out for a moment, she shot one of the Jaffa, then returned to her partial cover again. Two more to go.
Jolinar ran quietly and quickly down the corridors of the palace. It was a good thing she was very familiar with the layout, so she was able to chose a route which was deserted.
She was in luck - aided by the panic and chaos created by the fire, she only encountered a single guard, which she quickly dispatched with her weapon.
Reaching Cronus's spaceport, she hurried to the nearest ship - a Teltac. It would suit her needs nicely, and she had just opened the entrance when she heard angry shouts from behind her.
Ignoring them, she quickly got inside and shut the door, just as a staff blast was fired. With a thud it hit the door, but it held easily.
Jolinar knew she needed to get the Teltac in the air - and raise the shields - before it was hit very many times. The Teltac was quite a sturdy ship, and it could handle many staff blasts, but she knew it had a limit, and the Jaffa were firing at it steadily now.
Moments later she had the ship in the air. However, the exit door in the roof was closed. It was remote controlled, but it was not reacting to the signal she was sending for it to open. The Jaffa must have disabled the feature. That was a serious problem!
Teltacs do not normally have weapons, and this was a standard model. The Jaffa kept shooting at it, and eventually Jolinar had not choice. She would have to get away before more troops arrived, and in order to do that, she would have to fly through the closed hatch, with the shields at maximum and just hope the ship held together.
There was no time to spare - each staff blasts further weakened the shields, and diminished her chances of getting through safely.
Jolinar turned the ship towards the closed door in the roof, diverted as much power as possible to the shields, and accelerated upwards.
The ship held, but she did not like the sound it had made as it punched through the door. Checking her read-outs, she could see the shields were down to 20% in some areas. It would not take many hits to collapse them completely.
As she sped towards space, she noticed several death gliders on her tail. They fired at her multiple times, and despite her skilled flying, there were several hits.
An acrid smoke billowed from the back of the ship, and she heard several explosions from somewhere, before she finally jumped to hyperspace. One of the panels exploded in sparkles, throwing her momentarily from her seat. She pulled herself up again, and frowned as she checked the read-outs.
*The ship is badly damaged. It is unlikely that we will be able to escape Cronus's domain.* She called up a map of the area.
*What about that planet?* Sannya directed her attention to a small world on the star map they were studying.
*Nirra. It is disputed. Cronus and Apophis both want it, but the war is not an open one - yet, at least.*
*Precisely. There will be some forces from both Goa'uld there. If we can just make it to Apophis's side, they might agree to contact him and learn we are...shall we say...trustworthy.*
*That is not the word I would use exactly, but he should believe we have information that makes us worth rescuing, at any rate. Yes, that might work.* Jolinar set the course and activated the auto-pilot. *We had better check and see if there is anything we can do to make this ship fly a little longer.*
*Jolinar...what do you think happened at the palace? The explosion and the fire, I mean?*
*I am guessing it was a diversion, somehow engineered by Malek.* Jolinar observed, opening a panel.
*If that is the case, I am grateful, but I very much hope he will not be discovered.*
*Probably he will not. He is quite cunning, and Cronus is not nearly as smart as he thinks he is.*
*Well, that is the case of most Goa'uld - if nothing else, then because very few people are as smart as they think they are...but I agree. Malek will probably be safe.*
Jolinar finished examining the damage.
*Unfortunately, there is little we can do without spare crystals.* Jolinar sighed as she closed the door to the small storage locker with the - now broken - spares.
She walked back to the pilot's chair and sat down to heal the small amount of damage they had sustained - both from the knife fight and from the explosion earlier. Meanwhile, Sannya kept an eye on the controls.
*I have found two smaller Jaffa forces on the planet, separated by some distance, so I assume they belong to different Goa'uld. Unfortunately, we have no way of determining their allegiances. We do not currently have the sensor resolution to detect any markings.* Jolinar added, wryly. "Which one should we pick?*
*So, you want me to take the responsibility, when the choice turns out to be wrong? Coward!* Sannya answered, not unfriendly. *Well, I pick the northern-most group.*
Jolinar flew towards the Jaffa, who soon saw the Teltac and began running around in confusion. It did not take long for their leader to get them in position, though, and when the ship landed, more than one hundred staff weapons were pointing at them.
*I dearly hope I made the right choice...* Sannya observed.
*You did. I see Apophis tattoos on their foreheads.* Jolinar drew her attention to them.
*Ah. Good.* Sannya felt herself relax.
*Perhaps...if they will believe I am a - future - ally of Apophis's...*
They stepped out of the Teltac, head held high. Jolinar focused on the Jaffa leader, and addressed him in an arrogant tone.
"I am Lord Siwa, future ally of Apophis. You will take me to him."
The Jaffa studied her for a moment, suspicion mingling with fear of this - obvious - god.
"We have not been advised of your arrival, Lord."
"That is hardly my fault! The uncivilized brute Cronus made a laughable, futile attempt to stop me from reaching your Lord Apophis with the important information I carry. Do you wish Cronus to succeed?"
"Understood. I shall contact Apophis immediately, and inform him of your safe arrival here. Meanwhile, you are our most honoured guest." He bowed deeply.
"Good. Do so." Jolinar followed the guard appointed by the Jaffa leader to take her to her temporary accommodations.
*In other words - he is not certain he can trust you, but he does not dare say so, and will check with his superior.* Sannya observed, wryly.
*Exactly. As any good Jaffa Commander should. I could very well be an impostor - or worse. Of course, saying so would be a grave insult against even a minor god.* Jolinar smirked. This was working out better than she had dared to hope a few hours ago.
"My Lord." The Jaffa bowed. "Lord Apophis has responded. He is pleased with your escape, and looks forward to meeting you."
"Of course. You will take me to him immediately."
"Yes, my Lord."
The Stargate was located several hours journey away, and they had barely started walking, before a large group of Cronus Jaffa showed up. Their leader spoke angrily.
"Lord Siwa is a traitor, who has betrayed our mighty Lord Cronus. You will hand her over immediately so she can be taken to our Lord for punishment - or you will face the consequences!"
"The peace between us is tenuous, at best." The leader of the Apophis Jaffa said. "Are you prepared to risk a war?"
"We were told to bring her back at any cost! If the result is a war, then so be it!"
"Then that is how it must be! I dare you to try and take Lord Siwa from us. She is under our Lord Apophis's protection!"
The two groups clashed, Jolinar in the middle. She was unarmed, and the shots were zipping past her in all directions.
*Are they crazy?* Jolinar threw herself to the ground, not caring that a Goa'uld could not afford to behave so, because what god would cower in fear?
*They seem determined to get you - even if it means killing you. I doubt Apophis or Cronus would be happy.*
*There is always the sarcophagus, so maybe they do not care. To be honest, I think these two groups have just been waiting for an excuse to attack each other.*
Jolinar had been crawling towards cover, and just as she was diving for it, she was hit by two staff blasts. She cried out once, and fell to the ground, unconscious.
Chapter 14: A New Host - and a New Master