Chapter 26 summary: Jolinar rescues a young woman - the lone survivor of her world.
[ 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 was chaos everywhere. Shots fired by the Jaffa could be heard, and the village was burning.
However, Jolinar did not have time to focus on any of that, as she was fighting Seta the moment they both materialized. Seta managed to pull of Jolinar's hand device, and Jolinar on her side succeeded in grabbing a thick branch lying beside her, clubbing Seta over the head with it.
Jaffa came running and Jolinar did not have time to either finish what she was doing, or pick up her hand device. As quickly as her legs would carry her, she ran in between the narrow alleys of the burning city.
Jolinar desperately tried to stay out of the way of the Jaffa - tried to find a safe place to hide, but there did not seem to be any. At the same time, she was looking for any people who was still alive. Hiding, perhaps, or trapped inside one of the burning buildings. She found none alive - she did not even see anyone lying dead anywhere. It was puzzling.
When she had been down on the planet for a couple hours, without finding anyone - dead or alive - she began to concede it was unlikely she would find any. By now almost all building were burning, and the Jaffa were sweeping the outlying parts of the area. She knew there would be similar forces in the three other cities on the planet.
Jolinar would have to find another place to hide, but she had to be very very careful, to avoid being discovered.
That was when she saw what had happened to the population of the city. There, on the large plaza before the city hall were hundreds of bodies. Some had simply been shot by a staff blast, some cut down with blades, others seemed to have been beaten to death. Several had been impaled.
From their state of undress, at least many of the women seemed to have been raped before they were killed. Jolinar stared in horror at the carnage. Men, women, children. All dead - or dying, she soon realised. Those few who were alive, would not be for long. Without a healing device, there was nothing Jolinar could do for any of them, except kill them.
Before she could decide what to do, she heard Jaffa approaching and had to flee. She zig-zagged through the streets and alleyways again, aiming for the part of the city closest to the forest. Soon all that was left of this place would be ruins. There was no one left to save. Jolinar had given up on looking for survivors. All she could do was to find a safe place to hide outside the city, and wait for the Jaffa to leave.
That was when she saw her.
The young woman had just exited the edge of the forest, and she stood in the shadows of the trees and just stared. Darkness had fallen, but everything was illuminated by the fires from the buildings of the city. The young woman just stood there, continuing to stare. Stunned. Horrified, by what was happening to her town and her people.
Jolinar saw the Jaffa. Saw they would soon discover the woman, but that she had not seen them. Jolinar was closer to her than the Jaffa were - by quite a lot, actually, but still...dared she call out? Overhead, a death glider approached, and Jolinar knew the pilot had seen the woman.
She decided to risk it! She called out to the young woman, using Lisha's voice. Saw her react. Throw herself down into the relative safety of a ditch, just before the death glider shot her. The blast exploded a few feet away, showering her with dirt and rocks.
Then Jolinar was beside her, grabbing her hand and pulling at her. Running, stumbling towards the safety of the dark, narrow alleyways.
They ran until they finally found a building that looked whole - and surprisingly not on fire. Entering it, Jolinar saw it was a warehouse of some kind.
*I do not believe she is ready to know of me.* Jolinar pointed out. *And I do not care for unnecessary deception, as you know. You better talk to her.*
*I agree.* Lisha took control.
The room was faintly illuminated by the light entering through the cracks in the walls, and the un-shuttered window. Light coming from the flames that was consuming the city. With Jolinar's help, Lisha's eyes quickly adapted to the semi-darkness, and she saw the place was full of boxes and old equipment.
She pulled the young woman towards a hiding place behind some of the boxes, and she followed meekly, still too stunned by it all to do anything else. This was a good spot. If they sat still they could not be seen from the door, not even if someone should take a few steps inside.
"It is one of the few buildings I have found that is still intact. We must hope they do not think to burn it, as there are no other places to hide."
The woman nodded, still too numb to speak.
"I did not think there was still anyone alive. Are you hurt?" Lisha wanted to know.
"No. I was only shaken by...whatever that was..."
"A shot from a staff cannon on a death glider. You were fortunate the Jaffa had bad aim." Lisha explained in a low voice. Then she added. "Please do not speak so loudly. The Jaffa are not far away."
"Who are you? How do you know all this? I have never seen you before." She looked at Lisha with some suspicion.
"My name is Lisha - and I am not from this world."
"I am Rosha...do you know why Tipana has come to punish us so severely? He has never before killed an entire village...and he seems to have taken no slaves..." Rosha's voice broke. "Is everyone dead? My family?"
Lisha was not sure what to tell her. She decided on the truth - or some version of it anyway. Rosha did not need to now what had happened to her friends and family.
"It is not Tipana who has come, but Bastet's Jaffa. Your world became involved when Bastet attacked Tipana, who is a much weaker Goa'uld, only a minor System Lord. When Tipana did not surrender, Bastet decided to bomb some of Tipana's subjects, in order to weaken him further. I am sorry, Rosha, but I have found no one else alive."
Rosha just looked at Lisha, clearly unable to deal with the fact that her family, her entire people were dead. She seemed to doubt what Lisha said.
"But is Tipana not a god? How can there be more powerful gods in other places?"
*What do I tell her? That Tipana is a false god?*
*Perhaps not outright...not on top of all else she has just experienced. She would not believe you, I think...* Jolinar suggested.
"Tipana is not one of the most powerful - not by a long way. There are many others who are far more powerful." Lisha said, hoping Rosha would not want her to elaborate. This, at least, was the truth.
"But we were told he rules the heavens and the earth..."
"Why did you come here at such an unfortunate time?" Rosha was suddenly suspicious, despite the fact that Lisha had just rescued her.
"I learned of Bastet planning this and had hoped I would be able to warn you. However, Bastet suspected me and I had to flee. I succeeded in transporting down here about an hour ago, from her ship, but it was much too late to save your people. The only reason the Jaffa are still here are because they wish to capture me. They have killed everyone else."
"To capture you - and kill me, now when they have seen I am alive." Rosha concluded.
"Yes. They have been told to leave no one alive, and Jaffa are most thorough. The other villages on this planet have been destroyed as well."
"Why were you on...on Bastet's ship?" Rosha asked, looking confused.
Lisha was temporarily spared having to answer when the door opened and a Jaffa peered inside.
"This building is undamaged. Search it and bring me the traitor if you should find her. Kill any others who might be here, and then burn the place to the ground."
Lisha held a finger to her lips and crouched down, preparing to jump any Jaffa that came close enough. Frightened, Rosha looked out at the Jaffa and hid as best she could behind the boxes.
For a few minutes it appeared as if they would not be detected, then one of the Jaffa pointed towards the boxes and equipment in the corner. He and two others approached.
Lisha surveyed the room. There were five Jaffa all together. Two of them were at the other end, trying to open the door there. The three others were by now almost close enough to see the two women. Just a few steps more and the first of the Jaffa would look behind the boxes and detect the fugitives.
One of the Jaffa peered curiously around the corner and Lisha immediately grabbed his staff weapon and pulled hard.
Surprised, he let go and Lisha turned it around and used it to trip him with, then lifted it to point at the next Jaffa, simultaneously activating it.
The Jaffa only just had time to cry out before she fired and he fell to the ground, dead. Meanwhile, the first Jaffa was getting up behind her. She hit him hard in the stomach with the back of the staff weapon, then fired it again as the third Jaffa approached.
She was beginning to feel it was going reasonably well, when behind her she heard the sound of a staff weapon opening.
"Drop the weapon and turn around. Now!"
Lisha sighed and did as he said. The Jaffa she had hit in the stomach, grabbed the staff weapon from one of the fallen Jaffa and supported himself with it as he slowly got up, complaining loudly. When he was standing, he hit Lisha hard with the weapon and then snarled into her face.
"Shol'va! Heretic! You have denounced your birthright! You are now as worthless as a human! Worse! Blasphemous..."
Before he could continue his litany of insults, Lisha suddenly thrust her arms forward and drew the knives she had tied to her forearms. She was now armed with two long blades. Before the Jaffa had time to react, she had cut his throat and he sank to the ground, dying at her feet.
She quickly turned to face the other, shocked Jaffa who was holding a staff weapon pointed at her. Before she could do anything, a blast hit the Jaffa squarely in the chest, killing him.
Lisha and the remaining Jaffa looked with surprise at Rosha, who held a staff weapon, taken from one of the fallen warriors. It was still smoking. She appeared to be almost as scared about what she had just done, as she was of the Jaffa.
"Quickly! Kill the last one before he shoots us!" Lisha urged.
Rosha collected herself and was just about to do that when two more Jaffa entered the building.
"Surrender at once!" The leader activated his staff weapon and pointed it at them.
Lisha moaned and Rosha immediately let go of her weapon.
"Those knives too..." The Jaffa pointed with his staff weapon, as he walked closer, his companion following.
Lisha freed the blades from the bands that tied them to her arms. When she had done so, she pretended to lay them down on the floor, but instead she suddenly let herself fall. She rolled over, threw both knives, then quickly got to her feet and jumped aside.
The first knife landed in the throat of the nearest Jaffa, and he fell to the ground with a hoarse sound. The other knife grazed the cheek of his colleague. He cried out as he fired his weapon.
The blast from it hit Lisha in her left side and she collapsed momentarily, letting out a cry. She fell beside the first of the men she had killed, and almost on top of his zat'nik'tel.
Groaning in pain, she closed her fingers around the weapon, as the two remaining Jaffa approached. The wounded one was fingering the cut on his cheek and swore.
"You will pay for that, shol'va...Tok'ra!" He spat the word. "Get the human slave!" He ordered the other Jaffa, before he walked to Lisha and ungently rolled her over.
However, Lisha was ready, and she fired her zat'nik'tel twice at the Jaffa, who hit the ground, dead.
When he realised what had happened, the other Jaffa let go of Rosha and threw her aside. He quickly jumped aside before the discharge coming from Lisha's weapon could hit him. Bringing his staff weapon up, he activated it and fired, just as he was hit by a staff blast himself. Rosha had landed near one of the weapons and had quickly used it, killing the Jaffa.
The shot from the Jaffa's staff weapon still impacted with Lisha, though not in the chest, as intended. She had had time to partly turn and move to the side, as she jumped. This meant the shot hit her in the lower back. Coming down, she fell hard and lay still on the floor.
Rosha surveyed the place, seeing no movement from any of the Jaffa. She quickly went to the door and looked outside. Seeing no one there, she considered running, but she imagined she heard a whimper from inside. Was the woman who had helped her - who had saved her life - still alive? Surely, that was impossible?
She pulled the door closed and nervously checked on all the Jaffa, making certain they were indeed dead. She then went to Lisha and checked her pulse. It was there, but very weak.
Deciding they needed cover, in case more enemies should show up, Rosha pulled the other woman to the place behind the boxes where they had hid before. She hoped the movement would not worsen the woman's condition, but she doubted it mattered anymore.
She sat down beside her, just as she opened her eyes. For a moment, Rosha imagined they glowed, ever so briefly, but she decided it must have been a trick of her eyes. This was obviously no god!
"Ro...sha. You...must take this...weapon..." She still held the zat'nik'tel, and she tried and failed to lift her hand. "Use it...shoot me...three times...with it..."
Rosha stared at her, not hearing the words, but only the tone...the odd distortion in the voice...
"You are a god! How can this be?"
"Rosha! Listen! You must do..." she coughed weakly, "...do as I...asked. Bastet must...not find me...must not...resurrect me..."
"You are a god! You cannot die!"
She smiled weakly. "My host is too badly damaged for me to heal. I am no god. I assure you, I can die."
"There must be something I can do. Somewhere I can take you where they can help you. You saved me, my Lord!"
"It is...too late...for that, and...please...I am not your Lord!" She again coughed, a little blood trickling out, then she closed her eyes for so long a time that Rosha got nervous.
The woman's eyes fluttered open again, and when she spoke this time the voice was that of a normal human.
"I am...still here, but not...for long. I am growing...weaker. We both are. There isn't...much time. Please....there is something you...you can do."
"What? Anything. Just tell me, my Lo..." She stopped herself, since this strange god did not want to be called Lord. She had a hard time believing the god was really dying. Surely she could not die? Perhaps it was a test? If so, she would not fail! Perhaps the god would bring back her family if she, Rosha, passed this test?
"Do not...say that...not before you...know what...what is asked of...you." Lisha was quiet for several minutes, gathering the strength to speak. "It is too late for...for me. All I wish now is for...for my dear Jolinar to live. She can...with your help."
"W...who is Jolinar?"
"The one who spoke...before...with the...flanged voice. She...needs a new host."
For a moment Rosha felt cold with fear. She remembered the legends. That the gods used humans to live in. As their...hosts. It was a great honour, but not one anyone wanted for themselves or their loved ones. As far as anyone knew, the god was so mighty, their essence so powerful, that all traces of the human disappeared, save for the shell now used by the god.
Now she was being told the human was still there as well, and that she obviously considered it an honour to be this god's host. Of course, it was no surprise she wanted to do one last deed for her and let the god have a new shell to use, when she herself was failing the god. Rosha felt she understood the host's motives.
Would this be Rosha's fate? What she had to do to pass the test - and perhaps help her people, in this life or the next. It was clearly the only right thing to do. Anything else would be blasphemy. Perhaps it would not be so bad - the human even seemed to be intact of mind. Rosha made a decision.
Chapter 27: Host