Chapter 31 summary: Rosha/Jolinar goes on missions together with Nemura/Lantash.
[ 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, Lantash, Malek, and Anise. You will be in charge of setting up the deflector dish. Jalen, Sina, Kanan, and Korra coordinates the evacuation of the population to the temporary tunnel system beneath the mountains. Any questions?" Garshaw asked.
There were no questions and they all hurried to complete their task. The meteor swarm had been detected too late to fully avoid an impact with the planet of Howok, but the Tok'ra deflector dish would divert the majority of the incoming rocks, and ensure none would hit near the cities.
Fortunately, the world was sparsely populated, and all the cities were located near to each other. For those meteors that could not be deflected into space, the choice had been between letting them hit the large, unpopulated continent further south, or the ocean.
There were problems with both solutions, of course. Letting the meteors crash into land, would cause massive amounts of dust to be whirled into the atmosphere, where it might stay for years, obscuring the sunlight, cooling the planet, and so causing the harvests to fail.
Hitting the oceans would create a tidal wave, which would crash into the continents surrounding the ocean, potentially travelling far inland and destroying trees and vegetation, while killing people and animals.
However, since the population was contained close to the middle of a rather large continent, and would be far enough from the coast to be safe from the tidal wave, the Tok'ra had chosen the second option; plunging the meteors into the sea. Since a small number of meteors would no doubt still hit populated areas, the Tok'ra had moved the population temporarily to tunnels constructed under the mountains.
Hopefully, the damage would be minimal, and the people would quickly be able to return to their cities - and without anyone visiting the planet discovering that the Tok'ra had been there.
The local Goa'uld fortunately never visited the planet, and preferred staying at a more advanced world, only rarely sending Jaffa parties to Howok, to pick up naquadah, gold, and the occasional slave or future host.
"The deflector dish is running at full capacity. How close is the meteor swarm?" Anise asked, sounding tense.
"It will hit the atmosphere in 10 minutes." Jolinar said, looking at the read-out.
"All right." Anise made a few final adjustments. "Time to run for the tunnels."
"Lantash?" Jolinar queried, looking at the young man who was still tweaking some device.
"Coming. There is a fluctuation in the power converter." He continued fiddling with it. "Can you hold these very still?" He indicated the phase transducers he had removed from the small naquadah powered generator.
"Yes, but could you hurry up!?" Jolinar worriedly looked at the read-outs on her screen, before she very carefully took the phase transducers. She turned to Malek and Anise. "Run. We will follow you as soon as possible." She turned back to Lantash. "Why did you have to remove these? If they are pulled just a tiny bit too far away from each others with the current setup, the whole deflector could explode!"
"Then you better make sure you're not doing that, right?" Lantash sounded edgy, as he continued tinkering with the device. "I could not get to the power cell without removing them, and I believe the fluctuation is actually caused by a flaw in that instead of the power converter itself." Several minutes later, he finally let out a breath he had not even known he had been holding. "That should do it! Now give me the phase transducers."
Jolinar handed them to him, carefully, and he put them back where they belonged, then reassembled the rest of the setup. Running a scanner over it, he nodded, looking satisfied.
"Does it work properly?"
"Good, the let us get the Hell out of here!" Jolinar grabbed his hand and began running, pulling him after her. He stumbled once, then began running along with her.
They reached the entrance to the tunnels and ringed down just as the first meteors blazed across the sky.
"Sorry, Jolinar. I did not mean to yell at you. I was merely concerned for our safety."
"No problem, I understand." She reached over and gave his hand a squeeze, and he smiled happily at her.
It had been almost a week since they returned from the mission to Howok. The plan had worked as expected, and there had been only very minimal damage to the cities and villages. The population had returned to their dwellings, and the Tok'ra had removed the deflector dish and collapsed the tunnels. There was nothing left that could make a Goa'uld suspicious.
Selmak had returned from the trip she and Saroosh had made to Saroosh's home world, and they - together with Malek, Jolinar, and Lantash - had taken to spend many evenings together, whenever there was time for relaxation. Sometimes they would play a game, but often they would just sit and talk, perhaps sharing a glass of wine. The Tok'ra also produced several, usually very strong alcoholic beverages, and traded for others.
Selmak, Malek, and Jolinar were old friends, but Lantash was always welcome in the group. Malek and Selmak teased Jolinar - when Lantash was not there - pointing out how infatuated he seemed to be with her and Rosha, following them around like a lost puppy. It was clear Nemura was falling for Jolinar too, but that surprised no one. Host and symbiote always ended up sharing stronger emotions.
Lantash had long since made it clear he did not want missions where he had to pretend to be a Goa'uld, if at all possible. He had also told the Council he would prefer no long-term missions - for the time being, at least. He had had quite enough of that after his time on Silvana. To be honest, he did not really enjoy life as an operative. Not all Tok'ra did, and since there were plenty of jobs that needed to be done in the tunnels, it was never a problem.
Since Rosha and Jolinar had also requested shorter missions for the foreseeable future, they often ended up on small short-term missions together with Lantash.
*I do not think anyone here is interested in becoming hosts!* Rosha commented, exasperated.
She and Jolinar - together with Nemura/Lantash - had been sent on a mission to look for potential hosts. Tonna and Garshaw would need new hosts within a few weeks, at most, so they could not permit themselves to fail.
They had already visited one planet, Setona - a world which sometimes had volunteers - indeed, Garshaw's current host was from that planet, but no one had been interested this time. It was a difficult planet to find hosts on, as it was quite highly advanced for a human world which had once belonged to the Goa'uld. The Tok'ra had connections to a few families there, who knew who they were, but these had not known of anyone willing to join the Tok'ra just now.
They were currently on the planet Tollan, which was even more advanced than Setona, and the existence of the Tok'ra was known to their government. In previous centuries, the Tollan had been quite friendly and had happily accepted the help of the Tok'ra, especially after a cataclysmic event had devastated their world some time ago - and had in return given what help they could to the Tok'ra, mostly hosts.
However, the Tollan were becoming somewhat arrogant, and no longer cared about what happened in the rest of the Galaxy - going as far as saying it did not matter to them what the Goa'uld did, as long as they stayed away.
Needless to say, this meant there were no one interested in volunteering as hosts, and since the Tollan medical technology was now quite advanced - to a certain degree thanks to inventions provided by the Tok'ra - no one was in a situation were blending was needed to save their life.
*No, I think we can just as well move on to the next planet on our list.* Jolinar agreed.
"Ungrateful bastards!" Lantash commented. "'We do not care about the Goa'uld...we leave them alone, and they leave us alone'" He mocked. "Fools!" He angrily pressed the center button of the dialing device and the wormhole flushed open.
*He is correct, you know...* Rosha observed.
*Yes...but I can also see it from the Tollan side. They feel like they are strong enough to protect themselves from the Goa'uld, and so do not want to risk their people by provoking the System Lords, especially since their planet is in turmoil. Of course, if they do not keep up on their research, and ignore events in the Galaxy, they will eventually be overrun by the Goa'uld. Unless others keep the Goa'uld occupied, which they must hope for.*
*It is amoral to let others fight so you can be safe!* Rosha sounded outraged.
*Yes, but if you do not have the big picture or can foresee the development over a long period of time - something people with a shorter lifespan regrettably do not always do - they may not think it is a problem worth focusing on. They often find greater importance in that which is attractive to them in the shorter term. However, I fear the day will come when they will regret this stance.*
*We should help them see it!*
*Normally, I would agree, but I fear they would not thank us for doing so. Come, Lantash has already gone through the chaapa'ai. Let us follow.*
They stepped through the wormhole and came out on the third planet they were going to visit this time. It was called Khi'lnok, and was a pleasantly green world. The population there was at a much lower technological level of development than the two others they had just been to. It was a typical Goa'uld world, owned by an underling of Kali's - Bhairavi.
"We must be careful here, Lantash. There could well be Jaffa." Rosha warned him.
"I know." He bowed his head, giving control to Nemura. They were pretending to be humans - going as Goa'uld would be safer with regards to the Jaffa, but it would make it much more difficult to convince anyone to volunteer as a host, of course.
They followed the well-trodden road to the nearest village, not meeting any Jaffa. Rosha walked up to the first villager they spotted.
"Greetings. We are friends of the village elder's youngest daughter. Is this an agreeable time to visit?"
The village elder's daughter had joined the Tok'ra many years ago, so this would serve as an introduction.
"Many have been taken by the servants of the evil gods, but I believe she will receive those who are family by extension."
"Thank you." Rosha smiled at the man, and walked in the direction he pointed.
They soon reached the large building belonging to the village elder and her extended family. They had been given advice by the other Tok'ra on how to approach the leaders of this society, so they respectfully stopped just outside the door and rang twice on the bell hanging there.
After some moments, a young woman appeared, who asked them for their business. After a short wait, they were taken before the village elder.
"Greetings, honourable Asima. We have come from the people who now count your youngest daughter, Fellah as one of their members. I am Rosha Jolinar, and this is Nemura Lantash."
Rosha did as the Tok'ra often did, when interacting with other cultures, especially those who did not know the truth about them - she presented host and symbiote at the same time, using both names.
Nemura bowed his head in greeting, remembering that as a male he was not allowed to speak unless spoken to in this culture. The Tok'ra did not approve of such unfair treatment, but it was not their place to comment, and there would have been little they could do in any case. They did not wish to antagonize a potential source of hosts.
"Welcome, young Rosha Jolinar...Nemura Lantash..." Asima smiled kindly at them and turned to the young woman. "Leave us, grandchild."
The woman bowed and left immediately.
"Now we can talk undisturbed." Asima said.
Rosha bowed her head and gave Jolinar control.
"Thank you...and on behalf of the Tok'ra, we grieve for the people who have been taken by Bhairavi's Jaffa."
Asima bowed her head. "Much misfortune have befallen us since our Lord Ptah in his infinite wisdom decided to leave us."
Jolinar seriously doubted Ptah would have treated them any better - or that he had willingly parted with the planet, but decided that was a discussion for another time.
"We bring greetings from Fellah, and hopes that others may wish to join our cause against the evil of the Galaxy."
"Unfortunately, I fear many of those who might have wished to join have been taken." She looked up and towards the door, where someone had just knocked. "Yes? Who disturbs us?"
The door opened and a dark-haired, middle-aged woman, entered.
"Forgive me, older sister, but I heard we have visitors...from Fellah's new people."
Asima smiled. "Yes, so we have." She turned towards Jolinar. "This is Yosuuf, sister of my youngest husband."
"A pleasure to meet you, Yosuuf." Rosha said, politely, having taken over from Jolinar. "I am Rosha Jolinar and this is Nemura Lantash..."
"Subterfuge is not necessary. She knows what you are."
Rosha nodded. "Very well." She gave control back to Jolinar.
"You wish to meet the Tok'ra?"
"Yes, I have questions." Yosuuf said, barely registering the shock she felt at suddenly hearing the distorted voice. The voice resembling one she had only heard once before, as a small child, when the Goa'uld Lord had come and her older sister had been taken.
"Then let me try to answer them."
"So, it is true that as a host I would gain knowledge far above what I would learn as a human on this world? Gain a friend, and a longer, healthier life?"
"Yes." Jolinar said. "You are interested in volunteering?"
"Oh...very much so. I always wanted to learn about the Galaxy, about everything. I did not think you would accept me. The Goa'uld only take young and beautiful hosts."
"Beauty depends on the eyes that see, and we are not Goa'uld. We would be very grateful indeed if you agree to serve as a host."
"Then...I would very much like to do so. There is just one thing." She turned towards Asima. "Elder sister. My son has not yet reached an age where he can be given to a woman. Will you see to his further education, and find him a good and kind woman when he is ready?"
"I will. Do not concern yourself."
Yosuuf smiled. "Then I volunteer."
Rosha/Jolinar and Nemura/Lantash had only just arrived on the planet their base was currently located on, when several guards came running towards them.
"You bring a host?" Jalen looked relieved.
"Yes. This is Yosuuf." Jolinar said.
"Welcome...this is most fortunate! There has been an accident, and Garshaw's host is dying. It would not normally have been so serious, but as it is, she is too frail for Garshaw to heal!"
They all hurried to the ring transporter, Jolinar and Lantash doing their best to alleviate any fear Yosuuf felt at the suddenness of the situation.
Jolinar and Lantash left early next morning to continue the search for hosts.
Garshaw had blended with Yosuuf, and they were getting along well. Yosuuf was eager to learn, and she had already gained more from the blending than she had dreamed possible. It would take her a while to adjust to the different culture, but she was more open than most of her people, so it would not take long.
Lantash had dialed the address to the next planet on their list.
This was another Goa'uld world, but again not one that had an active presence of Goa'uld. There was a palace, but the local under-lord only stayed there occasionally, preferring another, more advanced planet as his home world.
They followed the road to the village nearest the Stargate. There were only a handful of settlements on this world, and if they found no one willing to join the Tok'ra in the first, they would continue on to those further from the Stargate.
Rosha gazed at the sky. The sun was not yet at the highest point, and it was already hot. It would be a long, warm day.
Chapter 32: Taking A Chance