Chapter 5 summary: Jolinar gains a planet of her own and so becomes a very minor System Lord.
[ 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 ]
50 years passed, with Jolinar slowly becoming more powerful. Her position continued to give her access to a wealth of useful information, and whenever Cronus found a course of action which might make him more powerful, she was quick to point out the dangers and steer him in another direction, while making it appear as if it was for his own benefit. This often worked well, especially if his intention was to ally with another Goa'uld, for as all Goa'uld, he was distrustful. However, she could not completely stop him from increasing his influence and power.
Officially, Jolinar was Chief of Diplomacy, but in reality she had become one of Cronus's most trusted advisers, a key member of his inner circle. Then, one of Cronus's vassals - a Goa'uld named Erebus - got involved in a full-scale war. It resulted from a long skirmish between him and several other minor Goa'uld, and Cronus eyed the possibility for more power, by taking over the planets of these. Besides, he had long suspected his vassal of not being as trustworthy as he pretended to be.
Cronus decided to send Jolinar to Erebus. Officially to assist him in the war, but the real reason was to study him and determine if he could be trusted. Jolinar took command of a pair of Ha'taks and left for Psili, Erebus's current home-world.
He had three, and moved between them every few centuries. As the representative of their overlord, Cronus, she was met by Erebus's First Prime and a small party of Jaffa, charged with escorting her to their master.
Erebus received them immediately - as etiquette dictated - though as he was the local overlord, Jolinar would have to come to him.
Only if it had been Cronus himself visiting, would Erebus have been expected to be in the party receiving him when he disembarked.
Jolinar found the reception to be polite, even if Erebus was every bit as arrogant as expected, and clearly considered himself above her. While she was currently a representative of Cronus, and held a high position at his court, she had no planets of her own, which was the true measure of power among the Goa'uld.
She had come here expecting to find Erebus disloyal to Cronus. This would have meant she just needed to find proof, before she could expose him to Cronus, and - hopefully - get parts of Erebus's domain.
She needed this - or more correctly, the Tok'ra needed this - in order to put her in a position where she could help get other undercover Tok'ra operatives into Cronus's and his allies domain.
As a minor System Lord, she could accept the operatives into her court, let them work there for some time, and they would then seem to be trustworthy Goa'uld - or at least Goa'uld with a history of being employed by a well established Lord. This meant they would have an easier time getting a position with Cronus or one the more important of his allies.
However, Jolinar soon found that Erebus actually was a loyal underling to Cronus. This complicated things, as there was nothing incriminating to find and use to get Cronus to punish him.
Nevertheless, the Tok'ra really needed someone in a position such as this, and this was the best opportunity they were likely to get in centuries. Cronus very probably would give Jolinar a small domain if she exposed a minor System Lord as a traitor. She decided she would find a way to frame Erebus, and make it look as if he was actually working with one of Cronus's enemies. Apophis, perhaps, as it would certainly be in that Goa'uld's interest to establish an outpost so close to Cronus's domain.
Lord Amak, another minor System Lord, and one of those which Erebus was currently fighting, was loosely allied with Apophis. There was a Tok'ra agent, Simek, undercover at his court, and Jolinar secretly sent him information about Erebus. The idea was that Simek should plant the idea in Amak's head that Erebus considered betraying Cronus. Suggesting he might help Apophis capture Cronus, if he would just get the right compensation. Jolinar would then make sure messages to that end was be sent, seemingly coming from Erebus.
However, in order to send these messages, and leave traces of them on Erebus's computer for Cronus to find, she first needed access to it. In particular, she needed his encryption key, which would be used to prove the authenticity of the message. To get this access she needed to get closer to Erebus. Close enough that she would be able to get to his personal computer.
The decision made, Sannya and Jolinar set out to accomplish it. As Cronus's representative, they were of course an honoured guest, and as such they ate at Erebus's table each night.
Today, they dressed in their most alluring clothing, and when it was time for the evening meal, they gave Erebus quite a surprise. From his expression it was clearly a nice one - as a minor Goa'uld he had no doubt had difficulties attracting a mate, and he proved very receptive to Jolinar's advances. It did not take many days before he was quite taken with her, and happily took her to his bed.
Another few days passed, and Erebus was infatuated enough that he trusted her with access to his private chambers. He told his guards to let her in whenever she wanted - at any time of day or night.
With this access secured, Jolinar hacked Erebus's computer when he was otherwise engaged. It turned out to be ridiculously easy, as Erebus was not the best at computers. She secretly sent messages to Amak, which now appeared to come from Erebus. They were encrypted with his special key, so no one would dispute their authenticity. In the messages she, posing as Erebus, offered to help them capture Cronus, if the reward was big enough - planets, power, and riches.
Amak answered positively, seeing a chance for a reward himself if they brought Cronus to Apophis. Jolinar made sure to leave lots of traces on the computer, and did not bother securing the signal too well - only good enough no one would suspect it was on purpose. After all, Erebus was clearly not very good with computers, and it would make sense he also did not know how to - or even think to - secure his messages well.
After a few weeks, where Jolinar spent part of her time building up the planets defenses, and part of the time playing the besotted lover of Erebus, she made copies of the messages appearing to be from Erebus to Amak. She sent those to Cronus, claiming she intercepted them after having become suspicious of Erebus, seeing him with strangers.
Cronus immediately believed Jolinar's 'proof' - especially since this was what he already suspected. He sent his fleet to capture Erebus, later to execute him. Not only did Cronus take Erebus's small domain, but he also wiped out those of the nearby minor Goa'uld that were unaligned, in order to avoid them joining Apophis in fear of Cronus. Some of them were Erebus's allies, and could of course not be trusted now, while some were neutral.
In return for her services, Jolinar received one of Erebus's planets - Siok.
The result of all this was only partly what the Tok'ra had hoped. While they now had an operative in Cronus's field of influence, with her own small system, and so the possibility of sneaking in Tok'ra that way, they also had to admit Cronus had become more powerful. So powerful, actually, that he pledged to Ra and was allowed to have his own queen, and no longer had to share. Rhea moved in with him permanently.
To Jolinar, this had the advantage she no longer had to share Cronus's bed when his queen was away. Both she and Sannya were relieved.
*This is a little strange...* Jolinar remarked as she sat down in the throne chair in her newly acquired palace.
*Many things about this is strange, not in the least the decor...* Sannya added.
*Yes, I agree.* Jolinar studied it, frowning. *It is strange. The artwork is confusing, and the colours are...bold to put it mildly. Actually, I have no clue what those illustrations are supposed to be, but the colours certainly clashes - with everything - and all that gold is offensive. I do not care how 'Goa'uld' it is. It will have to be redecorated, or I will get a permanent headache every time I enter this room!*
*But that was not what I meant earlier. I feel strange...being a System Lord again. Yes, I only have one planet, and I am completely under Cronus's power...and besides, I only pretend to be a Minor System Lord...but despite all this, it feels very strange to be back in such a role. To be seated on 'my' throne. I must admit I would have forsworn it ever happening again.* She sounded more than a little disgusted.
*It is for a good cause.* Sannya reminded her, giving her a mental 'hug'. *Necessary, even, to help our operatives gain access to positions at the courts of Cronus and his allies. You know it has been very difficult to get any inside before we managed.*
*I know.* Jolinar sighed. *That is not all, though. I also - inexplicably, perhaps - feel bad about framing Erebus and causing his death. He was innocent - and I think he kind of fell in love with me.*
*I am sure he did, but that too was necessary. And you must not forget he hardly was an innocent. He may not have betrayed Cronus, but he was still a Goa'uld, and he did not treat his subjects any better than most of his kind. You know that as well as I.*
*True. Thank you for reminding me.* Jolinar felt relief and warmly 'hugged' her host.
Resigning themselves to the situation - for now at least - they set to work on the immediate problem; making the palace halls and rooms a little more palatable to look at. Their goal was to balance a more subdued style with one that was still outrageous enough to be 'normal' for a Goa'uld. They did not want to call attention to themselves in any way.
*We really need to do something for the population. They are suffering.* Sannya remarked, as they looked out over the mass of people cheering their new god.
They stood on a platform, placed at the far end of a large plaza in front of Jolinar's palace. As was customary, the planet's new leader allowed themselves to be seen and worshipped by the population. This was especially common when a Goa'uld had just risen to power or conquered a world, but it was not uncommon for them to do it now and then in any case. It was important to allow the scared masses to be humbled and impressed by their god - besides, the Goa'uld enjoyed being worshipped above all else.
Jolinar sighed noiselessly, then frowned as she studied the scenario. This reminded her of the very first time she had stood in a place such as this, and this particular part of her past was not something she enjoyed being reminded of.
It had been a short time after she took over the domain from her father, after he had been murdered. An assassination attempt had been made against her as well, and she had only been saved because her host had been able to wrestle control from her and activate their personal force-shield.
That had been the first time she had secretly been happy she was too young to be able to fully suppress her host. It had also been one of the things that made her begin to see things differently.
Jolinar felt a wave of shame, quickly squashed, when she thought of the person she had been then...Goa'uld. She felt revulsion at the very idea, but shook it of. She needed to focus. Again she looked out over the mass of people. Her people. As Sannya said, they were obviously suffering. They looked poor...starving, thin, wearing rags. Scared - of her.
Unfortunately, there was very little she could do to make their lives better without raising suspicion. She would try to be a - reasonably - benevolent ruler. It was a line she had had to tread before.
With some difficulty, she pulled her focus back to the present and looked at the nervous priest standing before her. He was ready to proclaim her the rightful ruler of the planet. Chosen by the god Cronus, and a minor god, herself. As he started citing the words that would include her in the local religion, she mused she would be seen as a kind of local deity - one which would rule these people's lives and destinies quite literally.
She heard him warn the people against incurring her wrath. The priest droned on for a few minutes more, before turning towards her.
Jolinar stepped forward a little, allowing the people to get a good look at her. She had dressed to impress - and to allure. She wanted to convey a strong, but also attractive image. She had no wish to make them fear her more than what was necessary.
She wore a white, shoulder-less dress, embroidered with gold in a Greek style along the hem. She had on a thin belt, and wore a long, flowing pale blue robe over her shoulders. Her golden hair had been lightly curled, and set up with a diadem - a circle shaped out of thin gold and heavily set with jewels. On her feet she wore leather sandals, with thin leather strips tied in a criss-cross pattern around the lower part of her legs.
When she had allowed the assembled masses to get a good look at her, and an awed silence had fallen, she addressed them.
"I am your Lord Siwa, and I have come here to do what that pathetic Erebus could not; take proper care of you and this planet. I trust you will all do your very best to please me - and Lord Cronus. It will be hard at first, since Erebus kept this place in such deplorable condition, but I know you will make me proud..." She continued her speech for a few more minutes, then made a pause to allow the population to cheer her.
She hated it! Hated seeing the fear on their faces, but there was nothing she could do.
Jolinar graciously allowed them to show their love and worship for her for another several minutes before she raised a hand, instantly silencing them.
"For now, go back to work. As a sign of my love for you all, there will be a celebration in my honour tonight. You will all participate."
She left to return to her palace, followed by the cheering of her subjects.
*I have made sure there will be plenty of food and drink for everyone in the city this evening. The plaza will be decorated, and musicians will play, giving people a chance to dance and have fun.*
*You know I agree it is a good idea. I am sure they will be grateful. Not all Goa'uld would throw a party for the human slaves when they take over. Usually, there will just be one for the Jaffa, and then later one for their Goa'uld allies. We must ensure the celebration for the Jaffa will be lavish enough that we do not risk resentment - and the one for the Goa'uld must of course be as lavish as we can afford.*
*True. Throwing a party for the human slaves still does little to easy my conscience, though.* Jolinar sighed. *I wish we would not have to work them so hard, but if we do not, Cronus will be unhappy, and we will be suspected.*
They went to their personal chamber, to once more rehearse the speech they would give for their Jaffa.
It was less than a week later, when a servant announced a visitor - a 'Lord Meriak'.
*It is a code name used by Korra, is that not correct? That was quick!* Sannya observed.
*Yes - and it is. The council must be desperate to place more spies among Cronus's allies, to send someone here so soon.*
*I wonder if there is perhaps some intelligence we have not received, which may merit this haste?*
*Maybe, of course, it is not unusual to have very minor, 'unaligned' Goa'uld try to get their career started by entering the service of a new Minor System Lord without underlings yet. Perhaps the council is just taking advantage of that.*
*So, we had to let Cronus fuck us regularly, for 50 years, while we slowly worked our way up. A very minor underling, taking any odd jobs - and now, when we are finally in a reasonably good position, the council just sweeps in and expect us to clear the way for any people they may choose to send? Helping them find positions after they have become vetted by working here for a few years? So they do not have to do what we did? How convenient!* Sannya sounded exasperated.
*Yes, that is essentially the case. It is the most efficient way of doing it, instead of everyone having to spend many years making themselves seem believable. It is not pleasant for the ones who have to do what we did, but I have to agree it is probably one of the few ways to do it, if we want sufficient intelligence.*
During this small interlude, Jolinar had pretended to think over the request from the visitor, and now told her servant she would receive 'Lord Meriak'.
A short while later, Korra walked into the throne room, and up to Jolinar, an arrogant expression on his face.
Jolinar studied him, smiling to herself. Those clothes really did not suit him! The red colour interspersed with copious amounts of gold, clashed horribly with the fiery red hair and very pale skin of his host Serpak.
*If they want to work for us, they will have to dress better!* Jolinar observed.
*Be kind - as far as I remember, it fit his former host well. It may have sentimental value.* Sannya suggested.
Korra bowed to her.
"Lord Siwa. I am Lord Meriak. It is an honour to make your acquaintance."
"I am sure it is. What do you want from me?"
"I am here to offer my services. As you are...newly established, I am hoping you have not yet had time to find the right man for every position."
"Perhaps not." Jolinar admitted. "Why would I want to employ you?"
"My skills are diverse, though I am especially trained in trade and diplomacy."
*Ohh...I have an idea...maybe he would enjoy learning something about fashion...* Sannya 'smirked'.
Jolinar almost laughed out loud, then sobered.
"I have no need for either a diplomat or a tradesman." Jolinar scoffed. "However, I may have another position you could fill. Do you have any experience as a decorator? This place needs improvement."
"I...may have some ideas..." Korra said, looking less than enthused.
"Good." Jolinar turned to her First Prime. "Show Lord Meriak to a suitable chamber." She looked at Korra again. "I will meet with you at dinner tonight, and discuss your position further."
"Thank you, my Lord Siwa." Korra bowed deeply before he left the room, following the Jaffa.
"Leave us." Jolinar ordered the servants, who had just finished serving the food and drink.
They bowed deeply, then fled the room. Jolinar waited until the door had closed behind them, before she turned to Korra.
"The council is certainly in a hurry." She observed, speaking in a lower voice than usual, should any of the servants be listening. She doubted it, though. "How fortunate for them I have managed to get this position - through hard and dirty work..."
"The council is grateful."
"Though they will never actually tell you - and besides, this is no more than what they expected of me, or any operative." Jolinar sighed. "Do you bring any news? Will you need a particular position, or will any do?"
"I suppose...any will do. What we really need is an operative at Hera's court, and as soon as possible since she is up to something. Since she is an ally of Cronus's..."
"...I can probably help you." Jolinar finished.
"That is what the council thought, yes...and thank you, but...interior decorator. Really? Me?"
Jolinar laughed. "Do you not like your new position?"
"I must admit it is not something I have ever considered."
"Well, you cannot do any worse than what the Goa'uld who owned this place before, did."
"That is true! Oh, well...I guess I can probably do this." Korra sighed, accepting his fate. He knew from other arguments with her that he would never win, so he was not even going to try.
"Good." Jolinar smiled, satisfied the problem was solved. "Now, let us enjoy the food!"
Chapter 6: An Old Acquaintance