TITLE: The Fall of Setona
AUTHOR: Roeskva and Tjalfe
CATEGORY: Drama
DISCLAIMER: All publicly recognisable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret Productions. This piece
of fan fiction was created for entertainment only and not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Any similarity
to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
SUMMARY: When the Tok'ra learn that the Goa'uld Nephthys wishes to subjugate a planet that has been free of the Goa'uld for centuries, they decide to intervene.
RATING: NC-17
PAIRING: Rosha/Jolinar/Martouf/Lantash
CHARACTERS: Malek, Martouf/Lantash, Rosha/Jolinar, Zarin, Thoran, OCs, others
STATUS: Complete
SPOILERS: All Tok'ra episodes.
AUTHORS NOTES: * denotes thoughts or symbiote/host communication. Pre-series. Takes place about 25 years before 'The Tok'ra I & II'. In my story the Jaffa can not sense symbiotes (as in the first seasons of SG-1). It never made sense to me that they could in later episodes, since they do not have naquadah in their blood and do not communicate with their symbiotes.

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[ Chapter 1: The mission | Chapter 2: Nephtys Attacks | Chapter 3: The New Host | Chapter 4: Going Home | Chapter 5: Rejoined ]

A Tok'ra base planet.

Malek, Lantash, Thoran, and Zarin were attending a briefing which was being conducted by Kanan. They were being sent on a mission to the planet Setona, and Kanan had recently returned from an undercover mission to Nephthys's courts with some very relevant and disturbing information.

"...so, as I said, Nephthys has been building her forces for a long time now. She is almost ready, and we believe she will attack within a month." Kanan said. "She is targeting a small group of isolated planets which used to be part of Anubis's empire. They are far from the main Goa'uld sectors...devoid of easily accessible naquadah and as a result they have been ignored for centuries."

"It is unfortunate she has decided to expand her empire, and to enslave worlds which has been free for many years...but why have we been summoned here? You mentioned we were being sent to one of Anubis's former planets - why? What good can we do? What interest do the Tok'ra have in witnessing their downfall? Malek wanted to know.

"We are hoping to prevent this disaster, at least on one of the planets. While the majority of those worlds have not seen much development, one of them has. It is called 'Setona' - I believe some of you may have heard of it?"

"Yes," Thoran said. "The Tok'ra have been trading with them regularly over the centuries - I have personally been there several times. It is a pleasant world."

"I agree. I was part of a trading mission to Setona 10 years ago, when Jena had just become my host. We both enjoyed the visit. The people are friendly and the society quite advanced - they have reached level 7 on the development scale." Zarin commented.

"Do they know of the Tok'ra?" Lantash asked.

"No," Garshaw spoke up, "but a few have been told over the centuries. My former host was Setonan."

"It is just this very fact - that Setona is as highly advanced as it is - which is the reason for our interest. Their military and aircraft could very likely fight back Nephthys's forces if they were prepared for it - her might is not yet very formidable." Kanan rested his hands on the table and was quiet for a moment, observing the others as they realised what the plan was. "Your mission will be to convince them of the danger. Get them to mobilize their troops - all of them. This is a possibility we can not let go - the chance to stop and perhaps even kill Nephthys."

Kanan handed them each a data pad. "On these you will find additional information on Setona and Nephthys...you will pose as traders from the planet Toven. It is the cover story we have used before. Attempt to meet the government directly through our contact in the Department of Commerce...Zarin, you will be in charge as you have visited the planet most recently." Kanan sat down, indicating he had finished his briefing.

Garshaw stood and looked at each of them. "You leave tomorrow morning...good luck!"

-
Next morning.

Thoran and Malek were standing near the chaapa'ai. They were waiting for Lantash and Zarin who had gone to pick up the merchandise they would pretend to sell. They would bring gemstones, beautiful jewelry, and exotic spices, as well as samples of the finest silk from Sagittarius III.

Malek looked up. The sun was already high in the sky, and the temperature was becoming unpleasant. *I hate deserts, Johan. I wonder why we always have to have our bases in deserts? There must be other uninhabited, hostile looking planets were we can hide.*

*We're not always on desert worlds...in the 15 years I have been your host, we have lived on five different planets - only four of those have been deserts.*

*I stand corrected - I had forgotten about Zartesh and the three months we managed to stay there before the toxic fumes from all the volcanoes became too much, even for Garshaw...*
 
Johan hugged his symbiote. *My poor Malek...I would also like to see something besides sand and rocks. I dearly hope Setona is as wonderful as they say. My home world had a temperate climate and an abundance of lakes that were just perfect for swimming - I really miss that.*

*You miss pleasant lakes to swim in? What do you think I do then? I grew up in a lake!*

"Malek..." Thoran gave him a slight nudge, "are you still with us?" he grinned, having tried to get through to him for a few minutes.

Surprised, Malek looked at him. "Sorry, Thoran. We were talking about the unfortunate choices the Tok'ra are forced to make when it comes to finding planets for our bases."

"Complaining about the deserts again, are you? Well, you are right. They are unpleasant, but they are also some of the safest planets for us. They do not look habitable, so anyone arriving here by coincidence will take one look and leave. Besides, we do not risk meeting any local inhabitants either."

Malek sighed. He should have known Thoran would focus on security and safety for the Tok'ra. He had probably been talking to the security chief, Ocker, again.

Before Malek could think of anything to answer, the chaapa'ai activated. Moments later Lantash and Zarin came through carrying the merchandise for the Setonans.

As soon as the wormhole had shut down behind them, Thoran dialed the address for the world they would gate to Setona from. They could not risk going directly.

-
The small group of Tok'ra stepped out on the planet Setona. Lantash looked around. There were only an old paved road leading away from the chaapa'ai, and some shrubbery and plants growing around it. A forest began maybe 100 feet behind them. There were no sign of activity nearby. "I thought the planet was relatively advanced? Do they not travel to other worlds?"

"The planet is fairly developed - much more so than most former Goa'uld worlds, but they do not use the chaapa'ai. It was long associated with 'the old evil gods', but nowadays it is mostly just tradition as well as a sense of unease that keeps the population away from the area, I think."

Lantash nodded, understanding. This was how matters often were on planets formerly enslaved by the Goa'uld. They slowly started walking through a beautiful landscape towards the nearest city.

"The planet seems so peaceful. It is difficult to understand that in 3-4 weeks Nephthys will be here." Malek observed.

They had reached the outskirts of the city and were now walking on neat, clean streets. On both sides of the road were rows of sturdy, pleasant looking houses in well-kept gardens. People were wearing nice clothing, and no one looked poor. This only made the Tok'ra sadder about the future awaiting these people, should their mission fail. They felt even more determined to succeed.

Zarin's host, Jena, pointed to a green sign with some sort of symbol on it. "We will make use of their public transportation system to reach the capital - Kiva - itself. We are in one of the smaller cities surrounding it. The guesthouse we usually stay at is in the northern part of the capital - not far from the governmental areas...oh, and remember, they do not know us as Tok'ra here, but believe we are humans."

The others nodded.

*Malek...what do you suppose the picture on that sign is supposed to be? It looks like a box on wheels...*

*It resembles a train...or perhaps a bus...* he showed Johan images of these things, remembering that Johan's home planet were like most of the Goa'uld occupied worlds and that he would never have seen anything like them. *...since we are currently walking down into a tunnel I presume it is a subterranean transportation system. I have seen them once before on another planet, and the Tollan also have similar transportation systems, though theirs are usually either on the surface or on rails above it.*

"How will we pay for transportation, Jena? Being as advanced as it is, I assume the planet has its own currency and do not use the bartering system many worlds do, nor simply gold, or the Goa'uld coinages?" Johan asked.

"Yes. They do have their own currency, but most public services are free, including the transportation system. At least they were when we last visited. When we reach the capital I know a place where we can trade some of the gold we brought in exchange for local currency." She went to the entrance, and seeing no indication of a place to pay, she signaled the others to follow.

They rode the subway to a station very close to their destination. While several things had changed in the city since Zarin and Jena had been there, the station was still in the same place. Zarin led the way to the Ministry of Commerce, stopping briefly at a small shop where she exchanged their gold. They hoped their contact from 10 years ago - then a junior secretary - would still be working at the Ministry.

When they arrived, Jena presented herself as Jena Zarin, representing the trading expedition from Toven - asking to speak with Mr. Kori, former or current junior secretary.

About an hour later Zarin rejoined the others. "Kori still works here, but he is now first secretary. Very fortunate for us. He remembers our visit 10 years ago favourably and has arranged rooms for us - at the same guesthouse we stayed at then. I suggest we go there now. He also promised to meet with us tomorrow afternoon."

"How much does he know?" Milek, Thoran's host wondered.

"Only that we are traders from another world. Rarely do we reveal ourselves, unless under very special circumstances. However, sometimes there will be one or two who are very interested in other worlds, or who show unusual skills making us pay special attention. Sadly, as you know we always have to look for people who might perhaps be interested in becoming a host. I wish it were not so difficult to find willing hosts!"

-
A week later.

The Tok'ra had met with first secretary Kori and he had introduced them to several members of the government. It had taken a whole week to get to speak to someone from the Department of Defense. They had just returned from this meeting, during which they had attempted to convince the officials that a very real threat existed. It had been difficult as they could not tell who they really were - only that they were travellers from another world. They had attempted to convince the officials that this had given them opportunity to hear certain rumours  - rumours that had been confirmed during their travels to other planets.

It had not gone as well as they had hoped. There was only one who believed them enough to talk the others into letting the Tok'ra meet with representatives of the military and the air force. To let members of the armed forces hear the story and evaluate the potential threat. The meeting would take place in one week - it was not possible to find a time before that.

"A week from now - there is already at most 3 weeks before Nephthys arrives. Are these people fools?" Lantash sounded exasperated.

"They do not know we are anything but traders from Toven, who just happened to come across information about a planned invasion. I believe we are lucky they will meet with us at all." Thoran said.

"That is true." Lantash conceded. "Perhaps we were wrong to conceal our identity."

"Perhaps so. We will have to give some consideration to whether or not we should reveal our true nature to some of their representatives. However, there is also the risk they might believe us to be another faction of the Goa'uld, wishing to lure them in and take over this world ourselves."

"They cannot believe that! They have traded with our people for centuries!" Malek pointed out.

"We have no way of knowing what they will believe. While revealing our identity may convince them that we indeed have genuine information about the Goa'uld, it will most likely also make them suspicious. It will be obvious to them that biologically we are the same species." Zarin said.

"...and they may not feel any great love and trust towards beings who to them are the same as their old, evil gods. I see your point." Lantash sighed.

"Be that as it may. We have a week to consider our approach. For now, we need to get ready. We do not want to be late for the dinner first secretary Kori is hosting for us at his house, tonight."

-
One day earlier.

The young man looked distractedly at the landscape outside the window, as the maglev - the magnetic monorail - zoomed past it. He was on his way home from the university to spend the summer vacation with his parents and sister. Five whole weeks back home. He was looking forward to seeing his family and friends - and to walk in the local forests and hills again. He had missed it all.

Lost in his own thoughts, the 4 hour trip home to Kiva felt very short. Soon they announced his stop. Collecting his bags he got off the maglev. He had not taken many steps before he spotted his mother. Waving at her, he ran to her.

"Mother," he dropped his luggage and hugged her. "I missed you!"

"I have missed you too, my dear," she hugged him back. "Come...your father and sister are waiting for us at home - they have dinner ready..."

"Sounds good - I'm starving!"

"You're always starving..." she smiled, "...it is good to have you home."

"It is good to be home...has anything interesting happened while I have been gone?"

"Hmmm...not much which I haven't told you of before...traders from Toven are visiting our planet. Your father has been meeting with them."

"Really? From Toven - another planet! Did they come through the Ring of the Gods...the chaapa'ai? Do you think I could meet them? There is so much I would like to ask them!"

"Calm down," his mother laughed at his enthusiasm. "Yes...I would imagine they came through the Ring of the Gods. Perhaps you will get to ask them about Toven. Your father has invited them to a dinner tomorrow, at our house."

"Wow! That's...that's great!" he said excitedly. "People from another world...do you think they would show me how to use the chaapa'ai? I..."

"No! You will not ask them about it - and you will not go near it...it is bad luck!"

"Mother! You can't mean that! It's superstition. My professor says it is just a piece of technology - not magical in any way. She believes it should be studied and used by our people."

"It would only bring problems - superstition or not...and we would risk the wrath - and return - of the evil gods of old."

The young man shook his head and decided not to pursue the matter further. He changed the subject as they stepped into the trolley which would take them to their local bus-stop. "So, mother...you said dinner were waiting for us. What are we having?"

-
The evening of the next day.

First secretary Kori and his wife Aldis had prepared a number of local delicacies for their foreign guests who had just arrived. Kori welcomed them and showed them into the house, introducing them to the two other guests. They were the chairman of the Defense committee, Sholnek, and Legate Sokkolf - an old classmate of Kori's and the commander of the local military district. Hopefully, if he would only believe the truth and realise there was a very real danger of attack, he would be able to convince some of the planet's other military leaders. After the introductions they all sat down at the table.

"Welcome everyone...and a special welcome to our Toven friends...Jena Zarin, I remember meeting you 10 years ago, when I was just a junior secretary. I must say, time has been good to you - you do not look a day older." Kori smiled. He then looked over at his wife, and at his two children. "You have all met Aldis, my lovely wife, but my children are here tonight as well. My daughter Svala, and my son Atli...he is home on vacation from the university, where he has already studied the natural sciences for a year, despite being only 17! Not even old enough to take his adult name yet, and already a young scholar..." Kori smiled proudly at his son, who looked like he wanted to crawl under a rock and hide. Why did his father have to talk about him? "One day he will become a famous scientist, of that I am sure!"

The foreigners smiled kindly at Atli, especially the young woman named Jena, who sat next to him. She seemed to have taken an interest in him.

*Jena - this young man could potentially be an excellent host. It is too bad the Goa'uld are coming. We need more time to evaluate him. To determine if he might be interested and, if so, to teach him what it means to be Tok'ra.*

*Yes, I agree. It is an unfortunate fact that we always need more hosts. Currently there is no one waiting for a symbiote. It is a dangerous situation. If someone should be badly injured...*

*I know. Perhaps we should talk with the young man - see what we can learn. Maybe there will be time to come back and tell him more, before Nephthys arrives.*

*Or maybe we succeed in rallying this world's military forces and they defeat her. Is that not why we are here? Do you already believe our mission has failed?*

*No...no, not quite yet...but it is going far too slow. It will be another week before we meet with their military leaders. Even if they allow themselves to be convinced quickly - which I doubt - there will be 1, at most 2 weeks before Nephthys arrives. There is barely enough time to prepare their forces.*

*I fear you are correct...but I hope you are not. This world has come very far  - and they actually have a chance...to let that chance pass...to see them turned into slaves again...*

*Yes, it will not be a pleasant thing...Jena, that is for the future. Now we shall focus on young Atli, and see if he could perhaps be a potential host.*

*Agreed.* Jena turned her focus outward again and smiled at Atli.

"So my young friend... your father tells me that you are a brilliant student at the university."

Atli blushed, but did not say anything. He tried desperately to keep his eyes from her cleavage, but failed miserably to the point were he did not notice her smile as she watched him struggle.

Jena leaned forward causing Atli's pulse to increase even further. "How much have you learned about other cultures - on other planets, that is? Do they teach you about the chaapa'ai?"

"Not very much." He quickly glanced at the beautiful woman beside him, then shyly looked away, again flushing slightly. "We...we know of other worlds...that they are inhabited...like....like your world, but nothing more specific. We do not use the chaapa'ai. In the old times, the evil, so-called 'gods' came through the chaapa'ai - many people still fear it and that we might anger these 'gods' and bring them and their wrath on us if we should ever use it - or even just go near it." He glanced at her again, trying to determine how she reacted to what he had said.

"...but you do not believe so?"

"No. I believe we should study it, learn to use it. I don't believe the so-called 'gods' were truly gods," he stated proudly, then gave his mother a quick look. She seemed somewhat disapproving.

*Good - this may be to our advantage, Zarin.*

*Yes, he does not believe the Goa'uld are gods - but how would he react to actually meeting one - or in this case, a Tok'ra? Would he be fearful and think us gods, when faced with the reality?*

*This we cannot know. Let us talk with him some more - and hope we get a chance to one day ask him to become a host.*

"You are quite correct, young Atli," Jena patted his shoulder in a friendly manner, "there is nothing supernatural about the chaapa'ai - it is merely a useful piece of transportation technology. No more magical than your 'maglev's' - just much more advanced. Your 'evil gods' were just people who had learned to use it - as well as a few other pieces of technology - to fool others into fearing them and serving them," she smiled at him.

Atli's mother sent Jena a disapproving look. What did this...this tart think she was doing? Not only were she dressed in a very revealing dress - she also seemed to enjoy parading her charms in front of Atli - and she was reinforcing Atli's dangerous ideas about the Ring of the Gods! Why had Kori invited this woman? He seemed to have a vivid recollection of her beauty, and he kept complimenting her...she would keep an eye on that woman - she would not be allowed to corrupt her young son!

After dinner, Kori and his guests retreated to another room. Kori was convinced the Toven traders had brought important and correct information. He had met Jena Zarin before, and he both liked and trusted her. Hopefully, his old classmate Sokkolf could be convinced of the danger - and maybe even talk to his colleagues and superiors. Chairman Sholnek seemed unconvinced, but at least he was not totally rejecting the idea offhand.

-
Later that evening.

The Tok'ra had just returned to their room at the guesthouse. The dinner and the subsequent discussions with Kori, Sholnek, and Legate Sokkolf had turned out well. While Sholnek remained sceptical, he had promised to talk to the other members of the Defense Committee and arrange a meeting with the Defense Minister.

"This was a good evening," Malek said. "Sokkolf seems willing to do his best to convince the rest of the military that the threat is real. He will be present when we meet with their military leaders next week."

"Yes, and we may well persuade some of them, but I doubt enough will listen unless we reveal ourselves, and maybe not even then." Lantash said.

"Considering the superstition still existing about the Goa'uld I do not think that would be wise," Zarin observed. "Still, I believe we may be able to convince some of them, but I fear it will not be quickly enough."

Lantash nodded, agreeing with her. "You spent quite some time talking to that young man - Atli. Did you learn anything useful, or were you merely enjoying his shy adoration?" he grinned.

Zarin rolled her eyes, but ignored his teasing. "We were evaluating his host-potential. He is very young, but quite intelligent and rational. He even seems to have some diplomatic abilities already. He does not believe the Goa'uld are gods, nor does he fear the chaapa'ai like so many others on this world. If we do succeed in saving this planet from Nephthys, then we should stay in contact. I believe he may one day be willing to volunteer as host."

"Let us hope so. Lately it has become even more difficult to find voluntary hosts." Malek observed.

-
Almost 1 week later.

The Tok'ra had returned from a meeting with a group of military leaders. Legate Sokkolf had done his best to persuade his colleagues and superiors to attend. He had also argued on behalf of the Tok'ra and tried to convince the others that the risk of attack was real. Zarin and the other Tok'ra had given them all the information they had, as well as their best advice.

Neither they, nor Sokkolf had much luck. Only one of the others were willing to believe them. He agreed that it was sensible to put the planetary defenses on alert and recall all personnel currently on leave. The others had laughed and said the evil gods were gone for good - to believe anything else was superstition.

In the end Sokkolf had agreed to mobilize the soldiers under his command, and prepare to defend the capital. No one else wold follow his lead. Hopefully it would discourage Nephthys if she met resistance immediately. The Tok'ra doubted it, though.

The Tok'ra would continue to try to convince the government. Time was running out, but they had received word from Chairman Sholnek that he had managed to arrange one more meeting with the representatives of the rulers. Hopefully, they would be more receptive than last time.

"Only 1, perhaps 2 weeks remain before Nephthys arrives. In just under a week from today we will meet again with some of the statesmen of this world." Thoran said. "Frankly, I highly doubt we will have more success this time, unless we bring further compelling evidence...I think we should seriously consider revealing our true identity, considering how grave the situation is..."

"I do not think it would work in our favour," Zarin frowned. "They remember enough about the Goa'uld to realize we are the same species - we will have great difficulties convincing them we are not Goa'uld - and that we are not trying to deceive them in order to gain power for ourselves."

"...and even if they don't think we are Goa'uld, why should they trust us? They will then know we are not just aliens, but also non-humans." Jena added. "Having never met a sentient life form who were not human, they may fear us even if they don't think we are evil gods."

"I realise that, but I still think we should risk it." Thoran insisted.

"I agree. We should try it. At least they will no longer doubt we truly had the opportunity to gain this information." Malek looked at Lantash. "What do you think?"

"This approach might indeed be successful. However, it might also backfire and we could loose all credibility in their eyes. We would have to explain everything about the Tok'ra to convince them that we are not Goa'uld - that we are not trying to take over the planet for ourselves - and even then they may not believe us. I suggest we talk to Kori - Zarin, you know him better than the rest of us, how do you think he would react if he were to learn our true nature?"

Zarin looked thoughtful. "I think he would be shocked at first...maybe even scared, but he would eventually accept us. I am certain he would never betray us." Her head dipped as Jena took over.

"I think he suspects we are not who we say we are. He certainly don't know what we are, but he always gets a certain expression when we mention being Toven traders - as if he does not quite believe us...there is also the fact that I don't look a day older than I did when we met him 10 years ago...he suspects something."

"All right. Then let us talk to him first. Depending on his reaction we may tell some of the others - perhaps he can suggest who it would be best to approach." Malek said.

"That is what we will do, then, though I doubt there is enough time left to persuade both Kori and several others. Then have them agree something should and could be done...not to mention them actually getting around to doing it..." Lantash sighed, looking depressed. It was never pleasant to witness someone suffer at the hands of the Goa'uld - and even less so when it was avoidable.

Jena nodded. "We will contact him tomorrow and arrange for a meeting somewhere private. His wife must not learn of our true nature. She still fears their 'gods' and she firmly believes the superstition about the chaapa'ai bringing bad luck."

*You know...in a way she is right. The chaapa'ai did bring them bad luck once, and it will do so again when Nephthys starts using it regularly to transport slaves and goods...* Zarin observed dryly.

Jena mentally rolled her eyes at her symbiote, but did not disagree with her.

-
Two days later.

"You are what?" Kori exclaimed, shocked. Jena Zarin had approached him yesterday and asked for a private meeting between Kori, herself, and the three other Toven guests. She had said they had something important to tell him, something no one else could be allowed to know - not even his wife. Kori had been curious - he had long suspected the Toven of having secrets - and had agreed. They were meeting in an old bomb shelter in Kori's backyard. It had been built decades ago, as a precaution against a war which never came. Later his children had used it to play in - his son even had a small laboratory out there. Now, with his son at the university it was mostly used for storage, though.

"I said that we are not - quite - human. We are actually two beings; Jena, whom you have spoken to before - who is human, and I, Zarin. I am a symbiotic life form, living inside of Jena." She flashed her eyes briefly, then continued talking with the flanged voice of the symbiote. "While we are not proud of it, we are biologically the same species as the Goa'uld. This means we can masquerade as Goa'uld - infiltrate their ranks, and gain information. This is how we learned of Nephthys plans to conquer this world."

"...but...but, the...the Goa'uld...they were the old evil gods, and you say you are the same? Then...then how...how can we trust you? I...forgive me...my Lord?" Kori looked both fearful and shocked. Did they expect him to worship them? Why did they not just do as they pleased with the planet if they were gods? Why did they need the help of him or anyone else? Perhaps it was a test? He decided it was better to be safe than sorry, and started to kneel down, when Malek grabbed his right arm and hauled him up again.

"No! Do not kneel for us or call us 'Lord'. We are not gods - nor are we Goa'uld, even though we are biologically the same species, as Zarin says."

"We are Tok'ra." Lantash explained. "Members of a resistance movement fighting the Goa'uld. When we learned of the impending attack on your world we came here to warn you."

Kori nodded slowly, still looking scared. "I understand...I think. You are not Goa'uld, but you can do all the same things they can, is that not correct?"

"Yes. It is."

"Why, then, do you try to gain mine - and the other's - support? You can just use your powers to take control of this planet and send our military to fight Nephthys, if that is what you wish to do. You do not need our assistance."

"Did you hear nothing of what we said?" Lantash momentarily lost his temper, despite his hosts best efforts to calm him. "We are not gods, and neither are the Goa'uld. We are mortal beings, just as yourself. We have no supernatural abilities...the Goa'uld use technology to trick others into believing they have magical skills..."

When Kori still seemed unconvinced, Lantash sighed. Having calmed down some, he decided to try another tactic.

"Think about it...your people have not always used maglev trains, lived in nice centrally heated houses, used electricity, and so on. Is this not correct?"

"Yes, my Lo...I mean, yes, it is. When the old gods had just left us, we lived in huts warmed by fire and lighted by candles. We had never heard of any of those things you mentioned."

Lantash nodded, satisfied. "How do you think one of your ancestors - living all those centuries ago - would react to light coming on by the touch of a button? To seeing a train? To long-distance communication?"

"He or she would think it magical - and fear it. I see what you mean." Kori seemed to relax. "Just because the Goa'uld have technology that we do not, does not mean it works by magic. We merely do not yet comprehend its nature."

"Good. Then, I hope, you do no longer fear us, or think us gods." Malek said.

"I no longer believe you are gods - nor that the Goa'uld are...but I must admit I am still somewhat...apprehensive...about you. I have never met non-human, sentient lifeforms before. It is...strange. It will take me a little while to get used to. For that I apologize..."

"There is no need. You have never before talked with an alien life form - that you knew at least - we understand that it takes some time getting used to." Jena smiled at him, having taken over control from Zarin.

"One thing...why do you change back and forth between...eh...that odd distortion in you voice? It went away now?"

"Usually the symbiote uses it when in control, to make it clear that he or she is speaking instead of the host - while the host talks with his or her normal voice. The symbiote can disguise the voice and speak as the host - though that is not something we do unless it is necessary. Like when we have to appear human or to avoid distressing those we talk to. It is considered subterfuge to do so otherwise - to pretend to be the host is...unethical. Since we can take control against the hosts wish - and without anyone around us knowing, it is of great importance to us that it is always clear who is in control. We do not believe in impersonating our host, and we do not suppress them. We only take willing hosts and we share the body equally. That is one of the most important differences between us and the Goa'uld." Thoran explained, and it was obvious to Kori that it was an issue of great importance to him.

Kori nodded. He was now convinced the Tok'ra were not Goa'uld and that what they had told about the danger from Nephthys's forces was real. He wanted very much to help, and sat down to consider which members of the government would be most likely to believe them -  and not fear them.

After a little while he came up with a list of people who might react favourably. Thanking him, the Tok'ra went back to their room at the guesthouse.

Over the next days the Tok'ra contacted the people on the list. Most of the discussions went like the one they had had with Kori - though many were much harder to persuade. In a few cases the politician in question panicked totally and insisted on worshipping the Tok'ra. Nothing they said or did could convince them otherwise. Much to the dismay of the Tok'ra they ended up having to play the part - and order the politicians to keep the secret or suffer the wrath of their 'gods'. It was an intensely distasteful experience for them.

This way most of the week went by. In all, the Tok'ra had managed to convince a total of 7 people that Nephthys was coming, and 5 of those had agreed that she should be opposed. One of these were Sokkolf, commander of the military district surrounding the capital. Another military commander would station his small contingent close to the chaapa'ai. However, time was now running out - Nephthys could arrive anytime and the defenders were far too few. At most they would be able to buy some time to give people a chance to flee to the country-side. Sokkolf, however, was convinced this would be worth it - that it was important to show Nephthys they would not just surrender.

[ Chapter 1: The mission | Chapter 2: Nephtys Attacks | Chapter 3: The New Host | Chapter 4: Going Home | Chapter 5: Rejoined ]