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Title: Selmak
Characters: Egeria, Jolinar, Selmak, others
Pairings: None
Category: Drama
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Why is Selmak smaller than the other symbiotes we have seen?
Notes: Pre-series. Very much so.
Answer to Tok'ra Kree! Round 5, for this prompt: 080. SG-1, Selmak, why is she so small?


 

Bombs dropped from the Alkesh, and each explosion released a rapidly expanding, reddish mist.

"Clouds of Death!" a Jaffa shouted.

"Cowards!" another Jaffa screamed, as he stumbled and fell.

Beside him, his comrade made a half-strangled cry as he fought to breathe.

The noxious gas quickly blanketed the area, and all the Jaffa collapsed and lost consciousness. Inside their pouches, their symbiotes fought briefly to neutralize the poison, then succumbed as well.

Within minutes, all had perished, the Jaffa as well as their symbiotes.


"My queen!" the servant exclaimed, falling to his knees before her.

Egeria looked at the flustered face of the young man before her. "What is it?"

"There was an attack. By Sokar."

Egeria frowned. "More border skirmishes I assume. Surely there was not an attack here, deep inside Ra's territory."

"No, my queen. You are quite safe, but a great many of your personal Jaffa were killed." The servant looked worriedly at the Goa'uld queen, afraid how she would react to the news.

"What!" Egeria rose, furious. "How could that happen? They were stationed far from the border!"

The servant looked confused. "They were on Selkana when Sokar attacked. Surely you know this?" He immediately realized his error. "Forgive me, my queen! I did not mean to imply..."

"I had not authorized their movement!" Egeria exclaimed, ignoring the servants comment and storming out of the room. "Where is Ra!?" she demanded of the servant who was trying to keep up with her.


"Why were my Jaffa on Selkana?" Egeria asked, doing her best to keep her tone civil.

"Ah, Egeria. We had almost forgotten you were here. We see so little of you." Ra yawned, and turned to smile at queen Nut, who was sitting beside him.

"My Jaffa," Egeria repeated.

"I needed them to protect Selkana. Surely you have not forgotten they are mine to do with as I please?" Ra's tone was soft, but it had a dangerous, hard undercurrent.

"You gave them to me," Egeria said, matter of factly.

Ra looked at his nails, a bored expression on his face. "Under certain conditions. No matter, you will get new Jaffa. What does it matter? They were just Jaffa."

"They were carrying my young! Half the larvae in that whole clutch were killed!"

"Other Jaffa carry your young as well." Ra shrugged, and looked at her with genuine surprise. "What does one batch matter? Larvae are killed all the time, when their Jaffa dies. That is their purpose. The only purpose most of them will ever have."

"I was not aware you cared so little for them!"

"None of them were chosen to be given a host, and few would have won one in the challenges," Ra said, frowning.

"Why do you care so much about those larvae?" Nut asked, her voice silken. "Or is it the Jaffa, perhaps? Rumours have it you suffer from certain... perversions, but I assumed they were not quite that... distasteful."

"Do not be absurd!" Egeria exclaimed, her eyes flashing in anger.

"Then this is settled. You will receive new Jaffa. Let us say... one hundred, and you can even give them your own mark. You are more than welcome to incubate your own young in them immediately, if it matters so much to you," Ra said. He looked up with a smile, as his newest queen, Julunggul, entered. "Now leave. I have more important matters to attend to." He hesitated, his expression becoming lecherous as he let his gaze slide over Egeria's body. "Unless you wish to join us? You are always welcome, Egeria."

"Ah, no thank you. It is... a kind offer, but I have something important I need to take care of," Egeria insisted. She had no wish to watch as Ra mounted his newest queen.

Besides, she was truly sad at the fate of her offspring, and their Jaffa as well. She knew it was abnormal for a Goa'uld queen to care so much about the many larvae they spawned, but she always did, and she could not stop doing mourning the death of these in particular. Well, as her host reminded her, this was not the only area in which she was not like a normal Goa'uld, and those larvae had also been special. They had been Egeria's first clutch of Tok'ra - and now half of them were dead.

Egeria agreed, and she decided she needed to know exactly what had happened to them. She walked into her chambers, and noticed her lo'tar was there, looking for her.

"Queen Egeria..." he said, smiling.

"Svenn. I need you to contact Jolinar. Immediately."


Jolinar walked through the Stargate on Selkana, followed by her lo'tar, her First Prime, and a small group of loyal Jaffa. She waltzed up to the guards who stood beside the Stargate, an arrogant expression on her face.

"Kree. I am Lord Jolinar of Malkshur, and I am here on behalf of Queen Egeria."

The leader of the Jaffa bowed respectfully to her. "Welcome, Lord Jolinar. How may we be of service to you?"

"I require information on the fate of Queen Egeria's Jaffa."

"Of course." The Jaffa bowed. "Follow me, and I shall take you to the sole survivor of the attack."

"Survivor? I was not aware there was one," Jolinar said.

"His survival is by no means certain, but he lives. He fades in and out of consciousness, but if we are in luck, he is awake now."


"A survivor? You are certain?" Egeria asked. "I was told there were none."

"That was my understanding as well, but there is. It is only one Jaffa and his symbiote, and they are still very sick... in fact it is unknown if they will live," Jolinar said.

Egeria nodded, a troubled look on her face. "What happened? I was told it was poison gas, and that Sokar was responsible."

"So it was. The exact type of gas he used is unknown, as it had dissipated when I arrived. The dead Jaffa had all been burned, in accordance with Jaffa rites, so all we have for making a determination are the symptoms and the blood and tissue samples taken from the survivor."

"And?"

"It would appear to... probably have been something resembling Sha'kek," Jolinar said.

"The weakening drug." Egeria nodded. "Yes, I know Sokar uses it sometimes, but I did not know it could kill?"

"It cannot. Not on its own. It must have been mixed with something else. We do not know what."

"I see. What about the sick Jaffa and the symbiote? Can something be done for them?" She shook her head. "Forgive me. You must think me foolish, who worries so much about my spawn."

Jolinar threw a quick look around, again reassuring herself they were alone. "Not at all. The clutch was the first you had... changed. The first who shared your beliefs and ideals. They would naturally be dear to you." She smiled a little. "Besides, your compassion is one of the things I like about you. One of the things that make you different."

"Not in a good way, if you were to ask Ra." Egeria sighed.

"I care not for the opinions of that pompous idiot, and I have never known you to do so either." Jolinar shrugged. "Yes, heresy. Like so many of my opinions. I know that, but there is no one here but you and I... and our hosts." She 'hugged' her host, Arnora.

"True. Still, you must be careful, Jolinar. There are those who grow suspicious."

Jolinar nodded. "I am always careful. As for the Jaffa and the larva - they are being cared for by Li'hna. She is a skilled healer and a trusted friend - even if she is perhaps not yet agreeing with us in all matters."

"She is that. I could ask for no better. Please, keep me informed of any progress - or changes in any way."

"Of course."


Li'hna bowed to Egeria. "My queen. I have come to report on the development of the poisoned Jaffa and larva."

"What are the news? They were progressing well last I heard," Egeria said, hiding her worry.

"They still are. In fact, I have released them from my care. However, the Jaffa should remain on light duty for the next several weeks, at least."

Egeria nodded. "Very good. There will be no lingering effects?"

"It remains to be seen. The Jaffa will probably be unaffected, but with your permission, I would like to monitor the larva's development. It is only four years old, and the poison may have affected its future health."

"I see." Egeria looked concerned. "You have my permission to keep its development under observation, as long as you report to me regularly. Have the Jaffa transferred to my personal guard."


"You are certain?" Egeria asked.

"Yes. I have now observed the larva for over a full year. It is not growing at a normal rate, but it is otherwise developing normally."

"Could it not be lingering effects from the poisoning? Perhaps it will begin to grow normally when the rest of the drug has been neutralized. Sha'kek is known to be a very persistent drug - and the gas was based on that."

"It is true, my queen," Li'hna conceded. "The larva has been given medicine that will help purge any remaining poison from its body, and we now cannot detect any traces of it. However, that is not unheard of when we are talking of Sha'kek. Regardless, even if that is the reason for the larva's slow growth, I fear it will not be able to reach a normal size."

"Will that cause any other problems? Will it be able to take a host, for instance?"

"I am afraid I cannot answer that. We have no previous case to compare with. All I can say is that the larva is healthy otherwise, and that it is sustaining the Jaffa normally."

Egeria nodded. "In that case the larva will be allowed to remain in the Jaffa. I want you to continue your observations."


Li'hna made regular examinations of the symbiote over the next several years, observing its development and growth.

The Jaffa had no problems, and the symbiote remained healthy in every way, except that it continued to grow little.

When it reached maturity, it was much smaller than the other symbiotes in its clutch who had not been poisoned. It was in fact smaller than any other adult symbiote Li'hna and the others had ever seen. In many ways its appearance was like that of a young larva, but it was mature.


"What does your examinations tell you? Will it be able to take a host - or is it even truly mature? Perhaps it should remain longer in the Jaffa?" Egeria asked.

Li'hna shook her head. "No, it is mature, and will not be able to remain in the Jaffa for much longer. As for whether it can take a host? Yes, I believe so. Its fangs are short, not much longer than those on a larva, but then some larvae can take hosts, so I believe it should be possible."

Egeria looked to Jolinar who was standing beside her, and who nodded imperceptibly. "Then it shall get a host." She turned back to Li'hna. "Thank you, Li'hna, you may leave."

"Yes, my queen." She bowed and left.

When Li'hna had left the room, Egeria turned eagerly to Jolinar. "You have succeeded in locating a volunteer? Perhaps one of the former slaves that Svenn has been preparing and training?"

"I have, Egeria. She is not one of those, though - she is Arnora's sister's youngest granddaughter."

"She has volunteered? Have you told her the symbiote in question is not completely normal, and that we do not know for certain it can take a host without problems?"

"She had been informed. She is still willing." Jolinar sighed. "I have only met her a couple times, but she trusts me. However, in truth she has little choice. She had fallen in love with a man, and given herself freely to him, but he left her. You know how the people of her culture look on something like that - the inhabitants in her town have ostracized her, and she can never have a normal life there."

"I see. I am sorry," Egeria said.

"I asked of her preferences when she had blended. If she wanted them to take the position as my vassal, and de facto ruler of her home world, or if she preferred to leave the planet and never return." Jolinar made a wry grin. "She said she thought she would like the position as my vassal."

"Impressive. Very brave. I believe she will be a good influence on my child. I very much hope the blending goes well." Egeria looked concerned.

Jolinar nodded, and gave her a reassuring smile. "I am sure it will. The symbiote is healthy, just smaller than normal. All will be well."


Not long after Egeria had originally told Jolinar she had changed her young, and imprinted them with her ideals, Jolinar had started looking for volunteers. As expected, it had turned out to be difficult, and even if she had spent more than ten years searching, she had only barely found enough hosts for the first clutch - even with the diminished size of it.

The volunteers had been found among slaves that Jolinar's Jaffa had caught, suspected of being 'dissidents'. That group included everything from actual criminals, to the vast majority who had fought back out of pure desperation, when the injustices they had been forced to bear had become too great.

That second group were the ones Jolinar had worked with, trying to determine if they might be willing to join a resistance and fight to end the injustices. Convincing them that she was speaking the truth had not been easy, and convincing them there were symbiotes who were different from the Goa'uld had been even harder.

Of course, Jolinar and Egeria knew very well that they could never be completely certain that the people they found this way were truly volunteering to be hosts and were not just desperate for a chance to survive. To increase the likelihood they actually wanted to be hosts, and also to better prepare them for the work they would have to do as Tok'ra, Egeria's lo'tar Svenn had been put in charge of training them and teaching them.

The problem was of course that it would be too dangerous to just let people leave, if they changed their mind. They knew too much about the very illegal resistance Jolinar and Egeria was starting. Wanting to fight Ra and change the way of Goa'uld life completely, stop them from enslaving humans and Jaffa... it was not only criminal, it was heretic. Goa'uld were supposed to be gods!

Fortunately, none of the former slaves had yet wanted to leave, so Jolinar and Egeria had not had to come up with a solution for that eventuality. Some of the potential hosts might have reservations, or be nervous - not in the least because they would officially be joining an illegal resistance - but they were still willing.

Their lives as Tok'ra would certainly at times be both hard and dangerous, but it would be vastly better than the life of a slave. Their symbiotes would regularly have to pretend to be Goa'uld, of course, and because of this there would be long periods where the hosts would rarely been in control, but the symbiotes would be Tok'ra and would respect their hosts and become their friends.

Regardless, Jolinar and Egeria looked forward to a time when someone they trusted, and who was not a System Lord, could look for and interview the potential hosts. That would mean less fear, and more true volunteers. No one would be afraid they would be killed if they said no.

Because of that, Jolinar had recently found a few trusted humans, who worked as a kind of recruiters. They looked for others who shared their wish to fight the Goa'uld, and who might even be open to the heretic idea that the Goa'uld were not gods. Unsurprisingly, this was a highly dangerous job, since the majority of humans and Jaffa believed the Goa'uld were gods, and would report or torture the recruiters to death, should they find out about them.


"There are enough larvae here for all the Jaffa?" Jolinar asked.

"Yes," Egeria confirmed, pointing in the direction of the tanks. "I have counted them myself."

"Good. The Jaffa with mature symbiotes will be here within the hour, and Svenn has already gathered the future hosts." Jolinar looked up as a young woman entered the room they were sitting in. She dipped her head, giving Arnora control. "This is Leorana, my sister's youngest granddaughter." She smiled at her. "Come and greet Egeria, Leorana."

Leorana approached Egeria and smiled shyly at her, then bowed deeply. "My queen. This unworthy servant wishes to offer her services."

Egeria smiled warmly at her. "I am very happy to meet you. Please, call me Egeria."

She looked at the young woman, noticing she had the same deep-blue eyes as Arnora, but where Arnora had golden blond hair, Leorana had fiery red hair. She was beautiful, and had a kind and intelligent look on her face. It was no surprise she seemed shy, since Egeria was one of the Supreme System Lord Ra's queens, but Egeria did not doubt that Leorana usually had a very strong personality. She would be a very good match for a young Tok'ra symbiote!

"I believe we should do your blending last, Leorana," Arnora said. "The only ones who knows your future symbiote is... stunted in her growth, is Egeria, Li'hna, you, her Jaffa, and myself. We wish to keep it that way, since being healthy and strong is very important to Goa'uld. As I told you, there is no reason to believe your symbiote is different in any way but her size. However such a symbiote would never get a host if she were Goa'uld, so it is important not to let anyone find out."

Leorana nodded. "I understand."


Jolinar watched as the blending of the first of Egeria's Tok'ra symbiotes happened. They were in a large room, and several elevated stone slabs had been placed there. One volunteer laid down on each of the benches, and awaited their symbiote.

She noticed that some of the volunteers were very tense, but no one wavered in their conviction.

Since it was the first time they did this, Egeria was in charge of everything herself. She had removed all the mature larvae from the Jaffa, and placed them one each in low water filled trays. The Jaffa then got a new prim'ta from one of the tanks, before being dismissed.

The Jaffa would leave for another planet, where a celebration would be held for them. That was a common occurrence, in order to commemorate the event of receiving new prim'tas - and so new life - from their 'god'.

With the exception of her First Prime, Egeria's Jaffa did not know anything about the Tok'ra, and they believed Egeria was their goddess.

Egeria then carried the trays one at a time to the volunteers, while a few human helpers stayed with the others. These helpers were new volunteers, who would be trained and receive symbiotes later, when the next clutch matured.

The symbiotes who were waiting, were remarkably calm. Jolinar admitted she was surprised how patiently they waited. Normal Goa'uld symbiotes would have squealed and complained - and taken the human helpers as hosts.

Egeria let each of the symbiotes look at the potential hosts, and when the one she carried saw one it liked, it told her. She then placed the tray with the symbiote on the bench, beside its host. That person then turned a little to the side and opened their mouth, and the symbiote quickly jumped in.

This was another surprise for Jolinar. She knew Goa'uld would never do that. If the symbiote entered through the mouth, it would always remember the look of horror on the host's face. However, as her host reminded her, these hosts were willing, so there would be no look of horror or disgust. In addition, they would avoid the unsightly scar on the neck.

Jolinar and her host watched in silence as the Tok'ra symbiotes and hosts joined, feeling envy at the peacefulness, and the fact that these pairs would be friends from the beginning, and not fight each other like they had at first.


"All the others are... blended?" Leorana asked, raising as she saw Egeria and Jolinar enter.

"Yes. Now it is your turn," Egeria said, smiling kindly.

"Your future friend is waiting for you," Arnora added.

Leonara nodded. "I am ready."

"Then come." Arnora/Jolinar took Leonara and Egeria to a smaller room where Li'hna was waiting for them.

On the table behind Li'hna stood a tank, and inside it swam a small symbiote, who almost immediately turned in the direction of the newcomers, clearly looking at them with interest.

Leonara walked up to the tank and looked at the symbiote, apprehension and curiosity on her face. "This is her?"

"Yes," Arnora confirmed.

Leonara put her hand against the glass of the tank, and the symbiote swam to where she held her hand. "Can she see me?"

"She can. Symbiotes see as well as humans," Egeria told her. "What about the Jaffa?" she asked Li'hna.

"He received one of the new larvae, and has left to join his brethren in celebration," Li'hna said. "If you are ready, please lie down on the bench, Leonara."

Leonara nodded. "Of course."

She lay down on the bench, and Li'hna picked the symbiote out of the tank and put it in a small water-filled tray, just like Egeria had done with the other symbiotes earlier.

"Let me do that," Egeria said.

Li'hna carefully handed the tray to Egeria, who looked at the symbiote and smiled. She carefully put it down beside Leonara, then lovingly stroked the symbiote, like she had done with all the others. "All will be well. There is no reason for concern," she assured both human and symbiote, hoping it was true. "Please turn over on your side and open your mouth."

"Yes." Leonara did as she was told, and the symbiote disappeared into her mouth with an impressive speed. Moments later her eyes glowed.

"All is well, Selmak?" Egeria asked.

"Yes. I have connected successfully to my host's... to Leonara's nervous system," Selmak said. "I am making the rest of the connections now, and then we will blend."

Egeria let out a sigh of relief. "Then do that, Selmak. This place is safe. Focus on the blending. We will look forward to talking more to you."

Li'hna scanned Leonara and Selmak. "She is correct. The transference has been completed without problems." She smiled at Egeria. "That completes my observations. Aside from her smaller size, everything else functions normally. She will have no problems in the future."

Egeria gave them all a relieved smile. "That is good to hear."

Jolinar smiled at her good friend, then looked at Leonara/Selmak who were now blending, oblivious to their surroundings. "It is indeed. This has been a good day. All the symbiotes from your first Tok'ra clutch have hosts."

"Perhaps... that is not a word you should use so openly..." Li'hna observed, looking around quickly.

"Tok'ra? Why not. There are no one here but us," Jolinar said. "We have all sworn loyalty to the cause."

Li'hna nodded. "True enough, but we should not get used to talking about it until we are... ready. Should Ra... or anyone, really, learn of what we have done. What Egeria have done... it would mean the end for us all."

Egeria sighed. "You are correct, of course, and we are careful. However, can we - just for today - forget about the dangers ahead, and celebrate?"

Jolinar smiled. "We can. Come, let us see how the preparations for the dinner goes. I am sure the newly blended symbiotes will be eager to try eating the many different dishes. After all, they have spent more than eleven years in their Jaffa, and before that their diet was quite limited!"

Egeria and Li'hna both shuddered, remembering.

"Indeed. We should make sure it is truly a feast." Egeria laughed. "Come my friends!"

The three former Goa'uld threw one more fond look at the Tok'ra on the bench, then left the room. The life they had chosen for themselves and the younger Tok'ra was hard and dangerous, but tonight they would celebrate and enjoy life. It was important to make time for that too.

 

THE END (or maybe more correctly, the beginning).

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