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15. New Challenges.

Chapter summary: Jolinar, still calling herself Siwa, wins a battle and becomes the underling of Apophis's ally, Zipacna.

*You have to do more to prove yourself? I would have thought the information you brought was more than sufficient!* Lisha commented.

Jolinar sighed. *System Lords are difficult to please, and while I have brought Apophis useful information, I have also just betrayed another System Lord - Cronus. However much Apophis hates him, and finds Cronus revolting, he does not easily trust a traitor. How can he know I will not betray him as well? Sell his secrets to yet another System Lord?*

*True, I guess. I just really wish I had not become involved in this! I am grateful you are not Goa'uld, but I would still prefer my life back to what it was before - and my body solely my own. No offense.*

*None taken. As I said, I truly am sorry to have done this to you. Taking unwilling hosts are very much against what the Tok'ra do, but it meant the life of ten operatives - and centuries of work towards a better Galaxy, free of the Goa'uld.*

*I do understand. It does not mean I have to like the situation.*

*I promise I will leave you as soon as this situation is resolved. Regrettably, I do not have the opportunity to go look for a new host myself, but I will ask the Tok'ra to do so.*

*That is acceptable, I guess - as long as I know this will not be permanent!*

Jolinar finished her preparations and was soon ready to leave for the task Apophis had given her. She was quickly on her way to the Stargate, where she would meet her new Jaffa and other servants.

Apophis would send a Ha'tak with some of her new retainers, to be dropped off on her planet, while another group of Jaffa flew her new Alkesh there. The death-gliders - which did not have hyperspace capability - would be delivered to Kiwh, coinciding with the time Jolinar chose to attack with her other forces.

She stepped through the wormhole and out on Terweh, followed by her guard of Jaffa. She was again ready to play the role of a minor System Lord!

Another group was already waiting for her on her new planet, beside the Stargate. They immediately bowed to her.

"Welcome to Terweh, Lord Siwa. I am Ra'keh, and I will be your First Prime, if you choose to honor me by allowing me this position."

"You will do adequately - for now, at least. Take me to my palace and have everything ready for my inspection."

"Yes, my Lord."

Ra'keh sent a Jaffa ahead with orders their new Lord had arrived, while he and the others escorted her. There had already been frantic activity all over the planet, in preparation for her arrival.

As they walked, she reflected it had gone better than she had feared, though being an underling of Apophis had all but barred all possibility of approaching Ra. The animosity between the two Goa'uld was extreme, and Jolinar would never be able to join Ra's court unless she started over again, with a new personae.

Her new situation would afford her little to no opportunity to ascertain whether or not Egeria was still alive, or determine her whereabouts. One never knew, of course. A chance might show itself, or someone might have heard something. She decided to be optimistic.

A short walk took them to the palace. It was much like the palace she had lived in on Siok - and with equally bad interior design, she wryly realised.

She needed to focus all her attention on organizing her new Jaffa as quickly as possible and then march them through the Stargate. First she would attack Kiwh, then Sestor. It would have to be coordinated, to happen at the same time her Alkesh and death-gliders attacked from the air.

As soon as she knew the exact time for the attack, she would inform Apophis, and he would drop off her death-gliders from one of his Ha'tak's. Apophis's ship would not get involved - this battle was hers to fight, and prove herself.

Fortunately, Ra'keh proved to be a capable First Prime, or it would have been difficult to do all that needed to be done in such a short time. After Jolinar had been through the palace, and seen the troops, she had a meeting with Ra'keh and the Jaffa subcommanders. She informed them of her plans, and which forces and ships would be at their disposal. Ra'keh offered several good suggestions, once he realised his new god was willing to listen.

In less than two weeks, they were ready to march on the first of the enemy planets, Kiwh. If all went well, and they kept the schedule - and did not meet too heavy resistance - it should be possible to finish the campaign in the month they had been given. She might yet succeed!

The attack went surprisingly well. The Goa'uld Amman had been caught completely by surprise. His forces on Kiwh were decimated, his palace taken, and he had been sent in chains to Apophis. This betrayal would almost certainly cost him his life - eventually.

With their god gone, the Jaffa surrendered. It was an easy thing to gain their allegiance, since Apophis had been their highest god the whole time, and they had not been involved in any of Amman's planning. They had merely followed orders, and assumed they worked for the glory of Apophis and his minor, loyal, god Amman.

Sestor fell even faster. It was a smaller world, with fewer slaves and Jaffa on it. The Jaffa there lost the will to fight as soon as they heard their god had been captured for betraying Apophis, and that Lord Siwa was sent by this higher god, to punish the traitor. They surrendered and swore fealty to Jolinar.

The campaign was over, almost before it had began, and Jolinar could relax and enjoy life for a while after this unexpected success. She would use the time to examine her new domain, small as it was.

Her new planets were located on the border between Apophis and his strong, long-time ally, Zipacna. Apparently they were doing some internal shuffling of their empires, trying to consolidate their terrains, because Jolinar had only just reported her victory to Apophis, when she was called to a gathering of all of Apophis and Zipacna's vassals.

She and three other vassals, whose systems were located on the border between these two Goa'uld, had been moved from Apophis's sphere of interest to Zipacna's - or vice verse. Two former Zipacna underlings now served Apophis, while two of Apophis's former vassals now belonged to Zipacna first. Jolinar was one of those.

*Any idea what the reasoning behind this is?* Lisha wondered.

*Not in the slightest. Goa'uld power dynamics are frequently incomprehensible - even to themselves, I suspect. No doubt, they somehow believe this is more efficient, or easier to defend...or something.*


Jolinar walked across the throne room and bowed deeply, first to Apophis, then to Zipacna. After greeting them, she stood before Zipacna.

"I, Siwa, Lord of Terweh, swear loyalty to you, great Lord Zipacna. You command me, and I obey." She bowed her head respectfully.

Zipacna grinned widely. The Goa'uld always enjoyed having a new underling swear loyalty and obedience to them. It was made all the sweeter by the Goa'uld feeling of superiority. For a Goa'uld to swear obedience to another was something they hated deeply.

"I, Zipacna, Lord of the Tikal empire, ally of Lord Apophis, accept your pledge. Siwa, the planets Kiwh and Sestor shall remain yours to command. In my infinite generosity, I will allow you to keep them. You will pay a tribute of one half of all naquadah mined on your worlds. The rest, and all else, you may do with as you wish."

"Thank you." Jolinar bowed again, surprised at the generosity.

She had expected him to demand at least 75% of the naquadah, and perhaps other minerals or food as well. He and Apophis must really have been very grateful for the information she had brought, as well as the help she had rendered when toppling Amman, though elementary as that help was.

Jolinar stepped up on the platform and walked to stand behind Zipacna.

After the official parts of the ceremony was over, there was a small celebration, with Apophis and Zipacna taking the opportunity to celebrate themselves and show off their glory and riches to their allies. It all helped ensure the loyalty.

*Well, congratulations, I guess.* Lisha said as they walked down the road towards Jolinar's palace, surrounded by her Jaffa guards.

*I am not certain if congratulations are in order - but thank you.*

*What will happen now?*

*I will spend some time figuring out what it is I have just been given, and how it can be used to help the Tok'ra cause...but you did not mean that.*

*No. I meant about me. Us. Whatever.*

*I will not have the opportunity to search for a new host myself. Undercover as a Goa'uld System Lord, even a minor one, that will be difficult. I could ask potential hosts to be brought to me, claiming I was not happy with you, but that would just be exchanging one unwilling host for another, as I would not be able to tell them I am Tok'ra, or get an honest answer from them in this position. For the same reason, I cannot return to the Tok'ra to report what has happened. I will, however, send them a very detailed report, and in that I will explain that I need them to find me a new host.*

*But surely they will do that?*

*Yes, but it may take some time, as it is not easy to find willing hosts - especially not for an undercover operative, as the host cannot expect to be allowed control more than now and then, for many many years. My situation makes it even more difficult - I will need a young, good-looking host, preferably a female. Pretending to be a Goa'uld means I need someone I can make others believe I would prefer over you. It will not be easy, as you are very beautiful. On top of this, the change of hosts must happen in front of witnesses, so as to lay to rest any doubt of who I am. This also means the transference cannot be done in the Tok'ra way - and the Goa'uld way is both more painful for the host and it leaves a scar...*

*It does sound - difficult.* Lisha mentally sighed. *I understand it might take some time. I can wait. I just need you to assure me it will happen.*

*I promise you.* Jolinar told her with conviction. She added a warm 'hug'.

*That felt really nice!* Lisha sounded both happy and surprised. *I know you have done it a few times before - I remember now. However, the other times I was too angry or scared to truly enjoy it.*

*I am very glad you are feeling better.*

They had reached the palace, and the Jaffa left them to go either to their quarters, or to their positions, in the case of those who were on duty.

Jolinar did not have any pressing duties herself, except to familiarize herself with the place, and to prepare her report to the Tok'ra.

Lisha/Jolinar spent part of the day touring the palace, before retiring to their personal chambers, where they had ordered dinner served.

*The former owner of this palace had a horrible taste!* Lisha complained. *It is much worse than Apophis's palace!*

*Unfortunately, Goa'uld tend to have bad taste - the more gold and jewels they can cram into a place, the happier they are. Apophis is actually one of the least offensive - in this area, at least.*

*I am very happy you do not like the decor either.*

*I am not Goa'uld - as you know - and I believe we should do something about the interior decorations, here. I, at least, might have to stay here for a long time.*

*Agreed. Mono-coloured walls would be a great beginning - and those tapestries and statues in gold and garish colours? Out with it all!*

*I wish we could, but I am afraid it would be...un-Goa'uld to get rid of it all. And mono-coloured walls and no tapestries would cause suspicion. No, the best we can do is to tone it down and decorate slightly more...tastefully.*

*Oh, well...I may actually have an idea, then, if you will listen?* Lisha immediately realised what she had said. *Of course you will. You are not Goa'uld. Sorry.*

Jolinar decided to ignore it. *Good, why do you not handle this, then? I am not good at it, and it gives you something to think about.*

*How condescending! As if I do not have more important things to do - that is, if I could! More important things to think about, surely!*

*I apologize. I meant no disrespect. Merely...I really am not good at any kind of decorating, and I realise how hard it must be for you, having nothing to do. Indeed, there being nothing you can do, since I am in control of your body, and has to be when we impersonate a Goa'uld. Even willing hosts often have trouble with that aspect of undercover missions, despite wanting to fight for the Tok'ra cause!*

*Sorry. I do agree with your cause, and I realise you are trying to make this easier for me. I was an...unfortunate accident, and you would much have preferred to have your...Sannya here instead.* Lisha sounded both apologetic, and at the same time somewhat bitter.

*Lisha! I am grateful to have you with me, and I am glad you no longer hate me, but having an unwilling host is...not pleasant. And I do miss Sannya. Very much. It has nothing to do with you, as a person. As I said, I am very grateful to you.* Jolinar 'hugged' her host.

*Jolinar...* Lisha sighed mentally. *I will try to think of a way to fix up this place - and do not worry about me. I can handle this - as long as I know it is not forever.*

A few weeks later, Zipacna and Apophis once again summoned Jolinar to a meeting. They had decided that since she obviously had great talents in that area, she should be in charge of their information gathering service.

Delighted, Jolinar accepted. While the knowledge she gained this way would have to be used with utmost care, it could potentially help the Tok'ra much, as they would know most or all of what Apophis and Zipacna knew. It was as close to an ideal position as she could hope for.

She would be able to secretly place agents in various positions, and so gain access to information from Apophis's and Zipacna's other informers and sources of intelligence. Since she had not yet built up an intelligence network, it was also a great opportunity to get some Tok'ra operatives placed in good positions.

Soon Jolinar knew almost everything important there was to know about Zipacna and Apophis, what was happening in their domains, among their allies, and among their enemies. Usually, she knew much more than Apophis and Zipacna knew themselves, since Jolinar only gave them the intelligence the Tok'ra deemed it necessary - or useful - that they got.

This was a perfect opportunity to paint favourable - or unfavourable - images of various Goa'uld in the minds of Apophis and Zipacna, depending on what suited the Tok'ra. However, Jolinar had to always make sure to give them just enough good information, that they never suspected her of anything, and she could rarely give them outright false information. It was a very fine line, which she fortunately had much experience in toeing.

The months went by, and when the Tok'ra finally announced they had found a new, willing host which would suit Jolinar's need, Lisha informed her it would not be necessary. She had become good friends with Jolinar, and no longer wished to leave her.

Jolinar very was happy with the decision, and so was Lisha. It had been a long time since she truly wanted Jolinar to leave, and the fact that the Tok'ra had found a new host had forced her to think about what she wanted. She wanted Jolinar, and Jolinar was more than happy to have her remain her host.

Chapter 14 | Chapter 16 

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