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29. Safe.

Chapter summary: Rosha and Jolinar make it back to a Tok'ra base.

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They had only waited until the Stargate shut down before Jolinar dialed another address - that for the Tok'ra base she was assigned to for the moment. She had not actually been to the planet it was currently located on - as it had moved twice since she was there - but she had gotten the glyphs recently, and was quite certain they were still good.

It was night on the other side, but Jolinar knew the Stargate was always guarded. She looked out over the quiet place. It was just as desolate as most planets the Tok'ra picked for their base worlds. She looked around in the silvery moonlight, and decided the guards would probably be hiding near the rocks she could see some short distance away.

She felt Rosha marvel at the huge moon - the three moons of her own planet were all much smaller. Giving her host a 'hug', Jolinar took control, as agreed on earlier, and set out towards the likely place of the Tok'ra guards. She felt only slightly less anxious about this meeting than her host did - it was never a pleasant process to go through, returning with a different host.

The thought brought with it a stab of pain. Grief for Lisha. Jolinar quickly suppressed it before it could affect Rosha too much - she had enough to mourn for herself.

They had barely walked 40 feet before Jolinar sensed the energy signatures from several symbiotes. She took a few steps more in that direction, then stopped. She put down her zat'nik'tel on the ground.

"I am Jolinar of Malkshur." She called out.

Immediately many Tok'ra jumped out, seemingly from nowhere, surrounding them.

Jolinar felt Rosha's fear at the sudden appearance of so many unknown, armed people. She sent waves of comfort, assuring her they were all friends and compatriots.

"Jolinar?" A woman with curly red hair stepped forward. "I am Torla. You will have to prove you are who you say you are."

"Yes...I know." Jolinar nodded. So Torla had a new host as well. "It is as always. Let us get it over with - I am cold, hungry, and weary, as is my new host."

Torla motioned to the other guards to take Jolinar's weapon and keep an eye on her. They took her to the ring transporter and down into the tunnels, where she was kept under observation until she could be interrogated and debriefed. They did, however, provide her with dry clothing.

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*Thorough as always.* Jolinar sighed. *But at least they are finally happy. I would like to take a bath and get some other clothing than these...* She indicated the borrowed clothing she had been provided with, *...and then something to eat, before we retire for the night. Do you have any other desires?*

*No...* Rosha looked around in awe at the crystals and at the people passing - studying everyone and everything. *It is a wondrous place!* She had been asked a few questions herself, confirming she had indeed agreed to become Jolinar's host. *It all sounds delightful.*

*Good. Follow my directions, then. Soon you will be better at drawing on my memories on your own.*

Jolinar directed Rosha to the room that had been constructed for her when the base was moved - and now contained her only belongings. She looked over her Tok'ra uniforms and dresses, realising almost nothing would fit. She sighed, and picked a dress of a type made to fit everyone, held together as it was with a simple belt. Tomorrow, they would go to the commissary and get new clothing.

Rosha then followed Jolinar's directions to the communal baths - it was fortunate the bases were always constructed with the same layout, so it was not a problem for them to find their way. Most single-occupancy (which should probably be called dual, as they rarely had non-Tok'ra personnel, Rosha mused) quarters did not have their own pool. Those who had mates generally shared larger quarters, and almost always with a bathroom, containing a small pool.

After having undressed, Rosha eased them down into the warm, clean water. She really enjoyed the feeling of it. It was not something they usually had on her world. If not for their now loudly complaining stomach, they would have stayed much longer. As it was, Rosha sighed and grabbed soap and brush, and quickly and efficiently cleaned off. She then grabbed the bottle with a substance Jolinar told her was used to clean the hair, and rubbed a copious amount into her wet hair, producing a soft foam that smelled faintly of some kind of fruit.

Rosha rinsed out the shampoo and got out of the pleasantly warm water, shivering a little. The air felt slightly chilly after the hot water, and she quickly dried off with one of the soft cloths that were stacked on a shelf. Dressing quickly, she ran a comb through her blond hair, and looked at herself in the mirror. She looked tired - exhausted. She picked up the dirty clothing, dumping it in a container, and walked off in the direction Jolinar told her to. They were going to the Tok'ra mess hall, and her stomach growled loudly, telling her to hurry up.

*So much food...and so many different choices! Most of it I do not even recognize...* Rosha felt very much like the girl from a backwater planet right now. *I do not know what to choose.*

*I can suggest something I like - or perhaps we should simply take a little of everything, whenever they serve something you do not recognize. Almost every day there will be some variation, so you may find new favourites.*

*Good idea. Thank you, Jolinar. I will.* Rosha took some of each the dishes, and when she had filled the tray with food and drink, she looked out over the almost full room. *So many people...and all are gods...I mean Goa'uld... No, sorry. Tok'ra.* Rosha shook her head. *It is just all so overwhelming. Seeing all these...these Tok'ra...beings I would have called gods, only days ago...live without slaves, behave and work like humans...it is very strange.*

*I can understand.* She 'hugged' her, making it clear she was not angry.

*Are there any you wish to sit with?*

*No, this is not the base I originally belonged to, so I have few close friends here - and most of those are currently on missions. I have only ever been back here for short periods of time, so I have not had much time for a social life.*

*If you do not mind, I think I might want to change that - eventually, at least. Though right now, I think I prefer to sit alone. All of this is still very strange to me - and very overwhelming.*

*Understandable. I see a seat over there in the corner, where we can have some privacy.*

-----
They spent a few weeks settling in, and making some decisions. Rosha did not want to go on the centuries-long missions Jolinar had done before, at least not yet. Jolinar did not have a problem with that. She thought it might actually be nice to spend more time in the tunnels for a change, and only go on shorter missions.

It had been a hard 450 plus years, and she decided she would enjoy some time off from the constant fear of discovery. She did want to go on shorter missions, though. The complety 'peaceful' life - as much as any Tok'ra's life could be called that - was not really Jolinar's style and did not appeal to her. Rosha agreed, and they decided to begin by taking on smaller missions which were relatively free of danger.

One such mission was a trading expedition to the planet Sih'wak. The Tok'ra produced some of their food themselves - mainly in underground hydroponic farms - and they gathered, hunted, and fished for additional food. However, much of what they needed had to be traded for with other planets, since there was only so much that could be produced in secrecy. The same was true for many of the other resources needed for clothing and machinery.

In return from food and raw materials, the Tok'ra traded mainly gold and precious stones, which were all excavated in abundance with special tunnel crystals. In addition, they traded a small amount of medical supplies, which unfortunately usually had to be kept relatively primitive and herb-based, unless the Tok'ra could stay and supervise the use of it.

Anything else was simply too dangerous, both for the Tok'ra and for their trading partners, should the Goa'uld discover anything. Because, how does a primitive culture explain the presence of advanced technology, or medicine produced in a way far above their level of sophistication?

Now, the Tok'ra needed wool, linen, and cotton for their daily uniforms. Leather they could always get from the animals they hunted, but cow hides were strong and useful for many things, and a few of those would be appreciated as well. The normal uniforms worn by the Tok'ra served two purposes - blending in with the environment, which was often a desert - and making them look like ordinary humans, of the less than affluent kind that lived on most worlds.

It helped them move about undetected everywhere there were no Goa'uld nearby to sense the symbiote. For this reason, the uniforms always looked well worn - new and shiny clothes would stick out among the poor people, and draw unwanted attention to them.

The people of Sih'wak were poor, and were subjects of the Goa'uld Morrigan. However, she had no vassal on the planet, and her Jaffa only arrived four times a year to collect the naquadah tax. If the amount was sufficient, Morrigan would not bother further with the population. This meant it was quite a safe place to trade for the Tok'ra.

The Tok'ra were not the only traders who visited Sih'wak. The locals were interested in jewelry, gold, and silver, which could be used to barter for various commodities from the other traders. Jolinar mused that the Sih'wak'ians probably thought of the Tok'ra as gullible fools, since they willingly paid for their goods with gold and other valuables - accepting relatively high prices without complaint. And the Tok'ra bought only things that were considered common items - things this planets agrarian culture could easily produce in excess.

*Should we not insist on paying less for these items, then? We do not want them to think of us as fools!*

*I could care less of their feelings for me, as long as they are willing to trade! Besides, they have few luxuries. Gold, silver, and such is very easy for us to acquire, and it can help them buy a few things which makes their lives better. In return we get materials to create clothing, which helps us evade the eyes of the Goa'uld. Is that not a worthy exchange?* Jolinar pointed out.

*I suppose it is...* Rosha agreed, somewhat reluctantly.

She - and the other hosts - were in control during the entire trading mission, as was almost always the case in dealings with humans. Only those few cultures who knew what the Tok'ra were, ever talked directly with the symbiotes.

It was always difficult to convince those who had lived in slavery under the Goa'uld for generations, that the Tok'ra were not gods. It was much easier to avoid the whole problem and let the hosts deal with those cultures - and safer for everyone as well. If the locals did not know their guests were Tok'ra, they would never think to give them up - even under torture.

When they returned from the mission, Rosha reminded Jolinar of their talk about spending more time with some of the other Tok'ra. Jolinar admitted she missed some of her friends, like Malek and Selmak who were currently stationed at another base. Jolinar applied for and received a transfer to that facility, where she was soon reunited with her friends.

Chapter 28 | Chapter 30 

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