Jolinar knew all had gone to Netu when she was running for her life across Nasya. The Tok’ra were known for their cautious nature, ready to bolt if it helped the cause, but Jolinar and Rosha had prided themselves on sticking to their post even in anticipation of bitter pain. They had a feeling that though the High Council would never acknowledge it, their reprimands of such reckless behavior were for show only. But Jolinar had run once before, and now she was running again.
Running to save a life—and not her own. She refused to apologize to the man whose body she was at the moment directing. Apology meant that there was some failure, and Jolinar refused to accept that until it was certain. She wouldn’t allow that, wouldn’t allow Quinta to be lost like Rosha. He had been so kind, finding them at death’s door after their escape from Apophis with Cronus’ ashrak on their heels—he had asked what he could do for them, and as Jolinar felt Rosha slip away from her tentative grasp, she had called out in desperation to this man. “I wish to join with you,” she said in a tinny whisper, and though he balked, he did not run. “Only to hide, and only briefly,” she added, nearly her last breath. He frowned, but she had read his face and seen the gentle caring of his heart, and was not surprised when he leaned forward and offered himself to her.
Even now, she thought that no one knew—she had buried herself deeply, withdrawing from Quinta as he lived his life with wife and family, both for his sake and hers. And then they had come through the gate, the famous Tauri and Jaffa shol’va. Quinta had not been impressed, and Jolinar found their open and spontaneous tactics very youthful, so neither of them had cared to go forward and speak to them. Until the gliders swept in, golden-orange shots piercing the morning and ripping homes and occupants apart.
“Get to the gate!” came the call of the fair-haired Tauri to Jolinar’s ears—and Jolinar felt a brief flash of grief for Rosha at the sight of that strong face framed by golden hair before she began running even faster, gritting her teeth. She would not apologize for failure—she would make it to the gate, to the safety of the Tauri.
Then there was a flash behind her, and she glanced behind to see where Quinta’s home now lay in smoking ruins. Another flash, and she jerked, looked down at the gaping wound in her chest that didn’t hurt, and crumpled involuntarily to the earth.
~Oh god,~ she heard the thoughts of Quinta as he realized the situation.
Jolinar gritted her teeth metaphorically and did not bother to point out that the only god here was the cause of his terror and distress. But she couldn’t hide her honest assessment of the predicament.
~I am gone, aren’t I, dear one?~ came his thoughts, so clear for one so haplessly chosen.
No one called her dear one, not even—no one.
~You are a strong soul, Jolinar, and I did not resent you for your need. But that it so ends without my wife near...~
*No, not yet*, answered Jolinar, working with her strength to knit the sinews of his heart while choosing not to focus on the blood seeping dangerously into his punctured lungs.
~Good—fortune—Jolinar of Malkshur.~ Quinta’s thoughts were disjointed as his nearly halted breathing drained the oxygen and therefore the life from him.
*No,* declared Jolinar fiercely, but Quinta was already unconscious. Her strength was slowly ebbing away as her work became more difficult. There was so much blood in Quinta’s lungs, so much burning near sensitive arteries—even she could not do it all. Aware of the Tauri’s promise of medical aid, she struggled to keep Quinta on the brink of life, putting all her hope on the rumors of just how advanced this new race was.
“Wait, sir, I’ve got to go back!” That strong voice floated above the noise and confusion again, and Jolinar saw through Quinta’s eyes as the blond Tauri ran back through the mess.
But though most of the Nasyans lay dead or many yards away by the gate, at least one glider pilot felt the urge to bag an important prize. Swooping down from the skies, two shots exploded right behind—Carter, was she called? One struck directly onto the cart of mined naquadah, and suddenly a ball of fire flung Carter to the ground and shrapnel propelled all around. She landed at Quinta’s feet, and Jolinar felt her hopes dashed as she saw the scorched uniform and dark blood swiftly seeping to dye that rare golden hair.
Quinta was almost gone—he would be gone, unless these Tauri had a healing device or a sarcophagus. Desperate for her life, and for the priceless information she was bearing to the Tok’ra, Jolinar made a swift decision. The Tauri woman, Carter, if Jolinar remembered correctly, had a serious wound on her head that was probably even now resulting in cranial trauma; if Jolinar could just summon the strength to move to her as a new host, she was certain that with her remaining strength she could keep the woman from both death and mental damage.
It was too soon to withdraw from Quinta, her host for barely six months, and Jolinar felt the tiny neural tendrils ripping as she ventured out into the open air. Slowly, she worked her way across the cold ground covered in splinters, senses suddenly dulled, and with a final jump, entered into Carter. She was totally unconscious, her mind hidden from Jolinar, which kept the now-weary symbiote from being overwhelmed by a flood of sudden information. The sharp metallic taste of blood where she had bitten down on her tongue, the numbness where nerves had been cauterized, the painful pressure from the swelling, and beyond her body the sound of explosions and the harsh scent of smoke.
*You will forgive me, but I must save your life,* she thought morbidly as she put out all her effort to heal the broken veins and crushed neural tissue inside Carter’s head before it was irreparable. *I promise, I will not be here long by choice.*
She chose not to pay attention to the vague sounds going on above and around her...
Carter? Carter! Daniel, help me!
Oh god, Jack... Frasier! Frasier!
I need to deal with this quickly—get her onto the table, but gently.
Dr. Jackson? Colonel O’Neill? I’ve stabilized what I can, but she’s lost a good deal of blood and fluid through the burns, and she has a massive concussion. I’m monitoring her skull for pressure, but the brain damage is beyond my care. We can only hope for the best and wait till she wakes up.
I can’t sleep, Jack—how do the Goa’uld seem to know exactly what I value, what would hurt me most to take away?
I’m going home, Daniel. There’s nothing needed from me here.
I know—it’s just something I need to do.
Let me know when she wakes up will you, Danny boy?
It was many hours later when Jolinar felt that all the urgent healing had been done. With her new host no longer in a life-or-death situation, she withdrew herself deep into Carter’s mind and fell into an exhausted unconsciousness to recover. She had survived once again.