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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)


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 Post subject: [TGG] One Small Step for Man... PostPosted: 2007-01-28 05:51am
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Gallitep, Bajor, Cardassian Occupation Authority
Universe Designate ST-3
10 December 2153 AST



The whine of Cardassian phaser rifle fire competed with the hum and cracks of particle rifle and railgun fire when Bravo Company began it's ascent up the Gallitep Ridge, overlooking the famed gulag from the northwestern corner. Nathan Mackensen kept his head down, motioning to his men to move forward as he led Platoon B to a small ledge from which they gained cover from the intense Cardassian fire.

Over the radio, he could hear the calls of the rest of the 24th Recon as the battalion assaulted Gallitep to prevent it's commandant from murdering the Bajoran prisoners as the Cardassians had attempted in virtually every other labor and prison camp liberated by Allied Nations forces during the advance on Bajor. The Cardassians were using the ridge as a firing position, and without it taking the camp would be impossible.

Nate saw movement to his right. The strong feminine figure, tan-skinned from recent Mexican heritage, stormed up beside him, MP-10 in her arms and a Captain's bars on her uniform. Captain Danielle Sutherland gave him an angry look and said, in her demanding soprano tone, "Lieutenant, why aren't you advancing?!"
"Cardie fire is too heavy, Sir! They're chewing us up!" Above them and further up, an explosion was accompanied by several cries. Three Marines rolled passed them and back down, one unconscious, two dead, and one of the dead bore the rank insignia and name of Platoon C's Gunnery Sergeant, Roger Fuller.
Sutherland's face twisted into exasperation and anger. "I don't care if they're dropping tac-nukes over our heads, I want that ridge now! C'mon, Marines, to Hell with the Cardies and to Hell with fire support, you're not gonna live forever anyway!"

And like that, Sutherland advanced up the ridge, literally dragging Platoon C with her as the Marines followed their officer into the thick of Cardie fire. Nate looked to the sergeant commanding his MG squad, Richard Montoya, and said, "We need suppression fire from MG squad! The rest of you, you heard the Captain! To the top!"
The Marines began a steady assent, aided by fire from the 30mm cannons on the APCs at the ridge's northwestern base. The Cardassians were heavier-armed than had been expected, and an anti-vehicle phaser was brought up and used on the APCs, destroying one once the Cardies had dialed it's power up to get through the armor plate. Suppression fire up-hill was hard, and very easy for those on the high ground, and with no air support forthcoming yet due to pressing needs on other fronts the only way Bravo Company could do it's work was to take the losses and keep going.

Nate was dashing up to higher cover when a blast from a Cardassian rifle hit him in the shoulder. It was dialed high enough to vaporize a portion of armor and punch through to the flesh and bone of his left shoulder, making him cry out and fall. He dragged himself to cover, where he found himself face-to-face with the grimacing visage of his platoon's Gunnery Sergeant, Toby Michaelson. The older Marine was favoring his hip. "They got you Gunny?!"
"I'll be alright, Sir!" was the reply. "Keep going, I'll give you what cover I can!" The Gunny rested his MP-10 on the rock in front of them and began to fire upward, at the Cardassian positions on the incline of the ridge.
With a nod at Gunny MIchaelson, Nate went to continue his way upward. He hadn't even gotten to the next bit of cover when an object flew overheard and landed beside Michaelson.

It was a Cardassian plasma grenade, and before anyone had a chance to react it exploded. The plasma energies of the explosion burned through the Gunny's body armor, scorching his body to the extent that he was literally flash-fried to death.
The blast wave of the explosion blew off chunks of rock, heating them to the point that they were white-hot when they struck Nate from behind. He screamed from the pain of some of the shards being sharp enough and of the right velocity to punch into his body armor, which was meant more for deflecting high-energy shots and bullets than stopping extremely fast moving but relatively weak shards of rock. He was unable to feel his legs when he fell, the pain in his spine so severe that the world began to spin and dissolve into pure, unrelenting agony, until finally he lost all consciousness.


Quantico, Earth, United States of America
Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate SE-1
19 June 2173 AST



Nate sat up from the bed, sweating lightly and feeling agitated. The nightmare had brought it all back; Captain Sutherland's determined face, Gunny Michaelson's grimace, and the white-hot agony of a shard of rock embedded in his spine from the grenade that killed Gunny Michaelson.
Twenty years had passed since the fateful battle at Gallitep. Captain Sutherland was dead, killed that night as her Marines got to the top, but Bravo Company had succeeded in taking the ridge. Today it was called Sutherland's Ridge by the Bajorans in honor of her charge, and a monument had been erected on the ridge top in commemoration of the Marines who had died to seize it.

Outside the sun was up. The closed curtains of his hotel room kept it dark save for the borders of the windows, through which the bright sun was shining. Nate forced himself out of bed and walked into the bathroom, where he showered and washed until he was fully awake and the dream had faded. He left the bathroom and finished drying off. The next stop was to the hotel room's built-in replicator and some scrambled eggs and toast, which Nate ate while grumbling to himself at how MREs tasted better. Finally it came time to get into uniform, and in minutes Nate was in his crisp dress blues, the rank of Colonel having replaced the Lieutenant's bar he had worn that fateful day at Gallitep, and a host of ribbons and medals on his chest.

He called a taxi cab and went out to the hotel parking lot to wait for it. When it pulled up, he gave a nod to the dark-skinned man in the driver's seat, dressed in casual taxidriver garb, and slipped into the back seat. "Marine Academy," he said, and the taxi headed out.
For most of the trip, neither said anything, but then Nate noticed a Silver Cross was hanging from the rearview mirror and a multi-service Bajoran Liberation Veteran patch on the dashboard alongside a Purple Heart. "You served?"
The driver grinned. "Gunnery Sergeant Lewis Sampson, US Marine Corps, '41 to '64. Went to Bajor with the 3rd Marine Regiment, took a hit to the knee at Torvel. You?"
Nate nodded at the response, and answered, "Colonel Nate Mackensen, AN Marine Corps. I was a Lieutenant in the 24th Recon on Bajor."
Lewis whistled. "Gallitep. Damn, you must've seen some sights. Cardie bastards...."
"Oh, I did..." There was a pause. "So, where'd you get the Silver Cross?"

The driver lowered his head a tad, though his eyes kept on the road. "Not mine. It was my son Jerome's. He enlisted in the Corps during the War, decided to stay after it was over. He went in with the 22nd Assault when they landed on Betazed. Held off an entire company of the Betazoid Commies' militia with a machine gun."
Nate nodded. "The War", to him, meant what it did to most others; the "Interuniversal War", when the Alliance had fought both the Dominion and New Plymouth plus their respective allies, including Round Two with Cardassia. "What happened to him?"
"He was on one of the transports that got shot down when they evaced Betazed," Lewis answered. "Didn't even give me anything to bury."
An old pain twisted in Nate's heart again, paralyzing him. "I'm sorry," was all he could say.

"Yeah, he wanted to be like the old man," Lewis continued on. "Did a hell of a lot more than I did when I was in the Corps. Still, would've been nice to have some grandkids..."
Nate couldn't bring himself to speak again until they got to the Academy. "That'll be five bucks," Lewis said as Nate opened the door.
Knowing the amount didn't sound right, Nate looked to the ticker on the dashboard and saw that it displayed $14.59. "That's not what your fare ticker says."
Lewis smiled widely. "It's my personal discount for the Corps. Don't worry, I cover the rest."
Nate reached into his wallet and pulled out a teal-tinted $20 ADN note, one of the new ones with the face portrait of the late Nicolas Mamatmas on it with the Capitol of Washington HE-1 on the reverse side. He handed it to Lewis. "The rest is for your son, Gunny," Nate said as he slipped out of the taxi.

As he slipped out and stood next to driver's side window for a moment, he felt Lewis' hand reach into his trouser pocket. He reached in and took out a violet-tinted $10 ADN note, slightly crumpled, that hadn't been there before. "Semper Fi," was what Lewis said back, a smile on his face as he drove off before Nate could give the money back.
Nate looked down at the $10 note, this one absent of any faces but instead faced with Big Ben and with the entire British Parliament Building on the reverse side. Grinning to himself for a moment, Nate whispered, "Semper Fi," and put the bill back into his pocket. Looking away from the street, Nate walked into the Officer's Academy.
Newly-built specifically for the Alliance Marine Corps, the Marine Officers' Academy was a large facility that replaced the smaller US Marine Corps facility that had since been moved to a more favorable spot near Tampico in the State of Tamaulipas. It was the main officer academy for the Marine Corps, also containing the campus for the officer schools that junior officers took to get a chance to attain higher rank and responsibility.
Walking through the facility, Nate wound up at the football field that was used by the Academy's NCAA Division 1 team, where he joined the crowd that was attending the graduation of the Class of 2173.

He was walking through the crowd when a familiar voice made the high-toned cry, "Gampa!" The toddler-slurred "Grandpa" turned his attention to the small three year old girl that bounded up to him, wearing a pink bow in her pony-tail and a cute dress and shirt that had teddy bears placed everywhere. Nate reached down and lifted the toddler into his arms even as an older voice, that of a boy, called out "Grandpa!", after which a six year old clasped onto his leg.
Some eyes turned his way, the interest being in the fact that unlike Nate, the children had prominent Bajoran ridges upon their noses. The same was upon the nose bridges of their father and mother was the sandy-haired man walked up to Nate, a brown-haired young woman in a formal dress beside him. He paid no heed to his daughter in Nate's arms when he put his arms around Nate and said, "Dad, good to see you."
Nate exchanged the hug with his adopted son Lorva Mackensen as strong as he dare with his granddaughter Kevys in his arm. His grandson, named Nathan as well, smiled up at him while Lorva's wife Samia gave Nate a small hug. "Doctor Mackensen," Nate said to his son. "Has a nice ring to it."
"Ah ah ah, Dad, I still have to defend my thesis," Lorva replied happily.

"You'll win, Mackensens always win," Nate chuckled in reply. "Where is your brother?"
"Furel called, said he couldn't make it." Lorva frowned. "Probably doing the usual shit."
"Ooooh, Daddy said a bad word!" Nathan giggled. "Momma's gonna smack him!"
And, indeed, Samia gave Lorva a quick smack to the shoulder, drawing a "Yow!" from him and a laugh from Nate. From beyond, a voice called out, "Still letting your girl beat you around, Lorva?"
Heads turned and Furel walked up, dressed more informally than the assembled and looking very much the college student in his dirty jacket, navy blue T-shirt, and faded blue jeans. He reached into his pocket and took out American greenbacks, two fives, and handed them to his neice and nephew. "Here, kids, Uncle Furel's 'I've missed you' gift. Go buy some toys."

Lorva chuckled and Nate, again, laughed, before he embraced his younger adopted son. The twenty year old hugged him tightly. "Hey Dad," he said.
"Doing good in college?"
"Oh yeah, straight Bs." Furel smirked and then finally, under the mockingly-scolding look of his father, corrected himself. "Okay, a C.... but mostly As. I have the lack of sleep to prove how hard I've been studying. We can't all be Mister 'Fall asleep in Science class and still get an A'."
"That's my boy," Nate cackled while Lorva shook his head, in amusement, at his younger brother's teasing. "Now, let's all go get some seats."

As they headed up to the bleachers, Kevys was the one to ask, "Where Gam'ma?"
"Grandma and Step-Granddad are going to be late," Furel replied to his neice, not noticing Nate's slight frown. "They were doing something."
Lorva elbowed his younger brother in the ribs, prompting an upset look, while Nate endured the reminder of his ex-wife's newfound happiness in silence. Together they found some seats midway up the bleachers and waited for the ceremony to begin.
A band struck up a tune, and Nate joined the other active duty Marines by standing up and saluting the arrival of Harold West, Commandant of the Allied Nations Marine Corps. West saluted back from the podium and the assembled Marines in the stands and among the cadets stood or sat at ease. From there he gave a short speech, extolling the virtues of the Corps and talking about it's future represented by the Academy graduates in front of him, and then relinquished the podium to Lt. General Tamika Hudson, the Commandant of the Academy. Her ebony skin shined in the Virginian sun as she gave her own short speech - in a town even gruffer than that of the Corps Commandant - and began to call the class up in order of it's score.

They were in the latter half of the group when "Ivliya Mackensen" was called, and a lovely young blonde girl in dress blues emerged from the crowd of cadets and strode up to the podium. General Hudson placed the Lieutenant's bar on Ivliya's uniform and presented her with her degree, pronouncing her 28th in the class of '73. From the bleachers, Nate and his family stood up, Nate politely clapping with Lorva and Samia while Furel hooted and cried out, "Way to go Sis!"

It was only near the end of the ceremony that Nate noticed his ex-wife Sarah come up with her husband Jim, a school guidance counselor. Sarah didn't give him more than a look, but she did hug and kiss Lorva's kids. It fell on Furel to let her know that Ivliya had come 28th in the class, at which Sarah merely nodded.

After the ceremony, the family headed down to the reception area where Ivliya finally emerged. "Dad!" She went straight to Nate first and, without a beat, gave him a salute, which he returned cheerfully before hugging her. "Dad, I'm so happy you made it."
"I wouldn't miss this for the world, Ivvie."
"Mom, good to see you too," Ivliya said, moving to hug her mother - her stepfather was left out of the hugs and only given a slight embrace. Sarah clearly didn't take to it, but she had never been a supporter of Ivliya's decision to follow Nate into the Corps. "Are you all staying, or...?"
"I'm sorry, dear, but Jim has to get back by tomorrow," Sarah replied. "Work is heavy, as you know. And I know Furel needs to get back to school."
"Mom, I can take a day of absence to hang with my Sis," Furel replied.
"Not when we're paying for your tuition, young man," was Sarah's scornful reply, backed up by a glare from her new husband.
Furel went to argue, but Ivliya stepped up and gave her younger brother a hug. "Oh, Furel, don't worry about it. Just get your degree, I'm just happy you managed to get here."
Lorva gave her a hug as well, as did Samia. "We can stay until tomorrow," Samia told her sister-in-law. "Lorva's just waiting for the doctoral board anyway."
"That is true," Lorva said. "And the kids have been dying for a chance to see you again."
"Like I haven't! Since going into the Academy I've barely seen Nathan and only managed to hold Kevys twice!" Ivliya looked to Nate. "And you, Dad?"
"Still got a while before my next assignment." Nate smiled at his daughter. "In fact, do you want to have dinner tonight?"
"It'll have to be an early one, my roommate and some of the others invited me to a graduation party."
"An early dinner it is, then."

The family conversation went on for a bit longer before they all parted ways, except for Nate and Sarah. "You used to get mad at me being late," Nate said.
"You were always late for everything," Sarah replied. "I never was."
"Unless it was for something you never approved of," Nate retorted. "You didn't even come when she finished boot."
"Jim needed me at home, work was getting hard for him and he was suffering through a cold."
"Oh, don't give me that," scoffed Nate, and clearly Sarah saw her lie wasn't going to work. "You were mad at Ivvie because she wanted to join the Corps."
"She's a bright young girl, she could have a future anywhere, a better one than going off to become a soldier and get shot at."
"It's what she wants to do."
"No, it's what she thinks you want her to do." Sarah glared at him. "She grew up worshipping you, more than any of the others. She wants to be a Marine because you were, that's it. It's not what she wants. You're the one who pushed her into it!"
"I did no such thing! I was perfectly happy with the path Lorva took, Hell, I was ecstatic when he got the scholarship to Ikila. And Furel? I've always encouraged him to go to college. Ivvie wants to be a Marine and you just can't handle that! Ever since George..."

Sarah slapped Nate hard across the cheek. The sting was painful while the imprint of her hand remained on his cheek for a short while. "Don't you dare mention him again, not like that," Sarah said, tears in her eyes.
Nate rubbed his cheek. "You've never stopped blaming me or the Corps."
"And you've never let go," Sarah retorted. "Even Lorva, Ivvie, and Furel, even they couldn't bring you to let go of George."
"He is, was, our son, Sarah. I can't forget..."
"Neither can I, but I let go! Jim made me let go! But you, you keep running off into the service, using it to get away from what happened." Sarah put a hand to her mouth. "I just.... just.... leave me alone, Nathan. Leave me the Hell alone."
And with that, she walked off, leaving Nate alone.


The dinner with Ivliya had been nice, and all on Nate's account by his insistance. Ivliya was already angling for a Recon school slot, to come after she finished her customary first tour with a normal line unit. She insisted that within two years she would be a Recon Marine as he had been, and Nate had done the only thing he could do; voice encouragement.
After their dinner and some quiet talking, Ivliya had left to join her friends. Nate retired to the Officer's Club at the Marine Academy, where he was shortly sitting alone with a half-finished glass of Scotch in his hand.

Movement beside caused him to turn in his seat. Another officer was seated there, this one a General; Brigadier General Miles Willington. His red hair had only slight traces of gray to them, though his beard was far grayer. Willington had a stocky frame that Nate suspected barely passed muster in the fitness exams, but he still kept the barrel chest of a solid infantryman and had the same careful look in his brown eyes. When he spoke, it was with a slight baritone. "Colonel Mackensen, fancy seeing you here. Not out with the family?"
"My ex and her new husband wanted to treat the grandkids before they leave. I didn't want to cause a problem."
"Ah, divorce. Tricky thing." Willington motioned to the bartender to pour him a small glass of tequila. He sipped at it before looking back to Nate. "I hear you're tiring of your post at New Appalachia."
Nate shrugged. "Recon School's been good, but I haven't been in the field since we got dragged into the Feddies' little civil war. I was hoping for a change of pace after six years of instruction and desks."
Willington nodded. "Well, that's why I'm here."
"Thought it was an unofficial rule that there was no post pitching in the Officer's Club?" Nate chuckled.
"General's perogative," was Willington's reply. He sipped at the tequila again, giving Nate a moment to motion for a second Scotch. "Might want to stay a bit sober when I make this pitch, it's a once in a lifetime thing. Your name's come up for a new posting. We need someone with experience, someone good at the kinds of things you Recon Marines do."
"I'm listening," Nate replied.
"It's called the Daffodil Project," Willington said before chuckling. "Some damned Brit must've thought that one up. That's the official name, but I hear the Texans call it the Hula-Hoop, so there is worse."
"Texans? FHI-8?"
"Yes. Your posting will be on Bowie, in the Planetary Defense Command Bunker System outside of Brownville. Beyond that, I can't say more. If you accept, you'll be fully briefed upon arrival."

Nate sipped at the Scotch again while Willington took a longer drink. "When would I leave?"
"You'd come by the office tomorrow and sign the paperwork, give your oath of silence, and so on. We'd expect to have your clearance granted within the week, and you'd be on your way to Bowie before you got to the flight back to New Appalachia."
Nate looked up again. "How much would I be out of contact?"
"Well, I can't say for sure, that's going too far. But communications with your kids would still be possible, and even leave I'm sure."
That drew a nod, and then a look at the bar for a moment followed by a last gulp of Scotch. "Fine. Give me the office number and I'll be there."
"That was fast," Willington remarked.
"Well, what the hell else am I gonna do? I'm tired of teaching Recon, I don't want to retire yet, and I damned sure am tired of sitting at a desk. So, yeah, I'll sign on with this.... Dandelion thing."
"Daffodil," Willington replied with a chuckle. "I damned sure hope they have a better name for it at Brownville."

Nate looked at him. "General, are you saying that even you don't know what this project is?"
Willington gave him a look and a snort. "Oh, Hell no, my clearance is just high enough to know it exists and what they want for it." He gave Nate a clap on the shoulder. "Well, Colonel, good luck." Standing, Willington walked away. "See you in the office tomorrow."
Nate looked back to his glass and decided to have another Scotch before heading back to the hotel.



Brownville, Bowie, Texan Republic
Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate FHI-8
28 June 2173



Nate met the military bus to the Bowie PDC Bunker at Reynolds AFB just after his flight had come in, being among the first to board it as the green sun of the solar system slowly crept over the horizon to the east. He found a seat midway down, noticing that most aboard were in Texan uniform save for a couple Aerospace Force officers and one Stellar Navy Petty Officer in a technician suit.
The flight had been bothersome, and Nate found sleep tugging at his eyes, so he kept closing them to get a little sleep and only opened them when a new arrival came. But only the last arrivals brought his undivided attention.
The first on the bus was big. Not just a man, but clearly not Human either; it took only a moment for Nate to recognize him as a Klingon, big and burly, with a duffel bag pulled over his shoulder and a modified uniform on that resembled, but clearly was not, that of pre-Civil War Starfleet. Behind him was a woman in a similar uniform, fair-skinned but with the spot line of a Trill running from her forehead down her hairline to her neck. Rich black hair flowed down her back, kept into a long ponytail just a bit longer than the Klingon man's, while bright blue eyes surveyed the bus. An amused smirk came to her lips as she settled beside the Klingon, putting an arm around him in such a way that Nate was certain they were intimate.

The bus finally began to move, and Nate dozed off again. He awoke to find the bus already out of Brownville and moving along a solitary mountain road. Remaining awake now, he watched silently as the road continued on and on until they arrived to a gate. The driver showed his ID and the guards let him move on.
Ahead was the entrance to the bunker, built into the face of the mountain, but even here they did not stop, but rather continued onward into the tunnel until they reached a vehicle bay.
When they arrived, the driver called for them to disembark and they all did. A group of stern-faced MPs was waiting for them, as well as a man in a Texan Army uniform with the rank insignia of a Major. He directed all of the junior officers and enlistees on the bus to follow him, leaving Nate alone with the Klingon man and Trill woman. They looked to him as well, and it was Nate who finally decided to break the impasse by saying, "Daffodil?"
The Trill woman smirked. The Klingon frowned, and then spoke in a low grumble. "I do not understand why a top secret project would be given such a.... strange name."
"Well, it's less obvious than 'Planet-Buster'," the Trill woman said in jest. She looked to Nate and extended a hand. "Commander Jadzia Dax, Federated Worlds Starfleet. This is my husband, Commander Worf, of the House of Martok."
"Colonel Nathan Mackensen, Alliance Marine Corps," Nate replied, accepting the hand and remembering that even post-Civil War, the victorious pro-Colonial forces had maintained Starfleet under their newly constituted Federation of Worlds, even if it was now called the Stellar Navy officially. Moreso, most Starfleet officers tended to be more lax, without official salutes and only standing at attention, and only in more formal situations at that. "So, again, Daffodil?"

"Your guess is as good as mine," Dax replied. "What's your specialty? Engineering? Physics?"
Nate smirked at that. "I'm Marine Recon. The only physics we care about are the ones that keep us alive and get the other guys dead."
"....Oh. Well, I wonder... I mean, I thought they wanted Worf for security, I kind of insisted that he be allowed to join the project with me..."
"I'm certain we'll find out more when we get briefed."

A few moments later, a Sergeant stomped up to them with a group of enlisted men in tow. "Colonel Mackensen, Commanders Dax and Worf. General Thompson is ready for you. My men will get your things and bring them do to your quarters."
"Well then, carry on."
"Corporal, get their things packed. Please, Sirs, follow me." With that said the Sergeant led them to one of the lifts in the vehicle bay. The Sergeant put his hand on the security ID and the system confirmed his identity, causing the lift to move into the deepest tunnels of the complex.

From the lift they went through low-ceiling corridors, past sets of blast doors, and a number of doors toward living quarters and the like. They were brought to a briefing room adorned with the flags of Texas and the Allied Nations, where an officer in a Texan Air Force uniform greeted them. Nate saluted, recognizing the two star insignia immediately, and Dax and Worf stood at attention. "Colonel Mackensen reporting, Sir."
"Colonel, Commanders, at ease," was the reply in a smooth, sophisticated drawl. The General was a man of medium height, with a head of graying, balding hair and a stocky frame; he'd been behind a desk for quite a while, Nate was sure. "I'm General Arthur Thompson, in command of the 'Hula-Hoop', as we're told to call it officially."
"Why does it have such a strange name?"
"Commander.... Worf, is it?"
"Yes."
"Because the higher ups don't want something more obvious," Thompson replied. "So, are you ready for your briefing?"
"Yes, Sir," Nate replied. "I've been wondering what this whole project was since I got here."
"Well, Colonel, I believe that sometimes it's best to show, not tell." Thompson motioned to a door. "Please, this way."

Thompson led them to the armored door and let them step through first. Nate found himself standing in some kind of control room with technicians at various stations and light everywhere. Ahead of them, through transsteel windows, was a larger chamber. Nate was the first to walk up to it, while Worf and Dax merely looked on in surprise. "Just what is that supposed...."
"Well, it's clearly not a daffodil or a hula-hoop," Thompson replied sarcastically. "In fact, we think it's supposed to be called a 'Stargate'."

Nate looked back to the giant metal ring in the chamber beyond the control room. It was large, looking to be around eighteen to twenty feet in diameter, with an inner ring that had a few dozen strange symbols on it, as well as seven visible chevron-shaped things along the circumference of the ring; the way they were arranged, there could likely have been more hidden by the metal walkway that led up to the ring.
From inside the control room, a Mexican-accented woman in a Texan uniform called out, "'Zynski particle charge complete. Ready to begin dialing sequence."
Another man tapped keys at his station and the inner ring laden with symbols began to move. It turned for a few moments and then stopped. One of the chevron things suddenly shifted, covering the symbol for a brief moment while it suddenly glowed red, until it retracted once more, though still lit up with red. "Chevron 1 locked."
As the ring began shifting again, Dax said, "Stargate? What is this thing?"
"They found it eighty years ago on an abandoned world, surrounded by what looked to be a sight right out of Ancient Egypt," Thompson replied. "There was a list of symbols near it, not too big a list, but they were all symbols on the Stargate itself, so the guess was that they were some kind of location things. Doctor Michaels will be along to explain later."
"Chevron 2 locked."

Thompson motioned to a vacant station. "You can log in on that, Commander Dax, if you want a look at the sensor readings when this thing activates."
As Dax settled into the seat and typed in the username and password she'd been given, the man at the main station called out, "Chevron 3 locked."
Nate watched as the dialing sequence continued.... whatever the hell it was supposed to be for. He was mostly concerned with the mention of Straczynski particles, the exotic particles that IU jump gates and jump point generators used to open jump points into other universes.
The chevron on the top shifted and glowed, and a voice said, "Chevron 7 locked."

Suddenly there was a flare of bright energy in the ring that solidified. A gush of water-like energy shot out of the ring like a geyser erupting, traveling about six feet before it suddenly "whooshed" and seemed to be sucked back into the ring. A flickering water-like pool of light and energy had appeared in the middle of the ring, as if the surface of fluid, and the bright light flickered green and gold amongst the light blue color. It was all so bright that the lights flickered even in the control room, bathing everything in green, gold, and white-blue color.
Nate's jaw lowered. "It's just like a...."
"I've never seen anything like it!" Dax's eyes were focused on the screen Thompson had directed her toward. "These readouts.... it's just like an interuniversal jump point. But, it should be impossible for something that size to project a wormhole like an IU point generator..."
"So Doctor Michaels has said before, but it does." Thompson nodded at the Stargate again, and eyes turned toward it. As they did, six uniformed and well-equipped people stepped through, one of them towing a big device of some sort. They stepped beyond the threshold of the pool and created impressions in it as they went through.

Eyes turned to a monitor that was on the wall, a camera that showed another Stargate in what looked to be a temperate climate. It too was active, and the same team that had gone through on their end was coming through on the video, their device with them. "We're tracking their IU radio signal now, sir," one of the technicians said.
"Good."
"So, uh, where is that?" asked Nate. "Because I've never heard of those things being found before."
"They're in Universe Designate SRC-19."
Nate blinked. "Never heard of it."
"That's not surprising, since it's on the IUCEC Blacklist."
Dax looked up at the General. "It's on the Blacklist?"
"Yes," Thompson said. "And they found that thing, eighty years ago, in SRC-19 before it was abandoned and before it was on the Blacklist. From what we've discovered, there are thousands, maybe millions, of those things in SRC-19's Milky Way. That's one of the reasons this whole thing is top secret."
A look came over Dax's face, the kind of look that told Worf, at the very least, that her mind was racing due to the possibilities she was considering. "Can you show me where in the SRC-19 Milky Way they ended up?"
Thompson motioned to a holographic board and a technician pressed a key, an indicator showing what part of the galaxy it was by lighting up the individual star in such a way as to make it visible against the backdrop. Dax's jaw literally dropped. "They're in the Delta Quadrant?!"
"Yes. We've found systems from the rim of the Gamma Quadrant to Earth's literal backyard," Thompson answered. "In fact, this planet was chosen to hold the Gate when the project was started because it was on this world in SRC-19 that they found the Gate."

"In other words, you're using the 'Zynski particles to saturate whatever internal mechanism the Stargate uses to communicate with the other Stargates in the network. Tricking it into thinking it's back home and not in another universe and allowing for the connecting wormhole to pierce the universal barrier at the right frequency to transit to SRC-19." Dax stared intently at the Stargate for a moment, watching as the wormhole dissipated. "That... that shouldn't work."
"No, it really shouldn't. Doctor Michaels was astonished when the first test run did work. Which led him to a theory, given how similar the wormholes are to our IU jump points and how easily the Gates are converted in use...."
Dax's eyes widened. "....which could mean the technology is compatible because they have the same common base. This is... this is amazing! This Stargate could be the single greatest scientific discovery since the IU gate technology! I mean, it's been our goal, really our dream since finding the Bajoran wormhole, that we could find a way to create stable interspatial wormholes at will... and we have one right here. And it's also compatible with Interuniversal gate technology! If we found out how these things worked, maybe we could convert the existing Jump Gate Assemblies and build new ones to allow for instantaneous travel between star systems thousands of light years away, much like we use the Gate Assemblies now for interuniversal travel!"

Nate whistled. "Wow." He looked to Worf. "Is she like this all the time or...?"
"Jadzia is...." A pause from the bulky Klingon. "...passionate about such things."
"Uh, yeah, but it occurs to me that it's going to take a lot more work to find out how that, um, 'Stargate' thing works," Nate pointed out, looking to Thompson. "So, you brought the techie here to go ga-ga over the mysterious piece of technology, so what am I here for? I have trouble understanding the Gates we already have."
"Well, that brings me to the reason you're all here." Thompson pointed to the Stargate. "The one thing we haven't done so far, something that could help us learn more of how these things work, is to actually make a transit through the Stargates in the other universe, from one point to another. That's why we wanted you."
"Me?" Nate pointed to his chest. "You wanted me for that?"
"Oh, we want all of you," Thompson replied, gesturing to Jadzia and Worf. "You'll be paired with a team and sent through the Gate to one destination. Once on the other side, we'll run the translation program we set up for each Gate's symbols to find another destination we already have a record of, and when you get the new set of symbols you'll dial it from your side and go through."

"Wow, fifty thousand light years in a single step." Nate made a short, sardonic laugh.
"Why me?" Jadzia asked. "I mean, I'm honored to get a chance to do this, but... why do you need me along?"
"Oh, you were requested." Thompson motioned to a woman standing in the Stargate chamber wearing a camo uniform and waiting with another team. She had rather luscious-looking red-hair, and when she looked up with bright green eyes, she also showed very clear Trill spots. "Doctor Zaharia Herzela will be joinin' you. She's an engineer, has already done a little studyin' of the dial devices on the other end, but she wanted someone with a stronger science background to join her and give a new perspective on the dialers on the other side and on the Stargate itself."

The technician spoke up. "'Zynski particle charge complete. Ready for dialing."
Again the Stargate started up. Dax walked up to the window and looked down at the waiting team. When Dr. Herzela looked up again, she smiled and waved. "Well, I'll do it," Dax said. "How long do we have to prepare?"
"I'm introducin' you to your team tomorrow," Thompson said. "You'll have team trainin' in our holosim chambers, then in about a week, you go in."
"Ah, well, that works for me," Nate replied, taking a second look at the Trill redhead as she prepared to go through the Gate with her team. The second chevron on the Stargate locked and Nate watched it continue dialing. "I've gone from training Marines for Recon to babysitting eggheads playing with new toys we don't understand. I guess the grass really is greener on the other side..."



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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It was the next morning when Dax first saw the lab; the expansive room with testing equipment and computers that had been assigned to her and Doctor Herzela. Worf was off doing physical training, leaving her alone to begin going through the data on the Stargate and what they knew of it.
Dax had only just begun to run an in-depth comparison model between the Stargate-created wormhole and an interuniversal jump point when the door opened again. Zaharia entered in a blue lab coat over a white blouse and knee-length skirt, looking very pretty and very geekish. Her red hair, even rarer for Trill than for Humans, shined in the light from a very recent washing and conditioning. And it was still a bit wet, given that when she turned her had quickly to look at something Dax felt a few drips of water hit her on the cheek. "I've already run eight," Zaharia said. "The data is in the system if you want to look at it."
"I just wanted to know if you ran the neutrino simulators at..."
"They're at the demanding standard you'd set them for, Commander." Zaharia stood beside her for a moment, tapping keys on a second keyboard and bringing up the models. "Can I call you Jadzia? Everyone calls me Zaria."
"Zaria? That sounds..." Dax looked at her a long moment, a memory tugging at the back of her mind - or rather the symbiont's mind. "Wait a minute, I do know you, don't I?
"Well... you you don't, but I met Curzon once."
"Yes, he was the one..." Dax looked a little uncomfortable under the gaze of Zaria's emerald eyes. "Curzon rejected you as a host candidate."
"He did."
"Well, I..." Please, please don't tell me she holds a grudge, Dax thought to herself, ignoring the flashes on the screen as her own model began to finalize it's results.

"Oh, don't worry." Zaria giggled girlishly. Very girlishly, adding to the geek image she was giving off. "I fought so hard to look disappointed, I actually wanted to jump up and kiss Curzon when he told me I was rejected."
Dax actually had no words to reply to that, she simply couldn't find them. Avoiding the whole question of a beautiful woman kissing the philandering Curzon, it left her completely speechless to find out that Zaria had faked disappointment and wanted to be rejected for a joining. Finally, after about five seconds of her mouth actually remaining half-opened, Dax managed to ask, "You.... you didn't want to be joined?"
"Hell no!" was the emphatic reply. "It was my mother. She was insistant that I was too bright and too smart to go unjoined. She pushed and prodded and shoved, calling in every favor she could, to get me considered by the Symbiosis Commission." Zaria tapped a few more keys, bringing up Dax's results alongside those of her own comparison models. "I'm perfectly happy being my own person, Commander Dax. And there are your results compared to mine."
Dax looked back at them, the results being pretty much similar in all respects. Conceding that point with a nod, she said, "Well, I know from some experience that joining is not for everyone, but I've never met a Trill who didn't want to be joined."
"Well, Commander Dax, now you have." Zaria smiled softly at her. "I'll be honest with you, I'm, well, I was raised on Earth and most of my friends were Human, not Trill. So I'm not the average Trill either."
"Ah." Dax nodded slowly at that.

"Anyway, to get to business..." Zaria hit a few keys and brought up a view to Dax. It was a picture of another world, with a Stargate in the background and a second object in the foreground. It was a control, with buttons topped with symbols arrayed in circular patterns around a large red sphere. "We call those the dialers. The symbols on the device correspond to those on the Stargate..."
"...and so you use it to dial a destination,", Dax finished for Zaria. "How much have you studied them?"
"Oh, we've taken extensive scans," Zaria replied. "But we still don't know everything about the device or the network itself. We're hoping that a trip through a normal Stargate wormhole will give us some readings and data to improve that."
"I'd like to get one of those devices and take it apart, but with SRC-19 on the Blacklist that wouldn't be possible." After a moment's silence, Dax asked, "Are you ever worried that you might find a malfunctioning Gate and get stuck in SRC-19?"
"Sometimes. But we do have the automated drones test the Gates first for that reason." Zaria shifted uncomfortably. "Of course, something could still go wrong, but that's the risk we're willing to take."
"The risk can be half the fun, sometimes."

Before the conversation could continue, Zaria looked at the time and said, "We'd better get going, your orientation and preliminary briefing is in just a few minutes."


The conference room from before had been chosen for the orientation. Thompson and Nate were already present when the two Trill women arrived, with Worf coming in just a few minutes later.
Seated between Thompson and Nate was a thin man with graying hair and a patrician nose, along with a bit of facial hair along his jawline. Like Zaria he was dressed in civilian wear, a white lab coat over gray jacket and black trousers. When everyone was in the room, Thompson indicated a hand to the man as he stood up. "Everyone, this is Doctor Keith Michaels, the civilian head of research for our project and the designer of the 'Zynski particle charger we use on the Stargate. Doctor MIchaels, here are Colonel Mackensen, Commander Dax, and Commander Worf."
"Ah yes. Commander Dax..." Michaels stepped up and offered her his hand. "I have read some of your work in recent years. You have a first rate mind, well, two minds I suppose. I'm certain your contribution to this project will be great."
"Thank you, Doctor Michaels. I'm looking forward to this. This could revolutionize space travel."
"That it could, Commander."
The door opened again. Walking through it was a woman in military uniform, her bun-tied hair a lighter shade of red from Zaria's with gray eyes slim enough to hint at a grandparent or great-grandparent of Oriental heritage. Her uniform was not quite standard; it was a tight-skinned suit of turquoise color with only ribbons and a name badge. Her rank insignia was also not standard, instead being a gold diamond shape that had a five-pointed silver star in the middle. She looked to Thompson and saluted. "Sir, I apologize for my tardiness, Team 4's debriefing ran late."

"That's quite alright. This is Commanders Dax and Worf and...."
"Colonel Mackensen," the woman said, her English accented in a way that Nate was only mildly familiar with. "A pleasure to serve with you, Sir."
"You're Canopian?" asked Nate.
"This is Force Major Sakura Azakusho, Magistracy Armed Forces, the equivalent of a Lieutenant Colonel" Thompson replied. "She is going to be your second on this mission and will be your chief of staff afterward."
"Yes, about that.... General, usually it's the Captains who do this kind of thing while we Colonels and Majors stay at HQ and..."
"Orders from up top, Colonel," Thompson said, cutting in. "They want the best fit senior officers heading these teams. Major Azakusho herself has led more expeditions than any other officer here, so she's going to be your second on this operation. Now, shall we begin the briefing?"
Nate took another look at Sakura as the red-haired Canopian settled herself into a seat. He slipped into the seat he'd occupied before, directly across from Doctor Michaels, who was in turn seated beside Worf and Dax - Zaria was between Nate and Sakura, allowing for an obvious contrast between the two redheads; Zaria was more relaxed, with a more average figure complete with obvious and attractive curves, while her Canopian counterpart was slim and more athletic, built like a dancer, or perhaps more appropriately, a track-and-field athlete. When they were all seated, Thompson nodded to Michaels to begin the briefing.

"In 2093 AST, the Higgins New Horizons Corporation, Universe SE-1, bought the rights to establish the first colony in Universe Designate SRC-19 in what was to be called Rebsam, a combination name from the company CEO's two newborn twin grandchildren. In this universe, Rebsam is the Texan-held planet Reilly, about four light years from here."
"Even as the colony was first getting established, advance parties of Higgins NH were moving to other systems, including SRC-19's version of this world, Bowie. And it was there that they found.... this."
Higgins hit a key and a crumbling pyramid like structure popped up. "At first it was believed alien, until one of the surveyors recognized Egyptian hieroglyphs along the walls inside. Or rather, what looked like them, as further study determined that they weren't quite Egyptian, but a close similarity to them." Above the pyramid, a diagram appeared. "A few rooms were not accessible, but later analysis indicated that a number of the rooms were in fact living quarters, or pens of some sort, while another set of rooms were very similar to the kinds of quarters that ancient kings might possess. Markings referred to the area as belonging to, or being used by, 'the servants of Ra'."

"And then, in a central chamber, they found the Stargate." Michaels indicated the chamber on the diagram while a second picture brought up images from the chamber itself. It was a room covered with gold-colored plates along the wall on which hieroglyphs were found. Michaels pointed to one in particular, showing a series of symbols in groups of seven. "Included was this list of what we assume to be sixty other Gates, of which we've tried thirty, with ten not working and two leading to planets that are uninhabitable. Of the remaining eighteen, four showed signs of Human civilization, past or present, and Team 2 actually catalogued a village from what looked to be proto-Phoenician society."
The first series of pics showed the Stargate and the "Dialer" device, while some now showed the Stargate missing. "The preliminary scans and work found that the Stargate and the dialing system, or rather what we know it was, were of a material that we had no knowledge of. After the findings were reported, the Company decided it was too risky to try and activate the Gate, so they instead had it removed and shipped to a company warehouse for study. The team remained on the planet to study the ruins."

Michaels took a drink before continuing. "They didn't get very long. About two weeks after the Stargate was removed, the U.S.S. Abigail Thompson, an explorer ship of the United States Star Navy, was cataloguing systems about fifteen light years from Rebsam when they, well..." Michael hit a key in front of them and the screen changed to show a view of space from a starship. A second key hit caused it to slightly move as a male voice began to speak. "....contact on the screen, please."
What showed up on the screen was a large-looking vessel. It's outer hull was a triangle shape of gray metal with two edges sticking out in all of the three direction. It's inner hull was literally a pyrmaid.
"....This is Captain Roger Magnusson of the United States Starship Abigail Thompson, we come in peace. I repeat, we come in pea...."
There was a flare of energy from the ship, and a bolt of what looked to be plasma or particle fire struck out and hit the screen. A host of voices now played on the audio channel.
"Deflector screens have failed!"
"....suffered damage on forward decks 2 through 5. Casualties in compart....
".....Cochrane drive not respond...."
Finally Captain Magnusson's voice returned. "...transmission to Rebsam with recorder data, now! Before they jam us!"
Everyone watched for a few moments as small shapes emerged from the ship. As they drew closer, they were visibly circular ships with small pyramid points on the top. They zoomed in and fired weapons that approached the screen rapidly. "....all hands abandon...." When they hit, the screen abruptly cut out and became black.

Michaels hit a key and the screen changed back to the Stargate room from SRC-19's Bowie. He looked back to the assembled individuals. "Naturally, an explorer ship back then wasn't the most impressively armed, but it's defenses were at the time among the most advanced that could be found. And this ship blew through their deflectors like they weren't even there. So you can understand what happened next."
"You withdrew from SRC-19," Dax answered.
"Yes. The order came down from Washington, personally signed by President MacGregor, within fifteen hours of this transmission reaching Rebsam's System Defense Command. The colonists were ordered to pack everything up and be ready to board the evacuation ships in ten hours. The researchers on SRC-19's Bowie were also recalled, and within fifteen hours of the order, our presence in SRC-19 was over. President MacGregor sent a classified report on what happened to the IUCEC, and after just one hour of deliberation the decision was passed, and for the first and only time in history, a universe was placed on the Blacklist."
"And the Stargate?" Nate asked.

"The American government confiscated it and all the records of the Bowie excavation and handsomely compensated Higgins NH, the researchers, and the colonists. Nobody knew what it was for and what it could do, so they packed it away in a weapons R&D facility in the Alpha Korva system. It stayed there until five years ago, when I finished my 'Zynski particle charge device and got President Dale to sign the Executive Order establishing the Stargate Project and moving the Stargate here."
"But in the meantime, you analyzed the Gate and found out how to find the mineral it was made out of," Dax said.
"Yes. Doctor Simon Guyver was asked to lead the analysis team, and I was one of his assistants." Michaels sighed. "He always wanted to know what this did. He thought it was a wormhole generator too, but he never got permission to test his theory. And after he died in '41, there was no one to push for more to be done on the Gate itself until President Dale found out about it."

"And so here we are," Thompson said, cutting in. "As stated before, you'll be heading through the Gate to another world, Site 5. From there you'll activate the Stargate to go to Site 3, with instruments and drones for gathering data on the wormhole from both ends. After a few openings from both ends for this purpose, you'll come back."
Nate lifted his hands a bit. "That's it? Just... a couple trips through it and a few minutes of readings?"
"Essentially, yes. For now. There will be future missions for you, Colonel, since we intend for you to take over as senior officer for the Gate Teams."
"Oh." Nate nodded at that, and then a cocky smirk came to his face. "So, um, nobody really cares about the fact of the hostile aliens who shoot at whatever crosses their path?"

"Both of the systems you'll be visiting are in the Gamma Quadrant, Colonel," Michaels explained in an assuring voice.
"Oh. Well, I guess that's a relief." Nate looked to Michaels. "Because, for a minute there, I was thinking we should really think hard about heading back to SRC-19, given the whole thing with some alien creeps kicking our asses out the last time we showed up."
"Colonel..."
"Don't worry, Sir, I'll do the job, but I think that we should be thinking a bit more seriously about what we're going to run into out there. For all we know, we could walk out of one of these things and boom, we're vaporized by some local defenses, or we run smack dab into the aliens that shoot first and ask questions later. I mean, if these Stargates really are all around the SRC-19 Milky Way in the thousands, has anyone ever considered the possibility that they use the Stargates like we want to? Hmm?" Nate looked around the table, noticing only the stoically-amused look on Sakura's face and the more annoyed expressions from Zaria, Michaels, and Thompson. "I thought so. Hey, Commander Dax, Commander Worf, what do you think?"

Dax looked to Worf for a moment before reply, "We're Starfleet, Colonel. Exploring new worlds, new civilizations, is what we're about."
"Ah, I see. Well, good for you. I'm a Marine. I follow duty because that's what I'm supposed to do, but I don't go for the exploration crap. We have enough problems as it is without looking for more trouble." Nate looked to Thompson. "Okay, General, we know the situation. When do I get to meet my team, and how many do I get?"
"Well, aside from the Commanders," Thompson nodded respectfully to Worf and Dax, "Doctor Herzela, and Major Azakusho, you'll be taking along Team 14. Major Azakusho will introduce them to you after the briefing. Now, if there are no further questions, Doctor Michaels will explain the exact details of your mission and what we know of your destinations."
"Actually, I do have a question," Dax said. "How do we know which symbols to dial in to return?"
"Oh, that's simple," Zaria spoke up. "From what we've seen, the symbols are related to constellations and specific stars in them, acting as a kind of guide. Six symbols to determine spatial coordinates, and then the seventh is...."
"....the point of origin," Dax finished for her. "It makes sense that way. The specific locations that the six initial symbols refer to are points along the galactic axis planes,and when you draw every two sets together it creates a central point, and then the seventh symbol says where you're coming from."
"Correct, and using that we've created a computer program that analyzes the stars around every site we go to and correlates them to the symbols on the Stargate, allowing for us to know the return coordinates for Brownsville. Then all we have to do is charge both gates with 'Zynski particles and dial in Brownsville to return."

"Wait, wait." Nate raised a hand. "If that's so, how come we can leave here with only our gate charged? Why not the other side."
"Probably the way the Gates communicate with each other," Dax explained. "To leave here, we need only have our Gate tell the other Gates it's available, to calculate for the planetary and stellar drift, and then send the signal through to them that a wormhole is being formed. They don't have to reply since we're the origin point of the wormhole. But for us to dial here, they need to get a return signal from the Brownsville Gate first to account for spatial drift in whatever internal computer is within the dialer."
"So we need the Gate here charged first? What happens if our IU radio gets busted?"
"It's our policy to leave the Gate charged for two out of every four and a half minutes," Thompson explained. "We've found that a single charge lasts two minutes if we don't form an outgoing wormhole. Any more questions?"
There were none.


After the briefing, Sakura led Nate into the corridors leading through the base. "Team 14 just returned from a mission to Site 15 to check up on some skeletal remains found there that appear Human. We'll be meeting them for their debriefing."
"I got that." Nate looked over at the woman. "So, um, you're Caucasian and you speak English with a Canopian accent, but you have a Japanese name. Might I ask why?"
"My mother, Umiko Kamagawa, was a refugee who fled the Draconis Combine thirty-six years ago when her father was arrested by the ISF. She stowed away on a DropShip carrying luxury goods to Canopus." Sakura didn't look at Nate. "It took her a while, but she got there, and she found another Combine expatriate family with money to help her find a job and housing. They adopted me."
"So, you don't know who your Dad is?"
"Neither did my mother. The DropShip crew allowed her to remain on board, and fed her, in return for providing them with pleasurable company whenever they desired it. And there were quite a few men during those long months that desired my mother's pleasurable company," Sakura answered wryly. "Anything else?"
"Yeah. I know that in the Canopian military officer commissions and promotions are purchased, not awarded by OCS or academy education. How'd you get to be a Force Major if your mother was a poor refugee?"
Sakura grinned widely at him. "The Azakushos are fairly wealthy. And due to the Magistracy Armed Forces Reform Acts of 3065, only half of the commissions in the MAF are open for purchase now, the rest are awarded by the Magistrix or the senior General of the MAF, though they can still be bought if nobody of sufficient merit is available to be given them." After she saw Nate nod, she smirked and added, "I know what you're thinking, Colonel. I'm Canopian, therefore I'm a slut who can't keep her legs closed."
"That reputation among Canopians is there," Nate pointed out. "But I take it that it doesn't apply to you?"
"I'm an officer first and foremost, Colonel." Her eyes glared straight at him, an old anger returning from what Nate could tell from her body language. "And I grew up watching my mother suffer the shame of getting used like a cheap whore just to get away from an ISF re-education camp. That is, until the shame was too much for her and she cut her belly open with a butcher knife. I celebrated my thirteenth birthday with my mother's fresh ashes resting in a vase on the table beside my birthday cake."

"Wow, your adopted folks were tough."
"They wanted me to see the ultimate end of shame," Sakura answered. "They drove me my entire life to make something of myself and to be more than the women around me."
"And you just... tell this part of your life to everyone who asks?" Nate inquired with an amused tone.
She smiled, and it was the kind of lethal smile that looked good with the image of cutting a person's throat open. "Oh, Colonel, I only tell those who I need to tell. There are things about me that I will not outright tell you, and will only discuss with you when you learn on your own. And there are some things I won't talk about at all, no matter how much you learn about them." The evil, violent smile was replaced by a gentler one. "So, allow me to introduce you to Team 14."


They walked into the debriefing room to find the team waiting for them, all of them men and in combat camo. Their BDUs had a particular patch upon them, a simplistic representation of the Stargate with the Alliance four-colored flame and torch in the middle and the letters SPT-14 below the Stargate representation.
"Gentlemen, attention!" Sakura ordered, and the seven men stood at rigid attention. "This is Colonel Nate Mackensen, Allied Nations Marine Corps. He is the new CO of the SPT Field Group, and I am to be his Chief of Staff now. You will be following his orders from now on. Please, introduce yourselves."
A dark-haired man with light brown skin and a beard and mustache spoke first. "Major Frank Parker, Allied Nations Marine Corps. CO of Team 14, Sir!"
A brown-haired light-skinned man, shaved, spoke up next. "Captain Christopher Farrell, Australian Army, XO of Team 14, Sir!"
"Lieutenant James Tang, United States Air Force, Squad 1 Leader and Medic, Sir!" responded a man of partial Asian extraction, with a well-cut head of dark hair.
"Lieutenant Maya Colette, Alliance Army, Squad 2 Leader and Biologist, Sir!" was the reply of a youngish looking woman who, like Tang, looked at least partially Oriental. Her dark hair was shoulder length and kept in a pony tail, and she looked rather small.

Nate raised a hand. "Wait, we have a team biologist?!"
"We do go to alien worlds with life, Sir," Lieutenant Colette replied. "My purpose is to study the biosphere to make sure we don't introduce any...."
"Yes, yes, that's fine... Please, go on with the introductions."

A large barrel-chested man, with brown hair, mustache, and beard, saluted. "Sergeant Cyrus Dalton, United States Air Force, Squad 1 and Mechanics expert, Sir!"
The next man was smaller, but with keen eyes, and when he spoke it was with an English accent. "Sergeant Robert Wilson, British Army, Squad 2 and Team Sniper, Sir!"
"Corporal Marvin Reynolds, Allied Nations Marine Corps, Squad 1, Sir!"
"Russian accent, Corporal?"
"Yes, Colonel, my mother is Russian, and I was raised in Russia until my father moved us to an American city," was Corporal Reynolds' reply.
"Carry on then. Corporal, you are?"
The stocky brown-haired man replied immediately with an Australian accent, "Corporal Matthew Calgar, Alliance Army, Squad 2, Sir!"
"Specialist Thomas Cyrzanski, Alliance Army, Squad 1 and Computer man, Sir!"
"Specialist Vincent Valentino, Alliance Army, Squad 2, Sir!"
Nate nodded to them both. "As the Major said, I am Colonel Mackensen. Twenty years ago, I was a platoon CO in the 24th Recon. I was in Bravo Company on Bajor when we took Sutherland Ridge and liberated Gallitep, took a plasma-heated rock to the spine in the process. I've spent the last several years at the Marine Reconnassiance Training School on New Appalachia, so it's been a while since I've been in an active combat command. Major Azakusho will help get me up to speed on how things have been done around here. But my orders will remain the same. Every time you step through that thing, I want you to get it into your heads that we're going to the frontlines. That this is not a cake run, and that at any moment we might come under fire. Keep this mind, stay sharp, and should any shit hit the fan, it makes it more likely you'll come back here in one living piece." Nate looked over to Major Parker. "Major, what is your schedule until next week's trip?"

"Sir, after debriefing and post-mission checkups today, we were to have the next three days on leave in Brownsville, starting tomorrow, and then return on the fourth day to begin training with you for the mission."
"Wrong." Nate brought up a hand and extended his finger. "I want to start training immediately. We only have a week."
"Sir, with all due respect, we haven't had leave in months."
Nate eyed Parker for a moment before nodding a little. "Fine. You have tomorrow and the day after, but I want you back by the second night. We begin training at 0400 local in three days."
"Yes sir!"
"You can all be at ease. Remember, three days." After that, Nate walked out.


"Colonel, what can I do for you?"
Thompson's voice, and his distinct Texan drawl, were calm and composed when he responded to Nate's unscheduled entry into his office. "I trust you've met Team 14."
"Sir, with all due respect.... a team biologist? A mechanic and a computer geek, or Hell, an officer to serve as medic? Why not just assign a corpsman?" Nate sat in the seat that Thompson gestured him toward. "This is insane, Sir. I've got some half-assed squad instead of a team of real soldiers."
"All fifteen of our teams have trained hard together to be just as good as any other troops, Colonel," Thompson replied diplomatically. "And they all have biologists, mechanics, and comptuer geeks."
"Why not just train some troopers for Recon footwork? Why the specialization?"
"Because this project is classified at the highest levels of the Alliance government. Half of the Texan War Department doesn't even know what we have here. Or half of the Defense Ministry. We don't have the luxury of picking and choosing who serves here, we take anyone who volunteers for it when offered. And this isn't a normal military outfit, Colonel. We're exploring alien worlds, some of which we haven't encountered or haven't seen in the states they are in SRC-19. We need men good with equipment and with the training to do whatever it is that might need doing in any kind of situation they meet out there. If that means having a Lieutenant as a medic or a biologist, then so be it." Thompson saw that Nate was not convinced and took in a breath, leaning over and putting his arms and hands on the table. "Look, if it doesn't work, I'll have them find someone else and you can go back to New Appalachia and teach Recon again. But you're here, now, and you've been briefed on perhaps the most top secret project in the entire known Multiverse. I need you here for the mission at hand, and I'd like you to stay at least that long."

Nate sat for a moment and finally gestured surrender. "Alright, alright, I'll give it the shot and I won't complain about anything else. But I have conditions."
"You're not exactly in a good bargaining position, Colonel, but I'll listen."
"I want to begin training in three days, at 0400 sharp. I want the holodecks programmed with both worlds and with a number of variable combat and emergency situations." Nate breathed in. "And I want the others to join us in the training."
"Commanders Dax and Worf were already planning on it."
"No, I mean Doctor Herzela. She goes along, I don't want dead weight."
"Request denied, Colonel." Thompson saw the sour look on Nate's face. "Doctor Herzela is a civilian. Period. She's under no obligation to undergo military training of any kind."
"Then, with all due respect, General, she doesn't need to be working in the field. That's the military's job."
"I understand that, but she's the engineering expert, she's studied the Stargates for the past two years, and she's the closest we can get to Doctor Michaels going, and he's too old and too valuable here to send."

"Can I at least ask her to join us on the firing range?"
Thompson shrugged. "Ask away, but she doesn't have to do anything."
"So if we're out there and we get attacked by, oh, flying pigs with razor-sharp feet, then she can ignore me and do what she wants and get her and maybe some of us killed?"
"In the field, that's different, and she'll obey any orders you give in a military emergency, but she is a vital part of this project, as is Commander Dax, and I expect you to listen to both of them before making any decisions. Now, is that all?"
Nate bit into his lip and nodded slightly.
"Very good. I'll attend your final briefing the morning the mission launches. In the meantime... please, arrange an appointment." Thompson picked up a paper from a stack on his desk. "I have enough work to do as it is."
Nate stood and saluted, leaving upon being told, "You're dismissed, Colonel."



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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As they did on many days, Dax and Worf had taken to the gym for the workouts that kept them both fit and trim, each wearing white gi robes. First was the round of bat'leth dueling in the boxing ring that drew the stares of two SPT members who had come in afterward to box on their own. Afterward they went into a mok'bara session, drawing the occasional glance from others who'd come to run treadmills or box or simply do aerobics.
It was usually Dax who broke the silence of this part of their day, the irreverant part of her who didn't mind underminding Worf's strictness, and indeed delighted in shaking things up as she always did (and as Odo, like Worf, had so often complained about). But there was nothing to say at the moment that they hadn't already. This was an exciting new mission and it had been widely discussed between them already, in the privacy of their quarters, so Dax was content to let Worf have one day of silence during the mok'bara exercise.

As a result he was much happier (which was an emotion that only Dax had any hope in discerning from his always-stoic demeanor) when the exercise ended and they were ready to go wash up.
Then there was the sound of a body hitting a mat hard. Worf and Dax found their attention diverted to one corner of the gymnasium, a far corner, where a handful of men and women had gathered around. They went closer and found Maj. Azakusho, in full-sleeved white gi and with a black belt around her waist, picking one of the SPT men off the ground.
The fight started anew, and Sakura's movements immediately drew their attention, particularly Worf's. The SPT man was clearly skilled, but he was like an amateur compared to the Canopian woman, who blocked or dodged every strike, no matter how fast or directed, as if she was reading his mind. Ten seconds of dodging later, her hands shot up and grabbed the man's arm. She expertly twisted his arm and threw him to the mat once more.
Dax looked over to see Worf staring at her, a pleased look in his eyes, and gave him a jealous elbow to the ribs. He looked down at her and again the stoicism snapped into place. "I was merely admiring her skill."

"Commanders Dax, Worf?" They looked back to see her looking straight at them. Sakura smiled thinly. "I have heard you are both skilled combatants, would you like to help me educate the others in hand-to-hand combat?"
"Why not?" Dax said, stepping forth first. She assumed a defensive stance, recalling not only her Starfleet training in self-defense but the knowledge and training of her prior hosts, most notably Curzon's education in Klingon martial arts. Sakura, for her part, merely stood, arms calmly held and not looking at all prepared. Dax stepped forward and threw a quick jab, a testing strike, and was not completely surprised when Sakura easily deflected it with one hand.
The impact of Sakura's other hand into her stomach was a displeasing surprise, though. Dax doubled over and Sakura's hands gripped her on the right arm, using the forward momentum she had gained when advancing on Sakura to throw her to the edge of the mat. "Blocking does not mean there will be no attack," Sakura said, as if instructing the others. "The perfect fighter will be on both offensive and defensive at the same time, ready to turn any blocking maneuver into an attack and any attack into a block."
"After three hundred years I've learned there's no such thing as perfect," Dax replied.
"Of course not, Commander, and nor am I." Sakura stood and again awaited her.
This time, Dax remained perfectly still, standing defensively, waiting for an attack. Sakura finally deigned to strike at her, a testing jab with her right hand. Dax blocked it effortlessly and then the follow-up left hand jab before bringing her free arm down to smack away Sakura's knee, causing some pain from the direct impact of the bone but protecting her gut from another strike. Her mind worked fast to deflect the next attack, a slight smack, and her fist struck quick, going for Sakura's stomach. But she twisted at the last second and let the impact hit rib instead, making Dax's knuckles hurt.
Her foot flew up and caught Dax on the chin, knocking her backward. Dax back-pedaled and kept on her feet, ready for the next two attempted punches. Then Sakura's other foot slid low in an attempted roundhouse strike to sweep Dax off her feet.

Dax hopped out of the way, barely avoiding the strike, and with her opening lashed out with her foot and kicked Sakura in the shoulder, sending her to the mat. Dax stepped forward and was about to offer a hand to help Sakura up when she rolled forward and gripped Dax's partially-outstretched arm. With effort she threw herself back, using Dax's forward momentum and now her own momentum to flip Dax over and onto her back on the mat, knocking the wind out of her. Sakura was the first to her feet. "I don't suppose I have to point out that just because you're on your back or belly doesn't mean you can't strike at your foe," she said to the assembled.
Dax was getting back to her feet, with Worf moving alongside but not fast enough to help her up (which she likely would have refused anyway). "I don't suppose that you've had any genetic tinkering to move that fast, Major?"
Sakura looked back at her. "No," was her reply. "Aside from the anti-aging treatments I've had absolutely no genetic tinkering of any kind. What you see, Commander, is the result of thirty years of training." She smiled pleasantly and bowed. "It was an honor to spar with you, Dax-san."
Dax, after a moment, repeated the action. "It was a pleasure," she answered diplomatically, trying not to give in to the temptation to rub her neck. She looked to Worf. "I think I'm ready to go shower now, Doctor Herzela is waiting for me in the lab."

The couple retired to the showers, which were divided by sex, and given their common use they decided not to shower together. Dax found a stall in the female partition, semi-private, and found herself washing quickly given the rather poor quality of the liquid soap in the dispenser. She walked out to dry off and was walking by when color came to the corner of her eye and she turned to see into one of the stalls.
Sakura was washing her hair, holding it over her shoulder toward the front, and this bared her back toward the end of the stall. The upper portion of her back was covered by a tattoo, or rather a series of them. Along the right shoulder blade and back to her arm was the emblem of a white tiger from the rear, beautifully and artistically tattooed onto her fair skin. The left shoulder blade, upper back, and arm had a red dragon design. The two met just below the back of her neck, their tails intertwining and bordering a series of Japanese kanji characters in white and red, arranged vertically.

Sakura whipped her hair suddenly and turned to begin rinsing it in the stream of warm water, bringing the two women face to face, both equally naked. From the front the same dragon and tiger tattoos were visible, including the snarling, fanged visage of the tiger where Sakura's upper arm nearly reached her elbow and the clearly-Asian dragon's fanged and open mouth, complete with red fire streaming from it's nostrils, on the left arm. There was no point where the two designs met from the front, but the left side of her torso was taken up by a tattoo showing a facsimilie of her, with wind-swept hair, beheading a dark figure with a shining blade, the edge of it intertwining with the tattoo along her right side showing a kimono-clad woman on her knees and driving a dagger into her belly while a much younger visage of Sakura stood over her, sword drawn and held over the kneeling woman. Above and between the greeting of the two images, carefully placed so that the curves of Sakura's breasts did not distort the image. was the emblem of a Japanese cherry blossom tree.
All of this detail entered Dax's mind in the moment before Sakura crisply asked, "May I help you, Commander?"
"Oh, um, I was just.... I just noticed the tattoos, I didn't mean to..."

"Don't insult me, Commander, you are a scientist, it is your nature to be curious." Sakura put a bottle of hair conditioner up, and then thinking again she extended it toward Dax. "Here, it's much better than the military standard shampoo in the dispenser. If you desire skin conditioner, I have a supply of the finest from Canopus. Or is Trill skin that different from Human?"
"Well, um, not really..." Dax accepted the bottle. "I.... that must have hurt having all that put on."
"It was not all put on at once," Sakura replied calmly. "And pain is a part of life, Commander, it was nothing."
"I mean, that's some pretty graphic body art..."
"It is a custom of my people. Anything else, Commander?" Sakura's tone turned icy as she switched the water off and picked up a white towel, draping it around her body from hips to shoulders.
"Oh, nothing." Dax quickly retreated from the stall, still holding the bottle, and giving Sakura a wide berth as she headed out to the locker room. Dax found her own towel and left the showers as well.



Apart from a gymnasium and a holochamber training facility, a firing range had also been placed in the underground base, and Nate found himself there working on his marksmanship with an old-fashioned "powder round" gun, a Glock 9mm. It was a gift years before from his company, from the gun-collecting family of one of his Gunnys, and the ammunition was easily replicated at any basic military munitions replicator.
He'd let loose three clips, satisfied to see his aim was still top notch, when he noticed a nearby target was being hit by, well, someone not very good at shooting. In fact, so bad that they'd never pass a firearms test under even the laxest standards in the militaries of the Alliance.

Nate stepped over and saw that, sure enough, the shooter with such horrible accuracy was Dr. Herzela. Zaria, as she insisted to be called in informal situations, was clad in a sleeveless white blouse and knee-length green shorts adorned with roses. She turned and looked up at him, the yellow goggles obscuring the bright green color of her eyes. "Oh, hi Colonel."
"Doctor." Nate looked up at her target, noticing that only one shot managed to get onto the trunk of the target. "What do you have?"
She showed what weapon she had, and Nate groaned inwardly at the sight of the Type 2 Standard Phaser from Starfleet. It's existance was notorious amongst the Alliance military, referred to as the "Dustbuster". He put a hand on it and pulled it away from her. Looking at it and the setting buttons on top, he asked, "Just where did you get this?"
"When I left Starfleet before emigrating to the Alliance, I was able to keep my issued phaser," Zaria replied, taking it back from him. "It's so much more powerful than your guns. Cleanly vaporizes targets at the highest settings."
"Yes, assuming you can hit the target," Nate guffawed, indicating her abysmal performance. "Listen, I know it's got fancy features and at max firepower can level half a house, but it's a sidearm. It's not supposed to vaporize houses or human beings, it's supposed to be last ditch defense against an opponent in CQB situations."

"'See Cue Bee'?"
"The letters C, Q, and B. Close Quarters Battle. This is what you use when the enemy is just ten or twenty yards away, and you only need to take him down, not vaporize him." Nate reached onto his belt and pulled out his standard issue sidearm, a Colt P12. It was not nearly as sleek or asthetically pleasing as the Type 2 Phaser; it was a gray-colored pistol with a laser sight built in and below the muzzle. "Here, Colt P12 Particle Pistol, 9mm caliber. Preferred sidearm in the Corps because particle charges don't ricochet. Here, grip it."
He put it into Zaria's soft hand, and she looked back to the target on the far wall and lifted it one-handed up to the level of her eye, leaning her right arm forward. "No, no!" Nate took her arm. "It's not a Dustbuster, you don't hold it one-handed. That's half the problem with your Federation phasers in the first place. You hold it like this." She gave it to him, looking mildly irritated, while Nate took the P12 in both hands, extended his arms out to put the gun level to his eyes, and began to fire. Even without the laser targeting every hit landed in the inner torso of the target.

After five shots, Nate handed it back to Zaria. She mimicked his stance from before. "Press your thumb against the back of the barrel to activate the laser sight." Zaria obeyed Nate without a word and a red dot appeared on the opposite target. She began to pull the trigger, and out of six rapid shots she managed to get three into the trunk of the target, though nowhere near each other. "Why is it pushing against...." Zaria stopped herself in mid-sentence. "Reaction force, duh."
"Yeah, duh, Miss Engineer," Nate answered. "Once you get used to recoil you should be able to empty an entire clip into a target's rib cage."
"Well, sure, but it's not my gun. I don't have one."
"I'll have you issued one. I don't want you going unarmed out in the field." Zaria gestured to the hip holster where she'd placed her phaser, and Nate shook his head. "No, that doesn't count."
"I can take care of myself with it," Zaria complained.
"Of course," Nate remarked sarcastically. "Well, Doctor, if you'll excuse me, I have some paperwork to go over and training sessions to plan."



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-03-11 06:37am
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The rustling of leaves and the crunch of boots on grass and twigs was the only sound that joined that of panting and strong breaths as Squad 2 led Dax and Worf out of the forest and to the clearing of the Stargate at Site 5. As they ran up, Colette shouted, "Corporal, get the charger ready! Everyone take defensive positions!"
The other members of Squad 2 hit the ground while Worf and Dax joined Corporal Calgar at the Stargate itself. Standing beside it, Calgar helped them unpack the three components of the charger from their satchels. Dax didn't show her relief at being relieved of the extra weight; she'd never expected this to entail carrying a hundred pounds of gear and was hiding her exhaustion.

Soon the enemy emerged through the woods. They had no body armor but they did have the weapons to penetrate the armor being worn by the survivors of SPT-14. They came under fire from the three concealed members of Squad 2 immediately and retreated after taking several losses.
"C'mon, c'mon," Calgar muttered, trying to slip the charger's grooves into place. "Bloody damned thing!"
"Perhaps you are not strong enough to press it together," Worf rumbled. "Allow me."
As Calgar's pleas went unanswered, Worf snatched both pieces of the incomplete charger device out of his hands. The first two pieces were the "foundation" of the device, where the two batteries were kept and, when hooked up, would operate properly. The third piece was the 'Zynski particle collector itself and a clamp that would allow it to conduct it's particles into the Stargate; this was the fifteen pound piece that Dax was still holding, huddled up against the Gate to avoid enemy fire.
Worf took a piece in each hand and pressed them together, hard. So hard that after ten seconds of still not giving, the fitting grooves snapped and fell to the ground. Worf shouted a Klingon curse and nearly threw the pieces down.
"Incoming!"

Everyone looked up and saw what Colette was warning them about. Aircraft descended upon them, looking much like those in the final transmission of the Abigail Thompson. They flew overhead and dropped explosives that ripped through the air with a deafening boom, throwing the six around like rag dolls.
When the bombing ended, everyone present was dead.



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Nate's face was about to turn red when he stormed out of the corner of the holochamber, which had kept him, Azakusho, and the other members of SPT-14 hidden while the remaining mission team had been wiped out. The holographic systems disengaged and the simulated foes had disappeared. "Technicals! They're a bunch of technicals with magrifles and you got your asses creamed!"
"Technicals with big friggin' bombers," Colette replied in a mumble while lifting herself off of the ground. The others moved as well, standing up from where the holodeck's systems had knocked them down during the simulated explosions.
"That's not when you lost, that was the end-game I had programmed in if you took too damned long!" Nate shouted. "We bought you eight minutes to get back to the Stargate. Eight minutes! You should have had that thing assembled and been out of here!"
"Sir, the portable charger takes four minutes to properly assemble," replied Calger.
"Yeah, and in this case, that was too long, and look at what happened. You're dead. Dead DEAD. Kaput, shuffled off this mortal coil, etc etc." Nate turned his angry glare to Worf and Dax. "And you two, I thought the Fed World Starfleet had physical requirements better than that of a corporate Athletic Club! Hell, you look like you're about to fall over, Commander Dax! And you, Commander Worf, just doomed your entire team by breaking the God damned thing!"

"It was made of unnecessarily weak materials, Sir."
"Unnecessarily weak? Anything stronger and it'd be as heavy as a normal rolled unit and you'd be having that much more trouble in carrying it!" Nate turned to the others. "Okay, form up, we're going to try this again!"
"Sir?" Cyrzanski looked rather ill at the prospect. "We've ran this sim four times."
"And each time you got yourselves killed."
"Sir, maybe it'd help if you didn't keep throwing in new wrinkles," Dax said, cutting in. "Every time it's something new. Larger enemy units, better weapons, changed terrain.... We get used to the area and suddenly you throw in a new enemy position or aerial scouts or a new ambush!"
"I'm getting you ready for the unexpected. I thought that was what Starfleet was about, Commander?"
"Yes, but it's not about raising the bar arbitrarily just because you don't like the makeup of this unit. And is it really necessary for us to all carry this much gear? We're not going on a long-range mission, Sir, we're staying right at the Gate. You're making the simulations different just to justify running us ragged, and frankly I am tired of it."

"You can be tired all you want, Commander, but as long as you're under my command you'll do as ordered."
"I never agreed to any such thing. I'm here as a science advisor, not as another one of your Marines," Dax shot back. "The only reason Worf and I are in this holodeck is because we want to get better at working with the rest of the unit, not because we're under any obligation to go through this exercise in sadism!"
Nate was finding himself near his breaking point with the Starfleeters, both of them. "You know, maybe this is why the Federation Starfleet couldn't fight it's way out of a piss-soaked paper bag. You've been too busy exploring space and not busy enough training to deal with the kind of threats you find in it!"

"Oh please, the Federation has been around a lot longer than your Alliance..."
"Was around, Commander, was," Nate retorted.
Dax's nostrils fumed and she resisted the temptation to go along with the line of argument Nate was stringing out. "That has nothing to do with the issue here. And that issue is that we are all exhausted and frustrated and you keep raising the bar on these missions without reason. I mean, if you're going to train us for a fight, why not have us defend the Stargate under fire? Why force us to march ten miles evading enemy attack?"
"Because, Commander, you never know what's out there and you never know what will happen. Say I do train us to merely defend the Stargate under fire? What do we do if we wind up on a hostile world and are forced to withdraw from the Gate and evade the enemy in rough terrain? What do we do then, I ask? This training helps get us all used to the idea that things go wrong. That the intel is never one hundred percent right, that the enemy may not think the same way we do, and quite frankly, that sometimes survival comes down to blind dumb luck!" Nate and Dax continued their stare-off while the assembled observed but did nothing else. He could see that she was, at the very least, just as stubborn and willful as he was.
Which didn't matter, because he knew he was right.
And so was she.

"You're right, Commander Dax, that everyone is tired and frustrated. So we will adjourn training for the moment. Everyone report to the mess for grub and for two hours R&R. Then we're starting our next series of training exercises. We're going to work on the time needed to assemble the portable chargers. I want to shave it in half. If you manage to knock just a minute off I might even give everyone the night off of training before we head out." Nate gestured to the door. "You're all dismissed."



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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With three days left until SPT-14's next mission, Major Parker had taken the time to arrange a meeting with General Thompson and had brought Lieutenant Commander Hillman, CO of SPT-5, with him. The two men stood at attention and kept their salutes while Thompson set down a folder in his hands and looked up. "At ease, gentlemen. May I ask what the problem is?"
Because of his higher seniority, Cmdr. Hillman spoke first. "Sir, Major Parker and I talked and, well, we have some problems with Colonel Mackensen's training system."
"What kind of problems?"
"To put it frankly, sir, not a single SPT team has actually won a wargame under his system," Parker pointed out. "We've trained ourselves to near perfection, sir, and that doesn't seem good enough for him."
"Sir, he also tends to change the simulations at random, with no real apparent purpose to the change other than to make us fail. Things that don't make sense from any point of view..."

Thompson put a hand up. "I understand that, Commander. I understand all too well. Do you know what they call Colonel Mackensen at Camp Wilcox?"
"No, Sir, what?"
"'Colonel F'. He fails everyone. Only about 10% of graduates ever pass a scenario test of his once, and only one out of ten of those passes more than once. Among those to have never passed a Mackensen scenario are ten out of the last five years' top ten graduates out of Quantico." Thompson folded his hands on the table. "He's seen action, more action than most of you have, and he knows better than anyone in this Command how badly things can turn in combat. What he's trying to teach you is how to adapt to circumstances, how to get the job done despite bad or faulty intel, and quite frankly how to accept taking losses and even failing a mission. And if you ask me, that's just what this command needs. We're going to find things out there that we may not be ready for, gentlemen, and I'm hoping Colonel Mackensen's training prepares you and your men for that."
Hillman and Parker remained silent for a moment. "Sir, I have no problems with that," Parker said, "but the Colonel seems to single out our specialists for abuse, like Lieutenant Colette and Specialist Cyrzanski."

"I understand that he's not sold on the SPT team concept, but it's something we'll have to..."
Thompson was interrupted by the blaring of alert klaxons and a flash of red lights. "All personnel to standby stations! Unscheduled gate activation in progress!"
"You gentlemen are dismissed," Thompson said abruptly, standing and heading out the side door of his office to the briefing room and from there to the control room overlooking the Stargate chamber. "Sergeant, report."

The brown-haired Sergeant at the main station looked back. "Sir, we've gotten a signal from SPT-3. They're evacuating Site 32 under fire and say they have wounded."
"Raise defense screens." Thompson took the mic for the base PA and said, "We need medical teams in the Embarkation Room, ASAP."
While armed soldiers took up positions around the Gate, holding MP-10s and manning a couple of M40 MGs, a defensive field popped up near the Gate entrance, one that would allow human-shaped figures moving at a specific speed to slip through but which would stop bullets, particle blasts, and assorted other weapons fire that the Stargate might allow through.
The seven chevrons on the Stargate finished lighting up and the expected "whoosh" appeared. The first man through was one of SPT-3's Squad 1 members, bringing the team's 'Zynski particle charger with him. But those behind him were clearly not SPT personnel; they were light and tanned humans wearing primitive-looking clothing that had a Mediterrenean look to it. As they poured through, so did the occasional other member of SPT-3. After several moments red blasts of energy also began to pour through the Gate, hitting and dissipating against the power of the defense screen.
"Prepare to repel incursion," Thompson said over the PA. "This is not a drill!"

At that moment Nate entered the command room, having been attracted by the alert. "What's happening?"
"We sent out SPT-3 two days ago to survey Site 32," Thompson answered. "They're coming back under hostile fire, and it looks like they've brought some refugees with them."
Two figures came through the gate, a short tan-skinned woman leaning against an Oriental woman in SPT-uniform. "I'm the last, close the Gate!"
At the press of a button, a solid tritanium iris closed around the Stargate opening, blanking out the light that had been flooding the Control Room. After about four seconds the wormhole terminated itself.
"Major Dominguez, get your team cleaned up and report for immediate debriefing," Thompson ordered over the Gate Room comm while another tech asked for even more medical personnel and began to find space for the dozens of people now huddling in the Gate Room.


"These people have been living on the planet for centuries," Dominguez explained to those assembled in the conference room; Thompson, Nate, Zaria, Dax, and Worf. Our equipment already verified them as Human and we had just been in the process of informing SPC when we came under aerial attack and then ground fire."
"From whom?" Thompson asked, preventing Dax and Zaria asking about the inhabitants being Human.
"The inhabitants call them Diablo. Demons. They are taken by these Demons every handful of years. Their community used to be much larger, but in recent years the Demon raids had grown more frequent. Now they're nothing more than a village and would probably have died out, and they know this."
"You can speak to them? Do they speak English?"
"No sir. Spanish, and an old dialect at that." Dominguez had a partially amused look on his face. "They were afraid of me when I said I was Mexican. They thought I was a cannibal and pagan worshipper at first, an ally of the Demons. I had to convince their only priest that I was a practicing Catholic."
"So how did these ye old Spanish wind up on a planet three thousand light years from Earth?" asked Nate.
"According to what we learned from them before the attack came down, their ancestors were on a ship bound for New Spain when the Demons took them. They swallowed their ship whole, they claimed, and took them to that world. Every year the Demons would come and demand a quantity of metal from a nearby mine. According to Lieutenant Kowalski, the metal is a high quality form of Guyverite."

Zaria and Dax looked on intently. "But, I thought Guyverite only occurred naturally on asteroids and rocky worlds," Zaria said.
"No, it's been found on inhabitable worlds," Thompson interjected. "We found a rich vein of it here on Bowie, not too far from Farrell City. It's existance has been classified by the Defense Ministry until we can determine if it's truly natural or if it was artificially placed."
"So... who are these Demons?" asked Nate.
"They inhabit Human bodies, who's eyes flash with power from time to time. The Demons can throw a dozen men to the ground without touching them and can bring a man to his knees, drawing his entire soul out of them, or so they say. The Demons themselves rarely appear, though, but rather send their minions. 'Jaffa' is what the inhabitants know them as. They're the ground forces we tangled with, large men with tattooed foreheads and wearing metal chain mail that carry what look to be blaster sticks."
"Wow, bizarre," Nate remarked. "How do they fight?"
A grin crossed Dominguez's face. "We took out at least fifty of them with little effort. Their armor can't stop particle bolts and their blaster sticks aren't very capable of accurate or sustained fire. Their air support was a different matter, though. Some kind of swept-down fixed wing air fighters, perhaps aerospace fighters, with larger versions of the particle blasters on the Jaffa weapons. We shot down one with our MANPAD while evacuating these people. But we knew we couldn't fight them off, not when the ship showed up."
"Ship?"
"Yes. It was enormous, with a pyramid as the main hull. I knew we'd be goners if we didn't get to the Gate."

Everyone at the table looked at each other. "Pyramid for a main hull, huh?" Nate had a smug look on his face as he said, "Does that remind anyone of anything?"
"The ship that destroyed the Abigail Thompson," replied Michaels.
"Uh huh. I hate saying 'I told you so', so I won't." Nate kept his hands folded at the table. "So, we put this planet on a blacklist. I'd recommend putting every other planet in the area on the same list."
Zaria raised her voice in dissent, saying, "Colonel, over half of the planets we've done preliminary surveys on are within that general region of space."
"Oh well. Listen, the last thing we need is some encounter with these people to cause a FUBAR situation..."
"We'll avoid those planets for the time being," Thompson said. "But I want to know more of these... 'demon' things before I give the President a full recommendation. If these really are the aliens who wrecked the Abigail Thompson, they don't look that impressive on the ground. I want more information on their space capabilities. Keep that in mind on all further missions."
"Yes sir," Nate answered.
"Okay, gentlemen, you are all dismissed."



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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SPT-14 lined up together with Dax and Worf standing beside them, all of them in full uniform and with gear. Nate entered the holochamber last, dressed similarly to them. "Gentlemen and Ladies, we have two days before we leave, and some training to do in the meantime. But first, allow me to introduce you to someone."
At the press of a button, the holochamber created a new figure in their midst. It was apparently human, male, at least six feet tall with a silvery headcap of some sort, broad metal shoulderboards and hip pieces, and what looked to be metal chain mail armor. In his hand he held a staff with a segmented tip. "This, according to the Spanish-descended refugees from Site 32, is a Jaffa. It is the minion, presumably warrior caste, of an unknown race currently only known as the Diablo. And given the vessel that SPT-3 spotted before getting out of Site 32, these 'Diablo' are most likely the race that destroyed the Abigail Thompson about eighty years ago. In other words people..." Nate put a hand up on the ugly metal shoulderpiece of the figure. "This is the Enemy. With Major Dominguez's help I have incorporated these 'Jaffa' into our holosims, so we have an idea of what to expect out there. Questions?"

"What are their capabilities, Sir?" asked Sgt. Wilson.
"For now, we know they have excellent endurance and stamina given their pursuit of SPT-3 over rough terrain. Their weapons, however, leave much to be desired." At the cue, the holosim's AI caused the holo-Jaffa to level his staff with both hands. The segmented tip spread outward with a mechanical clunk and the area within the segments suddenly lit up, producing a bolt of red plasma that erupted from the staff and hit the far end of the holosim chamber. "This is the only weapon we have observed them using. It is quite demonstratably inferior to any infantry weapon in our arsenal, but all the same, we believe a blast could at least injure even with protective armor given the power of the bolts. So take advantage of the horrible aim these things allow and do not get hit. Alright, fall in, we're going to do another hot evac scenario, ten mile march!"


Some hours later Nate was seated alone in the central holosimulator control room, the room dark with most of the light being that of the main display that was reflecting off of his furrowed brow.
SPT-14 had finally succeeded a scenario, the first team to do so, and Nate honestly couldn't tell if it was because they'd improved or if it was because they were the first to face the holo-Jaffa, who for all of his efforts could not fully compete against the armed technicals he'd used in prior sims. He had to admit, they had improved, a lot, and even the "specialists" like Lieutenant Colette were proving better than he'd expected.

Nate brought up his wrist and saw that the time was 2000 hours GST. Thirty-eight hours until he took his first step through the Stargate on what looked to be a cake run escort. Still hours of training ahead with his people to ensure they were ready, especially after the recent encounter with the people who kicked them out of SRC-19 the last time.
With his apprehensions already high, Nate was bewildered when one of the holochambers activated. Seeing and confirming that no exercise was scheduled, Nate looked to the monitor and activated the internal sensors, bringing up an image of who was inside on the nearby screen.
The lone occupant of the holochamber was, surprisingly, Zaria. She was also dressed unconventionally. She had on a red bodice-like garment that showed her navel, and the spot lines running to either side of it, and a brown vest over it that still beared her lean arms and opened enough to show the very upper edge of her cleavage. She wore full-length blue trousers with hip and rear pockets and small pockets on the lower leg, as well as a belt around her waist with a few pouches and several knives placed into slots. Her feet were covered in primitive-looking sandals, showing her toes. Most prominently, a foot-long blade was hanging from her right hip.
She looked around at a moment and said, "Computer, load Herzela Recreation 1, Start New Module, Authorization Herzela Zulu Delta November Delta Foxtrot Romeo."

Nate could see the monitor for Holochamber 2 flash and show a program being loaded. He took a look and saw it was being loaded from an isolinear flash drive that had been physically connected to the Holochamber's imaging and control system. The holochamber assembled what looked to be a classical medieval town, with random people milling about wearing pre-industrial style clothing. He reached over and flipped the intercom to speak into the chamber. "Doctor, this is Colonel Mackensen. You know that these simulators are for military use only, right?"
To his surprise, the holographic people started to react, milling everywhere in fright and asking if "gods" or "sorcerers" were responsible for the voice from the sky. An irritated look came over Zaria's face and she said, "Computer, suspend program and restart, turning off complete environment settings."
The panic ended, the people vanished, and then suddenly reappeared where they'd started, this time in complete ignorance of Zaria. "Colonel, if you must know, General Thompson approved my request to use these chambers for recreation months ago."
"Did he?" Nate put a hand on his head. "So he lets you use millions of dollars in military simulator equipment to play medieval peasant?"
Zaria crossed her arms, looking up though not directly toward him, as there was no camera per se to look into. "It's Dungeons and Dragons, if you must know, and I'm a Fighter, not a peasant. 2172 edition holo-RPG. And the answer is yes, he does, because I asked nicely and because they also happen to help keep me in shape and hones my hand-to-hand skills."

Biting down a growing contempt for how Thompson was running the SPC, Nate laughed sarcastically. "Oh really? I'd like to see it."
A smile crossed Zaria's face. "Well, sir, stop interrupting me and I'll let you watch me work this module until my next save point. Afterward, I might hit you up for a late dinner."
"Is that a date, Doctor Herzela?"
"No, just a friendly dinner." Zaria grinned wickedly. "You're not my type."
Nate chuckled once more. "Fine, show me what you can do."

He leaned back in his seat and watched Zaria commence her scenario. Most of it was boring as she did various conversations with holographic figures, but when she ended up out of the town and dealing with a crowd of brigands, it got interesting.
She was handling her light sword with good finesse and skill, and her hand-to-hand abilities were far better than Nate had expected. He was most interested, however, when she stopped a fleeing enemy by taking a knife from her belt and throwing it so that it pinned his sleeve against a nearby tree.
Nah, gotta be some trick to it. It's a game, it probably cheats so that people can win like that....


"I wasn't cheating."
There was nobody in the mess hall to see the two eating together, or rather what passed for eating. As it was late, Nate had opted for a corn beef sandwhich and Zaria for a small plate of potato salad from the day's mess meal. She had showered and changed into an SPT civilian's jumpsuit, with "DR. HERZELA" written on the upper right breast.
Now Nate was staring at her with some disbelief. "What I saw takes years of training."
"I've been playing these things for forty years, Colonel, and that's a long time to learn how to throw a knife." Zaria took a bite of her late meal and swallowed. "Yes, the game does allow for settings where the holodeck takes a character's stats into account and determines if that means a hit or not, but I have that set to a minimum. The game is so much funner that way."
"If you say so..." Nate took a bite as well and waited until Zaria finished her's before adding, "So, what's our ultimate goal anyway? We can't establish a presence in SRC-19 without breaking one of the most important treaties we've ever written. Is this just research?"
"Well, there's a qualifier to that, Colonel." Zaria crossed her hands together on the table. "SRC-19 is blacklisted because these 'Diablo' blew up a ship and displayed superior technology in doing so. Eighty years ago there was no desire to risk a major interstellar conflict against a possibly-superior race in a backwater colony universe, so the IUCEC blacklisted SRC-19 and left it at that. But if we find evidence that the Diablo aren't nearly so powerful, and that we can defend against them just with the threat of force, we might be able to get the IUCEC to remove it from the Blacklist."

"But then we'd have to tell them about the Stargate, and admit we violated the treaty."
Zaria grinned at that. "Colonel, the Treaty and the Blacklist only mean that you can't jump into SRC-19 with IU drives. We're not. We're using the Stargate for that thanks to the ZPC, and the ZPC doesn't fall under the IUCEC because, without the Stargate, it's nothing more than a... research toy, if that."
"Well, I can't argue with that." Nate shrugged. "Listen, I'll be honest, I'm not... sure about this whole setup. I think we could end up wasting a lot of lives for a very questionable reason."
"Those refugees might disagree with you, Colonel," Zaria replied. "What would have happened to them without us?"
Nate didn't reply save to shrug his shoulders a bit, ceding the argument. "Yeah, well.... that brings up something else."
"What?"
"Earth. What if it has a Stargate? In SRC-19 that is."
Zaria looked at Nate a moment and shrugged. "Well, we... we never tried to dial Earth. It's not on the list we got from the Gate Chamber on Bowie SRC-19, so we just kind of assumed it might not have a Gate and that the Humans we found on other worlds were transplants by ship."
"And if you're wrong?"
"Well, it would change things I suppose, but it's just as likely that Earth's Gate is buried. And they're not that advanced anyway."
"Oh?"
"The Earth Survey did eighty years ago, a couple of months before the Abigail Thompson was lost, determined that Earth was in the early 20th Century. In fact, I believe one of the probe photos showed a major military conflict being waged in Europe that analysts believed to be the First World War."
"So SRC-19 Earth would be... about 1999, 2000 now. Not too advanced, no...." A thought came to Nate and he looked up. "Presuming their history matches Earth General enough.... think they could be using the Stargate if they've found it?"
"I hope not," Zaria said. "With these 'Diablo' out there, not to mention any other potentially hostile species.... they'd just be asking for trouble."



Stargate Command, Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado
United States of America, Earth
Universe Designate SRC-19
28 Hours Before SPT-14 Departure



With the customary flair that Sgt. Siler and General Hammond were all too accustomed to now, the seventh chevron on the Stargate lit up and the always-spectacular wormhole formed inside the Stargate, the defensive iris covering it preventing the "whoosh" effect that always erupted from the stablizing event horizon of the wormhole..
"Receiving Tok'ra IDC, Sir."
"Open the iris."
The iris slid open and revealed the bright watery event horizon of the Stargate's active wormhole. After a moment a figure stepped through, immediately recognizable as Jacob Carter, former USAF General and now a respected Tok'ra operative and host to Selmak, a senior Tok'ra symbiote.
Hammond leaned over to get closer to the mic in the control room and spoke. "Welcome home, Jacob."
"Glad to be home, George." Jacob raised a small device. "Got some intelligence updates for you straight from the Tok'ra High Council." He grinned while bringing the device back down. "So, how are the refugees from Loutana?"

Hammond blinked and replied, "Loutana?"
"Yeah, um, it's a world in this quarter of the galaxy, has some naquadah mines near the Stargate and an isolated population used by Cronus as slaves for mining them. Your people just got the entire population out before Sokar's troops could capture them."
Hammond looked down at Siler. "Sergeant.... have there been any missions I wasn't told about?"
"None, sir. All SG teams have reported in and there have been no hostile contacts with the Goa'uld in over a week."
Hammond went back to the mic. "Um, Jacob, we have a bit of a problem...."


Not twenty minutes later, Hammond and Jacob had been joined in the Briefing Room by all of SG-1 and Col. Makepeace of SG-3. They had assembled expecting a new suicidal mission to be foisted on them by the Tok'ra, much to Jack O'Neill's usual sarcastic "delight", but instead found they were being given credit for something they hadn't done.
"It wasn't you?"
"I think I'd remember being chased by a battalion of Jaffa," Jack answered in that customary sardonic manner, the kind that his friends tolerated and other people didn't.
Jacob shifted in his seat, and the others were very interested now. "Well, I guess that explains a few things."
It was his daughter, Sam, who spoke up by asking, "Such as?"
"We were told it was you by an operative we had working on the ship Sokar sent to take the people of Loutana," Jacob explained. "We figured they were just errors, but he said that there were ten of your people there evacuating the Loutanians, which we flogged as odd since all the SG teams are four-man units. It was also reported that the Jaffa said their weapons were causing energy flashes and weren't the same as your's."

"Are you sure they weren't just unused to muzzle flashes?" Makepeace asked.
"The operative made it clear that they were energy weapons. Their shots caused excessive burning on the bodies of Jaffa around the wound point. He thought that maybe you had reverse-engineered the intars you recovered from Apophis."
"We haven't even thought of it. We were going to use them for training exercises," answered Sam.
"Well, if it wasn't you...." Jacob slipped back in his seat. "Selmak has no knowledge of any other Human civilization with Stargate access that is capable of this."

"There are areas of the galaxy that the Goa'uld don't have access to, right? Former slave colonies that buried their Gates and everything. Who knows how many human civilizations could be out there?" Daniel Jackson leaned forward a bit in his seat. "Maybe there's someone out there more advanced than we are who are also exploring the galaxy now that they've unburied their Stargate? And they could have just started, like we have, which is why the Goa'uld and Tok'ra have never heard of them."
None were surprised at the first thought to come from Teal'c on the manner. "Such a people may make valuable allies against the Goa'uld."
Hammond nodded at that. "I agree, Teal'c. But finding them is an entirely different problem. I figure it's like looking for a needle in a haystack the size of Cheyenne Mountain."

"Well...." Sam was the first to speak up on the matter, which usually meant a solution was already in the works. "We have a number of addresses from the Abydos Cartouche and the Library of the Ancients that we haven't been able to dial into, we could re-test them to see if any have become active recently. And to narrow it down, with some help from the Tok'ra we could find which systems are in areas of space that the Goa'uld do not or no longer inhabit."
"Sounds like a plan. Jacob?"
"Selmak knows a lot of that, I'm sure we can help."
"That's good. For the time being, I'll keep SG-1 inactive so that you can be ready to test any potential sites we find. Colonel Makepeace, SG-3 will be taking over the expedition to P5R-002."
"Yes sir."
"You are all dismissed." Hammond stood from his seat, prompting the others to do the same and then disperse.



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Brownsville SPT Facility, Brownsville, Bowie
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Universe Designate FHI-8
Minutes before SPT-14 Departure



Nate was one of the first to the Gate Room after the briefing, with the others coming right behind them with gear in tow. Everyone carried the usual pack of emergency supplies, equipment, and ammunition, with Worf and Dax carrying their light mek'leth Klingon blades and Cyrzanski carrying the IU radio. The towable 'Zynski particle charger was being pulled by Sergeant Dalton and Major Parker, Worf, and Corporal Calgar were carrying the parts to the backup portable ZPC. Tang and Wilson were overloaded themselves, carrying and dragging along the pack of sensor equipment that would be placed at both Gates for use in the study.
Zaria was the last to arrive, carrying a pack of portable sensor equipment and other supplies, with her Type II Phaser ("Dustbuster", the assembled ADN personnel thought immediately), and some knives fixed on her belt. This brought some looks, but Nate nodded in understanding when she looked to him.

"'Zynski particle charge complete," spoke the tech in the Gate Control Room. "Beginning dialing sequence now."
As the Gate's inner ring rotated and the dialing sequence initiated, Nate drew in a breath and said, "So, what's it like?"
Parker was the first to speak. "Sir?"
"Going through this thing, I mean. What's it like?"
"Well, it's a bit hard to describe," Parker replied. "You'll have to find out for yourself."
The seventh chevron lit up and Nate almost leaned backward at the giant "whoosh" that erupted from the Gate. He nodded and Colette walked forward, leading Squad 2 through the Gate first, with Major Parker and Squad 1 taking up the rear. Nate watched Dax hesitate for just a second, out of instinct, before Worf stepped up beside her and they exchanged a look. Together the couple stepped through the green and gold-hued blue rippling surface of the Stargate's active event horizon.
Nate was being followed by Zaria, who looked at him and smiled. "You first," she said with a girlish, mischievous expression.
He smiled back. "And here I was trying to be a gentleman." Taking a breath, he stepped through the event horizon.

Parker was right. The feeling wasn't easily described. Nate could feel a sensation throughout his entire body, not quite like METting but close enough, joined with the visual image of a long stretch of blue and white whipping by his vision until, after what seemed to be only a second, the sensation ended, leaving only a strong cold sensation within him.
They were not in a field but, as the briefing had indicated, a slight valley. For whatever reason the Site 5 Stargate was at the end of a valley, with a sheer rock face shortly behind it and a path leading due east of the Stargate toward hills. Surrounding them was a temperate forest, with only the very bed of the valley uncovered by trees; tree cover was only about a hundred or so yards away at the nearest point. It was, to Nate, not an enviable position, and his mind immediately processed the danger of attack by concealed enemy.
But his concern was soon directed to something else, something he only now noticed as he turned his head to look at where Colette, Dax, and Zaria were standing. Not even four yards away from the Site 5 Gate's Dialing Device was something else, something obviously not in SPT-2's report.

It was a small wheeled vehicle with a grappler arm on top, a sensor dish, and a rotating camera mount. It was inactive and simply sitting there, but it was clear to Nate from it's wheel tracks that it had not been there for long. "Locals are primitives, right?"
"Yes, according to SPT-2 they're little past the Bronze Age technology wise," Colette remarked. "Closest village is about five miles from here, out on the plain."
"So this obviously isn't their's. Doesn't look alien to me either."
"Well, it's clearly late 20th Century in tech level," Zaria remarked, putting a hand on the metallic surface. She looked right at the camera. "Pre-holographic. Could be digital, though. Maybe early 21st Century at most." She paused for a moment and looked up at Nate. "It would closely match the technological level of SRC-19 Earth, presuming no major historical or technological diversion."

"You mean indig Earth could have found a Stargate?" asked Parker.
"Certainly possible," Zaria answered.
Nate had by then come to a decision, and turned to Cyrzanski and spoke immediately after Zaria. "Call up SPC and let General Thompson know we're diverting from plan. We'll use Site 3 instead and pick another site for Position 2."
"Yes sir."
"If I may, Sir, why are we diverting from plan?"
"Simple, Corporal Reynolds," Sakura spoke up suddenly, her right hand gripping the handle and trigger grip of the MP-10 slung over her shoulder. Her red hair was now pulled back into a bun at the back of her head, leaving Zaria as the only woman in the group to have loose hair. "This thing was just put here. Whoever sent it could be coming any time now, and it's better if we avoid contact for now."
Dax looked up while Zaria accessed her handcomp to get the symbols to dial Site 3. "What if they're already here?"
As Zaria's hand pressed on the dialer, a "shunk" sound filling the air for every symbol pressed, Nate answered, "All the more reason to get out of here. I'm not good at first contact situations, Commander."

SPT-14 stood by and waited for Zaria to finish dialing Site 3. She finished and pressed down on the glowing red orb at the center of the dialer, activating the Stargate with the customary whoosh effect. They began to file through the Gate one by one.
Before stepping to follow, Dax turned to see Worf staring intently at some trees at a slight elevation above their's, along the valley line. She said, "What's wrong?"
He took a deep breath. "I believe I spotted someone spying on us from the trees."
"Might just be a local. Come on." Dax took his arm and Worf let her pull him through. Wilson had remained standing at the Gate, an arm inside of it, to keep it open for them, and he was the last through, at which time the wormhole terminated.



Site 5, Universe Designate SRC-19
Two hours before SPT-14's Arrival



The village was like any other village Jack O'Neill had seen in his time with the SGC. People in raggedy clothing running about performing tedious daily chores to stay alive in a dreary, though not always harsh, climate. He turned and looked at Sam, who remained with him near the village as they waited for Daniel and Teal'c to finish speaking with the villagers. "Why didn't the Ancients put any Stargates on a nice, breezy tropical island?"
After a moment's thought, Sam decided that she had no good comeback to that and merely said, "Who knows?"
"I mean, I've spent a lot of time in Minnesota and I'll admit that it's nice, but I'd like a little variety..."

"Sir, they're coming back."
Jack turned and watched Teal'c and Daniel walk up. "How did it go?"
"Well, I have good news and bad news." Daniel crossed his arms. "The bad news is that these people aren't the ones we were looking for."
"Wow, I'm shocked," Jack replied sarcastically.
"Yeah, they're, um, Phoenicians, or rather proto-Phoenicians of a sort, who worship Ba'al."
"One of the Goa'uld, right?"
Teal'c replied first. "Yes O'Neill. Ba'al is among the most powerful of the System Lords. The loss of this planet was likely of little consequence to him."
Daniel added, "According to their legends, a 'False God' pretending to be Ba'al once tried to rule them, until his ruse was discovered and his minions were driven out. Their ancestors must have buried the Stargate and not mentioned it in their history, because about a year ago it was revealed by a mud-slide and they didn't bother re-burying it."

At that, O'Neill could only nod, not particularly interested in the small finer details. "Okay, so, what's the good news?"
"Well, we're not the first off-worlders they've met," Daniel said. "Over the past six months, they've had a couple visits from other off-worlders, ones they say are dressed like us and which had weapons that look like our's which fire blue lightning. First visit they stopped a predator attacking a local farmer, and in their second visit they stopped a plague of what I assume to be a variance of the flu."
"So they come back?" Sam asked.
"Their leader promised to keep an eye on them, and in a few months they think the local lord might even have an envoy here to greet them." Before Jack could speak, Daniel raised a hand. "I already asked them if they'd tell the others about us and that we wanted to talk."
"So, at least this trip wasn't a total loss. Let's go report back to General Hammond."

SG-1 returned to the forest, moving through at a reasonable pace given the undergrowth and arriving at the Stargate in due time. They approached from the north, coming out at the tree line when Jack saw the Stargate light up. "Back, take cover!" The four retreated back into the tree line, finding brush to hide behind. Jack and Sam took up their binoculars and watched as the Stargate whooshed and the wormhole finished forming.
One after the other, a number of figures began to walk out, some bearing equipment, and it was only after the fifteenth person emerged that the wormhole dispersed. The last figures through turned their immediate attention to the M.A.L.P. while the others took up defensive positions around the Gate. "I wonder if that's a full expedition for them?"
"Major, I'm more concerned in how friendly they are. The question is, should we reveal ourselves?"
"If they are hostile, we are at a significant disadvantage."
"Always the ray of light, aren't you Teal'c?" Jack looked back into his binocs as one of them began to talk into a radio. "Um, the Stargate is closed. How is he talking to... whoever it is he's talking to?"
"Maybe they have an observation post somewhere on this world and they're letting them know about the M.A.L.P.?"
One of the figures went to the Gate, and Sam watched her begin dialing. Jack's sight passed between them until his eyes came down on the largest figure. The figure turned up toward them and Jack got a full look at his face.
He lowered the binoculars and blinked. No, I did not just see that. "Am I just seeing things, or is that big guy a Klingon?"

Daniel gave him a bewildered look, as did Sam when she finally turned away. In the distance the Stargate activated and the unknown expedition began to return through it, taking their equipment with them. "Jack, I'm the one who's supposed to be the geek, not you," he said, half-joking and half-confused.
"Well, look at him! Forehead ridges..."
"I agree," Teal'c said from his position. "He looks much like the Klingons that are in O'Neill's favorite television program."
Sam beat Daniel's "Favorite?" with her own by about a second.
"And I believe he has spotted us."
Jack turned his attention back in time to see the apparent Klingon apprehensively turn away from looking in their direction and follow a dark-haired woman into the Stargate. The last figure when through it and the wormhole deactivated a moment later.

SG-1 emerged from the trees and went to the Gate. "I saw which symbols they dialed," Sam said. "Should we follow?"
"After we check in with General Hammond."



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Site 3


Site 3 was less hospitable than Site 5. Desertification had struck the area centuries before, so aside from some bushes most of the view was of rock and dirt that was starting to become desert sand.
Once on the other side, SPT-14 busied themselves with erecting the sensor gear to record the Stargate activations planned for their tests. Nate held the radio microphone on Cyrzanki's IU radio unit. "Any other locations you have for us?"
"We're finding one for you now, sir." There was a pause, during which Nate watched the sensor dish being fitted on the base with the computer systems that operated the sensors. Zaria was seated cross-legged on the dirt, her fingers moving over the keyboard of the laptop system linked to the sensor gear. She competed her final checks and activated the system. "Well, we're ready," she said. "Now we just need a destination side."
"Working on that." Nate held the mic back to his mouth. "Got that location yet?"
"Yes sir, transmitting now."
The transmission went through and the IU radio immediately routed the data to Zaria's unit. She stood up, dusting herself off in the process, and lifted the unit up. Holding it with her left hand, she went up to the Stargate and located the symbols. "Everyone ready?"
"One moment...." Dalton finished tightening a bolt on the dish. "There, we're set."
"Okay, usual formation. Squad 1 at point." Parker motioned to them and Tang and his men took the foremost position. Zaria pressed the symbol sequence she'd been shown and activated the Stargate. It came alive, this time absent the gold and green hues that appeared whenever a wormhole back to Universe FHI-8 was established. "On we go people."


Site 5

"Understood Sir. We'll get right on it." Jack lowered the radio and watched the Stargate deactivate after SG-4 came out of it. Nodding and exchanging greetings with Major Rush and his team, Jack watched them head out to begin a survey of the planet, newly-designated P7R-205. "They dialed P7M-567, so at least we know where we're heading."
"SG-2 explored that world almost two years ago," Sam said. "They didn't find any signs of civilization."
"Well, maybe they go on jaunts to multiple planets before heading home?"
"We're about to find out, Daniel." Jack nodded to Sam, who began operating the DHD. When she dialed the seventh chevron she pressed down on the red orb to activate the Stargate.
Nothing happened.
Jack looked to Sam. "Something wrong?"
"I know I dialed it right." Sam reached out and dialed the address again. This time, when she finished and pressed the red orb, the Stargate fired right up.
"Hope that wasn't them leaving," Jack mumbled as he and Teal'c approached the event horizon. They stepped through without a pause and had the usual transit experience before emerging on the other end, surrounded by an arid plain with almost no vegatation. "I really want a tropical island someday," Jack muttered while Sam and Daniel stepped through.

"O'Neill."
The sound of Teal'c's voice caused everyone to look to their left, where Teal'c was standing beside a device of unknown origin. It had a simple base set into the dirt and a dish and other obvious sensor devices built into it's upper quarter. "What do you think it is, Major?"
"If I had to guess, sir, it's some kind of sensor device meant to record activity from the Stargate." Sam walked up to it and began to visually examine it. "Maybe they want to see both sides of a wormhole to get readings on it?"
"Why would they want to do that?"
"Well, they're clearly more advanced than we are, Sir. If their understanding of wormhole physics is far ahead of our's they may be trying to work out the technology to use for themselves."

"Since we have no way of knowing where they went, I guess that means we stay here," Daniel said, clearly disliking the prospect. "Should we call home?"
"Not a good idea," Sam said, still examining the sensor device. "If they try to come back and can't because we have an active wormhole to Earth, they'll know someone's here and they might not come back."
"Are you suggesting that we just sit here and shout 'Surprise!' when some of them come back for that thing?" Jack asked, pointing to the device. "I don't know about you, but that sounds to me like something that will get us all shot at."
"Have any brighter ideas, Jack?"
Jack looked at Daniel and was silent for a moment. "I'm still working on it," he finally admitted.


Site 29


The new world looked better than the prior one, Nate had to admit. The Stargate at Site 29 was in an open field with a dirt road leading away from it and toward the west. Nate looked around and smiled. "Ah, that's more like it." He watched Cyrzanski.and Dalton putting up the sensor device while Zaria and Dax set up it's software and looked to Sakura. "What do we know about this planet, Major?"
"We were here about three weeks ago, Sir. Long-range scans indicated a city nearby, but we never got near it."
"How far?"
"About a mile and a half, Sir. Over the hills. Got a great view, I bet," answered Parker.
Nate nodded at that. "Major Parker, you stay here with your team. You can send Squad 2 through whenever you're ready. Major Azakusho, Commander Worf, Captain O'Farrell, you're with me."
"Where are we going, Sir?", asked O'Farrell.
"We're going to get a look at that town." Nate adjusted the shoulder strap for his MP-10 and led them down the road. He called back, "Keep in radio contact, let us know if any shit hits the fan."
"Yes sir!" Parker replied.

Walking along the dirt road, Nate kept looking at Worf as he fiddled with a Starfleet-issue tricorder. "See anything interesting on that thing, Commander?"
"It is reading an impressive energy signature from the direction of the town," Worf replied. "I recommend we keep our distance."
"We're only going up to the hills for a peek, Commander." To demonstrate that, Nate stepped off the road and led them into the slight forest covering. "Just keep an eye on life sensors to make sure that nobody heads to the Stargate. It shouldn't take us long at all."


Dax reached up and wiped a bit of sweat off her brow, left over from the heat of Site 3, while helping Zaria finish the attachments to allow her laptop access to the sensor unit's operating systems. "Do you do this often?"
"Oh yes. I've even opened up those dialers before. They use a really cool crystalline technology that I'd love to analyze more." Zaria tapped a few keys. "Neutrino sensors online. Gravitic distortion sensors are next, uploading operating software." Zaria looked to Parker. "Major, we'll be ready to send Lieutenant Colette through in a minute."
Parker nodded.
"I'd love to take one of those things open myself," Dax admitted.
"I'll see about making that our next mission," Zaria replied. She hit a key. "Gravitics are up." She continued working on the upload.

As she finished, Dax asked, "You know, if you're right, and the Earth of this universe has started using a Stargate, shouldn't we find them and warn them about what's out here? About these 'Demon' aliens?"
"We're under orders to avoid contact unless necessary," Zaria reminded her. "This whole operation is a bit tricky, legally, since SRC-19 is blacklisted. Even if we contacted them, we couldn't maintain relations except with the Stargate. And it'd be.... really, really hard to set something up just using that. Can't move an IU gate assembly here with a Stargate, after all."
"But your government could go to the IUCEC and ask for it's removal from the Blacklist. The Alliance controls most of the Committee seats anyway."
"No, actually, that's just counting every member nation that has a seat on the Committee. And even if those nations are in the Alliance, their governments and their seat-holders tend to act really, really independent and guard that pretty strongly. The government would have to disclose everything to the IUCEC, and that would require it having to be public and non-secret. Which is what the Alliance government does not want concerning the Stargate." Zaria pressed a few keys. "Ah, there we go. We're ready."
Parker looked at Colette and nodded while Zaria went up to the dialer and began dialing Site 3 again. Squad 2 came together and stayed just out of range of the "whoosh" as it erupted from the Stargate. "We're getting readings," Dax said.
Zaria walked up beside Colette and gestured, as if to say "After you." Colette and her squad entered with Zaria barely a step behind.


Site 3


It wasn't a very long wait for SG-1 before the Stargate suddenly began to light up. "Wow, that didn't take long," Jack said as he stood from the steps of the Stargate platform. He kept his right hand on his M5, but left it lowered, both Sam and Teal'c picking up on that to keep their weapons down as well.
They waited for the last chevron to light up and then stood back and allowed for the "whoosh" to lash out and be sucked back into the forming event horizon. Five figures stepped out. A dark-haired Oriental woman in the lead with three Caucasian men around her, all in uniform and with weapons of their own. The final figure was an unarmed light-skinned woman with spots along her forehead and down her neck. She had red hair flowing down to her upper back; she too was in camo and had a backpack.
The Stargate dissipated and the two groups stood, neither really moving much for a few movements and a look of surprise on the newcomers. The silence was finally broken when Jack took his right hand off the handle and trigger guard of his M5 and raised it in a wave. Smiling slightly, he said, "Howdy folks. Not from around here, are you?"


Site 29


Nate was satisfied with his ability to clamber up the hill quickly, emerging from the forest before any of the others. Worf was behind him, almost right beside him, with Sakura in a close third and O'Farrell at the rear. "Well, this has been a good workout at least," Nate said with a wide grin as he neared the crest of the hill.
"Indeed it has," Worf agreed. Sakura and O'Farrell remained silent, though Sakura had something of a smug grin on herself, hiding the fact that she had been holding herself back to let them get up there first.
Nate crested the hill with his grin remaining wide. But Sakura could see something was wrong when his body stiffened. She ran up beside him, looking at his face and seeing the grin having disappeared and, surprisingly for him, pure undiluted fear having replaced it.
Then she looked at the city.
It didn't seem that bad when one counted the sprawled out buildings, likely homes and small shops, but at the center of it all was an unexpected sight given the slightly-Grecian architecture of the rest.
In the center of the city was a giant pyramid.
It was more than a pyramid, in fact. It had almost indistinct lights along it's surface, indicating it was not just a structure but a ship.
Their attention soon turned to a new feature, namely the dirt road that led from the Stargate to the city. Dust was clearly rising from the road and all four turned their heads toward it, Sakura and Nate raising their binoculars. In almost perfect sync the two zoomed their binocs' in to see what was on the road. With the aid of digital enhancers on the devices could clearly make out the rows of armored troops with staff weapons. They were obviously the 'Jaffa' encountered by SPT-3, save for the lightning bolt tattoo on their foreheads being different from those that had been on the Jaffa that attacked Site 32. Above the Jaffa flew aircraft, racing on in the general direction of the Stargate.
As Sakura reached for her radio to warn the others, Nate muttered, "Oh hell."



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

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Site 29


"We've got hostiles incoming! Prepare to dial out immed...."
Parker was listening to Sakura's order when a shout from Corporal Reynolds directed his attention to the ground surrounding the Stargate. Turrets rose from the ground to about fifteen or twenty feet in the air, after which red particle blasts began to erupt from them.
Everyone ran for the cover of the nearby trees, but Cyrzanski didn't make it. A particle blast grazed him from behind and he fell, prompting Dalton to emerge from cover and carry his wounded buddy back to the trees.
"Major Azakusho, this is Parker. Automated defenses have emerged from the ground and have us pinned down in the forest! We can't get to the Stargate!"
There was several seconds before there was a reply. "We'll be there soon. Have satchel charges ready, we'll see if we can use those on them."


Nate heard the report from Parker and cursed. "Remind me when we get back to hurt whoever gave us this address."
"If we get back, sir, I'll help," Sakura promised as she ducked a branch. Worf and O'Farrell took up the rear, an eye out for any Jaffa advancing through the forest.
"How many mines do we have?"
"I'm carrying two and O'Farrell has four," Sakura replied.
"See if you can get them set on the road. We'll set up an ambush close to the Gate and try to hold them off a bit longer." Nate led them up to where the trees closely followed the road. There was no sign of Jaffa yet, but he could hear them in the distance. "You won't have much time, let's get this done."

Slipping quickly through the forest, they came upon a length of road after a curve, giving them some tree cover before the Jaffa would see them. Using hand signals, Nate ordered Worf to stay on their side of the road while he entered it with Sakura and O'Farrell. They split up the mines between them and made proper space so that one mine would not set off the next unless they wanted it too. After that O'Farrell and Sakura went to the other side of the road, holding up their MP-10s, while Nate rejoined Worf and took up a position in the trees.
It was only about twenty seconds later that the first ranks of Jaffa came around the corner. They were staying on the road so far, but Nate was certain they would spread out as soon as the shooting started. He lifted the MP-10 to eye-level, slipped off the safety and set it to full-auto.
Sakura had the detonator, and Nate gritted his teeth as he watched the Jaffa enter the hastily-planted minefield. They showed little concern for the upraised dirt patches where the mines had been hastily buried. However, as they approached the blast radius of the sixth mine, one of the Jaffa raised a hand. Looking to be among the oldest among them, Nate was certain that he'd caught on. As the Jaffa stopped his finger went to the trigger....

Sakura's finger must have hit at that moment, because in a split second a shower of high-energy plasma erupted from the ground, throwing Jaffa back as it scorched them alive. The mines mixed the plasma explosive with high-quality metal fragments that resisted disintegration from the plasma, causing a spray of hot shrapnel directed back down the road to more of the Jaffa coming on. In one moment they had turned the Jaffa march into a scene of carnage, dead and wounded Jaffa littered everywhere as their compatriots marched on, only just beginning to react.
A voice cried out, "Jaffa! Jaffa Kree!", and Nate could see a figure - directly in his gunsights - pointing to both ends of the forest, but as "Kree" left the Jaffa's mouth a stream of blue particle bursts erupted from the other side of the forest and ripped through his torso, sending him to the ground. Nate directed his aim to another group of Jaffa and pulled the trigger. The recoil on the MP-10 was easily bearable as it's muzzle erupted in blue lightning, spraying the Jaffa ranks with particle bursts that acted more like liquid metal bullets than an energy weapon blast (since that was essentially what they were - tightly-contained high-energy particles in a short-lived magnetic field that collapsed upon penetration of a target).

The first ranks of Jaffa went down under the fire of the four MP-10s held by Nate and his crew, but that was not the end of the battle. Even now Nate was certain they were spreading into the forest to outflank his ambush, and so he motioned to Worf to begin falling back and, over the radio, called out to Sakura and O'Farrell to do the same.
Now he had to hope that they'd manage to retake the Stargate and escape from this nasty planet.


Everyone was in cover, but that didn't stop the turrets from blasting around the trees. "We've been under the gun this entire time and didn't know it," mumbled Reynolds, a satchel in his hand as he awaited the order to head out and try to get them on the turrets.
Nearby Tang was huddled over Cyrzanski, who was only half-conscious from the drugs in his system. "The IU radio is shot," Tang told Parker as he crept forward a bit, so close that the heat of the next blast washed over him. Like Reynolds, Parker held a satchel in his hand, a charge ready to take out one of the turrets.
"Well, whoopdee damn do," muttered Parker as he motioned to Dax and Reynolds to get ready. They slipped in opposite directions away from Dalton, Tang, and Cyrzanski, using the forest as cover, and when Parker noticed that the turrets hadn't followed him he shouted, "Now!"

The three of them emerged from cover almost simultaneously and ran straight for the nearest turrets. The turrets tracked to follow them, but not enough, as the particle bursts only kicked up some dust behind them as each shot missed. The satchels were easy charges, and needed to only be pressed against a turret structure and a single button pressed to arm a seven second fuse. Each of them did this and ran to get back to cover.
Dax was within twenty feet of a tree when the hot pain shot up her right calf and throughout her leg. She stumbled from the hit, her right leg immobile from the pain of the hit. With a fierce grimace on her face she planted a hand in the dirt to force herself onward.
A particle burst struck out again and this time hit her lower left side. The pain was so intense Dax cried out as she collapsed, falling unconscious a moment later.
As Dax fell, the satchels went off. The explosions ripped up the structures holding up the turrets and send them falling to the ground, the impact taking them out completely.

The remaining turrets, three in all, began to ignore her and returned their attentions to the spots of forest where Reynolds and Parker had hidden themselves. As they did so, Dalton emerged from the trees with the team's SRG-10. The large RPG looked smaller on Dalton's shoulder as he held it up, aimed it, and fired it at a turret. The smart-rocket adjusted for Dalton's aim and struck a turret dead on, the explosion ripping it apart.
As Dalton slipped back into the cover, Nate appeared from the woods along the road, firing behind him at approaching Jaffa. He took a moment to lift his radio and give the order, "Everyone to the road! We've got enemy units coming in!"
Worf suddenly raced beside him, having spotted Dax and all other concerns being overridden. He leaned over her and lifted her into his arms as the two remaining turrets twisted to face him. They fired as he moved back to cover, one blast searing his right shoulder as he got into the protective covering of the trees.

Partially re-formed, SPT-14 gathered at the road and focused fire on the oncoming Jaffa, who were firing back through the trees, their fire rapid enough to force most of SPT-14 to remain in cover. "How many turrets left?!" shouted Nate.
"Two, sir!"
"Any more satchels?!"
"No sir, only with Squad 2!"
Nate bit into his lips while his hand reached for another charge clip for his depleted MP-10. He shoved it into place and pulled on the locking mechanism to keep it in place, lifting it in the same movement so that he could resume firing, his shots bringing down a bald Jaffa and his comrades as they attempted a charge.
"Someone go get that Stargate activ...." A series of sounds from the Stargate interrupted them, and Nate and Parker both turned to see the chevron lights on it activate.
"Well, hope that's the cavalry," O'Farrell muttered before turning his attention back to the onrushing Jaffa.


Site 3


"Howdy folks. Not from around here, are you?"
Zaria and the members of Squad 2 remained still even after the older man of the four before them gave the innocent-sounding greeting and waved. He, a blonde-haired woman, a brown-haired man, and a bald man with African-complexion and an unusual gold snake symbol on his forehead stood in front of them, wearing camo fatigues and carrying automatics of some sort, save for the bald man who was instead carrying a strange form of staff.
When they didn't say anything, the four looked amongst each other and the younger brown-haired man stepped forward. "Uh, hello. My name is Doctor Daniel Jackson, and these are my friends, Colonel Jack O'Neill, Major Samantha Carter, and Teal'c. We represent a planet called Earth."
"You first, Doctor," Maya whispered to Zaria.
At this point Sam spoke up. "We were hoping to meet your people, we heard about you from the natives of the last world you visited and we think our people could be friends, or even allies."
Zaria grinned at him. "Well, um.... Doctor Jackson. Just who do you think we are?"

Daniel blinked, but not bothering to ask about such a strange question for a first contact situation, he answered, "Well, we've never encountered your race before, ma'am, but we believe your human friends are the descendants of Humans taken from Earth thousands of years ago by various aliens, most likely a race of aliens called the Goa'uld."
"The Goa'uld?", asked Maya.
"Yeah, really nasty snake people," Jack said. "Big on killing and enslaving and all sorts of really, um, nasty things. Just plain old... nasty."
Daniel bit a little into his lip at Jack's interjection, but ignored it and explained, "Um, the Goa'uld are a race of parasites that use human bodies as hosts. They've enslaved thousands of worlds across the Galaxy. We think your people kicked them off your world hundreds, perhaps thousands of years ago. You probably have some leftover knowledge of them from your myths, your legends, and some histories. You were probably left alone because your ancestors buried their Stargate."

Before Zaria could respond, Calgar asked, "These Go'ud, they wouldn't happen to have really ugly pyramid ships, would they?"
"Yes, actually, they do."
"Doctor, you might as well tell them now," Maya said. "They'll find out sooner or later."
"Tell us what?", asked Jack.
Zaria drew in a breath. "Well, um, what I'm about to tell you will probably seem.... impossible...."
"I've been turned into a caveman before, so try me...."
I really, really didn't want to know that, Zaria thought to herself at Jack's remark. Out loud, after suppressing a chuckle, she said, "My name is Doctor Zaharia Herzela, and this is Lieutenant Maya Colette and her team. We are, well..." Zaria smiled sheepishly as she tried to think of the best way to explain it. "...we are not from your universe. We are representatives of an inter-universal government of mostly Human nations called the Alliance of Democratic Nations. It is just one among many governments that use interuniversal jump gate technology to travel between universes, though how we've come to your universe is slightly more... complicated. In the known Multiverse, your universe is only one of sixty-eight we have on catalogue, and we've settled about fifty of them. The universes we know of represent Earth time periods ranging from the 4th Century B.C. to the 33rd Century."

There was complete silence from SG-1. "You, uh, well.... yeah, that does seem unbelievable," Jack conceded. "So, what are you doing here?"
"We are studying the Stargates," Zaria replied. "We believe they may have some basic similarities to the Interuniversal Jump Gates we use that would allow for us to eventually reverse engineer them and use our jump gates for interstellar as well as interuniversal travel."
"How long have your people been doing this?" Carter asked, having one of those looks that told Jack she was on the verge of a complete "geekout" at what they'd just been told.
"My universe's Multiversal Contact was only twenty one years ago," Zaria answered. "The first Multiversal Contact was about one hundred and fifty years ago when scientists from Universes PA-6 and SE-1 made contact via Interuniversal Radio, both using designs recovered from alien ruins of ancient origin found about one thousand light years from Earth. The first Interuniversal Jump Gates were built within a decade of that contact, and the first ship-based interuniversal jump point generators, or wormhole generators if you prefer, were built a decade afterward."
Sam opened her mouth to speak but it was Teal'c who beat her to the punch, asking, "You earlier said that contact with our universe was not the same as with the others you know of. What is different about it?"
"I'd love to tell you, but first, do you mind if we open a wormhole back to Site 29?" Zaria pointed to the Stargate. "The rest of the team is there and we're a bit overdue on returning."

"By all means...." Jack gestured to the DHD and allowed Zaria to step up to it. As her hand went to the first key, he suddenly asked, "That big guy with your group, the one with the ridged forehead, what kind of alien is he anyway?"
"Oh, Commander Worf? He's a Klingon."
Zaria was intent on the DHD, but Maya and the members of Squad 2 noticed how far down Jack's jaw was hanging and the looks on SG-1's collective faces. Whispering, Valentino asked Wilson, "Hey, Sarge, should we tell them about the whole 'infinite universes means fiction can be true' thing?"
"No, Specialist, we'll leave that to the eggheads," Wilson replied.
"I get dibs on calling Colonel O'Neill 'MacGuyver'," Maya whispered to bring the conversation to an end.

Everyone stood back as the last symbols were dialed. Standing to Zaria's right, Daniel noticed a look come across Teal'c's face. "Is something wrong?"
"I believe I recognize that address," Teal'c replied. "If I am right, the world they call 'Site 29' is a Goa'uld homeworld."
Zaria pressed down on the orb and allowed the wormhole to form before picking up her radio. "This is Doctor Herzela, I...."
"Lieutenant Colette, get your satchel charges ready immediately," they heard Nate say over the radio, sounds of particle fire and other weapons in the background. "We are under heavy attack by Jaffa and there are two defense turrets protecting the Gate. We need you to take them out, at the two hundred and three hundred degree marks from the Gate."
"Roger that," Maya said. She looked to Calgar and Valentino, who pulled satchel charges out of their packs. She looked to Zaria and said, "Wait here."
"Hey, if you're under Jaffa attack, we can help," Jack said.
Maya nodded. "Yes, Sir. We'd appreciate that."


Site 29


The Stargate opened and the turrets were drawn to it like moths to flame. Jack and Maya had barely had time to emerge when the blasts started raining down around them, and the rest of Squad 2 and SG-1 took what little cover was available while making their way to the others. Valentino and Maya hefted their satchel charges and ran straight to the turrets.
"Daniel, dial home!", Jack shouted. "Carter, Teal'c, you're with me!" They followed him toward the forest line where SPT-14 had their positions, using crossfire to keep the road clear of Jaffa.
Behind them, the first explosion erupted as Maya's satchel went off and destroyed one of the two remaining turrets. Valentino's failed to go off, and when he got back to the Gate beside Maya he shouted, "The fusing must've been bad!"
There was a sudden burst of red energy from the area of the DHD, a solid beam that cut into the turret and vaporized the entire structure from top to bottom. They turned to see Zaria leaning forward, her phaser in hand.
"Wow, a Dustbuster was good for something," Wilson muttered.
Maya picked up her radio. "Sir, turrets down! I'm getting the ZPC!" She ran to it and began to detach it from the Stargate.
"Get down! Gliders!"
Daniel's warning made her look up a split second early enough that she rolled out of the way as particle blasts from strafing Death Gliders missed her. As she got up, she saw movement in the trees opposite and shouted, "Enemy behind us!" a moment before a particle blast whipped out and hit her in the belly. Maya collapsed to the ground.
Reacting, Valentino and Zaria ran to her defense, Valentino's MP-10 spraying the woods with particle fire and causing Jaffa to fall just out of the cover. Zaria knelt down beside her and helped Maya to her feet. "We've got wounded! Tang, we have wounded!"
It was at that moment that Dalton emerged from the forest cover, the SRG-10 on his shoulder again. He looked up and pointed it at the Death Glider as it came back around, firing before it could begin another strafing run. The smart rocket smashed into it and detonated the grenade head, blowing the Death Glider in half. Tang emerged with Cyrzanski on his shoulder, running to the Gate. With the skies clear, Daniel twisted around, stood partially, and began to dial Earth. "You know, I'm not exactly an expert at this," he muttered as his hand hit the fourth symbol. "This is usually Sam's job...."


"That's it, folks, time to bail!"
At that order SPT-14 began to pull back to the Stargate, Dalton taking the time to remove the enemy's scant air support before bringing his MP-10 back up and laying down cover fire on the flanks. The Jaffa had been on the verge of outflanking them, and already had some positions on their backs, so this came just in time.
Worf, hurting from the one hit he had suffered, blocked out all the pain he felt to lift Dax into his arms. As he moved from forest cover he was forced back into it by staff fire from Jaffa on the main road. Uttering a Klingon curse, he was preparing to run for it when Teal'c moved out of cover, crouching with his staff weapon raised. Burst after burst came from it's end, striking Jaffa and forcing the others to take cover or fire toward Teal'c instead. "Go now!," Teal'c said. "I will cover you!"
In appreciation, Worf grumbled, "Thank you," and left cover to get to the Stargate with Dax.

From a joint position at the edge of the road, not far from the Stargate, Nate and Jack stood side-by-side as SG-1 and SPT-14 retreated around them toward the Gate as it went active. "SGC, this is Colonel O'Neill!", Jack shouted into his radio, his other hand holding his M5 and still inaccurately spraying bullets at the Jaffa in the woods and on the road. "We have Jaffa on our rears and about fifteen friendlies to evacuate with wounded!"
"Roger that, Colonel O'Neill, we're ready," was the response from General Hammond.
"Coming?!," Jack asked Nate.
"After you, Colonel!", was Nate's reply as his MP-10 mowed down a pair of Jaffa who came from the forest line. He backed up a bit slower than Jack until they both turned and ran, under the cover fire of Sam, Parker, and O'Farrell.

As Nate entered the Stargate, he couldn't help but feel something was wrong....


Stargate Command, Earth

"Close the iris!"
At Sam's command, the control room techs slid closed the protective iris that prevented unfriendly incursions through the Stargate. The Gate Room was packed with the members of SPT-14, SG-1, and the armed guards who watched it during alerts, as well as the medical teams as they began to tend to Maya, Cyrzanski, Dax, and Worf. As Sam and Parker went down the metal plank that led up to the Stargate, the door to the Gate Room opened and General Hammond came out. "That's all of us, Sir," Parker assured Nate as he walked up to him.

"Good." Nate turned and saw Hammond, and out of instinct in the presence of a general's stars, he saluted and the rest of the team still standing did the same.
Hammond, after a moment, returned the salute, obviously not expecting such a reaction. "Colonel, what happened?"
"Oh, we ran into these folks here and they accidentally went to a Goa'uld homeworld," Jack replied. He looked to Nate. The man's torch-design rank insignia was unfamiliar to him, so he asked, "You're the guy in charge?"
"I assume Doctor Herzela explained who we are?"
"Oh, she did."
Nate nodded at that. "Good, I hate first contact situations. I'm Colonel Nate Mackensen, field team commander for the Stargate Project Command."
"Colonel Jack O'Neill, commander of SG-1, and this is General Hammond, commander of the SGC."
"Colonel..."
Before Hammond could finish the sentence, Zaria looked around wildly. "Sir, who got the ZPC?!"
The members of SPT-14 looked at each other while Jack and the SG-1 members showed only blank looks. "ZPC?" asked Jack.
"The device we had hooked up to the Stargate, the one Lieutenant Colette was injured trying to retrieve."
Jack nodded for a moment. "Um.... we figured it was a sensor device, I... I didn't get it. Did anyone?"
Nobody in the room responded save to shake their head.
"Oh hell," Nate muttered.



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Stargate Command, Earth


Every member of SPT-14 who was still conscious took the revelation in through the haze of their combat rush. The personnel of the SGC were far more confused as to what was going on until Hammond asked, "ZPC? Just what is a ZPC? And what's going on here, who are these people? Colonel?"
"Long story, Sir. Short of it is, they are from a different universe..."
"....set of universes, actually," Daniel interrupted, correcting Jack.
Jack gave him an annoyed look. "Yes, set of universes. They're exploring our galaxy through the Stargates and running tests on them and all sorts of things, then they ended up going to a Goa'uld homeworld."
Hammond looked at Jack for a long moment before he turned to Nate. "And you are... Colonel Mackensen?"
"Colonel Nate Mackensen, Allied Nations Marine Corps, sir. I'm the new field commander of the Stargate Project Command."
"Well, Colonel, welcome to the SGC. Can you explain to me your side of what happened?"
"We were sent to run tests on active Stargate wormholes, so we brought along the eggheads." Nate motioned to Zaria. "When we found what I assume was your mobile vehicle on our first site, we shifted sites and one of them ended up being an enemy homeworld."
"And what is this ZPC device that you say is missing?"
"It's what allows us to get home, sir. Um, Doctor?"
Zaria stepped forward. She tried to smile a little out of diplomacy and said, "General Hammond, I'm Doctor Zaharia Herzela, Chief Assistant Researcher for the SPC. The device we're talking about is a 'Zynski Particle Charger. It channels 'Zynski particles into a Stargate that allows it to make contact with the Stargate we have on a planet we call Bowie in Universe Designate FHI-8."
Hammond's hand went to his head. Zaria noticed the look and found it all too familiar, so she quickly added, "Maybe we should go sit down in a conference room or something and I can explain all of this?"
Jack nodded in agreement, saying, "Yeah, that would probably be a good idea."
"Give it a half hour, please," Nate asked. "I want to check up on my people."
Hammond nodded in acceptance of the term. "We'll hold the debriefing in forty-five minutes, Colonel. You are all dismissed."


The infirmary in Cheyenne Mountain looked much like the one in the SPC facility, save for the lack of status screens and active bio-sensor beds. Cyrzanski, Colette, Worf, and Dax had all been injured by enemy fire, and Sakura had taken a cut to the arm that Tang was starting to work on. Nate watched as what he assumed to be the SGC CMO walked up toward Sakura with bandages for her cut just in time to see Tang run the dermal regenerator over it, healing the wound with no scarring. The white-coated doctor, a woman in early middle age from her appearance, showed less surprise than would have been expected.
"Doc?" Nate heard the voice and looked to see Jack standing near him. His voice prompted the doctor to come over, at which Jack pointed to Nate. "This is Colonel Mackensen, he's here to see how his people are doing. Colonel, this is Doctor Frasier."
"Doctor," Nate said respectfully.
"Well, they're all going to live as far as I can tell. They haven't suffered from the full effects of staff blasts as we're used to, so I'm assuming your people have some kind of defense against them?"
"Artificial textiles designed to disperse energy," Nate confirmed for her. "So they'll all be okay?"
Frasier nodded. "The only one I'm worried about is the alien woman, with the spots. Your medic Lieutenant Tang has helped me in treating her, but I don't have the knowledge of how her physiology works to tell you anything definitive."

"Our best bet is to get home, then," Nate said.
"How do you plan on doing that if the doohickey you need is back on Snakeworld?"
"Go to the pre-arranged emergency contact Site, or get the IU radio working," Nate replied.
"Ah, well, good luck on that, the thing looked pretty fried," Jack remarked.


After being cleared for his wound, Worf took a seat at Dax's bedside. She was still unconscious while Tang worked with Doctor Frasier's staff to find ways to heal her, leaving Worf in the complete silence he so often relished.
Of course, he didn't relish this silence. Dax wasn't about silence, in most cases. It was about laughter, and teasing, and passionate living, discussing things or simply speaking for the sake of conversation. It was an odd case of opposites attract, and it had kept them together through good and some very bad times.
Worf looked up to see a figure moving toward them. He recognized Teal'c as the man who had given them cover fire. "I thank you again for your aid," he said in a low rumble.
"Your wife, I presume?"
"Yes," Worf said with a deceptively soft tone. "She is strong. I know she will survive."
"I am certain of it as well." Teal'c looked at Worf for a moment and did not think about the concept that, until now, he had always believed his race to be a fictional creation. And he certainly was not about to bring that up. "Your name is Worf?"
"It is."
"I am Teal'c." After a pause, he continued speaking. "I have heard that the Klingons are a warrior people."
Worf looked up at that. "We are," he said.
"Then we are alike in that respect. The Jaffa are a warrior people as well, though we are kept in thrall to the Goa'uld."
"And yet you are not. Tell me, Teal'c, why you have turned away from the masters your people serve?"

"I am like many Jaffa in that I saw that the Goa'uld are not Gods as they claim to be. For a long time I kept the confidence of my master, Apophis, hoping to limit the suffering he caused to others. Then I met the Tau'ri - the people of Earth - and saw that they were the best hope for defeating the Goa'uld and freeing my people. It cost me much, but I joined them and left the service of my master."
At that, Worf slowly nodded. "Your cause is a great one, an honorable struggle. My people were once enslaved as well, by a race we called 'Hurq'. Many warriors gave their lives in battle to drive them from the homeworld."
"Perhaps your people would be willing to aid us in our struggle for freedom?"
Worf nodded. "I cannot speak for the Empire as a whole, but there are many Klingons who would gladly join you."
This clearly pleased Teal'c. "I would like to speak of this again another time, but we must be going if we are to attend the debriefing your people are participating in. I can assure you, Doctor Frasier is an excellent healer. Your wife will recover from her ailment."

Using the wardroom overlooking the Gate Room, Hammond sat with SG-1 and members of SPT-14 and the expedition; Nate, Zaria, Worf, and Major Parker. He listened to them explain their origins with the slightest hint of disbelief.
It was Sam, however, who asked, "How do you deal with entropic cascade? Our own experiences with alternate universes show that traveling between them is extremely dangerous."
"You've been to alternate universes already?" asked Nate.
"Well, timelines. We found an alien device called a quantum mirror," Daniel explained. "It allows people to shift through timelines. We've done it a couple of times."

"Ah." Zaria gave a nod at that and went on with her explaination. "Well, I can't answer that at the moment, and I'm sure Commander Dax would do better at it, but our experiences have told us that there are certain dimensions, a kind of hyperdimensional substrata maybe, that is common to many, if not all, universes. Kind of a lower layer to reality. The theory goes that this acts as a conduit for energy, allowing for long-term transferrence between universes and shifting the energy states of all of them to accomodate the transferrance."
"So maybe there's a difference between different universes, as you know them, and the different timelines the quantum mirror showed us," Sam said, following along. "Maybe this subspace doesn't allow for transferrence between them."
Jack sighed, muttering, "Girl talk" from his seat beside Nate.

At that point Hammond stepped in. "This is all very interesting, Major, Doctor, but our primary concern seems to be this device you left behind, which the Goa'uld have undoubtedly claimed now."
"You're talking about the ZPC. It's a device that focuses Straczynski particles and saturates a Stargate with them. For a reason we're not sure of yet, this converts any Stargate into an Interuniversal Jump Point Generator, and with wormholes that are far more stable than the ones our technology creates." Zaria put her hands on the table. "I mean, if you tried to walk through an IU jump point, the gravitational distortion would probably tear your body apart even with a protective energy field."
"And these Straczynski particles allow for interuniversal travel, Doctor?"
"Yes, General. Our jump point generators use them in concentrated forms to create wormholes. Kind of like punching a hole through a piece of paper with a sandblaster, if you will. The frequency that the generator emits the particles in determines which universe is on the other side."
Jack clicked his tongue and pointed his finger across the table. "I like it when they give analogies to help understand those big... complicated things."
Daniel rolled his eyes, while Zaria and Sam only grinned with some amusement, before returning to business by asking, "Well, now the important question is.... can the Goa'uld use this ZPC?"

"Well, it depends on how advanced their knowledge of exotic particle physics is," Zaria said. "Even after a century and a half we still haven't fully figured out every principle related to 'Zynski particles. Do we know anything about their capabilities?"
Hammond looked to Teal'c. "Teal'c?"
"Goa'uld science is focused on learning how to use acquired technology more than researching new devices as you know it. The Goa'uld are scavengers of technology."
"And what about the Goa'uld we just fought? I've never seen that lightning bolt mark on a Jaffa before," asked Sam.
"I believe the world we evacuated was Olympos," Teal'c said. "I recognized the markings on the Jaffa, they are warriors of Zeus."
Daniel noded at that. "Zeus, King of the Gods, Lightning bolts and all that?"
"Yes, Daniel Jackson. Zeus is the son of the System Lord Cronus."
"No surprise there, that's who he was in Greek mythology," Zaria remarked.
"Teal'c, please continue," Hammond asked politely.

Teal'c did so. "Zeus once had a powerful empire of his own before he lost it to his father and other enemies. For the last two centuries he has maintained what remains of his empire by playing Apophis, Ra, and Cronus against each other."
"But now Apophis and Ra are out of the way, and I suppose Cronus isn't too happy with Zeus..."
"Indeed. Cronus has most likely already begun plans to deal with Zeus and his family firmly."
"Wait, family?"
"Zeus has had many Goa'uld off-spring. The one I am most familiar with is Hefetus, who oversees weapon development and is in charge of the factories and mines of Zeus' holdings that produce weapons for his armies."
Daniel nodded. "Hephaestus, God of the Forge, producer of tools. It makes sense. What about Ares and Hebe?"
"Ares was the leader of Zeus' army many centuries ago, but he has since risen to the status of System Lord. I know little about Heb, save that she oversees the training of young Jaffa and potential hosts."
"God of War and Goddess of Youth..." Daniel said.
Hammond asked, "How much of a threat does Zeus pose, Teal'c?"
"Among System Lords he is a regarded with a sense of caution but contempt. He has fallen far from the heights of power. What he has now was won through centuries of trickery and manipulation, so he is mistrusted by many Goa'uld. He does, however, possess a capable army and a number of motherships, ensuring that any attack on him would be costly. Many Goa'uld keep their distance from him. It is Hefetus that we should be most concerned about, however, as his skill with technology is widely known."
Nate nodded at that. "So, we have to go back and get the ZPC, make sure this bozo doesn't somehow stumble upon how to use it for IU travel."
"Yeah, good luck assaulting a Goa'uld homeworld," Jack remarked sardonically.
"Well, we have to do something," Nate retorted.

"We should get in contact with Brownsville," Parker stated. "General Thompson needs a full report."
"Fine. Doctor, get Sergeant Dalton and start fixing that IU radio," Nate ordered.
"You can use the lab," Sam offered. "I'd love to help."
Nate saw the look in Zaria's face. They were already walking a delicate legal wire given the official blacklisting of SRC-19 and laws regulating contact with pre-interplanetary societies. But he waved her off, figuring that the situation was too grave to worry about little technicalities. "Go, get it fixed. We're going to need everything we can get on this one."
Zaria nodded and stood up, Sam joining her. As they walked out Parker picked up his radio and said, "Sergeant Dalton, please follow the ladies and bring that IU radio with you," knowing Dalton was right outside.


Olympos


The Jaffa of Olympos bowed at the sight of the craft bearing their god to the Stargate. The rings descended from the craft and inside materialized two figures.
Zeus, Lord of Olympos, had taken a virile male host body, a barrel-chested human figure with a dark brown beard and matching hair that was kept short. He wore a white robe and shorts that bared his lower legs. The look on his face was one of confidence and power, as he was long accustomed to rule.
Beside him was a shorter, stockier figure, muscular but ugly with no hair to speak of on his head. Zeus' son, Lord Hefetus, walked forth toward the Jaffa bearing the recovered device. He looked it over and a thought that had been going through his head grew stronger.
He hid indications of this as he looked to his father, who's eyes flashed with anger. "You allowed them to escape," he grumbled in the deep, unnatural bass tone of a Goa'uld.
The large, bald Jaffa in charge of this band remained on one knee before Zeus. "My apologies, my Lord. The Tau'ri were many, and their weapons more powerful than reported by the others. They destroyed the defense turrets and held my men back until their reinforcements enabled them to escape through the chappa'ai. But they left this behind, my Lord." The Jaffa indicated the device. "It had been attached to the chappa'ai. Perhaps a weapon of..."
"Silence!" Zeus thundered, his eyes flashing in anger. The Jaffa lowered his head and remained silent. "Hefetus! I want to know what this is."
"Yes, Lord Zeus. I will get to work on it immediately," was the reply, with the same inhuman bass timbre as Zeus' voice. As he ordered the Jaffa to bring the device to be ringed back to the cargo ship, a slight smile crossed his face. A suspicion that he felt was going to prove true.
He couldn't wait to see what the device did.



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik


Last edited by Steve on 2007-04-19 08:22am, edited 1 time in total.
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Stargate Command, Earth

Sam's lab had become cramped with Zaria, Sam, and Dalton all trying to work on the IU radio (Dalton being the biggest offender in loss of space). The backpack-like device was set upon the main table, opened up and with charred pieces already set aside. Sam stood ready with tools, intrigued in the design of the radio as Zaria did the hard work of actually reaching into it. Sighing, Zaria finally pulled her hands out and wiped the sweat off her forehead. "Okay, good news and bad news. Good news is, the Straczynskium core is intact and undamaged. The bad news is, enough of the transmission and power distribitution gear on the radio has been busted that I'll have to rebuild the radio, and I don't have the parts here."
"Next window for a meeting at the contact site is in ten hours," Dalton said. "That's a long time for Commander Dax to wait."
"What is this Straczynskium anyway?", asked Sam. "I assume it has something to do with the 'Zynski particles you talked about earlier?"
"Straczynskium is a rare element, something your people won't find for another couple hundred years.... at least not without our help," Zaria explained. "When subjected to certain electrical charges of proper voltage, it generates 'Zynski particles. In an IU radio, the particles are propagated in waves that act as carrier waves for radio transmissions between universes."

"So... all you need is to be able to generate enough of an electrical charge into the core to send a message, right?"
"Right but not completely. We also need a control system to regulate the output frequency of the 'Zynski particles so that we broadcast to the right universe, plus a device to transmit and receive UHF transmissions and a decryption module so that we can actually communicate with SPC."
"How much on the radio is intact?"
Zaria looked back inside of it, and after about two minutes of removing intact and burnt parts, she pulled out a piece and smiled. "Well, the decrypter and UHF transceiver are intact, at least."
"Then I have the parts here in the lab to build a new radio," Sam said, a grin on her face.
"Then what are we waiting for?" Zaria grinned widely. "Sergeant," she said to Dalton, "if you can handle getting the parts we'll need for the core's electrical charger, Major Carter and I will put together the transceiver and decypter and build a new control system to regulate the core's output frequency."


The conference room overlooking the Gate room was empty when Nate entered it, having checked up on the injured again. Everyone was fine, as before, though even Tang wasn't sure if Dax could be healed until they got back to Brownsville. Of course, when they got back, Nate would have his own problems given the accidental contact with a pre-interplanetary Earth and the fact that his personality virtually guaranteed a clash with Thompson and Michaels over the fact that he'd been proven disasterously right about the dangers posed by the threat they now knew as the Goa'uld.
He heard a noise and looked over to the staircase in time to see Jack O'Neill finish ascending it. "Hey, heard you were up here." Jack lifted his hand and revealed the two bottles of Heineken he was holding. "Figured you might be interested in a beer."
Smirking with amusement, Nate nodded in appreciation and replied, "Yeah, a beer sounds good right about now. Sure about having it here, though?"
Jack handed him one of the bottles. "Yeah, well, I won't tell if you won't tell. Just stay away from the window."

At that moment the Stargate began lighting up. "Don't worry about it, just SG-5 returning from a mission," Jack remarked. "You only need to worry if the red lights start going off. Which happens often enough around here...."
"Ah." Nate took a swig from the beer and found a seat. "So, 1999. Nice year. Got some rough times up ahead though, even without the Goa'uld."
"Oh really?"
"Yeah." Nate sighed and took a swig. "Well, it can vary by universe. Sometimes different events happened, or they happened but the result was different. Truth be told, I'm not certain how much I can tell you without getting in trouble."
Jack tapped his bottle. "Hey, I brought you beer, at least you could tell me how long I'm going to be enjoying 'The Simpsons'."
Nate chuckled. "Longest run for it was twenty-five years. Universe.... AR-12 I think it was. I still remember seeing the episodes on a 'Classics' channel, like the episode when Ned Flander's wife died...." He blanched when he saw the look on Jack's face. "That hasn't aired yet, has it?"
"No, it hasn't," Jack said in irritation. "Okay, how about things that don't involve spoiling my favorite television shows?"

"Okay. In almost all histories in the Multiverse, Michael Jordan comes out of retirement again."
"Go Bulls. They can always use another three championships."
Nate finished another swig before answering, "Um, no, he actually signs with the Washington Wizards."
Jack finished the gulp on his beer. "Now why the hell would he do that?"
"Uh, was a partial owner or something, I think. I just remember seeing it because my son was a big basketball fan and..." Nate felt an old point throb in his heart and took another drink to try and force it back down.
"Your son, how's he doing?"
Nate was silent for a moment and couldn't help but look off into space for a moment. It was all Jack needed to see to know what had happened, but Nate nevertheless spoke, "My son George died about twenty-five years ago. I have two more adopted sons, Furel and Lorva, and an adopted daughter named Ivliya."
"Those are some interesting names," Jack said, quietly hiding his own pain on the subject.
"They're Bajoran, brothers and sister. I met them when I was recovering from the fighting on Bajor. Their dad was executed by the Cardassians and their mother was killed in the fighting from when we liberated the labor camp they were being held in." Nate smiled slightly. "Furel is in college, Ivliya just graduated from the officer's academy, and Lorva is waiting to defend his doctoral thesis."
"Not bad, not bad at...."

A door opposite the table opened and Nate and Jack turned to see Hammond beginning to walk into the room. While Jack moved his hand slightly to hide the beer bottle he was holding, Nate stood straight from his chair, revealing the beer in his hand, but Hammond gestured to him and said, "At ease", just as he noticed the beer in Nate's hand. His eyes went to Jack, who muttered "Jarheads".
"Major Carter and Doctor Herzela say they will have that radio of your's active momentarily, Colonel," Hammond said to Nate. "Colonel O'Neill will show you to Major Carter's lab. You are dismissed, and please take that with you."
"Yes Sir."


Sam was too busy helping Zaria finish the final wire connections to notice Jack and Nate non-chalantly tossing the empty beer bottles into her trash. After a few moments Jack looked to Nate and asked, "So, they killed off Maude? Why?"
"Hell if I know."
"Do they ever kill off Burns?"
"Don't think so."
Jack snapped his fingers. "No surprise there. Killing a Goa'uld is tough." Jack saw the confused look on Nate and said, "Well, he acts like a Goa'uld."
"You have to be kid...."

"And there we are!" Zaria exclaimed in triumph, pulling away from the IU radio. It was now attached to a laptop computer, itself rigged to read and use the UHF transceiver and decryption module from the IU radio. Sam handed her the computer and Zaria began tapping a few keys. "Sir, it's ready," she said.
"Here goes nothing." Nate picked up the microphone unit on the IU radio and began to speak. "Sierra Papa Charlie, this is Mackensen. Please come in."
There was a moment of silence, after which General Thompson's drawl came in over the speakers Sam had set up. "Mackensen, this is Thompson. Good to hear from you, I'd like a sitrep."
"We had a hostile contact at Site 29, Sir. Turns out the city detected there is an enemy capital of some sorts. We lost the ZPC and one of the portable ZPC parts got hit, so we're without a ride home."
"Where are you now?"
"Well, sir..." Nate swallowed. "I also need to report an Alpha Echo Charlie."
Another bit of silence on the other end. It was unsurprising to Nate, given that "Accidental Earth Contact" was never well-received. "Confirm, Mackensen, that there has been an Alpha Echo Charlie?"
"Confirmed, sir, we have an Alpha Echo Charlie. Sierra Papa Tango One-Four is currently in a secured gate facility on Echo Sierra Romeo Charlie One-Nine.."
Another period of silence. "Colonel, I want you back for a full debriefing."
More like a full ass-reaming, Nate thought to himself before replying, "Yes Sir. We'll await the transiting of a ZPC. I also request medical personnel be ready, Commander Dax is wounded and the indigs aren't too familiar with Trill."
"It will be arranged. We will open the gate in fifteen minutes. Thompson out."


Brownsville, Bowie, Universe Designate FHI-8


Thompson felt an incredible headache as he sat in his office, readying himself for the storm to come when he informed President Dale of the AEC in SRC-19.... and of the lost ZPC unit.
He was reading over a paper when the red lights began to flash and the klaxons began to go off, Sergeant Kurtman warning of an unscheduled gate activiation over the PA. He made his way to the Gate Control Room as the device continued dialing. "Who is it?"
"Could be SPT-4, sir, but I'm not picking up any IU signals from them," Kurtman replied from his station.
"Close the defensive iris and raise shields."
The tritanium iris slid into place and the defensive deflector shields went up. When the Stargate finished dialing and the wormhole activated, there was nothing for a few moments.
A solid image suddenly appeared upon the iris, that of a bald-headed man with a beard and fire around him. "I am Hefetus, God of Olympos.", the man said, his voice booming through the control center. "In the name of Zeus, King of the Gods, you will cease your invasions of this universe or you will face the wrath of Olympos. This will be your only warning. Obey your Gods or suffer the consequences."
The image disappeared. The wormhole, however, did not close. "They're keeping it open from their end, sir," Kurtman reported. "We can't dial out."
Thompson took in a breath. "Get me Colonel Mackensen again."


Cheyenne Mountain, Earth, Universe Designate SRC-19


Nate was standing in the Gate Room with Jack, Sakura, Parker, and Worf, with Dax on a stretcher to the side with Doctor Frasier and Tang attending her. Everyone stood there for several passing moments before Nate said, "It's not like them to be late."
"Colonel Mackensen, please report to Major Carter's lab," one of the Gate techs said over the PA.
"Now what," Nate muttered as he left, Jack and Sakura following. They wound their way through the SGC until they arrived at Sam's lab, where she and Zaria were tinkering with the radio. "Doctor?"
"It's General Thompson for you, sir." Zaria presented Nate with the IU radio's microphone.
Nate picked it up and held it to his mouth. "Mackensen here."

"Colonel, might you explain why the hell we just had someone calling himself a God dial a wormhole here?"
Nate groaned, looks of concern coming across every face in the room. "What did he say his name was?"
"Hefetus. He says he serves Zeus, and right now he's keeping a wormhole to the SPC open so we can't dial out. Colonel, I'd like a full explaination right now."
"Oh, I'd be delighted, Sir." Nate bit into his lower lip. "Very delighted to."
As he began his explaination, the thought crossed Nate's mind: This day just keeps getting worse and worse....



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Cheyenne Mountain, Earth, Universe Designate SRC-19


General Thompson digested the news as best as could be expected. The fact that he wasn't calling for Nate's head was a pleasant surprise. "So, the "Diablo" that the Site 32 Humans were talking about..."
"....are known as the Goa'uld, sir," Nate finished for him. "They've apparently named themselves after various old gods like Zeus and Ra and Thor..."
"Um, actually," Jack said, leaning toward the mic and cutting into the conversation without any regards to the contrary, "Thor is not a Goa'uld, he's an Asgard, and is a really good buddy of mine."
Nate put a hand to his head as Thompson responded to the new voice. "Colonel, who was that?"
Answering for Nate, Jack said, "Sir, I'm Colonel Jack O'Neill, United States Air Force and the commander of SG-1."
"Colonel O'Neill, would you kindly keep your mouth shut while Colonel Mackensen finishes his explaination?"
"Just helping you keep track of the good aliens from the bad, sir," Jack answered in a non-plussed tone.

After giving Jack an annoyed look, Nate finished the radio sitrep. "We've already tried to cut the power from this end," Thompson said, "but that won't close the wormhole."
Motioning to the mic, Sam got Nate to hand it over. "Sir, this is Major Samantha Carter, US Air Force. We've dealt with this before, Sir. The wormhole can be sustained for 38 minutes before they shut off. As soon as it goes down, you need to dial out before they can re-establish it."
"Actually...." Zaria had her own idea, and Sam handed her the mic at seeing her expression. "General, this is Doctor Herzela. Major Carter's right, but since the Gate is in FHI-8, dialing out won't be necessary. Simply don't recharge the Gate with 'Zynski particles, then the Goa'uld can't dial in. Are there any other teams in the field, sir?"
"SPT-4 is still on Site 17," replied Thompson. "I intend to bring them back as soon as I can and to halt operations."
"As soon as you recover Commander Dax we can wait for you to bring SPT-4 in. In the meantime, I'd suggest that we no longer keep the gate charged, but only initiate 'Zynski charges when we're preparing to open or receive a gate."
"Very well. The gate will be open for another twenty minutes by your reckoning. We'll contact you again when it goes down. Thompson out."


The atmosphere in the conference room overlooking the Gate Room was oppressive. SG-1 was present in its entirety, with Zaria, Nate, and Sakura sitting on the opposite side. General Hammond's jaw remained clenched as he was given the somber report of Hefetus using the ZPC to block the use of the Bowie jump gate. "Colonel Mackensen, I probably shouldn't have to point out that this development puts all of us in danger," he remarked, looking straight at Nate. "I'm pretty sure your government has rules and laws about dealing with less-advanced versions of Humanity, but I think this situation makes it pretty clear that we have to work together. If the Goa'uld study this device of your's enough and actually achieve the ability to move between universes, then any hope we have of overthrowing them is gone."
"If the Goa'uld expanded to other universes, their ability to build up larger armies would become impossible to overcome," Teal'c added. "The Jaffa will view it as another miracle and be firmer than ever in their belief that the Goa'uld are gods."

"What about these 'Asgard' I've heard mentioned?", asked Zaharia. "They're supposed to be more powerful than the Goa'uld, right? They're even protecting this Earth from them."
"Well, under treaty, yes," Hammond replied, "but they've made it quite clear to us that they no longer have the actual physical strength to protect Earth or any other planet under their protection."
"Yeah, something about a threat even bigger than the Goa'uld in their home galaxy," Jack added. "Which sounds really, really scary."

"So we're left to do this on our own," Nate replied. "The thing is, for my government, this operation is as secret as your's is, and due to treaty law we can't actually send ships here.... not that I'm convinced they'd stand a chance against the Goa'uld anyway. They certainly made short work of one of our vessels eighty years ago."
"Gathering the numbers of personnel needed to make a direct assault on this Olympos would be prohibitive, perhaps impossible." From her chair, Sakura now entered the conversation. "I'd say our best alternative is some form of subtle assault by no more than 2 SPT teams, a strike mission to either recover or destroy the ZPC and to ensure that any databanks they might have accumulated are destroyed."

A wry chuckle came from Jack. "So, you want to assault a Goa'uld homeworld with.... how many people are in your teams anyway?"
"Ten," Sakura answered.
Before Jack could reply, Teal'c made the remark, "I believe the Tau'ri term is 'suicide mission'."
There was a period of silence after that. Finally Hammond looked to Nate again and asked, "How long until you can re-open your gate?"
"Ten, fifteen minutes or so," Nate replied. "I figure General Thompson will leave it uncharged for a few minutes to make sure Hefetus doesn't just dial in again."
"Well, I'd like to meet with General Thompson," Hammond said. "See if we can find a way to get us out of this mess."

Nate was about to comment on Thompson visiting the SGC when Zaria spoke up. "I'm sure he'd be willing to meet you, General Hammond. We'll take you through as soon as we can." Already forseeing how Nate would react, Zaria looked to him. "It's the best way, Colonel. General Thompson has a direct line to President Dale if we need more forces."
"He does?" Nate answered, somewhat surprised.
"There are still things about the SPC you haven't bothered to learn, Colonel," Sakura pointed out.
"That new to the job, huh?" Jack remarked.

There was a sound from the staircase. Major Parker's head appeared. "Sir, Commander Dax is awake."
As Nate moved in his chair, Hammond also stood. "We'll meet here again when it's time to open the gate. You're all dismissed."


The SGC infirmary had quieted down since Nate had last visited. He found Dax at the bed they'd put her in, Worf at her side and Doctor Frasier standing a bit off, looking over a paper. Jack followed in behind him, Zaria taking up the rear. Keeping a stoic expression, Nate walked up to her and said, "Commander, good to see you're well."
She looked at him, but it was Frasier who spoke first. "Your medic helped me pick some medications to ease the pain, but it's still up to your doctors to care for her. There's little more I can do."

"Worf... told me," Dax said weakly. "About everything. I guess... you were right..."
"I've never felt worse about being right either," Nate said sympathetically. "We'll get you back to the SPC in just a bit longer. I'm sure you'll be up and running in no time."
"And when I am... I want to join whatever mission you've got planned," Dax said.
"Well... there's nothing concrete yet..." Nate nodded slowly as a final reply. "I'll bring you along if you want. But it's a mission we probably won't be walking back from."
"That's also what Starfleet's about," Dax replied with an amused look before laying her head back.
Nate stepped back and noticed Tang and some of Fraiser's orderlies working around a nearby rolling bed. "We have to get her ready to be moved," Frasier said. "Can you please wait outside?"
There was a nod in reply, but before anyone could further move red lights went off throughout the infirmary and base. "Unscheduled gate activation in progress," a voice warned on the PA.
"This day just keeps getting better and better," Jack mumbled as they headed off to Gate Control.


Once there they were directed to the briefing room again, where Hammond and Sam were waiting for them with two other individuals. Jacob Carter had returned, and this time he had brought along another Tok'ra, who's host was brown-haired and on the slim side. "Colonel Mackensen, this is Jacob Carter and Nural," Hammond said, introducing them.
Noticing how close Sam was to the older man, Nate put two and two together. "Major Carter's father? Sir, good to meet you."
"The same, Colonel." Jacob looked straight toward Mackensen and toward Nural. "Jack, you haven't met Nural. He's one of the younger Tok'ra, a big supporter of our alliance with Earth. Selmak and I think you'll like him."
"Who's Selmak?" Nate asked.
"Selmak is my Tok'ra symbiote," Jacob explained as Nate came up and gave Jacob a handshake.
"Symbiote? Is it like a Goa'uld symbiote or a Trill one?", Nate asked.
Nural showed a clearly displeased reaction at the mention of the Goa'uld, but Jacob sighed, pulling his hand away. "I see they haven't told you yet, Colonel. The Tok'ra are what you could call cousins of the Goa'uld. We've been fighting them for the past two thousand years, trying to overthrow their empire from within."
"Two thousands years, huh?" Nate shook his head. "That's.... that's pretty long to be waging a resistance."
"Ask them how many Goa'uld System Lords they've taken down compared to us," Jack said.
"You'll have to excuse Colonel O'Neill, he's not exactly a big fan of most of the Tok'ra." Jacob motioned to Nural. "I brought Nural along because I thought it best if he was the one who talked to you about this situation."

Attention turned to Nural, and when he spoke, it was with the unnatural bass timbre of a symbiote in control. "It is perhaps better if I let my host speak," Nural said. His head bowed, and when it came back up, his hand snapped up into a formal military salute. "Colonel Mackensen, Sir, I'm Lieutenant Frank York, United States Star Navy, Second Watch Officer on the U.S.S. Abigail Thompson."
Nate's jaw dropped a little, and even Jack looked a little surprised. "You.... there were survivors?", Nate asked.
"A few of us," Frank York replied, "but I'm the only one left. The rest were executed by the Goa'uld or died when the Tok'ra liberated the mine we were enslaved in."
"My God..."
"So you've known this entire time that there were Humans from another universe and you never told us?" Jack asked Jacob pointedly. "Don't you think that's something we needed to know?!"
"The Tok'ra didn't believe Frank for a long time," Jacob replied. "They thought he was delusional, or had his mind played with by the Goa'uld. At first we mostly used him for minor missions to make sure he wasn't a plant of some sort."
"Nural was the first to think I might not be crazy," Frank added. "He believed in me when nobody else did, so when he needed a host I volunteered immediately."
"We figured it was the best way to find out if he was crazy or not, but even when Nural confirmed he was sane and truthful, well..." Jacob shrugged. "We figured whoever they were, the Humans from the other universe wouldn't come back. But now you are, and we need to talk."
Jacob looked to Frank, who nodded and turned his head back to Nate. "Colonel, this is very important, and I know this might sound off to you, but you have to listen to me," Frank said in an urgent tone.
"Yes, Lieutenant?"
"We need you to bring it back," Frank said in deadly seriousness.
"'It?'"
"The Stargate," Frank said for clarification. "The Stargate that was taken from Tarus.... from the planet near Rebsam, the one you're using now. We need you to give it back."



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-05-17 11:45pm
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Cheyenne Mountain, Earth, Universe Designate SRC-19


"Okay, first thing.... I cannot believe we're letting them do this!"
Jack's voice carried across Hammond's office, where the two had retired after hearing out the Tok'ra request for the return of the Tarus/Bowie Stargate. The bewildered look on Jack's face was similar to the one still on Nate's face, as Hammond looked out and saw him still talking to Jacob and Nural/Frank.
"These people might be the best damned thing we've run into out there," Jack continued. "With their help we might actually have a shot at defeating the Goa'uld. And now the Tok'ra want us to give that up?!"

"They say they can help us get back that ZPC device," Hammond replied. "Frankly, if we're going to send a team onto a Goa'uld homeworld, we're going to need their help."
"The price is too high, General. Besides, I don't think they want the Goa'uld to get their hands on inter-universal technology anymore than we do. It's a bluff."
"Maybe, maybe not. But I don't want to take that risk, and I don't think you really want to either. Or the Alliance, for that matter. Which is why we're bringing Jacob and Mr. York with us."
"That's the second thing." Jack finally settled into the chair. "General, Daniel and I can handle talking with these people. There's no need for you to go through. I'm not comfortable with you being at risk."
"Do you have reason to distrust these people?"
"No, but you never know what might happen, General."

"Agreed. But the President's already asked me to handle this personally," Hammond answered. "So I'm going with you."
"Yeah, I figured you'd say that."

A familiar red light went off. "Unscheduled gate activation in progress," was the warning, and everyone headed to Gate Control. The Tok'ra, Nate, and Sam joined them as the iris closed. Behind it the event horizon formed, but instead of the customary blue corona of light behind it hues of green and gold were added. "That's our people," Nate remarked.
"Sir, signal through the gate. It's Colonel MacKensen's people."
"Open the iris," Hammond ordered. "Tell them to come through."

The iris slid open again. A few moments later a couple figures came through, towing a piece of equipment with them. The gate closed behind them.
Taking up the phone, Hammond sent a call through. "Doctor Frasier, please get your patient ready."


About fifteen minutes later everything was ready. SPT-14 had gathered in the Gate Room, as well as the two technicians who had finished connecting the ZPC to the Stargate. SG-1 remained at Hammond's side, with Jacob Carter on his right and Frank York behind them. One of them stood up and gave a thumb's up sign. "Gate's charged," he said while his comrade detached the device from the Gate. The Stellar Navy Petty Officer walked up to Nate. "Sir, General Thompson ordered us to remain here with the device until further notice."
"He did, huh? Guess he's expecting further travel." Nate looked to SG-1 and Hammond. "Good sign there, I guess."
"Beginning dialing sequence now."
The dialing process took the usual amount of time, and the Gate opened as it normally did, but again the customary blue sheen was added to by shifting green and gold hues.

Dax was taken through first, Worf accompanying her along with Tang. Other members of SPT-14 filtered through, and it was left to Nate and Sakura to escort SG-1, Hammond, and the Tok'ra through the Stargate.
When they emerged on the other end, the members of SG-1 looked around at the large Gate Chamber they entered. Jack and Teal'c focused on the automated particle cannons along the walls, even if they were clearly inactive. At the base of the ramp to the Gate were armed men in full body armor, complete with full helmets that had clear visors and large, mean looking weapons in their arms, meaner than the particle rifles that SG-1 had already seen in the hands of SPT-14. The window facing them showed a room somewhat like Gate Control back in the SGC, though even here a holographic display was visible to make a stark difference clear.
At the base of the ramp was a small honor guard, and in the middle stood General Thompson. Hammond led everyone in saluting upon standing before his opposite, and Thompson returned the salute. "General George Hammond, United States Air Force, Commanding Officer of Stargate Command."
Hammond's extended hand was taken by Thompson. "General Arthur Thompson, Texan Air Force, Commander of the Stargate Project Command. Nice to have you, General Hammond."

A surprised, sly grin appeared on Hammond's face, and Jack looked on in surprise. "Texan Air Force?" he asked.
"Maybe Texas remained an independent country in this history," Daniel offered in explaination.
"No. We just went our own way when the United States broke up in the late 21st Century," Thompson replied. "Long story there. Gentlemen and ladies, if you'll follow me...."


Everyone assembled in the conference room, Dr. Michaels joining them on the way, and Thompson went on the phone, checking to ensure the arrangements were ready. After about five minutes he went to his seat at the table directed his attention to the monitor built into the wall. After several moments the screen came on. The other end was a bland office of some sort, or perhaps another conference room, and they were presented with the view of a dark-haired man, green-eyed, who was wearing a normal business suit and tie. "Mister President," Thompson said. "This is General George Hammond of Stargate Command from Earth SRC-19 with his SG-1 team, as well as two representatives of the.... Tok'ra, right?"
Jacob nodded.

"Gentlemen, this is an extraordinary situation for us," the President stated from his end. "Our presence in your universe through the SPT teams is questionable under treaty, and as for the contact with Earth SRC-19.... well, that is a unique situation. And now I'm told that a 'Zynski Particle device has fallen into the hands of an unfriendly empire?"
"Calling the Goa'uld 'unfriendly' is a bit of an understatement, Mister President," Jack remarked.
Hammond gave an annoyed look at Jack, and Jacob began to speak himself. "Colonel O'Neill's right, Mister President. The Goa'uld are a brutal race of snake-like sentient entities that take over host bodies, Humans being their preferred hosts these days, and the Goa'uld System Lords rule empires that together span many sections of the Milky Way Galaxy in our universe. The Tok'ra are an... offshoot, you might say, of the Goa'uld, dedicated to bringing down the System Lords."

"And you're a leader of the Tok'ra, Mister....?"
"Jacob Carter, and Selmak," Jacob answered. "I'm from Earth as well, Mister President. I volunteered to be the host for Selmak when his former host died."
"I see." President Dale nodded his head slightly. "I'm told by General Thompson that you are requesting the return of the Stargate taken from SRC-19 eighty years ago. May I ask why?"

"The version of this planet in SRC-19, Mister President, is called Tarus by the Tok'ra and Goa'uld," Jacob explained. "It was once part of the domains of Ra, the Supreme System Lord of the Goa'uld. He abandoned the planet centuries ago when the naquadah mines ran dry and afterward we moved in and established a supply vault there. Tarus is deep within disputed territory among several System Lords, too far from any secured Tok'ra base to make ship flights to, and without a Stargate there we've been unable to access the materials we kept stored there. Materials that we may have a chance to put into use now that we have Earth helping us. That's why we'd like you to return the Stargate to Tarus."
"That could prove... difficult," Dale remarked. "We have something called the Treaty of New Brasilia. It established the body that regulates the dissemination of interuniversal jump tech and oversees the operation of jump gate assemblies. It also holds power over the Blacklist, a list of universes barred from further contact, which your universe is currently the sole occupant of. Under this treaty, no ship with an IU jump point generator is allowed to make jumps into SRC-19. The software is intentionally rigged to prevent the device from being set to SRC-19."

"Mister President, if I may...." Nural lowered his head, and Frank York was the one who spoke up. "I am Frank York, the sole survivor of the Abigail Thompson. I've served with the Tok'ra as an operative and then as Nural's host since the day they liberated me from a Goa'uld mining camp. Sir, the Tok'ra are the best chance SRC-19 has to get rid of the Goa'uld. We need to let them get access to Tarus again, even if it means going up against the IUCEC."
Jack grumbled inaudibly at York's remarks. This was picked up by Dale, who asked, "Colonel O'Neill, I believe it was... you don't seem to agree?"

Hammond and Jacob looked to Jack. Daniel sighed and Sam put her head against her hand. Jack shifted a little in his seat, added a partial shrug motion to his shoulders, and said, "Well, Mister President, we're allies with the Tok'ra, but I have to say that I'm not sure I can agree with Nural.... Mister York, whatever. The SGC has taken down more System Lords, including Ra, in the last three years than the Tok'ra have in three thousand."
"Two thousand," Daniel corrected.
"Whatever."

Dale smiled thinly at that. "General Hammond, may I presume you share the opinions of your man?"
Hammond made no motion while replying, "Colonel O'Neill has his own opinions. I have to say I'd prefer doing this in a way to keep your people as allies for Earth. We're alone out there, save for the Tok'ra, and our only protection from the Goa'uld is a treaty signed with an alien race that can't actually enforce it and is operating purely on bluffs. But the President and I feel that recovering this ZPC device, or at least ensuring the Goa'uld cannot figure it out, is a higher priority at the moment, even if it means having you return the Stargate to the Tok'ra."

That drew a nod from Dale. "I wish I could say I understand your plight, General Hammond, but I bet I can't. I wish I could do more for you, but right now it's a sensitive time in the Multiverse for us, and going to the IUCEC with this is... very dangerous for the Alliance. And I do agree with you that the lost ZPC has to be our first priority. General Thompson, have you begun formulating any plans for retrieval."
"No, Mister President. Given what the SGC has told us about the Goa'uld, we suspect they'll be ready for any assault through the Stargate," Thompson replied. "We'll have to go by space anyway."
"The Tok'ra can get you onto Olympos, and into Zeus' palace, General," Selmak said, speaking up with the customary bass tone.
That drew a look from Jack. "Oh?"
"We have an agent inside of Zeus' palace, someone who can make sure a cargo vessel goes unnoticed," Selmak continued. "And we can provide that vessel, enough for perhaps fifteen or twenty people."

"If you can do that, we'll provide the teams to go in," Thompson said, with Dale's approval registered by a nod.
"If it's alright with you, Sir, SG-1 would like to volunteer to join you," Jack said. Grinning, he added, "It's a nice chance to add another System Lord to our list, and maybe get to play with some ray guns."
"We'd be glad to accept SG-1's help," Nate remarked, grinning as well from amusement.
"Well, if the matter of that operation is settled, I'll leave you to plan it," Dale said. "The Tok'ra can remain here and we'll negotiate their request for the Gate and see if it can be arranged. Colonels, you and your teams are dismissed."


Zaria was in the science lab checking up on projects and long-term computer observations when the door opened and admitted Sam and Daniel, escorted by one of the facility guards. She looked back at them, dressed more comfortably now in red vest over green sleeveless blouse and green skirt, and smiled in greeting. "Meeting's over I guess?"
"For us." Sam looked around at the numerous wall monitors, keyboard stations, and large table holo-emitter.

Noticing that, Zaria stood. "This is where I study the Stargates and the wormholes they create. I'm crunching the data now from the recorders we had at Site 3. Unfortunately I couldn't get the Site 29 recorders...." Seeing Sam walk over toward the holo-table, she touched a couple keys and brought up a holographic, 3D representation of a Stargate wormhole. "It's really... a work of art. Stargate-created wormholes show none of the instability and gravitational distortions that our interuniversal jump points have. The closest thing is the Bajoran wormhole, I'd have to say."
"Bajoran wormhole?" Sam asked.
"The only known stable wormhole in the Multiverse, from my home universe, in the Bajoran home system." Zaria brought up a display of the wormhole mouth to remain side-by-side with the Stargate wormhole, small numbers and data around both. "It connects two different sides of the galaxy together. A journey of sixty years for our drives cut to sixty or so seconds."

Sam was intensely studying the holo-table, taking in the data presented upon it with a medium and with accuracy that she could only dream of. Zaria turned to see Daniel looking around wistfully. "Doctor Jackson, I don't suppose you're into this part of the job?"
"Yeah, it's a bit out of my area of expertise," he answered. "Don't suppose you have alien ruins I can look over?"
Smiling, Zaria led him over to a computer monitor and a chair. "Keyboards haven't changed much since the 20th Century," she explained, motioning to one that indeed had the old-fashioned QWERTY lay-out, along with specialist function buttons framing the keys. As he settled into the chair she tapped her way through controls. "And from these computers you can look into any public domain server in the Multiverse, give or take a few minutes for IU transmission times. I'm no archeologist, but I'd recommend starting with the University of New Chatham's Xenoarcheology site. New Chatham's got the most prestigious xenoarcheology program in the Multiverse, with holographic records, digital photos, and detailed records of thousands of archeological digs across the Multiverse." When he looked up at her, she smiled and shrugged. "I dated a TA from the department when I was working with a project team at the university. Trust me."

Within minutes she had him on the site, and soon Jackson's fingers were using the tracker to surf through the promised archive of digs. "It could take me years to look through all this," Jackson said in awe.
"It's a big Multiverse," Zaria remarked.
"A pity we don't have years here," they heard Jack's voice call out. They looked to the entrance and Jack was standing there with Nate. "Enjoy the stay while you can, tomorrow we're going to be busy, and the day after we're going after another Snakehead."
"You're being assigned quarters here," Nate said. "Tomorrow we start weapons training at 0700 base time, sharp."
"Weapons training?" Sam asked. She realized she shouldn't have bothered a moment later, given the look in Jack's eyes.
"Oh yes." He grinned. "They're teaching us to use ray guns tomorrow."



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-05-21 11:51pm
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Brownsville, Bowie, Universe Designate FHI-8


It was 0700 when Nate arrived in the training holochamber and found only three members of SG-1 ready for him. "Of course," he remarked. "Doctor Jackson."
"Daniel stayed up late last night looking over that website Dr. Herzela showed him," Sam replied. "It wouldn't surprise me if...."
The door opened behind Nate and Daniel rushed in, looking very rushed. Nate looked at his watch. "It's now zero seven oh one, Doctor. You're late."
"Sorry, I..." Daniel's reply was broken up by a yawn. "I was still in the shower."
"Of course."
"I didn't expect you to still use water," he continued. "I mean, everyone talks about sonic cleaners and such...." Seeing Nate's displeased look, he went quiet. "Um, never mind."
When Daniel joined the others, Jack looked at him. "Sonic cleaners?"
"It was a book I read."
"Ahhh..."

Nate went to a cabinent and pulled out a tray. On it were a selection of weapons like the ones SPT-14 carried. "Okay, everyone...." He picked one up. The weapon didn't look much different from a 20th or 21st century assault rifle, save for the lights on the top and a similar light along the clip area. "This is the Rollings-Teffer MP-10G Particle Rifle. The G, as I'm sure at least a couple of you understand, means it's a pretty refined design. In the Alliance Marines we've used the MP-10 since our inception; the nations that formed the Alliance have been using this beauty since the Neo-Nazi revolts."
"You got to fight Nazis?", Jack asked.
"Long story."
"It seems all of the little oddities you have are 'long stories'," Daniel said.
Smirking, Nate picked up an MP-10 and tossed it to Daniel, who barely caught it in time and made a clear "umph" sound as it impacted against his chest. "The MP-10 is powered by a charge clip. An indicator on the top tells you how much juice you have left. Standard clip might power you for, oh, a hundred or so shots. It varies from clip to clip. As part of your kit you'll each be given ten charge clips."
"And once those run out?"
"Then, Doctor Jackson, if you have the opportunity, you use the squad-level recharger you'll be given. But the batteries on those can only recharge about sixty clips, so don't think you can hold your finger on the trigger in a fire fight all the time."

Nate brought three more over. Sam and Nate began to look over their's with interest. When he got to Teal'c, Teal'c did not reach for the offered weapon. "I prefer using my staff weapon," he remarked.
"And Commander Worf prefers bat'leths, he still trained with the MP-10," Nate responded. "If you really want, bring your staff on the mission instead. But I figure it's better for all of us if you can use an MP-10 in a pinch. In case it's necessary for success."
At that Teal'c nodded. "Indeed. I will accept your training, then." He took the weapon.
"Okay, first things first. Safety measures aren't quite the same with these when you're used to assault rifles of your time. With these you...."



Dax woke up after a night's sleep in the SPC infirmary feeling quite a bit better, if still weak. Worf was snoring in a chair beside her, making her laugh softly. Feeling hungry and thirsty she asked an orderly for breakfast. Worf was woken up in the process and remained to have breakfast with her while filling her in on things she hadn't quite picked up while recovering.
During breakfast the orderly brought in Zaria, dressed in her civilian SPC jumpsuit again. "You look a lot better," she remarked.
"I feel better."
"The doctors say you would've recovered faster if fully treated. But we can't blame the SGC for not being up on Trill physiology."
"At least I'm still alive." Putting the fork down, Dax asked, "So, when do we go after the ZPC device?"
"We don't," Zaria answered. "You are staying here. Doctor's orders."
Not taking kindly to that at all, Dax rolled her eyes. "I feel better already, I want to go on the mission. Worf?"

Looking to her husband for support, the only thing Dax got was a distant look. "If Jadzia says she is ready, she is ready," Worf said softly (or as softly as his tone ever got).
The betrayed look on Jadzia's face and her angry "Worf!" made Zaria giggle. Oh, someone's not getting laid anytime soon was the thought going through her head. "If it'll make you feel better, I've got something I'd like you to put together for me."
"Oh?" Dax looked interested.

"Commander Dax?"
Zaria turned and moved out of the way, seeing General Thompson and Doctor Michaels come up. "How are you doing, Commander?" Thompson asked.
"I've been worse," Dax answered. "I've been told I'm not going on the recovery mission."
"Correct, Commander. You still have a couple days of recovery necessary, I won't have you going out there less than a hundred percent. But, um..." Thompson looked to Zaria. "Doctor, could you and Commander Worf please give us a moment?"
"Sure," was her answer.
Zaria walked away, but Worf for the moment didn't, not until Dax nodded at him. It wasn't until they were sure that Worf and Zaria were out of earshot that they began talking to Dax. "I wonder what they are asking her," Zaria said.
"As do I," Worf agreed.


The look on Jack O'Neill's face reminded Nate of the looks his children had when they entered a toy store with stocked gift cards to spend. His aim with the MP-10 was straight and true, and every burst of particle fire seemed to lighten O'Neill's mood. When he finished with another clip and took a recharge from Nate, he said, "I hope we get to keep these babies. Oh, I do...."
They put their earmuffs back on and Nate moved down a slot to Sam Carter. She was having similar luck with the MP-10 and needed two clips replaced, which Nate did immediately. She looked back at him as he picked up her spent clips. "Concentrated high-mass particles. What are these things, miniature particle accelerators?"
Nate shrugged. "Don't ask me, I just know how to use 'em." He moved on to the next cell and saw Teal'c working with his weapon. Five whole clips to replace were ready for Nate. "Keep it coming, Teal'c, you're doing fine," Nate said, giving him replacement clips.

The next shooting partition was occupied by Daniel, who had only one clip to be recharged. He wasn't firing at the moment either, but fidgeting with his gun. Looking up, he saw Nate staring right at him. "Oh, uh...." Daniel removed his earmuffs, and Nate did the same. "I... I can't get the clip out. It's, well, stuck..."
Sighing, Nate took the MP-10 from Daniel and checked it over. He soon identified the problem; Daniel had failed to set the safety lock properly. "Here, Doctor," Nate said, using his thumb on the clip area to set the lock and then using his palm and fingers to pull the clip off. "Safety lock wasn't set," he explained, handing Daniel a fresh clip. "Press a bit harder with your thumb next time." Looking beyond he could see that out of all of them, Daniel was certainly doing the worst, though much better than Nate had imagined he would do.
"Um, thanks, I'll keep that in mind."

Nate stepped away to continue supervising SG-1's exercise. The door opened and he was surprised to see Zaria enter in her SPC jumpsuit, pairs of googles and earmuffs in her hands. "Something I can do for you, Zaria?"
"Reporting for firearm training, Colonel," Zaria answered.
Nate looked at her. "Oh really? Why?"
"Because I'm going with you tomorrow," she replied.
At that Nate chuckled aloud and turned away. "Doctor, this isn't a science run like the last time was supposed to be. This is a covert, high risk op, and frankly it might turn out to be a suicide run."
"Excuse me, Colonel, but if you end up having to look through the Goa'uld computers for ZPC data, you need someone who'll recognize it. That someone is me."
"No, absolutely not," Nate insisted.
"Colonel..."

Their conversation was broken up by the ringing tone of the phone on the wall. Nate walked over and picked up the headset receiver, putting it on his head. "Mackensen here..... really?" He looked down. "No, General, I'm not happy with this. Yes, sir, I understand..... I'll let them know. Thank you, Sir." Nate hung up and the expression on his face was a sour one.
"What is it?" Zaria asked.
"In a moment." Nate walked past her to SG-1. With a touch of a button on the wall, he deactivated the targets onthe other end and got their attention. They approached, removing earmuffs and goggles, and he spoke once he knew they could hear. "Just talked to General Thompson." Nate breathed in sigh. "President Dale has decided to agree to the Tok'ra request for the return of our Stargate." He could see their faces falling, particularly Jack's, as he continued. "After we go through tomorrow and our ZPC at your base is brought back here, the Stargate is going to be removed and prepared for transport to your universe."
"Damn," Jack muttered in reply.



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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The news had spread quickly enough through the SPC, with the reactions being very similar to those by SG-1. Nate for one wasn't perplexed as much by the decision to return the Gate as he was by the simultaneous announcement that the SPC was being mostly shut down after the Gate would be transferred out.
Given his new posting was now being undone - provided he survived the strike mission to Olympos - he spent time trying to get a meeting with General Thompson, who finally had time for him while SG-1 was in a quick training scenario with SPT-14 on the upcoming mission. He walked into the office, saluted, and waited for the General to nod for him to be at ease. "Is General Hammond still here?" he asked.
"No, he returned to the SGC to brief his superiors as to our arrangement. He wasn't happy, of course. Not that I can blame him..." Thompson sighed.
"So, how are we going to get the Stargate back to SRC-19?"
"The President is exploring options, but I'm afraid I can't say anything beyond that. Partly because I'm not sure."
"And we're being shut down? I mean, if we do have a way to return the Stargate we could always get another from an uninhabited world. And Major Carter's told me that it's possible to use a Stargate outside of the system it was initially placed in. So why are we shutting down the SPC?"
"You'd have to ask President Dale." Thompson put his hands flat on the table. "So, how goes the mission prep?"

"About as well as I can expect," he answered. "Colonel O'Neill's team isn't used to working with such a big group, of course, and if I complained before about our specialists, well, they're a team with an egghead techie, a civvie archeologist, and a Jaffa who's trained to fight other Jaffa and primitive enemies."
"They're getting used to our equipment?"
"Very little learning curve, Sir," Nate answered. "I think if he could get away with it, Colonel O'Neill would be dragging half the armory back to the SGC."
Thompson grinned at that. "Yes. President Dale has authorized me to provide basic equipment to the SGC as gifts in return for their support in this operation and as a bit of a consolation gift given we're not going to be around to help further. Only from what what we have on hand, of course. As it is we're in potential violation of the contact limitations of interuniversal law, the President wants to minimize that where possible."
"Can I at least know what the Tok'ra are offering us in exchange for us giving back that Stargate?"
"At the moment, no," was the General's answer. "You'll find out eventually, I figure. But we're keeping a tight wrap on it now." Smiling thinly, Thompson said, "Well, Colonel, I'm sorry you came all this way just to have a reposting waiting for you if you survive the operation."
"As am I, Sir," Nate answered, "as am I." As he went to leave, Nate remembered something and turned back. "General, Doctor Herzela has requested permission to join us."

"I was wondering if you were going to let me know that," Thompson said whimsically. "I take it you don't want her?"
"Aside from being one hell of a knife-thrower and having decent hand-to-hand skills, she's not combat trained and frankly may be more of a liability than asset. I told her no."
"Unfortunately, as I'm sure she's already pointed out, she knows more about the ZPC technology than anyone save Doctor Michaels and will be able to help us ensure that we remove any information on the technology from their computers," Thompson pointed out. "I was about to ask her if she were willing to go when she volunteered. Sorry, Colonel, the Doctor's going with you."
Sighing, Nate muttered, "Well, at least it'll give Major Carter some egghead company," before he left the office.




When Nate returned from lunch to see how SPT-14 and SG-1 were getting along, he found Zaria waiting for him at the door wearing camo fatigues with an MP-10G slung on her shoulder. "Colonel, ready to begin training," she said enthusiastically.
"So you are," he remarked. "I'm still not sold on you coming."
"I know. But if Doctor Jackson can fight the Goa'uld, why can't I?" She grinned mischievously.
"You realize you could get killed, or worse?" He looked at her intently. "There's no telling what could happen."
"Yeah, I know, but I also know what'll happen if those snakes figure out the principles of 'Zynski particles," she replied, gesturing toward the door. "So, after you?"
Nate sighed and opened the door, finding that the two teams were enjoying a break. "Okay, folks, finish the break up, it's time to go through another round...."



Olympos
Universe Designate SRC-19



The lab within the palace of Zeus was attached to the living quarters and sarcophagus used by Hefetus, protected by Zeus' loyal Jaffa and operated by a staff of minor Goa'uld technicians and scientists supporting Hefetus. The bulky, grotesque figure was hunched over the black object, labeled in the lettering that in the past few years had been associated with the upstart Tau'ri, that they had attached to the Stargate. His first test with it had been a stunning success already, even if subsequent attempts to use it had failed.
"Lord Hefetus, are you ever going to tell Lord Zeus that the Tau'ri we encountered are not from this universe?", was the question of one of them. Hefetus looked to the technician Cadmilis - like others in a pleasing host body unlike his own unsightly one - and snorted. "He must be informed...."
"He will be, in due time," Hefetus lied, unwilling to share the spoils of his thought and discovery with his treacherous, ungrateful father.
"If I may, how did you know to dial Tarus?" the older technician, Axerus, asked. Another minor Goa'uld like Cadmilis, Axerus was mostly known for being a Goa'uld who didn't particularly mind the gender of his host, having occupied a male body before "upgrading" to the pretty dark-haired Human female that Zeus had given him as a gift following a technological innovation that helped him defeat Cronus in an engagement. "It is not the only Gate to have gone offline in the past century."

"I have my ways."
What Hefetus was not telling them was a secret he'd kept for many decades. During one of his personal operations, a machination with Heru-ur that eventually failed to blossom, his Ha'tak had come across a small vessel in an unclaimed system not far from Tarus. The ship had been an exploration vessel and had attempted peaceful contact which he, of course, made them regret (though he had admittedly initially considered them a possible ruse by another Goa'uld). Only after examination of the ship and its survivors, as well as the remains of its unconventional space-warping engines, had he realized what they were.
He did finally discover their base, on a gateless world, but it had been abandoned with only the remains of a colony on the planet. Searching the area, he had found no further sign of them save the missing Stargate on the abandoned world of Tarus, which they had obviously brought with them. There was nothing else he could find, nothing else to be gained, by that chance contact.
Until now.
The mysterious device being hooked up to the Stargate had inspired him to realize that these were the same Humans he had encountered before and not the less-advanced Tau'ri that had recently become a pain to so many Goa'uld. He had tested his theory by using the device on the Stargate and dialing Tarus, his projector device ready should his theory prove true... which it had.
"The element at the core of this device is unfamiliar," Axerus said, looking upon the readout of it. "As are the particles it emits upon the device's activation."
"Particles which saturate a chappa'ai if the device is attached to it by the conductor clamps," Hefetus finished for his assistant. "Whomever these Tau'ri are, wherever they are from, their knowledge of science is above the primitive ones we now deal with." But clearly not as advanced as the Ancients, he added mentally, familiar with the stories of the long-lost race, former allies of the annoying Asgard and the weakling Nox, that had developed not only the Stargates but the ring transporters that the Goa'uld made such use of. "The question is, how advanced?"

"Advanced enough to be a threat," Axerus hissed. "That is why we must inform Lord Zeus at once. This information could provide him a means to reclaiming his place among the System Lords!"
"Patience, Axerus, patience," Hefetus replied. "I wish to give Lord Zeus more than the fear of a new enemy. I wish to provide him a promise." Or to finally deliver him to his doom and take my rightful place on Olympos he added to himself. "This device, and the element within it, is the key to travel between universes. Imagine, Axerus, universes where there are no Asgard, or more powerful System Lords, to limit the empire that Lord Zeus may claim. Virtually endless supplies of naquadah for our use, resources to build the mightiest armada this galaxy has seen, and a refuge should the Asgard ever get the spine to attack us directly." Playing to his subordinate's own ambitions, Hefetus grinned widely. "Lord Zeus may even give us each a universe to rule in his name. An empire for each of us exceeding the scope of all but the mightiest System Lords awaits us if this experiment is successful."
"And why not tell Zeus?" Cadmilis asked.
"I want results for him, not vague promises that, if unmet, he may punish me for," Hefetus replied, never forgetting that it was his father who continually refused to permit him a better host but kept him in this grotesque Human. And he certainly wasn't going to tell him that he would rather use the technology for himself and hand Zeus over to Cronus to curry favor with the System Lord and buy time for further developments. "Now... for our first test..."

Hefetus motioned to a device he and Axerus had cobbled together. At his behest Cadmilis shaved a bit off the unknown element in the core of the extrauniversal Tau'ri device and planted it in the middle of the projector that they had built. At the press of a button Hefetus' device sent electricity into the shaving. The sensors indicated that a trace of particles was being emitted.
His new projector did what it was supposed to next. It channeled the particles through itself, tightly, and forced two streams out together. The streams were microscopic in size, granted, only visible through the sensors in the lab that he and Axerus were monitoring.
Hefetus watched eagerly as the two streams intersected. There was a spike in energy in the area detected by the sensors and the familiar pattern of a wormhole, microscopic in size, forming. But it didn't last a second before the effect disappeared without so much as a burst of light.
But a laugh of triumph nevertheless came from Hefetus. "I knew it!" he crowed.
"Lord?" Axerus asked.
Grinning, he faced his subordinates. "The element within and the particles it releases are the key to forming wormholes to other universes! The Stargate is not a vital component if you have enough power and enough of the element to create strong enough particle streams!" His eyes flashed gold with delight. "Take the element and run it through every device we have. I want to know its exact molecular makeup and how we might find or make more of it."
They did so.




A short time later Cadmilis was in his private chamber in the palace. A human woman of fair skin, slim build, and brown hair was brought before him, a favored slave he kept in an apartment in the city as far as his Jaffa and the other Goa'uld knew who was to grant him the pleasure that Goa'uld sometimes availed themselves up (Zeus being one of many). "Leave us," he ordered the Jaffa as the woman bowed before him, knowing they would withdraw to a suitable distance lest they incur his impressionable wrath.
When they were gone, she looked up. "I have received word that the alternate Tau'ri of Nural's host are going to attempt to recover their device very soon," she said to him.
"Kaetis, we are running out of time," Cadmilis replied in his unnatural bass. He took a data crystal out of his recorder as she approached. "I have everything our research has determined so far here. Hefetus has already unlocked the underlying secret of their technology. Today he created a microscopic wormhole using the element inside their device. In no time at all I suspect he will be capable of reproducing it on a larger scale."
"Then we are running out of time. I will warn the others immediately. Can you stall them?"
"I shall try," Cadmilis promised. "Now...." He lowered his head for a moment, and when he spoke again it was fully natural, a sign that the host was speaking. The host named Castox, who happily embraced Kaetis and planted a kiss on her lips. "My wife, it is good to see you again. I am sorry it has been so long..."
"It is okay, dear Castox." She smiled sadly at him and returned his kiss. "You and Cadmilis have work of great importance to us. I am honored I am allowed to help you."
The lovers kissed again, having barely-sufficent time for a short bit of privacy together before appearances and duty would bring them apart again.




Brownsville, Bowie, Universe Designate FHI-8


The training was over for the day and the two teams were enjoying dinner in the mess. Jack and Daniel were busy telling SPT-14 a story of one of their many missions - this one about the prison planet they were once trapped on - while Sam and Zaria discussed technology.
Mostly eating in quiet, Worf and Teal'c did not speak until their meals were mostly done. "Do you have a family?" Worf asked as he put his utensil down.
That was answered by a moment of silence. "I have a wife, Drey'auc, and our son Rya'c. And what of you, Worf? Have you and Jadzia Dax had children?"
Frowning, Worf grunted and answered, "We have not yet managed to," as if he were confessing to something horrible. "When I was younger I had a son, Alexander. He is currently serving in the Imperial Guard."
"What of his mother?"
"She was killed many years ago," Worf rumbled. "Her assassin soon joined her."
"By your hand, I am sure." Teal'c looked over to where their comrades were talking. "I cannot imagine it has always been easy to live and work with the Tau'ri. I find myself often confused by how they make decisions and how they live."
"When I was small, I was adopted by Human parents. My Klingon parents were among the slain caused by a treacherous Romulan assault on our colony world. Still..." Worf nodded stiffly. "It has not always been easy. Human ways do not always go well with a warrior heart."
"But yet, when they are pushed, I have found Humans - especially the Tau'ri - to be quite capable."
"That is true. I remember what it was like to serve on the Enterprise when I was young, during a... happier time. I remember feeling like we were warriors from the ancient sagas, that no enemy - no matter how great - could ever defeat us." Worf looked again to the Jaffa. "I sense that you are not entirely sure you will be successful."
"I am quite confident we will succeed in retrieving your device from the Olympians," Teal'c answered.
"That is not what I meant." The two warriors' eyes met. "You know how powerful the Goa'uld are compared to Earth in your universe and yet you serve with them in war."

"I believe the Tau'ri represent the best and only real chance for freedom the Jaffa have ever had. No matter what the end result, I will serve with them for that chance."
"The greater the odds, the sweeter the victory. If things were better I would have enjoyed helping you in that honorable goal."
"The thought is appreciated."




Further away, Nate was leading Jack through the corridors toward the General's office, where they would give Thompson their final report on mission preparation. "Do you still have TVs these days?", Jack asked.
"Of course," Nate replied, "though most people go for holovid projectors now. Not too much difference, really, they can be made to act just like TVs. A flat image in mid-air, like a TV screen without a box attached." Nate looked to Jack. "But three dimensions gets you a better experience when watching football."
"Actually, I'm more interested in fishing," Jack answered. "Caught any really weird alien fish before?"
"Well, there was that time in '57, when we were rotated into CON-5 watching the Plymmie border, that I caught this big four-eyed fish that was pure yellow in color. About yeah big..." Nate spread his arms our about half-way from their natural extension.
"Oh come on, you've been to how many alien worlds and that's the best you can come up with?"
"What about you?"
Remaining quiet for a moment, Jack finally shrugged. "Well, I don't get to fish much off-world. But I don't live on other planets, I just visit them, then it's back through the Stargate. Do you realize how rare it is to get a place to shower off-Earth back home?"
"I don't want to know." Nate went up to the door labeled as General Thompson's office and knocked. "Well, this is your last night here, how are you planning on spending it?"
"Seeing if you have any good fishing networks."
From the other side of the door came Thompson's voice, okaying them to enter. They did so and saluted upon entry, which Thompson responded to with his own before telling them to be at ease. "General, I think our teams are as coordinated as they're going to get on short notice like this," Nate said.
"That's good to hear, because we're moving the operation up." Thompson looked to his side toward where Frank/Nural was standing. "Tell them what you told me."
The unnatural tone to the voice told them it was Nural speaking. "We have received news from the Council. Hefetus has discovered the principles of your technology. He has already created a miniature interuniversal wormhole in laboratory conditions. It is only a matter of time before he will be capable of fully implementing the technology. We must act now before Hefetus completes his work and can use the technology, which will surely get the attentions of the other System Lords."
"Oh crap," Jack muttered.
"Go to your teams and tell them to get as much rest as you can manage in the next few hours. We're moving up your departure." Thompson motioned to the clock. "You're going through the Gate at 0350, Colonel. I can't give you a moment later. We've literally run out of time on this one."



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Brownsville, Bowie, Universe Designate FHI-8


There was only minutes to spare when Zaria arrived at the lab with an encased disc in hand. She was somewhat surprised to find Dr. Michaels present. "Doctor, you're up late?"
He turned to her and raised a cup of steaming coffee. "Yes, I am," he agreed. "But work takes precedence over sleep, particularly in this situation." He stood and gave Zaria the once over. She wasn't just in camo this time but was fully-armed, an MP-10 slung over her shoulder and a vest with pockets full of extra charge clips, grenades, and other equipment. "Still carrying knives?"
Michaels' remark caused the smiling Zaria to put her free hand on her upper hip where her knife belt was, a few throwing knives hanging from them. "I'm an excellent knife-thrower," she remarked with a giggle before walking up and giving the older man a hug. "It's been so great working with you, Doctor Michaels."
"The same toward you, my dear Zaria," he replied, smiling sadly. "You're a brilliant girl and far braver than I." He chuckled after making that remark.
Laughing in reply, Zaria handed him the disc. "My final notes, Doctor, and a letter to my family if the worst happens."
"Oh, my dear..." Michaels took the disc and held it gently. "Thank you for your trust, Zaria. I'll make sure everything is settled. Just... don't make it necessary, please?"
"I'll try not," she promised before giving the older man another hug. Looking back at him still, she made her way to the door and continued on to the Gate Room.

Micharls put the disc down beside his workstation and breathed a sigh. His attention turned back to the screen before him and the representation upon it, the simulations he'd been running the past day. A press of a button brought back up the full display, showing the sight of a ZPC, attached to a projector, emitting particle streams forward. Sighing, he returned back to work.




SPT-14, with Nate, Zaria, and Sakura, had already assembled in the Gate Room when the gate began spinning. "Chevron 1 locked," the gate control tech informed them.
"So where's SG-1?", Farrell asked.
Dalton chuckled, "Maybe they got lost."
Aside from smiles and chuckles, there was no reply. In a short time Sergeant Kurtman was reporting, "Chevron 5 locked."
The left door to the Gate Room opened and SG-1 stepped through. "Ah, Jack, didn't think you were going to make it," Nate remarked. "I figured you'd be trying to clean the armory out."
"No, as much as I'd have liked to." Jack cast a sideways glance at Daniel. "We just happened to get lost."
"So I'm a little used to the SGC and this place looks far too much like it," Daniel muttered in reply. "I didn't see you leading us the right way."
"Chevron 6 locked."
"So how'd you find your way?", Parker asked with a slight smirk.
"Major Carter asked for directions," Teal'c answered.
There was some chuckling and giggling. "Always falls on the girls to do that, doesn't it?", was Maya's amused response.
Jack and Daniel looked at each other and them to Sam, who was chuckling as well. "Chevron 7 locked, establishing wormhole."

The Stargate flared up and the wormhole formed following the customary, deadly "whoosh". It stablized and blue color washed over the room, highlighted by shifting hues of green and gold. "Carter, any theories on why it does that?" Jack asked as they stepped up toward the Gate.
"Must be something to do with the 'Zynski particles, or the fact that the wormhole pierces space and different universes," she answered. Carter was the first through the Gate, followed by Teal'c and Daniel.
Jack looked back at Nate. "Haven't had many trips through these, have you?"
"Honestly? This is the sixth," he answered.
"Sixth might as well be the hundredth. Each one's about the same." With that, Jack stepped through.
Nate followed. There was a sensation of cold and dislocation and he was back in the SGC. He kept moving forward as the rest of the team came out with him. "Colonel Mackensen, welcome back to the SGC," Hammond said from the control room.
"Thank you, General."
"I'll see you all in the conference room to go over the latest intel, you'll be leaving in one hour."




Brownsville, Bowie, Universe Designate FHI-8


Thompson was standing in the control room when Dr. Michaels and Commander Dax arrived. They turned to watch the Stargate activate. Within moments of it becoming active two figures emerged from the event horizon tugging their ZPC along with them, the one that had been sent earlier to the SGC in SRC-19. "Okay, that's it," Thompson remarked. "Sergeant, begin disconnecting the Stargate. Clear the gate room."
Michaels sighed. "It is a shame. I would have liked to have more time to study it."
"Actually, I've been meaning to ask..." Dax looked from the Gate to the two men. "Why not just pick up another Gate? Major Carter's notes indicate it's possible to use a Stargate in a different system than the one it was placed in."
"The President has ordered the Stargate Project to be shut down temporarily," Thompson answered. "Beyond that I can't tell you what's going on. So..."
"Sir, Planetary Command has picked up a signal from further in the system," one of the control room techs reported. "There's a ship out there. They're asking to speak to you and Commander Dax. And they have SPC-approved codes."
"Looks like your ride is here," Thompson said to the two. "Go get Mister York and the equipment he's brought along before you head up. And Doctor..." Thompson offered his hand. "Good luck."
"Thank you, Sir," Michaels answered, accepting the offered handshake.




P2G-893, Universe Designate SRC-19


The barren rocky landscape surrounding the Stargate was a hardly hospitable environment on an open sandy plain with little vegetation. SPT-14 and SG-1 were standing not too far from the Gate, each carrying a full combat load of equipment -including MP-10G rifles and SG-1's Zats - with Dalton carrying a portable clip charger and Farrell the IU radio. The Australian looked skyward, a hand over his eyes to block sunlight. "So... what's this... Tul'tak thing?"
"Tel'tak," Daniel answered for Farrell. "It's a Goa'uld cargo ship."
"But unlike most, the Tok'ra installed a cloaking device on this one," Sam added. "Are you familiar with that kind of technology?"
"An Emissions Cloaking System," Zaria answered. "At least, that's what they call it in the Alliance. Back in ST-3 we call them cloaking devices too."

There was a roar in the air above them. Everyone looked up in time to see the angular, vaguely-triangle-shaped Tel'tak waver into view and land nearby. The side door opened and Jacob Carter was there to greet them. "Just testing the cloaking device," he called out from the door before slipping inside to allow them to enter. "Olympos might not be the most foritified planet among the Goa'uld, but Zeus has a couple Ha'taks he can throw at us if he sees us coming."
Upon entry everyone started looking around at the particular design of the Goa'uld ships. The gold-sheened walls covered in hieroglyphs was one of the more unique things about it, the other being the lack of an obvious flight stick. "How do you fly it?" Tang asked after looking over the cockpit for several moments.
Returning to his seat, Jacob set his hands on the red half-globe pilot control. "It's not like flying a fighter jet, I can tell you that." At his hands the cargo vessel began to rise. "Re-activating cloak. I'll activate the hyperdrive as soon as we clear the atmosphere."
While the ship ascended the two teams took position in the rear. "Explosives?" Daniel asked upon looking over the containers in the cargo area.
"Not just any explosives," Zaria remarked, looking over the containers with her wrist scanner. "It's Guyverite-laced. Naquadah, I mean."

Jack looked toward the cockpit, Nate following the motion a half-moment later. "Jacob, anything you or Selmak would like to tell us?"
"Call it Plan B, Jack," was the reply, again with Jacob's normal voice. "If something happens and you don't make it, I'm going to use the ship and the explosives to destroy the whole area."
Daniel gave a horrified look to Jacob. "You're talking about killing thousands of people."
"More than that, Doctor," Zaria remarked coldly. "According to our scans of Olympos during SPT-14's first brief visit, the city has roughly ninety thousand people living in it."
"Ninety thousand..."
"Believe me when i tell you, Doctor Jackson, that this isn't what we want." Jacob looked back at them, his face solid from a stern expression. "But when it comes down to it, a hell of a lot more people are going to get killed if the Goa'uld gain the ability to use interuniversal wormholes."
"The man's right." Nate found a seat on one of the containers. "We all do what we have to do. Now, let's go over the operation one more time."




Olympos
Universe Designate SRC-19



Cadmilis and Hefetus were in the lab going over the latest scans of the element in the interuniversal device when the tromping of footsteps was heard from outside. They turned in time to see Jaffa enter, leading Zeus himself into the lab with Axerus behind him. The two lower-ranked Goa'uld bowed before their ruler, who looked about the room. "I hear you have deciphered this device, Hefetus," Zeus remarked, walking by the ZPC. "And that you are working on your own to mimic its power. How fare along are you?"
Nothing more had to be said. It was clear from the look on Axerus that she had gone to Zeus with news of the earlier test. Hefetus did not give her the slightest glare, certainly not under the eyes of his father and lord. He chose instead to roll with the development. "I have used a material within the device to successfully create a small wormhole."
"To other universes?"
"Possibly. The wormhole only lasted for the briefest of moments."
Nodding, Zeus added, "You did not see fit to tell me of this progress?" And it was clear from his tone that he was displeased. "You forced me to rely upon the loyalty of Axerus to be given any news on your investigation!"

"I did not want to come to you with empty theories, Lord Zeus, only with results. I needed time to investigate this substance within the Tau'ri device and verify my findings."
"Of course," Zeus answered, in a tone showing he wasn't convinced at all of his son's sincerity. "Well, I shall overlook this if you give me results soon."
"I am working intently upon this..."
"And, for the time being, I wish to have your new construction in my throne room," Zeus added. "This machine may prove useful when I meet with the others."
Cadmilis observed the conversation silently from his corner of the lab. He could see Hefetus was quite upset with another scheme having been thwarted and wondered if this would see Axerus leave the lab for a better post. Zeus could be generous with opportunities, after all...
"As for your other assistant..." Zeus leveled a gaze at him. "Feel welcome that I do not kill you now, Cadmilis."
"Lord?" That part of Cadmilis painfully aware of the risks began to tighten. Have we been betrayed he thought, to which his host gave only a sense of fear. "I... I do not understand."
Zeus looked to the Jaffa. "Bring the spy!"

Two more Jaffa entered the room at that bellowed command, each holding the arm of a slumped-over Kaetis, mostly unconscious. Cadmilis' expression turned sick. Levelling his gaze squarely at Cadmilis, Zeus began to speak again. "We caught her with a transmission device. She is a Tok'ra spy sent to seduce you, Cadmilis. I am most... disappointed."
Have I been betrayed? Cadmilis asked, while within him Castox was wailing in horror. "My Lord, I...."
"You should choose better next time. I will show you mercy only this once, Cadmilis." Zeus looked to the Jaffa. "Take her to the cells. We will question her further at my leisure." As Kaetis was dragged away Zeus moved his head to look at Axerus. "Bring the wormhole projector with you to my throne room. I may have use for it."
"Immediately, Lord Zeus," Axerus answered. She cast a wicked look at Hefetus before givnig the order to the Jaffa to find slaves for the laborous job ov moving it.
"My patience is not infinite, Hefetus. Discover the secrets of this technology and I will reward you greatly. Fail me, and I will find you a host even more grotesque than the one you have." With that final warning, answered as it was by an obedient head bow and a hidden scowl, Zeus departed.




Hyperspace


"Are we there yet?"
A chorus of groans came from those of the two teams sitting in the cargo area. Eyes turned to Maya, who returned it with a smirk. "Well, somebody has to ask."
"We're about to get neck-deep in Jaffa and Goa'uld and you have to ask 'Are we there yet'?", Daniel said in bemused reply.
"When I'm about to go and maybe get myself killed, I like to get it over with," she retorted.
Farrell spoke up. "While we're there, why don't we make sure of things and just blast the palace with some of these explosives?"
"Not unless you want to cause massive death and destruction." Zaria smacked her hand on one of the explosive containers. "Even one of these has enough Guyver..." She looked to Sam and caught herself. "...naquadah to be the equivalent of a small nuclear device. We're talking kilotonnage here, enough to flatten the city, kill a lot of people, and leave the rest badly wounded. It'd be like repeating the Hiroshima detonation."
At that Daniel looked up at Zaria and asked, "I find it a bit odd that an alien is using a big event in Human history and not your own. I mean, I don't want to sound..."
"Don't worry about it Doctor." Laughing lightly, Zaria went into an explaination. "I spent my young years on Earth in my universe and I've spent most of my life living with Humans, not Trill." The grin turned impish. "Besides, unlike Humans, Trill have never actually used an atomic weapon upon our own kind."
"Hrm, well, can't argue with that..."

The conversation continued in the background for Nate. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a photograph. Advanced image-crafting techniques and superior materials had prevented it from fading in the slightest. His eyes focused on the image of himself, younger and with the chevron insignia of a Corporal on his BDUs, and the sandy-haired youth in his lap.
"One of your adopted kids?"
Nate looked to his side and saw Jack standing beside him, moving to sit down on the container he was leaning against. "No. This is..." He caught himself and closed his eyes. "...was my son, George."
"I see..." Jack drew in a breath. "I lost a son too. His name was Charlie."
"Oh?" Nate turned toward Jack. "I'm sorry to hear that."
"He found my gun."
Hearing that, Nate nodded stiffly. Nothing else needed to be said and he certainly wouldn't ask for it. "George was out with friends. One of them had an older brother who'd just gotten out of boot. Kid was showing them his rifle and sidearm, showing off a bit. He was proud, of course, had a lot of right to be."
"Then his brother picked up the sidearm while the kid was firing his rifle's test shots off. He was a kid, he didn't know that the sidearm didn't have that setting." Drawing in a painful breath, Nate finished by saying, "He pointed the gun at George and pulled the trigger."

At that point there was little left to be said. Nate, however, continued. "I was supposed to be home then. I would've taken him somewhere that day, or I'd have been there, I know he'd still be alive if I'd just been home. If only I hadn't accepted that damn assignment..."
"I know the feeling. My ex-wife's forgiven me, but..." Jack sighed. "I'll probably never forgive myself."
"They always try to get you to, though. Mine stuck around long enough for us to raise the kids we adopted together, but about ten years ago, when I was back from the War, Sarah decided enough was enough. She went and found herself someone else."
Jack gave him an interested look. "Sarah huh?" He chuckled with amusement. "My ex's name is Sarah."
"Really?" Nate gave his own chuckle. "Well, I'll be damned. That's a big coincidence."
"Yes it is..."

Any further conversation was cut off when Selmak's voice echoed through the cargo ship. "We are approaching Olympos. Preparing to drop out of hyperspace."
Nate, Jack, and some of the others walked into the cockpit area and stared out the window as hyperspace faded from around them and was replaced by a starfield and a distant planet. "Engaging the cloak," Selmak said, running his hand over the control. "There are no ships in the area."
"That's good," Jack remarked.
"I will fly the ship into an orbit over the palace. According to our last communication, our agent inside should be ready for our arrival in the next ten minutes."
"Okay everyone, let's get ready," Nate called out. "One last quick check on the plan as we have it, and then we head down there and show these 'Gods' what we mere mortals can do."



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Olympos
Universe Designate SRC-19



Cadmilis felt Castox's gut still wrenching and implored his host to be patient. Both knew what Kaetis was likely suffering through, though Castox had yet to calm enough to allow the facts of their situation - and their mission - to overcome his fears about Kaetis.
Both host and symbiote often shared affections for a mate, sometimes stretching across centuries if the symbiotes maintained a particular bond, but Cadmilis had generally not been one of those. He understood Castox's feelings if he did not fully share them, although he fairly admitted often that he had started to gain an affection for Kaetis that he'd rarely afforded the mates of prior hosts.
Castox, please calm yourself, Cadmilis pleaded inwardly, trying to walk a fine moral line by not fully taking over as the Goa'uld did while being forceful with his panicking host.
Cadmilis, I'm sorry.... but Kaetis! You know what Zeus will do to her!
I am fully aware, but fretting will not give us anything. We must proceed with our mission. Kaetis would fully understand.
Cadmilis knew he had only minutes to spare. Hefetus was expecting him back in the lab shortly and would become harshly suspicious if he did not return on time.

The ring room was through the next corridor, identifiable as a chamber by the guard of Jaffa outside the door and the ones further inside. Cadmilis had briefly considered bluffing his way past them to be present when he sent the go signal but had decided against it. He brought a Zat out from the folds of his white robes and a transmitter in the other hand. A press of his thumb prompted the transmission of the go signal.
There was the sound of the rings activating automatically to accept an incoming matter stream. The Jaffa at the door began to react when Cadmilis brought his Zat up and fired. A bolt struck both Jaffa and seized them with electric arcs, stunning them. He moved forward when a bright light came from the gate room, nearly blinding him even from the corridor and out of its immediate rays. With colors still in his eyes he raised the Zat and moved around the corner, firing it on the four Jaffa inside as they groped about blindly.
The rings activated again. They were packed nearly to capacity with eight figures, Jack leading the first wave with Teal'c, Sakura, Worf, and Squad 2 of SPT-14. "We're down," he remarked into the radio as the eight figures stepped off the rings. They fired up again and Nate appeared with Sam, Daniel, Major Parker, and Squad 1.
As the final ringing carrying Zaria and Captain Farrell commenced, Cadmilis was moving toward the two commanders. "Colonel O'Neill and..."
"Colonel Mackensen," Nate said for him.
"I am Cadmilis," he answered. "I am afraid that a change in plans is necessary."
"Oh, we're used to that," was Jack's reply.
"The ZPC device and the data are still in Hefetus' lab, but the wormhole projector device has been taken to Zeus' throne chamber," Cadmilis answered. "We will need to strike both before Zeus realizes what is going on. Excuse me..." He lowered his head. Inside Cadmilis relented to Castox's desire to come out and begin speaking. When his head raised again, Castox's expression belied his extreme worry and fear. "Please, if you can... my wife is my contact, she has been taken. I want to save her."

"That's not what we came here to do," Nate answered, "and I'm sure she knew the risks."
"Colonel...."
"We're losing time as it is. Colonel," Nate turned his head toward Jack, "can you take Major Azakusho, Worf, and Squad 2 with SG-1 and destroy that wormhole projector? I'll take the rest of my team and Dr. Herzela to the lab to deal with that end."
"Sounds like a plan to me. Lieutenant Colette?"
"Coming, sir." Maya nodded to Wilson, Calgar, and Valentino, who followed SG-1, Worf, and Sakura, all with their weapons at the ready.
"Colonel, please," Castox pleaded. "Give me a few moments at a computer terminal and I can find her."
"Listen, she had to have known the risks, and we simply don't have the time to play hero," Nate barked. "Now if we run into her on the way, fine, we'll save her. I don't like leaving people behind. But only if we're able to, understand?"
Swallowing, Castox lowered his head. Cadmilis was the one who replied "Yes, Colonel, Castox and I understand you completely."
"That's really starting to creep me out," Cyrzanski muttered lowly, earning him an elbow in the ribs from Zaria.
"Okay people, let's move out," Nate said, preventing Zaria from further remarking. "Parker, Reynolds, you take point, Tang and Cyrzanski at the rear."

The team moved down the halls, halting or moving forward as directed by Major Parker. The gold sheens of the walls offered little in the way of camoflauge and meant any encounters would be hostile.
They went down a level, following the Tok'ra-provided layout precisely, and Reynolds muttered, "There doesn't seem to be an awful lot of baddies around...."
He and Parker turned a corner and almost ran into a patrol of two Jaffa. They reacted with hesitation for a moment, giving Parker all the time he needed to bring up his MP-10 and squeeze off a pair of bursts. One went down immediately and the second was just beginning to raise his staff weapon when the streams of blue charges ripped through his armor and chest, wounding him fatally.
"You were saying, Corporal?"
They began moving on, guided by the maps on their helmet HUDs, when a loud alarm began to blare. "Guess someone heard us," Reynolds said.
"Eyes wide, let's move! Move!" As they continued along the last stretch, Nate keyed his helmet radio to Jack and asked, "Sitrep, O'Neill?"
The sound of particle blasts and Jaffa staff blasts came over the radio. "Oh, just up to our necks in Jaffa." There was a pause. "How about you?"
"Almost to the lab, we'll let you know when we get there." Nate cut the radio and turned as the sound of footsteps alerted him to Jaffa attacking from the rear. He turned ahd joined Tang and Cyrzanski in mowing down the four that came before they could get a shot off. "Everyone move! We've got to get going!"




Jack finished a spray of particle fire into the Jaffa ahead of them and, upon seeing the flashing light on his MP-10's small display, released the expended clip within and was shoving a new clip in as another group of Jaffa came down the far corner. Before he could bring the gun up, Sam and Sakura opened up with their weapons and scattered the Jaffa.
"They just keep coming!", Maya called out. "We've got to keep moving, find a better position!"
"According to the plans there is no such position in this area," Worf rumbled, firing a spray into a Jaffa who had just put a staff blast over Valentino's head. "I say we fight our way to the throne chamber!"
"Well, I know we can't just stand here." Jack's mind went to employing his helmet's neurolink. The device read the electrical patterns in his brain and popped up the map of the palace again, rotating it in the corner of his vision while the other corner displayed local life sign readings. "This way!", he called out, moving down the long path of the "T" and sending another burst of particle fire at the Jaffa approaching from that direction.
Behind them Valentino reached into his gear vest and pulled out metal discs that Jack recognized as multi-fused anti-personnel mines. He dropped them along behind him in sequence. A succession of explosions from behind was enough to confirm that their rear was covered for the moment.

The Jaffa were at their usual best; throwing themselves in waves. One particularly intelligent commander tried to lay a trap at the next T-section, setting up a crossfire, but the attempt was made moot by the employment of a flash grenade that blinded the Jaffa and left them to get mowed down by Jack, Sam, and Sakura.
They moved by a door they weren't particularly interested just as it opened. A female figure emerged and within a second of noticing her Jack knew they were in trouble.
The woman's eyes flashed and her hand came up. The hand device triggered and a wave of energy sent Jack, Sam, and Sakura flying.
The others began opening up on her right away, blue bursts of energy and the blasts from Teal'c's staff dissiptating against the gold of her energy shield. "Pathetic," her unnatural voice hissed before she sent another wave that knocked Maya, Wilson, and Teal'c down.
By that moment Jack and Sakura had recovered enough to begin pouring fire at the Goa'uld. To Jack's pleasant surprise, the golden field began to shimmer a little.
Suddenly it was gun. Multiple bursts of particle fire ripped through the Goa'uld before she could use her hand device again. Sam fired a burst into the back of her head and the figure collapsed, both host and symbiote fatally wounded.

"That was awesome," Jack murmured. "God I love these things." He put a hand on the MP-10 he was holding like he were petting it.
"Um, Sir?" Dalton was looking down to where a group of Jaffa were coming around the corner, the look on their eyes making clear they'd seen the Goa'uld woman fall. "I think we pissed them off."
The battle recommenced.




Parker and Reynolds barged into the lab with guns raised. They found a female standing over one of the stations and raised their weapons toward her.
Axerus had heard the intruders coming while overlooking Hefetus' work. The instant she saw them she raised her hand device and threw the two men to the floor. When Nate and Farrell entered behind them, they fired at her. The blue bursts failed against her personal energy shield. Zaria added to the fire and Cadmilis contributed with his Zat.
The shield began shimmering from effort but it did not come down. She sent them all flying, as she would Cyrzanski and Tang when they entered. Her other hand reached over to retrieve a Zat, which she used in rapid succession on the others as they tried to return fire, save Cadmilis. "Cadmilis, did you think we were stupid?" she remarked to her "colleague", walking toward him. Her hand device came up as she went to use it on him. "It wasn't difficult to realize you were working with the Tok'ra. The only reason Lord Zeus did not kill you immediately was to lure the Tok'ra and the Tau'ri here."
Cadmilis began to stand, remaining on all fours as Axerus used her hand device to begin restraining him, holding him there. Her foot kicked his Zat and knocked it out of reaching distance. "But now your usefulness has come to an end, Tok'ra." Axerus' eyes flashed and she began to dial the power up on her hand device to bring it toward fatal levels.
A burst of particle fire lashed out at her. Axerus turned in surprise and turned to see Zaria not fully unconscious, if partially paralyzed, having moved just enough to fire her weapon while still on the ground.
In that split second, Cadmilis reached into the robe and pulled out his own grenade. He reached forward, his hand penetrating Axerus' forceshield, and looked on at her just as she seemed to notice what he'd done.
Then the grenade went off.



Jack finished another clip off and switched charge clips, having only seconds to do so as it seemed every Jaffa in the city was converging on their position. Moving in any direction was becoming a slow, laborous process. "Mackensen, you there? We're having a little problem here, could use some help." There was no answer. "Mackensen?"
A grenade released by Worf flew over Jack's head and down the corridor on the approach to the throne room. It's detonation scarred the golden sheen of the walls and sent the Jaffa flying in every direction. "C'mon, let's go!"
The entire team rushed forward, firing as they went, struggling to keep the Jaffa from getting many shots through. So far they'd been lucky to avoid all but a few glancing hits that - thanks to the material of the Alliance BDUs and armor - only caused slightly painful burns, but they were starting to run low on charge clips and any relenting of fire gave the Jaffa morre time to return it.
They were getting close to the door when a Jaffa ahead of them came out. He managed to throw the object in his hand just before he could be hit. Jack barely had the time to recognize a Goa'uld stun grenade before it went off, filling the corridor with the same stun effect as Zats. Jack felt his body seize up and everything go black.



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Nate didn't remain unconscious for long. In fact, in the long run it might have been for all of twenty seconds. His muscles were aching in protest when he moved. He felt the ache begin to subside as he got to his feet.
He was not the only one stirring, but he was not the first to have completely recovered. Zaria was already on her feet and huddling over a badly burned figure that Nate almost didn't recognize as Cadmilis thanks to his appearance and the near destruction of his face. The shattered Tok'ra was missing his right arm below the elbow on top of the burns that covered his body. There was also a large black mark on the ground, the only indication of Axerus' death. "What happened?"
"Cadmilis set off a grenade," Zaria explained, remaining by Cadmilis. "He somehow reached into the Goa'uld's force shield so most of the grenade's energy was focused within it. But I'm afraid he's not going to make it."
Realizing their position was exposed, Nate brought his weapon up and began to look at the others as they roused. Tang went directly to Cadmilis' side and began reaching for medical equipment. A quivering hand came up, motioning at Tang. "Don't.... bother," Castox wheezed. "I'm dead.... complete the mission...."
Tang looked to Nate. Nate was already certain that Castox/Cadmilis was dead and shook his head, wordlessly ordering Tang to get back to business. They began to attach explosives to the ZPC while Cyrzanski removed the Straczynskium core. Farrell and Reynolds kept watch at the doors.

"D...Doctor...." Castox looked at Zaria, his face contorted with pain. As he spoke, sounds and words became almost incomprehensible due to his lack of air. "Cadmi..lis... is doing every...thing he can.... to keep me alive... to help.... there is.... virus.... have to.... activate it.... don't know.... much time...."
Particle fire began to erupt. Jaffa were moving through both entrances to the lab, Nate and Reynolds covering one entrance while Farrell and Tang watched the other, giving Dalton, Cyrzanski, and Parker time to set charges.
"Too... too weak...." Castox's eyes flashed, a warning from Cadmilis that he was losing the strength to keep his battered host alive. Looking down at him, Zaria knew she couldn't get this all done in time before he died. That left just one possibility.
Zaria swallowed and lowered her head toward Castox.

Nate finished off a Jaffa wave and allowed for Dalton to take over while he placed a new charge clip into his MP-10. He turned to Zaria and shouted, "Doc, get that computer scrubbed ASAP, we gotta go!"
Zaria seemed wobbly on her feet. She held her head and balanced herself against one of the consoles in the lab. "Ooooh.... that's... I wasn't ready for...."
"Doc?"
"Just give me a moment!", she cried out.
"We don't have a moment, dammit!"
At that moment Nate saw her eyes flash. He pointed his gun toward her and Zaria raised her hands. At least, her body did, but when she spoke it was with the deep unnatural tone of a Goa'uld or Tok'ra symbiote in control. "I apologize, Colonel, but it is taking us a moment to blend."
"What?"
Her head lowered again, it was with a normal voice that Zaria spoke. "Colonel, I... I allowed Cadmilis to take me as a host. It was the only way to save him... her... whatever." Zaria moved over to the console. "He's still trying to get settled in because of the difference between Human and Trill physiology. But he is telling me what to do." She began moving her hands over the computer system. "Cadmilis created a computer virus... or rather, adapted one that Hefetus had already made as an emergency measure. It'll not only destroy all the data in the lab computers but it will also move along the network and disable the systems in the palace and on Zeus' personal Ha'tak for several hours, giving us time to escape."

Zaria continued to operate the computers for several moments. "Ready to use the virus.... Colonel!" Zaria looked to where Nate was helping suppress a Jaffa unit from their entry point. "According to this, Colonel O'Neill's group has been captured."
"Oh swell," Nate muttered, spraying more particle fire that brought a Jaffa down before he could use his staff weapon. Another managed to do so, sending a red bolt that Nate barely dodged before Parker's MP-10 brought down the attacker. "Do you know where they are?"
"The throne chamber," Zaria answered. "I'm... Cadmilis isn't sure why..."
"Okay then. Doctor, get that virus going, we'll get out to the hall and set off the charges." Nate checked his charge clip and nodded to Tang and Parker to begin moving out into the hall, providing them several moments of suppression fire. "Looks like we have a rescue to perform."




The lone occupant of a forceshielded cell one level down from the lab was an aching, agonized Kaetis, her head still throbbing from the use of Heb's hand device on her during her interrogation, accompanied as it was by the use of a pain stick. She remained huddled in the corner, knowing that the fate of Tok'ra operatives was rarely better than death during interrogation or whatever method an outraged Goa'uld ruler might conjure up dependent upon his or her sadism... in the event she wouldn't just be killed with a Zat.
There was little hope for escape save the operation proceeding successfully and Kaetis' hopes were raised when the alarms went off. But time passed and nothing seemed to happen. She began to despair that Cadmilis, Castox, would be unable to come for her. It was not unexpected, of course, as her rescue was at best a minor objective compared to the rest of the operation. But she was not so fanatical as to not care about her fate and very much wanted to see her husband again.
Having only partially recovered, Kaetis was amazed to see the field suddenly collapse. There were no Jaffa guarding her now, allowing Kaetis to simply walk out of the cell. She had no weapons for the moment,but as the lights began to dim in and out and displays flickered, she realized something had happened. Cadmilis has done something, she reasoned. Recalling her own experiences with the palace's layout, Kaetis took off for the armory.




A pile of MP-10s and Teal'c's staff weapon were in the corner of Zeus' grand throne room when Jack felt himself coming to. There was a loud, agonized howling that almost immediately came to his senses, giving him a splitting headache.
He opened his eyes and saw Worf was already awake, forced on his knees and with a Goa'uld pain stick pressed against the back of his neck by a Jaffa. The figure standing before him was immediately identifiable as a Goa'uld from his choice of wardrobe and, a moment later. the tone of his voice. "Now, creature, do you understand the price for defying gods?"
"Even if you were a god, it would not matter," Worf rumbled angrily in response. "Klingons do not bow to gods."
"In time, you will bow to me," the Goa'uld answered.
Jack looked around to see the others coming to. The Goa'uld had not bothered to place restraints on them. Looking up, he asked, "So, you would be?"
"I am Zeus, King of the Gods of Olympos," the Goa'uld answered. "I have been expecting you, Tau'ri."
"Really? I hope we didn't keep you waiting too long," Jack answered nonchalantly. "Is it true what they say about you? I hear you've got quite a way with the ladies, if you know what I'm saying..."
Zeus snarled and his hand came up. The ribbon device he was wearing came on and the wide beam of gold light it created enveloped O'Neill's forehead. He cried out for a moment as intense pain filled his head. "I have heard many stories of your peoples' insolence to their Gods," Zeus said haughtily, "but I did not think it would be so blatant."

"Yeah, we kinda wrote you off a couple millennia ago,' Daniel remarked.
"Besides, a bunch of us are atheists anyways," Maya chipped in. "We don't believe in any Gods, especially snake-shaped parasites that live in someone's head."
Zeus' hand moved over and his device lashed out at Maya next. After he was content that she had suffered enough he moved further on to where Teal'c was, flanked by two other Jaffa. "The shol'va," he grumbled. "I look forward to giving you the same fate that my father gave to your's."
Teal'c answered him with a scowl. "If I die here, you will soon be joining me. Cronus will come for you now that you cannot run to the protection of Apophis or Ra."
"Not with the secrets of the device in my possession." Zeus gestured to the projector Hefetus had built sitting in the corner of the room. "I can leave this universe behind and find another in which to rebuild my empire. As for you..." He looked around at the lot of them. "You have killed my daughter Heb. For that crime there is no execution painful enough! Of course, I have other daughters and consorts looking for hosts..." He walked around, casting his eyes on Maya first, then Sam, and finally Sakura. "I think I will let Eura take you as a new host," he said in a low tone to her, the look in his eyes saying just what Eura was to Zeus. "Kal'vek, take the females to Euluthya. Have the others save for the shol'va killed immediately. I will take the shol'va's life myself when it suits me."

One of the Jaffa in the room nodded. The golden coloring of his forehead tattoo made his position of First Prime clear. Six Jaffa grabbed the three women and pulled them away while the others leveled their staff weapons on the others. Jack tensed up and was prepared to jump up and try to fight.
The Jaffa at the entrance to the room cried out, drawing attention in that direction. Without waiting to find the source of the distraction Sakura struck out next, yanking the staff weapon from one of the Jaffa standing around her and pulling it free. Her boot came up and the Jaffa got the steel toe of the combat boot right in the neck. She twirled the staff around and drove the butt into the other Jaffa beside her.
Almost an instant later Worf was on his feet, tackling the nearest Jaffa, while Maya was tripping another with a low sweep-kick. Not to be outdone Sam drove her hand into the windpipe of one Jaffa and kicked low on the other, getting him in the knee. Teal'c got to his feet and tackled Kal'vek, trying to wrest his staff weapon away.

Zeus looked on in anger and bewilderment as the door to his throne room flew open, barely bringing his shield up before the fighting began. Nate Mackensen and Frank Parker were the first two to enter, their MP-10s blazing and striking the Jaffa closest to them. The SG-1 and SPT-14 members in the room went for their weapons as the rest of SPT-14 poured in, striking down Jaffa. They turned to open fire, one staff blast striking Dalton on the left shoulder before he could get to cover and another hitting Cyrzanski's right ankle as he leapt for cover.
"Shol'va!" Kal'vek shouted angrily, striking Teal'c in the face. He drove a knee into Teal'c's symbiote pouch and temporarily got the upper hand on his former counterpart. "Jaffa Kree! Protect Lord Zeus!" He brought up his staff weapon and fired, almost hitting Sakura before she deftly dodged. Kal'vek slipped behind a column and avoided a barrage of MP-10 fire.

Zeus was, for his part, moving toward the rear of the throne room for his private escape route. As he came toward it a symbiote voice called out, "Zeus!", not one he'd heard before. He turned to face whomever it was.
The instant he saw Zaharia in her SPT fatigues, he brought up his hand device to attack her. "This is for Castox and Kaetis," she said with the altered voice of Cadmilis.
"Cadmilis," Zeus said in recognition before bringing up his hand device.
Though it was Cadmilis who had called out to him, Zaharia was in control when her hand whipped forward.
A split second later the knife she had thrown went right through Zeus' personal field and through his left hand. His device crackled with golden energy and dimmed, the energy field around him dissipating.

He might have still escaped, but as he turned to do so, Zeus felt a sharp pain in his gut. The warm blood of his host spilled out of the wound as he faced his attacker. Snarling, Worf pulled his mek'leth out of Zeus' stomach, his face showing a spine-chilling (for Zeus at least) cold anger. "I told you that Klingons do not bow to gods," he growled in an almost matter-of-fact tone as Zeus tried to help fortify his host's body from the deadly belly wound. "We slay them!"
Zeus was too weak to resist when Worf promptly forced him down and, with a single movement, drove his blade into the back of Zeus' head and neck. Steel sundered flesh and bone, then brain matter and the reptilian flesh of the Goa'uld symbiote within. The eyes of Zeus, the former System Lord and ruler of Olympos, lit up one last time before the light faded and the symbiote within died along with his host.

A bolt of staff energy struck Worf in the side at that moment. Growling and in pain, he moved to face his attacker and was confronted by the snarling, enraged Kal'vek. Zeus' First Prime shouted a curse at him that Worf did not understand and pointed the business end of his staff at Worf's head.
Another staff bolt lashed out and impacted on Kal'vek's head, sending him flying to the ground, very dead. Worf looked over and up as Teal'c lowered his recovered weapon and went up to Worf, a hand extended. "Thank you," Worf said.
"You are, as the Tau'ri say, most welcome," Teal'c answered with a very pleased grin on his face, helping Worf to his feet.
The room had been cleared of Jaffa. Tang was moving to check injuries to the others as Sam and Zaria/Cadmilis were checking the projector and setting explosives to it. "I take it you got the lab," Jack asked Nate.
"It's handled," he answered.
"What happened to Cadmilis?"
Nate gestured to Zaria. "Host was killed blowing up a Goa'uld waiting for us in the lab. Since the symbiote knew how to activate some virus that's supposed to help us escape, Zaria volunteered to save him."
"Huh." Jack checked the charge on his MP-10. "So, mission accomplished?"
"All that's left is the escape."

Having attached a final explosive to Hefetus' wormhole projector Zaria turned. "Colonel, before we go, I'd like to see if we can use our life sign sensors to find Kaetis."
"Kaetis?"
"Castox's wife. Cadmilis says that the virus shut down the force shields in the dungeon areas, she's probably escaped already. And with the virus having shut down their security systems...."
Nate looked to Jack. "Now that the mission's done... we don't leave anybody behind, right?"
"Right," Jack replied.
"Okay, here's what we're going to do. Major," he looked to Parker, "your team takes the wounded to the rings and return to Selmak's cargo ship. Major Azakusho, Doctor, you're with me and SG-1. Now let's set these charges off and go."




Kaetis felt a second explosion, weaker than the first, rumble through the structure as she slipped through, keeping herself pressed up against the wall with a Zat ready to use on any attackers.
She was on the lower level, not far from the hanger bay and much further from the main ring transporters. Rounding a corner, she spied two Jaffa on the far end moving away from her, on patrol, and remained hidden for a second.
Kaetis moved to the next corner and brought up the earring she had removed, using it as a small, barely capable mirror to look around corners. She spied a couple of Jaffa watching a room. Before she could move out and Zat them, the door they were guarding opened and Hefetus stepped out, followed by the group of Jaffa.
Remaining quiet, Kaetis tracked the Goa'uld scientist as he walked to the cargo bay. She overheard him talking to one of the Jaffa, his personal Prime Tel'nor. She was stunned when she heard him say that both Zeus and Heb were dead, as was Axerus. Tel'nor informed his master that the security network was still down and that the mothership docked to the palace could not launch.
"I shall take a Tel'tak to my mothership," he said. "Find the Tau'ri and take as many prisoner as possible. Lord Zeus may be dead, but Olympos will have its empire so long as I am alive."
"Yes, my lord," Tel'nor said.
Seeing this, Kaetis remained at the corner as long as possible before moving on. She had to get to the rings and hopefully meet the others....
There was sound behind her as she cleared the door to the hanger bay. Jaffa emerged, intending to resume their watch, and spotted her almost immediately. She was slightly faster, a pair of Zat bolts putting them down, but the other Jaffa in the launch bay saw this and were coming out.

Firing a couple shots and managing to hit one, Kaetis ran toward the stairwell that would take her to the rings. She only managed to get about one section further when she ran into Jaffa ahead of her. This time she had barely enough time to duck into a doorway before staff blasts lashed out at her. She fired the Zat blindly, hoping to hit something. The volume of fire only seemed to increase.
A sharp and fiery pain went through her hand, accompanied by an overwhelming force that knocked the Zat out of her hand. It flew, half-melted, to the nearby floor as a result of the direct hit of a staff blast.
This is it, then. I shall never see Castox again, Kaetis thought sadly, waiting for the Jaffa to come, knowing they would kill her with numbers and strength no matter how well she fought.

Instead there was the sudden cries of battle and a peculiar weapon sound, a series of faint thundercracks, which were plentiful. After silence began Kaetis poked her head out of the room and saw that the Jaffa around her were dead. Seven figures were coming from the other floor wearing battle uniforms in Tau'ri fashion, guns in their arms. 'You are the Tau'ri," she said.
"Kaetis." The Tok'ra spy did not recognize the red-haired woman with strange spots on her hairline who stepped out from amongst the Tau'ri. But she could tell the woman was host to a symbiote. "Kaetis, I am sorry."
Kaetis easily put two and two together. "Castox...?" she asked, her eyes welling with tears.
"He died nobly, taking a Goa'uld with him," Cadmilis replied from within Zaria. "He asked me to let this woman be my new host so that the mission could be completed and you could be saved."
"Kaetis?" Nate gestured upward. "We've got to get back to the ring room, now."
"No, there's no time. Hefetus just left on a Tel'tak," Kaetis answered. "He's going to get his mothership. We don't have time to fight through the Jaffa to get there."
"Well, what do we do now?", Jack asked.
"We can get back to the hanger and take our own ship," she answered. "I hope you are good pilots, Hefetus will probably be sending out all the Death Gliders."
Zaria resumed control from Cadmilis and turned to Sam. "Sam, what do you think about getting to another Tel'tak and using its rings to beam over to your father's ship?"
"It's worth a shot."
"Okay, Plan B then." Nate brought up his radio as they moved on. "Parker, you there?"
"Here sir," Major Parker replied on the other end.
"How is everything going?"
"Wounded are ringed up, Sir, I'm here with Farrell, Colette, Calgar, and Valentino waiting for you."
"New plans, Major. Ring up and tell Selmak that we're going to have to use another Tel'tak to ring up to him."
"Roger."

Ahead they ran into a gaggle of Jaffa that had been dispatched to pursue Kaetis, but the Jaffa had been expecting a sole woman with a Zat, not seven heavily-armed humans. A hail of MP-10 fire brought them down before they could get an accurate shot off. "We may have to fly the ship out of the hanger bay, Colonels," Cadmilis said, "to guarantee that Selmak's vessel can lock onto us."
"Swell," Jack answered. "Teal'c, up to that?"
"I am."
They arrived at the hanger bay with a spray of fire, Zaria keeping Kaetis behind her and out of harm's way. The Jaffa guarding the bay were plentiful, in part because so many were starting to get into gliders. It didn't take any time for them to spot a remaining Tel'tak and fight their way over to it. Nate and Jack took it upon themselves to give covering fire to the others as they started to get toward the opening Nate's MP-10 beeped and showed an empty charge. "My last clip's out!" he shouted.
Jack reached into his vest and tossed his last clip over, which Nate snatched and put into his MP-10 with no delay at all. Sam and Sakura stood at the door, firing steadily, Sakura calling out, "Colonels, let's go! We've got you covered!"
The two men slipped into the ship and the door was closed, Teal'c bringing the shields up while Zaria got to work on the rings and Daniel helped balance the wounded Kaetis, who's bare left thigh was showing what looked to be a grazing hit from a staff weapon. "Daniel with a scantily-clad woman in his arms," Jack joked from the entrance to the cargo area. "That's not something you see every day."
"Jack," Daniel gave Jack a little glare as he set Kaetis down over the rings and began rifling his vest looking for his first aid equipment, "a little less funny and a little more help would be nice."

The ship lifted off and shot out of the hanger bay. Nate got on his radio, watching the sky grow darker as they accelerated up toward the atmosphere. Nate was about to go for his radio when he felt the ship lurch. "What was that?"
"Gliders," Teal'c answered. "I will attempt to get us into orbit so we can begin to maneuver away."
"Colonel Mackensen, this is Parker, do you read?"
"We're here, Major. Sitrep?"
"We all ringed back aboard without further incident, sir. Selmak says that you're going to have to match the trajectory of his ship for you to ring out of there."
"No can do, not under these conditions, we've got gliders coming in." Nate held onto the central station of the cockpit to brace himself against a further hit. "We'll hyper back to the rendezvous point together."
"Actually, sir..." Zaria looked up from the station she was investigating. "We don't have hyperdrive. That was the first thing they hit."
"Can you fix it?"
Zaria shook her head. "Not unless we land. We have to ring out, it's the only way."

Sam took her radio mic. "Major Parker, can you put my Dad on?"
A moment later it was Jacob Carter's voice over the radio. "You have an idea, Sam?"
"You can buy us some time. Let Teal'c get the gliders to bunch up, then ring one of the explosives into their formation," she suggested.
"I'll see what I can do," Jacob answered.
"I am trying to boost power to our shields, but we will not last long against those gliders," Cadmilis said, having taken over for Zaria due to his superior understanding of Goa'uld technology.
"I am attempting to maneuver them together," Teal'c added from the pilot seat. He sent the Tel'tak into a series of loops and half-turns.
He completed one particular maneuver and that ended up having to be enough. A set of rings appeared out of nowhere ahead of the gliders and one of the naquadah-explosive containers appeared from the matter stream. The instant the rings pulled back upwards the ship rippled into appearance, Jacob needing every bit of energy he could get for the sublight engines and the shields.
The Jaffa gliders tried to maneuver away but it was too late. The explosives were triggered and created a massive burst of energy in what had been the center of their formation. The shields on both Tel'taks held though they were rocked rather strongly. "The attacking craft are no longer a threat," Teal'c reported.
Sam nodded and waited for Teal'c to nod before triggering the rings. They descended around Sakura, Daniel, and Kaetis, spiriting them away to the other Tel'tak. "More gliders approach," Teal'c warned them. "I am currently matching velocities with Selmak. You should ring out now and then we will try another mine."
Nate nodded and looked to Zaria, who was still watching the other console. "If it's all the same, Teal'c, we'll wait for you," he said, beating Jack to a similar remark by a fair bit.




Jacob pulled his Tel'tak away from Teal'c's and began to come around. Parker and Farrell helped Daniel get Kaetis off the rings while Valentino and Tang moved another explosive container into place to be ringed into space. Valentino began attaching a detonator charge while Sakura moved into the cockpit area, standing beside Worf. "Let's not give them too much..."
"We're in trouble," Jacob remarked. "They've brought an Al'kesh."
Behind the two cargo ships the large Goa'uld bomber craft flew behind a wing of fighters. Three broke off to pursue Jacob while the Al'kesh and the other fighters went after Teal'c. "New plan," they heard Jack say over the radio. "You hyper out while we get their attention."
"Colonel!" Sakura held onto her radio tightly. "Sir, we won't leave..."
"That's a direct order, Major, get out of...."
Nate was cut off by the sound of battle damage. Energy bolts began to slam into the Tel'tak. The cargo ship's battered shields came down... just as the Al'kesh fired a massive bolt of plasma.
The bolt raced across the distance and slammed into the small and now unprotected cargo ship. It was shattered by the impact and erupted in flame. Jacob's heart almost stopped at the sight as he called out "Sam!", Selmak's voice in his head trying to comfort him at having seen his daughter and her comrades blown apart before his very eyes.



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

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Just seconds after the destruction of the other Tel'tak, Sakura's radio squawked again. "Azakusho, this is Mackensen," they heard Nate's voice say. "Begin evasive maneuvers and standby."
Her mouth hung open in mute surprise. The ship banked with Selmak at the controls, the elder Tok'ra having taken control for Jacob as he tried to recover from the shock of Sam's apparent death. "There is another ship appearing," he said.
"Colonel, we saw your ship blow...." Sakura watched another vessel, about twice the size of their Tel'tak if not more, swoop overhead and pass by the cockpit. "...up?"
"I have never seen a vessel like that before," Selmak said from the helm. "Is it one of your's?"
"Yes." The voice was that of Worf. Sakura looked at him and was almost amused to see what appeared to be a pleased twinkle in his eye even as the vessel ahead of them opened up, her powerful bow weapons ripping through a flight of Gliders. "The Defiant."




U.S.S. Defiant NX-74205 twisted in space away from the small cargo vessel, her forward phaser cannons lashing out once again while her dorsal phaser array speared a Goa'uld glider. Upon her bridge Admiral Benjamin Sisko looked to all the world like he was having the time of his life. "Mister Olis, target the main enemy vessel, full quantum torpedo spread. Old Man..."
"On it, Benjamin," Dax answered from the helm. She maneuvered the Defiant to permit a plasma discharge from the Al'kesh to only graze the ventral shields.
"Shields holding," Chief O'Brien - Master Chief O'Brien that was - reported from his old station. "Nog reports that we got them all, Sir," he added.
"Remind me to thank Mister Nog later," Sisko replied. "Mister Olis, fire!"
The Lieutenant at Tactical pressed a key and sent out two pairs of torpedoes, their propulsion fields glowing white as they crossed the distance and smashed into the Al'kesh. The pilot aboard the craft tried to bank away as the bomber's shields failed. A burst of phaser fire put an end to that maneuver.
The door at the rear opened and Lt. Commander Nog entered, followed by Nate, Zaria, and SG-1. "Woh, this is cool," Jack said, looking around.
"Colonel, good to see we got here just in time," Sisko said from his chair. "If you'll give me a moment..."

"Benjamin, we're picking up another ship." Dax looked back at him. "This one is big..." She brought it up on the viewscreen, revealing the arrival of a Ha'tak-class Goa'uld ship.
"Hefetus' mothership," Cadmilis said from within Zaria. "From what Zaharia knows of this vessel, it is no match for a Goa'uld mothership. You must retreat immediately."
"Colonel." Their radios came on, Sakura's voice crackling over the line. "Selmak isn't sure if his cargo vessel's hyperspace window can accomodate the Defiant's as well."
"Inform Mister Selmak that it won't be necessary. In fact, ask him to take up our trajectory and standby." Sisko looked to O'Brien. "Ready Chief?"
O'Brien began his work. "Re-routing power now..." The lights seemed to dim just a bit. "Bringing weapons offline, cloak, shields..."
"We might need those shields in a couple seconds," was Jack's reply to that.
"Goa'uld vessel is locking on," Dax warned. "And Selmak's ship is matching our trajectory."
"We're ready, Sir," O'Brien reported.
"Old Man, get us out of here."
Dax nodded. "Here we go. Activating hyperdrive... now."
The assembled on the bridge watched a flickering blue field open in space ahead of them. The Defiant and Selmak's Tel'tak crossed the threshold of the hyperspace window within seconds.




"Preparing to fire, Lord Hefetus," Tel'nor remarked from his place on the pel'tac of Hefetus' Mothership, Hefetus watching the action from his throne. The screen showed the surviving cargo vessel and the unknown ship that had come to its aid loom closer.
Just as Tel'nor went to fire, the two ships disappeared into hyperspace. Hefetus scowled deeply. "My Lord, I am sorry..."
"Can we track them?"
"I am trying, Lord..."
"Do not try, do so! Find their course and report to me their possible destinations." Hefetus leaned forward in his throne. "We will catch them yet."




The bridge monitor on the Defiant showed the cylindrical shape of hyperspace around them. "Stand down from Red Alert," Sisko ordered, standing from his chair. He turned to face Nate and the others. "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard the Defiant."
Jack was the first to answer. "Thanks for the rescue. I thought our goose was about cooked."
"Admiral Sisko." Nate gave a brief salute. "Colonel..."
"Nathan Mackensen." Sisko offered his hand. "Your reputation preceeds you, Colonel. And Doctor Zaharia Herzela, I presume?" He turned his attention to Zaria.
She nodded, grinning slightly. "Well, yes, plus a new... passenger, you could say." She lowered her head and raised it again, speaking with her symbiote's tone now. "Admiral Benjamin Sisko, I am Cadmilis of the Tok'ra. A pleasure to make your acquaitance."
The rest of the bridge leveled looks at her. "Well, my Mom always wanted me to become a host," Zaria said, her voice back to normal and grinning sheepishly toward Dax. "Just that this one wasn't in the plan, I think..."
"Cadmilis was our inside contact," Nate explained. "His host was fatally wounded saving our asses."
There was a loud sound, a very obvious and overt clearing of the throat by Jack.

Looking back at Jack and smiling slightly, Nate went on to add, "Admiral, allow me to introduce Colonel Jack O'Neill, Major Samantha Carter, and Teal'c of SG-1."
Sisko nodded toward them. Behind them the door to the bridge opened and Doctor Michaels made it out. "Zaria, you made it!" he said happily, coming up and hugging his junior fellow. "I really must show you how this has worked, my dear!"
"How what worked?", Zaria asked.
Sam nodded. "Yeah, that's what I'm wondering too. I thought your ships used matter/antimatter reactions to provide power?"
"They do," O'Brien said from where he was seated.
"Yes, but even though they provide a lot of power, I don't see how one small enough to fit into a ship this size can power a hyperdrive."
"Normally, you'd be right," O'Brien agreed. "But we've got an extra power source now."
"Yes," Michaels said. "The Tok'ra provided us with a hyperdrive and a pair of Guyverite reactors to help power it. Of course, to open a window to the level of hyperspace this ship now occupies requires so much power, even for a vessel of this mass, that we have to shut down most of the ship's extra systems just to achieve hyperspace entry and exit."

"I thought that because of that treaty you weren't allowed to send ships to our universe?", Jack asked Nate.
"Ah, not quite my good Colonel," Michaels said, smiling widely. "We cannot use a GateShip or any Jump Gate Assemblies to open wormholes to SRC-19. But this ship is neither."
"If we don't have a GateShip here, Doctor, how do we intend to get home?", Nate asked.
"I have attached a device to the ship's navigational deflector," Michaels explained. "It acts like a ZPC, charging the deflector array with enough 'Zynski particles so that it can create its own wormholes."
Zaria blinked. "But the kind of power that would require..."
"Again, that's where the Guyverite reactors the Tok'ra provided us come into play, they give us plenty of extra power," Michaels said triumphantly. "Of course, there's still the matter of the components..."
"You mean the fact that our jump nearly fried the deflector array?", O'Brien asked in the all-too-familiar tone of an engineer irritated at the causing of damage he had to fix. "We'll probably have to replace the entire array when we get back."

"Defiant, this is Jacob Carter." It was Nate's radio again. "Colonel Mackensen, did everyone..."
Nate looked to Sam. She nodded and took her radio, replying, "I'm here, Dad. We all made it."
"Oh, thank God. Listen, does your ship have any medical facilities? It might help the wounded better if we can dock with you and..."
"I'm afraid, Mister Carter, that our shuttle bay will be unable to take your ship in," Sisko answered. He looked over to O'Brien. "Chief, could we use the transporter?"
"Probably wouldn't be advisable, Sir," O'Brien answered. "I'm reading all sorts of radiation that can distort a beam."
"I'm afraid you're going to have to sit tight, Mister Carter," Sisko said. "We'll be at Tarus in about two hours."
"Understood."
"The ship's not that big, Admiral, it might be a tight fit but..." Realization dawned on Zaria. "The reactors, the hyperdrive, and the Stargate, right?"
"Yes," Sisko answered. "Now, can you tell me anything else I might need to know before we get there?"
"Knowing Goa'uld, Admiral, they're not going to give up easily," Jack remarked. "They'll probably come after us."
"Yes. Cadmilis says that Hefetus' ship could have determined our course and tracked us for a time. Also..." Zaria sighed. "As much as I hate to purvey more bad news, Cadmilis is of the opinion that Hefetus knows far more about us than he's let on. He knew to dial Bowie - Tarus - after all. He may think we're returning there to jump back home. And his hyperdrive..."
"...would be faster than our own," Teal'c answered for Zaria. "We may yet have to fight."
"Then we'll fight," Sisko answered calmly.
"Admiral, I don't think you understand," Zaria said. "Through Cadmilis I have knowledge of Goa'uld capability. You would need a dreadnought to have a hope of fighting him. If we fight we're going to lose."

"Your ship has cloaking technology, right?" Sam looked to O'Brien with an expression that, to Jack, might as well have written 'I have an idea!" on her forehead. "What if we come out of hyperspace at the outer edge of the system first and cloak?"
"It would take about five seconds to re-route power back to the cloaking device after we emerge from hyperspace, but it is do-able. Commander?" O'Brien looked to Dax.
"I'll have to reset the navigation computer," Dax replied. "The margin of error is pretty big, and I'm still in the process of rewriting the navigational software to accomodate hyperspace travel. But I'll see what I can do."
"Commander, I can be of help with that," Zaria said. "Or rather Cadmilis can."
Dax nodded in acceptance and returned to the helm, Zaria heading to the auxiliary computer station on the starboard side of the bridge. "Looks like we have a plan then," Sisko remarked. "Do you have any other suggestions?"
"Even if he's not there when we get there, if the Snakehead shows up he's not going to leave easily," Nate remarked. "I'd feel a lot better if I thought we could win a fight."
"Maybe..." Sam had another "I have an idea!" look on her face. "What weapons do you have again?"
"Pulse phaser cannons for forward firing, a dorsal phaser array, and fore and aft torpedo tubes," Sisko answered her. "What's your plan, Major?"
"Your torpedoes, are they fission or fusion warheads?"
"Anti-matter with quantum fields for directing the charge."
Sam shook her head. "I, I don't know if it'll work then. The particular characteristics of naquadah allow it to amplify energy and improve the yield of an atomic device. But I'm not sure what will happen if we use a matter/anti-matter charge."
"The results would be devastating," Michaels answered.
"Has it been done before, then?", Sam asked.

Michaels nodded stiffly. "Yes. The Alliance developed Guyverite-boosted M/AM warheads over ten years ago. We used them on the Dominion Inner Core to end the war in the Gamma Quadrant of ST-3. I... was one of the scientists attached to the project. It's how I first learned about the Stargate we had."
Sisko's jaw was clenched tightly. "I remember that attack," he said hoarsely. "Trillions dead."
"I am not proud of my part in it," Michaels said defensively. "Even small warheads, capable of use in MIRV missiles, were capable of yields approaching one hundred and fifty gigatons. I can only imagine what one of your quantum torpedoes would be capable of if it were outfitted with a Guyverite booster."
"We would have to make room in the torpedo for such a booster, and we have no Guyverite aboard."
"On the contrary, yes we do," Sam replied. "You have two naquadah reactors, right?"
"Yes, but..." O'Brien suddenly chuckled aloud. "Oh, I get it. You want to take Guyverite out of one of the reactors to use as booster material."
Sam nodded. "How much margin for error do we have in power consumption?"
"A bit." O'Brien crossed his arms and looked deep in thought. "If I shut down most of the ship's systems and kicked the warp core up past max output, we could possibly take as much as one quarter of the material out of one of the reactors and still be able to exit hyperspace."
"That should give us enough to get a few shots at him."
"Chief, take Commander Nog and help Major Carter and Doctor Michaels work on this," Sisko ordered. "If we have to fight I want to have a decent chance at winning."

When they left Sisko was facing Nate, Jack, and Teal'c. "As for you gentlemen, anything in mind?"
"Spaceships aren't really in my league," Jack admitted. "I'll leave the techie stuff to the people who understand it all."
Sisko chuckled and nodded. "Well then, I'll have Ensign Roitel show you to the mess hall so you can get something to eat. I'll let you know when we're getting ready to come out of hyperspace."
"Thanks, Admiral." Nate gave a final salute before following Jack and Teal'c off the bridge, accompanied as they were by the young Centauran officer Sisko had just verbally assigned them.




Zaria finished going over a line of code in the navigation software. "Cadmilis has done all he can," Zaria told Dax from the computer console. "Anything more would require writing a completely new program."
"We'll have to make due." Dax double-checked the lines of code to make sure the program was working. "So, how are you holding up as a host?"
"Oh, heh, well..." Zaria rubbed her head. "It's weird having another voice inside me. Though the Tok'ra don't go to the level our symbiotes and hosts do. We don't merge personalities and memories fully, at least not this early on, it's more like we're sharing this body."
"And you get to use that creepy deep voice," Dax added with a slight grin.
"Yeah, the Tok'ra do that as much as the Goa'uld. Mostly to show that it's the symbiote talking." Zaria giggled slightly. "It's so weird to hear my voice like that, actually."
"So, what is your new symbiote doing? Is he using the cavity or..."
"Oh, no, they don't look for a torso cavity like our's do, they connect directly to the brain and upper spine," Zaria explained. "And aside from communicating with me Cadmilis is basically dormant right now. Keeping his host alive after he about blew himself up weakened him a lot, then trying to adjust to Trill physiology was a further strain."

"Do they keep the memories of their previous hosts?"
"A fair bit, I'd say." Zaria frowned slightly when looking over at Dax. "But I'm afraid it's not very happy. Some happy moments, yes, but.... a lot of it is terror and suffering. Tok'ra spend their lives alternating between hiding and spying, knowing that getting captured by the Goa'uld will usually result in being tortured to death or something like that."
There was no immediate reply from Dax at that. Finally she seemed to shift the subject, asking, "How's Worf feeling? I... haven't had the time to call him yet."
"Wounded but fine. He'll probably be a bit puffy chested and all. He killed the Goa'uld Zeus." Zaria giggled. "You should've seen him." Lowering her voice to approximate Worf's bass voice, Zaria repeated Worf's "Klingons do not bow to gods, we slay them!" with gusto and then added, back to normal speaking, "and boom, sword to the back of the neck."
Dax broke out laughing. "That is so like him."
"And hey, a lifetime of holo-RPGing came into use. I disabled Zeus' defensive device by throwing a knife through his hand." Zaria smiled widely. "To think that Colonel Mackensen was upset that I was allowed to use the simulators for my sessions."
"Sounds like you got to have all the fun," Dax remarked whimsically. A light on her console brought Dax's attention. "Can you double-check the calculation coding, the computer's giving me trouble in confirming our exit time."
"Sure."



"You call this a chicken sandwhich?" Jack put the replicated sandwhich down onto the plate. "A lot of things may taste like chicken, but chicken is not supposed to taste like that."
Nate shrugged and took another bite out of his own roast beef sandwhich. "Eh, replicator food is always horrible. How are you holding up, Teal'c?"
Teal'c seemed to be glaring at his own chicken sandwhich. "I would have preferred if chips were available."
Jack nodded in agreement. "Yes, I mean, what's up with that? How can someone have a chicken sandwhich with no chips? That's like having a hamburger with no french fries."
"About a thousand alien snacks in the system and not one good potato chip flavor," Nate muttered in agreement.
After they'd eaten a little more, Jack spoke up again. "So, I guess this is going to be it. You'll drop the Stargate off and then head back and cut our universe off again?"
"I'm not sure."
"I guess you'll get reassignment."
"Probably back to Camp Wilcox and Recon training," Nate answered. "To be honest I was looking forward to a field command again. Even if I thought our team setup was pretty silly. Biologists and officers as medics..."
Jack shrugged, grinning slightly. "Well, things are different in this line of work."
"So I've seen." Nate put the last bit of his sandwhich down. "Of course, you're going to be out here alone again. We won't be here to help you. To be frank you'd probably have been better off if you'd never found the Stargate."
"Maybe," Jack answered. "But we're out here now. And we've made friends. Maybe we've even given the galaxy a little hope that the Goa'uld won't be sticking around forever."

Teal'c nodded and added, "Indeed you have."
"I just wish I knew what my higher-ups were thinking, going through all the trouble of setting this project up and abandoning it so quickly. It wasn't quite fair to your world to snatch the hope of having some help right after giving it to you."
"Well, at least we got some rayguns out of the deal." Jack took another small bite and resumed talking when he finished it. "I hate this part."
"Oh?"
"The fact that we do not have the skills or knowledge to help our comrades prepare us for battle with Hefetus," Teal'c said. "All we can do is sit and wait."
"That part," Jack said in agreement.
"Oh, yeah, that part." Nate sighed. "Yeah, I know the feeling. Stuck on a ship, having to remain helpless while other people try to make sure you'll survive it. I usually prefer the actual ground combat over the trip."
"Well, having a spaceship can be cool," Jack said, "even if this one is a bit... small." He took his final bite and, after forcing it down, added, "I just hope your other ships have actual chicken sandwhiches."




Carrying containers of Guyverite/naquadah taken from one of the Tok'ra generators, Michaels arrived in the torpedo magazine where Sam and O'Brien were hunched over one of many open torpedo casings. "How's it going?"
"We're having to remove the quantum projectors to make room for the Guyverite," O'Brien said. "So no directed force explosions to help with shield or hull penetration."
"But odds are the fields would be overwhelmed anyway by the force of the blast the naquadah booster is going to create, so it's not a big loss," Sam pointed out. Taking a portion of the field projector O'Brien was removing from the torpedo, she held it up. "I'd love to get more access to your technology."
"I have to admit I'm interested in that Guyverite power source the Tok'ra brought aboard. They handle a lot better than our warp cores, matter-antimatter reactors I mean."
"Well, if circumstances were better, it'd be great if we could exchange technology." Sam accepted a container from Michaels. "Just enough for one container per torpedo, I'd say. How much more naquadah can we get?"
"I didn't dare remove any more Guyverite, we might not have been able to exit hyperspace," Michaels answered. "Commander Nog is busy preparing the ship's main power systems to increase the reactor output to make up for any power drains. We're almost there."

"You know, we're going to have to do something about this whole 'Guyverite/naquadah' thing," O'Brien commented before removing the final piece of the torpedo's field generator. He accepted the container of naquadah from Sam and began fitting it onto the torpedo.
"I'm afraid it'll always be Guyverite to me, Mister O'Brien," Michaels said. "I worked with Doctor Guyver himself, after all."
"I was wondering where you got that name for it," Sam remarked.
O'Brien finished attaching the container. He looked over to Michaels and said, "I understand, Doctor. But please remember, I am not an officer and I don't go by 'Sir' or 'Mister'. I work for a living." Smirking, he looked to Sam and added, "No offense meant, Sir."
The enlisted humor was answered by an unoffended, amused grin by Sam.
Michaels went to set the containers down and to work on fitting another torpedo. O'Brien resumed his work with Sam providing him technical details to ensure the naquadah booster would boost the power of the warhead. They were working on the second one when O'Brien's comm badge went off. He tapped it, "O'Brien here."
"Chief, we're about to come out of hyperspace. How goes the work?"
"We're making progress, Admiral. I can give you one torpedo right now, we'll be getting a second one done in moments."
"Keep me posted, Chief. Sisko out."
"Deadlines, deadlines," O'Brien muttered. "Now if you can hand me the torpedo master key we can get this one loaded...."




Jack was the first to step back onto Defiant's bridge, responding to Sisko's call that they were about to come out of hyperspace. Nog had taken O'Brien's place at the ship's operations station while Dax was at the helm and Zaria still at an auxiliary station. Sisko nodded to them and returned to his seat as Dax made the countdown to the exit from hyperspace.
Nog confirmed the transfer of power. The lights dimmed and and the ship emerged from hyperspace with the Tel'tak still beside them.
Almost immediately there was a flicker through the ship. "Benjamin, we're losing main power," Dax said.
Sisko turned to Nog. "Sir, the power draw from the warp core overloaded our port primary power conduit. Main power is down to sixty percent and we will be unable to cloak."
"Secondaries?"
"I'm assigning the engineering crew to it now, but we're short-handed, Sir..."
Sisko pressed a key on his command console. "Sisko to Cargo Vessel. How injured is Commander Worf?"
Several moments later Worf was the one to give the answer, "Barely, Sir. I am fine."
"We're beaming you over, Commander, we need an extra pair of hands." Sisko turned to Olin. "Mister Olin, beam Commander Worf aboard and then get down to Main Engineering."
"Admiral, I'll join him," Zaria said, standing up.
"Very well, Doctor, get to work."
"And you'd better do it soon," Dax said. "We've got a ship on sensors heading toward us at a high sublight velocity."
The press of a key magnified the viewscreen before Sisko could ask for it. He sat and frowned grimly at the sight of the Goa'uld mothership looming ahead. "Red Alert!", he barked.




"Lord, a pair of vessels have just left hyperspace," Tel'nor said. He brought the screen up to show Hefetus the sight of the unknown vessel from before and the Tel'tak it had saved. "I am detecting power failures in the larger ship. It will not be capable of escaping us."
"Excellent. Launch our gliders and target weapons, aim for all engines." Hefetus' expression betrayed his delight. "I want that ship taken intact."
"Immediately, Lord Hefetus. Completing attack preperations. We will reach weapons range shortly."
Moments later, with his eyes flashing, Hefetus gave the order.
"Attack!"



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Jacob's hand moved over the cloak control to shield the small, defenseless cargo vessel from detection. "I've got the cloak back up," he told the others. "Going to give us some distance."
"Isn't there anything we can do?", Parker asked. "I don't like just sitting here."
"This ship's unarmed and with their shields up I can't ring you over for any sabotage," Jacob answered.
"But what about these?" Valentino put a hand on the remaining containers of naquadah explosives. "Don't we have a port or something we can chuck 'em out through?"
"Not unless you want to depressurize the entire ship." Jacob shook his head. "Besides, even that's not enough to get through the mothership's shielding. I'm sorry, but for the moment we're sitting this one out."




"They're launching fighters and I'm detecting at least two of the medium-sized ships from before."
"Evasive maneuvers." Sisko turned his head and saw Worf settling into tactical, favoring his right side. "Welcome back, Commander. I hope you're not too rusty."
"Thank you, Sir." Worf took a moment to get settled. "Phasers and torpedoes are ready, but phaser power has been reduced to eighty percent effectiveness."
Sisko nodded stiffly. "Should be more than enough for those fighters, but we're going to need more punch for the other craft."
The ship rocked slightly from a blast by one of the Al'kesh bombers. "Shields down to seventy percent."
Sisko keyed the ship's internal comm system. "Mister Olin, I could really use main power back to full."
"Understood, sir, Doctor Herzela and I are working on it.."
"Main Goa'uld vessel is firing!"
Bursts of energy erupted from the Ha'tak toward Defiant as it turned sharply in space, maneuvering itself to pound an Al'kesh with pulse phaser fire. The stream of bursts missed but were close enough to give Dax some sorry. "I won't be able to keep this up for long, Benjamin."
"Sisko to O'Brien, Chief, we could really use those torpedoes right about now..."
Suddenly the ship rocked hard. An electrical fire erupted from the rear of the bridge. Teal'c grabbed a nearby fire extinguisher and began spraying suppressant on it. Nate picked up his own should another fire break out. "What the hell was that?!"
"The main ship landed a hit. Our cloaking emitters are fried and the port nacelle housing is fractured!", Nog shouted. The ship slightly rocked again from a lighter hit by an Al'kesh. "We've lost warp power, slight damage to impulse drive."
From her station Dax added, "Shields down to thirty percent!"



O'Brien was knocked to the floor by the hard rocking, sparks erupting from one of the display screens in the torpedo room. Sam was lucky enough to grab onto the torpedo casing she was working on and not fall down completely while Michaels was brought to a knee with only one arm to brace himself against a torpedo rack. O'Brien began picking himself up off the floor, responding to Sisko a moment later. "Sir, we've got three torpedoes rigged so far. But we only have enough Guyverite for two more."
"Get them loaded, Chief!"
"Yes Sir!" O'Brien finished closing the torpedo he'd been rigging and went to the loading mechanism. It allowed a rigged torpedo to slide into the launcher's feeding tube and a second key press began the process of sliding it into the launcher. He began loading the second one a moment later, bracing himself when the ship shook again.

"This one's ready!" Sam shouted at him.
"Help Michaels with the last! I'll get them loaded," O'Brien replied while working the mechanism. The second one slid in behind the first, the launcher shifting it over to the other bow launcher. As he prepared the third O'Brien hit his comm badge. "Sir, you've got two ready!"




The news was welcome to Sisko, another hit sending them rocking while one of the Al'keshs erupted into flames on the viewscreen from Worf's sustained fire. "Mister Worf, lock torpedoes on the main ship! Old Man, get us in."
Defiant made a half turn and roll in space, avoiding another flurry of fire from the Goa'uld vessel. As its weapon batteries cooled for a moment the Defiant hit a burst of speed, everything Dax could get out of the engines. The distance between the two vessels closed. "Fire!"
Two torpedoes erupted from the launched and closed the distance in seconds. Two bright flashes erupted against the shields of the ship.
When it faded there was initially no sign of any damage on the ship. Any fears of ineffectiveness were quashed when Worf's report bellowed across the bridge. "Enemy vessel has lost all shields. I am also detecting minor hull damage!"
"Take us in for a...."
Sisko's order was cut off by another hard rocking of the ship. Sparks flew from several consoles and the electrical wiring within. "Benjamin, impulse drives aren't responding to full, we're down to half impulse!"
"We've lost shields," Nog added. "Armor damage on all decks."
"Bring us about!" Sisko keyed the internal comms. "Chief, I need more torpedoes!"
"You've got two more, Sir."
"Mister Worf, fire when ready!"
Worf began inserting commands into his station. Suddenly his fist slammed against the rim of the console. "Sir, forward torpedo launchers are not responding!"
"What?!"
"It's the internal power grid," Nog said. "We've taken too much damage..." As if to punctuate that, the ship rocked again, this time from fire by the remaining Al'kesh. "Torpedoes are offline and the phasers are down to forty percent."
At that time more bad news arrived through the internal comms. "Admiral, this is Olin! Doctor Herzela and I have had to abandon the port compartments with the power conduit, it's venting atmosphere into space."
"Understood, Mister Olin," Sisko grumbled.
"We're getting a signal from the main ship. They're demanding we surrender."
At that Sisko leveled a look at Dax. "Like hell. Bring us about. Mister Worf, use whatever weapons you can. If we go down, we're going down fighting."




The powerful detonations had rocked the Ha'tak quite fiercely. Hefetus was forced to hold on for dear life to avoid being tossed from his chair. "What was that?"
"The vessel fired two small projectiles that have completely demolished our shields," Tel'nor reported. "Our hull remains intact and all systems are still responding." There was a flash on his screen that made Tel'nor smile widely. "Our main weapon has scored another direct hit. Their shields are also depleted and I am reading extensive damage to their ship."
Hefetus smiled at that. "The gliders and Al'kesh shall finish disabling their vessel, I do not wish to have our main guns accidentally destroy them. Signal a demand for their surrender."
Tel'nor implemented his lord's orders succinctly. The vessel opposing them was wounded prey now, unable to flee and badly hurt, but the beast still had claws as she struggled against her tormentors, lashing out with her energy weapons at Gliders and the lone Al'kesh. "They are refusing surrender," Tel'nor remarked while the enemy ship moved toward them for a moment, lashing out with their energy weapons. The Ha'tak had only the slightest rumble. "Their weapon fire is ineffective."
"Then let them fire. I want that ship intact, Tel'nor. Of course..." Hefetus grinned cruelly. "I don't care if the crew is intact."




The second severe rocking smacked around the trio in the torpedo room even worse. Sam was the one to hit the floor this time, impacting on her right shoulder. Michaels was lucky to hold onto the final torpedo they were rigging.
O'Brien was not so lucky. He was at the internals of the torpedo system, trying to re-route power to restore the launchers. The sudden rocking was accompanied by a shower of sparks. The older man cried out and fell back, his hands covered with burns.
Sam was picking herself up off the floor when she heard a loud whistling sound, almost like a train whistle. "Hull breach!" O'Brien cried out while she reached for him to pull him out. "The emergency forcefields must have gone down, we've got to get out of here!"
Michaels was the first to the door. It began to slide closed right behind him. O'Brien slipped through, after which Sam literally squeezed through, barely making it. She fell as she forced herself through, the door sealing in front of them. Sam reached down and pressed the comm badge on O'Brien's chest. "Bridge, this is Major Carter. We've got a hull breach in the torpedo room."




Sam's report sounded like a death knell on the Defiant bridge. Among all the grim faces, Sisko's seemed the most oddly serene. "Mister Worf, phaser fire is not having an effect?"
"No sir."
"Very well." Sisko nodded to Dax. "Commander, I want every bit of impulse you can give me from the drive. Set our course directly for that Goa'uld ship."
He didn't need to explicitly say what he was planning. Virtually everyone on the bridge understood. "Colonel O'Neill..." Sisko turned his chair as far as he could and looked back to Jack, Teal'c, and Nate. "Colonel Mackensen. You and Mr. Teal'c are free to use the escape pods. I'll have Major Carter and Docor Michaels directed to them as well."
"It would not be right to abandon you, Admiral Sisko," Teal'c answered for them.
"My people knew what they were signing up for and this was our fight, not your's."
Jack shook his head. "Any fight against the Goa'uld is our fight too, Admiral. And we all knew the risks as well."
There was a nod of agreement from Nate. "Looks like we're...."
"Defiant, this is Jacob Carter. You might want to hold on for a few seconds," Jacob's voice said over Nate's radio. "We've got a plan here.."




A short time before the occupants of the cloaked Tel'tak were watching the battle earnestly and saw the twists that had led to Defiant's bad position. "I don't bloody get this, there's got to be something we can do!", Calgar shouted in frustration.
"Mister Carter..." Sakura leaned forward beside Jacob. "Was it just me, or did that Goa'uld ship's shields fail?"
"Give me a moment to check." Jacob started to move them closer and go over what sensor readings the Tel'tak was capable of.
Confirmation of a different sort came when Defiant's forward phasers fired and made clear impact on the hull. "Looks like they are down," Jacob remarked. He looked back. "Get the naquadah on the rings and set the charges! I'm going to get us into ringing range."
SPT-14 was quick in doing so, Valentino and Farrell attaching their own remaining charges to the devices to improve their effect. "Let us know when you're ringing, we'll set the charges to five seconds," Valentino called out.
After warning Defiant off her clear suicide run, Jacob weaved through the small field of fire, avoiding stray shots from the gliders and Al'kesh pursuing the Defiant. "Coming up on ring range, you ready?"
There were nods from the others, Daniel's hands on the ring controls.
Drawing closer, Jacob had to turn sharply to avoid a burst of fire from Defiant that had missed a glider. They came in a little too close to the Ha'tak, the Tel'tak nearly brushing against its pyramid hull as Jacob pulled it away. "Set the charges now!"
Valentino nodded and hit the activation key on his detonator in the same motion that Daniel hit the ring activation. The rings popped out from the ground and light enveloped the explosives.
Jacob hit the engines at full burn the instant the rings had finished, racing away from the mothership.




Hefetus was observing, with satisfaction, the gradual wearing down of the unknown extrauniversal Tau'ri vessel. Even if its crew died and the ship was heavily damaged, he was certain that by examining it he could uncover new technological secrets, including perhaps another device to allow the creation of interuniversal wormholes or some other way of completing the research that the Tau'ri sabotage had destroyed.
The Goa'uld was starting to get bored, even angry, with the continued survival of the small ship when Tel'nor's head came up and he turned to his lord. "My Lord, the rings are activating!"
"What?" Hefetus thought for a second. It had to be the now-cloaked Tok'ra vessel, perhaps trying to slip a combat team aboard to try and sabotage his ship. "Send all available Jaffa, destroy the intruders!"
Before Tel'nor could respond, the ship shook so violently that Hefetus was actually thrown from his chair. "What was that?!"
His Lord's demand prompted Tel'nor to begin frantically checking his station... which was barely functioning. "There was a major explosion on board. They must have ringed explosives in! We are venting atmosphere on several levels, weapons are down and we will not be able to regain shields!"
Hefetus howled in rage. "Get us out of here, then! Engage the hyperdrive!"
"My Lord, the damage...."
"DO IT!"
Tel'nor did so. And it was the last thing he would ever do.

The Ha'tak opened a hyperspace window and began to surge forward to enter it. Just as it began crossing the threshold of the window the weakened power grid of the mothership was overloaded by the draw of power into the hyperdrive. The power failed and the hyperdrive disengaged.
Had it done so a half second earlier, everything would have been relatively fine; the window would have collapsed and the Goa'uld ship stuck in realspace. But the extra half second was completely fatal. The ship, partially through the window, was torn apart by its sudden collapse. Half the vessel disappeared into hyperspace, half did not, but both were doomed by the sundering of the ship's main power plants. Torn apart, their internal naquadah subjected to the energies of the failed transferance, both halves suffered a devastating explosion that atomized them.




The sight was over in seconds. The damaged, torn up Goa'uld ship attempted its jump to hyperspace and seemed on the verge of making it when the hyperspace window collapsed, or visually at least, seemed to dissipate suddenly and without much violence. Not even a second later the remaining portion of the Ha'tak was vaporized by an intense explosion.
The sight of the ship's destruction, and with it Hefetus, the self-proclaimed ruler of Olympos, caused the remaining gliders and Al'kesh to pause for a fatal few seconds, in which Defiant's phasers lashed out once more. Even at partial power the damaged shields of the Al'kesh surrendered to their force finally, the vessel being blown apart. Lances of phaser fire lashed at the gliders "above" Defiant, wiping them out instantly.
Worf finished the work of eliminating the last enemy forces swiftly enough while the rest of the Defiant bridge crew began celebrating. "Carter to Defiant," Jacob's voice crackled over the comm speakers, "looks like the good guys win today."
"So it does, Mister Carter," Sisko answered cheerfully. "And this means our mission is accomplished. We'll meet you at Tarus." Sisko looked on to Dax. "Stand down from Red Alert. Old Man?"
"I'm setting a sublight course for Tarus. We're at about half impulse so it'll take us ten hours to get there." Dax confirmed the course.
The door at the rear of the bridge opened and Sam came through it, looking a little battered with her disheveled blonde hair. "I take it the lack of flashing red lights is a good sign?", she asked.

"Your father saved our bacon," Jack noted. "And we've added another Snakehead to our kill count."
"Mister Nog..." Sisko turned toward his Ferengi engineer. "Do you think you could shave some time off of that ten hour estimate?"
"I'll go see, Sir."
Sisko nodded and looked back to where Nate and three-quarters of SG-1 were standing. His eyes had a slight mischievous twinkle to them when he asked, "Major Carter, if you're up to it, would you like to assist in the repairs? I'm sure Mister Nog and Chief O'Brien will be up to giving you some on-the-job training?"
Sisko had cleverly read the interest the younger woman had in the technology and workings of his ship, given Sam Carter's reaction of slightly widened eyes and her reply of, "Well, I'd love to, Sir. Though I don't think the Chief will be joining us immediately, he had some pretty bad electrical burns on his hands."
"I'm sure Doctor Herzela will make up for that until our medics get to the Chief," Sisko answered. "Though I suppose it wouldn't hurt if you had a little extra help." He looked to Nate. "Colonel Mackensen, I know this isn't in your job description, but would you mind watching the bridge for me while I join the repair crews?"
Nate looked at Sisko in bewilderment. "Well, I suppose...."
"Excellent. Commander Nog, go get Doctor Herzela, Major Carter, you're with me." When Sam's expression betrayed even more bewilderment than Nate had, Sisko grinned and added, "Who better to show you how she works, Major, than the man who designed the Defiant and oversaw her construction?" With that said, he led them off the bridge.



Tarus, Open Territory
Universe Designate SRC-19
10 July 2173 AST



Seven hours after Hefetus, Lord of Olympos, was atomized in a flash of light, U.S.S. Defiant was loitering peacefully in orbit, proudly bearing the scars of damage upon her hull. Repairs to the impulse drive were mostly complete and attention was turned to the ship's power distribution system so that they could make the return jump to FHI-8.
Within the halls of the Defiant Sisko was walking with Sam beside him, the two having just finished re-routing power to a secondary conduit. Just seven hours of working beside the older admiral and starship engineer had given Sam more education about potential starship design and layout than years of theory might have provided.
"I tried to minimize the reliance on Jeffries tubes," Sisko was explaining to her, "though in the end the sizes of the ship and the component systems forced me to have a few more than I wanted. Of course, Defiant was never built to be pretty."
"Well, she is a tough little ship," Sam remarked. "I didn't think any ship this size could take a beating like that from a Goa'uld mothership."
"She is admittedly a bit too small for what she was meant to do, but I was given strict limits on dimensions and mass. So I did the best I could do."
"Since we're here to talk about it, I'd say you did pretty well."
"Carter!"
Sisko and Sam looked over to face Jack walking down from the mess hall. "Enjoy yourself?"
"Yes, Colonel, I think I did."
Jack nodded. "Admiral, Teal'c radioed from the surface. Selmak and Cadmilis have finished restoring the Stargate. We're about to head down and get ready to gate home."
"Very well." Sisko extended a hand. "Good luck out there, Colonel. I've enjoyed meeting you."
"Same from me, Sir. You did save our asses." Jack accepted the gesture and the two men shook hands. "Hopefully we'll get to build ships like these one day."
"I imagine you will, Colonel. I'll show you to the transporter room."




Back in proper place after an exile of eighty years, the Tarus Stargate lit up and performed its familiar "kawoosh". Seconds later figures emerged from the event horizon clad in Tok'ra style, having come to reclaim the long dormant cache of materials that the Tok'ra now intended to put to use. Selmak was issuing orders to them while Zaria rejoined SG-1 and SPT-14 as they stood in the large Gate chamber within the old pyramid palace of Ra. Resuming control of her body from Cadmilis, Zaria remarked, "Well, all's well that ends well. We actually won."
"Indeed," Teal'c said cherrfully... or rather what was cheerful for Teal'c.
Frank Parker nodded as well. "We did pretty well together. And we get to claim the joint kill on that Goa'uld."
"Yes, we do." Jack's head turned slightly to look at Zaria. "So, Zaharia, I guess you're hanging around now that you're a Tok'ra."
"No, actually, I'll be going home on the Defiant," Zaria said. "Kaetis is coming with us as well to help me and Nural."
"Help you do what?", Nate asked.
"It should be obvious, Colonel," Selmak said, approaching them. He nodded toward Zaria. "Why else do you think your President agreed to return the Stargate to Tarus? The deal was that in exchange for the Stargate, Nural would remain in your universes to provide technological information to the Alliance. Under the initial deal it was only him, of course, but the High Council will not object to Cadmilis joining him."
"So that's the plan? We return your Stargate and you send us technical advisors?"
"It was the opinion of the High Council that we all benefit from such an arrangement, in more ways than one. After all..." Selmak grinned slightly, as much as most Tok'ra did anyway. "...our help may help speed the process of when your Alliance would be capable of equaling the Goa'uld technologically as well as materially. Once this happens, what reason would your people have to avoid our universe? The Goa'uld would no longer pose such a threat to you. Under such circumstances, your return will spell the beginning of the fall of the System Lords."

"Well, hard to argue with that," Jack agreed. "Though I think they can be plenty of help now. All they need is a different Stargate."
"We do not oppose the Alliance seeking a presence in this universe right now," Selmak said, "but it is apparently their decision not to."
"Don't look at me," Nate said. "I didn't make that decision."

Two shimmering shafts of light appeared nearby, coalescing into the forms of Worf and Dax. The two stepped up toward the large group. "I see we're just in time," Dax remarked. "I asked Benjamin if we could see you all off."
"Right on time," Jack said, looking at his watch and then to the Stargate. "We were just about to call up Earth."
"Right." Dax reached into her jacket and revealed two objects. They were black boxes of a sort with lights on the end and a very obvious hookup port on the front. "It took some work, but I made these for you. They use standard data ports available to your era's computers." She handed one to Sam and the other to Daniel, each box having one of their names on the top in gold lettering. "A gift from Doctor Herzela and I."
Daniel looked his over. "What's in them?"
Zaria smiled gleefully. "For you, Doctor Jackson, a complete download from the University of New Chatman Xenoarcheology database. All those years of data for you to sift through at your leisure."
While Daniel looked down at the box and seemed to be holding it as if it were now a precious artifact, Dax and Zaria giggled before Dax looked to Sam. "As for you, Sam, that drive contains every bit of data that our Stargate Project Command has gathered on wormholes, Stargate-created ones and other types, in addition to a few technical schematics, technology explainations, that kind of thing." The Trill women exchanged a mischievous look. "We could probably get in trouble for it, but we decided it was a fitting parting gift."
"I... I don't know what to say," Sam remarked, looking over the box carefully.
"You did help rig those torpedoes and thus saved all our lives," Zaria said. "Consider us even."
"...Okay." Sam tucked the drive under an arm and her attention, and everyone else's, was drawn by Jack whistling by the DHD. "Ready, Sir?"
"The sooner we get back, the sooner we get debriefed, and the sooner I get back home and watch all the shows I've had to record," Jack answered.

Sam nodded, an amused look on her face, and went to the DHD to begin dialing Earth, Daniel moving beside her and cradling his own gift.
As Teal'c walked to join his comrades, Worf called out to him. The two warriors looked at each other for a moment. "Thank you for saving my life earlier," Worf commented.
"The thanks go to you, Worf. I look forward to sharing with many of my fellow Jaffa your slaying of Zeus. I hope to instill a similar spirit in my people when it comes to those who claim to be gods."
"I am honored that you consider me so highly." Worf reached around his back and took out the mek'leth he had used to kill Zeus. "I believe you might like to have this, as a token of our common success."
"I would not take your weapon from you."
"Consider it... a symbol," Worf said, not relenting in holding it out to Teal'c. "Something to show those Jaffa who are uncertain in their desire for freedom. A reminder that your foes are not gods and that even the most simple of weapons can slay them, so long as it is used by a warrior with a strong heart."
A smile crept across Teal'c's face. He bowed and accepted the Klingon blade from Worf. "Then, in that spirit, I am honored to accept." He clasped hands with Worf. "I wish you well, Worf."
"And I you, Teal'c. I look forward to the day we can return to this universe," Worf's grin turned predatory, "and drink to the destruction of the Goa'uld."
"As do I."

Behind them the Stargate activated. Sam pulled out their IDC and keyed in SG-1's ID code. She and Daniel stepped around the DHD while Nate walked up beside Jack. "It was good working with you, Jack."
"Same here, Nate." Jack accepted the offered handshake. "Maybe one day you can come back to this universe and come by. We can throw back a couple of cold ones, watch some 'Simpsons'... but no more spoilers!"
"I'd enjoy that," Nate answered.
Those final remarks said, Jack joined the rest of his team in heading to the Stargate. Before they could get up the final step and to the event horizon, Nate's voice called out, "Attention! Salute!"
SG-1 turned around and found SPT-14, Sakura, and Nate standing at military attention, giving off salutes. With slight, appreciative grins on their faces, Jack and Sam returned the salutes while Teal'c bowed his head and Daniel nodded in acceptance. "Take care of yourselves out there, SG-1," Nate said. "Hopefully we'll run into each other again some day."
"Yeah." Jack brought his hand back down. "Same to you, everyone. Have fun."
"Good luck," Parker called out.
Having heard him, SG-1 nodded as a whole. "SGC, this is Colonel O'Neill," Jack said into his radio. "SG-1 is coming home."
It was Hammond who answered, "We hear you, SG-1, the iris is open. Glad to have you back.."
"We're glad to be back, Sir." Jack exchanged one last friendly nod with Nate while his team entered the event horizon before stepping through himself.

SPT-14 stood at ease as the wormhole flashed out of existance. "Well, everyone, we're done here," Nate said. "Time for us to go home."
Dax pressed her comm badge. "Dax to Defiant, we're ready to beam up."
In two groups, the assembled disappeared, heading back home as well.



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Epilogue One


Brownsville SPT Facility, Brownsville, Bowie
Republic of Texas, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate FHI-8
14 July 2173 AST



There was a knock on the door of General Thompson's office. He put a photo of his family in the box and looked up. "Come on in."
The door opened and Nate entered, back in normal duty uniform with the SPT patch removed. He saluted and waited for Thompson to return it and allow him to relax from attention. "They're packing you up too, Sir?"
"I've been called to Washington," Thompson answered. "The President is having me give a full debriefing on the SPC's activities and discoveries to the Security Committee. After that, well, off to the Reserves I guess."
"Really?" Nate shook his head. "I figured they'd put you in charge of whatever R&D projects that our new Tok'ra advisors put together."
"The President's putting a slight hold on that for now, don't ask me why." Thompson shrugged. "Lord knows I don't know what goes on in that man's head sometimes. You're right, y'know."
"General?"
"We could have picked up another Stargate from SRC-19 and resumed operations," Thompson said. "But the President ordered the SPC to 'inactive status'."
"But not simply closed down?" Nate crossed his arms. "Sounds to me like the President and the Pentagon are up to something."
"Or maybe just him." Thompson leaned back in his chair. "So, how about you? Returning to New Appalachia and Camp Wilcox?"
Nate shook his head. "Nah, they replaced me already." He looked to a seat and took it when Thompson gestured to it. "I might be taking some leave time actually while the Corps decides on where they want me."
"Off to see family?"
"Yeah. I have grandkids to spoil and a college-going son who I should be spending more time with." Nate sighed. "Plus a few other things I want to wrap up."
Thompson gave a nod. "Well, good luck out there Colonel," he said warmly, extending his hand. "You might not have spent a lot of time here, but it's been an honor serving with you."
"The same here, General." Nate accepted the hand. The two men shook on their short service together and went their seperate ways.




Parker knocked on the door for a few moments before it was finally answered by the room's occupant. Sakura appeared at the door in a red kimono, her hair slightly disheveled. "Ah, Major Parker. How are you?"
"Just coming by to say it was an honor serving with you, Ma'am," he replied, clad as he was in normal duty uniform. "Already gave my goodbyes to my team and to the General and Colonel Mackensen."
"That's good." Sakura gestured toward her quarters. "Want to come in for a moment, get out of the hall?"
"Sure ma'am." He followed her into the room and let her close the door behind him. Her room was spartan enough and a lot of things were already packed up, save a beautiful pair of Japanese swords still hanging on wall mantles. "I'm being assigned to be second-in-command of the 24th Recon."
"Colonel Mackensen's old unit?" Sakura smiled at him. "Did he have a hand in it?"
"Yeah." Parker returned the smile. "I guess the Colonel was impressed with how SPT-14 performed and figured I was cut out for the job."
"That's good. What about everyone else?"
"They're all returning to their services as well for various postings," Parker remarked, "though I've heard Lt. Colette is going to be allowed to accept early assignment to the Department of Colony Settlement for the Interior Ministry, she'll probably be leaving the service altogether in a couple of years."
"That's nice."
"And what about you?" Parker asked.

"Oh, back to the Magistracy," Sakura remarked. "The Magestrix has apparently asked for me, personally, to be her intelligence advisor and liaison to AID."
"Spook work, then?" Smirking at that, Parker added, "You don't seem much the type."
"Well, not by Canopian standards anyway. But if I told you anything more I'd have to kill you," Sakura answered with a sly, mischievous expression. "So, good luck, Major. Hopefully you'll be made Colonel yourself one day."
"Good luck, Major," Parker answered, leaving afterward.



Nate was done packing and about to head up to the bus taking him back to Brownsville when a knock sounded on his door. He went over and opened it, admitting Zaria. She was wearing fully-civilian clothing now, a red sleeveless blouse and slightly-less red slacks. "I wanted to come by and say goodbye," she said. "Even without Cadmilis wanting me to anyway so he could thank you."
"Thank me for?"
"For saving Kaetis," she answered. "Castox may have been the one in love with her, but Cadmilis has some... sentiments toward her too."
"Well, he's welcome," Nate answered, making one final check of the room as Zaria spoke. "I hear that the President's put everything on hold?"
"Somewhat. Frank and I will be going with General Thompson to Washington to see what the President has in mind."
"Calling him Frank now?"
Zaria chuckled at that. "Yes, it seems to be a thing, except for senior Tok'ra, for hosts to use host names and symbiotes to use symbiote names."
"Hrm." Confident he'd gotten everything, Nate finally looked at Zaria. "So staying here until you leave?"
"Actually, I'm taking a hotel room in Brownsville," she answered. "What about you?"
"Same thing. Military's offering me a flight back home, I leave tomorrow evening."
"Ah, well then..." Zaria's smiled impishly. "How would you like dinner on me, Colonel?"
"Another offer for a date?" Nate answered the smile with one of his own. "I thought I wasn't your type?"
"Generally not," she admitted, "but Cadmilis thinks I might be wrong."
That caused Nate to laugh. "Okay, sure, a dinner date tonight. But first..." He nodded slightly at her. "You can call me Nate now."
"And you may call me Zaria," she replied.



Harrisburg Military Cemetary, Harrisburg, New Cascadia
United States of America, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate LRC-19
18 July 2173 AST




For most purposes the military cemetary at Harrisburg, placed near the joint Marine/Navy Pfeizer Base, was meant solely to intern military veterans who desired to consign their remains to the area, in sight of the snow-capped Clark Mountain Range that stretched to the west of the coastal city. But exceptions were sometimes made for the dependents and families of veterans, especially in light of tragedy.
Wearing military duty uniform, Nate Mackensen stood over a tombstone that stood alone in its lot. The granite marker bore a child-like angel sculpture on top and was quite well-preserved.
Nate's eyes lowered to the inscription on the tombstone.

Quote:
GEORGE SIMON MACKENSEN
b. 8 MAY 2693
d. 19 SEPTEMBER 2703
BELOVED SON OF NATHAN AND SARAH



Grass rustled behind Nate while he looked at the tombstone. His eyes were already starting to well with tears. Just looking at his son's grave reopened the terrible wound within him. It was an agonizing experience, agonizing enough that Nate could barely bring himself to visit his son's grave simply from the pain it brought.
"I'm surprised you're here." Sarah had moved up to stand beside Nate, clad completely in black with a small bouquet of flowers in her left hand.
"I couldn't stay away any longer," Nate answered. "It wasn't fair to him. How's Jim?"
"Waiting for me in the car," Sarah answered. "He saw you and didn't think he should come up."
"Ah." Nate sighed deeply. "I hope you two have a happy life together, Sarah. God knows I didn't deserve it, not after how I acted."
"Nate..." Sarah shook her head sadly. "I know you've always blamed yourself for George."
"Like you have."
"No!", Sarah denied hotly. "I blamed you for how you reacted to it! I blamed you for wanting to adopt the children and then leaving me to raise them while your buried yourself in your career! You weren't being fair to anyone, not to me, not to the kids, and not to yourself! Certainly not to George." Sarah took in a breath while tears came down her eyes. "He adored you, Nathan. By all rights he should have been bitter that his father spent so much time away from him, but to George it just made you that much greater. Everything he did in school, every plan he had for when he grew up, was so that you'd be proud of him."

Nate rubbed his eyes, allowing him to wipe the tears out in the process. "I should have been there that day, Sarah. I'll never forgive myself for that."
"You'll come around one day," she insisted. "So, would you like to come with us to dinner? Furel is coming by."
"You and me, with Jim, at dinner?" Nate gave his ex-wife a look. "Are you sure that'll work? That he won't find work to do at home to avoid me?"
She smiled slightly. "I'll go make it clear to him that I expect him there, or he's going to be in a great deal of marital trouble."
That made Nate chuckle. He let out a whistle. "Oh, I remember marital troubles. Well, if you insist Sarah..."
"I do." She took Nate's hand. "Could I do anything less for our son's birthday?"
At that Nate could only nod. She turned back to the grave and laid her flowers upon it. She gently kissed the granite tombstone and whispered something to the spirit of their son before walking off to go to her new husband.
Nate stood there for a few moments. Finally he dropped to one knee before his son's grave and reached into his jacket pocket. The framed picture that came out was a copy of one of his favorites from George's last birthday party, showing his son trying out a "junior Marine" uniform with private stripes - while Nate wore the real thing with Sergeant chevrons - and opening a birthday present beside Nate.
Gently, reverently, he laid it upon the ground in front of the tombstone. "I miss you, George," Nate sighed. "I miss you very much. I hope you're not alone, wherever you are." Thinking of something and smiling sadly. "And if you happen to run into a kid named Charlie O'Neill, take care of each other, would you?"
With his peace said, Nate stood up and walked toward his gesturing ex-wife and her sedan, ready to move on to the next stage of his life.



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Epilogue Two




The White House, Washington D.C, Earth
Earth Union, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
21 July 2173 AST



General Thompson was brought in to the conference room to find it mostly vacant save, of course, for the Alliance President. In person Dale struck him as reserved with a straight back and posture from military training not too different from Thompson if, of course, one considered their different services. "General, thank you for the debriefing these past couple of days," Dale remarked, cordially extending a hand to Thompson. "I hope the Committee wasn't too much of a bother."
"It was quite alright, Mister President," Thompson answered. He took the offered seat and watched Dale retake his seat at the head of the table. "Is there anything else you wished to ask me?"
"Not about the final report, no. At least not what's in it." Dale leaned forward in his chair. "General, I've made a decision that, I suspect, will be highly unpopular in the circles of the Pentagon aware of the Stargate Project. And I would prefer having you on board for this than not."
Thompson nodded slowly, possibilities beginning to shift through his mind. He knew enough of the Alliance military command's attitudes toward his former posting that he suspected it wasn't about the decision to not seek another Stargate from SRC-19. "What decision is this, Mister President?"
Dale crossed his hands on the table. "I'm going to present the final report on the Stargate Project Command to a secret session of the Interuniversal Commerce and Exploration Committee."

Thompson nodded stiffly at that and let out a sigh. "Yeah, I can imagine how the Pentagon will respond to that."
"This whole thing with our Tok'ra advisors is, frankly, too big for the Alliance to go on alone about," Dale continued. "It represents a potential shift in the balance of power that would be dangerous to the Multiverse and to our relations with other powers, not to mention our rather flagrant violation of the spirit of the Treaty of New Brasilia. Now, if we openly admit what we've done and offer to place the SPC under IUCEC oversight and to make R&D efforts with the Tok'ra advisors an IUCEC project, the fruits of which to be enjoyed by all signatory states, the damage would be limited. If we try to hide it and leave it to some future administration to confess to after we've suddenly started fielding advanced technology.... I don't even want to think of the damage that would do."
"I can already imagine what the Brits will do over this," Thompson remarked, referring to the powerful and standoffish British Empire from his own home universe. Like their CON-5 counterparts they were the most powerful individual state in FHI-8 and, while not overtly hostile to the ADN, they had charted a fiercely individual course in the Multiverse and as IUCEC signatories that was often at odds with ADN desires or interests.
"Exactly," Dale remarked. "And when the time comes, General, I'd like you to be present when the report is presented and to provide answers to Committee members with further curiosity."
Thompson considered the request for a moment. All parts of the man - his sense of duty, his patriotism for Texas, his admitted self-interest in his career - conflicted for a time until he relented with a nod. "I'd be happy to, Mister President."
"Thank you," Dale said. "I'll arrange for transport for you to the meeting when the time comes. Is there anything you'd like to ask?"
"No sir," Thompson answered. "If it's okay with you, I'd like to go? I have a flight to catch so I can get home and catch up with the great-grandkids."
"Go right ahead, General," Dale said, watching Thompson leave. With that settled, he had one last thing to do for these arrangements, the timing of which would be critical....




The Alliance Embassy, Valeria, Grenya Colenta
Talora Prime, Taloran Star Empire
Universe Designate VS-5
30 July 2173 AST



It was not often that Jhastimia Rulandh, the Archduchess Leluno, visited the Alliance Embassy, at least not in the private manner as requested by the Ambassador. Dressed as a high-ranking naval officer in a way that completely obscured her true role - that of close friend and confidant of the Empress Saverana II herself - she waited patiently for admittance to the banquet hall where the Ambassador awaited her.
Once assignment to the Embassy had been a long-range job, with the trip home measuring over a month. But the success of the Wells-Intuit Accords and Taloran accession to the IUCEC had brought with it, these past eight years, the arrival of IU Jump Gate Assemblies, from which goods and persons flowed to and from the Taloran Empire to the rest of the Multiverse. That had probably helped keep Princess Elizabeth Windsor in the post she'd now held for a decade as Alliance Ambassador to the Court of the Sword.
"Your Highness," Elizabeth greeted her guest, using the utmost politeness and a fairly good approximation of Taloran, a language she'd carefully studied these past ten years. "Thank you for coming."
"Your Highness, it is always a pleasure to be your guest." It was not the first time that the Archduchess and the Princess-Ambassador had dined together in such privacy. Their dining engagements, though not often, were enjoyable in more ways than one, as they usually signaled close and personal communications being directed from their respective Heads of State. "I see you have served Truvalia again?"
"I have acquired a taste for it," Elizabeth admitted.

The two women sat and ate for a short while. "Your HIghness, President Dale has entrusted me with a communication of the utmost importance," Elizabeth said carefully. "Something he desires to be taken directly to the eyes of Her Serene Majesty."
Jhastimia's ears moved in a way signaling her interest.
Elizabeth revealed, from the folds of her jacket, a data disc. "The President is going to have this presented to the IUCEC in the classifed meeting planned for next month. He wants the Empress to have an advance look at it as a gesture of goodwill and respect."
Jhastimia took the data disc and noticed the cover on it.
Stargate Project Final Report.




InterStellar Alliance Complex, Tuzanor, Minbar
Minbari Federation, InterStellar Alliance
Universe Designate EM-5



President Delenn looked closely at the object that Ambassador Ichiro Kagawa had handed her. "Ambassador Kagawa, I am a little... confused. Just what is this 'Stargate' being referred to and what does it have to do with the IUCEC?"
"A great deal, I think," Kagawa answered. "The President doesn't want to let this be a surprise to you or the Minbari government, Madame President. He wants you to know what we intend to put forth in the upcoming secret session of the IUCEC."
"Yes, I see." Delenn considered the disc carefully. "I suppose that depending on what I read here, I may very well go to Babylon-5 to attend that meeting in person."
"I think that President Dale would appreciate having you there, Madame President," Kagawa remarked.




The Triad, Tharkad City, Tharkad
District of Donegal, Lyran Commonwealth
Universe Designate MWB-32



"I can see why President Dale sent this notification first." Data from the final report of the Stargate Project was playing over the noteputer on the ornate desk of Archon Victor Ian Steiner-Davion, ruler of the Lyran Commonwealth. He still maintained himself in distinctly military style though he had, years before, began committing himself to the causes his deceased mother Melissa and first wife Anne had embraced, his contribution to their memories.
It would take a practiced eye, certainly not the ones on Ambassador Guy Francois, to notice the markings on Victor's limbs where all four had been restored by implantation of cloned tissue. Some scars still lingered from the terrible blast that had claimed the lives of so many - including Melissa Steiner, Anne Windsor-Steiner-Davion, Salome Kell, and very nearly his own - eighteen years before. The Frenchman ceased considering that matter and remarked, "I believe he is concerned about the reaction if this information were to be suddenly foisted upon the IUCEC signatories. I believe you are not the only signatory Head of State to receive this."
"What I am reading here, Mister Ambassador, could be seen as a grievous breach in the spirit of the New Brasilia Treaty. Something the IUCEC would not, could not, take lightly." Victor put his hands together on the desk. "President Dale is seeking to avoid trouble should he and his successor attempt to hide it."
"The President obviously felt the gains to be had were great," Francois said. "And the technology to be gained now, he does not want just the Alliance to hold it. He knows how dangerous that would be for all of us. If the IUCEC were to direct its development and implementation evenly among all signatories, however...."
"The President's gesture is certainly in good faith, I'll say that." Victor turned the noteputer off. "I'll have appropriate instructions delivered to Baron Freiburg. Extend my thanks to His Excellency for his actions in this manner."
"I will, Your Highness."



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Epilogue Three


Stargate Command, Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado
United States of America, Earth
Universe Designate SRC-19
Sometime in 2000 Local Time/2174 AST



Daniel was busily staring at his computer screen when a knock on his door made him turn. The door was already open, as he typically left it, though he still turned to see who was there. Sam was standing in the doorway, hands folded in front of her. "General Hammond has finished going over our reports on what happened in Egypt," she explained. "I'm sorry, Daniel."
He nodded slowly. They had just returned with Dr. Frasier from a mission to Egypt that had seen the Goa'uld Osiris, freed from a stasis container after thousands of years in slumber, escape from them in the body of Sarah Gardner, someone whom Daniel still had quite a few happy memories and feelings for. That another person close to him had been forcibly taken as a Goa'uld host was rubbing salt on the wound left by Sha're's abduction and eventual death. "I guess Jack and Teal'c are still up in Minnesota?"
"They should be coming back soon," Sam answered. She smiled slightly. "Probably would be better for Teal'c if they did. Of course I could be wrong and he might be enjoying himself. He's not even answering his phone anymore."
Daniel smirked. "Well, knowing Jack, he probably did something like throw the battery in the lake after I called."
"So, what are you doing?" Sam stepped closer, looking at what was on Daniel's screen.
"Oh, just looking through more of the material on my gift last year." Daniel put a hand on the black data drive box that had his name on it. "It's just... amazing. We haven't discovered many genuinely alien species out there yet, nothing like what's in here. I'm hoping they eventually return just so I can get a chance to actually visit some of these sites one day."

"Ah." Sam nodded, thinking of how her own gift had helped her own research immensely. Some of the applications from that drive, as well as what she carefully remembered of participating in repair work on the Defiant, was proving especially useful in the Prometheus Project. "Which alien ruin is that?"
"Oh, it's from a world identified as being in the Bajoran Republic, situated in the outskirts of the 'Badlands', whatever that is." Daniel tapped his pen at the edge of the screen, showing a rudimentary starmap. "Ten years ago they discovered it and began excavating it. According to the archeologists who studied the site, it corresponds with an ancient group of races called 'the Furies' who ruled an empire in that section of the galaxy thousands of years ago."
"That's kind of a strange name for a race."
"Well, the material here says that the local civilizations have already encountered them about twelve decades ago. They sent a scout ship back into Earth's quadrant of the galaxy from the other end using some kind of short-term stable wormhole, well, if you don't count the fact that it virtually destroyed an entire solar system on our end in the process. The ship was eventually deemed hostile and had to be destroyed by a Klingon armada provisionally led by Captain Kirk of the Enterprise..." Daniel looked up at Sam and added, "...and no, I really don't think we should tell Jack that part."
"My lips are sealed," Sam promised.

"Anyway, not a lot is known about them save for the scope of their old empire. There's still discoveries here and there, some indications that they tried another invasion and were thwarted again, but this appears to be the most substantial find on the Furies." Daniel was flipping through images. "I'm just curious as to the name and its possible relation to the Erinyes, the beings of Greco-Roman myth who performed acts of vengeance for the dead." He changed images and brought up one showing a control surface of the old ruin. Suddenly Daniel's attention was fully upon the screen, his mouth dropping a bit from surprise. "What... Sam, look at this."
"What?" Sam leaned over Daniel's shoulder while he brought up the picture, a close shot of a control surface and the characters upon it. She blinked at the screen and began to look slowly and carefully at them. "They're familiar. Should they be?"
"Yes." Daniel turned his head and looked up at her. "It's... if I'm looking at that and reading it correctly, the language is.... it's an altered form of Ancient, Sam."
"Ancient?" The look of surprise she gave was rather strong. "Are you sure, Daniel?"
"Oh, about eighty to ninety percent positive. The characters and how they're arranged are just too similar." Daniel tapped his pen on the monitor screen. "The ancient Furies' language was Ancient. Do you know what this means?"
Sam nodded slowly. "You'd better make a report on this. If you're right, then the Ancients..."
"....were capable of interuniversal travel," Daniel finished for her. "Maybe that's why the Alliance was able to turn a normal Stargate's wormhole into an interuniversal one. The Stargates might very well have been only the first step in a technology that eventually allowed travel between universes."
Sam began to look intently at the image on Daniel's screen. "So, somewhere out there in the Multiverse, there could be other Ancient libraries or outposts, just waiting to be discovered."




Alnitak System, Undisclosed Region
Holy Roman Empire
Universe Designate Habsburg-1 (non-IUCEC universe designation)
2175 AST



The crystalline architecture of the ancient facility reminded Vizadmiraal Erich Müller that he was not in an Imperial base of fortress. The builders, whoever they were, had vacated the premises an unimaginable period of time ago, with the jumpsuited technicians that swarmed the premises mere interlopers. As he entered what the boffins assured him was some kind of control room, beside the main hall and its puzzling terminals, one of the techs rudely pushed by him.

He suppressed a scowl and the desire to berate the lower-ranking technician. Kommodore Thomas Pranchit, the commander of the facility, stood inside the room and looked apologetic. Another Bureau of Naval Intelligence man, he was wearing the light blue uniform of the Imperial and Royal and so stood out from the other two men in the room, both civilians and dressed in nondescript black business suits.

“We are about to begin, sir.” Pranchit tugged at his stand-up collar nervously, an old habit he had never quite kicked. And the damned things were stiff. “The addition of a solar energy satellite system to the fusion reactor output should provide enough energy to activate the... artifact.” He gestured to a table and chairs, waiting over by the “window” overlooking the hall. “If you’d like to take a seat?”

Müller nodded, and slid out the nearest steel-pressed folding chair. History was going to be made here, but the accountants were just as anal with the secret budget as with the regular. “How secure is the room?” He looked behind him, at the rows of technicians seated besides various terminals, controlling the allocation of power to the artifact and interfacing with the reconstructed computer core. They would all be cleared, of course...

“Ah, them.” Pranchit shrugged. “We had to use a powerful AI under DNI control to reconstruct the core programming for this artifact. Naval Intelligence has found it convenient to extend that interface to all computer functions involving the recovered technology. They are all quite out of it, and I have issued orders for no one else to be admitted to the room without my express authorization.”

One of the men in black nodded, not in agreement but as though he was acknowledging the data. Müller himself had not been introduced to them, and from his expression neither had Pranchit. The Evidenzbüro moved in mysterious ways...

It was the other man in black that spoke first, in flawless (too flawless) Standard German. “These men are quite absorbed. We know that you have thirty four psychics on hand to monitor the DNI interfaces, and a kill-switch on your person to erase the AI and all Imperial programming in the core. Wise precautions, Kommodore Pranchit.”

Pranchit was surprised, and brought his hand up to tug on his collar again. “Erm, yes. We can’t be too careful where security is concerned. If it had not been for several lapses on the part of the Alliance, we would never have begun this present project.”

“The Alliance lacks our more sophisticated understanding of physics and the advantage of our interfaces,” the one talkative civilian began. “They needed to allow the scientists they brought in to publish some of what they uncovered. To proliferate important but not classified discovered through their academic establishment, and to draw in talented researchers who might have otherwise lost tenure or standing for not publishing. We would have done the same if we had not already cracked the computer core three hundred years ago.”

The facility was located on a rocky planetoid in a suspiciously stable orbit around a massive gas giant just far enough from the massively energetic Type O star to avoid the worst radiation effects. After being discovered in the rush of conquest that accompanied the Imperial Restoration it had been combed for secrets and technology, and had mostly disappointed. The computer systems could be cracked but not replicated, despite furious effort, and provided little help for development lines of existing systems. The power requirements for simply booting up the facility’s computer core had been incredible by the standards of the time, and it had failed to deliver schematics or blueprints.

It had however contained a lot of useful information on mathematics and some intriguing assumptions about hyperspace physics that Imperial academics were still unraveling. The IU portal program, for all that it had brought about, owed its success to the very basic principles gleaned from the computer core or inspired by cryptic formulas that had baffled the original discoverers. And it had contained an enormous library of systems that had been visited and catalogued by the builders. One file had contained the coordinates of a hellish world where proto-Ssi;Rissan had been stalking prey, and had paved the way for the destruction of the perennial foe’s homeworld during the Sixth War. Others had provided clues to habitable worlds for settlement out on the fringe, and some other files had given evolutionary scientists and planetary geologists the fits.

And now the facility would yield another prize.

As the collection of spooks looked on, technicians began the process of feeding enormous amounts of power into the facility, into the artifact. Others began the delicate process of coaxing the computer core to restore control over the artifact’s functions. Fortunately, it appeared to have only two real commands, open and close. The language of the builders was imperfectly translated, but the universal mathematical language which their programming had been based on was rather easier to unravel. After spurts, and stops, the programming hidden deep in the computer core sputtered to life.

In the central hall, an iron ring awoke.



FINIS

(Note: Second epilogue was written by Chris aka Cavalier.)



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

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