Chapter 18Stargate Command, Cheyenne Mountain
Earth, United States of America
Universe Designate SRC-19
24 October 2178 AST
The conference room overlooking the Gate Room bustled with activity as SGC staff members went about checking papers and laying things out for the meeting to come. Jack and Nate were in uniforms looking out at the activity from Jack's office. Business was set to begin soon, though it didn't keep them from making small talk. "So, how did your call last night go?" Jack asked.
"Oh, Ivvie was understanding," Nate answered, an expression of relief on his face. "Apparently the honeymoon went extremely well so I imagine that took the edge off."
"Decide where you're going to be living?"
"Daniel said something about an open apartment where he's staying. I figure I'll go check it out in a few days, after we get all this business done."
"So.... these 'Talorans', Commander Triulajha is one right?"
"Yeah. And from what I've seen of them he's about standard for them. Really stiff-necked, formal people. They have a feudalist society. And the women are tall
"How tall? Are we talking 'healthy six feet' or 'hates ceiling fans' tall?"
"Midway I think. I've not exactly met a lot of Talorans in my life, Jack."
The phone on Jack's desk rang. He picked it up. "General O'Neill..... okay, send them down. Have someone bring them straight to the conference room." Looking at Nate as he put the phone down, Jack said, "Our guests are here."
The other members of SG-1 arrived just ahead of the dignitaries, taking seats further down the table while Jack and Nate occupied two of the top seats. Captain Data and Zaria had beamed down to attend the meeting, given its likely content and what it meant for the Gray Star
Hammond entered first in full dress uniform. He was followed by Count di Montecuccoli, sent to represent the IUCEC Special Directorate, with the dimunitive form of the Zohan Chief Executive Mar'tov behind him. Following were SRC-19 Earth officials that were part of the briefing, consisting of the bureaucrat Richard Woolsey, Russia's SGC liaison Colonel Chekov, and Chinese official Shen Xiaoyi.
Also present, coming in beside and behind Count Montecuccoli, was the Taloran delegation.
The individuals who entered seemed certainly as striking as might be imagined. The leader was at least six and a half feet tall, and sex was initially indistinct, but surely female; long, long hair fell in considerable waves down to her mid-thigh, a royal blue colour that was tinged with silver in places, and her eyes a relaxed and vivid yellow-flecked-green. The uniform was laden with silver braid, and held a gold sash over a vivid garnet-coloured jacket which showed a vermillion blouse and blue vest below it, the pants being a subdued navy blue, but they bore bright red piping with orange trims. The height of the heavy boots they wore only accentuated things, and to top it off, the black hat--a fore-and-aft style hat like an old Admiral's, with the high Taloran ears jutting out, free, to each side--was prominently adorned with a series of feathers like those of a tropical bird.
In similar uniform was a younger-seeming--no silver--and shorter Taloran, only six foot two inches, about, who carried a notebook computer tucked under one arm, with cobalt blue hair and brilliant orange-red eyes; the feathers adorning her cap held a different pattern, however. Two lower-ranking officers, they surely had to be officers, trailed subdued behind them, one a tallish female with blonde hair and blue eyes, and a male with lavendar hair and yellow eyes. The two lower ranking personnel stood back while, elder first, then the younger, the two presented themselves:
"I am Admiral Ritadhi Uroijha of Her Serene Majesty's Imperial Starfleet; greetings, officers of the various nations. I represent the Taloran government and am the head of the Imperial Starfleet Security Division. My compatriot is Rear Admiral Fiyesia Hulamjhui, commander of the High Energy Research project's Applied Testing Division," she gestured to the younger Taloran at her side. "Greetings, and thank you for your hospitality in the journey over."
"General Jack O'Neill, Commander of the SGC," Jack answered. He went on to introduce the others. "I hope you folks had a nice trip. I was wondering why you just didn't use that nifty transporter tech that the Asgard just installed on Gray Star
"A pleasure to meet you, General," Ritadhi answered as the two ranking officers sat down.
"It's still being considered as to its religious impact," Fiyesia answered for her senior commander. "It appears to operate on extremely different principles from the matter-disrupting copy devices that the old United Federation of Planets used, but more rigorous testing is required by the relevant Farzian religious specialists on scientific impact before we'd feel it appropriate for use. Generally the threat of the technological disruption of the soul must be taken rather seriously, and is, by our people. I do not expect you to find this rational, but nonetheless this is--as it is, General.."
There was an uneasy look on Daniel's face as he looked at Jack with an expression that pleaded for him to not make any comments. Giving a wry grin to Nate, Jack remarked, "Well, it's no big deal. I'm not the best judge of what's rational and what's not. I've been told I'm completely crazy on a few occasions..." Noticing the bemused expression on Hammond's face, Jack waved his hand. "Anyway, on to business I guess."
"It would be preferable. I understand that you have a force standing under siege on a planet in a distant galaxy--the relief of which we would have considered, as well as its existence, the subject of farce only months ago," Admiral Uroijha answered. "Well, in strict theory, perhaps, for we were already well underway with the research to some of the theoretical aspects of Goa'uld technology, and related subjects, including Tylium refinement.
"This situation is an urgent one, and so we don't want to detain you for very long," the Admiral continued, her ears flexing, a tip flipping to the right a bit, "Considering the need to organize the relief force and quickly begin. So I'll turn the main details over to Rear Admiral Hulamjhui."
"To elaborate," the younger Taloran continued soothly, "we've come with a ship of the latest type, inspired by the Gray Star
, which has sufficient energy loading capacity to handle enough energy from a ZPM to match Asgard hyper-speeds for intergalactic travels, as well as a delivery of weapons grade Tylium since we understand that the fleet stocks of such weapons has been largely expended by the engagement over Earth. I am functionally in control of operations about the Empress Mikela the Great
and so I've come to coordinate directly as to how the relief efforts have been handled. Her Honour the Admiral Uroijha came along over certain security matters which Her Serene Majesty has authorized for general dissemination to the IUCEC and related groups, the Earth coalition here included."
"We are currently preparing to send reinforcements to Atlantis through the Stargate," Hammond explained. "One of the ZPMs recovered from the being Maedhv is being set up to provide our Stargate with enough power to dial into the Atlantis Gate. We can then send through troops and any equipment that can be fit through the Gate. We're also sending through three of the ZPMs so they can restore complete power to the city and we'll be sending Daedalus
to Pegasus to aid them in fighting the siege. Naturally any help we can get from the New Brasilia Treaty nations would be highly appreciated."
"We have already agreed to send the Gray Star
to join the Earth vessel Daedalus
," di Montecuccoli said. He looked to Data and asked, "Captain, how are your repairs and refitting going?"
"We will be ready to depart for Pegasus within the next thirty hours," Data answered. "Hermiod and the Asgard engineers have been quite thorough in refitting the Gray Star
with examples of their technology as well as assisting in repairs from our battle with the Replicators."
"We'll be ready by that operational date," Fiyesia replied. "The Empress Mikela the Great
is a Queen Keralka
-class Line Ship of the Imperial fleet which was taken in hand while still a year from completion and extensively altered with the addition of Goa'uld technology authorized from the IUCEC projects bureau--of which the Empire is of course a member. We, I believe, beat out a comparable new-build design by the Alliance due to the modification process being favoured to bring such a project to fruition," she added with a faint bit of amusement. "And for that we can present her here fully operational, with an improved armour based around Tylium energy dissipation, far enhanced main particle cannon, and multiple shield banks derived from Goa'uld generators, all powered by Tylium moderated fusion. Short of SRC-19, or perhaps comparable to it, we've so far found certain sectors of our own universe to contain some of the richest Tylium reserves in the universe and because of that we've brought several tonnes of weapons grade Tylium with us as well as the ship herself for the sake of adding in the reinforcement efforts."
Daniel brought up a hand. "Um, Tylium? May I ask..."
"It's their name for naquadah, Daniel," Sam answered for the others, having figured out what Fiyesia was referring to. "Though it makes me wonder why certain universes would have observable differences in the availability of naquadah."
"Well, it's interesting, but we have our own mystery related to this Maedhv of your's," Admiral Uroijha began, a bit hesitantly. "You see, we encountered a group of humans fleeing from a race of cyborgs, some years ago, far beyond known human territory in the Empire. Almost all Tylium in the Empire comes from their region, where we lately discovered some interesting facts relevant to these most recent of developments, and during the war with these cyborgs a series of events happened with the strictest of classification, which it has now been our decision to disseminate to the IUCEC generally."
"Well, by all means Admiral." Jack smiled and put his hands together. "Disseminate away."
"Thank you, General." Admiral Uroijha turned to her younger counterpart and stretched out a six-fingered hand, wide and extremely long, perhaps the most creepily alien thing on them, beyond the flamboyant colours, the off-kilter skin tone, and the great height and relative physical androgyny. "If you'd give me the display, Fiyesia?"
The younger Rear Admiral shifted her ears subtly and brought the notebook computer up, unlatching it and revealing inside a full holoprojector mount, the computer flipping open 180 degrees to rest on the table, and the 'screen' covered in green glowing writing in an abugida, scrolling past as she tapped out a series of commands. Then the display expanded to highland a segment of the galaxy--their galaxy--spinward of Earth in the Orion Arm. "The Oralnif Spinward Sector," Fiyesia offered cooly. "And beyond it, highlighted in red, the Confederacy of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol. The world of Kobol and Second Earth are highlighted precisely in yellow, and in blue is the Cylon homeworld, the Cylons being the referenced cyborgs which attacked the Twelve Colonies, which are now a Taloran protectorate."
"The war with the Cylons happened roughly over the years 2169 to 2170 of the Alliance Standard Calendar, Year of the Empire 619, about nine to eight human years ago," Admiral Uroijha continued smoothly. "The Cylons executed the genocide of about ninety-five percent of the Colonial populations via neutron bombardment of their worlds in a surprise attack, after their computer systems had been compromised by sabotage which allowed the Cylons to shut down most of the command functions of their Starfleet's forces. Only three warships escaped, one of them crippled and on a high acceleration sublight burn. The other two escaped intact with a smattering of small ships. Ultimately we retrieved ninety thousand survivors in this fashion. The rest of the survivors were trapped on the worlds of the Colonies, including many who were hoarded into experimentation or death camps."
"Great, killer robots," Jack murmured.
Sam brought up a hand. "Wait, 'Second Earth'?", she asked incredulously.
"Yes, a Second Earth," Admiral Uroijha answered. "To be precise there are two perfectly identical Sol systems in our Milky Way, in different locations. We discovered this during the later stages of the war after we'd defeated the Cylon fleets in a series of running battles and engineered the defection of a significant portion of their forces. At this point we succeeded in defeating their offensive, after it had killed some billions of humans under our protection, alas. The world of Kobol is the most interesting point--it was settled about thirteen thousand years ago and yet was understood to be by the humans of the Twelve Colonies, the homeworld of the human species, while Earth, their legendary Terra, was but a thirteenth colony."
"We were attacked, when landing over Kobol, by a single suicide ship of interesting configuration. Admiral Fiyesia...?"
The image on the holoplot moved into the Kobol system, and then flashed up to a large display over the table of the bridge of a warship, with a heavily scarred face, seaweed-green haired Taloran officer in a skinsuit with helmet flipped back. The vocal feed was translated, the louder human words following volume-reduced Taloran as an overlay, while an immense tactical plot of a fleet substantially larger than that which relieved Earth was displayed prominently ahead of the cluster of officers:
"It was another suicide run," one of the junior officers became without further preamble. "Look
at this--I got the sensor picture data in and slowed it down. Pretty much as much as possible. This is an image composite, but spectral analysis suggests even the colour is about right, and we did see the reflecting flash, analyzing that right now."
The hologram on the bridge of the ship, reproduced here, showed a gold ship, of doubled delta wings and high-neck forward, T-tail aft, probably at least several hundred tonnes and in the same size range as the gunboats that had accompanied the fleet above, rounding the planet at already high velocity as indicated by the data-readouts scrolling through the bottom of the screen. And then it elongated, accelerated, tore straight forward into a huge carrier, the size of those in the Alliance relief fleet, with an impossible degree of power, the acceleration monitors flickering off the scale, and collided with such force that it incinerated the center of the vessel as it exploded into a rolling fireball which trailed far up and above the debris of the carrier, two shattered sections spinning off.
"I think it was making close to .9c when it impacted," the officer continued very softly. "Some kind of runup for faster than light speeds, that's all I can guess, but on a suicide course."
".88." a voice came as a hologram of another Taloran female materialized onto the bridge, appearing very grim. "If we'd had a few more seconds warning, we could have actually gotten missiles off with a good chance of an intercept. May I order constant patrols by up to five hundred electronic warfare 'birds at a time to be instituted, Tisara," she addressed the scarred officer, "at long ranges, with the necessary escorts?"
The playback froze there, and Admiral Uroijha looked to to the assembled officers. "The acceleration was later confirmed to be at about seventeen thousand gravities. But things got rather more mysterious at that point."
"They recovered a survivor from the planet, a Major Kara Thrace of the Colonial Navy. She claimed to have ejected in an escape pod from the vehicle just before it rammed home, having escaped from the Cylons who operated. The existence of a second Earth was already speculated upon, based on circumstantial evidence, by our special investigator on the scene--a telepathic adept of the religious orders--and Major Thrace confirmed it, claiming that other examples were being prepared for use in a similar fashion. So Admiral the Archduchess Urami," her ears flattened back as she gestured toward the scarred, green-haired figure in the frozen hologram, perhaps in some distaste, "transferred her flag to a dreadnought in the fleet and sent the Synthetic Control Cruiser Dhirisma
, who you can see reporting the details of the acceleration there, with Captain the Baroness Armenbhat aboard and in overall control, as well as the adept and some researchers, and the Major herself, on a course to that world. The synthetic control cruiser was powered purely by anti-matter, which gave it about a factor of four edge over typical vessels of that tonnage in energy production--the firepower and shielding of a dreadnought on a fifteen megatonne cruiser, in part due to the 100% automation of using an AI to completely control the ship. Strictly an experiment, but it was the most powerful individual ship for her mass we had available, with a very high acceleration rate, so the Archduchess made the right call in sending it. It took them about three days to get to the specified location..."
"...And there was indeed a second Earth," Admiral Uroijha added softly, as the hologram shifted to another scene on the bridge, the short green-haired and scarred Archduchess not there any longer, but the--the ship herself?--and a few of the other officers standing by, as well as some humans, and the recording continued from there:
“Shields are at full power,” Dhirisma reported with diagnostic precision. Ysalha was in her acceleration couch, fully jacked in and seeming lifeless; Erisimia and Doctor al-Nasr stood on the bridge with Starbuck and several of the attendants of both the Ryvarian Order Adept and the Doctor, as well as the Marine Captain in command of her Company, Liankhia Syraste. “All batteries fully charged and the missiles are ready for fire on response—fear not, my company. We will be ready. Dropping out of superlight now and entering a polar orbit trajectory.”
“Thank you, Dhirisma,” Ersimia answered, and looked down to the planet coldly, but nervously. Doctor al-Nasr was perfectly still, utterly silent.. And so was Starbuck, uncharacteristically.
Ysalha was in command of the mission, and she spoke with a careful professionalism even as she remained unmoving, using the same speakers as Dhirisma. “We're going to be coming in over the South Pole with our gravito-magnetic superlight drives ready for immediate activation, and...” The sensor image reasserted itself with two blips flying out of the ship. “We're firing reconaissance missiles forward to scan the surface before we clear the horizon. Everyone should be strapped down and prepared for up to 120% of normal thrust; that will be the equivalent of up to12g's bleed-through over the inertial compensators, so feelings of faintness may be expected for some of you.”
The central holoprojector activated to show the data from the probes, even as they clawed forward in low orbit toward the terminator line and organized their own sensor data into a picture of the planet below.
“My god,” Sophia whispered, shocked to see Earth in such a condition. “The planet is a desert. The sea levels are at least a hundred meters lower, and yet..”
“The northern Polar Ice Cap is nonexistent. No data yet on the southern Ice Cap,” Dhirisma replied primly. “Major, no massive environmental damage.... Background radiation is consistent with decay of radioactive particles... I'm trying to get a sample from the probes as they skim the upper atmosphere. We can estimate how long ago this happened from that. But there seems to be nothing here—even huge swathes of the ecosystem seem to be completely destroyed, it is a desert!--reading numerous and extensive ruins in the areas we pass over. And several major impact craters which seem to be reasonably fresh, one moment....”
An image flashed on and magnified, and Sophia recognized where it was from immediately with her knowledge of Earth, and she could not help but share it. “The impact point for that crater... Oh God. Buenos Aires.”
“Exactly Buenos Aires, down to the exact center of the main city for the exact point of impact. They were accurate bastards. Similar craters over Rio de Jainero, Brasilia, Santiago, hmm... Rechecking the initial data... Yes, Lagos and Carracas as well. The island of Jamaica no longer exists, for that matter. And.... Standby for full reverse acceleration!”
Everyone was slammed back into their acceleration couches as the ship easily stopped herself dead in her tracks while the probes raced on ahead.. And Ysalha, for the benefit of their guests, put up what they'd both recognized. In a huge, vast chasm in the Antarctic ice was a crisp assembly of massively heavy ground-to-space defensive cannon batteries surrounding a comparatively tiny installation. There were, however, none of the gold craft in sight.
“Where are the Vimanas?” Starbuck finally asked, staring. “And where the frak did those batteries come from?”
“For that matter, why have we not been engaged by Cylons yet?” Ersimia queried rather coolly. “Major Thrace, you were quite sure they were in orbit, and that there would be those fighters on the surface.. Though your surprise, I grant, is genuine. But where are they?”
“Let's not rush to mistrust,” Ysalha interjected. “I'm running a full power active scan of the orbital space and.... Oh damn. Debris consistent with multiple Cylon capital-grade ships in low orbit and decaying. Age is only about two weeks.” She looked levelly to Starbuck. “After they sent you out aboard that suicide fighter. It appears that the Cylons have found themselves a new enemy; or a very old one. Regardless, however...”
“Yes,” Dhirisma spoke aloud as though finishing a conversation they were having privately. “There's no evidence of any debris consistent with the Vimana hullform or the materials signatures—whatever those materials were, I still haven't figured out—anywhere. The Cylons succeeded in removing them before that defensive installation was activated.”
“I wonder why it hasn't destroyed the probes yet,” Sophia spoke from her position as 'Dr. al-Nasr' to the side. “It clearly has the firepower.”
“Maybe they don't register as a threat,” Dhirisma was now holding them stationary over the surface with her engines, under the horizon of the guns. “I'll bring one of the probes to full active scan and keep monitoring passively with the other one and see what happens.”
“..And, nothing.” The AI's hologram looked slightly irritated at that. “Nothing at all. In fact.. That installation seems to have basically no power left at all. Flickers of some minor energy, that's it. They might have expended their power.”
“Got the radioactive particle analysis together for you, love,” Ysalha added only more ominous considerations to what they saw: “It happened about one thousand, two hundred and fifty years ago at maximum, nine hundred and fifty years at minimum.”
“Can you bring us close enough to the surface, Captains, that we'd be masked from those batteries? They seem very clearly designed to engage high-altitude targets.”
They calculated and answered simultaneously: “Yes.” And left themselves slightly embarrassed by the waste of resources.
“Well, it's certainly doable,” Dhirisma added. “Tricky, of course, but well within our manoeuvring tolerances. Alright, then. We're heading down.”
“Inform your troops to prepare for egress,” Ysalha ordered the Marine Captain—Major, as a courtesy title—Syraste. “We will be approaching very low along the planet, and we will remain very close the whole while to avoid any group being separated from the rest.”
“Of course, Captain. Should we stay strapped in for now?”
The recording shifted to a sweeping view of the planet, from outside the ship, as Uroijha continued to speak, the interior feed no longer being available. "Of course, General O'Neill, I understand, was commanding a copy of those very same batteries on this instance of the planet Earth, merely some days before. We encountered an old facility, and it was there that Major Thrace revealed what she actually was, an enormously powerful telepathic entity which had occupied the body of the Major, calling itself Iblis, which was only subdued by the combined efforts of twelve of the finest Telepaths of the religious orders, and an inordinately powerful telepath, who identified herself as a Ranger of the Anla'shok, though we presently think was a foreign spy--she escaped our custody later. She subdued the entity by taking advantage of a 'perverse feedback loop' of sadomasochistic pleasure resulting from the injury of receptive-empathic telepaths, of which she was, but it escaped in Major Thrace's body, and we still don't know the location of the Iblis Entity."
Uriojha's comments got her the attention of Daniel. "Maedhv said her people, the Asvins, used to do that to telepaths they bred as slaves. Inflict pain on them to begin a loop of pleasure, how did she put it again... 'their pain is our pleasure is their pleasure'..."
"That is an exact description of what the Iblis entity did to this unknown telepath," Admiral Uroijha answered coldly. "So we can safely say that the Iblis entity is of Asvin origin. It was apparently running a covert eugenics programme in the Colonial population, and used Sarasavsati--that word was explicitly used--DNA in the production of the Cylon humanoform cyborgs themselves. We furthermore found a series of other facilities in the system which followed a basic pattern indicated by this Sophie woman, who claimed knowledge of them from elsewhere. The existence of these facilities was later proved to be exactly duplicated on the primary Earth. But more importantly we secured the location of the Cylon homeworld, and Captain the Baroness Armenbhat immediately brought the Dhirisma
to it with the utmost haste."
"What facilities are you talking about?", Sam asked. "Apparently the Ancient - or rather Asvin - Antarctic outpost existed on this duplicate Earth as well..."
"Ah." Admiral Uroijha paused the playback and looked to Sam. "There's one at the very base of the core on Mars, below the Olympus Mons, and one at the exact center of the planetoid Ceres."
"They're system defence command facilities."
Sam gave Jack and Hammond a curious look. "We should check our solar system and see if these other facilities are there."
The holoprojector now changed to showing an immense pyramidal structure which seemed to rise into space, tens of kilometers in size or even greater, perhaps hundreds, consuming the surface of an entire island on a great planet. "We found this on the surface of the planet, during a period in which the Cylons ceased operation to receive commands from it. We called it, for obvious reasons, the Golden Pyramid."
"They sent a team down to the Golden Pyramid with nuclear demolition charges," the Admiral continued. "And encountered there another instance--a copy--of the Iblis Intelligence, commanding the Cylons from inside the computer core. Copies of Cylons were created there, the population having perished from a particularly virulent plague. The psychic attacks of the Iblis intelligence were insufficient to stop the team and the demolition charges were set--they escaped on two Vimanas in the bays which were still operational. At that point Dhirisma
returned to effect their recovery..."
The images of a swirling space battle were shown as below the Golden Pyramid remained undamaged. "Its shields and power generators for some sort of field, tentatively now identified as a No-Field, whch could make it vanish at whim, were damaged, which let us fire eight heavy assault missiles loaded with matter/anti-matter warheads charged with Tylium into the structure--the total yield of the eight missiles being in the teratonne range."
The footage showed the missiles detonating around the structure in tremendous fireballs which still didn't completely engulf it... But the remaining parts continued to collapse, and then the entire screen went brilliant white, while the ship the recording monitors were on accelerated through superlight velocities. The shift in the monitors skewed the view crazily for a moment and then they adjusted to a new sensor composite which showed the white light fading into a huge expanding fireball as the world itself glowed bright red with the burning of the atmosphere. "The detonation of the main reactor core had power comparable to the collision with another planetary body, for an example you can easily understand, with the Earth which created your large primary Moon."
"There was a facility in orbit engaged in the mass production of Vimanas, a nanite-based fabrication yard, which subsequently turned into a gray goop incident the central AI of the Dhirisma
was able to successfully counteract and shut down. The Cylons subsequently surrendered en masse
after a vigorous offensive from the Dhirisma
. It was later revealed that the intent of the Iblis intelligence was to release a plague throughout the various instances of the cosmos which would kill all life not bearing certain specific DNA markers."
"In conclusion," the old Admiral finished softly, "We did further research which indicated that all the facilities in the second-Earth, exist on the first in our universe. Furthermore, we found that a Second Earth exists in the ST-3 galaxy, called Miri's world, though we have not received permission to search it yet, and the IUCEC can now proceed with that search."
Daniel asked, "Do you have any idea on what DNA markers the plague was programmed to spare?"
"Yes actually. They correspond with the high caste breeding programme that the Iblis entity was engaged in," Uroijha replied. "It was unquestionably a plague for the purposes of eugenics. We may now surmise, from what we have been told of the Maedhv intelligence's statements, that the plague was planned to be part of a selective breeding programme to restore the Asvin High Caste."
"And it may also be the plague that Maedhv said she unleashed on the Ancients after escaping from captivity," Daniel said. "So if Iblis is Asvin as well, the Kobolian Humans are obviously descendants of the Sarasavsati. How exactly is their society ordered? Is it very hierarchical? Caste-driven?"
"They were polytheistic, but there were no signs of an intact caste system," Admiral Uroijha answered. "Their gods however were of Indo-Aryan origin and their language is the ur-tongue of the Indo-Aryans, that much has definitely been confirmed."
"Much like how the Asvin language is the predecessor to Mesoamerican ones, with languages like Latin being the result of mixture between the two." Daniel looked intent in thought for a moment. "Though apparently they had their own social revolution, according to Maedhv the Sarasavsati had a highly-regimented, strictly caste-based society."
"Or," Fiyesia spoke up for the first time in a while, "All the individuals who ended up on Kobol were of the same caste."
"Or that, I suppose," Daniel agreed. "Much like how the Alterans - the people we know as the Ancients - were all former middle-caste Asvins. Maedhv is the only survivor of the High Caste."
"Just how powerful was this 'Iblis'?", Teal'c asked. "Could he be another of the 'devastraa' like Maedhv and the being she knows as Nirrti?"
"I don't think Iblis is a Devastraa," Daniel said before either Taloran could answer. "If he were that powerful I don't think anything sent to that Second Earth could have stopped him. Actually, I doubt he would have even needed to possess Major Thrace."
"It may be that he is ascended in the same fashion as middling caste Asvins did in this universe," Fiyesia mused. "Merely of the High Caste. That much is explicit. Otherwise, a computer-uploaded intelligence, in the fashion that the Carinisis artifex of the Archduchy of the Nebula are known to perform."
At that point a new voice entered the conversation. "I'm finding this all very fascinating," Woolsey stated with a slight bit of irritation, "but I believe we had more pressing matters to discuss, such as the matter of Atlantis." The looks on the faces of Shen and Colonel Chekov indicated they had also grown a bit disinterested in the discussion in light of more pressing concerns.
"Just one last thing to ask," Daniel said, looking at Hammond and Jack for a moment to make sure they weren't going to object. When neither did, he continued, "The Kobolians aren't the only ones with connections to the Sarasavsati."
With that said, he leveled a gaze at Mar'tov.
Chief Executive Mar'tov lifted one eyebrow slightly at the statement, a faint smile playing across his lips. "Indeed? I am going to make the assumption that you are referring to the data transmission from Bastion
Daniel gave a nod. "I was on Maedhv's bridge when it came on. Maedhv and Alarita identified the image as that of Nirrti's flagship the Lord Krishna
and presumed you were Nirrti's subjects."
That prompted Chekov to speak up. "Who is this 'Nirrti' you speak of? Surely not the Goa'uld Nirrti, she has been killed."
"Apparently she is the last of the Sarasavsati Devastraas, a being just like Maedhv, but even more powerful. For what it's worth I got the impression that Maedhv was afraid
of Nirrti," Daniel explained. "Anyway, Chief Executive, I'm not very familiar with the Zohan as a people, but you seem to have at least encountered this Nirrti before. What was it like?"
Mar'tov nodded in response, taking a sip of icewater before replying. "As some of you are aware, during our escape from our home universe one of our Battlecarriers was caught by the Enemy and swarmed while in the process of opening the IU portal. While significant portions of the fleet under escort made the jump, the portal was collapsing and the Battlecarrier was nearly destroyed when an unidentified vessel simply appeared."
As Mar'tov spoke he set a small device on the table, from which sprang an ultra-high resolution, high enough to see every detail visible that damaged and failing sensors had managed to record, image of the mystery ship. Shaped like a cross between a cigar and a pyramid, the only scale reference was to the nearby Battlecarrier, which was dwarfed by the titanic vessel.
"The Enemy fled instantly upon seeing this vessel, as if siezed by true terror. But that was only peripheral, through some means our engineers still have not been able to understand, this vessel remotely repaired the IU portal device and assisted the remaining ships in their escape before vanishing again. At no point were any transmissions picked up from this vessel, despite attempts to contact by surviving bridge crews. We have consulted with the Maker's and they have nothing in their lore and history to explain it, beyond vague references to 'pyramid ships' which we thought may have been Gou'ald vessels but could, potentially, have referred to vessels such as the Lord Krishna
"So there's more than one of these beings running around out there," Nate remarked. "I don't find that comforting at all."
Daniel's attention was on the image in front of them. "What's that in the corner?" He pointed toward one end of the image.
Mar'tov lifted one eyebrow then manipulated the controls, bringing the image fully into view of the section of the image. "A vessel of the Enemy." the elder Zohan responded calmly. "Fleeing from the emergence of the Lord Krishna
Jack looked intently at the surprised expression on Daniel's face. "Um, Daniel, something you would like to share with the class?"
"I've seen this before," Daniel replied. "I've seen this kind of design before."
"Where?", Montecuccoli asked.
"The New Chatham Xenoarcheology Archive that Doctor Herzela and Commander Dax left me when we had our first encounter five years ago," Daniel explained. "It was about four years ago, just after I found evidence connecting what we then knew as the Ancients to Universe ST-3. I was looking to see if there was any more evidence that the Ancients - the descendants of the middle-caste Asvins - had been in other universes. There was a set of alien ruins that had shapes just like those ships on them. They were arranged in the context of being demons or some other kind of evil force."
That caused Montecuccoli to ask. "From Universe EM-5?"
Daniel shook his head. "No. I believe it was PA-6. Why do you ask?"
Eyes turned toward the tan-complexioned Marik noble. "As a member of the IUCEC Special Directorate I am given access to various highly-classified secrets from signatory states, including the Alliance of Democratic Nations and the InterStellar Alliance in EM-5. And since I've been living on Babylon-5
for the past three years I've become rather knowledgable in that station's rich history. Nearly forty years ago, 2261 Local, there was a series of incidents on the station that occurred in the months leading up to the Earth Civil War. An alien race of immense power attacked the station through an artifact found in the depths of hyperspace. They used powerful telepathy that turned various station dwellers into savages that attacked each other without restraint before coming through the artifact. Their fighters engaged the forces of Sheridan and his allies and did a great deal of damage before Sheridan's people were able to destroy the artifact, preventing further aliens from coming through."
Montecuccoli pointed toward the viewer. "I've seen images from that battle, again, thanks to my position. And that is one of the enemy ships. This 'Enemy' that the Zohan speak of are known to the Rangers of EM-5 and others associated with Sheridan as the 'Thirdspace Aliens'."
Mar'tov listened quietly, then spoke up. "You state that their primary attacks were telepathic in nature? We have no experience of that, as all attacks were purely 'physical' and there are no reports of any Zohan being controlled by these aliens. However the intelligence we were able to gather from the attacks on the Master's worlds bear out that information."
"Your people are all telepaths, yes?", Montecuccoli asked. "Perhaps the Thirdspace beings were unable to affect you the same as they do non-telepaths?"
"Potentially, although with the lack of firm data on what actually occurred on the Master's worlds we cannot say with any degree of certainty if that is the case." Mar'tov replied, steepling his fingers in front of his face for a moment. "Without hard data we are only speculating."
At that point Jack spoke up, seeing the expressions of Woolsey and the others. "This has been a pretty intriguing discussion so far, but for the moment I'm afraid I'm more worried about the half-bug people who want to feast on our planet and are attacking Atlantis to find their way here."
"Agreed. The fact that the Asvins and Sarasavsati are still in some respects a going concern is deeply worrying, but not pressing. We will hope for the full cooperation of the Asgard, and our numerical superiourity, to ultimately develop reasonable countermeasures to them," Admiral Uroijha spoke. "The mystery of how their facilities appear duplicated across many Earths is something for future exploration. For the moment, however..."
"Ah, yes," Rear Admiral Fiyesia spoke up. "Well, the Empress Mikela the Great
is ready for combat operations, and we expect that certain technological measures we've taken can push both our jump-drives and Goa'uld hyperdrive to combined levels approximating the speed of your Daedalus, Prometheus
, and the Gray Star.
It's very awkward to run a ship with now three FTL drives, but it was a good workaround in lieu of the Asgard assistance we're now receiving. The ship is powered by Tylium-moderated metallic hydrogen fueled reactors which among other things have let us, in combination with Tylium energy sinks on the main guns, let us increase the energy firepower of the ship by seven and a half times, when she's already the most powerful Line Ship known in the cosmos. The missile banks are also entirely loaded with tylium-charged missiles, though we don't have any of the big three stage anti-matter, tylium, fusion missiles used against the Golden Pyramid presently available, they're still an impossibly powerful punch. We've also used multiple copies of Goa'uld shields in a layered format to defend the ship up to reasonable levels of protection, and a layer of low-refined Tylium acts as a thermal energy soak which can actually recharge the capacitors when the armour is taken under fire. In short she can reliably fight against whatever we may expect out of these Wraith, and I've been given orders to aide you to that effect."
"Admiral, do you not think it possible that with Asgard assistance we could outfit your vessel with an Asgard drive in the limited time available? There are still some lingering concerns on whether Goa'uld-level hyperdrives can be properly powered by a ZPM and even if so the differences in speed performance may not be so easily overcome through sheer power."
"It's not necessary. The jump-drive is of the Cylon type, and they can manage," Fiyesia said with a slight pause, "Jumps of up to one thousand, eight hundred and fourty lightyears every thirty-five minutes. During the thirty-five minute recharge period we can run the Goa'uld hyperdrives within the overcharged limits via ZPM, and of course we'll have the gravito-magnetic drive operational the whole time. With that combination we estimate it will only take twenty-six point five human hours longer than an Asgard hyperdrive for us to reach Atlantis--and the repairs for the Gray Star
, you said, will take another thirty hours to finish anyway. Since we don't have the time to try and install yet another hyperdrive and make it work, we'll just head out before you do, and rendezvous over Atlantis."
"You believe your Heim Drive can operate effectively within hyperspace?", Data asked.
"Yes. The universal principles are the same there. We've already done it, in fact," Fiyesia answered with some pride.
Data nodded at that. "Ah. A most promising discovery."
"Well, that handles things from the space end, but there's also from the ground-side end," Jack said. "We're planning on sending troops in with some equipment to help them hold out and now that we've got all these ZPMs to go around, we can probably send three through to power the city fully. Given it apparently took the Wraith a few years to bring down Atlantis the last time that should give us plenty of time to get them more reinforcements."
"Of course, we'll need to find some way to keep them at bay," Nate offered. "I doubt they'll be too happy if their initial attack force is destroyed, they'll send more."
"We can pack the components of a few ground to space particle cannon onto the Empress Mikela the Great
that arrived with the amphibious forces," Fiyesia offered. "With ZPMs for power they can continue firing more or less indefinitely, and under IUCEC auspices we could send a detachment from the Fortress Command to operate them in the long term. But other than that I'm afraid there's not much help we can offer in that regard."
"Actually, that is something the President wanted me to bring up with you," Hammond spoke up. "We would be happy to have the IUCEC join the Atlantis Expedition on a full-time basis."
"As part of our expanding ties with your world, General, I'm sure something in that form can be arranged," Montecuccoli answered. "Though I imagine there will be many issues regarding those in charge."
"Well, allow me to say that going by the messages we just got from them, I think Dr. Weir's done a damned fine job in Pegasus," Jack said. "Granted, she's not military, but the Expedition was always meant to be more than a military operation."
"I actually don't think it would be appropriate for a military officer to be in charge of a research mission, if that's what this is to be," Admiral Uroijha returned to the discussion. "Though the ranking military officer should be from one of the IUCEC member states."
"Your position is understandable," Woolsey answered for the assembled, "and we are certainly open to...." And so the discussion went on to more mundane matters of protocol and command, enough to make Nate long for another cooler of beer and Jack's fishing-lake-without-fish.