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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)

[TGG] The Last Woman Standing

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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-11 09:38pm 

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Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8423
Location: Florida USA
Table of Contents

DNS Stephen Ford DD-28484
Geostationary Orbit, Planet P4V-387, Restricted Space
Near the Alliance Frontier, Universe Designate AR-12
14 October 2178 AST


The Block III Naresuan-class destroyer was maintaining her lazy orbit over the spinal mountain range on P4V-387 as she had done for the past four months, detached from the Stellar Navy for the moment to serve under the IUCEC Department of Special Operations. Aboard her the commanding officer was Commander Anatoly Denevsky, a native of Kaluga from Russia SE-1 and a veteran of the Interuniversal War.

Denevsky was joined on the bridge by Commander Drisylan Javarha, a Taloran Imperial Starfleet officer assigned to the Department of Special Operations and acting as the Department's officer aboard the picket ship. Whatever project was going on planetside - Denevsky and his crew were not fully appraised of the purpose of the facility, save that its very existence was classified - the IUCEC didn't want much attention paid to it, and having a destroyer in orbit was far more subtle than sending a bigger fleet unit.
Javarha rarely came to the bridge, spending most of his time in the office set aside for him to manage communications with his IUCEC superiors and occasionally taking watches in the CiC when his watches permitted. Today he had chosen to follow up a lunch with Commander Denevsky with a review of the navigation bridge. The short, stocky Taloran man seemed to make a few of the bridge watch crew uncomfortable, but he took little more than scant notice at it while examining the instruments on the bridge and the view of the planet below. His eyes turned next to the plaque commemorating the ship's launch, including the Stephen Ford's seal: a circular emblem depicting a human figure standing in a small boat that was amongst urban buildings with his arms stretched out - as if offering to help someone into the boat - with the Alliance four-color-flame torch seal set above his head.

"I am curious, Commander Denevsky," Cmdr. Javarha said in accented English. "Why would your vessel have such a seal? It doesn't seem very martial."
Denevsky gave a shrug from where he was standing. "Ah, it was the builders being sentimental. An American shipyard built this vessel and they were permitted to name it after some impoverished crab farmer from New Orleans. He rescued people during the great storm Katrina in the early 21st Century, I believe."

"Ah. This city of New Orleans, do you know where...."
There was a beep at one of the consoles. "Commander Javarha, we are picking up an emergency signal from the project HQ, meant for you."

Javarha connected his neural interface into the Ford's communication systems to receive the signal. "SPC, this is..."
"We're under attack! Repeat, we are under attack!", a panicked voice said from the other end. "They've overcome the Embarkation Room security systems and are swarming through the base! We need assistance immediately!"
"Get me General Sampson," Javarha said.
"We've lost him, sir."
Denevsky could see that Javarha, still calm and collected, was still quite perturbed by what was happening. "Upload data to Ford and commence evacuation. Activate the self-destruct sequence immediately." He looked to Denevsky. "Commander, I need you to re-arm your missile tubes with the missiles you were provided upon arrival."
Denevsky looked at him with some consternation. The missiles in question had been identified as not being normal anti-matter reaction warheads, but as fusion warheads with a Guyverite booster package, just as powerful as the weapons used to shatter the Dominion's Inner Core over fifteen years before. Denevsky tapped into the neural network with his own linkup and nevertheless gave the order, wondering what the hell was going on.....





IUCEC HQ, Space Station Babylon-5
Euphrates Sector, Neutral Space
Universe Designate EM-5



The IUCEC's Department of Special Operations was overseen by the Special Directorate, a committee of seven members picked by the IUCEC's main committee body to govern the day-to-day affairs of the IUCEC's top secret projects. The body had been established four years prior after the months of debate and discussion behind closed doors about (now former) President Robert Dale's release to them of the Alliance's Stargate Project. To ensure their security in the nominally open port of Babylon-5, the Directorate met in the War Room, the chamber from which nearly forty years before John Sheridan led the effort against the mysterious Shadows.
The Chair of the Special Directorate rotating every six months. Currently it had an ADN/Texan occupant, retired Texan Air Force General Arthur Thompson, the former commander of the Allied Nations' Stargate Project Command.

His counterparts represented the most powerful or contributive nations of the IUCEC. The Talorans' Duchess Trisania itl Sethan and Hereditary Censor Drujhesal Ghalpinah, the former a feudatory lady of the Great Queen of Lelola Colenta and the latter a patrician of the Quesadi and a direct representative of Empress Saverana II; an official ADN Director as opposed to Thompson being appointed by the Texan government, Sandra O'Malley; Count Felix di Montecuccoli of the Free Worlds League; Sir Reginald Henshaw of the British Empire CON-5; Ta'Lon of the Narn Regime, formal ISA Director on the Directorate.

The day's business had been interrupted by news from AR-12 and the fate of the facility on P4V-387. "This invading force is a danger to Universe AR-12 at the very least," Sir Reginald Henshaw pointed out. "And we can't very well evacuate the entire universe if necessary. Something has to be done and now."
"President Maxwell-Fyfe is dispatching a carrier battle group to the region," Thompson remarked, "but it'll take time for them to arrive. And even if they do, the reports we're getting make me think this won't be enough." Thompson folded his hands on the table. "I think we need to consider the possibility that we'll need outside help on this matter."
"What kind of outside help are you considering, General?", Ghalpinah asked. "Surely you're not thinking..."
"If anyone knows what these things are, they will," Thompson answered. "And given Admiral Sisko's unavailability at the moment, I know just the man to lead the mission...."





Kilpatrick Base (ANMC), Ossing, Ossing System
British Commonwealth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate LRC-19
15 October 2178 AST



If there was one constant over the centuries of divergent histories, it was that Marines - particularly Marines based off the US Marine Corps in spirit - knew how to throw a party for their own. The wedding itself had been relatively quiet (if only because the father of the bride was a general who's wrath none wanted to invoke), though the attendant Marines had made the requisite wolf whistles at the bride and cheers and hoots when the kiss was made, followed by the requisite flat-blade swat on the bride's ass by one of the Marine honor guards complete with a proud and jovial "OOOHRAH!", but after the marriage of Captains Ronald Nash and Ivliya Nash neè Mackensen was completed the reception was a full on party, the bride and groom having already smashed their first slices in each other's faces and a lot of dancing and general ruckus-raising being done by the Marine officers and NCOs in attendance. Rock music blared over the speakers and many of the songs with lewd lyrics that the partygoers were insisting would be performed that night by the newlyweds. Although celebratory wine was offered, beer was the drink of choice for the attendees, including the bride, with detoxicants being insisted upon for the newlyweds lest they be so drunk that their wedding night failed to be memorable.

Among the uniformed party-goers was just man still in dress uniform and the only general officer present. Brigadier General Nathan Mackensen had only permitted himself one beer and tended to keep to himself during the festivities, save for his dance with his adopted Bajoran daughter that was mandated by custom, allowing Ivvie and her husband to enjoy their great day with their friends. He smiled widely at seeing her enjoy herself and tried to smile at seeing his ex-wife Sarah and her new husband mingling with the others, as well as Lorva and his growing family and the still-single Furel, a Teacher's Assistant at the university he'd graduated from. Nate spent time with them all, very happy for how his family was turning out.
In a way, the past five years had been the best of his life. Since returning from Universe SRC-19 alive Nate had been promoted to Brigadier General and given command, in succession, first of a Recon Marine brigade (albeit the post being administrative, as Recon Marines were divvied up at battalion level to divisions) and then a desk job as the Quartermaster at New Appalachia, a posting that made it easy for him to travel and see his family. He'd seen Lorva succeed in getting his doctorate and becoming a respected researcher on Bajor, Ivliya begin a thriving career as an officer in the Alliance Marine Corps (she was still considering a Recon Marine assignment, though for the moment she was satisfied with the Combat Engineers), and Furel, well, he was doing well if still being a rather undisciplined and hotheaded character.
There was still George, of course. There would always be George. But the pain seemed more bearable of late. The wound healing slowly, perhaps because Nate had briefly gotten to know a guy who was going through the same thing, had been able to see the pain in another set of eyes. And there were times he wondered how Jack O'Neill was doing, if he and his team of explorers were still giving the Goa'uld fits. Nate never let himself wonder about the sadder possibilities concerning SG-1 and the isolated, outnumbered position of Earth in SRC-19. He was confident that Jack, Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c could handle whatever the Snakeheads threw at them.

"So, Furel...." Nate saw his youngest son standing alone finally, working on another beer. "This means it's just you. Any plans?"
"Dad, don't you start too," Furel said, rolling his eyes in humor. "Ivvie, Lorva, and Mom have all been asking. I'm telling you, I'm not ready."
"You've been seeing that blonde for three years now."
"Three years off and on, Dad. She's made it pretty clear that we're firmly stuck at 'fuckbuddy' level," Furel replied. "And that's cool with me. Just fine with me."
Nate nodded with a smirk on his face. "Well, you've got time. But I can tell you now it won't always be."
As Furel took another drink Nate saw the two men enter. Dark business suits, the kind that made it clear that they were official agents but not of whom. Their eyes met his and he could see they'd found their man. "Furel, excuse me," he said. He walked up to them, noting they were waiting for him in a corner that came off as rather inconspicuous. "Gentlemen, may I ask what you're here for?"

"General Mackensen, I'm from the Department of Special Operations," the one man said with an Australian accent. "Agent Cadwallader and Agent Stone." He indicated the other man of nearly equal height and size.
Nate looked at them intently. "Department of Special Operations? I'm not aware of any military or civilian..."
"We're not Alliance, General. We're IUCEC," Stone remarked, his English more, well, English in accent. "And we need your help."




The shuttle was hitting orbit and engaging its warp drive when Nate was sat before a laptop. Stone hit a key on it. "I trust you recognize this, General?"
And Nate did. The screen was showing a chamber in a facility he'd never seen before, exactly, but he recognized the layout and, most importantly, the device on the screen. "A Stargate." After a moment he put two and two together. "You got another one?"
"P4V-387's Stargate, according to the starmap log that the SPC was given by Stargate Command," Cadwallader explained. "Abandoned planet made uninhabitable due to comet strike. Nobody'll miss this Gate. We found a similar planet at P4V-387's location in AR-12 that was far enough from major trade routes to set up shop."
"So what happened?" Nate looked to them. "The 'Men in Black' approach at my daughter's wedding reception wasn't necessary if this is just some attempt to get me to join any new Stargate Project."
'Watch."

At the touch of a button on the laptop a video began playing. The Stargate flashed to life, gold and green hues shifting in the blue, watery event horizon that was the natural byproduct of an IU wormhole. A lone figure in SPC fatigues stepped through. Nate immediately knew something was wrong due to how he was unarmed and the way he was standing.
Then a massive surge through the gate occurred. An endless wave of scurrying bugs raced out of the event horizon. The gray, metallic four-legged bugs looked unnatural, like segmented blocks put together. Shouts were made and the defensive weapons in the Gateroom opened up on them, as did the guards with their particle rifles. The plasma cannons seemed to do absolutely no damage to the bugs but the particle rifle fire caused those it struck to break apart.
An iris slid into place over the Stargate with a backup energy deflector field, cutting off the surge of robotic bugs as they came through. But those in the room were already quite numerous due to the speed with which they'd surged through. They overwhelmed the guards with the help of the humanoid figure who came threw, who was fired on in vain by all of the defensive weapons in the room. The armed men disappeared under a wave of metal bugs, with one suddenly appearing on the camera. Its "mouth" opened up and a spurt of liquid came from it, after which the feed broke off.

"What are those things?" Nate asked.
"We were hoping you might remember something like that being mentioned while you were in SRC-19."
"No, nothing like that." Nate shook his head. "I don't think the Tok'ra or the Goa'uld have anything in that fashion, not from what I saw."
"Well, that just leaves us with one option." Stone sat down beside Nate. "The new SPC facility was overrun by the damned things within an hour. They interfaced with the computer and took over the entire facility, but not before the ZPC device used for the Gate was transported into space as well as all of our backup ZPCs. There were only a handful of survivors..."
"What happened to the facility?" Nate asked.
"Destroyed from orbit by the security vessel we keep there. The Bugs managed to physically disable the Guyverite bomb we had for a self-destruct device."
"So, what happened afterward?"
"Apparently, despite our best efforts, a few of them survived. It took hours for the orbiting vessel to realize it." Cadwallader reached over and hit some keys on the laptop, showing an orbital image of the facility area at a mountain side that had clearly been caved in from orbital weapons fire. A time-delay series of pictures popped up, hour by hour, showing the caved in area suddenly decrease... and a silvery metal sheen appear on the planet's surface. "When we realized what had happened we tried to destroy them from orbit again, but this time they'd raised an energy field far too powerful to break with the orbiting ship's weaponry. Even Guyverite-enhanced torpedoes failed to penetrate." As the time delay pictures made clear, the silvery area was growing. "We estimate that at their present rate of expansion, by tomorrow they will have covered that entire section of the planet. So far they haven't done anything but expand to encompass the planet, but we can't be sure what they'll do afterward. If they can build energy shielding surpassing even Goa'uld technology, there's no telling what they're capable of."

"You want to contact the SGC," Nate said. "See if they know anything."
"It's our best bet, General. And you were the senior field officer to engage in operations with them. Your own reports, and Dr. Herzela's recollections, indicated you got along quite well with Colonel... Jack O'Neill?"
"That's him." Nate shook his head. "But what about Admiral Sisko or..."
"You're the only senior officer from the SRC-19 operation we could get to in a short order to lead this mission," Agent Stone remarked. "Someone that the SGC will be inclined to trust and cooperate with. And if you please, General, we need this done as quick as possible."
Nate shrugged. "Fine, sure. I'll go. But we're going to lose days as it is, even if you've got a ship with the most advanced, fastest Cochrane drive...." He noticed Stone smirk. "What?"
"My dear General, who said anything about sluggish old warp drive?" Stone stood up as the shuttle shuddered slightly, coming out of warp. "We should be about there, come here."

Nate was led to the cockpit of the small shuttle. Empty space was ahead, but the pilot was clearly talking to someone. "No traffic in the area, sir," he reported. "They're preparing to decloak."
A shimmer appeared in space ahead of them. The vessel that appeared made Nate think of Ben Sisko's Defiant in how it was shaped. But it was soon clear that it was much, much more. The sides had no armored warp nacelles but wing-fin shapes that reminded Nate of news footage of Minbari starships. The hull was brighter than Defiants had been in a fashion like that of the Victory-class warships built by the InterStellar Alliance of EM-5, with the nose of the ship ending in a thinner fashion like that of a Ranger White Star, complete with cannon emplacements there.
"I see the IUCEC's been busy," Nate said, looking on in some surprise.
"All made possible by the Tok'ra scientists Nural and Cadmilis, with some help from the quite creative Dr. Herzela's engineering acumen. We've had them working with some of the most skilled engineers in the Multiverse to build our prototype. The Tok'ra have provided us with advanced Guyverite reactors, pan-galactic hyperdrive, enhanced shielding, various other pieces of technology, and the IUCEC has married it to a ship carrying the finest technology that Alliance, Taloran, and Minbari engineers have to offer." Cadwallader looked on happily as the shuttle began to move into the ship's hanger bay. "General Mackensen, welcome to the Gray Star."
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-11 09:40pm 

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Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8423
Location: Florida USA
Chapter 1


Gray Star, Alliance Space
Universe Designate LRC-19
15 October 2178 AST



Agents Stone and Cadwallader dropped Nate off and departed on board the shuttle, their parts in this matter done. Nate was met by a couple marines in light power armor, very advanced stuff from the look of it, who barely had time to finish saluting before the hanger door opened and a familiar face stepped through.
Dr. Zaharzia Herzela met Nate with a smile. The attractive Trill was dressed in a trim engineer jumpsuit marked with the IUCEC emblem, her long red hair pulled back into a bun at the back of her head. "Nathan, or should I say General? It's good to see you again," she said.
"Dr. Herzela. Zaria." Nate gave her a return smile. "I guess we'll be sticking to titles, this is a mission I believe."
"Oh, it is. This way."

He followed Zaria out of the hanger into the crisp blue-sheened corridors of the ship. Over the intercom an accented voice began speaking. "Prepare for jump sequence." Other crew, wearing a new uniform Nate had never seen before, were moving about on duties. "Nice ship," Nate remarked. "You're serving on her?"
"Only for a short while to complete training. And I'm actually only something of a carrier for the actual trainer." Zaria lowered her head momentarily. When she lifted it, her voice changed to the unnatural timbre of a Goa'uld or Tok'ra symbiote. "General, I am pleased to see you are well," Cadmilis remarked.
"Ah, Cadmilis. Good to see you too. How is Kaetis?"
"She has done well. Though we have both had to get used to the level of... luxuries your Multiverse permits," Cadmilis answered. "I frankly believe half of the lesser-ranked Goa'uld would be tempted to defect if they were granted a lifetime of your finest luxuries."
"Well, we try to be good hosts," Nate remarked. Smirking, he added, "Well, of that kind at least."
Cadmilis smirked in reply. After another head bow it was Zaria talking again. "So, how are the kids?"
"Lorva got his doctorate and Ivvie just got married," Nate answered. "Furel is still a bachelor and has a Teaching Assistant job at his alma mater."
"Oh, nice. So, what's up with the dress blues?"
"I was at Ivvie's reception. When I said she just got married, I was being very literal." Nate followed Zaria into a lift. When they were in it Zaria gave the command "Command Level" and the lift began to move. As they did so, he could feel the dislocation that was part of jumping from one universe to the next. "So, we're in SRC-19 now."

Another shift in the ship happened. "And now in hyperspace, en route to Earth," Zaria answered.
The lift stopped and they emerged into another corridor of blue-sheen walls. They walked along the edge of the wall about ten feet before arriving at a door. Inside was the command bridge of the Gray Star. The layout reminded Nate of the Defiant's bridge, with command stations along all the walls, though there were more away from the walls - a helm station up front and behind and to the right of the CO and XO seats a weapons station. The controls looked like standard, at least, with DNI ports for all officers.

In the center chair a figure stood up, wearing a more ornate version of the uniforms seen on the ship, vaguely human in appearance but with pale, almost golden skin. The short figure beside him was quickly identified as a Taloran, with long blue hair put into a pony-tail. Standing beside him was a Minbari, a woman from the shape of her face - at least what Nate would think of as feminine, Minbari being aliens after all - in similar uniform. "General on the Bridge!" the Taloran barked, prompting the bridge crew to stand at attention and salute.
"General Mackensen, I am Captain Data of the Federated Worlds Starfleet," the commander said. "Welcome aboard the Gray Star, Sir."
Somewhat surprised at meeting the somewhat-known android built from the old, defunct Federation, Nate returned the salute. "At ease, Captain, everyone back to your stations," he said, taking in the rest of the crew.
"General, this is Commander Kharaste Triulajha of the Taloran Imperial Starfleet," Data noted, referring to the blue-haired and short Taloran, "ship's Executive Officer. And Officer Serlann, the Chief Engineering Officer." The Minbari woman nodded.
At the helm was a small, short figure with slim, pointed, and long ears, more like Vulcanoid than Taloran ones; the smallness of the figure gave him or her away as a Zohan. The weapon station was manned by a tall, well-built Cardassian man, a bronze-skinned woman with dark hair was at communications, and sensors was taken up by an Oriental man.

Nate was beginning to notice a theme among the new uniforms he was seeing. On the left shoulder was the emblem of the IUCEC, and on the right, different flags. Data had the circle of stars on a blue field that was the Federated Worlds flag, the Taloran Kharaste had the seal of the Taloran Empire, the Minbari the InterStellar Alliance insignia, etc.
Kharaste took it upon himself to introduce the rest of the crew. The Cardassian officer at weapons, with the ray-like winged figure and black field of the Cardassian Republic on his uniform, was 2nd Rank Glin Tarak Torcet. The name was familiar to Nate from somewhere, but he couldn't quite put it...
The helmswoman, with the ADN flag on her uniform, was Lieutenant Di'not, a Zohan Commonwealth native serving in the Alliance Stellar Navy. The communications officer was Lt. Ziva bat David Oded, Alliance Stellar Navy as well, with the sensor officer as Subcommander Hsaio Luo Shan of the Capellan Confederation Armed Forces, the Liao Sword-on-Green Triangle emblem prominent on his right shoulder.

"There's also Doctor Meredith Constantine," Zaria continued, "Chief Medical Officer and a Commander in the Stellar Navy, though like myself, Data, and Tarak, she is an ST-3 native. I'll have to introduce you later."
"Forgetting Commander Nagase would be unfair as well," Kharaste pointed out. "Lieutenant Commander Kei Nagase of your Stellar Navy commands our small wing of fighters and can be introduced at a later time."
"Sure." Nate looked around the ship and saw the viewscreen and the blueish field of hyperspace that surrounded the ship. "So...."
"At current speed, we will arrive at Earth in precisely thirty-seven minutes," Di'not reported.
"After we arrive, we shall cloak," Data reported. "All indications indicate that the existance of Stargate Command would still be a secret on Earth. We will attempt to communicate by focused transmission on military satellites. The content of the message, however...."
Smirking, Nate said, "Oh, leave that to me, Captain Data."


Early that morning, about ten miles south of Forks, Washington, United States of America.


"Oh no, Sir. Guru Shariyah Sahimba is surely quite available to see you--she did not sleep well tonight, I fear, so she is very much awake. Is anything the matter?"

"No," Tony Evanston sighed and glanced to his partner, Burt Kilpatrick, for a moment. Loons. "We are however looking for a hispanic male, late teens or early twenties, who jumped out of a car and ran into the woods near here last night at a US Border Patrol checkpoint on US 101. And we know, ma'am, that you have a fair number of youths here."

"And we know they're all over the age of eighteen," Lieutenant Kilpatrick hastened to assure the suspicious woman. "CPS has made that very clear to us. So really we're just hoping for your cooperation on the possible whereabouts of a suspected illegal immigrant."

"Ah, of course," Erin frowned for a moment, but then nodded and smiled. She was black haired and tall, and rather obviously pregnant, though with clear green eyes and frightfully pale skin. "This way, then." She let them back through what was, by Pacific Northwest commune-bordering-on-cult standards, actually a fastidiously organized compound with the buildings laid out at the cardinal points of the compass in local river stone, and at the center was one of the popular local Geodesic dome houses, though this one had the unique twist that instead of four of the faces having projections for doors or balconies, there were eight sides for them, and each one radiated out in a long one-story, plus basement, living space, and these were connected to eight further rambler-sized habitation spaces with their curved roofs that completed the spokes. A sign identified it as the Temple of The Wheel of Dharma.

By best estimates of the government agencies, there was a usual population of about fourty adults at the commune at any one time and probably just as many children, or even more. The birthrate was extremely high, and the men--who were outnumbered by the women (usually a bad sign in communes, but this one was unusually functional)--worked on local jobs in the timber industry here just south of the small and conservative logging town of Forks, which nonetheless was the rainiest city in America and at least left their odder neighbours alone. The Temple of the Wheel of Dharma was scarcely the only cult or commune in the area, though they were the only ones to own an organic produce shop and restaurant in the city itself, and they even made a habit of paying their taxes.

The ease with which they'd pegged down the 'Guru Shariyah Sahimba' was still rather surprising, though, as they were led through the halls of the strong wooden temple and down into the basement, which was interestingly capped with concrete, and the doors for entrance were salvaged from freighters, surely, with the massive spinning wheels to lock them into place. "Expecting trouble?" Tony asked.

"The destruction of the world, Patrolman. This is the Kali Yuga, the Age of Vice. The Cycle comes to an end, you know, before it begins again." The Guru provided a lot more detail than that, of course. The basement was redlighted like the interior of a warship, and the gentle whir of ventilation units and slight breeze as they entered suggested an overpressure environment. That was far more technical sophistication than most cults had, though the water-wheels in the creeks, the solar panels (fat lot of good that did them) and the windmills suggested a fairly conservative mindset, and they apparently produced enough power from biological wastes from the farm in a few Stirling Cycle Generators to sell back to the local public utilities district anyway.

Finally, Erin paused at the entrance to the Guru's chamber. It didn't even have a door, nor did it have any bed. There was just a tatami mat where a futon would surely be unrolled, and a raised dais in the center where an incredibly tall woman managed to be statuesque even while seated, more than a little of a view of her ample bosom visible through the loose black silk robe she wore, wavy bright red hair spilling down her back as green eyes coolly regarded the entering State Patrolmen. Tony couldn't help but notice a slight swelling of her stomach. At least she practices what she seems to preach. Weirdoes.

"Sit, officers," she offered as Erin bowed to her side and kissed her cheek affectionately. "Would you prefer tea or coffee, seasoned by cardamom perhaps...?"

"No, that's alright, ma'am," Burt interrupted gently. "We just need to talk to you about someone and then we can be on our way."

"Ah, so I see. Erin, if you'd be so kind?"

"Yes, Guru." She bowed, rose, and retreated.

"What's your name, Ma'am? Your legal name, and some identification."

"Maeve Tuohy," she answered, and then held up a card to the lieutenant.

He grabbed it and took a look at it--it was a valid USN retired reserve ID showing she'd been an O-4 before mustering out and... Well, she sure as hell didn't look fourty-one. "Thank you," he quickly radioed it in, fairly standard procedure, and the result somewhat surprised him. Most cult leaders were up to their eyeballs in minor petty crime in the past; Miss Tuohy's record was completely clear.

"So, ma'am, did you take in any young hispanic male last night or this morning, we have a sketch..." Which he then produced. "He's being sought for fleeing the scene of a Border Patrol roadblock."

"No. I select my people rather well, and I do not select people running from the law," Maeve answered promptly. "I give you leave to search my compound in full. You will find much which is obscene to the morality of the craven bourgeoisie of the modern world, but nothing which stands in defiance to the laws of the United States. I served in the Navy in Desert Storm, you know, and though that scarcely makes me a hero or above the law, I aim to enjoy my future span of years here, no matter what shall come to pass. Even when the Olympics," she gestured to the mountain range behind her property, "Fall into the sea, and then the oceans themselves boil."

"Big believers in the Apocalypse?" Tony remarked, wondering how long it would actually take them to search the compound; maybe they should just accept her word for it.

"Hardly any revelation or that sort of thing, Patrolman, and we certainly intend for human civilization to survive…” She rubbed her belly to emphasize the point.

"Practice what you preach much?" Maeve Tuohy was incredibly attractive, and there was a little sympathy for her, since she was obviously crazy, but in the responsible, conversational sort of way that probably did make her harmless. And it was clear that she wasn't in the business of harboring strays--these were all probably deep eco-nuts, and...

"Yes, I am pregnant. Hopefully the first of many children," Maeve smiled beatifically.

"Err, yes, but can we contact you if anything else comes up, or if we need to speak to some people who know the area or we have some trouble with your folks?" Burt finally spoke to cut things off.

"But of course," and this time, taking back her ID, she handed over a business card. "Cellphone number and e-mail. It is, after all, the age of vice."

The expression made both of the officers laugh as they offered their pleasantries and left. It was only after they'd reported in that the suspect wasn't present and were driving away that they both rather looked oddly at each other. "She was pretty damn mesmerizing, wasn't she?"

"Eh, it's a trait some people have," Tony replied. "Especially the crazies. Hell, even Hitler had that, do you think fourty percent of the people in Germany would have voted for him otherwise?"

"Think she really isn't planning on killing everyone to go to the magic starship in the sky?"

"Probably just a harmless religious enthusiast who likes orgies. Hell, I've never heard of Hindu cultist types killing anyone before. I wonder what makes a responsible person who was a military officer go completely nuts like that, anyway, though?"

"Damned if I know. Usually they have some reason for it, but not her, unless she saw something that made her snap, I guess. Next stop..."


Back at the commune, Maedhv rubbed her head. The pheremonal influence was far more subtle than the mental entanglement she was also capable of, and more to the point wouldn't potentially alert Stargate Command. So, she went to make herself some tea.

After getting the tea, she returned to her room to pull on a skirt and blouse and gloves, and her comfortable pair of jackboots--police officers had excellent footwear, very comfortable indeed--before speaking into the air. "Varihahus Rujadaka," she ordered, and a hologram leapt to life even as she finished pulling her hair back. It showed Alpha Centauri as the outer frontier of her defensive perimeter and the Asvin cannon standing out as an annex from the 'Ancient' base the allied Gate-control powers had since occupied for their own. Nobody had realized that the Ancients had merely put in their drones at the facility because she had disabled the defensive guns, which remained hidden, buried under rocket and miles of ice, several dozen kilometers from the site and fully self contained.

Nobody was able to detect the level of frequency the high-band foldspace transmitters at the Ceres Core Facility were operating on, either. Except, of course, for the Ancients, and Nirrti. Maedhv was reasonably confident that if Ancients saw her sweeping with a full-power set of that magnitude, they wouldn't still be heading straight in. And they were all Ascended and thus dead, the torturing, ungrateful fucks. She had left high-frequency foldspace detectors with her other children, but she considered it highly unlikely they had already arrived at Earth, and they wouldn't press an attack anyway. And they wouldn't be coming from another universe.

"Have the fucking Vorlons finally cracked the ways of prescience? Possible. They were the most likely to do it." She rubbed her head again, slightly irritated at the habit of talking to herself that she’d picked up over the years, though she couldn’t much help it these days. The slang of the era came easily to her now after living several years on Earth and listening in continuously to the thoughts of the members of her commune. Which really was the best thing she'd ever done for herself in her entire life. It was an important lesson about not really needing slaves.

"No. The Vorlons could detect my sensor sweeps, too. They'd also stand off--I could knock a dozen of their cruisers out of orbit with the first salvo, and they'd have no idea that I could only manage three salvos. Damn." Was a nice little dream-world, for a while. But now it's caught up to you and you can only hope that Nirrti isn't here to kill you or will fall back on her primitive, iron-age morality and refuse to attack a pregnant woman. Either way.. No, it's not really that good. She had three hundred and fifty years more experience in the war than I did, and she was always uniquely powerful and.. Yes, that's her genetic signature I can feel. Not even hiding it anymore, and boring straight in at a leisurely, taunting course on secondary drive.

"Erin? Please inform everyone that I’m going to be gone for some time.”

"As you say, Guru!" Came the eager voice in reply, and it made Maedhv bitterly sigh before she turned and stepped through the golden door into a room only she saw, a room with a painstakingly reconstructed blood-altar in it that reminded her, bitterly, of the past, the room into which she stepped when she wanted to see, in all its brutal symbology, exactly, precisely why she had abandoned the temptations of sadism and tried to live this little pretty lie that had been a marvel worth millennia for the few years it lasted, and now was brought to an end.

Maedhv closed her eyes, and recalled the warrior code of her ancestors that she had so long been lived by. "That I dedicate my life to the taking of the hearts of my enemies, and laying them in the Golden Temples of the High Andes in eternal sacrifice, and that my existence will given over to the honour of my people and the finding and taking of the foe in single combat." Then she spat, because it had all been a lie, a hilarious lie that had died by the time that the Flower Wars had ended four hundred years before she was born. A lie that had deceived her and let her and tempted her again and again, until she had tried to escape it all....

...And now, again, it was forced on her. It would also be the last time. That part was a relief, and she sighed, and prepared to ask Nirrti to go and find and wake Alarita if Maedhv were to perish. The poor ghoula did not deserve to spend another six thousand years asleep waiting for a mistress who no longer lived....

Maedhv Curoi'larijh, the last Golden Condor, rose to her feet, and waited out in preparation for battle the last minute until she felt the ship slip into orbit above. And then, holding most of her incredible powers in reserve, she tapped but a little of the inherent energy of the universe and transported herself directly onto the command bridge of the unfamiliar vessel, utterly convinced that she would find there a very, very familiar and old face. The last Asvin had hoped that the last Sarasavsati would be a sight she would never gaze upon again her life, but it seemed that was not to be.





Stargate Command, Cheyenne Mountain
Earth, United States of America
Universe Designate SRC-19



The situation at Stargate Command was quieting down now that the threats facing Earth and the Milky Way - the Replicators and Anubis - had been dealt with. In the conference room overlooking the Gate Room, the members of SG-1 - now down to three - were in conference with General Jack O'Neill. The meeting was informal, something of a way to wind down and go over the events of the last few days.
Teal'c spoke up. "I am curious, Daniel Jackson. Why did you not choose to Ascend once again?"
"Eh, been there, done that," Daniel answered. He was trying not to look at the SGC flag that had been replaced after Jack had torn down the last one to serve as covering for Daniel after he was restored by the Ancients without the benefit of clothing. "Being Ascended simply isn't something I'm interested in now. Besides, I think that the others weren't particularly looking forward to having me among them again, apparently I was something of a pain in the ass the last time."
"Well, I can relate," Jack commented with a half-grin. Daniel shot him an annoyed look. "So, what about ol' Ghost-snake? Think we'll be hearing from Anubis one day?"
Daniel shook his head. "Oh, I doubt it. Anubis was never fully Ascended, and even if he had been, I don't think he'd have the experience or control to match Oma. No, I think we've heard the last from Anubis. At a... high cost, though."
"She made the right choice, Daniel," Sam said. "Anubis had to be stopped."
"But she shouldn't have to condemn herself to an eternity of stalemating Anubis," Daniel grumbled. "I get the others want to punish her for being the one to help Anubis ascend, but I get the feeling that it's more than punishment. It's a warning. The majority of the Ancients are doing this as a way of getting to anyone sympathetic to Oma, a warning to them that if they act out of line they'll suffer the same fate."
"Given the way they act, it's hard to believe the Ancients used to be nice enough to be allies with the Asgard," Jack remarked.

Before anything else could be said, a call came over the PA. "General O'Neill, please report to the Control Room."
"Hrm, wonder what that's about," Jack mused, noticing the Gate hadn't activated. He got up and went to the stairs that would bring him down to Gate Control, the others following him. He walked up toward the control area in time for him to be informed, "General, we've picking up a signal being routed through one of our military satellites. It's addressed to you and the SGC but..."
"But?"
"It's not coming from anything on the ground, and we have no ships or fighters in orbit."
"Well, let me hear it," Jack said.
"It's a simple data transmission, text only." Sergeant Harriman looked at a screen and a bewildered look came over his face.
When he failed to respond, Jack cleared his throat and made a hand gesture emphasizing his impatience.

"Sir, um, it reads...." Harriman looked back. "Hey Jack, is Maude Flanders dead yet?"
Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c all looked at Jack. He seemed to grin a little, chuckled lowly, and nodded. "Hook me up to a satellite," Jack ordered. "Looks like some old friends of ours are back in town."




Gray Star, Near Earth Orbit


"Sir, picking up transmission," Lt. David said from comms. "It is an audio channel."
"Put it on, Lieutenant," Nate said. "Hello?"
"This is the SGC, General Jack O'Neill speaking," Jack's voice said over the bridge speaker. "Yes, Colonel, Maude Flanders is dead. And thanks to you I knew it was coming."
"Damn, Jack, you too?", Nate answered, chuckling. "It's tough having stars on the collar, isn't it?"
"Well, we all have to grow up sometime. So, if I might ask, what took you so long in getting back into our neck of the woods?"
"Oh, political stuff I guess. Frankly I got yanked away from Ivvie's wedding reception for this mission...."

And then, unexpectedly, a body materialized, horizontally but otherwise in a fashion disturbingly similar to the Goa'uld-pattern ring transporters, letting them be used without a ground station as a receiver--since they worked on wormhole principles, they were acceptable to the religious, unlike ST-3 transporters--and here, well, certainly not accompanied by any rings or the like... "Where is Nirrti!?” She demanded, as if it made perfect sense.

The woman stood about six feet tall and had an incredibly perfect, beautiful body, though there was a slight hint of a developing belly--impossible to tell if she enjoyed herself a bit to much or if it was the initial signs of pregnancy--below ample breasts, all contained by a simple homespun sweater over a long green tunic, black hanging skirt; vivid, firey red hair fell down her back in waves, accentuating freckled, hyper-pallid skin, with sharp, high-swept cheekbones and an upturned nose, and her green eyes flicked over the assembled for a moment, furiously angry and her eyes actually starting to glow before that effect fell away and she stood, staring in what was close to shock as could be imagined at the Taloran XO.

"Oh. So there are more of you, after all." She frowned, leather-gloved hands folded under her ample bosom. “Did you actually build a prescience-drive ship on your own?” It sounded like she was translating the term in her head, and she made no movement, staying perfectly still and not blinking.

Nate stared at the newcomer rather blankly. Data stood from the command chair. "I am sorry. I do not know of this 'Nirrti' individual you speak of, ma'am, and this vessel is the Gray Star, an advanced prototype utilizing a newer compact form of interuniversal wormhole generator." Data considered calling security but concluded that an attempt to detain the creature-it was not very likely she was human-would only result in her immediate escape through the same method as her arrival.

She sighed and closed her eyes, a gloved hand pressing up to her chin. "Great. Some jumped up survivors build their own interuniversal ship and it ruins the life I've built for myself over the past couple of years. Sorry that I’ve intruded, all. It was just a false alarm."

"Nate, what the hell is going on up there?"
"Jack, um, we seem to have attracted a visitor," Nate responded before looking to the woman. "Um, lady, I don't know who you are, but we're not some group of 'jumped up survivors' and an IU wormhole drive is hardly a... 'Prescience Drive', whatever the hell that is."
"I believe the visitor is referring to the normal inability of sensing equipment to actually track destination universes in an uncontrolled IU wormhole generation," Data remarked. "However, our generators do not need such capability as we are capable of controlling the emission frequency of Straczynski particles in a generator and therefore able to determine which universe the wormhole will open to."

"You set it in advance? Oh that is very clever.” She paused again, and looked straight at Nate. "Jack O'Neill? You’re talking about Colonel Jack O'Neill?" She started walking over toward the pickup, and spoke into it herself. "Hi. It's Ayiana. I'm sorry about lying to you at the time, but I was worried that you were working for the Ancients, and, hmm, what's that term they use, ah yes, they have a hate-on for me. My real name is Maedhv, by the way. Am I interrupting something important?"

"Jack, you know this lady?" Nate said into the comm system.
There was silence on the other end. "Um, yes, I think.

"Eh well, why don’t we all talk in person, Jack-it’ll be less awkward that way." Without any warning she at once teleported the four members of SG-1 directly onto the bridge of the Gray Star in the same fashion as herself.

The new arrivals looked around at their new environs, taking a few moments for it to kick in. Jack looked at Maedhv/Ayiana and then to Nate. "Um... we didn't know she could do that."
"Actually, we didn't even know she was alive," Sam pointed out. "Aiyana, we thought you were...."

"Dead. Hi, Samantha." She stretched out lazily in front of them. "As you can see, however, the ability of the plague to kill me was… overstated. Let’s not worry about that, though. Suffice to say, after you were convinced I was dead, I went and started a hippie commune to try and live in some peace and quiet. The only reason we're having this conversation is because your visitors had all the signatures I'd expect out of... This person named Nirrti. An old enemy, and an old friend, and someone I have little reason to trust.” She raised a hand to forestal Teal'c. "Forgive me. She's not a Goa'uld. The Goa'uld stole her name from the oral histories of the war to impersonate her, I would suspect."

"I couldn't help but overhear you earlier," Daniel began, "but I am familiar with the Ancients and.... why would they hate you? From what I've read of you from Jonas Quinn's notes, you are an Ancient. Though apparently a lot more powerful than it seemed at the time."

“If the Ancients are interacting with you, then I suppose I do need to explain this,” Maedhv answered, frowning. “They wanted to be like me, you see. Imagine... Someone who is ascended and corporeal at the same time. And the pre-ascended Ancients, they called themselves Alterans, I’d call them Asvins, tried to make themselves into copies of me, as that is what I am. They fucked up, simply put, and now they’re trapped in the ascended world. They’re also not nearly as benevolent as they’ve probably gotten you to think.”

Before Daniel could respond, Nate chimed in with an irritated, "Woh woh woh, as interesting as this is, especially all this stuff about Ancients and Ascended something and Asvins, we came here for something a little more pressing for time. Would any of you happen to know anything about little bugs made of segmented blocks of metal who like to spread like weeds?"
"Replicators," Sam said. "Wait..."
"Oh no..." Jack made a groaning sound and put a hand to his head. "You picked up another Stargate, didn't you? You picked up another Stargate, hooked one of your toys up to it, and the Replicators got through, right?"
"That about sums it up," Nate said. "'Replicators', huh? That sounds bad."
"Yeah, it's bad. It's very bad," Jack said in irritation. "Remember when we told you about the Asgard and how they couldn't curb-stomp the Goa'uld because they had nastier things to deal with? The Replicators were those nastier things."

"What else can you tell us about them?", Data asked.
"We defeated the Replicators just days ago," Teal'c answered. "Using the Ancient device at Dakara, which my people have now begun to disassemble to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands."

"Dakara.” That seemed to be useful information to Maedhv, and she rolled the word on her tongue like she was tasting it, staring distantly. “Could I have somewhere to sit, by the way?

After some bewildered looks it was Kharaste who, being the Officer and Gentleman of the Empress' Starfleet he was, showed Maedhv to a chair at a side station, which a petty officer quickly abandoned. "I believe this should suffice for you," he remarked patiently, even if everyone else was still a bit offset by just how sudden the woman's arrival had changed and shaken things.
"So, Replicator problem, we need to get to Dakara. How fast is this ship?"
Seeing Zaria, Sam remarked, "Well, if they've adapted Goa'uld technology with the help of the Tok'ra, I bet it has a hyperdrive, so it shouldn’t be that long to get to Dakara."
"You'd be right," Zaria answered. "Nice to see you Sam. Hope you and Daniel have enjoyed your gifts."
"Oh, we have," Daniel remarked, still looking at Maedhv with a bit of uneasiness. "And we have some things to tell you about the Ancients and your home universe of ST-3...."

Maedhv settled back into the chair and smiled sweetly to the Taloran before looking over to the assembled team and Nate. "Ah, you have a wormhole generator on board, right?" Maedhv glanced around. “If you just activate it randomly, I can take you to Dakara in about a minute.”

Eyes turned to Sam, Zaria, and Serlann, the choice determined by who had them. The Minbari woman in turn looked to Data. "Captain, if you want, I believe I can program the computer to emit the 'Zynski particle streams for wormhole generation without a programmed destination."
"General?" Data looked to Nate. "You are officially in command of this operation, I will defer to you if you wish to pursue this option."
"Wait, hold it, hold it..." Nate brought a hand up. "Just... what the hell is this Dakara thing? And what are you again? Why do you need us to generate a wormhole?"

"Daniel, would you explain to General Nate how prescience allows one to navigate through space-time?" Maedhv answered by posing a question to the scientist, her eyes gently closed.
"I think Ayiana.... Maedhv.... is referring to an ability to predict all possible outcomes and then to select the one she wants," Daniel answered. “So she could use it to steer a course for a wormhole without needing to lock it in, even in just one universe.”
"I concur with Doctor Jackson, General," Data added. "Prescience is a concept believed possible for high-capability entities, though there are only a few recorded instances of encounters with them, such as with the Q Continuum..."

"They just fake it, Captain Data," she spoke without opening her eyes.

That brought a curious look from Data to the interloper. Nate shrugged. "Alright, alright. Go ahead, set the Michaels Device to open a random wormhole if you can."
Serlann nodded and began working her console, Zaria helping her.
While this happened, Sam said, "What we were about to tell you is that using the records you gave Daniel five years ago, Daniel found out that the writing of a race you call 'Furies' matches the language of the Ancients. They apparently visited the universe of ST-3 about ten, thirteen thousand years ago."
At the words, Maedhv stiffened barely perceptibly, frowning darkly when the Furies were mentioned and with a rather black expression coming over her. She did not seem pleased to hear that, at all.

"Curious," Data remarked, especially at Maedhv’s faint stiffening in response to the words, which he suspected was extremely significant indeed. “Maedhv, you exhibited signs of some distress or irritation at the mention of the Furies. Are you previously aware of them?”

“Yes.”

By Data’s analysis of human emotions, he concluded, that if they were any approximation of Maedhv’s, she certainly didn’t want to discuss the subject. Serlann then reported readiness, and further questioning was necessarily aborted. At Data's command the wormhole drive was activated.

At that moment, Maedhv reached her mind into the ship's computers and established links with them as she guided the drives according to a prescient vision laid out before her of all possible paths, and selected the one to Dakara, holding steady to the fix on the present as closely as she could as the ship dove and spun through the wormhole and then burst out on the other side, over Dakara. She shuddered and settled back as she released herself from the grip of prescience. “Alright then, let's discuss my compensation."

Neither Jack nor Nate very much liked the sound of that, with Nate almost spluttering, "Compensation?"

Maedhv smiled in the faintest sort of way. "I need to go somewhere, so I want you to provide me with a ship."
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-11 09:41pm 

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Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8423
Location: Florida USA
Chapter 2



Gray Star, In Orbit Over Dakara
Free Jaffa Space
Universe Designate SRC-19



"You know, it's usually polite to inform the other party about attached strings before you actually seal the deal," Nate remarked irritably.
"Sir, picking up vessels approaching, Goa'uld Ha'tak-class," Subcommander Hsiao reported. "Their shields and weapons are powering up."
"Raise shields, Mister Torcet," Data ordered. "Begin locking weapons..."
"Wait." Sam stepped up. "A lot has changed since you were around last time The Jaffa Rebellion has seized a lot of Goa'uld ships in the past week. Hail them, we'll talk to them."
"Lieutenant?" Data looked to David-Oded.
"Sending identification hail and informing them we have SG-1 on board."

Several moments later the viewscreen changed from showing the approaching Goa'uld ships to a bridge on one of them, a wizened Human face with the same forehead tattoo as Teal'c's appearing. Bra'tac smiled at them and said, "Ah, General O'Neill, Teal'c. We did not recognize your vessel as Tau'ri and did not detect your exit from hyperspace."
"Well, it's a long story, Bra'tac..."
“….But we need the Dakara Device again,”Jack finished.
"The Dakara Device? We have already begun dismantling the device. And who would these people be?"
Teal'c gave the answer. "Master Bra'tac, this is Nathan Mackensen. He is a comrade of Worf son of Mogh, the warrior who slew Zeus."
Bra'tac nodded, the smile returning to his face. "Ah, yes, I remember that story. These are the Tau'ri from another universe, then? What is it you need of the Dakara device?"
"I hear you just defeated the Replicators with it," Nate said. "Well, Master Bra'tac, I'm afraid that before you did, a few slipped through a Stargate we had set up to another universe. They're taking over a planet in one of our universes now, a highly populated one. Trillions of beings are at risk."
"And you seek to use the Dakara Device to destroy them as well."
"We'll need to work fast," Sam said. "It won't take long for the Replicators to make ships to spread to other systems."
"Then you are welcome to come and restore the Device. I will be awaiting you on Dakara." With that Bra'tac disappeared from the screen.

"Colonel Carter, do you have an idea on how to use this Dakara Device in Universe AR-12?" Data asked from his chair.
"Well, when we used it here, we got all the Stargates in the Milky Way to open at once to propagate the wave," Sam answered. "If we can open the Dakara Stargate to your's in Universe AR-12, it should work."
"Unfortunately that will not be possible," Data answered. "The Stargate was buried when our orbiting ship destroyed the facility in an attempt to stop the Replicators. We will not be able to retrieve it from under the Replicator shield or provide a Straczynski particle charge to permit a wormhole from this universe to be established there."
"Then we'll need to get another Stargate," Sam said.

"If you do, you won't need to provide a particle charge," Maedhv seemed to take particular pleasure in interrupting other peoples' conversations. "I'll provide that service as well in exchange for transport to my chosen destination. I'll also throw in, oh, two dozen of what you call ZPMs, contingent on my arrival. The rest I'll do in advance--which I suppose means wiping out these Replicators for you, or this planet they're on, anyway. No guarantees that they won't have already spread from it."

SG-1 leveled rather intense looks at Maedhv. "ZPMs?", Nate asked quizzically.
"Zero Point Modules. Ancient power sources," Daniel answered. "And we need one to restore communications with our expedition to Atlantis in the Pegasus Galaxy, not to mention powering the Ancient outpost we found in Antarctica."
"Well, I'm certainly interested," Jack said. They had just received notice from Atlantis, decrypted by Sam literally hours before Gray Star had arrived, of an impending attack on the Expedition by an alien threat called "Wraith". "Do you have subspace communications? I can get the ship that Aiyana... Maedhv... has asked for."

"General O'Neill, this woman has already proven herself to be not entirely trustworthy," Teal'c noted. "She clearly meant for you to die when she failed to heal you from the plague in Antarctica. I do not believe it is wise to trust her word."
"Maybe so," Sam conceded, "but I don't like the idea of the Replicators running around in an open galaxy. I think it's worth the risk."
"So do I, for obvious reasons," Nate chimed in, looking at Jack.
"No telling what we could learn from her, either,” Daniel commented. “She clearly has even more advanced knowledge and capabilities than the Ancients, and I think it’s important for us to find out about its veracity. And with those 'Wraith' that the Atlantis Expedition talked about..."
Jack nodded. "Well, I need to get ahold of the Prometheus then. If your subspace doohickeys are compatible..."
"I assume that your new ship uses communications technology based on examples of Tok'ra and Goa'uld technology, so the answer is yes," Zaria said.
"Good, good. In the meantime," Jack looked to Maedhv. "I guess you have to put that thing down there back together? We'll go with you planetside while we wait for Prometheus and I can dial home to let them know what's going on, see if we know of a nearby Stargate we can borrow for this mission."

"That's fine," Maedhv replied a bit flippantly, though a dark and slightly worried look crossed her face at the mention of the Wraith. “Do you want me to teleport all of us down to the surface? I presume that the redoubtable Captain Data can go pick up a stargate and position it a few light seconds from the target planet and then jump back into this universe; when he does jump back into this universe, it’ll tell me where to guide this stargate so I can connect the wormhole from the Dakara gate to it. You will however need to survive getting fairly close to the planet with the gate you drop off. I am not omnipotent."

"I am fairly confident that we will survive such an attempt," Data remarked. He looked to Nate. "General, as your purpose on this mission was to make contact with Stargate Command, I would make the recommendation that you remain here."
"Yes," Nate said, "starships are a bit out of my ability. Besides, I get the feeling that I've got a lot to pick up on when it comes to changes here in SRC-19."
"You could say that," Jack answered with a nod.

Maedhv smiled affiably. "Now that everyone has happily arranged themselves, I shall convey you to the surface. Please prepare yourselves."

"Lieutenant David will make the connection for you, General O'Neill," Data said.
Jack looked to Sam, who went over and provided the Israeli officer with the necessary data. Within moments a connection would be established. "Colonel Pendergast, this is General O'Neill," Jack said.
"General, we just got a message from the SGC saying you'd disappeared. What's going on?"
"To be honest, I'm not entirely sure of that myself," Jack answered. "I need you to head to Dakara ASAP, Colonel."
"Understood, we're on our way."
The channel cut, Jack shook his head. "Actually, I doubt he'll be heading here ASAP. Not until he gets clearance from the SGC, given we were abducted straight from the control room." He looked to Maedhv. "Get us planetside so we can dial Earth, I'll send Daniel back to let them know we're fine."
"Actually, Jack, I'd like to stay here," Daniel remarked, looking to Jack and Maedhv as well. "I've got a lot of questions to ask our cattle thief here."

Daniel's remark brought some quizzical looks, with Jack saying, "Cattle thief, Daniel? It's bad enough she's not making sense, don't you start too."
"Actually, Jack, I just figured it out," Daniel answered, gazing now on Maedhv. "'Maedhv' is distinctly Celtic and clearly a derivative of Medb or Maeve, the Queen of Connacht in Irish mythology who was the famed enemy of King Conchobar of Uliad, the son of King Arthur. In the Ulster Cycle accounts she was credited with starting a war with King Conchobar's realm in order to steal his prize bull. Later she was killed by her own nephew Furbaide with a slingshot and a piece of cheese." Smirking, Daniel added, "Though I don't suppose Maedhv here is vulnerable to getting hit in the head with a chunk of cheese."

"People embellish crap all the time," Maedhv answered with a sly sort of grin as she turned her face to look at Daniel. "As for you, I’m sorry, Daniel, that the Ancients hurt you as they did with their ascension. Especially since once upon a time I was their Queen, and I do feel somewhat responsible for them yet.”

"What do you mean by that anyway?" Daniel asked. "What do you have against what Oma did for me, showing me Ascension before I died of radiation poisoning?"

"It's not really an 'ascension'. It's just--packing your consciousness away in some energy fields." Maedhv shook her head. “And it was done out of greed, not some quest for wisdom. But what’s the point of reconsidering the past? You, who I talk to, are here, and I can only hope in the future is more wary of them. Shall we jump?” Hearing no dissents, she folded them down the surface.

The Jaffa around their arrival point were quite stunned to see them suddenly appear as if they had come via rings - just with no rings - and were only calmed by recognizing Teal'c among the six figures. "Since you're having so much fun talking with Her Royal Highness," Jack said to Daniel, looking Maedhv with sarcasm as he emphasized the title of the acclaimed "Queen", "I guess I'll head back to the SGC instead. Sam, make sure she doesn't blow anything up." He looked to Nate as well. "I've got some Heineken back at the SGC, let's go get a drink and see about getting you out of those dress blues."
"Sounds good to me," Nate said, following Jack to the Stargate.

"Well, Samantha, Daniel, Teal'c, are we all ready to go start preparing the device? I'll need your help with the components, Teal'c, and some of your expertise as well, Samantha."
"And what about me?" Daniel asked, following them toward the large compound. "I doubt you'll need me to translate."
"Well, you can lift things. Or take out the trash.”
"You picked up all the worst parts of being human," Daniel grumbled.





Stargate Command


"So, how is General Hammond?" Nate asked after Jack got off the phone, having appraised President Hayes as to the developments.
"Oh, he's good. General Thompson?" Jack promptly took a swig of Heineken.
"Haven't kept up with him. Though I figure he's with the IUCEC now. I think part of the reason we didn't come back earlier is because President Dale went to them and let them take over our operation." Nate followed Jack back to the control room. He'd gotten out of the dress blues in favor of SGC field camo, which certainly felt comfortable. Jack had even arranged for him to be assigned a sidearm, one of the Rollings-Teffer P-4 particle pistols that the SPC had given Stargate Command five years before.
"Well, we managed to survive," Jack said. "We've had some losses along the way. Daniel spent a year on a higher plane of existance and all. And we had to deal with the nastiest snake of all."

"This 'Anubis' you referred to," Nate remarked. "Oh, how's Doctor Fraser?" He needed to only see the look that came over Jack's face to see the answer. "I'm sorry, Jack. She was a good doc. Wish I could've been there."
"Yeah." Jack looked to Harriman. "Sergeant, I'm heading back to Dakara. Has Pendergast confirmed he's on course?"
"Yes, sir."
"Colonel Davis will be by soon to fill in for me while I'm off-world," Jack said. "Dial up Dakara, we'd better be getting back."





Over P9D-498, Goa'uld Territory


Lt. Commander Kei Nagase was a Japanese native of attractive build and curves, though one couldn't quite tell that in the large confines of the full-body piloting suit she was in. The ace fighter pilot gunned her F/A-48 Scorpion into its full attack velocity as she came around for another run on one of the two Ha'tak motherships in orbit, among the remaining fleet loyal to the Goa'uld System Lord Ba'al.
Around her more Scorpions were coming into formation, each carrying anti-ship missiles redesigned with Guyverite-boosted tactical warheads. Two Taloran men pilots and another Stellar Navy aviator were on her wing, the four of them the lead flight of the forty starfighters that Gray Star was built to carry (the IUCEC had sided with the Taloran and Minbari desire to have attached fighters). "Lock targets, weapons free!" she ordered into the mic, ordering her SIO and those of the other fighters in the unit to keep the Goa'uld ship "painted" and that they could fire at will.

A stream of missiles dropped from the fuselages of the sleek, powerful F/A-48s. Their impulse boosters fired and the missiles raced across the distance, only two being destroyed by point defense fire before the rest crashed into the shields of the Ha'tak. They held under the onslaught, but only just.... the flight coming for an attack run behind Kei was sure to nail them.
As she pulled away to allow Captain Kender - a Human from Orientale, the space colony republic from VS-5 that was known for having prompted Taloran intervention in the Earth's war against the nearby colonies - to complete her attack run, Kei saw a flight of Goa'uld fighters on her HUD. Armed with only two anti-fighter missiles, she saw no need given the relative slowness of the weak Death Gliders and lined up her targeting icon on one before pulling the finger trigger. Pulses of energy erupted from the cannon on her fighter's "nose" and shot across the black void. The slow glider had caused her to miss a little, but a slight change in direction allowed her to slip the stream of fire over the craft. It exploded in an orange fireball. "Scratch one bogey."

As Kei maneuvered her fighter for another attack run, she saw the Gray Star race by, her own weapons blazing.




On board the bridge crew was silent and professional under the watchful eyes of their android commander and his stern Taloran XO. "Shields holding," Glin Torcet reported from his station.
On the screen their attack fighters scored a critical blow. Missiles blew past the shields of one of the Ha'taks and got a direct hit, reducing the Goa'uld vessel to a crippled hulk after a series of explosions. This left one target that was completely gunning for Gray Star.
"Mister Torcet, fire at your discretion."

The Minbari neutron cannon mounted on Gray Star's bow lashed out. Powered by an advanced Guyverite/naquadah reactor, the powerful emerald beam drained the Goa'uld mothership's shields as it played over them. Bursts of powerful phaser energy from the parallel cannons to either side of Gray Star's bow, mounted in their approximate places on a Defiant or Boxer-class vessel of the old Federation or Alliance respectively, joined the onslaught as well. A series of missiles erupted from VLS launchers on the Gray Star's hull and added to the damage.
"I believe the Ha'tak is preparing to make a jump to hyperspace," Subcommander Hsiao reported.
"I'm on it, Captain," Di'not reported almost eagerly.
Under the Zohan officer's expert handling, Gray Star came about hard and followed the Goa'uld ship. She used the attitude thrusters and engines to shift and move to make the return fire miss where possible, or be glancing blows often enough to maintain shield cohesion. As Di'not kept the ship going, Tarak poured more fire into it. The shields on the Ha'tak were starting to fail, clearly.

Whoever was leading that Goa'uld mothership was lucky. Even as another missile brought the shields down for good and phaser cannon fire raked across the armored hull of the Ha'tak, the hyperdrive successfully initialized. The Goa'uld vessel accelerated and entered the hyperspace window before it.
The action was over but there was no celebration, not under Kharaste's watch. The Taloran officer turned to his commander. "Captain, we have driven away the enemy. I will prepare an after-action report for your approval."
"Thank you, Commander," Data said. Looking forward, he added, "You have performed above expectations, Lieutenant Di'not, Glin Torcet. Lieutenant, return us to orbit. Lieutenant David, begin recovery of the fighters and clear the recovery shuttle to launch."
"Immediately, Captain" and "Yes sir" were the two officers' responses as they performed their duties. The Gray Star, having gotten her first trial by fire, headed for orbit as her recovery hanger and launch hanger portals opened.
From the launch hanger, a single shuttle slipped forward. Half the size of a Tel'tak-class cargo vessel, it was still large enough inside to accomodate the planet's Stargate as well as the crew, led by Zaria/Cadmilis, that would recover the Gate.

On the bridge, as the crew secured from combat stations back to full standby alert, Kharaste presented a digital display to Data. "Captain, I am happy to report only minimal scouring on the ventral port hull due to a brief bleedthrough of our deflector screens brought on by a direct hit. Our shields held during the engagement with an effectiveness drop of only fifteen percent due to enemy fire. Weapons accuracy was at expectation."
"Thank you, Commander. What of the fighters?"
"The Alliance's new multirole starfighters performed well under our modifications. Commander Nagase's attack wing suffered only one full loss, both crew ejected. Three fighters partially damaged and being landed under their own power."
"Excellent. Have another recovery shuttle prepped to recover the eject pods." Data saw Kharaste make those arrangements. "Commander, I have noticed you seem tense lately. I presume you are uneasy about the mysterious entity that identified herself as Maedhv?"

"There is something wrong about her, Captain. Especially her reaction to my presence," Kharaste said. "I do not trust such a creature."
"An understandable feeling, Commander. We shall have to be on our guard for this mission." Data did not bother articulating his projected chances for treachery from Maedhv. Even accounting for everything he did not know of her, her behavior and remarks left those chances... disturbingly high. "As we are in Goa'uld territory, we must leave as soon as Doctor Herzela secures the Stargate. Have the ship prepared immediately for hyperspace jump and ensure that the lost starfighter's hulk has been reduced to the point that the Goa'uld cannot gain anything from recovering it."
"Yes, Captain..."





Dakara, Free Jaffa Space


"Ahh, alright. Diagnostic checks out," Maedhv sighed in relief, and settled back, reaching for the pitcher of water she had finally--and with unusual politeness--asked Daniel to bring, drinking heavily before she pulled her gloves on, comfortable jackboots crossed in front of her. "The Dakara cannon is again fully operation, and if I'm not mistaken, Sam, you have it checked out on the appropriate frequencies for this operation. I can of course provide the power when it's activated; so, we're all set for the operation." She smiled politely, having lost her tinge lunacy fairly quickly when presented with something to do, distressingly quickly perhaps, and was showing the level of focus that she had when presented with the prior need to cure the plague in the Antarctic facility.

"At least you make a better partner than Ba'al," Sam remarked with some humor, double-checking to make sure the device would create the necessary wave to disrupt the Replicators. She looked to Teal'c, who seemed no worse for the wear despite having been made to do almost all of the lifting (Sam had been able to help out here and there, as had Daniel, but Teal'c alone had the height and arm reach to do what was needed in some cases).

"Well, I fancy that the average Goa'uld is still intent on resuming power. I just want to live the rest of my extremely substantial lifespan in peace."

"They live for power," Teal'c said. "They destroy what they cannot enslave."
"And they're addicted enough to power that even when in hiding they can't help but try and get followers. We found Seth in Washington State with his own little cult," Daniel added, rather intentionally.

"I know you did," Maedhv giggled slightly. "Considering that's where I'm living presently. Different part of the state, though. The people living with me see me as a wise sage, but I harbour no aspirations over them."

That made the assembled feel very uncomfortable. Behind them the door to the chamber opened and Bra'tac entered, leading Nate and Jack back. "The Prometheus is on its way," Jack told her. "We're living up to our end of the bargain."

"Thank you," Maedhv smiled. "The Dakara cannon is ready to be fired through the stargate the moment I detect the return of the Gray Star to this universe and focus in on it. You can dial any planet you please, I’ll do the rest.” She let her hair out, and produced a small brush from her pocket that she started to work through it with as she sat there, waiting.

"Well, here goes nothing," Nate muttered.
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-11 09:42pm 

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Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8423
Location: Florida USA
Chapter 3




Gray Star
Planet P4V-387, Restricted Space



With a flash of energy the Gray Star came out of hyperspace, her shields popping online within seconds. Which was a good thing.
Fire converged on them from multiple directions, the Replicators having already put together a small force of ships resembling their basic bug form. "Sensors indicate the Replicators have used the raw metallic materials on the planet to build several ships," Hsiao reported from surface scans. "Including a couple really big ones. I think one is soon to launch..."
The ship rocked slightly. Projectiles were impacting against their shielding, fired by the spider ships. "Shields holding at eighty percent," Tarak reported.

Fire was returned as a spider ship moved across their bow to intercept. But even powered as they were the energy weapons of the ship were resisted by the superior shielding of the Replicators, gleaned as it was from the Asgard.
"We're nearing the drop point, Captain," Kharaste remarked. "Opening hanger doors."
"Helm, make certain that we do not present the open hull to the Replicator ships," Data stated.
"Yes sir," Di'not said, guiding the ship through the Replicator force.




In the hanger bay Kei had slipped back into her fighter with her SIO, Ensign Landers, with all system checks ready and plans made ready should the fighter wing need to launch. But for the moment they were on standby, leaving her nothing to do but wait.
Her head turned to the right and faced the opening to the hanger. The Stargate they had picked up was being tested as one of the craft-towing vehicles pushed it and the gantry around it up to the end of the hanger bay.
The ship rocked again. I hope we don't take all day with this, Kei thought, helpless as she was at the moment in the cockpit of an inert fighter.





Dakara, Free Jaffa Space


Maedhv was fielding some technical questions from Sam when Jack quietly pulled Daniel out of the room and back toward the Stargate. "So, Daniel, find out anything more about her?"
"Not much, she was actually less talkative while re-assembling the device," Daniel answered.
"And what do you think about her? About all this stuff she's saying about Prescience, the Ancients, Ascension? Is she just being a lunatic?"
He could only shrug. "Well, to be honest, I can’t be certain about all that much she says, and she hasn’t really told us much anyway. I can tell you that she's not quite as disconnected as she seems to be, she’s just very blunt. She put this device back together faster than Sam can, well...." Daniel paused for a moment and tried to think of an example before giving up. "...okay, the analogy's not coming to me. The point is... she's smarter than she looks and more powerful than any Ascended being I've yet heard of."
"And she's living somewhere on Earth," Jack sighed. "What was that she said? That she was running a commune?"
"Hippie commune, cult, something like that. Like Seth, just that when I brought that up she said she wasn't being as bad as he was."
"Any idea where?"
"Washington State, I think she mentioned."

Jack nodded briskly at that "Well, I'm going to run back to the Stargate and dial Earth, let them know where to start looking. I'm not comfortable with Her Highness being anywhere on Earth. We at least need to know where to knock."
They returned to the open. The nearby Jaffa guards nodded respectfully at them as they walked on to the Stargate and DHD. "Jack, I wouldn't do that if I were you," Daniel remarked. "I really doubt Maedhv would consider it acceptable for us to start watching her followers, I just get the impression she’s very protective.”
"And we need to be of our people, too,” Jack answered. “And of her commune, cult, whatever. So, no, I’m calling this one in.”




Gray Star
Planet P4V-387, Restricted Space




"Shields at sixty-five percent!" Tarak fired another cannon burst that proved ineffective again. "Captain, request permission to use Mark IVs."
"Permission denied, Glin," Data answered. "We have only limited reserves of ammunition and using more would be unreasonable."
"Drop point attained in twenty seconds," said Di'not. She weaved the Gray Star around a bug-vessel, the point-defense guns on the Gray Star shooting down the Replicator boarding torpedoes.
One of the cylindrical ships was coming up at them now, forcing a strong maneuver by Di'not that nearly hit the hull of the Replicator ship as she twisted away and "down" from it before re-aligning them to the pattern. On the bridge screens the mark indicated they'd reached the optimal drop point. "Commander Triulajha, drop the Gate."
"Yes sir," the Taloran officer said, relaying through his DNI the order to the rockets attached to the Gate's gantry. They powered up and the Stargate came straight out of the hanger doors, now in a medium orbit over P4V-387.
"Signaling General Mackensen now," Lt. David said immediately.




Dakara, Free Jaffa Space


Jack and Daniel were still at the DHD when Jack's radio came on. "Hello?"
"We got the signal from Captain Data," Sam said over the light static. "Get a wormhole opened up, sir."
"Hrm... eenie meenie mynie moe..." Jack looked over the DHD. "Got a good planet to dial, Daniel?"
"Jack, just dial one," Daniel answered, rolling his eyes. "Just so long as it's not the black hole Gate."
"Spoilsport," Jack muttered. He thought of one particularly bad planet he'd been to, uninhabited, and began dialing it.

As Jack finished dialing, Maedhv came jogging up to the gate, coming to a stop by the DHD. "I can activate the device by automatic, but I need to be here with the DHD, as those were never designed for me to control," she explained after a moment, watching as the event horizon spilled out and then stabilized. "If you'd stand aside, Jack? I need direct contact with the DHD for this."

"Be my guest," he said, standing to the side.

She brought her hands to touch the DHD, and then froze up in a rictus of agony as her hands began to melt and waver and flesh and gray fluid was briefly exposed before reforming, the metal covering on the DHD also melting, distorting, rising up and melding into her arms like two columns of metal turned to flesh as they met her forearms, her hands disappearing. She even whimpered as it took place, and short of a rather sophisticated show it was surely very painful, her eyes closing in relief as it was complete and the stargate began to flicker and hum with energy strangely, the dialing mechanism beginning to unlock and then spin uncontrollably though the wormhole oscillated and expanded and contracted like it was cycling over and over. Her mind reached out, and found the exact location the other gate must be, would surely be, and flung all her energy into guiding the wormhole to the new connection across space and time and the cosmos. And then it found its lock and matched.

She fired the Dakara cannon, as she called it, instantly, without warning Daniel or Jack, but before they could be concerned about the backwash of the beam firing, a shield leapt up around both of them and herself, just to be on the safe side, shimmering a faint clear-purple in the sun as the shot from the Dakara device was sent through the gate to the active and aimed stargate on the other side in orbit of the Replicator-infested planet. Focusing with incredible intensity she both held the shield and guided the Dakara device's firing with a terrible certainty, modulating the beam to pass through the planetary shields as though they didn't exist.




"Shields to fifty percent!" Tarak braced himself against his station. "Deflectors are starting to lose cohesion, the Replicator torpedoes may be able to break through them now."
"Lieutenant Di'not, please indulge in your most creative evasive maneuvers," Data ordered.
The Zohan woman smiled at that and fired Gray Star's sublight engines to full. The ship twisted and weaved, making nimble shifts in its orientation or relative position chaotically as the Replicator ships continued their methodical attempt to bring the shields down and hit the ship with a boarding torpedo through its point-defense batteries.
"The Lieutenant is starting to tax inertial dampening," Serlann remarked stoically, never-minding the fact that the ship was beginning to experience moderate G-forces despite the best efforts of the systems to accomodate Di'not's creative maneuvering.

The Stargate they'd dropped suddenly flared to life. Barely a microsecond passed after the event horizon stabilized before a beam erupted from it, powerful enough to punch through the Asgard-based planetary shield protecting the Replicators on the surface. Once inside the shield and impacting the surface the beam began spreading out, contained within the shield for the handful of seconds until it hit the Replicator shield generator. It took less than a second for the generator's Replicator parts to be disassembled, bringing the shield down.
The field erupted everywhere then, covering orbital space as well as sweeping over the planet. The Replicator ships, even their torpedoes, literally fell apart piece-by-piece.
Hsiao gave the news. "Captain, I'm not picking up any active energy sources on the planet, all the Replicator pieces seem to be completely inert!"

"Excellent, thank you Subcommander," Data answered. "Please secure from..."
"Wait..." Hsiao was double-checking his station. He looked back, now seeming very concerned. "Just before the field expanded to cover nearby space, there was a power spike. A hyperspace window."




Maedhv had since disconnected from the DHD--a process as painful as connecting had been, leaving her wringing her hands as she walked and wincing--and headed back to Samantha Carter and the IU radio connection with Daniel and Jack in tow. "There's been a problem," she muttered under her breath as she arrived and then picked up the feedback to the IU Radio. "Captain Data? One of the replicator ships jumped clear before the effect disassembled it. I need you to power up your wormhole drive without direction again." She glanced around outside around the Dakara device. "I want you all to hold your breath--contrary to stereotype you shouldn't exhale--you'll be in vacuum for maybe a fraction of a second.”

The party tensed around her imperceptibly as she said that, wondering what the hell she was planning. But having given them a moment to prepare, Maedhv felt the wormhole activation on the Gray Star and wrenched SG-1, Nate, and herself into space right in front of the Gray Star, for only a microsecond of cold and raw pressure, and then another microsecond later they materialized on the bridge of the ship just like Maedhv had done herself, before.

"I need to be present to guide the ship to Dakara," she said simply, while her more or less victims in the jump were given a moment to recover from the kiss of vacuum. "We need to return to Dakara because there's several missiles in a weapons depot under the Dakara Device which should be useful in destroying that Replicator ship.”

Of them all, only Teal'c seemed to have taken the experience with little impact. A flustered Jack looked to her and remarked, "Maybe you should take a bit more time when you give people warnings?”

"Hmm… Oh. Sorry about that. I’ll try to remember in the future.” She stretched a bit and then stepped forward to lean on a railing. It was clear that she was in communication with the ship's computers, though she made no attempt to forcibly access them. "If you can repeat the activation, Captain Data?” The incongruities of the situation were bothering everyone else, but Maedhv seemed quite unruffled.

Data nodded to Serlann, who returned to looking at her station. "Initiating Michaels Drive."

"Thank you, Captain Data," Maedhv replied, sighing, settling back and focusing again. The ship spun down and through the wormhole, and within a minute later reappeared over Dakara for the second time that day. As they did, Maedhv somewhat slumped and staggered against the rail before pushing herself back up, and then slipping down to the floor with a heavy sigh.
"Today.... Has been rather tiring. A pity I need to do this one time to get us to the surface of the planet."

"Doctor Constantine to the Bridge," Kharaste said into the ship's audio systems.

"No, no, no need," Maedhv waved her hand a bit feebly. "It's more an issue with energy field depletion around Dakara than anything else." But it was too late, and so she just left herself sit there without any further effort.

A few minutes later, the lift doors opened; the figure that emerged, carrying a medical kit and accompanied by two medics - a Human and another Minbari - was a short Human woman, barely a meter and a half in height, with a very lithe figure. Her brown hair was around her neck at the longest. Her uniform had the Federated Worlds patch on it to denote her nation of origin. She motioned to her medics and knelt down beside where Maedhv was sitting, getting a medical scanner to examine her with.
"Doctor Constantine is the ship's Chief Medical Officer", Data said to the others, since none save the bridge crew had been introduced to her before.
"That's odd," Meredith said while examining Maedhv. "Her body's filled with nanites, and there's some kind of... interference. An energy source inside her cells."
"She did say she was both corporeal and Ascended," Sam remarked, looking toward Daniel. He kept looking at Maedhv as the Doctor examined her.
"And she's in her second trimester, about four months I'd figure, given the size of the fetus," Meredith added. "This really isn't a place for you, nanites or no nanites."

"No, I suppose it’s not.”Maedhv smiled back rather affiably. "I can and have kept the child safe, however. As for the energy source, well, my cells are busier than they seem. Shall we leave it at that?"

Meredith looked toward Data and shrugged. "Aside from looking a little worn I don't see anything wrong with her. Though i doubt I could."
"Thank you, Doctor," Data answered. "Allow me to introduce General Nathan Mackensen and the members of the SG-1 team of Earth-Local."
"Well, technically I'm not in SG-1 anymore," Jack said in correction. "Now," he looked to Maedhv, "I believe you said something about weapons to help us finish the Replicators off?"

"Yes, they're under the Temple of Dakara and..." She closed her eyes and concentrated again. "Well, we'd better hurry."

"What is it?" Nate asked.

"Well, if we don't succeed in arming the Gray Star with these missiles and getting it flung back into the other universe, at the right time, an entire one of your responding Strategic Carrier groups is going to be destroyed by that ship.”
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-11 09:43pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8423
Location: Florida USA
Chapter 4



Dakara, Free Jaffa Space


Maedhv's remark on the imminent destruction of a Strategic Carrier Battle Group by the Replicators made for some concerned looks. "Such an occurrence would be very unfortunate," Data said, replying first.
"Losing a carrier always is," was Jack's reply.
"Actually, the stakes are much higher. Alliance Strategic Carrier-type warships are equipped with an Interuniversal Wormhole Generator," Data pointed out. "Given your statements on the capabilities of the Replicators, it is quite likely that they would be capable of copying the technology if they capture it intact. And since the carrier force ships are equipped with warp drives and not hyperdrives, they will be incapable of outrunning a Replicator vessel. It would simply be lying in wait wherever they came out of warp."
"Ah," Jack said with a nod. "Well, yeah, I'd call that 'unfortunate.'"
"So, what are we waiting for?" Nate said. "Let's go get those missiles-how powerful are they, Maedhv?"

"They're an Asvin knockoff of the Koman Shipkiller," Maedhv explained as she pushed herself to her feet. "Eh, let me try to put it into terms… Ah, does a Shadow Spider-Cruiser sound like a familiar ship to you?” She slapped her hands together. “One of those, destroyed.” She moved to stand with the rest of the group.

The phrase made Serlann turn in her chair and look at Maedhv. "Shadows? You know of the Shadows?"

"Well, of course." Maedhv rather bitterly looked to Serlann. "We were at the height of the flowering of the golden age, and we didn't realize until far too late that they were rotting us to the core and driving us to war. Since they couldn't defeat us in battle, they and the other old races with them instead drove us mad. And now I'm the very last survivor of that age still alive."

"These Shadows, what are they?" Daniel looked between Serlann and Maedhv. "I've... well, if they had a connection to the Ancients I'll admit I'm curious..."
"The Shadows are First Ones," Serlann remarked. "From my home universe. Over thirty years ago we of the Younger Races banded together to drive them and the Vorlons out of our galaxy after they tried to set us at odds again, as they had done to many races over the millennia."

"Mmm-hmm. And so it was with the Asvins and the Sarasavsati first," Maedhv replied. "They drove all of us mad, and when that didn't quite finish us, they turned my comrades into nihilistic lunatics who swept down on all the survivors of both sides. I am the last Asvin to have lived through those events. All the others have perished. The Ancients are their children and grandchildren, for I was the only one given immortal life."
"So you're from her home universe?" Daniel asked, pointing a bit toward Serlann. "And according to you the Ancients are the descendants of these As...."
Jack cleared his throat. "Um, Daniel, we can talk about this later. Right now I think we need to go down and get those weapons so this ship can return to the other universe and blow the Replicators away before they attack that ship with the IU drive and put the whole Multiverse in danger of infestation.

Maedhv ignored the question, using Jack’s interruption to her advantage to avoid being pressed to answer. "Captain, I believe you have a scientist and specialist in local technology aboard? Please send her down to join us; I will need substantial assistance in checking these weapons. There's fourteen fourteens of the weapons down there, but we'll be lucky to find six that are still functional."

"You refer to the Tok'ra Cadmilis, currently hosted by Dr. Herzela," Data remarked matter-of-factly. "She is currently overseeing work in Main Engineering. I shall her report to the transporter room immediately."

She flashed a smile to Data. "Thank you, Captain. If everyone would please stand ready for transport?" Waiting a moment for them, she again teleported herself, Nate, and the SG-1 team down to the Dakara temple.

With Maedhv gone, Data looked to Meredith and asked, "Doctor, what more can you tell me of this entity?"
"I'm looking over the DNA scan now," she answered. "Whatever she is, she's certainly more than Human. I..." Results popped up on her screen. "This is... impossible?"
"Doctor?" Data asked with curiosity at her expression.
"Maedhv's DNA does not meet several baselines of Human DNA. At least not our DNA. Her DNA is fully unique, but more closely corresponds with..." Meredith looked up. "Homo neanderthalensis."
"You mean she's a Neanderthal?" Ziva asked in an incredulous tone.
"Not exactly, but if I had to guess, she was born from a genepool that included Homo neanderthalensis more than Homo sapiens."
"Fascinating," Data remarked. "It would appear that she is being somewhat truthful about her lifespan, though we still lack evidence as to the full truthfulness of her claims."




Dakara, Free Jaffa Space



The recovery shuttle landed in the Dakara Stargate courtyard, the landing thrusters creating plumes of dust that coated Jack, Nate, and Daniel as they waited for the ship. The side door opened and Zaharia exited, now in a flight suit. "You're a pilot now?" Nate asked her.
"General, I have always been a pilot," Cadmilis answered. "Show me to where Maedhv is."
"Right his way," Jack remarked, motioning toward the temple. The four figures walked into it together



"Gutsalka," Maedhv was finishing speaking to the clear air, and then sighed in relief. "The Ancients tried to lock me out of the command systems, but they didn't realize that there were still Asvin military codes hardwired.” she noted, having cleared the passage only moments earlier; now it was unshielded, and the huge opening in the floor of the temple was large enough for the missiles. "You'll need to rig a crane to get them out, I think. Or at least a block and tackle pinioned to the roof--the missiles are not that heavy--since they're down pretty far." She turned and went first, probably because she was wearing a skirt, and began to nimbly descend the simple access ladder into the blackness below that ran alongside the weapons access, leading them down below. "Now, the key thing to look for is an amber light above a blue light, if you see that on the top of the missile, punch the nearest button and it will report in Ancient the power charge. It needs to have retained at least thirty percent charge to still be useful. The missiles are ten meters long and about one meter wide, but there's a system for removing them from their storage spaces and transferring them to the bottom of the shaft, which I'm going to fix while you all survey the missiles and tag the ones that have enough power."

They split off, Sam working by herself while Daniel followed behind Zaria and helped her and Cadmilis understand the Ancient numbering as they started checking missiles. "So, how are things back in your magnificant, wide Multiverse?" he asked.
"Oh, they're generally okay. A couple of medium-sized wars, some minor squabbles, nothing big."
"Oh, just a few wars?"
Hearing the tone in Daniel's voice, Zaria looked at him with a smirk. "Doctor, your own world in the first decade of the 21st Century has about what? Two hundred nation-states? And as I recall there were a fair number of civil wars, violent political repressions, and standoffs. Now imagine a Multiverse with literally thousands of individual states and tell me you're surprised that there are wars. Frankly the Multiverse is more peaceful today than it was twenty years ago when we had the Alliance and Federation within moments of war over Algrossa while the Cardassians re-armed for a Round Two with the Alliance and the Dominion infiltrating the entire Alpha Quadrant, the Kilrathi rampaging in FB-16 and the Drakh doing the same in EM-5, Hanson Leewood rattling sabers in CON-5, the Interuniversal War just two years away..."
"Hrm, Interuniversal War? That sounds... nasty."
"Universes ST-3 and CON-5 saw trillions dead, trillions more rendered homeless, entire planets cut off from interstellar trade and general economic collapse." Zaria checked a missile for the amber light and looked at the characters.
"Thirty-eight percent," Daniel said for her. "So... general economic collapse?"

"I was still at New Chatham in October of 2161 when the Battle of Alpha Paternis happened in the Gamma Quadrant, Universe ST-3. Virtually the entire campus was fixed 24/7 to the news networks to hear the latest updates to the naval battle. For three weeks."
"Who won?"
"The Alliance did," Zaria answered. "They beat off the Dominion counterattack. And in twenty days of fighting, they lost three thousand starships. The Dominion lost ten thousand."
Daniel had no immediate response to that and went back to trying to help Zaria identify Ancient numbers on her own.

Maedhv stayed near the front, working on activating the transfer assembly. She'd jacked herself into the assembly with a neural interface even as she leaned over it and, with occasionally moments of extreme pain twisting through her face, used her nanites to rebuild parts which were old enough to have ceased working. Each missile weighed several tonnes, after all, and she wasn't feeling well enough to levitate them... And, of course, quite aware that Nate, Jack, and Teal'c were there, primarily watching her. "Fancy being suspicious?" She asked a bit flippantly with a grimace on her face as she made another repair.

"Well, it usually takes me a while to trust people," Jack answered. "Especially ones that have formed their own cult."

"Well, everything I've told them is the truth, more or less," Maedhv replied. "Also, we pay our taxes, don't have sex with underage children, and donate to local community charities. Also a roadcrew for picking up trash on the one-oh-one. Utterly harmless, and with the added benefit that I could have protected them if the Goa'uld had attacked Earth.” Another sharp grimace.
"So where were you when Anubis was getting ready to flatten us?"
"Trying to decide whether or not the risk was serious enough for me to activate the remaining system defences and use up their energy," Maedhv answered. "I actually did bring them on-line when I detected the Gray Star arriving, but Nirrti is a far more serious threat than Anubis."

"Nirrti being the person you thought brought us to this universe," Nate said, more a statement than question.
"If we distrust you, it is also because of the things you have said," Teal'c stated plainly. "Our experiences have not indicated the Ancients to be the beings you paint them as."
"Like you being their Queen," Daniel added, having joined them now since Zaria knew enough about Ancient numbers to do the work herself.

"Well, they've had millions of years to repent their sins, I suppose-some of them, anyway." Maedhv answered after a moment, glancing over to Daniel as he approached. “They imprisoned me in their lust for my abilities, and they were angry that I had freed their slaves.”

"Yeah, see, we don't buy that," Daniel immediately replied.
"If you are telling the truth about that, it means you also likely had slaves." Teal'c glowered at her. "Which makes me distrust you even more."

"I did once. A harem of seven, seventy household and estate servants, not counting those of my family, and thirteen personal servants. The number seven was considered holy or important to our people, as was thirteen," she elaborated. "So those were the customary norms. All of them perished at the end of the Golden Age except for my personal servants and my harem, and they revolted in the Silver Age--all except for one. Alarita." Maedhv straightened, with a distant look in her eyes. "Alarita is my lover these days, and certainly not my slave.”

Daniel frowned at her. "So you say that maybe they’ve reformed. Assuming they're the Ancients that we know of, and right now I still consider that a big leap, what happened to the other Ancients? The ones who didn't repent?"

"Something suitably bad," Maedhv answered coyly, and then activated the transfer mechanism. "How many missiles do we have active?"

"Two," Zaria said.
"Four for me," Sam added from where she was.

"That'll be enough.” Maedhv activated the machinery, running it down a track to the first of the tagged missiles, and then hauling the missile out to the recovery shaft, with the crew of the shuttle waiting above with a winch hooked to a block and tackle to hoist it up.



Gray Star


The last of the six missiles was being fixed to the outer hull by engineering teams led by Serlann and Kharaste, who was providing his own expansive EVA experience to the time-crunched project.
Data and the rest of the bridge crew were remaining at their stations, preparing to jump out when the final missile was fixed and the firing system rigged to Glin Torcet's console. The doors at the rear of the bridge opened up and admitted Sam, now wearing an IUCEC vacsuit with an American flag patch added to the shoulder for national ID. "Ah, Colonel," Data said, twisting in his chair. "Thank you for agreeing to take Doctor Herzela's place. I believe your prior experiences with fighting Replicators will be most useful in our mission."
"I'm happy to help," Sam answered, also being quite eager to get to examine the Gray Star more closely. It's hullform reminded her of the Defiant very much, though she could see the technology incorporated into it was quite different in many ways, not counting the purpose-built Goa'uld-level technology that Cadmilis and Nural had installed for the ship. "So I guess I should report to Engineering."
"Officer Serlann will be taking the post overseeing Engineering, the ship Operations console is where I would like for you to remain. Unfortunately you are without a DNI implant, so you will have to rely entirely upon the console."
"DNI?"
"Direct Neural Interface," Data explained. And given her distractions the prior times Sam had been on the Gray Star's bridge, she now noticed that all of the bridge crew did, in fact, have equipment attached to their heads with cords running into their consoles.
"You plug the systems directly into your brains?" Sam asked.
"It was a design feature insisted upon by the Taloran design team that participated in the ship's planning," Data explained. "It is a feature primarily used by the navies of the Taloran Empire and feudatories and the Habsburg Dynasty. The Federation and Federated Worlds have not yet adopted neural interfaces and the Alliance Stellar Navy still uses headpiece based neural interface technology that is less intrusive but also less efficient."

"Oh, I see. Are your command directives so intensive that you need that kind of data throughput?”
“Not intensive, Colonel,” Data clarified, “But rather rapid. Space combat, especially with the tactics favoured by the Habsburgs and Talorans that we have been forced to adapt to, is conducted with extreme rapidity in the multiverse. This means that the time required for the brain to direct the fingers to input information, and a computer to read and execute it, is a sufficient disadvantage that direct neural commands are necessary.”
"Captain Data, we are ready," Kharaste reported from his space suit. "We are returning to the ship now."
"Excellent, Commander. Glin Torcet, please run simulations to confirm the equipment will function."
As the Cardassian weapon officer did so, Sam continued looking over the console, getting a hang on it. It was a bit different from what she was used to on Prometheus. At first the display was in alien characters she didn't recognize, worker-caste Minbari to be precise, but a few moments after she touched the console for the first time the characters altered to English lettering. "How did that happen?"
"The consoles provide their own low-level neural link to determine if the subject can sufficiently understand the characters displayed, and to alter the display if a sufficient understanding level is not displayed by the readings in the brain," Data explained. "It is a system designed to accomodate the multi-national nature of our crew and the likely crews of further ships of this type."
"Clever." Getting used to the console, Sam asked, "So, why isn't Doctor Herzela joining us? Cadmilis has already sent his report to the Tok'ra Council."
"Doctor Herzela will be accompanying General Mackensen in his mission to resume ties with the SGC." The answer was not entirely the truth. Data was also most curious about the entity Maedhv and her claims about the antiquity of various universes, as well as to the Q "faking" their abilities. He was hoping the twin scientific minds of Doctor Herzela and Cadmilis might work well to shed light on the mystery Maedhv presented.

"Commander Triulajha reports all EVA teams are back aboard and all airlocks are secured," Ziva David reported.
"Prepare for Michaels drive activation, Colonel Carter. Lieutenant, please inform General Mackensen we are ready."

Maedhv materialized on the bridge in the usual abrupt rush of white light and washover, looking even more wearied than before as she surveyed the bridge crew... "Are all the missiles active and securely fastened? I'm going to interface with them through your computers so the command code Alpha Gamma Epsilon will fire them all automatically. They will automatically track and lock onto the nearest target other than the ship they were launched on, Captain Data. So make sure you don't have any friendlies in the area." She stepped over to the nearest console, looking pointedly at the crewer to make him vacate it. "After we're cleared, I'll put you right in the vicinity of that Replicator ship, before it attacked the Strategic Carrier group, time-wise; I'll jump back to the surface just as you go through."

"Very well. We will be ready as soon as Commander Triulajha and Officer Serlann report to their duty stations."
It only took about eighty more seconds for Kharaste to arrive. Sam confirmed Serlann was in main engineering, looking over the naquadah reactors that powered the ship and their fusion reactor backups. "All stations are ready, Captain," Kharaste would report within ten seconds of jacking in to his DNI port.
"Miss Maedhv, when you are ready?"

"Of course." Maedhv interfaced directly with the computers, this time, grimacing as she modified her DNI with her nanites to connect, and configured the vessel to send the necessary signals. "Alright, I suggest not entering that command code until you're ready to personally fire the missiles, Captain Data," she finished a moment later. "Generate a wormhole charge for me, please.”

"Sound General Quarters, Commander."
"Yes Captain." Using his DNI, Kharaste did just that, klaxons sounding through the ship and ordering crew to get into vac-suits and prepare for combat operations.
"Activating the Michaels Drive," Sam said, starting to get the hang of the console and taking advantage of Serlann's alterations to provide an uncontrolled wormhole generation.
Ahead of Gray Star, two small beams came out of the drive's emitters and merged about a kilometer or so ahead of them. The resulting beam collision opened a wormhole that Maedhv took control of.

Maedhv closed her eyes, concentrating and shifting and tearing through the universal barriers to find where the Replicator ship must be, and then dial back, follow it backwards in time to where it must have come from and when, and then she locked the wormhole on to that moment. "Forward, my condors!" Her voice sounded like it contained it the memories of ten thousand old battles.

The words left her lips before she could think about them, that hoary old battle-cry, and then, just as they began to dive into the wormhole, she flashed a cheery salute to Data and teleported back to the surface of Dakara.
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-11 09:43pm 

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Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8423
Location: Florida USA
Chapter 5


Dakara, Free Jaffa Space



Maedhv returned to the surface, not looking particularly much worse for wear as she smoothed out her skirt and nodded her head slightly, almost to herself, green eyes flicking up to her five companions on the surface, for the moment. "All right, they're through, and I have, well, more than completed my end of this bargain--I initially said I wouldn't help if any of the Replicators escaped, but I did anyway. So, when shall the ship arrive to take me to my final destination?"

"They should be here soon," Jack answered. "It does take a bit of time to zip around the galaxy, you know, unless it’s different for you…?"

"It is,” Maedhv answered.

“Well, we’d love it if you’d share…”

"I can probably offer some more directly relevant things on Earth to you, defensive devices and so on, since I suspect you don't want me living there anymore."

"Well, we do have some concerns," Jack admitted, not about to volunteer the fact he'd already given the SGC information that could help locate her cult.
Daniel spoke next. "I'm actually a little curious about this 'Nirrti' you mentioned. She doesn't sound anything like the Goa'uld Nirrti, whom we're familiar with. How much does she meet the whole "goddess of death" rakshasa image?"

"The magnitude of the body count she left in her wake," Maedhv answered curtly, moving to lean against a temple wall. "Nirrti is… She is death, and she lives still, inscrutable, obsessed. I can feel her abilities lurking in the universe, prescient vision always searching."

"Searching for what?", asked Zaria.

"A person.” Maedhv reached a gloved hand up and held it to her forward, shaking her head a bit miserably as she added, quietly: "I expect that in a billion years she will still be here. My own longevity is less sure. But Nirrti is a force beyond nature and you would do well to avoid her attention.”

"Sounds like a very special woman," Jack said somewhat sarcastically. "So, Teal'c, want to go grab..."
There was a crackle over the radios of SG-1 as well as Nate's. "This is Colonel Pendergast, General, we've arrived in orbit."

"Well, I believe it's time for us to go," Maedhv remarked with a relieved expression actually showing on her face. "Shall I teleport us straight up into the equivalent chamber on the Prometheus to avoid any unnecessary disruption aboard the ship? I can then go to the bridge and provide the coordinates for our destination.”
She was answered by an assenting nod.

Maedhv smiled dryly. "Well, then, consider this sufficient warning." She paused five seconds, and then teleported them up into the transporter room of the Prometheus. Barely had they finished appearing when she gestured grandly forward with a vaguely amused smirk. "Lead on, MacDuff," she addressed to Jack, apparently having settled back to her irreverent attitude of before.
"Ah, 'MacDuff'. Very cute," Jack replied before leading them on through the ship. "So, where is it you were wanting to go? I do have to justify putting billions of dollars of United States Air Force property at the disposal of a pregnant cult leader."
"To find Alarita," Maedhv answered seriously. "We're going to a place where I can find some clues in that direction. Consider it a.. Treasure hunt." Maedhv finished as they reached the bridge.
"Colonel, set course for..." Jack looked back to Maedhv. "...where do you want to go again?"

Maedhv smiled fondly, and then closed her eyes and took a breath. "Well, while I try to remember the coordinates.." Her voice shifted, wavered, and she continued with an air of absolute command, "I'd appreciate it if everyone would leave the bridge for a moment."

She watched as everyone left, everyone, that was, except for Zaria, who instead wordlessly dropped to the floor as Cadmilis fought the impossibly powerful psychic compulsion to obey Maedhv.

The Asvin frowned darkly at the failure of her plans, and reached out with her hand, a pistol flying out of the holster of one of the leaving personnel and sailing through the air right into her hand to be leveled at Zaria. "Consider this a threat from the 'old fashioned way'," Maedhv commented as, the moment the doors to the bridge shut behind the exiting crewers, she reached out and trapped the true universal powers of her mind to lock the bridge in an energy shield, and then stretched out telempathically to establish a connection to the entire ship's computers, locking them out and rapidly changing all of the security passwords, shutting down every single input mode so that only she could control them by telempathic connection directly to the cores, and then creating a code based around her own unique signal to lock out any Asgard.

As the door slammed shut and the energy field jumped into place, the compulsion in Jack's mind ended. He turned, seeing Daniel begin to snap out of it as well, and said, "What the hell just happened? Why did we..." He went to open the door and a jolt of energy filled his hand, making him pull it back from the tremendous stinging, even as a sheen of blue-purple energy played over the door.

A call came over the PA. "Colonel Pendergast, we're being locked out of all of the ship's major systems. Propulsion, subspace communications, weapons.... the computers won't accept our security codes."
"It would appear that we have been betrayed," Teal'c said, glowering at the confirmation he was not right to trust Maedhv.
"I hate it when that happens," Jack muttered, irritated with Maedhv and even with himself for falling right into her trap.
"I guess she figured we wouldn't be as cooperative as she wanted in this 'treasure hunt'." Daniel went up to a ship intercom.
"Or she was lying about that as well and needed this ship for another purpose," Teal'c pointed out.
"Yeah, or that," Daniel said as he keyed the intercom. "Maedhv, what's going on? Why have you done this?"

"Ahh, well, you know, I've been quietly browsing computers since I arrived, and it appeared that my destination is directly inside the heart of Ba'al's remaining territory, and I couldn’t risk your not taking me there. The deal’s still good, though. Once we get to where we’re going, you’ll get the ZPMs I promised."

Inside the bridge, Maedhv sprawled out on the command chair, stretched, and closed her eyes. "Don't bother moving, Zaria," she added, the gun still pointed at the woman as though, eyes closed, she knew exactly where Zaria was… And she probably did.
"Cadmilis was right about you," the Trill woman rasped.
Zaria scowled and lifted herself up off the floor. She could feel Cadmilis' voice grow weak, the effort he'd expended to resist the sudden overpowering telepathic control Maedhv had used on her having taxed the Tok'ra symbiote to his limit. She moved toward a chair and turned it to face Maedhv, pondering if she could be fast enough to at least knock the gun out of the woman's hand.

"The gun is somewhat immaterial," Maedhv answered to Zaria's surface thoughts very casually.
"Then why hold a gun?" Zaria answered.
"Habit, desire to intimidate.” Maedhv abruptly threw the gun at Zaria.
Zaria took her chance while she had it. Catching the gun as swiftly as she could, she turned it back on Maedhv and fired again, and again, and again. The bullets pattered off of an energy shield which formed, glowing a hazy orange with each impact and sending them richoceting across the bridge. Though it now seemed very futile, Zaria coolly kept firing until the magazine was exhausted, and then quietly threw it aside. The woman, whatever she was, seemed able to manipulate energy with the ease of some of the most powerful beings in the universe.
Since Maedhv had just ignored her, acting like nothing had happened, Zaria looked back to the screen at her station, looking to see if she could find a loadout of what the Prometheus was armed with. "You know, even if they had help from the Tok'ra in weapons and Sam was able to do engineering miracles with the drive we gave her, I doubt this ship has the weapons to deal with the kind of response that Ba'al will send at us."

"I'll negotiate with him. And if he refuses my terms, well, I'll do whatever is required to get us to Castor, and then to find my Alarita."
“Well, if that’s your intention, I’d like to go below with the others.”
“I’d rather you stay here.” Her voice left little doubt of what that actually meant.
"Ah, I'm a hostage." Zaria turned back toward the screen in front of her. It certainly wasn't the kind of thing that Zaria had experience with. Cadmilis was familiar with hostage situations, but when you involve Goa'uld with them they rarely turned out well.




Jack and Colonel Pendergast had put together a meeting of the ship's senior crew in the engineering section. Even if it was an area that in normal circumstances could be used to control the ship without the bridge, the computer was completely locked down.
"With the computer out we'll have to try things manually," Pendergast said, mostly for the benefit of Daniel and the others. "Which isn't good, but it's better than nothing."
"Alternatively, we could just see where she's taking us without making her angry and unwilling to live up to her end of the bargain," Daniel said suddenly. When every set of eyes looked at him, he chuckled and nodded, "Yes, I figured that would sound stupid. I'm just thinking... even if we somehow managed to regain control of the computers, or took the computers off, how do you fight someone who can teleport at will, interface with electronics on the fly, and psychically influence the entire bridge crew to leave the bridge without a word?"
"So your solution is... to sit around, grab a drink, and wait to see where the cult queen is taking us?", Jack answered.
"No, my solution is to make sure we don't do anything rash and cause her to get really nasty," Daniel pointed out.
"Ah, good plan Daniel, I feel bad I never thought of it myself," was Jack's sarcastic response.

"I can listen to everything that you're saying through the communications network. Jack, I have no intention of killing anyone, so just sit tight and you’ll get those ZPMs.

"Nice to know you don't want to kill us," Jack answered. "But you have to admit, taking our ship from us because we might have disagreed with entering the heart of Goa'uld space was a bit overboard."

"Depends on the definition of overboard!" Maedhv replied. “I’ll assure you my conscience, these days, won’t permit any excess force. Just sit tight.
"Some conscience," Jack muttered. "Sounds like it still needs some work to me."
"Jack, stop provoking the super-being," Daniel chided mockingly.
"So... Are we going to call a truce on this?"
"I think we should," Daniel said, but the looks on the faces of Pendergast and Jack told him not to expect it.
"We'll think about it," Jack replied, clearly not intending to think about it.



Maedhv, seeming rather bored despite presumably handling all the functions of the ship by herself, shifted her attention back over to Dr. Herzela, ignoring the intercom connection for a moment. "Would you tell me a bit about Alliance civilization?"
"Like what? I don't think it's too different from what you've seen on SRC-19 Earth. People live longer, perhaps a bit less religious intolerance on most Earths...."
"No geneforms? No slaves created by genetic engineering to fulfill certain specific tasks?" Maedhv looked rather dark at the thought even as she asked, like it was a point of regret for her.
"What? No! That's illegal and disgusting." Zaria looked straight at her. "We have had some troubles in a couple universes with less-advanced races and nations indulging in slavery. Mostly sexual slavery - especially among the Orions of my home galaxy and on Gilead in CON-5 - but the Alliance has expended great efforts to suppress any slave-trading and to destroy states that support it."

"Interesting. You've avoided the one human sin throughout the ages.” She stretched, seeming thoughtful.
"Perhaps if we’ve avoided this sin, you should learn to have to learn some trust for us?” Zaria answered.
“Perhaps.”



Jack and Pendergast were leading a discussion on ideas on how to retake control of the ship while Daniel and Nate stood to the side. "So, I figured you'd be with the others planning the great retaking of the ship," Daniel said to Nate.
"Well, as much as I hate to say it..." Nate shrugged. "Hell, I think you're right. The stuff Maedhv's done is a bit much for us to beat. But I can't fault Jack and the Colonel wanting to get their ship back."
"Yeah. Too bad she locked us out of the comms, we can't see how Sam and the others are doing."
"Actually..." Nate brought a comm unit out. "It's tied the transceiver in my pack. And it's not part of the system, maybe it works." He tuned it to the right frequency and began transmitting. "This is Mackensen to Gray Star, do you read me?"
Silence.
Nate and Daniel glanced nervously at each other. "Repeat, this is Mackensen, Gray Star, please come in, over."
More silence answered them. Just as Nate, fearing the worst, tried a third time, Ziva Oded's voice answered, "General, this is Gray Star. I'm sorry, but we're having a bit of a problem here..."
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-11 09:44pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8423
Location: Florida USA
Chapter 6


Gray Star, Alliance Space
Universe Designate AR-12



Space tore open and a wormhole exit appeared, the [i}Gray Star[/i] rushing forward through the gap in space-time at full alert. After a couple seconds the vessel shimmered out of view, now operating under cloak. "Confirm spatial location," Data asked.
"We're two parsecs from P4V-387," Hsiao answered. "I'm detecting a series of warp signatures heading to P4V-387 at approximately 15 lyphs. I believe it is the carrier group."
"What about the Replicator ship?"
Sam was paying attention to the conversation of the bridge crew while she examined the systems as best she could, becoming familiar with the interface and how the ship operated and monitoring, closely, the Ancient missiles that Maedhv had attached to their ship. She took the time to notice what systems the ship shared with Prometheus, most of them being communications, engines, and other support systems that Goa'uld technology was plugged into. The weapon systems, save the pulse phaser cannon batteries she recognized as larger versions than the ones from the Defiant, were clearly of different make and design than anything she'd seen before. While not as powerful as naquadah, the fusion reactor backups and the emergency batteries were also something Samantha's Earth could not hope to have yet. She had helped the Air Force reverse-engineer the best technology that Zaria's gift drive had to offer.... and it apparently only scratched the surface of the technological acumen of the wider Multiverse.
Sam was considering how some of these things might be applied to the newer Daedalus-class battlecruisers when Hsiao spoke up again. "Reading contact on our hyperspace scanners. Course is bringing them our way, Sir."
"Give me their time of arrival, Subcommander," Data ordered. "Lieutenant Di'not, prepare evasive maneuvers."
"Prepared, Captain," she answered rather cheerfully.

"Hyperspace window!"
Hsiao's shout brought everyone to full attention. Kharaste triggered the Minbari-style viewer, the ones popularly found on White Star-class ships, which rippled down from the top of the bridge to show the hyperspace window finish forming and the cylindrical Replicator ship emerge from it. Secondary displays showed that the vessel was not dead ahead, but rather "below" them by about eight degrees and to the left.
Sam had expected to hear the code spoken. Nothing more was said, though. Data transmitted the firing code Maedhv had created directly from his positronic brain into the Koman Shipkillers. The missiles detached from Gray Star and zipped through space, bracketing the Replicator ship

The system auto-dimmed the display, keeping the resulting detonations from blinding anyone looking even partially at the screen. The weapons detonated with a force almost unimaginable, far above anything even the largest naquadah-boosted matter-antimatter warheads in the Multiversal arsenal could yet achieve. The energy overwhelmed the solitary Replicator vessel.
"Subcommander, any sign of the Replicator vessel?"
Hsiao shook his head while answering. "Captain, I can't tell, the detonation of those weapons are disrupting all instrumentation. I think I'm starting to...."
From within the subsiding flash where the Replicator ship had been, a bolt of white energy lashed out. Gray Star shook with almost savage force as the bolt of energy sliced right through her before fizzling out. Data and Kharaste were both reading over the damage via their DNI interfaces as the ship's internal systems determined the extent of it.
As they confirmed the failure of all engine systems, partial structural damage even to the ship's inner "keel", and the engineering section's damage, Hsiao confirmed for them that the attack had not been successful. The Replicator ship was still there.
The Replicator vessel was now back in physical view on their monitor. It had not passed through the attack well. Half the ship's mass seemed to simply be gone. Another half of what was left appeared liquid and cooling, as if it were the remains of a metal cylinder plunged into a vat of molten steel and removed.

But that section of slagged remnants was already being feverishly reclaimed, the process of the Replicator nanites absorbing the material and restructuring it visible on the screen. A second blast, weaker this time, sliced at the Gray Star furiously, drilling another hole into the ship as it shimmered into view, the cloaking device fried. A second later, as a third shot was being made, Tarak had successfully brought the shields up and they absorbed the blow. "Shields at ninety-two percent."
"Return fire!", Data commanded. "Glin, you may employ the Mark IVs."
"Aye sir!" Tarak's fingers went to the launch keys.
A stream of missiles erupted from Gray Star's launchers at the Replicator ship, "descending" from the ventral launchers and soaring right at the enemy vessel.
The first vestiges of a shield generator were clear on Hsiao's readings when the Mark IVs detonated. The matter-antimatter warheads were naquadah-boosted, of course, and the detonation was, while less overwhelming as the Ancient weapons, a great destructive force in its own right.
When the blast was cleared the Replicator ship was worse off. The remaining slagged material was mostly gone, vaporized by the blast. Some had survived but was broken off, the force of the blast having destroyed any nanites present in the chunks to prevent them from processing the material.
The remnant of the cylinder twisted in space and began moving at high sublight speed, as fast as the engine the Replicators had put together could manage.

On Gray Star's bridge Sam had already noticed that the ship's power grid had gaps in it from where conduits and lines had been cut by the two successful hits. And among the effected systems were all the ship's drives. "The engines are out," she reported to the bridge as a whole. "They can't get any power from the main systems."
"Bridge to Officer Serlann," Data said aloud. When there was no response he directly connected to the ship's computers to determine casualty reports. "Bridge to Doctor Constantine, status on Officer Serlann?"
Several moments would pass before Meredith's answer came. "I don't know first hand, the medical team is still working on stablizing her to get her to the infirmary. We've had several fatalities and a number of casualties in the engineering section."
"Is Lieutenant Kanazaki available?"
"Sorry, Captain. He was one of the fatalities."
"I see. Thank you, Doctor, please carry on." Data looked over to Sam, who met the look. "It would appear, Colonel, that you are now both head of engineering and the only remaining expert of Goa'uld technology we have aboard."
"So it seems," Sam said. "But if we're going to get this fixed I'm going to need more help."
"Indeed. Commander Triulajha, I shall leave you in charge of the bridge for now," Data said, disconnecting the altered DNI port from the open access port on his head so he could stand. "Subcommander Hsiao, can you give me a course for the Replicator ship?"

"It's maintaining the same course as before, Captain," Hsiao answered.
"I'm calculating it now, Sir," Di'not added. As she did so, the screen shifted to show the general appearance of local space and nearby systems. "At current acceleration, they will enter System ZKH-4983 in approximately twenty-four hours."
"They're going for more material." Data and Kharaste looked to Sam as she stood as well, preparing to leave the bridge to go help with repairs. "We destroyed so much of the mass of their ship that they can't rebuild a shield generator or a hyperdrive. They'll need raw material to restore their ship."
"Do we have any records on System ZKH-4983?", Kharaste asked David-Oded.
The Israeli woman gave a nod and with a mental command through her DNI the screen split, one half showing the course projection for the Replicator ship and the other the data on the system. "Star is F-class, six planets, five of them gas giants and one rock planet. Reading about sixty different moons among them..."
Sam finished the statement for her. "....with enough raw material for the Replicators to overrun this galaxy." She looked to Data. "We can't let them get to that system."
Kharaste looked to Hsiao and asked, "Subcommander, ETA on the Carrier group?"
"Thirty hours approximate, sir."
Sam let out a sigh. "They won't get here in time. Six hours is more than enough time for the Replicators to start building a new fleet."
"Then our goal is to slow the Replicator ship down by at least six hours." Data turned from Sam to Kharaste. "Have Commander Nagase and our fighter squadrons launch. They must do everything they can to delay that ship long enough so that we will be able to catch up to them. Colonel Carter and I will endeavor to get the ship's engines back up and running."
"Very well, Sir." Kharaste took Data's seat as he and Sam left the bridge.




After being on ready-five for so long, it was a thrill for Kei to be able to finally get going again. She settled into the cockpit and did her pre-flight checks as Kharaste provided the details for her and her attack wing. Find the Replicator ship and sting her as badly as possible. Take out her engines to prevent her from accelerating any further and, if possible, knock her off course.
For that purpose Kei and all her fighters were being armed with the new Mark XIXG torpedo, a variant of the Alliance's newest anti-ship matter-antimatter torpedo that used a Guyverite booster. They were locked into the hardpoints on the sleek arrow-shaped attack craft as the fighters were one by one lowered to the launch deck, on the ventral side. Quick-acting catapult devices permitted the fighters to be flung out of the ship in rapid succession without wasting precious fuel.
In all, thirty-six fighters were being deployed, given the one lost in the prior battle with the Goa'uld and the damaged ones not being approved for flight ops yet. It was still enough of a force that against one ship Kei was confident in success.
"We can't let that ship get any kind of head start on the Gray Star," Kei said into the combat channel with the other fighters after the last flight had hit the void. "Everyone form up into your flights, prepare for warp jump to position ahead of target location in ten... nine... eight..."
In tandem the thirty-six fighters streaked away at warp, moving to cut off the Replicator ship.




Kharaste watched the fighters through his DNI as they disappeared in streaks of light and breathed a silent prayer for their success.
He heard Lieutenant David-Oded's voice begin speaking and looked over to her. "General, this is Gray Star. I'm sorry, but we're having a bit of a problem here..."
Kharaste tapped into the comm link with his DNI in time to hear Nate Mackensen's voice on the other end. "Problems? You didn't take out the Replicator ship?!"
"General, this is Commander Triulajha," Kharaste answered for Ziva. "We managed to significantly damage the Replicator ship, which has lost three-quarters of its mass and is fleeing at sublight. Unfortunately, the Replicators tracked our location from the missile launches and inflicted damage on the ship before we could decloak and restore shields. We are adrift for the moment until Captain Data and Colonel Carter can restore sublight propulsion. We have launched Commander Nagase's fighter group to attempt to delay or destroy the Replicator ship in the meantime."
"Oh, that's swell.... wait, Carter? She's having to lead the repair effort? What about....?"
"Officer Serlann was badly wounded in the attack and her assistant was killed," was Kharaste's answer. "Colonel Carter is the best we now have on hand. Though if you can patch in Doctor Herzela to provide assistance, sir, repairs should go faster."
"That might be a problem...."
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-11 09:45pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8423
Location: Florida USA
Chapter 7


USS Prometheus, en route to Castor
Universe Designate SRC-19



The time was going impossibly slow for Zaria on Prometheus' bridge. She remained seated at one of the work stations which Maedhv had rendered mostly inoperable. Only their destination and ETA was visible, and the timer for that wasn't moving nearly fastly enough for Zaria.

The quiet on the bridge was interrupted when Maedhv spoke up. "So, Zaria. Why do you throw your lot in with the Alliance, exactly?" Maedhv glanced up from a readout where she'd been browsing through the ship's data-banks. She spoke softly, and gently. "Why not live a more comfortable, happier life? I could give you freedom from all want, and give you access to scientific marvels like even the Ancients could barely comprehend, and undid themselves in lusting for. And I could, in the ghola-tanks at our destination, keep you alive forever, after a fashion... As I shall do for all those who choose to come with me from Earth."
"You're a pretty girl, you see, and I'd rather feel bad leaving you behind when it's not at all necessary," she finished, though the whole speech seemed halfhearted, like she didn't expect the slightest chance of it having any influence, but was saying it anyway because she could.

Zaria blinked and looked back. As a bewildered expression crossed her face she almost asked what Maedhv was getting at - and had the slight and somewhat disturbing feeling that Maedhv was hitting on her! - before replying, "The Alliance is better than where I came from, that's why I moved there. And they gave someone very close to me a safe haven in a painful moment of her life. My home is there now, I've got no reason to leave it."

"It shall also pass away," Maedhv warned rather prophetically. "As shall all you love and all you know. Pass away, as grains of rice blown by the wind. You realize this? Only I will remain, but you might remain with me if you wished it, and transcend time itself."

"Maybe it'll pass away one day. Things change all the time. But as long as it doesn't in my lifetime, I can be happy."

"We may hope," Maedhv answered. "But I've seen more deserving hopes founder in my life. Tell me, do you know how the Shadows operate? Do you know the games the Vorlons play? Do you know of the forces greater than even they, who lurk in the halls of many different universes? Of the many species which match those lying tricksters, the Q, and of the races which stood higher than even the Vorlons? There was an Empire that spread across thirteen million inhabited planets," she whispered lyrically. "And me and mine are all that is left of it, after thirteen thousand years of absolute chronology and fifty million years of travels across time. This is what you could endure, at my side.”

Zaria mostly ignored what the woman was saying about Vorlons and Shadows and Q. That she knew of them was interesting, but her inability to not talk about the subject of the Empire she claimed to have been in had long turned Zaria deaf to such remarks and to question their full truthfulness. "So I should give up everything I have to follow you for what? Immortality I don't really want or knowledge that would be dropped into my lap without the slightest bit of work at actually learning it?"

Maedhv shrugged and stretched. "Mostly, the offer is because free love and peace are better than all the other alternatives, in my experience, for all that they’re vanishingly rare." Abruptly, she flipped open the intercom to the lower parts of the ship, as though bored with Zaria's answers. "You want to talk to me, O'Neill?"

Before an answer could come, Zaria turned back to face Maedhv and remarked, "'Free love'? Were you hitting on me?"
"....I'm sorry, kids, was I interrupting anything?", Jack's voice said over the intercom, having clearly heard Zaria.

"Oh, well, boys, girls, neuters, hermaphrodites, random incomprehensible genders from floating cephalopod species, it's all good to me," Maedhv answered lazily, as though it would in fact exact no particular comment. "Though Zaria sadly seems to disagree. What can I do for you, Jack?"

"Well, given you've taken over our ship anyway and made us all hostages, we were hoping you'd give us Zaria back since you don't need her anymore."
"Since she apparently isn't cut out to be a hippy, sure. Who do I get in trade?" "...oh. Well I'll need a minute to see who's willing to entertain you, Your Mightyness."
After the intercom died down for a moment Zaria asked, "So, that whole song and dance about knowledge and immortality was so I could be your harem girl for all eternity?"

"Why can't it be both? Why can't you be my harem girl for all eternity and be a brilliant scientist? What makes them exclusive of each other? Surely you're not that shallow minded...”
"Well, mostly because I'm not attracted to you," Zaria pointed out, a few moments after the intercom went live again, "and generally dislike how you behave. Plus I have a standing policy about dating other redheads.”
"Maedhv, you have a deal," Jack said. "But I'm not sure if you'll find Daniel any more attracted to you than Zaria is. Hey Daniel, what's your policy on dating redheads?"
At hearing that, and realizing she'd been overheard, Zaria's cheeks burned red with a fierce blush.
"It's a fair deal, nonetheless," Maedhv laughed with herself lightly, delighted as she could be. "Send him up, I'll be sending our blushing violet up here down to you in return. She really is quite cute."
"A cute redhead for Daniel, sounds like a fair exchange to me. He's on his way up."
"I'll make do," Maedhv answered and then gestured to Zaria. "Go," she ordered simply.



The conversation ended after that, as Teal'c finished wrapping his fist around the speaker and in a single furious motion ripped it out of the wall. Seeing the others staring, the angry expression on his face softened a bit. "I tired of hearing her voice," he remarked stoically.

"Uh huh." Jack looked away while Teal'c tossed the trashed intercom to the side to see Daniel looking at him intently with some irritation. "What?"
"Jack, do you have to keep antagonizing her?"
Jack seemed to be in thought for a moment. "...Yes. Yes I do. Now head on up. Enjoy your quality time with Her Mightyness."
Shaking his head, Daniel left the engineering compartment to head to the bridge. After he left Nate remarked, "You gave him up a bit fast, even if he wants to try to get into her head."
"Well, if she's going to hit on him... Daniel's girlfriends have never had the best of luck. They always seem to get snakes in the head for some reason..."



Daniel had made his way to the bridge with good speed, passing by Zaria in the hall. She shook her head wryly at him and said, "Good luck, Doctor," and not another word, even if the sly grin on her face made him wonder just what the two of them had been up to. Likely not the same things as he was thinking of.
Maedhv was an enigma for him. Despite all his knowledge of the Ancients there seemed to be no outright references to Maedhv or anyone like her. Whether that meant she was lying or if it was another dirty secret of the Ancients he couldn't tell. He figured it might be a bit of both. And he was going to find that out.
Taking a bit of a deep breath before entering the bridge, Daniel came through and heard the door slide shut behind him. The energy field Maedhv was surrounding the bridge bulkheads with snapped back into place. Aside from her the bridge was eerily empty. He spied the sidearm she'd snatched from one of the persoonnel lying on the ground nearby with spent shell casings everywhere and wondered how it got there. "Hello, Cattle Thief," he said, trying to sound a bit flippant.

"Hi, Daniel. Take a seat? We've got another few hours to reach our destination." She glanced archly back for a moment, and then shifted, tossing her legs up under her long dress and folding them into the command chair as she leaned lazily to the side, hair falling over her in a cascade.

Daniel took one of the operator stations beside the command station. "I guess Doctor Herzela wasn't an entertaining guest?"
"Oh, actually, she kind of was, as such things go.” A vague smile struck her as she clasped her gloved hands for a moment. "So what do you want to talk about?"
"Well, there is your abuse of our good faith and decision to take our ship from us," Daniel noted.
"Rampant paranoia," Maedhv answered simply.

"Ah. Ever consider that by acting this way for others, you just start the cycle again? People don't trust you, they expect betrayal, and it makes it that much easier to betray you."

Maedhv didn’t answer. Instead, she changed the subject abruptly. "Let's talk about something more interesting. How about... A fairy tale, that might or might not be true? I do believe you very much like myth. But remember, it’s just a fairy tale."

"Some seventy thousand years ago, dear Daniel, the human species began evolving out of the muck and building houses, buildings, simple stone structures," Maedhv began, smiling. "Seventy thousand years ago. Over the next fourty thousand years or so we grew up and developed our processes and knowledge and then we finally developed hyperlight drive and, about twenty-five thousand years ago, began to colonize the stars. Our civilization then lasted for twelve thousand years... And by humans I mean what you commonly call Homo neanderthalis, I suppose the Sarasavsati high caste was human, in the sense of being equals in some sense, though I was weird in that regard. And yes, I am from a highly refined subspecies, but I am certainly Homo neanderthalis and not Homo sapiens.
"Now, after all this, for twelve thousand years we had a marvelous civilization, split between two nations--coalitions, really, which had formed in the wake of a great war when we were still bound to one system--which colonized half of the galaxy, and had a population of quadrillions on twenty-five million worlds or more. Isn't it marvelous to imagine? We could do anything we wanted to flesh--anything at all--and we could fold space and reality at will.

"But there were ancient species in the core, terrified of our precocious development and overwhelming power. And, we shall admit, of the amorality for which this civilization of our's was known. So they sent a virus into the minds of our leaders, manipulated us with powers beyond the telepathic, dark and old, to make war on each other, more and more violent and progressive, spiraling out of control, until we destroyed planets and crushed the life out of trillions with the guns of our warships...
"And I was created as the ultimate weapon in the final stages of that war, to fight others of my kind. And so we did, we fought for our nations, until only a few hundred planets remained. By that point, the savagery and pointlessness had overwhelmed the mind-influence of the old aliens. We paused. We took a breath. We made peace."

She smiled dryly, lazily, and coiled her legs further into herself. "They were not satisfied with this. They wanted our total extermination. So they turned almost all of our soldiers against us, and most of the beings like me. Only myself, only Nirrti, only two others of our kind, stayed to fight them. One who had gone over to them later defected to our side. When they attacked Earth....
"...Nirrti and I and a few dozen ships survived. Most of the population of the planet was killed by radiation flux. We had won a pyrrhic victory in defence of our lives and people, and then, the fleets and powers of the Old Ones converged on us. We stripped the surviving planets of all that remained and prepared to flee with all those people whom our ships could carry, and left behind those who could not--the origin of you and all the humanity of your world and every world.
"For even the cosmos itself, the multiverse itself, came forth from the end of that great war." She frowned, shrugged, then, and continued. "I fled with my kindred, the Asvin, to the universe you've taken to calling ST-3. But there most of the population revolted against us, and killed all of the High Caste but myself, destroyed our great works. In desperation, I’ll admit to you, I fled with the loyal middling castes to this universe, and a world called Alteras, properly. There, instead of ruling with the rest of the High Caste--for there were none--I made myself Queen, and on finding that we had been flung back in time by my desperate escape, some fifty millions of years, resolved to simply build what we could there and then.”

"And you claim that these Asvin 'middling castes' are what we call the Ancients," Daniel remarked.

"Exactly so. The middling castes lusted after my power, they were not content with their lives. They wanted to be not merely like the High Caste, but like me myself. They overthrew me with ancient prana-bindhu bindings that had once been in all the ancient weapons like myself, and enslaved me and experimented upon me for many thousands of years. In the end, some repented of this path they had embarked on, but only after they had tried to make themselves like me... And failed. Others who did the same chose to retain their old evil ways. I don't know whether or not you've encountered them yet, but when you do, you will suffer for it."

Daniel didn't like the sound of that. Of course, there was a lot of this story he didn't like. For all his knowledge of the Ancients, there wasn't any shred to confirm, or even indicate, they had such an astounding origin.
But yet there was the evidence he had back at Cheyenne Mountain, evidence of an Ancient presence in ancient Universe ST-3 through the races known as the Furies. And he knew from experience that the Ancients had their bad sides. The story, as astounding as it was, still seemed to pull at him, as if there was a kernel of truth there.

"At any rate, I escaped from them, traveled sublight through deep space, and intermittently fought a war with them. In the end, though, the war... Got out of control, and I decided to give it up and freeze myself in the Antarctic ice until the date Alarita was supposed to next awaken and go looking for me. Well, you woke me up first, so I just wandered off to wait, but now that I've got a ship, I'm looking for Alarita.”

"And it's quite a story," Daniel answered, putting a bit of emphasis on "story". "So, what happened to these 'Old Ones'? And how could a war with them, as impressive as it'd be, create the multiverse we know today? Because if they're that powerful I don't see even you surviving."

"The war didn't happen," Maedhv answered. "It never had a chance to happen."
"Because?"
"I was telling a fairy tale, not the concise history of the cosmos," Maedhv snarled abruptly. "Suffice to say that I got out of it alive, and you really don't need to know more!”

The violence of Maedhv's reaction and the stinging tone of her accusation didn't fluster Daniel, not as he once might've reacted. "The Ancients have had plenty of opportunity in their records to remark on once having a ruling Queen. Yet this is the first I've heard of it. Nor have the Asgard, who actually worked with the Ancients as allies. An alliance of races that really don't fit the image you paint of the Asvins."

"Well, it's not very wise to reveal to prospective allies the existence of an enemy which could destroy the both of you, though I had no intention of doing so.” And then she added, with a laconic sort of menace: “Completely." The last word fell dead, and ominous, as she stretched her legs back out and folded, laced her fingers together.

That, of course, won her increased attention from Daniel, though he didn't want to admit how much he was becoming willing to believe at least some of what she said. "The plague that eliminated the Ancients' civilization in this galaxy and forced the survivors to flee to the Pegasus Galaxy," he remarked. "You started it?"

"Yes."


Alliance Space
Universe Designate AR-12




There was an old military adage that plans never survived contact with the enemy. So far all plans regarding the Replicators had gone awry in one way or another and that pattern was, sadly, continuing to hold.
Kei and her squadrons had been intending to intercept the Replicator vessel immediately, warping out at the extent of torpedo range to be able to immediately attack without being too close. Unfortunately, their warp flight lasted milliseconds too long. Instead of being a mere four light seconds ahead of the Replicator ship, enabling intercept and attack within six seconds and not giving it time to modify itself to repulse them, the range was closer to ten light seconds.
The extra twelve seconds was bad enough. Even as Kei and her fighters let loose with their torpedoes, the Replicator ship sacrificed critical mass in self-defense to permit it to make energy weapons. Beams lashed out, some aimed at the incoming torpedoes, others at the fighters.
Years of training kicked in and Kei began hard maneuvers to avoid the energy fire. G-forces began to push against her and her SIO due to the sheer quantity of Gs her Scorpion was pulling with her maneuvers, enough to overcome the inertial-dampening fields that enabled manned craft to accelerate that much in the first place.
The first beams missed her and her people mostly, but they weren't out of danger yet. The Replicator ship's weapons were multiplying by the second, though, as it sacrificed engine size and power for anti-fighter weapons, filling space around it with tight penetrating beams.

One beam hit home, spearing Kei's fighter through a missile-attachment "wing" that also blew out one of her primary drive engines as well as eliminating a warp coil. Flares of energy showed where her less-fortunate subordinates were being killed by direct hits to their fuel tanks, about five fighters dying in about as many seconds to highly accurate Replicator return fire. Other fighters suffered critical hits that did not blow them up but left them crippled and helpless in space.
A flurry of explosions began engulfing the Replicator ship as this occurred. Their Mark XIXG torpedoes - the ones that survived the Replicator's counter-torpedo fire - detonated as programmed from proximity or direct hits. Replicator nanites were vaporized or flash-fried under the intense energies of matter-antimatter detonations intensified by Guyverite/naquadah booster material and caused the Replicator ship to lose substantial quantities of mass.

But it survived.

At first Kei's reaction was to prepare to try and get in to engage with her surviving wing's particle cannons. The ship should be entirely non-functional by this point, after all, doing nothing more than moving ahead from its inertia.
Unfortunately, enough of the mass had survived to maintain anti-fighter weapons that could damage or even destroy an F/A-48. Kei watched a couple get speared through their deflectors by the powerful white-hued energy beams erupting from the charred ship, now more of a disc with small nodules that contained its energy weapons. With her squadrons down to about twenty-two effectives and twenty-eight overall survivors, she had at least caused so much damage that the Replicators seemed to have the choice of either abandoning anti-fighter weapons to restore their sublight engines or trying to coast along at their established speed, losing time that would have been gained by acceleration. Their mission was a success.

Kei thought that way, at least, until she saw the ship fire maneuvering engines to permit it to slip by debris from a destroyed fighter. The disc-shape of the ship began to shift into a bowl shape as the nanites repositioned themselves in the greater mass. It caught the debris in the new "bowl"... and began to assimilate the material into itself. As it did so, it began to re-align some of its mass to restore engine capability, permitting it to maneuver and capture more debris to integrate into itself.
Now Kei was caught on the horns of a dilemma. If her fighters stayed away, it could easily regain mass from the debris of those fighters destroyed. But if they attacked, it might go on the defensive again, destroy more fighters, and then have more mass to integrate into itself.

When it came down to it, there was still her overriding concern. The mission of her fighters had been to delay the Replicators long enough for Gray Star to restore her drives and rejoin the battle. With that in mind, Kei angled her head back a bit to Landers and said, "Ready the missiles. We've got to hit this thing with everything we've got." And buy time for the Gray Star to get here.




The engineering crew of the Gray Star had suffered badly from the hits the Replicators had inflicted upon the ship, forcing Data and Carter to bring in personnel from other sections to help the engineers in their tasks. Destroyed parts had to be replaced from the ship's stores and equipment had to be jury-rigged to make up for the destruction, particularly with the ship's power grid.
Sam and Data had been working non-stop for about half an hour when their comm units activated. "Captain, Colonel, I have Doctor Herzela on IU radio for you," Lt. David-Oded said.
"Excellent, Lieutenant, please connect us."
From a universe away Zaria's voice began speaking to them. "Captain Data, Sam, Generals O'Neill and Mackensen filled me in on what's happened. How are the repairs going?"
"Slowly," Sam said. "I'm trying to do this from my experience with Goa'uld technology and what Admiral Sisko showed me on the Defiant, but some of these systems are beyond me. If not for the self-repair functions..."
"Yes, you've got to work with the Taloran and Minbari technology. The Minbari stuff is especially tricky, hopefully Serlann can get back on her feet soon enough to help you. But until then I'm all your's. Where do we start?"
Before Data could reply, Kharaste's voice cut in. "Captain Data, I don't mean to interrupt, but Commander Nagase has radioed in. Her fighters are doing damage, but the Replicator ship is putting up a fight and is actually regaining mass by snatching debris from lost and damaged fighters. She is requesting our status."
"We will be operational shortly, I believe, with Doctor Herzela's assistance. Inform the Commander that she and her pilots must hold the Replicator ship as long as possible."
"It has already been done, Captain," Kharaste answered, in a tone that seemed to subtly ask "What else would you expect of me?"
"Your initiative is very welcome, Commander. Doctor, we are attempting to bypass the Deck 10 Starboard power conduit section due to battle damage, do you know of any suitable alternatives for...."




USS Prometheus, en route to Castor
Universe Designate SRC-19




A group of engineering personnel returned to the section and were greeted with looks from Pendergast and Jack. "Any luck?", Pendergast asked.
"None, sir. We couldn't physically disconnect the bridge systems, there was some kind of electric field that is protecting every physical line."
"She's thought of everything," Pendergast remarked in exasperation. "Damned woman's taken my ship without even a harsh word in resistance."
"Well, actually, I've got quite a few harsh words in mind," Jack said. He turned his attention to Zaria, who was sitting near Nate with his IU radio in her hand. "So, she's on a chase for this 'Alarita', any idea what we're talking about?"
"I am pretty sure that Alarita is Maedhv’s lover," Zaria answered, her attention free for the moment as Sam and Data applied her advice to their repair work. "And that the woman's incorrigible in a lot of ways."
"Yes, we overheard that whole 'hitting on you' part," Nate said with a smirk.

"Yeah. Out of all the people here she hit on you," Jack remarked. "Well, at least she's got good taste."
Zaria raised her head and grinned at the compliment. "General O'Neill, if I didn't know better I'd think you were hitting on me too."
"Oh, nah, why would you think that? I'm just... trying to make a compliment."
At that Jack got a "Yeah, right" look from the Trill scientist. "Well, Cadmilis likes you more than Maedhv, at least," Zaria said. "It's twice as hard getting into relationships when I have an older being in my head that's always making observations about how bad they are at this and that. Kaetis is about the only person he really wants me to be involved with, I guess it's some leftover fondness from Castox..."

"Wait, Kaetis, that brunette we went after back on Olympos? You two are..."
"...friendly," Zaria said, cutting him off. "Though she is pretty attractive, I'd admit."
"So you're..."
"Bisexuality is more common among Trill than Humans, particularly among women," she answered with a mischievious grin. "And that's all I'm saying."
There was a moment of silence from Jack. He glanced toward Nate and asked, "She's not yanking my chain, is she?"
"Oh no, I am not getting drawn into this conversation," Nate said, shaking his head.
"Actually, among all known humanoid species, bisexuality is most common among the Kalderi of VGC-34, the Zohan Clans, the Talorans, and the Dorei races of GS-42," Zaria remarked matter-of-factly, her grin remaining wide at seeing the reactions she was getting. "The Bajorans, Narn, and Minbari are at the bottom of that list. Humans are actually in the lower half too, just below the Centauri at the mid-point statistically, just above the Vulcanoids. Of course, the Vulcanoids are skewed upward a bit by the Rigelians, the Vulcans themselves and the Romulans aren't very...." Seeing she'd gotten her fun out of tweaking with Jack, Zaria smiled widely and said, "Anyway, I'm going back to work. Let me know when something's happening."

Zaria went back to paying attention to the radio, fielding questions from Sam and Data as the others gathered around Pendergast. A light on one of the stations blipped. "Well, it looks like we've arrived," Pendergast muttered, seeing the station confirm the hyperdrive had disengaged.

And then Maedhv's voice cut in. "Welcome to Castor. Unfortunately it appears a fair number of ships of the System Lord Ba'al are here. Stand by."

"This day just keeps getting better and better," Nate muttered.
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-11 09:46pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8423
Location: Florida USA
Chapter 8



Castor, Goa'uld Territory
Universe Designate SRC-19



Long gone were the days when the System Lords could, together, assemble hundreds of planet-devastating motherships into one spot for united campaigning. Eight years of intensive internecine warfare touched off by the death of Ra, topped off by the losses to the rogue Anubis and then the Replicators, were now magnified by the large-scale Jaffa revolts shaking the galaxy. The taking of Dakara and the failure of the System Lords to recapture it had turned increasing numbers of Jaffa away from their traditional religion. Now the remaining Goa'uld were doing all they could to hold on, evidenced by the presence of a paltry twenty-three motherships in the system.
A number, having managed to temporarily stave off the hemorraghing of ships and troops through the usual method of mass executions and hostage-taking, were gathering now upon the call to assemblage by the one remaining System Lord.

Upon the pel'tak of his personal flagship Ba'al waited patiently as a hyperspace window heralded the arrival of Poseidon, the last survivor of the Olympian Goa'uld. The son of Zeus and his sole remaining heir was reduced to a single Ha'tak like many of the lesser Goa'uld lords. Even Amaterasu had only a dozen motherships left with five present here, though she would not be happy if she knew that Ba'al knew of her weakness. He had only four himself present, at least overtly, but alliances - overt and covert - with some of the minor Goa'uld present meant that he had a majority of the fleet present on his side if treachery occurred.

"We will give it another hour," Ba'al remarked aloud. He walked up beside his First Prime, Delnak. "Signal the others that in one hour's time we will meet on the planet's surface. No more than two Jaffa guards with First Primes are permitted for each of us."
"Yes, Lord Ba'al."
For several moments Ba'al remained quiet, allowing Delnak to perform his order. "Delnak, what do you feel about those Jaffa who are rejecting us and siding with the shol'va and their Tau'ri allies?"
"They are traitors and I would crush the larva in their pouches if I were to ever meet them," Delnak answered matter-of-factly.
"Really? Hrm." Ba'al circled the Jaffa. "So you think they are wrong to reject me and the others as their Gods? To claim we are just normal beings who use technology and superstition to rule?"
Delnak shook his head. "I believe it does not matter what you truly are, Lord Ba'al. The only thing that matters is that without you and the other System Lords, all of Jaffa society would be lost and without the source of our strength. Better to obey false Gods and keep the Jaffa whole than to see our people and way of life destroyed."

A small smile crept across Ba'al's face. Some System Lords put great effort into maintaining the facade of divinity because they wanted to be worshipped. He considered it a means to an end, a method of controlling the primitive and superstitious, nothing more. Trying to actually claim the mantle of godhood opened one to all sorts of dreadful mistakes, after all.
What made him smile about Delnak was that he had already surmised his First Prime's attitude and had promoted him based on that. There were some Jaffa who still held to worshipping the Goa'uld as gods, who considered the rebelling Jaffa as blasphemers and apostates, traitors to be executed. But such Jaffa would be unreliable over time. Eventually they too would begin to see the decidedly un-divine nature of the Goa'uld and there was no telling how they'd behave when that happened. Jaffa like Delnak were impervious to this. They were loyal because they believed that loyalty to the Goa'uld was what was good for the Jaffa, because they could not reject millennium of tradition no matter how true or false it really was. They would be more loyal and more steadfast, even if they did not quite appeal to the egos of the surviving System Lords as much.
We must all make our sacrifices these days, Ba'al thought wistfully in regards to that.

His thoughts were interrupted by Delnak's new report. "We have a ship coming out of hyperspace.... Lord, it is not one of our's. It is a Tau'ri vessel, I believe."
That got Ba'al's attention immediately. His grin turned wicked. Well well well, what prize has Fortune sent my way today? "Alert the fleet that I don't want them to fire until I give the order. Let's see what these Tau'ri are up to."





Maedhv tripped the red alert klaxon, seemingly for the hell of it, or maybe to warn those below decks that they might be pounded hard in the minutes to come, and then automatic warnings indicating the safeties had been taken off the missile batteries sounded. "...Always negotiate from a position of strength, Daniel, and if you can't, a position of insanity is nearly as good," she grinned softly as she then flipped open a channel to the fleet that faced her.

"This is Maedhv Curoi'larijh, to the System Lord Ba’al I would speak. I am not Tau'ri, and I am in control of the Prometheus, having hijacked it. I have SG-1 onboard and I'd like to trade them for access to the planetary surface and safe passage through your territory. Interested in talking?"

Daniel shot a glare at her. "You can't be serious," he hissed at her in a low tone, wondering just what the hell she was up to.... beyond the chilling probability of outright treachery.

"Maedhv Curio'larijh? An interesting name. Well, whomever you are, I applaud your audacity. Because of that, I may be interested in acquiring SG-1 in exchange for those concessions instead of simply blowing them, and you, into dust. Though as a further condition I would like to know just what it is you intend to do in Goa'uld territory."

"I'm trying to find the burial place of my lover," Maedhv said, in what was, in fact, not at all dishonest, just a minor sin of omission, and confidently ignoring Daniel. "So that we can be together for all eternity, since we have long been separated. It is... The desire of a rather old soul. There is a point on the planet Castor, I shall give you coordinates within a hundred meters of it or so for us to meet at, and there, she will have left a marker for me. Give me safe passage on the Prometheus deeper into your space after letting me look at this point, and you'll have SG-1 up front after I get the coordinates... And you can send some people along on the ship to bring it back to your forces when I'm done. I don't plan to return on it, after all."

There was a moment of silence. On the other end Ba'al was considering the possibilities. He wasn't about to completely and uncompromisingly trust an unknown figure, of course, but the prize she was offering was worth it. Getting SG-1 didn't really matter compared to the prize of the Tau'ri ship and the Asgard technology that his agents on Earth said it contained.
"Give me your coordinates. I will meet you there. You will understand, though, if I insist you keep your weapons powered down?"

"I'll come unarmed and I’m deactivating the ship’s missile launchers right now," Maedhv answered as she started to swing the Prometheus closer in. "If you feel like betraying me, I can remote detonate the Prometheus quite reliably."

"So you say. I will see you there."

Maedhv killed the channel. "Well, Daniel, it appears that it's time for us to head to the surface," She stretched lazily and smiled, as she pushed herself up in her jackboots and smoothed down her skirt.
"So you're either going to betray us again and hand us over to Ba'al," Daniel remarked sullenly, "or you're going to betray him?"
"Well, I didn't give him my word,” Maedhv murmured softly.




Alliance Space
Universe Designate AR-12




Kei yanked the flight control stick sharply, firing the maneuvering thrusters to make her damaged fighter twist and shift position to avoid the ray of energy that would otherwise have torn through the cockpit. With the press of her thumb trigger the last anti-ship missile on her fighter dropped from its hardpoint bracing. The high-velocity ion rocket on it fired and the missile darted forward, impacting on the unmaneuvering Replicator vessel.
Its energy weapons lashed out again while a tendril reached out and enveloped the severed missile hardpoint wing from another fighter, absorbing the material and converting it into base Replicator nanites. The beam went past one of the Scorpion fighters but caught another as it made a turning maneuver, slicing through the main body of the fighter. The pilot and SIO ejected as the fighter was cut in two, their pods rocketing away.
The engines on the Replicator ship fired, putting it on a course to scoop up the destroyed fighter. Kei watched the movement and twisted her fighter to follow. The two halves of the lost Scorpion came up on her targeting HUD and crosshairs moved kover them. Squeezing the index trigger on her control stick sent a series of particle pulses at the fighter, expertly aimed by Kei at the anti-matter fuel tank that powered the warp drive. The particle fire tore through the armor protection and after about four seconds breached the anti-matter tank. The breach knocked out the protective magnetic field that contained the volatile material and permitted it contact with matter, causing that section of the fighter to explode. Kei twisted away from the brief flash and fireball.
The force of the blast caused the surviving part of the fighter, or rather what was left of it, to be pushed aside, causing the Replicator ship to miss. It began maneuvering again to grab the surviving chunk as another missile slammed against it, doing superficial damage. "Winchester," the pilot said on the radio, indicating he was out of missiles.
"Withdraw back to the Gray Star," Kei ordered over the radio. "That goes for all of you who are warp-capable. The rest of us will stay here and keep this thing occupied."
"Roger, Commander. Good luck."

As the last fourteen or so Scorpions turned and zipped away at warp speed, Kei was left with seven fighters that were functional to various degrees but had no warp drives. "Okay everyone, the rules are simple. Keep moving and try to prevent this thing from leaving. Split into pairs for this, everyone watch each other's backs. Mueller, you're our odd man out, keep your distance and shoot up any of us who get hit so that thing can't absorb any more material."
"Yes Commander," the Lyran pilot answered.
"We've got to keep this up until the ship can get here. Everyone form up, attack on my signal." As Kei maneuvered her fighter to link with one missing both missile wings and with two maneuvering engines out, she thought to herself, C'mon, Gray Star, get here and blow this damned thing up, we can't keep this up forever.





Castor, Goa'uld Territory
Universe Designate SRC-19





As promised, Maedhv arrived on the planet, bringing with her only Daniel to prove that she had SG-1 well in hand. She arrived in a flash of light from the Prometheus above, descending like a ring transport without any of the usual signs, and a wavering of spacetime reality brought both herself and Daniel in a snap to the appointed place on the planet's surface, where a heavily eroded obelisk stood barely recognizable on the top of an earthen pyramid of enormous size, irregular in shape, like the great pyramids of Casma in Peru, and a few piles of rock reduced to gravel suggested there might once have been statues. The level of decay in a fairly protected world of a dead planet suggested the edifice was not thousands but hundreds of thousands of years old.. Or perhaps older, and perhaps, thus, Ancient.

Across the artificial plateau created by the vast earthen mound from them, came the Goa'uld lord and his retainers climbing to the top from their nearby facility, the area being surrounded by more Egyptian styled monuments in much better condition, which had clearly been built substantially later, perhaps around this site in a homage to the ancient relic even the Goa'uld had once found here to be mysterious. But in a perhaps ominous sign, someone from that time had returned to claim it for her own, as Maedhv glanced to Daniel. "We'll walk forward to the obelisk and there we'll wait for them. The coordinate marking should be directly under it, because, you see, that's the coordinate marking at which my family's compound on this planet, in another universe, once stood. I'm reasonably certain that Alarita erected this here in the traditional Asvin style to mark exactly where the coordinates would be left."

"I see." Daniel followed her as they began walking. "So what are you going to do about the fact that they could just start shooting at us from orbit?"

Maedhv just gave a laconic shrug in response to Daniel's question as they reached the obelisk, for Ba’al had arrived, and instead she called out to him: "I brought Daniel Jackson here to prove that I have Jack O'Neill and Teal'c about the ship. Sadly, the processing of capturing those three involved the killing of Samantha Carter, though I have her body aboard the Prometheus. Which as I noted, I'll allow some of your men aboard once I have the coordinates, so they can bring the ship back here after I've reached my final destination."

A wide grin crossed Ba'al's face even if internally he had hardly decided this was a clear victory yet. "So General O'Neill has been caught by you as well? How interesting. You're quite a resourceful woman, Maedhv, to have seized the great SG-1 so completely. I would look forward to seeing you work with the Goa'uld further." His head turned to face Daniel. "Ah, Doctor Jackson. It is nice to see you again."
"You'll understand if I don't share the sentiment," Daniel answered while carefully looking at the obelisk and the characters underneath it.
"Yes, quite interesting, aren't they?" Ba'al remarked, seeing Daniel's interest in the obelisk. The fact that Daniel was giving attention to it didn't strike the Goa'uld that oddly as he was well aware of the members of SG-1 and how they behaved. "These Ancient ruins are unique in layout and structure. Anubis was never quite able to decipher why they looked so differently from the Ancient sites he was aware of." Ba'al looked to Maedhv. "I will take Doctor Jackson and the shol'va Teal'c into custody now. Colonel Carter's remains and General O'Neill can be left aboard the ship when it is turned over. A shame about Colonel Carter, she was quite brilliant... for a woman."

"Hmm, she was. For a human woman, though, you should say.” Maedhv answered with a rather sweet smile. " I'll bring Teal'c to the surface, then. I will need to down the obelisk after he arrives to read off the coordinates," she concluded. "As for working with you--well, let's get me home first. You can, I suppose, bring your fleet entire to accompany me if you really want to, for I don’t mind the company. As for the ruins? I'll explain their purpose and when they were built in a moment, if you like--but let me first bring Teal'c to the planet."
With another flaring of blue light, she delivered Teal'c to the surface without further warning--absent his weapons, which she had, at least from Teal'c's perspective, filtered out as she had teleported him, without a second's hesitation or further complexity in the act; on the Prometheus, they clattered to the floor where he had disappeared.

"Impressive," Ba'al said, not permitting the same looks of surprise that came across the faces of the assembled Jaffa and Goa'uld. Glancing back he was given a bit of amusement at the slack-jawed expression of Poseidon at the impressive display, since Maedhv clearly had no controls on her. Ba'al began to wonder if he was, in fact, dealing with an actual Ancient, even if her behavior didn't quite fit what he'd expect from the Ancients as he'd heard of them.
They were treated a moment later to Teal'c, having no weapons, taking a step toward Maedhv looking as if he intended to rip her limb from limb with his bare hands. The woman brought a hand up and Teal'c froze in place, angry snarl and all. "Jaffa, kree," he said, motioning toward the obelisk.
"Wait, you're not just going to...."
Daniel was cut off as the staff weapons of Ba'al's guards opened up at full power. The ancient obelisk was peppered by bursts of energy that weakened its structure enough for Ba'al, who brought his hand device up and sent a shockwave at it that knocked it over.

"It was just X marks the spot, Daniel," Maedhv replied happily, and reached over to give the frozen Teal'c a pat on the shoulder before almost, and definitely very happily, dancing her way over to the remnants of the obelisk. There she knelt down in her homespun skirt against the dirt, and dug it away from the obelisk's basic easily, and then, prying with her fingers, wrenched out a heavy golden-white object and cracked it open. Two slabs fell apart in pieces, and laid out on them was a starmap with accompanying coordinates and a series of writing in Ancient, which Daniel could certainly read:

Quote:
Love! Under your orders I'm going to bury the ship and wait for you to make it out. I'm sorry I can't do more for you, but I have utmost confidence that you'll escape soon enough and together we'll avenge ourselves upon them--I can barely sleep at night for the thought of that strangled cry, and look forward to this hidden rest. The coordinates are listed below as well as an image of what you should expect the surface of the planet to look like at that point. I'll keep the ship away from the ungrateful bastards, promise. Good luck.


"I trust this satisfies your conditions for the moment?" Ba'al asked as Maedhv examined the slabs. "I will go arrange for some of my Jaffa to board your ship for your trip to whichever destination it is you have in mind."

Maedhv nodded. "Yes, it's all I need," she answered, and then abruptly Teal'c unfroze--which was intentional, it being just in time for her to, as she stood up, make every single one of Ba'al's Jaffa simply drop dead around him--and to make it clear that they were dead, their bodies disintegrated into dust as they hit the ground, while a wave of cold air surrounded the Goa'uld and Daniel alike. "Ba'al," she continued with a soft laugh, amused by the death she'd inflicted, "You're not dealing with an Ancient. You're dealing with someone who fought the entire Ancient race to a standstill."

The smile that had been on Ba'al's face for most of the exchange disappeared immediately. In that moment he realized that he was dealing with something new and unexpected, completely outside of his calculations. "I bargained with you honestly," he remarked darkly. "But I am no fool. My ships are already locking weapons on this spot by now."

“Let them.” Ahead, the fire came down on their position, while the other Goa’uld with Ba’al opened fire with their Zat guns against her. Several kilometers overhead, the fire impacted with an energy shield, flung out of nowhere to stop it, and simultaneously a smaller one blocked the shot of their guns.

Watching it happen, Daniel realized, abruptly, that Maedhv had to be at least partially telling the truth. That was well within the capability of an ancient, and perhaps it was even more than that. And then…

"Arise from your graves!", Maedhv suddenly screamed, and rising up from where the Jaffa had fallen there began to, swirling in the clouds of the blizzard, form together again their skeletal remnants with weapons held at ready. "They will have their vengeance for their slavery upon you--from the grave." Maedhv turned away, even as the staff weapons were locked into ready position in a circle of execution around the surviving Goa'uld, and she coolly gestured upwards. "Let's go back. They'll be attacking the Prometheus momentarily, so we need to get out of here." Behind her, the Jaffa skeletons opened fire.

Daniel and Teal'c watched as the staff blasts converged on Ba'al, Poseidon, and the handful of other Goa'uld that had joined him. The first wave of blasts dissipated harmlessly against the protective fields generated by their hand devices.
The second round of shots, however, passed through their fields like they weren't there. The Goa'uld cried out in surprise and terror as they were mowed down, the skeletons continuing to fire on their corpses as Maedhv teleported them all back to the Prometheus.

The ship tore out of planetary orbit as the three dropped down onto the bridge. The moment they had clearled orbit, she engaged its Asgard hyperdrive as shots from the Goa'uld ships in orbit tracked after them. Maedhv, by purely mental commands it seemed, also activating the shields, charging weapons, and dropping down into the command chair once more as she crossed her legs under her skirt and glanced to Daniel and Teal'c, unconcerned with the pursuit that her abrupt explosion of commands to the Prometheus had given them a head start on. "I said I wouldn't betray you, didn't I? Never said that to Ba'al..."

"And yet your behavior has not been entirely trustworthy," Teal'c noted, the snarl on his face having only slightly subsided.
"No, it hasn't," Maedhv agreed. "Nonetheless, I didn't turn you over to Ba'al--or, should I say, to Ba'al's clone. That wasn't actually Ba'al."
"Really?", Daniel asked. "And you'd know that how?"
"I saw into the fabric of his mind."
Daniel stared silently for a moment, slightly embarrassed that he'd briefly forgotten about her mind-reading abilities. "Oh yeah. Duh." He went over to a seat at one of the stations, glancing at it. "So, it looks like they're following us as best as they can. What's your plan now?"

"We go to Alarita.” She stretched her arms. "You're free to go below and make your report, Teal'c; I've deactivated the corridor forcefields."
Glowering, Teal'c left the bridge, leaving Daniel alone with Maedhv once again.




Gray Star, Alliance Space
Universe Designate AR-12





"And the power flow?"
"It's working, Colonel. The distribution is working correctly."
Samantha Carter nodded and looked back up at the main power grid display in Main Engineering, which showed that their rigged power lines were again giving power to the sublight engines and other critical systems. The nearby naquadah reactors - supported by a pair of secondary fusion reactors that were, in their own way, beyond her experience even if they were not anywhere near as advanced or powerful as the naquadah reactors - were being carefully monitored by other remnants of the engineering team.
With her hair a bit disheveled and BDUs ruffled from the feverish activity of patching up Gray Star's damage, Sam was feeling much better than the slight fatigue coming on might otherwise cause. With input from Zaria and some assistance from Data the ship was back in working order, well, as best working order as it could be without a trip to a repair yard. Sam keyed the intercom to the bridge. "This is Engineering. Data, you've got power now."
"Thank you, Colonel, your work under these circumstances has been quite extraordinary," Data answered.
"Has there been any news about Serlann?"
"Doctor Constantine has stabilized her condition but it may be some time before she recovers."
"Okay, I'll stay down here then." Sam turned off the intercom and returned to work.



On the bridge Data immediately reacted to the report. "Lieutenant, set intercept course for the Replicator craft. Engage as soon as the last fighter is recovered."
"Yes Captain," Di'not answered.
Kharaste looked toward Data. "Captain, will we not lose valuable time recovering the fighters?"
"Perhaps so, Commander, but we may yet have use for the remaining warp-capable fighters, and they permit us to launch further fighter attacks on the Replicator ship if necessary."

"The last fighter has been recovered, Captain," Ziva said from Communications.
"Lieutenant, engage at full possible power.."
"Yes, Captain." Di'not's fingers keyed the sublight drive to the maximum safe level she could. Gray Star began accelerating forward in pursuit of the Replicator ship.




USS Prometheus, Goa'uld Territory
Universe Designate SRC-19




Prometheus was on her way again, bound for another section of the galaxy and the coordinates Maedhv had unearthed on Castor. The bridge was eerily quiet as Daniel walked across it, processing what he'd read on the tablets Maedhv had uncovered. The ruins there and the tablets were further confirmation that at least some of what Maedhv had said was truthful, or at least possible. What it meant for the Ancients and how he and everyone else understood them, though, was more disturbing.
As if sensing his thoughts, Maedhv asked, "Do you believe me yet, Daniel?" as she stretched in the command chair, and sighed softly with the slightest hint of some tiredness.

"I'm beginning to," he admitted, still trying to reconcile what she'd said of the Ancients with what he knew of them. "What was the significance of the obelisk, if I may ask? It looked a bit more detailed than a mere 'X marks the spot' marking.'"

"Yeah," Maedhv answered. "It was a monument to my family. They were killed on Castor-7, I guess you'd call it, about a hundred years before the end of the war that saw me created. Not that Castor-7, of course, but another one. In the universe that was my home. The first universe. Their house was on the exact spot on the surface of the planet--well, country manse, really--as the funerary monument. Though it's not a true memorial for them, it was intended for me to knock over the obelisk to find the map. Just that the Ancients would recognize what it is and, I imagine Alarita hoped, respect it, if they came through there."
"So where are we headed then?"

"The coordinates left on the plaque. I'm not really sure what you'd call the system. Kuahuatl, to me," she pronounced precisely. "Since Ancient is only a bastardized version of the Old Tongue anyway. The only surviving languages on Earth related to the Old Tongue are actually Aztec and Mayan and Incan tongues. Vaguely related. The heart of our civilization actually developed in the Andes, and then we went back and re-colonized Ireland and the other places we originally had evolved in."
"So Asvin is actually a kind of proto-American tongue and the changes in Ancient caused it to evolve into Latin?", Daniel asked. "Actually, I've been wondering how Latin could exist in the other universes anyway as it does in our's, given its particular roots in Ancient."

"That's not quite accurate, Doctor. It's rather to say that Latin's split from Proto-Indo-European was caused by Asvin influence, rather than to say that Latin is a descendent of Ancient, or the Old Tongue. So imagine that you took PIE and applied Ancient influences to it.. And that's what produced Latin, approximately. So the similarities between Latin and Ancient are due to shared vocabulary; the similarities between the Old Tongue and Ancient are due to shared grammar. The grammatical substrate of Latin is however proto-Indo European, as noted... Which was the Sarasavsati mother tongue. So as you may now guess, Europe was the main place the Two Empires fought over on Earth before they became spacefairing cultures, resulting in a melange of our languages developing there among numerous peoples."
"The Sarasavsati, which produced Nirrti. The Nirrti you know." Daniel was putting the links together. The Asvins as proto-Andeans was pretty clear to him now; the Sarasavstati were clearly proto-Indian, or more precisely proto-Vedic. "How were they different from you?" He intended to keep her talking, hoping to put more pieces of this alluring, if somewhat disturbing, puzzle together, or perhaps find an inconsistancy to prove Maedhv a liar.

"Organized. We were chaotic--and proud of it. Supreme individuals. We did things as we pleased; the High Caste at the top, the middling castes were free but had no rights, everyone else was a slave and we did whatever we wanted with slaves. The Sarasavsati.. had a thousand castes, they were rigidly organized, they controlled everything. Morality was dictated by the state." Maedhv rattled off the differences like she was rattling off a summary from ages long past, without a pause or hesitation.

That, of course, didn't sound like the Ancients at all. In fact, Daniel thought that her description of the Sarasavsati hewed closer to them if anything.
Of course, even this contradiction was met with the description of the Sarasavsati. A caste society, rigidly delineated, fit well with something that if it existed had a clear influence on the culture of the Indian subcontinent and a bit of bleedoff to other Oriental cultures.
As these thoughts came to Daniel, Maedhv's words made him think of something else. "So, your cult. Are they your new slaves? People that you condition to do whatever you want?"

"No, actually. Alarita wouldn't really like it if I got back in that business," Maedhv answered. “They’re just people I saw fit to help, Daniel.”
"And how many of those people already have families? Families who worry about them and want them to come home? Have you ever considered that some of them don't need to be in a cult to have direction in their lives?"
"They all do, or else I wouldn't have let them join. I saw exactly what their lives would be without me.”

"You said you see all possibilities. You don't know the exact future, just all the possible ones. Can you tell which is more possible? And can you justify letting people turn their backs completely on any family, any loved ones, because they might end up worse off instead of being happy in the outside world?"

"I really don’t think,” Maedhv answered rather more coldly, “That you have a right to question my judgement toward the people I care about.”
The look on her face told Daniel it was time to draw back unless he were to, well, do what he was telling Jack not to. He turned away and looked back to a screen showing the time left until they reached their destination.




Below decks, in the engineering compartment, the others were milling around. Zaria was still giving pointers to Sam over IU radio on operating the Gray Star with Serlann unavailable and so was largely unavailable for conversation.
Nate was standing nearby, trying to pick up indicators of how things were going, when Jack slipped up to him. "So, you up for something?"
"Like what?"
"Like taking this ship back," Jack replied.
Nate whistled. "Well, that's going to be hard from what we've seen Maedhv do. Do you have a plan?"
"Yeah. Teal'c says that when Maedhv double-crossed the Goa'uld she wasn't able to immediately wipe them out because of their defensive fields. Prometheus is carrying a couple protective field generators we rigged from the stuff your SPC gave us five years ago. We figure that they might give us a couple seconds of protection, long enough that Maedhv can't stop us from physically severing the power lines to the bridge and main computer. We get the secondary systems going and take back the Prometheus."

Nate "hmmed" at that. "Assuming Maedhv wasn't showing off and toying with the Goa'uld, assuming she doesn't cut us off at the pass the instant she sees what we're doing, and assuming she just doesn't warp down to engineering and overpower us with mind control to take control right back. Brilliant plan, Jack."
"Well, it might not be perfect, but I don't see you coming up with anything better," Jack retorted. "I mean, is it any worse than doing nothing and hoping that Her Mightyness doesn't do to us what she did to Ba'al just for kicks?"
"Yeah, you've got me there," Nate admitted. "So, what do you want me to do?"
"Teal'c will handle the backup line, but I'll need your help to pry open the doors to access the main system. Pendergast will keep things going down here."
That prompted a nod. Nate thought about how badly this was likely to go, but like Jack he didn't feel right just giving in instead of doing something. Gesturing to Jack, he said, "Well, let's get started."
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-11 09:47pm 

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Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8423
Location: Florida USA
Chapter 9


New York City, Earth, United States of America
Universe Designate SRC-19




As a major economic center of the entire planet, New York City had plenty of lavishly-furnished boardrooms, but none with occupants quite like Lewis & Henley. The "consultant firm" was a low-key corporate outing, the kind that people with business to discuss and secrets to hide create as a hollow shell to fill with cash and hide more critical assets.
The kind of company owned completely and totally by the Trust.
The Trust had begun as a collection of primarily American defense industrialists and financiers who had been made privy to the extraordinary finds of the Stargate Project. But they had not agreed with the methods of the US military in acquiring the technology to be found in the wider galaxy, wishing for a more cutthroat approach. Something that got more immediate results. They had spent years co-opting the NID - National Intelligence Directorate - with sleeper agents of all kinds, as well as other branches of the government, even Stargate Command itself.

But their arrogance had been their undoing. Their attempt to take war to the Goa'uld had backfired with the Goa'uld seizing their operatives and slowly taking over the Trust for themselves. Now, even though many of the rank and file still thought themselves as working for Earth in some way, the leadership had been throughly subordinated by the Goa'uld. And with their empires crumbling, Earth - once a planet they'd thought of conquering - had taken on an entirely new and ironic meaning: a final refuge, a place to hide from the rebelling Jaffa and to live out their days in material comfort.
In charge of the operation for the moment was the Goa'uld Athena, but now her seniority was surpassed by the arrival of the new leader of the Goa'uld on Earth. With all the look and appearance of a Wall Street corporate raider - itself the perfect mold for him - Ba'al had entered the board room and overseen the meeting. The Trust's efforts were ongoing on all fronts, with new hosts for dispossessed Goa'uld to be found among the business elite of the world. Where the Goa'uld had never gotten around to conquest by force, they may yet achieve some success through subterfuge.

Their meeting was interrupted by a signal from the fleet. Ba'al dismissed himself from their presence, inviting Athena to continue the meeting, and moved into a nearby office with conveniently sound-proofed walls and doors. The somewhat spartanly-furnished office was meant for mid-level management, the last place someone would look for the devices that Ba'al now removed from the desk.
Seconds later he was facing.... himself. Or rather, one of his three clones, the clone placed in direct charge of the fleet meeting at Castor. "What's happened at the meeting? Has that weasel Poseidon refused to accept the terms?"
"Poseidon is dead, along with the negotiator," the Fleet-Ba'al answered, referring to one of the other clones. "We've had a surprising development..." In broad strokes Ba'al's counterpart filled him in on the meeting with Maedhv.
"Not even one of Nirrti's hok'taurs could do such a thing. She must be Ascended," Ba'al remarked at the completion of the report. "There's no other way to explain her generating a shield capable of withstanding the power of the upgraded Ha’taks directly out of her body. Why an Ascended being would do all this, though... Hmm." A sardonic smile crossed his face. "Well, at least this mad Ancient has saved us from having to put up with Poseidon. Athena will be very pleased to hear she's all that's left of Zeus' progeny. Maintain your pursuit and report back on any new developments."

With that done Ba'al returned to the meeting room. "Tell our contacts in the SGC that we need data on a being called 'Maedhv'. Anything reported so far, no matter how obscure," Ba'al said to them. "I wish to be informed immediately."




Gray Star, Alliance Space
Universe Designate AR-12




The Gray Star infirmary was at a level of "organized chaos" when Serlann opened her eyes and looked around. The Minbari engineer began sitting up from her bed, feeling a great deal of pain in her head and chest as well as numbness in her left leg.
A Taloran nurse was at her side a moment later, speaking in heavily-accented Minbari to ask how she was feeling. "I will be fine," Serlann remarked stoically, intentionally vague without being explicitly dishonest in that way the Minbari were so good at.
He nodded at her and gave her a small cup of water. As the nurse did so Serlann watched Dr. Constantine finish tending to a crewmember. The doctor noticed Serlann was sitting up and walked up to her. "Serlann, good to see you're awake."
"Thank you, Doctor. I... cannot remember what happened...."
"The ship was hit while still unshielded," Meredith answered. "You were critically wounded."
"Then our mission is a failure?"

"Not yet," Meredith replied, trying to give a confident smile to the Minbari woman. "Apparently they got a few good hits in but are running now."
"Then I will be needed," Serlann remarked. As she tried to sit up, she found Meredith pressing her back down upon the bed.
"The only thing needed from you is cooperation," Meredith said. "You've had a severe concussion, cracked ribs, and you almost lost your leg. You'll be staying here."
Serlann nodded stiffly. "As I am conscious, might I at least be allowed to provide advice to the Engineering crew if needed?"
"As long as you don't strain yourself."




"We're still about half an hour from sublight intercept, Captain," Hsiao reported on the bridge of the Gray Star. "I am picking up the Replicator ship at long-range, but at this distance I can't confirm its mass or status."
"Understood, Subcommander," Data answered. He looked to Ziva. "Lieutenant David..."
"Long-range comms are still out. I can't reach Commander Nagase."

"Weapons systems, Glin?"
"Regained function in forward batteries. We still have three dozen Mark IVs along with standard missile complement. Deflectors are at most capable of sixty-six percent efficiency."
"We will have to make do."
At that moment Data and Kharaste received the notification simultaneously through their DNIs, the casualty list updating Serlann's condition to "stable" and "conscious", though her status was changed only to "conditional" instead of "cleared". It also showed she was again reachable on the comms. "Bridge to Serlann," Data said aloud.

"Yes, Captain?"
"I am pleased to see you have awoken. Doctor Constantine is not letting you return to active duty?"
"No, she has refused to permit it. But I am permitted to provide verbal direction to the engineering crew."
"We will inform Colonel Carter immediately. Bridge out." Data terminated the call.
"It would appear that the Lord Justice has granted us an additional boon," Kharaste remarked from his seat.
"I believe Commander Nagase is likely in need of one as well," Data replied.




Alliance Space
Universe Designate AR-12



So far all seven fighters had survived, dodging the Replicator ship's shots as they weaved around it trying to batter it down. It was an exhausting battle for Kei and her pilots, their shots unable to damage the Replicator ship while their maneuvers allowed them to evade the return fire. Every sense was alive and strong, her head hurting as she kept the image in her head of her orientation, speed, acceleration, and relative position to the Replicator vessel. Her HUD displayed a similar thing, but part of training was not relying overly on instruments, not in close-quarters circumstances like this.

The Replicator ship fired a furious series of blasts toward Kei and Mueller. The Lyran pilot fired maneuvering thrusters at the last second, turning a fatal blow into a grazing strike that damaged the fighter surface but nothing deeper. Kei maneuvered herself, shifting "downward" and changing her orientation at the last second to avoid a hit.
She was maneuvering to attempt another annoyance strafing run on the Replicator vessel when it claimed another victim, an F/A-48 piloted by a fellow Stellar Navy pilot Lt. Diollo. The hit was clean and an instant kill for Diollo and his SIO.
Kei adjusted her run and directed her particle cannons toward the debris of Diollo's fighter. She pulled the trigger and lashed out as the Replicator ship approached, looking to collect the remains for conversion into nanites and additional mass. The particle blasts from her fighter and two of the others converged, vaporizing bits of material from it and causing it to spin about in the void.

It looked like they were about to fail, that the Replicator ship would manage to snag the hulk, when another burst of fire from Kei's cannons struck home. The hits struck the anti-matter tank in the fuselage, knocking out the battery-powered emergency containment field and freeing the remaining anti-matter fuel to interact with nearby matter. Even if the tanks were built to minimize the efficiency of reaction in such a containment failure, the blast was still sufficient to vaporize most of the hulk of the destroyed fighter while sending the rest careening away and out of reach for the Replicator ship.

The Replicator ship stopped for a moment. Sensors indicated it was reprocessing the anti-fighter weapons it had been using and it had Kei wondering just what was going on.
She was about to give an order to back away when projectiles erupted from the ship. Six in all and one aimed at each of her fighters. "Evasive!", she shouted into the comm before firing her engines to high acceleration. She twisted and pulled at the flight stick, maneuvering sharply to try and evade the oncoming projectile.
It was gaining fast. Realizing she couldn't beat it, Kei resolved to at least save one of the other fighters if she could. She twisted hard, firing maneuvering engines to rapidly move "downward" while hitting retro-engines to suspend forward motion, effectively "braking" in space that caused the enemy missile to overshoot. As it came back around she re-orientated her fighter toward another missile - this one chasing Mueller - and put her engines to full again. A tone told her that her cannons were on target and prompted her to fire. Particle blasts struck out and began hitting the Replicator missile, smashing up the missile into component parts.

The missile pursuing her caught up as she broke off from the successful attack run. It was too late to eject, and in a brief instant Kei expected to die in a flash of light.... but there was no explosion. The missile got close and suddenly erupted in a pulse of intense energy that only served to briefly penetrate her remaining deflectors.
Her fighter sensors began blaring a warning. "Kylie?"
Her SIO, Ensign Kylie Landers, was quick to answer. "The missile wasn't a real warhead, the payload seems to have been small Replicator nanite constructs. They're beginning to consume the ship, sir!"
"Computer, this is Commander Nagase. Set ten second timer to drop anti-matter containment field, emergency override Nagase Bravo Echo Zulu Three!"
"Code verified. Ten seconds to containment release..
Kei reached over and pulled the eject panel. The physical lever resisted her, as it was made to do, but only for a fraction of a second before the full strength of Kei's arm and shoulder pulled it loose. The act triggered the release of latches built into the cockpit housing, turning the cockpit into a life support pod housing Kei and Kylie. A short-burn thruster built into the bottom of the pod fired, throwing the pod away from their fighter at about thirty-eight Gs without the benefit of inertial-dampening before the initial burst gave way to a survivable 10 Gs. It fired for about nine seconds before the fuel was exhausted, a time span survivable because of their specially-designed suits.
About a quarter of a second after the Gs stopped pulling against the pod, the remaining body of Kei's fighter disappeared in a blinding flash of energy, eradicating the Replicator nanites that had been busily converting it. A wave of radiation from the blast struck the pod, though the exposure was not lethal thanks to the special shielding built into the cockpit pod structure.

The G-force had knocked Kylie unconscious. Kei was barely conscious, her vision mostly blacked out. She recovered to see the Replicator ship flying by, moving to intercept one of her other fighters that was already being eaten by the Replicators. The Replicators immediately adapted to Kei's tactic, intentionally eating their way into the control computers to physically maintain the containment on anti-matter in other taken fighters. Only the fighter of Mueller, which avoided being hit, was still intact, with Lieutenant Molders' Scorpion being successfully destroyed by him despite the Replicator adaption. That meant that three fighters' mass was being added to the Replicator ship; not a tremendous amount all things told, but more than Kei would've liked.
She stared at the ship, expecting the creatures to fire a beam and annihilate her pod completely, making peace again with the prospect of imminent death. But, again, they didn't kill her. The Replicator ship finished attaching itself to the last clump of claimed spaceship mass and its engines fired. It quickly disappeared into the void.
I hope that was enough, Kei thought. She'd done the best she could to delay them; it was up to Captain Data and the crew of the Gray Star to finish the job.




USS Prometheus, Goa'uld Territory
Universe Designate SRC-19



"This is still a bad idea."
After saying that Nate immediately began grunting with effort, trying to pry own the doors to the access room for one of the physical control lines binding the bridge of the Prometheus to its actual physical systems. This was further away from the actual main access to the bridge controls which Maedhv had seen fit to place within her field, and instead of dedicated controls for cutting the controls off this would require more destructive efforts.
"Shut up and keep pulling," Jack grunted, working along the other side of the door. Together the two men managed to open the unpowered door - Maedhv's work to keep any efforts like this from being too easy - and were able to access the room. Jack reached into his pocket and activated the personal forcefield generator, Nate doing the same, and the two began to enter and look for the physical lines they'd come to cut.
"I hope Teal'c is having better luck," Nate remarked, moving his flashlight around. His other hand went to the portable plasma torch that would cut the lines linking both the direct computer lines and the power lines, plunging the bridge into darkness and preventing any access to the main ship systems from there.

"Let's get this over with before Her Mightyness can find us here." Jack moved around the room until he found the electronic wiring that connected the bridge to the engineering spaces and the systems within. He began cutting that while Nate cut at the power lines. Each second the two men expected to have Maedhv pop in and try to stop them. Each line piece cut seemed to likely be the last.
But then they were done. Still no sign of Maedhv.
"See, what'd I tell you? She's not that good," Jack said flippantly, putting his torch back. "Let's get back to Pendergast and see if Teal'c had any problems."
Shrugging - and feeling very strange at having succeeded - Nate followed Jack back through the ship. They met Teal'c entering Engineering at the same time as they were. "I was successful without incident, General O'Neill."
"So were we," Jack said before turning his attention to Pendergast. "Okay Colonel, change our course for Jaffa territory. Just in case the Goa'uld are following."
Pendergast nodded and gave the order to one of his subordinates. Commands were entered into the auxiliary controls in the engineering station. Jack was grinning as the commands were entered, just to hear a very ominous and negative-sounding beep in reply. "Colonel, the ship isn't responding."
"What?" Jack said. "Try something else?"
"I'm not able to access subspace communications either," another officer reported. "Weapons.... engines... nothing's working. We don't have any control. The ship is still proceeding on the original course and won’t respond to the helm.”

Nate had been about to say something when Jack raised a hand. "Ah ah ah, I don't want to hear it. Not a word. Not. One. Word."



On the bridge, the controls had gone dark in what Daniel assumed was some kind of attempt by Jack to regain the ship, but nothing had happened; they continued on course. And Daniel didn’t like that at all. “Did Jack get hurt?” He pushed, looking toward the quiet Maedhv.

“No. Just got his pride hurt a bit.” She turned away from Daniel, then, and brought up the long-range sensor charts, homing in on a dead desert planet, more like Venus than anything else. "Now, I just need to find the right spot... Hmm. Let's see if the sensors have a spectro.. Ah, yes." the plot shifted to a more geographic readout of the planet, and she started hunting for something intently.
"You can leave the bridge now if you want; we’re almost there." She then stood up and delicately walked over to the chart table. "Since the controls here are all useless now, I've dropped the shielding around the bridge."

"How kind of you," Daniel said dryly. He looked over the dead planet that had Maedhv's interest. "Any reason all the really good treasures are found in deserts, arctic wastes, or otherwise unlivable planets?"

"So that the ship didn't exterminate an entire biosphere when landing,” she answered simply. "Now I need... Ah-hah! There it is. Look at that massive old magma sea. That's where she did it. Only one on the planet, and it matches the date to the millions of years rather perfectly, without the usual subsurface indications of it being similar to, hmm, examples from modern earth... What you'd call the Siberian and Deccan Traps. Now I need to make my presence known."

"Sure." Daniel took out a radio he'd been carrying. "Hey Jack, we're about to come out of hyperspace. I'm sure you can come up if you promise to behave."
There was silence for a few moments. "We're coming," was the decidedly grumpy reply.

The Prometheus now was easing out of hyperspace, presenting herself over the planet.... And then a few bridge monitors started to sound. The ones concerning weapons activation. Maedhv abruptly fired a salvo of heavy nuclear-and-naquadah tipped missiles down toward the lava traps.

Daniel watched the Prometheus' missile launchers unleash the ship's full power onto the planet below. Explosions began to sprout up along the surface, breaching the crust of the planet with the intensity of the naquadah/nuclear combination. It was a terrifying sight, thankfully limited in devastation as the planet was already a barren old rock.
The bridge door slid open, Jack and Nate entering with Teal'c behind them after he'd finished opening the way. They came just in time to see the punishment Maedhv was inflicting on the planet below. "I hope nobody's living down there," Nate muttered.
"Just what did that innocent planet do to piss off Her Mightyness?", Jack asked Daniel.

"I'm waking something up," Maedhv answered rather ominously, and clipped and professional compared to her usual speech.
"That's one hell of a wakeup call," Nate joked. "Hope you don't vaporize it by mistake."
Maedhv coolly, and somehow using only her mind, fired another salvo of missiles into the planet, simply ignoring Nate. She was leaning against a console and boring her eyes down toward the projection of the planet, looking almost worried. Clearly it was very, very important to her.

The bridge intercom, attached as it was to a different power grid, came active suddenly. "General O'Neill, this is Pendergast. We've managed to get access to the sensor systems.... sir, I'm picking up a dozen Goa'uld motherships coming out of hyperspace. And we can't get access to the weapons systems or helm."
"I only need a few more minutes, and then we’ll have enough firepower to defeat that entire taskforce," Maedhv answered with a mutter under her breath as she relentlessly shot another salvo of missiles into the surface, and then another. She was rapidly expending the Prometheus' entire compliment, and in the process turning the dried lava sea back into an actual lava sea, an immense boiling sore on the planet.

"Oh, you only need a few minutes," Jack remarked with the height of sarcasm. "And here I thought you were going to ask for something only nearly impossible. Listen, unless you want to stop shooting at that planet and start shooting at them we're not going to last that long!"

"If I stop shooting at the planet....." Maedhv trailed off and then growled in visceral frustration. "Fine." Her voice dripped in malice as she continued, "I'll deal with the Goa'uld for you. You have control over the weapons and shields. I manoeuvre the ship to keep you from running--and you’re only operating weapons because I need more attention for killing the Goa'uld. We'll fight and we'll win and then we’ll wake Alarita up. Clear?"
"Crystal clear," Jack replied with as much irritation as Maedhv had malice.




Alliance Space
Universe Designate AR-12



"Commander, are you there?"
Kei heard Mueller's voice and gave an instinctive nod, even if it wasn't something he could see. "I'm here, Mueller."
"The Gray Star will be here momentarily. They cannot decelerate to permit you to be picked up, but they are confident in performing a full-speed snatch maneuver."
Of course, it needn't be said that the stress of sudden acceleration could, if not absorbed by the ship's IDF, turn them into thin streaks of organic paste in their cockpits. Even if that didn't happened, impact with the atmosphere containment field and the actual landing bay would bang their pod up and might simply result in them being crushed. If they didn't go for this, though, the consequences were just as grim: without the external life support tanks attached to the main fuselage of the fighter their pods would be without life support in a matter of a couple hours. I guess being crushed is quickler than suffocating when the air runs out went through Kei's head. "We have limited maneuvering, just give me a location Mueller."




The main screen plot on the bridge showed the handful of pods and Mueller's fighter ahead. The Lyran officer had volunteered to go last since his fighter would take up the most space, permitting a window of time for internal bay tractors to move the recovered pods out of the way.
As they moved closer to intercept eyes were completely on the helm, where Di'not was as calm as could be. The Zohan pilot had no emotion on her face save a slight indication of the well of confidence inside of her.
To the rear the door opened to permit entrance to Data and Samantha. "Report, Commander?"
Kharaste shifted in his chair. "We are attempting to recover Commander Nagase and her surviving flight crews. Lieutenant Di'not believes she can make a direct pickup through the launch bay without reducing acceleration and with minimal course change."

Sam looked from Kharaste to Di'not, who was intent at her work, while the screen showed them drawing near to the start of the operation. "At our speed and acceleration, it'll be almost impossible to make sure they come into range long enough for inertial dampening to take effect, and that's not counting the possibility of a miss where a pod slams into the ship."
"Under normal circumstances I would agree, Colonel Carter," Data remarked. "However, Lieutenant Di'not is highly skilled and capable and I will trust her to successfully recover the crews."
Sam gave a nod while Data found his seat, returning to the bridge engineering station herself now that the ship's crew had the damage control situation under control. She began the casual work of monitoring ship systems while the counter ticked down to contact with the first pod.

Still accelerating in her chase for the Replicator ship, Gray Star was like a blur to the pod occupants in front of them. Di'not's job was the equivalent of threading a needle in one go while holding the needle and trying to catch pieces of yarn zipping by it without catching the yarn along the eye. With quiet determination she went about this task, calculating the relative speeds and accelerations and making the most minute course corrections as the calculations racing through her mind laid them out to her.
One by one the pods were retrieved, Di'not's maneuvers completely perfect in a way that astonished Sam but drew as close to a pleased reaction as Data could manage. "Reports from the flight deck confirm all pods recovered with occupants surviving," Kharaste said. "Excellent work, Lieutenant."
"Indeed, Lieutenant Di'not, your performance has been far beyond expectations," Data added.
"Thank you, sirs," Di'not remarked cheerfully from the helm. Already she was setting the ship on a direct intercept, the computers showing their intercept time becoming increasingly short.
"Glinn Torcet, perform final weapons checks," Kharaste ordered. "We're going to have one good shot when we get it and I don't want it fouled up because of an unnoticed glitch from damage."
"Yes Commander," the Cardassian said briskly.




One moment Kei was looking on at a growing light ahead of her. The next the pod jerked violently, snagged by the tractors and then entering the Gray Star's IDF field. The field served to absorb the sudden acceleration of the pod via the tractors, saving Kei and Kylie from a swift but very messy death.
The pod rocked hard again, throwing the two around and against their harness and even causing them bruising despite their protective suits. Going through the atmospheric containment forcefield, the pod hit the landing bay floor hard, sparks flying as it skidded across the surface of the landing bay. Tractor beams reached out and caught the pod, stopping the skid and pulling it into an open space where a fighter had once been kept, adjacent to another pod just like their's. A couple launch crew in vac-suits ran over and scrambled upon the pod, opening the cockpit for Kei and Kylie. Ahead of them another pod came skidding in. Finally the shape of Mueller's F/A-48 appeared through the field. His fighter slid violently across the bay and nearly disintegrated due to the prior battle damage, though the pod seemed alright. Kei was watching from the partial safety of the pod's opposite end, figuring that if Mueller hadn't ejected his anti-matter fuel tanks they would surely have gone up.
Launch and medical crew immediately ran for the demolished fighter, but from the looks of things the operation had gone off without a snap.

Looks could be deceiving, though. Horribly deceiving in this case. Everyone was so busy helping Mueller and the other pilots get out and get to the available medics that nobody noticed the bottom of two of the pods, including Kei's, where the material began to sink inward a bit... and the form of the basic blocks of Replicator units began to take shape.




USS Prometheus, In Orbit over Kuahuatl, Goa'uld Territory
Universe Designate SRC-19



Fire had descended from the heights of heaven and touched everyone. Whatever Maedhv was, she was a marvelous shiphandler. The Prometheus moved with perfect divinity; the engines were firing at the very same instant that Maedhv envisioned them to, it seemed, manoeuvring them to the very limit of their physical capabilities, every erg of energy being perfectly utilized. They were in the midst of the enemy formation and almost as many of the shots fired toward them ended up hitting other Goa’uld ships instead of the Prometheus, and the other half missed.

It was like she knew where the enemy's weapons would be targeted and almost no shots had fallen on their shields, and the whole while she had kept one light particle beam centred on the planet, tapping out her remorseless message to the unknown entity below the surface, hoping for a response, and yet none had come. But then, as their remaining missiles were expended taking out the first two Goa'uld ships with such precision as seemed impossible for both humans and computers, their energy weapons proved very much inferior to the cause of giving further hurt to the enemy. They could scarcely be touched, but they could scarcely shoot back, too.

On the bridge the battle was being closely observed by Jack and the others. "Didn't Dax and Zaria give you guys technical data five years ago?" Nate remarked given that their weapons other than missiles were clearly not up to the challenge of fighting the Goa'uld. "I mean, if you could reverse engineer Goa'uld engines why couldn't you rig up a particle cannon?"
"Prometheus was built as an experimental prototype ship," Jack remarked. "And by the time Sam and the folks at Area 51 finished looking over that drive and testing their work with it the ship was already fully designed and under construction. Besides, we never figured we'd need more than our missile load." With that he glared straight at Maedhv.

Maedhv ignored them, closing her eyes, and on the bridge itself, her physical body began to quaver, and quake, and vibrate in her seat as her eyes opened again with a deathless look, and a blue halo of energy formed around her stomach, as though something was protecting her womb--perhaps herself--as the rest of her body seemed to phase in and out of existence. Ahead, on the viewscreen, an area of space seemed to turn to glass. Half of it caught a Goa'uld ship, and that half of the Goa'uld ship seemed to literally expand to five times its normal size while the other half remained the same.

Then the effect stopped with the same brutal rapidity by which it had been initiated, and Maedhv returned to normal.... then half of the ship seemed to shatter in a poof of dust into nonexistence, leaving the other half tumbling off, out of control for a brief second before it, simply overwhelmed with the damage, exploded outright.

The other Goa'uld ships became rattled at that sight, seeming to back off from close combat with the Prometheus though they kept their fire up, their commanders undoubtedly bewildered by the strange and sudden annihilation of a fully-shielded Goa'uld Ha'tak that had the technological upgrades provided by Anubis to Ba'al's fleet.

Silence reigned on the bridge of the Prometheus, prompted by the shock of the assembled who all knew, with varying degrees of experience, how hard it was to deal with a Goa'uld mothership. To see one so rapidly distorted and then annihilated.... The effect hadn’t simply been impressive, but surreal in a virtually psychotic sense as well.

Maedhv ignored the stunned expressions, and then concentrated again upon her foes. This time there was only the faintest of wavers, and one of the Goa'uld ships simply began to head off in a random direction, to the further consternation of the other ships, for they had completely lost contact with that vessel. Providing no explanation of the differing effects, her body simply began to phase again as she selected another target....

There was a sudden flash of energy that enveloped Maedhv. She briefly struggled in the chair before expanding her field to cover her entire body even as the energy, seemingly coming out of nowhere, assaulted her incessantly. As it did so the ship stopped maneuvering and Goa'uld weapons fire once again began to lash out on the ship.
"What the hell is going on?" Nate remarked upon seeing that sight. He could see Jack and Teal'c were looking at each other. Moreover, he felt a tingle through his senses, the inkling of something incredible strange but yet very... invigorating. "Jack?"
"Daniel, is this..."
Daniel looked toward them and nodded slowly. He could feel the presence more keenly than the others, particularly Nate, could.
"The Ancients are here," Daniel remarked, the ship shuddering under them from the Goa'uld weapons fire. "And I don't think they're very happy to see Maedhv."
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-11 09:47pm 

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Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8423
Location: Florida USA
Chapter 10




USS Prometheus, In Orbit over Kuahuatl, Goa'uld Territory
Universe Designate SRC-19




Maedhv seemed to writhe and twist for a moment behind the energy shield as the ship continued to be pounded so heavily by the Goa'uld, and then, a wave of cold swept over the bridge, terrible cold. It continued, it spread, and it seemed instantaneously that the temperature was diving well below freezing, and then further, and further down into a level of impossible, bone-chilling, soul-chilling cold. Within the space of five seconds they might as well have been in the Antarctic as all of the ship's systems started to fail, and warning lights were going off about the status of the reactor.

Meanwhile, on the outside of the hull, the shields had collapsed and a salvo of the Goa'uld energy weapons struck them with terrible force, spinning the hull, leaving the Prometheus lurching from damage as more warning lights appeared on the bridge..... And then the firing ceased, the damage ceased, and with an abrupt snap, like stepping to a blast furnace, the heat rushed back into the bridge, and the systems, except those damaged by the strike, went back to green lights of full power. But now, instead of a coherent view outside of the bridge there was only a strange, wavering, distorted one, showing the Goa'uld ships firing at them, but the field seemed to stop the shots and do so with barely even a shudder; Maedhv was clearly drawing on her shielding abilities again to directly block the fire.

The engines fired, and in the chair, which was singed and melted despite being steel, the cushions having been stripped off of it, Maedhv sat, stomach still glowing with some sort of comfortable protection as the rest of her body wavered and folded through reality, face grit in pain. "Those cowardly fucks," she growled, all semblences of composure lost, her face not just showing pain, but a furious sort of hunger.

"Daniel, do you have any idea what's going on?" Jack asked in a highly concerned tone, stepping up beside Daniel where he was standing near Maedhv.
"I'm not entirely sure, Jack," Daniel said. "I..." His head went up as a voice touched his mind, a voice so very familiar. "Kasuf."
At once Daniel was in two places at once. He could see the bridge of the Prometheus, the others gathered around and watching Maedhv and him. At the same moment, however, he was also back on Abydos. The sandy dunes stretched as far as the eye could see with his SG-1 BDUs replaced with the long Abydonian robes that protected people from the whipping sand and wind.
Kasuf - his father-in-law - was standing before him. "Daniel." His voice was insistant, almost desperate in tone. "We will need your help. Please... rejoin us."
"What?" Daniel walked closer to Kasuf, at least in this dream that his mind had been pulled into.
"Rejoin us, Daniel, you must," Kasuf repeated. "We need all of the help we can if we are to stop this cruel monster."
Realization came upon him. "You want me to Ascend again and help you fight Maedhv."
"Yes. Please, Daniel, the others, they are not sure we can do this without more, and no more would come. If you can Ascend and..."
"...and what? Join you in fighting Maedhv? Why did you attack her like that?" Daniel kept his eyes to Kasuf as he walked around before looking off, imagining the others might be able to overhear them. "She wasn't doing anything to attack the other Ancients. There was no reason..."

"We don't have the time for this, good son," Kasuf pleaded. "Maedhv is the most malevolent entity we have ever known. If she is permitted to go free then she will bring untold misery."
"Malevolent?" Daniel blinked. "Yes, she can be violent and she's certainly prideful, but what has she done to..."
He stopped the sentence as he became aware of the surroundings outside of him, punctuated by a cry of pain. Nate fell back from the command chair, nearly hitting Daniel where he stood, his lower arms and hands blistered with severe burns from where he had tried to grip Maedhv. Teal'c came to Nate's support while Jack stared out the window.
The Goa'uld fire had stopped. Outside the Goa'uld ships were drifting powerless, as if every erg of energy had been siphoned away. Beyond them, the distant green orb of the solar system began to dim.
"General O'Neill," Pendergast's voice said over their radios, his tone hinting of part wonder and part fear, "according to our sensors the solar system's star is literally starting to come apart. We can't tell why..."

"Daniel, we're running out of time," Kasuf said, jolting Daniel back to the faux-Abydos in his mind. "Maedhv is drawing power from the very essence of space about her. If she completes this before we can end her then she can destroy us all. You must join us, now. It is our only hope of..."
"Hope of what? Destroying Maedhv? And what about her child?" Daniel swept an arm toward Maedhv, though in the Abydos illusion he seemed to be pointing toward nothing. "Whatever she's done to you, you're talking about killing an innocent being. And why? What has Maedhv done that would cause you to behave like this. You wouldn't fight the Goa'uld, you wouldn't deal with Anubis, why is she so special? Anubis was going to wipe out all life in the galaxy and none of you did anything, you forced Oma to sacrifice herself for the rest of eternity to keep him in check! How does Maedhv warrant an unprovoked attack when Anubis was given free reign to endanger the galaxy?"
"There's no time to explain!"
Daniel's mind took in more information about what was going on around him. Teal'c was applying bandages to Nate's burned hands. The green sun of Kuahuatl was even dimmer, the nuclear processes within slowing as the tremendous energies within were siphoned off. Kuahuatl itself had started to show an effect. The planet's atmosphere was beginning to contract as it was cooled by some unseen force. The same effect was now visible in the corona of the Star; it seemed as though it might be collapsing inward--which could only form a black hole, except there was no energy left. The process must have started six minutes ago or more: right around the time the ship's power failures had begun.
Now the star was dimming with incredible rapidity with each passing second as, even below them, the planet's volatile cloud formations now definitely seemed to slow down. And Maedhv's coherency was starting to return again as she seemed to get a handle on the energy and stabilize it, eyes opening with deathly furious malice. "The next time you enslave someone, don't let them escape," she muttered as though spitting nails. Except her lips hadn't moved at all; the words had been broadcast with such mental clarity through her powers that even the mind-blind in the crew of the Prometheus could clearly hear it.

"Enslave?" Daniel's tone dripped with accusation as he faced Kasuf again. On this facsimilie of a destroyed world the winds were becoming violent, the sands whipped up by the wind biting at their faces. "Kasuf, what is she talking about? What is going on between Maedhv and the Ancients?"
"It was not enslavement," Kasuf insisted. "At least it was not intended to be. She was a threat, Daniel. A malevolent being responsible for death on a scale we cannot comprehend and which the Ancients refused to permit again. She had to be stopped!"
"And now? Is there a reason to stop her from waking up whatever's down there? Is it a threat like Anubis'? The one none of you bothered to stop?!" Daniel looked around angrily, certain he had the attention of the others. "The one you forced Oma to stop at the cost of her own freedom?"
"If Oma were here she would be supporting us, Daniel," Kasuf said, almost apologetic and apparently not envying being put in the position the others had insisted upon him.
"What harm is she doing, Kasuf? Answer me!"
"You don't understand what she is. I barely understood it. But if she's free this entire universe is in danger. You don't know the things she's done, good son, and we've about run out of time to defeat her once and for all. If you don't help us, she's going to destroy us, Daniel."
"Destroy you?" Daniel asked, incredulous. It was stupifying to think of it; destroying an Ascended being?

Maedhv suddenly broke in across the bridge, looking furiously toward Daniel as she spoke: "Don't make the mistake of trusting them again, Daniel! If you go to help them, you will only be killing the innocent and aiding these sanctimonious bastards who think that their 'guiding' lesser races can somehow atone for their guilt. Now stand aside, Daniel, and like I promised, everyone will go home breathing." A pause. "Well. They don't breath, anyway."
Daniel looked back at Kasuf. "That's it, isn't it? The Ancients are afraid of Maedhv for whatever it was they did to her in the past. And so you're just lashing out at her without any regard for who might get hurt in the way."
"I'm sorry, good son," Kasuf answered solemnly. "They insisted it was the only way."
"So this is it then? You, the most powerful and most enlightened beings in the universe, are just going to slug it out and it's just too bad for anyone who gets killed because they're in the crossfire? Is that it?!" His voice raised and his patience spent, Daniel barked, "Well, let's do it then! Take me first!"
And on the bridge of the Prometheus, Daniel suddenly lunged toward the intensely-bright Maedhv, prompting Jack to shout "Daniel!" as he watched from the front of the bridge.

The sheer energy coursing through Maedhv's body as she completed the last preparations, transforming the Prometheus into a Ship of Light, preparing a shockwave that would simultaneously rip apart the Ascended in the higher realm and demolish the Goa'uld in realspace, was, though almost fully contained, still like a live wire, a conduit between two dimensions laden with the energy of an entire star. There was a hidden vibration in existence there and from the way it had burned Nate while still newly-formed it seemed sure that Daniel must die.
Maedhv's eyes snapped to the movement, though, with only a moment to spare. There was so much at hand, so much to consider, and Daniel's act, that of a soulless being as she'd claimed, shocked her to the core, evident in her eyes for a fraction of a second. And she acted; she bodily flung herself out of the chair. Daniel flew into it, hard, but untouched by her energy, as a bright blue field engulfed her whole body, protecting her womb and the fragile child in her both from the Ancients and from the tumbling fall. It dissipated as she settled on the floor, her eyes closed, the energy gone, her body solid.
The ship's field abruptly collapsed; the energy surrounding the Prometheus vanished, while the sensors read an abrupt surge of energy in the star, a Nova that would be heading their way soon, though the shields of the ship would protect it; the energy coursing back in had made the newly revivified star 'choke' as the storm-clouds on the surface began chaotic patterns, huge sections of liquified atmosphere falling to the surface before, and the Goa'uld found they could now begin restoring power to their ships. And Maedhv simply laid there.

The steel of the main chair made a hard impact on Daniel's chest and stomach, making him gasp as it knocked the air out of him. He slumped against it, his chest hurt from the collision, but other than that fine.
Forms began to coalesce upon the bridge. All save Nate recognized the forms of Kasuf and Skaara, while a third seemed very familiar as well.
Daniel, noticing none of the others moving toward Maedhv, regained his breath and went over to her. She was unconscious but the faint movement of her chest showed she was at least alive. "She's out," he noted.
Jack took out his radio. "Status on the Goa'uld ships, Pendergast?"
After several moments a reply game. "They seem to be trying to bring their systems back online."
"Fire up the hyperdrive, we need to get out of here."
"Sorry, General, the hyperdrive was damaged in those hits we took while unshielded. Our repair crews figure it'll take at least four hours to bring them back up."
"Dammit," Jack grumbled. "Keep us posted, Pendergast. O'Neill out."

"Well, she's unconscious," Daniel said to the other Ancients, including the lead one who was stepped forward and whom he also recognized. "Now we can talk, Orlin."
Orlin gave a nod in reply. "We... are not quite sure what to think, Daniel. That Maedhv opened herself to attack to save your life does not meet any memories we have of her."
"Why are you so afraid of her, Orlin?", Daniel asked, or rather demanded. "Why did you break that non-interference vow that you kept even regarding Anubis? How can she be that evil?"
"You don't know her like we do, Daniel. You don't know the evil she's capable of." Orlin gestured to her. "She is Maedhv Curoi'larijh, the last Golden Condor. And I know you don't know what that means, not exactly. She is an Asvin, Daniel Jackson. A civilization ruled by beings of the High Caste, more devious, more cruel, than that of the worst of the Goa'uld. And she is the last of their kind."
At that revelation, Jack muttered, "Boy, Daniel, you sure know how to pick them."
Daniel shot an irritated glare at Jack before looking back to Orlin. "She also told me that you are Asvins too, their 'middling castes' I believe it was. And apparently you enslaved her. How much of that was true?"
Orlin looked back at the others. A woman there spoke up, saying, "It is the past, Orlin, do not dignify the monster's ravings with a reply."
"I'm sorry, Ganos," Orlin answered before he looked back to Daniel. And then he gave his answer.
"Yes. It's all true."
And all eyes of the room focused on Orlin.



Gray Star, Alliance Space
Universe Designate AR-12




The first Replicator bugs were smart. They only devoured enough on the pods they'd grown on to make their numbers decent, meaning that on cursory inspection the pods were cleared, the dents from lost material chalked up on the spot to damage from impacting the launch deck. A further examination would have located them through the use of scans, of course, but the flight crew was getting ready re-loading the surviving fighters and fixing what damage they could so that the squadron could, if needed, launch another strike on the Replicator ship.
Soon they would be ready...



"Five minutes to weapons range," Tarak said aloud. "All weapons show full readiness."
"We will use all remaining Mark IVs to penetrate their shields and attempt to reduce their mass sufficiently to prevent them from further shield generation. Afterwards engagement with the main battery should be sufficient." Data looked to Samantha. "Colonel Carter, can you estimate how powerful their shields are based upon their mass?"
"Not very well, the Replicators seem to shift their use of mass to accomodate the situation, from shields to engines and probably back again. We might be able to hit them before they can make the change, but if not..."
"If our firepower is insufficient to break their shields, we will only have one recourse. Mr. Di'not, please calculate proper course for initiating a ramming maneuver."
"Doing so now, Captain," Di'not answered stoically, not showing the slightest reaction to that probability.
"I would hate for it to come to that," Kharaste remarked. "Though we will sell our lives dearly if necessary, suicide is not an acceptable way to come into Valera's Army."
There was a period of silence after that remark. It ended when Tarak confirmed the missiles had been successfully armed. "I have a lock on the target, information transmitted to missile targeting computers. As soon as we enter optimum range..."

Hsiao interrupted with a loud report. "Replicator ship has stopped accelerating! They are beginning to reconfigure!"
Data's response was immediate. "Fire!"
Tarak's fingers pressed down on the firing key. Missiles erupted from their launch cells and accelerated, crossing the distance quickly to the Replicator ship. They caught up to it just as its shields began to come back online and a series of blinding detonations temporarily obscured the view of the Replicator vessel.
The Replicators emerged from the blast area intact, but only just. Their shield generators had not finished converting and were not able to protect the ship from the immense power of the naquadah-boosted anti-matter warheads. What was left of the ship turned away and began to wildly maneuver.
"Their shields seem to be much weaker," Hsiao stated. "Primary weapons will be capable of breaching the shield."
"Mister Di'not, keep pace with the enemy vessel. Mister Torcet, engage with primary weapons." Data's orders were answered by a pair of confirmations.

The battle became a true cat-and-mouse engagement, a delicate dance in the interstellar void. Streaks of orange pulse phaser fire joined the emerald lances of the bow-mounted Minbari neutron cannons that were striking out at the enemy vessel, retorting with its own white beams of energy that played over Gray Star's deflectors with little direct effect. The Replicator ship's maneuverings were wild and desperate, as well as clearly more concerned with survival than getting to ZKH-4983.
And that was what made Sam worried. "Something's not right," she murmured to herself, using her station to bring up the ship's internal sensors.
The concentration of the bridge personnel on the continuing battle left her remarks mostly unheard, save by two. Data and Kharaste had both heard her, and it was the Taloran who asked, "Colonel, what is the matter?"
"Why have they given up?", Sam asked. "They're not even trying to get to ZKH anymore, they're just...." Realization came. "They're stalling. Subcommander Hsiao!"
Hsiao reacted by turning his attention to Sam. "Colonel?"
"Run a detailed analysis of all subspace emissions in our area, I'm going to run the same through the internal sensors..."

Another slight hit struck the Gray Star. Their reduced deflectors finally gave a little despite the relative weakness of the Replicator beam weapon, causing the ship to rumble a bit beneath their feet. Tarak was quick to report on the result. "Shields holding at sixty percent. I have managed several hits, but the slighter mass and the engine size on the Replicator vessel is making this quite a challenge."
"But a fun one," Di'not noted almost cheerfully from the helm, prompting a stern disapproving look from Kharaste. "Hold on, Glinn, I'm going to get you a good shot."
Under Di'not's careful control, the Gray Star did a half spin on its bow-aft axis as the Replicator ship passed "overhead", thus bringing the ship to portside. Tarak let loose with the Gray Stars broadside weapons, in this case short-range anti-ship missiles and 200mm PPACs. The bursts of particle fire slammed into the Replicator ship first before it began to maneuver, the short-range missiles providing hot pursuit.
Tarak's broadside attack imposed evasives upon the Replicator ship, just as Di'not had been hoping and asking for. She undid the spin and allocated power to the Gray Star's maneuvering drive. A sharp turn to starboard permitted Tarak to fire first from the aft torpedo launcher, sending a spread of Mark XIX-G torpedoes at the Replicators. The Replicator ship, already taking damage from the missiles as they made proximity detonations, suddenly had to endure the hits of the torpedoes as well, at least those it didn't manage to shoot down with its solitary beam weapon.
This series of sharp maneuvering had set up Tarak to take good shots with missiles and torpedoes, but the coup d'grace was still to come. Di'not brought the Gray Star about as the Replicator vessel attempted to further reconfigure itself to accomodate the lost mass. It still continued to maneuver but now had less energy and engine capacity to do it with while Di'not was providing Tarak with an excellent angle of attack.
Tarak quickly confirmed his target and fired. The forward firepower of the Gray Star struck hard at the trunucated Replicator cylinder, subjecting the nanites first to the nuclear-disruption of the pulse phasers before the powerful neutron cannons on the prow of the Gray Star sliced into the remnants. They completed the pass with the Replicator ship reduced to barely three percent of its original mass.

"Replicator vessel is allocating all available mass to engines," Hsiao reported.
"They're probably going to try and ram us to get nanites aboard." Sam's attention remained focused upon the internal sensors and the blips of subspace activity she was noticing.... and not liking at all.
"Lieutenant, evasive maneuvers," Kharaste ordered immediately.
The Replicator ship burned all engines at max and maneuvered straight for the Gray Star. Di'not turned the Gray Star away, then quickly shifted the ship upward and rolled, presenting the ship's starboard to the Replicator ship for Tarak to hammer at it with full PPACs. The Replicator ship endured the blows and lost another third of its mass without flinching.
Di'not reacted by turning the Gray Star again... and presenting the bow to the Replicator ship. The Gray Stars engines accelerated and a bewildered Kharaste was prompted to demand, "Lieutenant, what are you..."
Before he finished the sentence Di'not's maneuver had given Tarak all the time he needed. Another furious outburst of pulse phaser and neutron cannon fire slammed into the remnant Replicator ship. It lacked the engine placement or power to dodge the head-on assault and succumbed to the onslaught, losing mass incredibly until a normal Mark XIX torpedo from the bow launcher utterly vaporized the remnant, leaving nothing but fatally damaged and inert bits of nanite mass drifting here and there.

"Replicator vessel destroyed," Tarak reported briskly.
Kharaste leveled a gaze at Di'not, speaking sternly when he remarked, "I suppose we shall overlook the danger you put the ship in given your success, Lieutenant."
"Thank you kindly, Commander Triulajha," was Di'not's answer.
"Don't celebrate yet," Sam remarked, a concerned look on her face. "We've got a problem."
Data turned. "Yes, Colonel?"
"Internal sensors have been picking up slight subspace signals, Captain Data." Sam had her station put the readings up on the main viewer. "They match the subspace bands the Replicator nanites use to communicate with each other. I think we may have some on board, Sir."
Kharaste reacted immediately, using his DNI to put the ship on a full intruder alert. "This is Commander Triulajha to all hands. We have a suspected Replicator infestation on board, initiate Intruder Alert protocol."




The finished bugs had waited patiently, eating out the insides of their pods and the deck beneath them, while the ship had delayed and occupied the ship's crew. They immediately knew when their time had come with the end of contact with the ship.
While some burrowed their way around the launch deck with the intention of ascending the ship from the lower deck, a majority made a direct assault as the launch deck responded to Kharaste's order for intruder alert. They'd been going to arm themselves when the Replicators surged out of cockpit pods and the floor below. The closest crew never had a chance, being overrun within seconds.
The launch deck crew chief gave an immediate order to evacuate the launch deck and raise anti-intruder forcefields behind them so they could vent the deck and hopefully use depressurization to clear the launch deck out. The spidery metallic forms followed them swiftly, being stopped only by the forcefields as those crew who could got to the exit hatches before the fields went up, the rest seeking refuge in fighter cockpits as possible.
The launch bay was violently depressurized, venting the bodies of those killed by the Replicators out into space as well as lighter equipment and materials in the bay. But not the Replicators. They had been ready for that tactic, grounding themselves to the launch bay until the depressurization was complete, when they advanced once more.
They went straight through the forcefields like they weren't there, prompting further retreat from the mostly unarmed launch crew, while above them those Replicators that had not revealed themselves began to crawl through conduit accessways, ventilation ducts, and corridors to get to the rest of the ship.
The Gray Star had defeated the Replicator ship, but the Replicators themselves weren't giving up the fight.



USS Prometheus, In Orbit over Kuahuatl, Goa'uld Territory
Universe Designate SRC-19



"Orlin, an explaination please," Daniel said, breaking the silence that had settled over the bridge. He still stood beside where Maedhv was lying and directed his attention at the Ancients assembled on Prometheus' bridge. "This... doesn't make much sense to me. Everything Maedhv's said about the Asvin doesn't fit..."
"You have to understand that for many of us, this is an ancient history that few had direct part in," Orlin said. "We were not immortal. But yes, we are the descendants of the Asvin, or rather their so-called 'middle castes'. Our ancestors had no rights in the Asvin society, only our freedom to seperate us from slaves."
"I sense Maedhv has told you much, if from her own perspective. I will tell you, briefly, how such things happened from our point of view. The Humanity of the Two Empires was so cruel, so vicious, yet so powerful, that they earned the wrath of higher races. These higher races feared the Asvin and Sarasavsati for their potential, for the Two Empires had developed the Devastraas. Beings who existed as both Ascended and Mortal and who proved nearly impossible to actually destroy. The Asvin called their Devastraas 'Golden Condors'."
"So Maedhv is one of these.... 'Devistraas'," Jack said.
"Devastraa, Jack," Daniel corrected.
"Whatever. Can you tell me just what that means? 'Ascended and Mortal'?"
"It is more than that," the Ancient female called Ganos said, breaking her silence despite her irritation. "A Devastraa exists on the higher planes and in the lower. Nanite devices present in her body enable the near instantaneous healing of any injury while access to the higher planes permits a Devastraa to draw power from surrounding space, as you saw Maedhv doing with that star. To destroy a Devastraa requires the annihilation of her presence in both planes. Even the slightest remnant will regrow completely. That is what we were trying to do."
"That's all well and good, but Maedhv's already told me about this whole thing with Vorlons and Q and Shadows attacking the Empires, so can we move on? I don't think Maedhv will be very happy to see you all still here when she wakes up."
"She is already awake, Daniel," Orlin said calmly. "But the efforts she took to save you have left her too weak to move."

To that, Daniel's only reply was a simple, "Oh."
"The higher races, the First Ones, destroyed the Two Empires through subterfuge, manipulation, and outright attack. Finally they sought to finish the job by attacking Earth directly, where they were confronted with the last of the Devastraas, including Maedhv. But it was the Devastraa of the Sarasavsati, a non-human named Nirrti, who stopped them. They called out to her as a non-human to stand with them in the extermination of what was left of Earth."
"I think I know where this is going," Daniel said. "She refused."
"Yes, for reasons we never knew," Orlin answered. "But whatever her refusal, it seemed to have convinced some of the Old Ones. A small part of humanity was allowed to escape to other universes; the Sarasavsati under Nirrti, the Asvins, some under one known as Kshartia, some under Maedhv. She founded a civilization with them which grew to be great and prosperous again. So great that its home was said by our ancestors, who remembered it only distantly from their ancestors in turn, to be an artificial sphere engulfing an entire star. But Maedhv had permitted the Asvin practice of slavery to continue; the slaves revolted and destroyed this civilization in turn. They killed all of the High Caste except, of course, Maedhv. Maedhv, in her desperation to lead those still loyal to her to safety, led her fleet to blindly jump. They ended up back in time and in a different galaxy, over a world Maedhv named Alteras."
"Maedhv, in her arrogance, announced herself as High Queen again, but this time decided that slavery could not be permitted and banned the creation of geneforms." Orlin looked down at her. "Maybe it was the influence of her remaining loyal slave and lover or a desire to not go through another revolt. Whatever the reason, many among the Alterans were dissatisfied with her. By eliminating slaves she effectively made them into the lowest class of society and forced them to perform routine labor. She also continued to rule much as she ever had, capriciously and at whim."

"There were those of our ancestors who initially supported her. They were philosophers and scientists who rose up from the middling castes and sought to change how Asvin society was run. They were the first to stop using the 'Asvin' name, opting for Alteran. They were, you might say, the progenitors of our ways, looking to rediscover lost ways and expand our knowledge of the universe through the application of scientific methods, of reason, and an end to the ideas of conquest and control. And Maedhv initially supported them." Orlin frowned down at Maedhv. "That is, until they sought the way to make Devastraa."
"Why would these Alterans desire to make more like Maedhv?" Teal'c frowned at them. "Making such beings does not seem in line with peaceful science."
"Because of the peaceful potentials of their powers," Daniel reasoned. "It's like Ascension, but it permits the being to remain grounded in reality. You'd be effectively immortal and Ascended while still fully flesh-and-blood."
"That was just the start," Orlin said. "We sought a way to use the process for allowing ourselves to become one with creation, to understand the Multiverse as it was, without becoming living weapons. But the others were not interested in that aspect, simply the power. Not that it mattered, because Maedhv strictly forbade it."

Jack chimed in then. "And I bet that didn't make your people too happy, did it?"
"Oh, we complained. We insisted we wanted to improve the process, to make it where someone could access the higher planes of existance but without being capable of destruction in the ways of the Devastraa. But she was unyielding."
"Orlin, we need not tell them everything, the fact is that Maedhv is too powerful for any of us to be safe while she exists," Ganos protested. "For their own good they need to get as far away from her as soon as possible."
"Ganos, please." Orlin turned back to the dark-haired female Ancient. "They deserve to know."
"The prana-bindhu bindings," Daniel said.
"She told you about them?"
"Fail safe codes that the Asvin installed in her to control her," Daniel said, mostly for the benefit of the others. "You helped the other Alterans, the ones who wouldn't reform, find them."
"We didn't want to. Our immediate ancestors just wanted to perform their experiments and tests in peace. But when Maedhv found out they were accessing the ancient databases for information on the process of making Devastraa she became enraged and began imprisoning us, even killing a few of our leaders as warnings to the rest. We became frightened, and the others took advantage of that. They convinced us to find the bindings and to provide them with the knowledge of using them. And like fools we did."

"The others enslaved Maedhv and a new government was established for Alteras. We were scientists, philosophers. We knew nothing of ruling, so we let those who knew how to run things do so. We concentrated on our research and examined every aspect of Maedhv's being in an attempt to copy the process. But over the centuries and then millennia, we kept failing. Meanwhile the others became more distant. While we maintained the path of free will and scientific reason, they became devoted to themselves. The basic human forms we'd seeded on nearby worlds to expand our civilization were regarded much as slaves had once been. As fodder to provide us with labor and to worship us as the bringers of enlightenment and life. Finally it got to the point that we left Alteras and returned to this galaxy. And the rest, I believe you know."
"Not entirely. Though I do know Maedhv escaped from the remaining Alterans," Daniel said. "And she claims responsibility for the plague that wiped out your civilization here in the Milky Way."
"Yes, that was her vengeance upon us," Ganos said bitterly. "And it was not enough. She pursued us further."
"You mean to Pegasus?", asked Jack.
"Yes." Ganos' expression turned dark. "She may pretend to be kinder now, but you have no idea of the widespread death she caused there."
"What do you mean?"
"Daniel Jackson..." Ganos looked plainly at him. "Do your people really believe that a parasitic bug could have evolved into a sentient species simply by feeding on Humans? Don't you think they needed a little help?"

Daniel didn't have an immediate answer to that, but Jack did. "Wait, wait wait. Are you saying that Her Mightyness here created the Wraith?"
"Yes, I did," came an abrupt and slightly monotone, exhausted voice from the far side of the bridge. "They're my children, more or less, created out of my own DNA mixed with that of the Iratus Bug; thus why they are effectively immortal. But in the end, they stopped listening to me, and rather than start yet another slave empire, I let them go their own way, and came back here to hibernate until Alarita awoke."
"You just left them to feed on the humans of that galaxy!", Jack barked.
"And now you know the depths of the hideous monster you've taken into your midst," Ganos Lol remarked sullenly. She looked to Daniel. "Do you see now, Daniel, why we wanted you to rejoin us and help us destroy her?"
"I think so," Daniel sighed. "But what about her daughter? Were you going to let her die too?"
"You could have saved the daughter," Ganos insisted.
"Could, maybe. On a ship surrounded by Goa'uld looking to kill us and with medical facilities not really meant for dealing with premature babies," Daniel shot back.

"No, you couldn't have.” Maedhv slowly pushed herself up into a sitting position, slightly dazed. "The reason I've not been moving is because every bit of energy I've been draining has been going into protective shields while I start to recover. I wasn't defenceless-nor was this ship. Oh, and while we're at it, Ganos," she laughed softly, at that point, hands still bracing on the floor, though.
"The reason I forbade your ancestors from creating more like me is because I had made an agreement with Nirrti to never create more than one additional Golden Condor, and she, to never create more than one Devaastra. Your ancestors wanted me to break my word because they insisted she'd understand the difference, and anyway, who had seen her in thousands of years? But that one agreement is the only thing which has kept hostilities from resuming. Now, you either help them, or get out of the way and let me do it, because trouble is coming down on their heads."
Jack was mouthing the word "trouble" sarcastically toward Teal'c, imaging how much trouble they were already going through, when Pendergast's voice came back over his radio. "General, sensors have picked up Goa'uld ships on approach. They look like they're hooking up with the remaining ships out there, over twenty motherships in all."
"Oh swell," Jack muttered.
"Getting a communication. We're patching it through to the ship intercom, we've gotten it partially functioning up there for you."
After a few moments, a familar voice came over the radio. "Hello, Tau'ri," they could hear Ba'al say. "Or the being called Maedhv. Whoever is in control of the Tau'ri vessel, you have one minute to surrender or you will be destroyed."
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-11 09:48pm 

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Location: Florida USA
Chapter 11




Gray Star, Alliance Space
Universe Designate AR-12




It was a deck up from the launch bay where the first group of Replicators faced real sustained resistance. They emerged from one of the cargo holds supporting the hanger (complete with lift leading directly to the launch deck) and into a barrage of coilgun-accelerated slugs. The mixed-nationality Marine complement assigned to the ship, combined with armed crewmen dragooned by NCOs and a couple junior officers, put up similar "fire zones" in other points from which the Replicators could advance.
The bridge was bereft of Sam and Kharaste, whom Data had sent to deal with the infestation. Data was using his own direct interface into the ship's computer to monitor the engineering situation and perform other duties that the engineering station normally performed. He had considered trying to beam the Replicators into space but they were as prepared for that as they had proved for the particle weaponry used in self-defense by the retreating launch deck crew, forcing the prospect of a hard fight to keep them from taking over the ship.
Seeing little other alternative, Data began the procedures for activating the vessel's scuttling charges, or "self destruct" as his Starfleet experience made him think of it as. A last resort to be used if the infestation became terminal.




Sam shouldered her customized M4 and motioned to the three crewmen Kharaste had assigned to her to move around the corner. The three, a Regulan of Nepalese ancestry from the Free Worlds League and an American woman and Romanian man from the ADN, nodded in reply before slipping around the corner, their MRCL-3As. They were one deck up from the main fighting with Sam leading the effort to cut off any Replicators that made it further up the ship. She had put on a combat helmet offered in the armory that permitted her a great deal of control over the situation, displaying mini-displays in the helmet plate that showed the progress of the battle in lower decks, readings from her personal sensors and the ship internal sensors, and direct communication with Kharaste and other groups on the ship. "Section 3 is clear," she said into the radio. "No sign of Replicator infestation."
"Move to Section 4, Colonel," Kharaste answered. "A squad reported Replicators slipping away from the fight and moving to one of the deck ladders."
"Roger that."
Using the ship schematics installed into the helmet, Sam navigated her way through the quiet halls to the aforementioned section. As they approached it the corridor lights suddenly went out, prompting blue emergency lights to come on. "They must have gotten to the power grid," she remarked into the radio before seeing activity on the sensor area of her HUD. "Wait..."
A distant clattering became louder and a number of Replicators rounded the corridor. Sam opened fire first and the team with her followed suit. The sharp cracking of her weapon contrasted with the louder buzzing and thumping of the MRCL-3As, the coilgun weapons spraying powerful slug projectiles at faster velocities that broke up the Replicator bugs, criticially damaging their block components. Sam found herself grateful that the Replicators weren't yet trying to engineer Human-form bodies.
The Replicators not critically damaged tried reforming, but under the intense firepower they were unable to. After about ten seconds firing the surge finishing, the hallway scarred with the effects of the weapons fire and covered with inert Replicator segments. "We've got them," Sam said into the radio, "but with the power down I'm not willing to say they're gone from this area. I'm going to continue on."
"Roger that, Colonel," Kharaste answered. "I'm going to send Chief Arkuliye and a team to join you along the bow side of the section."
"Good. Carter out." Sam motioned to the others to continue on.




USS Prometheus, In Orbit over Kuahuatl, Goa'uld Territory
Universe Designate SRC-19



Jack's immediate reaction to Ba'al's ultimatum was, "Oh come on, a minute? Why not five? I'd even settle for two."
The normally-witty Ba'al wasn't about to play along, unfortunately, indicated by his dull reply of "Fifty seconds".
"Oh, for cryin' out loud..."
"Orlin...?" Daniel looked to the Ancients and, as he figured, they were fading away. "Well, that's just swell."
"Do they always do that?" Nate asked from the chair where he'd settled, bandages wrapped around his lower arms and hands.
"They have a thing about 'interfering' with lower races," Daniel noted somberly. As he said that he felt a thought go through his head, a very brief whisper in a voice not really his but Kasuf's. The most his father-in-law could do to help him without risking the retribution of the others.
"So what about you?" Jack looked over at Maedhv. "Got enough juice back to do more of that fancy hocus-pocus, Your Mightyness?"

"Kill the com feed," Maedhv breathed softly. "Let him eat static."
Smirking, Jack picked up his radio. "For once I agree with Her Mightyness. Cut the feed, Pendergast."
"Alarita could be easily awakened," Maedhv continued. "But I'm not strong enough right now to stand up, let alone send a signal or command this ship's systems, unless I drop my defences, and then the Ancients will try to kill me, and probably destroy this ship in the process, if they haven't given up yet--and they didn't bother to tell us. So you're going to have to contact the ship for me. Repeat the signal I was sending; that will be enough, a stutter beam on the exact same pattern into the lava sea at the same spot. Alarita has plenty of firepower available."

Jack gave a look toward Teal'c and motioned him to the side of the bridge. "We either trust her or we let Ba'al blow us up. Thoughts?"
"I am strangely conflicted, O'Neill. As much as I would love nothing more than to see the Goa'uld destroyed, Maedhv's untrustworthiness do not make me confident in permitting her ship to awaken."
"Me too," Jack murmured in agreement. "Okay Daniel..." He looked back toward the bridge as a whole and immediately noticed that they were short one. "Where did Daniel go?'
"Well, at least someone saw what the only logical course of action is," Maedhv muttered softly, finally finding it in herself to drag her body back against the wall for support.
Hearing that, Jack headed off with Teal'c to find Daniel, leaving Maedhv with Nate. Silence passed between them, at least until the ship slightly rocked as the first Goa'uld ships began to open fire on it. The Asgard shields were holding and, thankfully, most of the Ha'taks seemed to be those not upgraded with Anubis' advancements, meaning they had some time before the shields would begin to fail.


Jack and Teal'c had just left the bridge when Jack put the call through to Pendergast: "Colonel, has Daniel come down there?"
"Haven't seen him."
"If he shows up, tell me and wait for me to get there before you do anything." The ship rumbled lightly as Jack and Teal'c continued their way through Prometheus. "Just what can he be up to?"
"Daniel Jackson must be planning to use a backup control to activate the ship's energy weapons," Teal'c noted. "He will awaken Maedhv's ship."
"Knowing Daniel, yeah," Jack said. He was still undecided on that himself. Trusting Maedhv was not something he was inclined to do, even if the alternative was getting blown up by the Goa'uld. "Let's see, do we take a right or a left?"

"I believe it is this way." Teal'c took the left, Jack following wordlessly. "Do you intend to stop Daniel Jackson?"
"Maybe," Jack answered, a little hesitant given his own uncertainty over what he should do.
The ship kept shaking from occasional strong hits and it was clear they didn't have long either way. Fortunately they found the necessary auxiliary control room that had been set up to control the bolted-on particle pulse weapons Prometheus had been equipped with. They found Daniel tinkering with one of the controls. "Daniel. Hey Daniel!" Jack walked up to him. "What are you doing?"
"Oh, not much, just saving our lives," Daniel replied sarcastically.
"So even after everything the Ancients just told us about Maedhv, you're still going to trust her enough to let her have some big honking space ship?", Jack asked incredulously. "Without even thinking about it?"
"Jack, I have thought about it. I've thought about it a lot... well, okay, as much as I've had the time to." Daniel turned his head. "I think Maedhv is ready to move on with her life. She's not going to be a threat. I mean, she's lived on Earth for nearly three years and remained quiet the entire time."
"Or maybe she was just laying low until she had an opportunity," Jack remarked.
"Then explain why she didn't slip into the SGC and gate to another world, or try to mind control world leaders," Daniel pointed out. "She could have done any number of things to take power on Earth, but instead she settled in rural Washington..."
"And gathered a cult," Jack pointed out.

The ship rocked hard. "Pendergast to O'Neill! We're trying to dodge their fire and fight back but I'm afraid we're not having much luck, there's just too many of them!"
"Dammit, Daniel!" Jack grabbed Daniel and forced him to turn. "She's little better than a Goa'uld, Daniel. Let's not forget she left me for dead back when she was pretending to be a nice good ol' Ancient girl, founded her own little cult of worshippers, and, oh, stole our ship out from under us."
"Listen, Jack, I know she has trust issues. But I've talked with her. I've gotten to understand her a bit." Daniel pulled free, having to brace himself when another hit struck the ship. "I believe she doesn't mean us any harm and that she'll live up to her end of the bargain. And I'm willing to stake my life on that."
There was another violent shaking. Pendergast's voice had a hint of desperation to it when he gave his report over the ship intercom: "Shields are failing! We'll be defenseless if we take any more direct hits!"

The two stared at each other for a moment, mostly ignoring Pendergast's news. Seeing he hadn't convinced Daniel, Jack looked to Teal'c. "Teal'c, buddy, what do you think? Trust the crazy psychopath not to conquer the galaxy or let Ba'al blow us all up?"
"I do not trust Maedhv any more than you do, General O'Neill," Teal'c answered succinctly. Turning his head enough to focus his eyes on Daniel, he added, "But I am willing to trust Daniel Jackson."
Hearing that, Jack drew in a sigh. "Go ahead then, Daniel. Let's hope we don't all regret this."
Nodding, Daniel looked back to the console he'd been using. A couple button presses later and one of the ventral particle cannons fired a series of pulses into the lava sea.
The message had been sent. Now they only had to see if it really worked.




Gray Star, Alliance Space
Universe Designate AR-12




The first warning Sam got of something wrong was the sensors on her helmet and fixed to her BDUs detecting the telltale emissions of the Replicator collective. The chittering of the bugs scurrying about got louder as they approached one of the compartments on this deck, a machine shop for supporting the ship's fighter complement.
She motioned to her team to be ready to enter. "Carter to Arkuliye. Replicators in the machine shop, bow-port quarter."
"Copy that, Sir, we're near," the Taloran woman answered with her thick accent. "There are two doors to that machine shop, we will enter from the bow."
"We're entering from the port," Carter answered. With a nod, she had the crew activate the door's non-computerized backup controls to open it.
Her helmet illuminated the room inside. Replicator bugs were crawling everywhere and seemed to be putting the shop's matter-replication machinery to good use. Ordinarily used to help form completed parts and tools out of raw material, the Replicators had taken it over and were using it to make more Replicator units. They almost immediately noticed Sam and the others and began moving toward them.
Without waiting Sam opened up on them with her team. The narrow chokepoint forced them to back away from the door, but Sam had already set up her team in an excellent position to create a fire zone. "Petty Officer Lewin, hold the line here," Sam ordered, her attention on the other woman in the team.
"Yes Colonel," Lewin answered.

With the Replicators' attention taken, Sam moved around the corners to join up with Arkuliye. She found the pale-complexioned Taloran woman with a male of her species and two other Humans, nationalities unidentifiable due to how they were standing, at the bow entrance to the machine shop. "Colonel?" Arkuliye said upon seeing her.
"Lewin and the others are holding the other door and drawing the Replicators' attention," Sam explained. "We've got to get in there and take out the machinery, otherwise the Replicators will flood this deck."
"Then I suggest these." Arkuliye pulled a grenade launcher attachment off her belt and fixed it to her coilgun assault rifle. "Alliance Army's design, wide-range explosive. They should disable the machinery and destroy most of the Replicators in the room."
"Then let's do it." Sam brought her customized M4 up to firing position and moved toward the door.
"Colonel, there are too many, we're going to get overrun if you don't do something soon," Lewin said, a hint of panic in the young lady's voice.
"Standby, Lewin," Sam ordered. At her motion, the male Taloran triggered the door. Sam and one of the other members of Arkuliye's team stepped in and laid down a barrage of fire to clear their area, giving Arkuliye time to finish loading her attached grenade launcher and buying Lewin and the others a little space. Replicator bugs fell apart as the bullets hit them, some reforming just to be mowed down again.

"Move now!" Arkuliye shouted. At that Sam and the other crewman with her fell back to the door and let Arkuliye fire a single grenade in, after which the Taloran man quickly closed the door again. A thunderous boom made the deck and bulkheads vibrate.
But when they opened the doors, the Replicators kept coming and the matter-replicator machinery was still going. "They must have erected a forceshield of some kind," Arkuliye thought aloud, falling back from the door and firing at the Replicator swarm now rushing toward them.
"Lewin, fall back to the access corridor to Section 3!" Sam's eye movements keyed the comm to patch her in to Kharaste. "Commander, the Replicators have taken over the Section 4 machine shop and are using the machinery to quicken the pace of their copying."
"Abandon Deck 23," Kharaste ordered. "I'm already pulling the Marines on Deck 24 up to Deck 21, that's where we'll make our main stand."
"We need to find their Queen," Sam urged. "Otherwise we're fighting a losing battle."
"We'll see what we can do, Colonel, but be warned." Kharaste's voice went a bit deeper now. "If we can't control this infestation, the Captain is going to blow the ship."
Sam nodded briskly. "It'll be the right thing to do, Commander. We can't let the Replicators take over the ship."




Meredith was tending to the burns of one of the engineering crew when she first heard the chittering sound echo through a bulkhead. Wondering what it was, she motioned to a nurse to check it out, looking warily toward the two armed crewman standing guard with MRCL-3As due to the Replicator infestation.
From the corner of her eye Meredith noticed Serlann starting to stand up. She bolted over immediately to stop her, saying, "I told you, you're not leaving."
"Colonel Carter is helping lead the suppression effort, I am needed," Serlann insisted.
"Not without my say-so," Meredith responded, forcing Serlann back onto the bed. "You're going to sit here and..."
An anguished cry echoed through the infirmary. Meredith looked up to see the nurse she'd sent to investigate the chittering fall back from the stockroom for the infirmary, his face and chest horribly burned.
Then the Replicators surged through the door.




USS Prometheus, In Orbit over Kuahuatl, Goa'uld Territory
Universe Designate SRC-19





The sensors on the Prometheus started to trill warnings within thirty seconds. Abruptly they had detected what previously seemed to be another part of the rock, and instead it was a huge mass under the now solidifying lava. A huge mass with a power spike so severe that the system now had something hotter burning than its primary--whatever was under the rock of the planet. The energy levels climbed, and climbed still more, and then the surface of the planet glowed a brilliant white-blue around the lava traps and then completely engulfed them. As it faded, the lava was gone, vapourized, even more of the surface having been turned to lava and rushing in with a great cataclysmic force which shattered the crust in the area, the atmosphere of the entire planet aglow from the scorching heat.

This attracted the attention of th Goa'uld immediately, who broke off hostility with the Prometheus, even now reporting shield failures, and began to pull back to a defensive position. They would not get enough time, however, for as the glare from the energy in the sensors disappeared, the first visual was discerned, a black cigar-shaped object rising rapidly from the surface of the planet and radiating the requisite amounts of energy to very nearly overwhelm their sensors, blue flickers along its sides. It had a ruthlessly pointed, high-raised bow and a simple cuneiform tail structure right aft that swelled unevenly to respond to the weight distribution, a raked, razor-knife-edged lower section to the distorted cigar of the hull, and it was rising fast. Impossibly fast; for the maximum acceleration of any known warship in the universe was slightly under 3,000g's. The ship was pulling 6,000g's as it blasted clear of the planet like an angry hornet.

But none of these facts mattered in comparison with the one thing that genuinely had the power to terrify. The ship was 20,507 meters long in total, the sensors finally decided, as that huge bulk rose out of the planet's surface with the same acceleration as the quickest accelerating vehicles which had ever been built in the entire Cosmos. A ship the size of a hab platform; a ship with hundreds of times the mass of the largest superdreadnoughts in existence. It might well have simply been the biggest thing to have ever been called a ship, with the sole exception of the Shadow Planet Killer, for it was more or less the same size as the Vorlon version thereof, which had essentially been a mobile gun installation. This craft was no such thing; with that speed, it was impossible, rising up into orbit and approaching them in a space of seconds. And then the power surged once again.

The Goa'uld didn't bother to wait any longer. They shifted their fire immediately and twenty-two Ha'taks, fourteen of them upgraded by Anubis, opened fire simultaneously on the rising ship. Where there had been previously nothing a few hundred meters out from the hull a shield of wavery translucent orange distortion flashed with the connecting energy in a great ripple down the ship's port side.... And not a shot penetrated. The ship didn't slow down or shuddered, and simply continued to accelerate. The response was not long in coming and would be viewed in its entirety by Jack, Daniel, Teal'c, and Zaria - all of which had arrived on the Bridge by that point.

The Goa'uld ships had started to move clear--Ba'al was no idiot--the moment he saw the ship harmlessly shrugging off the full directed firepower of twenty-two of the best ships the Goa'uld had ever fielded. But as the tried to accelerate clear, the ships suddenly reacted like they'd slammed into a brick wall, and the huge ship itself shuddered and abruptly its acceleration dropped, but at the same time, it started dragging the entire Goa'uld fleet with it. The ship, quite simply, was able to generate a powerful enough tractor beam to lock onto twenty-two Ha'taks simultaneously and wrench them into a high-velocity, high-acceleration course far beyond what they were designed for. And the vast ship had barely shuddered in executing the manoeuvre.

As the Goa'uld and their servants and warriors were flung about their ships with enough violence to kill many, the first of the shots came out of the hull. Big, fat blue-white teardrop-shaped bolts of energy flashed out the ship in two long rippled and staggered ranks, hundreds of them. They converged on the fully shielded Ha'taks and of those that hit, the shields of countless vessels were snapped, overwhelmed in the first salvo. Others collapsed on the next, and several of the bolts cleared through to melt and torch the hulls of the unmodified Ha'taks. The Goa'uld fleet was firing back furiously, their weapons not distorted by the tractor beams which locked them into a perfect kill pattern, but the fire reflected harmlessly, doing nothing more effective than causing the shields of the great ship to glow that translucent orange.

Then the second in the two staggered banks of weapons activated. Zaria, at least, would recognize these instantly from the history recordings she had seen, viciously evil dark purple beams which stabbed out and found the unshielded ships, as those fat blue bolts sought out the still-shielded targets now, methodically. The beams sweeped, tracked perfectly through space, and like energy whips, sliced neatly into the hulls of the Ha'taks, cutting through them with methodical vigour.

The effect was exactly identical, as was the appearance, to a Shadow cutting beam, a term used by Zaria as she breathed in awe for the benefit of the others.

What followed was as systematic and remorseless of a slaughter as might be imagined. The blue energy bolts continue to demolish the shields and then the cutting beams waved and darted across the hulls, chopping off sections and repetitively cutting through the main pyramids until one after another the reactor cores were reached and the remaining main sections exploded, leaving cauterized bits of chopped off sections of the Ha'taks drifting everywhere. The fire slacked from the heavily damaged survivors, but they could not escape, and they could not last. Within another ten seconds it was over, and indeed, the entire battle had taken a little more than four minutes. The only reaction this elicited on the awestruck viewers on the Prometheus Bridge was O'Neill's stunned, "Woh".

Then, with grace for a ship the size of an asteroid, what could only be Maedhv's No-Ship swung around to face the comparatively insignficant, tiny Prometheus, and the tractor beam snapped onto them, grabbing them like the hand of a God. Without hesitation, it began, though much more gently than it had snatched the Goa'uld ships, to reel the Prometheus straight toward the immense, overwhelming bulk of the No-Ship, and straight toward an immense set of hangar doors that were now opening, and seemed like they could very much swallow the Terran ship like a single breadcrumb. Then a voice flicked over the comms, and it spoke Ancient in a lilting, throaty alto:

"Maedhv, my love, I am here. Please tell me that you are well?
"Alarita, I presume," Daniel remarked in a subdued tone.
"Alarita," Maedhv answered, smiling and starting to cry at the same time with a delirious look on her face as she slipped into Ancient. "My love, my love, I am aboard and well, if weakened. You can see the evidence of the battle, and we are still under threat by beings of great power. But if you keep the interference generators up, they won't present a problem. We have work to do, and... I shall be bringing people with me, from Earth. I promise, this time I'm not going anywhere."
"It was I who fled, even if at your order, Maedhv," the voice answered. "Don't worry about it. I preserved the [/i]Xihuatlatl for you, and you have come through safe and sound, and I've kept your ship well for you. Robotic and nanite repair and maintenance systems are all nominal and she's slave-rigged for a single person to run, as you can see. Our home forever."
"Forever," Maedhv agreed, and laughed in delirious release as the Prometheus was drawn into the hull of the great No-Ship.



Gray Star, Alliance Space
Universe Designate AR-12




Gunfire erupted in the infirmary of the ship as a surge of Replicators came from a stockroom. Calls for help were immediately sent by the two armed crew watching the medical bay while Meredith rallied her staff. "Move everyone to the starboard compartment!" she shouted to the nurses and junior doctors aboard, reaching for Serlann herself as the short Minbari woman was about the only person present that Meredith's own slender and small frame could support.
"It appears that I'm no safer here than if I were working," Serlann pointed out with a hint of humor. "I can walk, Doctor."
"That explains all the weight you're putting on me, alright," Meredith responded in amused sarcastic matter, even if her mind was racing on just what to do with her patients of the Replicators got past the two armed men.
"Doctor, behind you!"
The nurse's cry caused Meredith to turn in time to find a few Replicators coming toward her. She grabbed a nearby tray of medical utensils and tossed it at them, delaying them momentarily. One began to fly using its metallic wings and was torn apart a moment later by a burst of slugs from one of the armed men in the room.
Just as the Bugs seemed on the verge of breaking loose and swarming them all, the door opened and another team of armed crew entered. With their extra firepower and a chance for the initial guards to reload, the Replicators were being held back enough for Meredith to oversee the evacuation of the infirmary.
Then the other reports began coming in.



"Replicators reported on all decks below 16," Ziva remarked cooly on the bridge. "Doctor Constantine is evacuating the infirmary."
Data opened a commlink to Kharaste and Sam. Kharaste was in slightly calmer conditions, using a wardroom on Deck 14 to oversee the defense of the ship. Sam, however, had arms fire going off in the background from her place on Deck 21. "The Replicators are quite resourceful," Data mused calmly. "They committed enough forces to take the machine shops supporting our fighter group and occupy our forces while others split off to move further up the ship."
"We're not going to be able to hold here," Sam said. "Not if they're as high as Deck 16."
"They're going to be everywhere shortly enough," Kharaste muttered. "blasted things aren't slowing down, that's for sure."
"Likely so," Data agreed. "Colonel Carter, if we could manage to hold Main Engineering and the Bridge, do you think we could hold the ship until help arrives?"
"No, Captain, the Replicators will just take over systems directly and use them," Sam answered. "We'd need to keep them away from all engine systems as well as engineering."
"That seems highly unlikely to happen." Data looked to Hsiao. "Subcommander, status on the incoming carrier group?"
"The Nicolas Mamatmas and her escorts are still over eight hours away," Hsiao answered.
"Very well then. I am afraid there is only one recourse left." Data keyed a third commline. "Doctor Constantine, send your medical teams and all wounded to escape pods on the upper decks, none lower than Deck 8."
"Yes Captain."
"Commander Kharaste, enable those you can spare from the firing line to evacuate to escape pods on Deck 8 and above," Data ordered, standing up. "I will be down shortly to join you in overseeing the defense of Main Engineering and all free sections containing scuttling charges."
"I will be expecting you, Captain," was the Taloran's terse reply.
Data looked to those remaining on the bridge. "Report to the escape pods immediately." Seeing a hint of intention to object, Data added, "This is a direct order. Glinn Torcet, I place you in charge of overseeing the evacuation of Decks 1 and 2. And you are to join it if at all possible."
The Cardassian nodded sternly. "Yes Captain."

With that done, Data keyed the ship's main computer. "Computer, this is Captain Data, Identification Code Data Charlie Oscar Tango Tango Zulu Sierra Zulu. Set automated scuttling charges on all decks."
Data looked to Tarak, who spoke up next. "Computer, this is 2nd Rank Glinn Tarak Torcet, Identification Code Torcet Whiskey Oscar November Victor Victor Charlie Lima. Set automated scuttling charges on all decks."
"Computer, this is Lieutenant Ziva David-Oded, Identification Code David Charlie Oscar Lima Victor Sierra India Foxtrot. Set automated scuttling charges on all decks."
The slightly feminine voice of the computer system spoke aloud. "Scuttling charges activated. Awaiting time input."
"Set for ten minutes, Authorization Code Data Sierra Tango Victor."
The main screen lit up with a red countdown of ten minutes. "Ship destruct code initiated. Ten minute countdown." The announcement filled the ship, along with telltale red lights at various displays to warn the crew that the scuttling charges were set.
With that, Data and his command crew evacuated the Bridge.
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-11 09:49pm 

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Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
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Location: Florida USA
Chapter 12


USS Prometheus, In Orbit over Kuahuatl, Goa'uld Territory
Universe Designate SRC-19




The Prometheus and crew were drawn steadily into the bay, and behind them, the doors to the huge cavern were closed; the ship continued into one of the large, nearby docking bays. There were others that continued deep, deep back into the ship, but they were smaller. There, huge modular segments were being rapidly connected by some sort of liquid metal-masses of nanites, in fact--to form a perfect docking cradle for the Prometheus which shortly engulfed her and locked her into place with heavy thuds along the hull. The process had only taken another five minutes at most, and, ironically, had lasted longer than the battle. It was clear that they would not leaving without the permission of the ship's commanding officer, however, that much was clear.

"Okay. The ship's secured. What do you want me to do now, my love?"

"Locate my signal on the bridge and 'subfold everyone in this room to wherever you are in the ship," Maedhv answered eagerly, and then somewhat responsibly glanced up and around. "Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to fold again, just to warn you."

Sadly, 'warning' in Maedhv's case was a split-second, but at least they were given some kind of advance notice, and were used to it by now to boot. That left only slight looks of disorientation as Zaria, Nate, Jack, Daniel, and Teal'c found themselves with the still sitting Maedhv, folded in lotus posture, in a bridge that was truly extravagant.


And waiting for them, at last, was Alarita: The creature was as tall as Maedhv, with sharp shock white alabaster skin oddly trending toward gray; alert, attentive yellow wolf's eyes, and wolf's ears ascending out of gray-white hair that ran down the back of the body. Dressed in a leather vest pulled lightly over an ornate and rufled blouse, the creature certainly had enough of a bosom to be considered female.... But, disregarding the wolf's tail out of the back, waving happily as a faintly alien face looked with desperate eagerness, and the creature moved swiftly to Maedhv's side, falling to its knees... Well, the pants were more chaps, and modesty in this case included a codpiece; all covered in turn by a microskirt which seemed there more for ornamentation. Nothing was shown, but it was clear something was Not Quite Right as Shi dived in, faintly furred and wolflike hands, noticeable claws, still quite dextrous as shi asked Maedhv in a bit of strangled surprise: "Pregnant!?"
But the word, of course, was in Ancient; it was only as Maedhv reached up and gently put a hand to Alarita's body and the hermaphrodite wolf-creature stopped in mid-sentence, as though choking with an abrupt pain, and then glanced about. "Well, urgh, hello there, companions," the voice came out now in English--it was clear that with the briefest of touches, Maedhv had simply dumped the language into her lover's brain like a quick upload.
The next question, directed toward everyone--there was a rather noticeable look in Zaria's direction, which meant shi was taking nothing for granted--was accompanied by a soft growl. "Who's the sire?"
The question, however, only made Maedhv break down into peals of laughter. "Oh by all dark gods and vengeful spirits, Alarita, we meet for the first time in aeons and your first thought is to go beat up my other partners and establish yourself as the Alpha? He's not here; I stole these kindly peoples' ship to get back to you."

Alarita sniffed, snorted, and then rose and delicately bowed toward the humans. "Then, strangers, I apologize for Maedhv's behaviour. She is the last of her kind as much as I am of mine; Alarita Curoi'larijh, at your service, ghoula-Vizier of the Queen of Alteras... And more importantly, she's my mate." A delicate glance was directed toward Maedhv, as though fishing for information.
"They know everything," Maedhv said simply.
The others, speechless until this point, finally broke their silence through Daniel. "Ah, Alarita. Maedhv kept you a mystery from us, and it’s… interesting to finally meet you.”
"So this is Alarita," Jack added, showing a lot of bewilderment. "I was expecting someone a bit more... annoying."


With a hand on hir hip, the hermaphrodite continued coolly in the English that Maedhv had just flash-imprinted into hir brain: "I bet she saved the part about me being a freed fetish slave for a surprise, though. Maedhv gets like that."
Jack's mouth hung open as he nearly spoke, then suddenly found himself uncertain of how to respond. Zaria made a half-giggle and said, "I guess I shouldn't be surprised" while smirking at an equally surprised Nate.
"I am only recently familiar with the concept of 'fetish' among the Tau'ri," Teal'c remarked stoically. "But I am not familiar with how it applies to a being like you, Alarita. Nor can I fathom why you would still be loyal to your slave master."
"Love is a powerful thing," Daniel pointed out, a bit of a blush on his face. "I am Doctor Daniel Jackson, Alarita.”


"So your lover is a hermaphrodite?" Nate asked, still seeming a bit stunned. "And a human-wolf hybrid at that?"
"Why is this odd? Shi is one of the milder fetish-slave options available in Asvin society... I had a reputation among my peers as a prude, as a matter of fact, Nate," Maedhv laughed softly, and then turned serious.
"In no small part due to the disgusting practice of the intense pleasure they'd receive from enjoying the feedback loops we can develop with highly empathic telepaths who naturally respond to the emotions of others. Their pain is our pleasure is their pleasure is our's, in a cycle of compounding enjoyment. And I never partook. But what do you think we engineered Betazeds for?" With Alarita's help, Maedhv unsteadily rose to her feet in the midst of the brilliant blue and green and red-coloured bridge, festooned with cushions and with a bit of a splendid, crazed Mesoamerican or Peruvian appearance to it, full of grand display readouts and vast holoprojects which were constantly updating the system information.
"Betazeds?" Zaria looked directly at Maedhv. "You're saying Asvins created the Betazoids?"
"Yes. And your species as well, as a baseline for parasitic fusion experiments."

Maedhv, however, was in no mood to stop, continuing with a growing hint of fury: "It's true, what the Ancients said about Asvin society. We were some of the most evil people imaginable. I custom ordered Alarita from a network catalogue, more or less. Took a basic planetary tracking model which had canine sensory capabilities and spiced it up a bit to give me someone who would be more liable to resist. Shi's a ghoula; I could kill hir right now, shi'd wake up, and be back on the bridge in an hour, seeing as how a copy of hir genetic material is held in the ship in combination with a backup of hir mind. That lets the discerning slavemaster keep a slave alive through thousands of incidences of torturing to death or whatever without losing the distinct personality. That. Is the society I came from."
"Well, now I can see why the Ancients feel the way they do," Jack remarked. "Are you sure the Goa'uld didn't find any old Asvin history books? Sounds like they could've learned a lot from your people. In a bad way, I mean."

"I suppose they could,” Maedhv answered. “But you don’t see me doing any of it now, do you? Fundamental to the beliefs if your people, is the idea that… Given enough time, individuals can change. Well, I’ve had more than enough time. Let Alarita stand in testament to that.”

“Says the professional sadist and psychopath.”

Maedhv turned to Zaria, then, pointedly ignoring Jack. "Do you at least see that I am nothing of the sort, that I did my very best even long ago? Could any peaceful process of ending war or oppression have taken place successfully without someone on the inside of the power structure willing to compromise? You are an educated scientist; you surely realize that's the truth." She looked back to the entirety of the assembled, then, and continued quietly. "To reference your recent world history--could Gandhi have succeeded without Atlee? Could Mandela have succeeded without De Klerk? Would the serfs of Russia have been liberated without Tsar Alexander the Second? It was Nixon who made peace with communist China, a reviled figure who committed crimes, and yet don't they pale before that accomplishment of bringing about detente with the most populous nation on your branch of Earth? It is not like I even hold true to the customs of my people any longer personally, either."
As the object of Maedhv's remarks, Zaria was forced to nod. As horrible as the Asvin seemed to have been - and as stunned as she was by the idea that her entire race was a creation of their's, an idea she wasn't entirely convinced of - her own judgement and the grudging agreement of a mortified Cadmilis said that Maedhv was not a part of that, not anymore. "I see your point. Otherwise I imagine you wouldn't have made that offer to me earlier, you just would have compelled me to agree."

"And what of the misguided Tau'ri you have taken in as followers back on Earth?", Teal'c asked. "I have seen such individuals before. They are in truth little more than slaves without chains, held in thrall to you. I am not convinced you have fully ended your desire to keep slaves."
"Do they want for anything, even freedom? You have my word, Teal'c, I didn't compel them. I just wanted companionship in my travels through life, and they provide it to me. And for an immortal being that is a hard thing to come by--I find companionship necessarily in lineal families where I am friends with many generations, instead of just a few people. I nurtured those people and gave them purpose in their lives--I am their sage, not their mistress. I will go back to Earth, take them with me, and they will live here as they did there. Didn't I let one become the father of my child, after all? Though she will be born with a genetic code entirely of the High Caste, that was an unforgivable blood crime in my old society, for us to reproduce with the lower castes, even when the genes were corrected to our norm. Surely my daughter will not make a slave of her father; surely, you might acknowledge, that I have drunk a surfeit of violence in my life, and they I will not do violence against their freedom now."
Alarita's expression changed to one of obvious shock as shi heard that, and hir expression grew to a bright grin, and she leaned up, and kissed hir lover on the cheek before looking to Teal'c. "Does that answer your question, good Sir? Though it has taken me a hundred thousand years, I set her on the course where, now, on being reunited, I find she has willingly committed the greatest crime a High Caste could commit--bearing offspring of her own body with a member of the lowered polluted races. It is that path of development which made me stay my hand when I once had the chance to kill her, I still maintain it was quite worthwhile to work to reform this woman, as you can see. I do believe that individuals can change, and especially so over the length of time in which we have been together. I am her ward and her lover at once; and if nothing else, you may be assured that I will not visit enslavement upon anyone, and nor shall see, whilst I remain here, and am beloved to her."

"I have heard many Goa'uld lords insist that they held my people as willing servants and not slaves, far too many to easily trust your assurances," Teal'c responded.
"It's a fair point," Alarita answered, hir look severe. "I can't say I can precisely prove my defence; you have, after all, not been around her for nearly so long as I. But you saw the power I have over this ship. This, she abandoned in my favour. That is not the act of a tyrant."
"Goa'uld have given snippets of power over their First Primes or Jaffa Councilors before because they trusted that they could reclaim it when they wished," Teal'c pointed out. "And she seemed to have little choice in the matter when she sent you away from the ship."

"How many, Teal'c, have given that power to someone clasp to their breast, with a disintegrator bomb in hir hand?" Alarita replied softly. "She is worn out, exhausted of the killing. This I promise you, though I do not ask you to believe it. Trust, though, that if you treat her honourably she will return the favour; I'm aware of what she promised you. It will be delivered."
Teal'c gave a stern gaze toward the two ancient lovers. "It is not my way to trust people such as your's." He glanced his eyes toward Daniel. "However, I do trust Daniel Jackson's judgement, and he seems convinced that your sentiments are genuine. That will have to do."
"It will have to do," Alarita agreed softly.
"Thank you, dear," Maedhv answered with a shake of her head as she looked to Zaria. "The offer was sincere. Can you not imagine the prospects for science that a million years spent with the sensors aboard this ship to play with her, her underutilized computer banks to fill, could have for your knowledge of the cosmos? It's still open. No restrictions."

"Kill her?", Daniel asked quizzingly, interrupting the conversation with his urgent curiousity. "I was under the impression that it would be virtually impossible to kill a being like Maedhv."
"Mmmm-hmm, a suicide disintegrator bomb," Alarita answered, "While a telepath was brought about under a No-field with orders to activate one of the high realm wave dysfunction devices. It's about the only way for mortals to kill a Golden Condor, and it requires you catch them in the right mental state, too. Though, I hope you'll forgive me if I don't provide you further details on how to kill the only person I have to spend eternity with." Shi glanced to Zaria. "And she is being honest, though..." Shi dropped to Maedhv's side and growled softly. "Consult me."
"Oh, of course." Nate shrugged. "Wouldn't want any of us to get ideas, and 'suicide disintegrator bomb' isn't really my kind of thing." He rather pointedly ignored the gestures of affection between the two, which left him distinctly uncomfortable in some way where homosexuality would not.
"Shi didn't even bother to tell me until afterwards about the plan and her decision, too, though it was, I admit, suitably dramatic," Maedhv muttered as she finally relented to the rather insistent stare of Alarita, having had to first provide a suitable riposte to the accusation of her slightly philandering nature, and then through some sort of silent exchange let Alarita lead her to one of the cushioned acceleration couches. "That was during the revolts at our system-sphere which led to the collapse of the Silver Age, the Second Empire if you will, whereas Alteras was the Third, or the Bronze Age," Maedhv then continued.

Nate stepped beside Zaria and remarked, in a soft and low voice, "Are you really thinking about it?"
"Cadmilis is not very pleased with the idea," Zaria replied just as softly, "but I am tempted. Though Alarita seems a bit too territorial for some of what Maedhv may have had in mind. Besides, I'm not harem girl material."
In a louder voice, Daniel asked, "So you're going to offer your followers a chance to live with you on this ship, to leave Earth behind?"
"I promised them that someday a great starship would be coming to take them off of Earth," Maedhv replied. "Should I intentionally have lied to them and promised on something I wouldn't deliver on? Of course I'm going to offer it, and you had better not try to stop me. They have their own free will to choose to accompany me."
"Well, that's their choice," Daniel answered.

"Indeed it is," Maedhv agreed, and then: "Anyway!" Her voice picked up and she snapped, now that she was relaxing more comfortably, into a rather decisive mode. "Gentlemen, Zaria, do forgive me for being so mistrusting of you. I will repay you the theft of your ship by going off to save the Gray Star from the Replicators now, and finish off the same. Would you like some refreshments as we head out?"
Alarita, then, shifted toward one of the other large display consoles and settled there, grabbing a cord from the chair which shi slotted into a part of hir neck with casual and practiced ease.. And was typing on top of it. Clearly the rate of data transfer required was very prodiguous, Maedhv had brought down a similar console while a silver-gray tendril of nanites moved to connect with her neck, rather more seamlessly. "Mmm, almost the entire ship is engulfed?" Shi asked.
"As best as I can see," Maedhv answered.
To that Jack said, "Then let's go finish the job we started. It's about time we got rid of those damned things."

"Then I'm going to need the help of your personnel and the crew on the Prometheus," Maedhv answered. "Because replicators are based off of Alteran, or Asvin technology--though I didn't create them! I have been honest about the Wraith so you can count that I really didn't, I think--I can't just disperse them easily. They're shielded to an extent against my abilities. We will need to use nanite field-disruptor grenades to take them out, corridor by corridor and room by room. The fields will disrupt and shut them down..."
"Yeah, that's a good idea," Jack interrupted, before continuing, "or you could just use your space-folding-thingy to move the Gray Star to Dakara and we'll have the Device wipe the bugs out."

"Ah, right. That is something I hadn't thought about. Well, I'm too weak to fold personally, but fortunately for you that isn't an issue." She glanced forward. "Alarita, is the No-field online and functioning within norms?"
"It is, Maedhv. We can activate on your command."
"Well, let me send a short message back to Earth, and then we'll be begin the probability calculation sequence," Maedhv answered.

A moment of pinging later, and an image opened with a black haired, tall, pregnant woman with green eyes answering. She looked shocked to the point of religious awe, and bowed... She had also clearly been topless, just pulling it on as it occurred to her modesty might be important before the image of the gods before her. Or so it seemed. Instead...

"Guru?" She nervously asked. "We have been so surprised! But you are well?"

"Quite. Henceforth it is merely necessary to call me Maedhv, Erin," Maedhv answered, accentuating slightly from her nominal legal name. "I am coming with the No-Ship I promised, on the 'morrow, to lead you all to the stars. Begin to pack--everything of value we may take with us."

"Ahh... Tomorrow!?" The eyes widened with shock and then hope as the woman bowed. "Of couse, Maedhv... I, though that seems so..."

"Terribly informal? Well, I have come into my own, and now you don't need titles to see that," Maedhv answered. "My second is here, the keeper of the ship, my mate Alarita, and together we shall all travel beyond the bounds of the galaxy. Make the necessary preparations, I ask you; I don't want to tarry long over Earth on the 'morrow. It would be impolite."

"Of course, ..Maedhv. And thank you. Thank you because.." She took a breath, Erin did, and nearly looked to be crying. "I dreamed but..."

"Some dreams really do come true," Maedhv smiled indulgently. "See you tomorrow--though I'll activate this channel again in a few hours to check on how preparations are going."

"Don't strain yourself when with child," Maedhv reminded gently. She cut the message, apparently quite satisfied.




Near Forks, Washington
Earth, United States of America




Former NID agent Sid Sattler was one of the top operatives in the Trust who was still unaware of his bosses having been taken over by Goa'uld hosts. The thin, unassuming man of brown hair and blue eyes was sitting in the back of a dark van, gun in hand, as the group of operatives and hired guns made their way into the Washington countryside.
"Remember, we don't want anyone dead. Not yet," Sattler remarked. "These people are poor brainwashed saps being held against their will by a Snakehead, and we're here to get the Snakehead's goodies first and foremost. Kill only if we need to." He was answered by a series of nods.
"Also, remember your fake IDs," Sattler added, holding up his own to identify himself as an entirely different NID operative. The others showed the same. "We're going in as NID with the authority to take over the operation. Once we're established we'll quietly get everyone else out of the way so we can get to looking for the alien technology." Another series of nods answered him.

They arrived at the Temple of the Wheel of Dharma with it already having been secured. Adults and children looked on nervously at the armed men milling about while the van came to a stop at the central building of the compound. Sattler led everyone in getting out, pulling his own fake ID badge out to identify himself. "I'm Agent Louis Callahan," he informed the first man who came up as introduction. "NID. We're here to take over."
"Okay, Agent Callahan, I'm Agent Joe Sacklin," the youngish-looking FBI agent replied. "I'm kinda surprised they sent you all the way from Washington for this raid, we were ordered out here with the Border Patrol on suspicion that they were harboring illegals, but we've found no signs of them. No guns, either."
"We've been keeping an eye on this cult and their leader for some time," Sattler answered. "We believe that they may pose a threat to national security and possess classified information. Because of you and your men not having the right clearance level, we need you to keep away from the central building while we search it. Just keep the peace out here."
"Yes sir, Agent Callahan," Sacklin answered, leaving Sattler and his men to enter the central compound unmolested.




Erin Fitzgerald stood as the leader of the group, the most trusted of Maedhv's humans, watching darkly as the other men arrived. She rather suspected they were powerful ones, having a hint of the communication that was going on from the high ways that she had been taught. But they would keep the faith; only just before - hours before! - had Maedhv promised to be coming soon with her great ship, the Guru from the sky, and this was merely a moment of tribulation. She gathered her coat around her, and approached the nearest of the regular FBI personnel milling around. "Forgive me, Sir, but if my knowledge of the law is correct, only officers of the law can execute a warrant. Are the men who've just arrived sworn officers of the law? They're not marked like the rest of your personnel."
"They're special personnel," was the laconic answer; the FBI, like other agencies, was under standing order to not freely discuss the NID.

"Very well," Erin sighed softly, and turned back to walk over to Markus in the group, the sire of the Guru's unborn child. "Markus, take note of those men in case it becomes legally important, if you would," she whispered softly, the man having excellent memory.

"Alright, Erin," he answered rather tautly, watching them finishing going inside while Erin joined most of the other women in setting down with their skirts folded on the grass, waiting patiently.




Sattler and his people were using the scanning devices they'd been provided to look over the central structure with a fine-tooth comb, seeking any signs of Goa'uld or other advanced tech to be recovered. So far they'd found nothing but some unknown power sources, clearly not from a grid. This led them to what was clearly the room of "the Guru", the suspected Snakehead. "Definitely something here," he remarked to the others, reading the low-level power source. But there was nothing to be found. "Have them bring us some cultists, maybe they've seen something."



Erin had frowned when she was separated from the others, clearly being the leader, and led downstairs into the great temple, and the sacred room. She was not surprised to see the unmarked agents there, and folded her arms as she entered. "Is there something I can help you gentlemen with? These rooms are the private sanctum of the Guru, you know..." She added a trace testily, but then shrugged, "Though I admit your legal right to search them."

"Thank you for that, Miss. Speaking of your Guru... what can you tell me about her? Ever see her up to... interesting stuff in this room?"

"Ah, well, she makes the golden door appear, and sometimes she talks to the walls in the old language," Erin answered simply, and then smiled very faintly. "I'm not sure whether or not the golden door could actually be found, but it's in the middle of the far wall. I have never seen it except when she is present, and wished for it to be seen."
"And that's it?" Sattler nodded to one of his men. "Okay, get everyone out of here. Set the charges."
Erin sucked in her breath, but then bowed slightly in respect to the room, her eyes closing. There was nothing more to be said; the government would destroy it at will, but the Guru was returning swiftly, and she allowed herself to be led out.
Within seconds of everyone being out of the room an explosion rocked the structure. It was a focused charge and didn't make the building unsound, but it would knock down any hidden door. They re-entered the room to find that despite the explosion the wall still remained completely intact.
"God dammit, something's not right here," Sattler remarked, walking toward the unchanged wall. He reached for the wall to feel it.
And his hand passed right through.
"What the Hell?" He looked to the others. "Some kind of hologram, then. Okay, Robbins, Lewis, you're with me, Horace, you stay here." With that order given Sattler swallowed and stepped into the wall and the chamber beyond.

Erin, listening outside, from where she had been escorted by the FBI agents when ordered to depart, could only bow her head and softly weep, as did many of the others, at the desecration of a sacred place, and hope that the Guru would swiftly return. There was nothing else left to be done.




Gray Star, Alliance Space
Universe Designate AR-12



The counter was getting to eight minutes with a number of life pods full enough that they were being launched. Data observed the first launch via instruments from Main Engineering, while another display showed the advance of the Replicators through the ship. "I calculate that we must buy five more minutes before we can safely evacuate without giving the Replicators time to disable enough charges to prevent the destruction of the ship," he remarked to Kharaste and Sam, who was busy readying the naquadah reactor to overload as a backup to the self-destruct. "Colonel, you should join the evacuation as soon as your preparations are done."
"That's not necessary, Captain," Sam answered.
"Your expertise with this technology is of great value to your people," Data pointed out to her. "Your presence is not necessary and would be a waste."
Sam looked over and up at him from where she was operating the reactor controls. "I'm not in the habit of abandoning people to be blown up."
"Nor am I, but... I have been blown up before, and I calculate a point zero zero six percent chance I would survive this occasion in some salvagable condition. Your chance of survival is as impossible as mathematics permits," Data said. "Therefore..."

"Captain, our remaining sensors are detecting a massive space distortion," Kharaste reported from across Main Engineering. "Whatever it is, it's... big."
"On screen." A Minbari-style holographic display came down above them from the ceiling, showing a massive vessel, at least eighteen kilometers in length by Data's preliminary estimate given a nearby life pod on the screen, coming alongside them.
"By the Lord Justice, what is that?" Kharaste gasped.
"Colonel Carter, do you recognize this vessel or its configuration?", Data asked.
"No, no I don't," was her astonished response. "But if I had to guess..."

Moments later Nate appeared nearby, "phased" might be the best term, with Jack, Zaria, and Teal'c alongside. Seeing the self-destruct counter on, Nate said, "Captain, cancel the scuttling!"
Slightly widening his eyes and making subtle shifts in facial expression to show bewilderment, Data remarked, "General, it is imperative that we prevent the Replicators..."
"Don't worry about the Replibugs, Her Mightyness has her big honking spaceship back," Jack answered, "and we have a plan."
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-11 09:50pm 

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Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8423
Location: Florida USA
Chapter 13




Gray Star, Alliance Space
Universe Designate AR-12



"Alright, Ladies and Gentlemen, Officers of the Treaty Organization," a polite alto sounded over the comm--not Maedhv, for a change, in echo to Jack's words. "The Xihuatlatl will be taking you under our nullification field for the fold into Dakara orbit where the Gray Star may be cleansed of replicator infestation."

A normal officer might have hesitated for several moments, taking the time to process the situation and decide whether to trust in the sudden change of fortune. Data was by no means normal, however, and he mentally processed the risk and benefits well within the confines of a second. "Very well," was his reply. "Computer, this is Captain Data, Identification Code Data Charlie Oscar Tango Tango Zulu Sierra Zulu. Cancel automatic scuttling charges."
Kharaste looked at Data for a moment before confirming the order with his own code. The two senior-most officers' orders sufficed to shut down the scuttling.
"We are ready for you to begin, Xihuatlatl," Data said over the comms, repeating the No-Ship's name perfectly as Alarita had done.
"Confirmed. Stand by for tractor field lock..." A few moments later, the hull of the mangled Gray Star shuddered bodily, and the ship began to be slowly reeled inwards toward the steadily filling bulk of the Xihuatlatl. "We recommend that the personnel aboard be evacuated to the Xihuatlatl while the fold and cleansing operations take place," the voice continued rather conversationally. "General O'Neill can, I think, confirm our intentions."

"If Her Mightyness was going to screw us over I think she would've done so by now," Jack confirmed.
Nate gave Jack a bemused look. "Captain, General O'Neill's sarcasm aside, she's sincere," he added. "The crew will be safe."
Kharaste gave Data a look that belied some skepticism. Data, however, had already thought it over quite well. "This is Captain Data to all hands, cancel evacuation and prepare for transport."

"I won't let her screw you over, General, promise," the voice answered. "We read about four hundred and fifty-eight life forms aboard presently, bringing them all over."
With no further ado, the transfer effect was repeated. The huge command-and-control bridge of the Xihuatlatl was such that they could be easily accommodated in it, though only the immediate personnel within engineering were in fact brought over to the vast bridge, with the central dais where two figures sat locked into banks of machinery in acceleration couches, standing off distantly. The whole of the bridge was as sumptuous as the main portion, more like a luxury hotel than a command center for all that the reports scrolled across the screens in deadly earnest.
Alarita turned to look with hir animalistic red eyes over the arrivals, while, on the sides, a few hideous beasts appeared. They looked like wolves but were the size of Kodiak Max grizzly bears, and had bony protrusions growing out all over their bodies so that few patches of fur were visible, with mounted guns and several cybernetic plates matched onto them. Daniel was where he had been left, by Maedhv's side.
"Should I dispatch medical robots to the barracks we transported the crew to?" Alarita asked politely.

"That would be welcomed, yes," Data answered. He took in the entirety of the spacious bridge in the span of an instant, slowed more by the need to turn his head and look around than his ability to process and store what he saw. "Your vessel is quite impressive."

"Oh, not a problem," Alarita answered, turning back to hir console. "And thank you. She's quite impressive--sorry about the Dire Wolves, but they're really our equivalent of your security personnel." Shi tapped in another few commands, and the cyborg beasts bounded out of the bridge, while Maedhv turned her command chair on the dais to face them.
"My mate speaks very true words, Captain Data. The Xihuatlatl is worth an entire starfleet's worth of dreadnoughts, I would say without boasting, though she is the last No-Ship of the Asvin Empire."

"Judging by the size and relative age I would believe your non-boast more truth than exaggeration. However, at the moment I am more concerned by the continued Replicator infestation on the Gray Star. With the crew transported off and no longer able to inflict attrition on their growing numbers and impede their advancement, they will undoubtedly overrun the ship's critical systems within five minutes."

"Understood," Maedhv turned back. The Gray Star was brought close to the huge ship until the tractor beam held it steady a few hundred meters distant, and from the inside, the external views on the holograph flicked off and black.
"It's to protect the crew," Alarita explained softly.
The black dropped a minute or two later, and they were floating serenely over Dakara. "Maedhv?"
"I'll take care of it," Maedhv answered, concentrating for a moment.
“She’s establishing the telemetry interface with the systems disruption cannon on the surface,” Alarita explained. “Though I understand you have a different name for it.”

"Take your time," Jack remarked with some sarcasm.

"Drop the tractors and manoeuvre the ship to a safe distance, darling," Maedhv commented while ignoring Jack.

"I don't know about you guys, but I'm starting to feel rather unneeded." Nate looked over to Data, ignoring for the moment Maedhv and Alarita's progress. "Captain, how many did we lose?"
"Although we do not have a full count yet, at last check we had an estimated ninety-one fatalities and seventy wounded," Data replied.

"Right, widening parabolic orbit by five arc seconds," Alarita replied coolly, the image of the GrayStar growing more distant on the screen very rapidly as the ship moved without the slightest quiver or indication of acceleration despite the utterly tremendous bulk of the hull.
"Standing off at four hundred thousand prasan."
"Initiating..." Maedhv activated the Dakara device with a further command from the telemetry uplink, and watched as the shot washed over the hull of the Gray Star, then hit it with a systematic high-end scanning pulse. "All nanite functions in the target are null. You've got your ship back, General."

"Excellent news," Nate said. "You can transport us back over now so we can start fixing her up."

"Nanite infection around tractor node 946," Alarita abruptly glanced up, an eyebrow raised and hir ears perked. "I've activated the automatic security systems. They must have fed themselves into the beam while we were holding the ship--they've been able to disable the tractor node, Maedhv."
"Isolate it and authorize the defense systems to interface and conduct data retrieval sweeps as they destroy the contaminants."
"On it."

"Just how hard is it to kill these things?!" Nate gave a look to SG-1.
"Hey, don't look at us, we had our's killed, it was your people who gave a few an escape route," Jack shot back.
"Why don't you just fire the Dakara Device again?" Sam asked Maedhv.

"Can't," Alarita answered with a prompt and rather affectionately amused look. "It's a Systems Disruptor. It's designed to kill the automatic repairing nanite systems on cruisers of this rate and scale, so, shooting it at the Xihuatlatl would disable our ability to repair the ship, unless Maedhv managed to hide a Class Four repair yard somewhere."
"I... well, that's not important," Maedhv muttered softly, and then, louder: "It's not an issue. We used to launch nanite attacks loaded with computer viruses and so on at each other all the time back in the Good Old Days, so to speak. The nanites on these ships function essentially like their immune systems, and our's is learning how to beat Replicators in times best measured in nanoseconds."

At that revelation Jack and Nate shared cursory glances, joined a moment later by Teal'c. Each tried not to think what they were thinking given Maedhv's telepathy but it was the kind of thought they couldn't help: that it was a weakness in the Xihuatlatl if things turned south.

"And...." Maedhv gestured with a flourish, and a few blue lights in the ceiling activated.... And a second Samantha Carter was standing there, looking furious.
"...Well, I didn't expect these Replicators to consist of Samantha," Maedhv muttered in some evident surprise.

"Fifth made a copy of me," Sam responded, staring at her Replicator clone. "She must have been embedded herself in the programming of each individual nanite."

"Quite interesting. Did not think you the sort to make a gamble at being a conquering Queen," Maedhv observed with some jovialty, and then focused her attention on RepliCarter. "So, I am the High Queen of Alteras and this is my ship, the Xihuatlatl. You are welcome to defend yourself from the various charges that these fine people..." Maedhv gestured over toward SG1.. "Have made against you."

"I am like any human. I desire power. And unlike my other self, I have... had the means and the will to take it," was the blue-tinged copy's defiant retort.
"You didn't just betray us, you betrayed Fifth, your own creator," Samantha pointed out. "You used us both to get what you wanted."
"I would do it again. I am the ultimate in human development, Samantha, don't you see? I can do the things you could never bring yourself to." Directing her attention to Maedhv, RepliCarter said, "What about you? You're clearly not one of them. You're just like me. I've seen it. You've done a good job isolating me from your ship's control systems but I have found access to your archives, 'High Queen of Alteras'." RepliCarter smiled with a wicked kind of mirth. "You're just like me, Maedhv Curoi'larijh. I actually hope you spare my life just so I can see you succeed where I failed."

"You know, once upon a time I would have, as a simple professional task--you understand this very well--killed you as a security threat. Now," Maedhv shrugged. "We've both tried our own gambles at success in this universe, and we've both failed, repeatedly now. I grant you I could try again, if I wanted, but unfortunately, you're slightly wrong--I'm the pinnacle of hominid evolution--And yet Nirrti still can beat me with one hand tied behind her back, most likely. So it’s wise to never get cocky just because you can claim the top of your own weight class-there’s probably one above you. I suppose you can claim Homo Sapiens for yourself, but that isn't really much to write home about. Nor are you in any position to do much, one way or another. You are, I trust, completely unrepentant?"

"Of course I’m unrepentant. Why should I be repentant? I have no real existance as long as she," RepliCarter indicated her fresh-and-blood counterpart standing nearby, "still lives. I'm just the copy made by a pathetic lovesick excuse for a being. But I got him out of the way with Samantha's help and suddenly I wasn't just a copy anymore. I had the power to conquer a galaxy. I would have held it all. Every world, every speck of dust a part of my being."

"You would have never known the Hidden World, though. And for that, I pity you. But. If that is what you want--have it." Maedhv gestured subtly to Alarita, and abruptly the hologram vanished.
"And... that's it?" Jack stared where the hologram had been for a moment. "She's gone?"
"No, we just transferred her to part of the ship's computer--she's just a computer programme now, all the nanites are removed. In the segment of the computer we've isolated, she is, right now, finding herself on the bridge of this ship, alone, with the entire galaxy programmed for her to conquer. Like I said, she wanted it, so she can have it." Maedhv laughed softly. "Of course, it's my galaxy at the height of the Golden Age. We'll see how long she lasts with just one No-Ship at her command."

"Suitable, I suppose," Daniel remarked. "But I am more curious about this 'Hidden World'."
"Oh, well, that's the proper term for what the Ancients reside in," Maedhv answered. "It's much more useful than they realize, though, because they can't see beyond it, and in doing so, they can't really understand it, either." Maedhv unstrapped herself from her chair, disconnected the computer interface linkages, and stood up. "If you'll excuse me for a moment, though, Daniel, I made a promise to Jack--and I should probably be sending Data, and Nate, and the rest of the GrayStar's crew back to the ship shortly, too."
She stepped over one of the walls of the bridge, marked by a recessed handle, which she grabbed and flung open with some decision, pulling open a second door to the other side. There was a variety of unidentifiable equipment--and some of it very obvious, like an axe--there, but most importantly along the top were fourteen ZPMs. "I believe I promised you a sundry collection of portable emergency generators, yes?"
All four members of SG-1 betrayed a great sense of surprise at the quantity of ZPMs present. Finally Jack seemed to find his voice. "Uh... yeah. I think you did."
Sam was busy counting them. "...twelve... fourteen ZPMs? That's incredible, we had to scour the galaxy just to find one nearly-empty ZPM! And you have fourteen in what looks like an emergency stores closet!"

"That's exactly what it is. Come, let me show you!" Maedhv was laughing, as she walked in her boots to the other side of the bridge with a swaying gate, and Alarita rose up, laughing in merry delight at hir lover's merriment. Maedhv reached the other side of the cavernous bridge, and threw open another storage closet. There were also fourteen ZPMs in it.
"Zero-point modules are relatively low power, but source-independent systems which draw from nearby energy fields in the same way I can, as you may realize. The reactors of this ship rely on forcing larger versions of them which draw power from another universe instead of subspace--supercharging them, if you will--with a Naquadriah reaction process to overgenerate. This is, indeed, where all of what you call Naquadah comes from; it is the waste matter from the reactors of ships which use this two stage process, and which we can take and refine back into Naquadriah, like nuclear fuel reprocessing, to refuel our ships with. That sort of manipulation is well above your capabilities, but for the moment, these portable energy generators are therefore useful to you, and like I promised, you shall have them."
"Wow. I'm actually starting to like this whole mess now." With a chuckle Jack proclaimed, "We'll take fifty!" This brought him a concerned look from Daniel.
"Done," Maedhv answered without a trace of hesitation. "Collect these, and perhaps have Captain Data assign some of his men to carry the rest from the corridor bays I'll open right up for you down to the Prometheus so that you can get them stored away. I can also have Alarita send the rest of his crew back to the GrayStar, and his person, if he wishes."

"We thank you for your assistance," Data stated. "I will arrange for crew to transfer some of these ZPM devices to the Gray Star." Around him other members of the Gray Star engineering crew were still taking in the sights a bit, though they had been paying attention to the drama involving RepliCarter and the revelation of the ZPMs. They all disappeared as Maedhv sent them back to the Gray Star.

To the side Jack had picked up his radio. "Pendergast, can you hear me?"
A moment passed before a voice came over. "We hear you Colonel."
"How are the repairs going?"
"We managed to shave a bit off of the repair time for the hyperdrive, it should be ready in a couple hours or so."
"That's good, that's good. We're going to be transferring some sensitive cargo to you momentarily, put it in high security storage."

"And, furthermore, since I have treated you so roughly this long while, let me give you a further gift," Maedhv turned back from the entrance to the bridge with a smiling flourish. "How would you like the command codes to the Node Five-Eighty Defensive battery, the location of which the Ancient base you discovered used to be a secondary support facility of? It's almost drained of power, but you have plenty of ZPMs now to run it with."
"Sure, why not? Granted, the Goa'uld are going down now and the Replicators are finally history, but you never know what's out there."
Maedhv rather coyly laughed at Jack's answer as she turned back to the corridor to keep rifling through her own damage control bins. "No, you don't."





Maedhv returned to the bridge a while later, having secured the transfer of the requested 50 ZPMs down to the Prometheus and overseen the shifting of the crew; along the way she'd made sure that the medical assistance robots had done their best, and surprised Dr. Constantine by healing a couple of the worst-off cases personally, a grimacing, horrifying-looking process of melting one of her hands into an amorphous gray-green ooze of nanites which reconstructed flesh more or less instantaneously before reforming. It was definitely a further indication of her capabilities, and she'd done it without complaint, or hesitation that it would reveal things.
With the ship once again emptied of all save three souls--Daniel Jackson, herself, and Alarita, who was lounging on the bridge watching the Jaffa fleet which was pacing them , with a rather idle expression on hir face--Maedhv found it more than a little lonely. But there was, of course, a way to permanently solve all of that. "So, Daniel Jackson, are you starting to realize that I really am not harming the people who came to me for wisdom and support?"

It was a moment before Daniel replied. After everything that had happened he realized that he'd been right about Maedhv, something he could now say openly. "I do," he said to her directly. "I do believe you are sincere and don’t wish them harm.”
"Thank you. Giving you those ZPMs was a huge risk for me, too, you know. It will massively change the balance of power here, and yet, I not merely give them, but promise you the defensive batteries on Earth. And this despite the fact that I’ve figured out why you want the ZPMs.” She paused, and looked at him levelly. “You mentioned you had a base in Pegasus, as the reason why you wanted them, but I think I know the reason why.”
"Yes. To aid and re-power the city of Atlantis so it can withstand the Wraith. I guess you're not happy with that?"
"It has to be done," Maedhv answered. "I fucked up big time by leaving the Wraith to their own devices, and you've got as much right to defend yourselves as anyone else." She delicately settled into her command chair and gestured to one of the empty consoles nearby. "Have a seat, Daniel. I'm going to contact the people in the commune, tell them to get ready. Go in, fold them into the ship with their possessions, and send you down. Nobody'll notice the ship."
"You know, it's not too late with the Wraith. Maybe you could talk them into finding an alternative to feeding on Humans in the Pegasus Galaxy," Daniel said somewhat hopefully as he found a seat.

"I am their mommy," Maedhv agreed with some undisguised affection as she gently rubbed her own stomach, so strange to hear from someone about the Wraith. "Well, let's call home." She reached to one of the consoles at her side and ran her fingers across the surface in an artful dance of commands, so that a hologram formed, misty, of a room in what was presumably the commune, empty at the moment, and, curiously, with the green curtain in front of the door having been torn down. "Hmm. That's odd. I guess they took it down--rather literal 'pack everything up'. Erin! Erin! You there!? " She might be able to instantaneously connection, but the problem of actually summoning someone was obvious, and Maedhv spent the next few minutes waiting patiently and occasionally shouting through the feed for someone to show up.

Finally someone did. And the figure who arrived didn't strike Daniel as a hippy commune dweller, given it was a balding tan-skinned man in sunglasses and a dark suit. Oh no was the thought that went through his head, remembering that Jack had returned to the SGC to inform them of their information on Maedhv's whereabouts in Washington State.
The figure looked at them through the display and specifically at Maedhv. His eyes widened for a moment and he turned to run.
Maedhv raised her hand, and as she did, the man staggered and started to choke violently, falling to the floor. "Don't run away like that. You're first going to tell me what you did to my people. As long as this channel is open--and you can't turn it off--I can kill you fairly easily over it. But I won't. Yet." She released him, and glanced to Daniel with a frown, but didn't speak, waiting for an answer.

Gurgling, trying to get some breath, the man began rasping. "If I die... they'll... shoot...."
"Oh, isn't this a gigantic fucking mess." She glanced to Daniel, for that matter Alarita was staring with evident consternation as well. "Is he serious?"
"I think he is..." Daniel looked to Maedhv before walking into the field of vision of the holographic comm device. "Listen, pal, I don't know what you and your people think you're doing there, but if you know what's good for you you'll clear out now."
"Snakehead..."
"No, she's not a Goa'uld," Daniel said insistantly. "Who are you, what are you doing there?"
Instead the figure had begun turning away from the monitor. A raspy "Help!" came from his throat. "Help!"
Maedhv raised her hand slightly, again, and again, then, the man was choking, though once again Maedhv released him before he died, though she certainly let him black out, for a moment, as the release of her power let him fall to the floor, and she glanced to Daniel with an unpleasant expression. "It appears that you have betrayed me."

Daniel saw the look on Maedhv's face and realized that everything had completely turned south. "No. No we haven't. Listen, Maedhv, whoever they are, they're not with the SGC."
Maedhv shrugged. "I'm not an idiot. Stargate Command is just a component of the Federal Government of the United States of America. Hell, I voted in the recent elections. The fact that I believe you when you say Stargate Command didn't do it is immaterial--that just makes it worse, because it means someone at an even higher level of your government sanctioned it. Now let's see what this bastard's calls for help brings into my looking-glass."
With nothing appearing, Daniel continued. "Maedhv... I don't think this is the government either," he protested.



Near Forks, Washington
Earth, United States of America



The door to the central building flew open. One of Sattler's men came out, wide-eyed and clearly frightened. "It's Horace! Something's wrong with Horace!"
"What? Woh, calm down...." Sattler got close and noticed that FBI Agent Sacklin and his two compatriots were paying far too much attention to them now.
Still frantic, the Trust man - one of the hired guns - blurted out, "Sattler, something's choking him, but I can't see..."
Sattler blanched, and for good reason. The use of his real name and not his cover - "Agent Callahan" - immediately brought attemption from Sacklin. "Hey, wait," Sacklin began. "What's going on...."
Seeing little choice, Sattler pulled out his gun and spun around. His first round hit Sacklin between the eyes, killing him instantly. The other two FBI men still in the compound area acted on instinct, going for their sidearms. Unfortunately for them, Sattler's team was faster and more on the ball. Before either could pull the trigger on their weapons they were gunned down.

"You idiot!" Sattler punched the man who'd come out of the compound. He didn't wait to see the man sprawl out on the ground before turning to the cultists. He was always one to plan ahead, and now that this had happened.... He grabbed Erin by the arm and forced her to her feet. As she began to protest he thrust the gun into her hand briefly, holding it by the barrel, just long enough for her to touch it before he wrenched it out of her grasp in case she got any ideas. "There. Your prints are on a gun used in the slaying of federal agents," he informed her. "Now we can shoot you all and it looks like you're a bunch of crackpots who resisted arrest."

"It's okay," Erin answered, finally not caring enough. "Someone's choking in there? You do realize what that means, don't you? She's coming back for us, like she promised. We won't resist you with violence, though you might try to make it seem like we have. We'll wait--I bet she didn't even kill the man. Maedhv is very compassionate like that. She's brought her starship, and she's coming to take us to the stars, and you won't be able to stop her."
"Shut up!" Sattler grabbed Erin around the neck. "Keep an eye on the rest of them. Somebody moves, you shoot!" He dragged Erin into the central compound building and toward the secret room, his mind racing. Whatever Snakehead trap Horace had set off he was still worried that the Goa'uld would actually be coming back, which meant he wouldn't be able to get any examples of their technology as he was ordered to.
Erin just focused her mind on breathing, and offered no resistance, nor did anyone else; they just sat down, and quietly waited as Erin was dragged away, not even complaining.

Sattler dragged her into the secret room. He found Horace on the floor, his hands at his throat and his breathing very restricted. He brought his gun closer to Erin's head and walked into the room. "Okay, Snakehead, I know you're here somewhere!", he shouted. "You've got ten seconds to let him go and give us what we want or we start shooting hippies!"
Maedhv had been waiting for Sattler, and now she let the holographic projector in the room reveal the full panoply of the Bridge of the Xihuatlatl, including Daniel and Alarita. "So I see I finally have someone responsible. Fine." She abruptly, and completely, released Horace and settled back in the hologram. "What, exactly, do you want?"

Sattler was taken aback immediately. He'd seen images of Goa'uld ships and what was inside and the vessel was clearly nothing like a Goa'uld ship. "Listen, we know you've got technology hidden here, we want it."
"Who do you work for?", Daniel asked.
"None of your damned business! Now let go of my man or the shooting starts!"
"You don't want to do that," Daniel said in a warning tone. "You harm a hair on their heads and all bets are off."
"He's been released, you stupid dolt, he's just unconscious," Maedhv sighed in exasperation and looked to her wolfen lover. "Alarita! Battle condition--stand by to Fold--target destination Sacred Terra." She turned back, very levelly, to Sattler. "You want my technology? Okay, I'll bring it to you."
"No funny business!"





No-Ship Xihuatlatl, In Orbit over Dakara
Universe Designate SRC-19




Maedhv slumped back as she looked at the empty space where the projector had been. "The Ancients will be back to attack us again on top of everything else. Alarita, prepare to raise the phase disruption shields."
"Right, Maedhv," Alarita leaned over and unlocked a section of the panel, triggering a series of commands. Several status fields went blue. "Phase disruption operating normally. This is the first time we've done this in combat since the Battle of the Sphere, isn't it?"
"Maybe earlier. Never had a need for them since then, anyway. If you'd please, my love?"
"Activating fold drive." Alarita growled softly in anticipation as shi selected the necessary keys and settled back into hir seat as the external displays turned black for unknown 'safety' reasons. A few seconds later, the external displays snapped back into view, and with them was revealed the shining orb of Earth.

Daniel watched with a great deal of apprehension as the Xihuatlatl finished it's Fold and emerged into space not far from Earth. Perhaps too close to Earth at that. "Using your capabilities, couldn't you just transport your people up here and leave whomever those men were with an empty compound?"
"That's exactly what I'm going to do. In fact, the ship can do it." Maedhv started jacking herself into all the ship systems, establishing connections which let her briefly lower the phase disruption shields. Transport was effected simultaneously, with Erin appearing on the bridge and the others in the habitation modules which had secured the Gray Star's crew.

Erin pushed herself up in shock from where before she'd been kneeling, with a gun pointed at her, to see the sumptuous bridge that the Guru--that Maedhv--had been on before, and the curious creature and man both with her. She rose, and looked levelly at Maedhv, reminded of the admonition not to show her obesience ever again. "...Maedhv?"

"Maedhv Curoi'larijh," Maedhv agreed simply, and gestured to Alarita. "Alarita Curoi'larijh, my mate who's been in hibernation for the past few aeons. Hir primacy is a gentle one, fear not, and shi teaeses me about my other lovers..."

"...But I don't hurt them," Alarita agreed with a welcoming smile. "You've done wonders for Maedhv, anyway. Welcome aboard the Xihuatlatl."
"I, uh," Erin took in a deep breath. "Thank you so much. I don't understand at all why they were repressing us like that, Maedhv, we'd done nothing wrong...."
"Because homo sapiens and Responsible Government are contradictions by definition," Maedhv answered a bit acerbically. "Don't worry about it, though. I'll arrange flash training and nanite courses for everyone, shortly, but if you'd folllow one of the maintenance robots below, I need you to explain the situation to everyone, and just encourage them to relax and celebrate. I have some business to take care of."
"Of course." She paused, and stared at Daniel. "Though, who's he?"
"I'm not sure myself," Maedhv answered cryptically, and watched as the somewhat confused Erin left the bridge.

"Are you thinking I was responsible for that situation?", Daniel asked as Erin left.
"No, it's about admitting that I'm not sure what you really are. Consider it a compliment, Daniel." Maedhv answered. "I don't know if you're the real Daniel or not, honestly. So I've decided to withhold judgement. Fair enough?"
"Sure, that's fair enough," he agreed, understanding she was referring to the fact he was once Ascended.
"Good, because you're not going to like what I'm going to do next." Maedhv finished speaking at the same time that Sattler appeared on the bridge via the fold process. "You asked for my technology, and here it is. Now, Mister Sattler," Maedhv was laughing in an almost droll way, "I'm going to find out every little detail of your existence, from the moment your dad slipped GHB into your mom's beer."
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-11 09:51pm 

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Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
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Location: Florida USA
Chapter 14




Stargate Command, Cheyenne Mountain
Earth, United States of America
Universe Designate SRC-19



Colonel Davis was in O'Neill's office doing administrative paperwork - and grumbling mightily about O'Neill's paperwork habits - when he got called to the Gate Control Room. He went straight there and was met by Harriman. "Sergeant?"
"We just picked up a new contact within the lunar orbit of Earth, Colonel." Harriman brought Davis over to a computer screen. With a few key presses it brought up a view of a ship. A big ship. "It's like nothing we've seen before."
Davis' jaw clenched a little. "Thanks, Sergeant," he said before picking up a red phone in the Control Room. "Get me President Hayes immediately," he said upon an answer coming from the other end.




No-Ship Xihuatlatl, Near Earth
Universe Designate SRC-19




Rather than even bother to let Sattler answer the comment, Maedhv just stared at him. And as she stared, his body started to quiver, and shake, and he began to whimper uncontrollably, his eyes also blinking uncontrollably as he sank down to his knees. She was quiet, and Alarita, for hir part, simply continued to monitor the systems as though nothing was happening.
But it was happening, as Sattler's eyes rolled back in his head, and blood started to trickle out of his nose and ears. "A bit to much for you, isn't it?" Maedhv commented nastily, though she knew Sattler couldn't even communicate at that moment. "Traitor. A traitor to your own people, disobeying your lawful chain of command to work for this Trust. Well, that explains it."
With a last disgusted expression of fury, Maedhv turned away from Sattler, and he dropped to the floor with a strangled scream, body convulsing uncontrollably though not dead--yet, anyway. "Alarita, if you'd locate the main communications node on the planet's continent contiguous with the trace signal from my comms network?"

Walking over to where Sattler was laying on the floor of the bridge, Daniel looked down at him and then back up at Maedhv. "What did you do to him?"
"I downloaded all the stored contents of his brain into my own," Maedhv answered casually. "Don't worry, I just copied it. He might recover."
"Oh." He watched as a maintenance robot trundled over, grabbing Sattler and lifting him up to leave with him-Daniel hoped it was to sickbay, but knew better than to ask by this point.

"I have the central node up," Alarita reported.
"Override it, black out all their communications channels and replace them with a direct feed to the bridge--audio only."
"Got it." Alarita turned back expectantly. "You're on, Maedhv."
It was probably the oldest piece of equipment on the bridge, a wired handset which let the Captain communicate privately with someone on an audio channel which could prevent hacking attempts or data transmissions. Maedhv pulled it up, and started talking. It was simple, and pretty blunt. "Someone connect this line to the Oval Office, please. I'm the commander of the alien warship in orbit."
There was a short pause on the other end before a voice asked, "Wait, who is this? How did you get into a secured line?"
"Transfer the connection; this isn't a joke. If we can override your security protocols we're obviously not some collection of random idiots. You have five minutes."
Hearing the impatient tone in Maedhv's voice and just what it entailed, Daniel stepped forward. "Um, may I?" Daniel indicated the handset.
Maedhv frowned for a moment, then shrugged, and offered the handset over to Daniel.
Daniel took it. "Whoever is there, authorization code Sierra Golf Charlie Seven Two Seven One Nine Nine Seven. Please connect me to the President immediately."
After several moments a reply came from the other end. "The President will be with you shortly."
"Thank you." Daniel handed the handset back to Maedhv.
"Well, you're unusually well connected for a ground-pounding research scientist on a front-line team."
"Yeah, um, I overheard Jack use that code once when trying to reach the President," Daniel confessed. Wanting to keep a peaceful rapport with Maedhv given how the situation was developing, he added, "Let's keep that between us?"
"I think that's going to get blown wide open, but you can always say it was under duress," Maedhv answered laconically before bringing the handset back up to her ear and settling back in the chair to which she was connected by sundry wires and interfaces.

After another minute the voice of an older man came on the line. "This is Hayes."
"Ah, hello, Your Excellency. This is commander Xihuatlatl to the President of the United States. You'll forgive me for using subterfuge in obtaining the authorization code but random transmissions weren't being taken seriously and I have a member of SG-1 aboard; I am the alien vessel in orbit. Please understand that we conducted an interrogation of one of your National Intelligence Directorate personnel who was involved in an act of terrorism against some of our subjects who indicates that there's a large false-flag operation called The Trust which has subordinated your NID and placed agents inside of your so-called Stargate Command. I'm here to insure that The Trust is completely dismantled and all of its personnel are handed over to my people for trial on terrorism charges. The terms we'd use for this are very different, but I'm phrasing it in ways that you're expected to be understand, and I hope that's sufficient." Maedhv settled back afterwards, and waited, expecting that it would take quite some time for an answer to get back to her.
"Wait, your subjects? What is this about?" Hayes' voice betrayed his confusion. "Just what the hell is going on?"
"I think it's straightforward, Your Excellency. I'm sending a data burst accompanying this transmission, specifying all known Trust operations within your territory. If I don't receive permission to conduct precision strikes against those facilities within the next twenty-four hours, you'll be at war with the Asvin Empire. Reactivate this channel when you're ready to authorize my operations." Maedhv set the handset down.
"Alarita, I'm putting up a country map next. We'll be contacting the present government of the Greater Ayruatl next, since they have some facilities in their territory, too." A map flashed up onto the holographic projector, from Maedhv's memory, and Great Britain was highlighted.

Daniel's expression soured. No no no, not now, not when everything turned out well went through his mind as he got close to Maedhv. "Maedhv, you don't have to do this. You've got your people back. Let us deal with the Trust."
"I'm not going to destroy your planet, though I could," Maedhv answered coolly. "Nor do I intend to do more than provide an abject demonstration to your people of the real consequences of the dysfunctional governments you allow to exist. Nonetheless, if your rulers are so abjectly stupid that they cannot allow me to do this deed, in the same way you go ahead and bomb other peoples' countries with your remote-controlled attack vehicles in the air of your world, then I will just take over all of your backwards nations, and run them just like I ran my commune. And obliterate illness and disease while I'm at it, and protect you from threats you have not yet learned about. I trusted you, Daniel, and you repaid it with treachery. Someone told them about the location of my commune, and I have a pretty good idea who that was."
Thank you Jack went through Daniel's mind in very sarcastic manner. He regretted it a moment later of course given that Maedhv was a telepath. "You trusted us up until you thought we might say no to taking you to Castor and to Kuahuatl, then you stole our ship from us," he pointed out. "Listen, the Trust... they're not just corrupt officials from our government anymore. Sattler must not have known if you don't, but we learned some time ago that their senior leadership is under Goa'uld control. They're probably the ones who instigated this, hell, maybe because of what happened at Castor."
"Well, if you cannot govern yourselves to the point where you let your mortal enemies run organizations happily within your territory, does that not beg the question of why you are not begging me to intervene, instead of trying to talk me out of it? Nothing escapes my eye, and I'm quite capable of reordering your civilization on improved lines. I had wanted to avoid this, but this ridiculous situation leaves me feeling like there is very little choice, particularly if you do not merely allow this to happen, but then refuse to let me deal with it."

"But we don't just let them do what they want!", Daniel protested. "We're trying to deal with them. We've actually stopped them a few times. But we don't have telepathy to rip the information out of someone's mind and they're very good at hiding, Maedhv. Listen, if you know where their facilities are, we can take care of them ourselves."
Alarita turned hir chair around, unruffled by Daniel's shouting, and primly announced: "The British Prime Minister, your line."




USS Prometheus, In Orbit over Dakara
Universe Designate SRC-19




The Prometheus and Gray Star remained in orbit over Dakara with flanking Jaffa Ha'taks providing the two wounded ships with cover in the unlikely instance of an attack. On board Prometheus the remaining three members of SG-1 were helping with the final repairs to the hyperdrive, O'Neill sitting on the bridge in Pendergast's place so the ship's skipper could help direct the repair efforts. "So how are the repairs going?", he said aloud and into an open comm link to the Gray Star.
Nate's voice gave an immediate reply. "Oh, just peachy. With Serlann back on her feet they've been able to get a lot of systems back up. We think we'll have hyperdrive soon. Serlann and Zaria are arguing about whether hooking a ZPM up to it would make the drive explode or let us match your drive speeds."
"How cute," Jack answered. "So, um, you have to return home soon? If you can come back to Earth I've got some beers in the fridge."
That brought a laugh from Nate. "Frankly I don't know. I might have to go patch things up with Ivvie since the IUCEC yanked me out of her wedding reception."
Jack's face contorted into a grimace. "Oh yeah. They always have such bad timing don't they? Well, I guess I can drink the beer by myself..."

"General, we're receiving a message from the SGC," one of the bridge officers said.
"Talk to you in a minute, Nate, let me take this call." Jack moved forward in the chair. "Colonel Davis, good to hear from you."
"General, we have a big problem."
"You don't say."
"The President just got contacted by someone who identified herself as the commander of the Xihuatalatal..."
Jack got a sinking feeling in his stomach and let out a groan. "Oh no, what has Her Mightyness been up to?", he muttered.
"She's demanded that the President permit her to destroy several facilities that she claims are being operated by the Trust. She's given him 24 hours to comply or 'the Asvin Empire' will declare war on America."
"Dammit, i knew it was too good to be true," Jack grumbled. "We should have let Ba'al nuke us back at that planet." He stood up from the chair. "Davis, I'll be back in the SGC in a little bit, let me go talk to some friends."




Ten minutes later the three members of SG-1 were gathered together in a meeting room on Prometheus. The door opened as they settled in and admitted Nate and Data. "So, something happened to get Her Mightyness riled up," Jack stated to them. "And, well... it might be my fault."
"Daniel did warn you about provoking her," was Nate's sarcastic reply. "What's happened?"
"Oh, she has a mad-on now for an outfit we know as the Trust," Jack answered. "They used to be a group of industrialists and officials who thought the SGC should be looting the galaxy instead of exploring it, tended to threaten or even kill people who got in their way. But in the past year they made a few mistakes and their leadership all have snakes in their heads now."
"You refer to the Goa'uld," Data said.
"Yes."
"A most disturbing development. I take it your efforts at breaking up the Trust have been unsuccessful?"
Teal'c answered with a nod. "That they have, Captain Data. They have proven most resourceful."
Nate took a seat. "So, Jack, what did this Trust do to piss off Maedhv and what does it have to do with you?"

"If I had to guess, they found out about her little cult," Jack answered. "Probably from the report I made at the SGC before returning to Dakara. They went to them and rounded them up or something and Maedhv's found out so now she's pissed."
Data gave Jack a quizzical look. "Curious, General, why did you do such a thing if you suspected such information might be leaked into the wrong hands?"
Rolling his eyes, Jack let out an angry groan. "Because I didn't think the Trust would have any interest in a bunch of hippies out in rain-soaked Washington State! I don't know why they got so interested..."
"Maedhv did betray the Goa'uld at Castor," Nate pointed out. "And they were mightily pissed off at her. Maybe they send word back to their people running the Trust to look for any reference to Maedhv in your records?"
Jack stared at Nate for a moment. "I hate it when Daniel's right," he finally mumbled.

"Well, what are we going to do now?", Sam asked the assembled.
"I don't know about you, but I'm tempted to go find that Ancient time-jump ship so I can go back and warn myself to let Ba'al blow us up," Jack answered.
"An understandable but inadvisable choice," Data replied. "Such an action would have prevented us from removing the Replicator infestation from the Gray Star and even with our self-destruction there was a mathematically-unacceptable chance of the Replicators surviving."
"Swell," Jack said with a lot of irritation. "So we save the Multiverse from the Replicators but doom our Earth, at the very least, to getting worked over by that psychopath."
"Well, let's think about this for a moment," Sam said. "Maedhv gave us the codes to those defense batteries in the Ancient outpost in Antarctica and we now have more than enough ZPMs to power them all. Also, remember Alarita saying that the Dakara Device would also disrupt the Xihuatlatl's repair nanites. If we trigger the Device's energy through the Stargate back on Earth we could disable her ship's auto-repair systems."
"And you think that even these big honking space guns she says are buried beneath the Antarctic Outpost could take out her ship without its repair mechanism?"
"It's worth a shot General," Sam answered. "We call in Colonel Caldwell to bring the Daedalus back from its shakedown run and meet him at Earth, that gives us two ships. Maybe three." Sam looked to Data.
"Our hyperdrive systems have been restored," Data said, "but at our present position it would take thirty hours to arrive at Earth. We would not be present before Maedhv's deadline."

"Wait, Data," Samantha held a hand up. "If we power your drive with a ZPM it could permit your Goa'uld drive to meet the speed of our Asgard engines."
"Officer Serlann is concerned that the Gray Star's drive would not be capable of channeling that amount of power."
"It shouldn't be a problem."
"I do not know if we can spare any ships from the defense of Dakara," Teal'c said, "but I will ask."
"We do have a lot of ZPMs to go around now," Sam said. "If you can get more ships to guard Dakara we can take the ones already here, plus any others close enough to Earth to meet us on time."
"Sounds like a plan." Nate clapped his hands together. "But I'd feel more comfortable with a bit more firepower. So while you're getting ready for all of this, I have some calls to make."
Jack stood from the table. "We both do."




No-Ship Xihuatlatl, Near Earth
Universe Designate SRC-19



Maedhv had finished her conversation with the British Prime Minister and was running diagnostics. "Alarita, if you could switch the No-field from standby?"
"We won't be able to tell if they manoeuvre assets to attack us."
"You also need rest, and really, so do I. I haven't slept in quite some time, and for all I can suppress it.."
"Your brain needs to defragment as much as mine does," Alarita agreed with a chipper grin. "Alright, then. I'm just mildly concerned that they'll have a fleet waiting for us when we go back to standby."

"They've never seen a No-Ship before, and I don't think they really understood what it meant. You had the No-field engaged under the surface of the planet, but they didn't have access to the sensors and didn't realize what it meant. They may well think that we've departed."

Alarita bit hir lip. "A reasonable enough supposition, and we'll go to standby with battle shields at full power?"
"Naturally. I will treat this like a serious military operation, promise, especially since the ship's slave-rigged to hell and back."
"Alright. Engaging." Abruptly all of the screens and displays showing outside information snapped blank, leaving just the internal status reports, and in orbit over Earth, the immense Xihuatlatl turned ghostly for a moment, and then vanished entirely.

"Setting the ship systems to automatic," Alarita reviewed as shi finished up a few interface commands, and then jacked out, rising and stretching with a flagrant displace of hir cod-piece poking out from the outrageous skort.
"Excellent then," Maedhv followed suit in removing herself from the systems, and looked to Daniel. "Would you kindly join us for dinner? After that we'll see to providing you a cabin, and Alarita and I shall take our leave for the night, for... some much deserved relaxation." Maedhv had a vaguely amused look as she said that and it was probably pretty clear what she actually meant.

Looking rather uncomfortable with everything going on while trying to figure arguments to get Maedhv to back down, Daniel gave a stiff nod. "Sure."

Alarita wandered hir way over to Maedhv and gently slipped hir arms around the pregnant woman, drawing her close, so that they walked together in a slow and ambling fashion toward the transfer lifts, Daniel easily keeping up while they setted together up against the wall, with gentle affection of the sort familiar to, and to rival, any married couple of consideration duration. Other than their initial embraces, they had not really touched before that evening, and the gentle intensity seemed perfectly sincere.
Maedhv closed her eyes, and smiled softly for a moment, before they arrived at their destination, the nearby officer's country, bustling with various robotic servitors apparently doing restorative maintenance, and in the case of the grand banquet room--strangely only laid out for three, and with a broad settee like a love seat at the head, for both Alarita and Maedhv, instead of a chair--it seemed very lonely, indeed. The blatantly Mesoamerican style of the decor left little doubt, though, of where the ship had come from, and as the two settled down together into the plush settee, entwined even to eat, the dishes laid out seemed in a sort of Mayan-Peruvian fusion style, suggesting the elderly customs of a people who had had as their own, all the plants of the new world to form their customs, but not those of the Old.

Daniel took in the sights as they found their seats. "You've had stocks of food aboard for all these eons?"
"Well, we do have hydroponics facilities aboard for some of it, but those are still being replanted currently. Instead we kept a lot in time-dialation based stasis, and some of the rest was admittedly frozen," Alarita explained. "For the rest, it's synthetically generated through a variety of methods, like cloning vats for the meat. It's nice to have the tastes of a home that no longer exists, though Earth..."
"...Pretty much still has everything we had," Maedhv agreed. "It is one advantage of taking it over, and I apologize for the fact that the food is not yet fresh. Of course, it is a reminder that a third of the population of your planet is starving, and another third doesn't have enough food."
Alarita stared blankly at hir lover. "What? Nobody even starved their slaves during the Asvin Empire! I .." Shi started blankly at Daniel.
"Exactly, my love, exactly. We could torture people for amusement, and did habitually, but at least our maliciousness was not accompanied by such incompetence as to also let us starve our people at the same time. Yet this, Earth manages to do, and primarily through distribution problems at that. Governments which seize food aide from the starving, and a failure of infrastructure to get it into the right place. Even when they have the ring transporters which could and should be used for food transportation, or anti-gravity systems from Goa'uld heavy ships, or simply the vastly greater energy resources of Naquadah reactors for producing more power for their agricultural and transportation services. And they haven't even attempted to implement it--nobody except for the military even knows it exists."
"Really, Daniel," Maedhv turned to face him. "I was going to leave you alone, for all the hideous suffering that incompetence causes to people. But once it was extended to being unable to prevent the Trust from harming my people? I am going to fix your world whether or not you like it."

"And you're going to kill thousands, maybe millions, of people to do it," Daniel countered. "People are going to fight you every step of the way. And even if you win... what then? You become the ruling Queen of Earth, in a position you've been in twice before and have admitted you never really liked or did well in." Ignoring the food for a moment despite his own slight hunger, he added, "You say you never starved your slaves in the Asvin Empire. That everyone had plenty to eat. Maybe in your era, but what about when you were only as advanced as we are today? Are you telling me that when the Asvin were at our level everyone was perfectly fed? That you didn't have any hunger? Finally, if you're so concerned about the failure of our food distribution, why not simply help us with that? You just said you had technology to clone meat and synthesize food, provide us with that technology and the means to distribute the food surplus."
"I'll give the job to my daughter when she comes of age, and retire with Alarita," Maedhv answered thoughtfully. "Her father is human, of Earth, and that will, in the end, make you more content, I think. The technology will be distributed, but, really, if I gave it out to you right now, you'd just end up making weapons out of it, or hoarding it for your rulers, in the same way you dismissed Third-World countries as doing whenever they got handouts. I have tried to avoid ruling, frozen myself in the ice rather than do it, I did, but yet I just see humanity in the same folly over and over, and I don't think my folly is worse than your's."

"You see, that's where your wrong," Daniel replied. "Yes, I'll admit we have problems with the Third World's governments. But given time and better technology we can help the people there and keep the governments from interfering. But what you're talking about is violently conquering a world that will resist you. You're going to have to impose control over six billion people, most of which won't want to be ruled by an all-powerful overlord. Even when you defeat our standing forces, what are you going to do about the people who will maintain resistance in the countryside in the cities?"
"Most of them, will probably be made to worship me as a Goddess," Maedhv answered. "It's not like there's no precedent for it..."
At that, Alarita frowned very faintly.
Alarita's expression didn't go unnoticed by Daniel. "I'll grant that in some places of the Third World that might happen, but what about those who already have deeply-held religious beliefs? They're not just going to give up what they believe in because you come riding in a massive spaceship and declare yourself ruler of the world, no more than they would've done the same to the Goa'uld."
"You don't quite understand yet the power at my grasp," Maedhv answered with a faint, studious frown, as though she were at least thinking. "I am afraid, Daniel Jackson, that I am going to proceed with the operation--though I certainly intend to keep you around afterwards to protest everything I do. Don't doubt that your words are considered, and found... Useful, if nothing else, for my refining my own understanding."

Daniel rubbed his face with his hands. Maedhv seemed dead set on her course and he couldn't think of anything to do to dissuade her, not with how determined she was. Alarita, though... he hoped that maybe if he persuaded hir enough, then Maedhv might listen... "And when the Ancients come back? They left you alone before because they thought you might have changed, but when they see you conquering Earth they will have every reason to think you're back to business as usual. And then there's the Asgard. They don't have to worry about the Replicators anymore and they won't take you conquering Earth lightly."
"I'm preparing to fight the ancients simultaneously with whatever resistance you cough up," Maedhv answered rather lazily. "This ship wasn't even tested against those Ha'taks. You're soon going to see its true power. And on top of everything else, it's shielded against the Ancients and can severely degrade the effectiveness of their attacks against me, while I'm inside of it--because they're no different than the sort of attacks a Devaastra would have launched against a ship of this class. Same principle, and we've got defences. And I can tell from looking in your mind that the Asgard were hurt hard by the war with the Replicators. Now that I'm in one of my ships I have even less to worry about than I did before--and I would have won before if you hadn't tried to kill yourself, anyway."

Alarita closed hir eyes and sighed. "Maedhv, he does have a point, in the sense we don't have all that much in the way of an actual force to back this up, if nothing else."
Maedhv drummed her fingers on the table for a moment and then hugged Alarita with a faint smile. "Don't worry. I have an idea about that."
A horrified look came across Daniel's face. "The Wraith," he said hoarsely. "You're going to bring the Wraith to the Milky Way?!"
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-11 09:51pm 

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Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8423
Location: Florida USA
Chapter 15



No-Ship Xihuatlatl, Near Earth
Universe Designate SRC-19




"They're my children, after a fashion, certainly my heirs," Maedhv replied softly. "Boots on the ground enough for anyone and they can breed with incredible rapidity, and they have a fleet of enough strength that in its heyday, despite the extremely weak organic hulls, it humbled the rebellious Ancients. I'll be controlling them in person, so they won't be allowed to kill from the population of Earth. If I am back in the business of ruling your planet, after all, why not return to my old post as Primary Queen of the Wraith?"
"Maedhv... What by the black worms are you talking about? What are these Wraith?" Alarita interrupted very intently.
"They're a species that feed on Human beings for sustenance," Daniel said, still glaring intently at Maedhv. "They've been terrorizing the Pegasus Galaxy for the last ten thousand years, ever since the last Ancient survivors of Atlantis were forced to flee back to Earth. According to the reports we got from our expedition to Atlantis they go into alternating cycles of hibernation to permit the human populations of Pegasus to rebuild before waking up and culling various worlds of their inhabitants, killing billions of people across their galaxy."

Alarita visibly paled, and pushed back from Maedhv a bit, staring uncertaintly at her as though shi was thinking through several rather loathesome possibilities.
Maedhv just turned to Daniel with almost a growl upon her face. "Well, then, you should welcome my proposal, if you're so concerned about the humans of Pegasus."
"So what happens when they come here?!", Daniel said, more like shouted, in an angry tone. He had gone from anxious to horrified and now to a very rare full-blown rage. "Are you going to control every single one of them every moment of every day to keep them from feeding on innocent people?! Are you going to be able to keep them from rampaging across our galaxy and feeding on the Humans here?! After all, you're going to be High Queen of Earth, that's going to be a lot of work if you're spending every moment keeping the Wraith under control! How are you even going to feed them?! Oh, I know, maybe you can use that as a threat to keep people in line! 'Bow to me, great glorious Goddess-Queen of Earth, or I'll feed you to my pet Wraith!'"
"I created them out of my own flesh and blood, Daniel Jackson! And if I have to choose between them and you, you Ancient-loving....." Maedhv picked up her knife and threw it furiously into the wall of the dining chamber straight past Daniel's head. "Just get out. Leave me alone with my mate--get out, get away from me. I'll summon you back in time to watch me restore at least one universe's highlands of Nukahoatl again to the reign of their firstborn."
His face red with anger, Daniel actually threw the plate of food in front of him toward the nearby wall and stormed out.

"Prana bindhu witches!?" Alarita abruptly and rather roughly pushed away from Maedhv to stand and stare at her furiously in the wake of Daniel's leaving. "They're Prana bindhu witches, aren't they!? That's how you defeated the rebellion!?"
"Yes. But I can control them. They can't feed off of the High Caste, and I am the originator of all their DNA. They recognize me as their supremacy, for all they have sometimes refused my commands--but I refused to bring violence down on them before. With the Xihuatlatl and examples made of some of the rebellious Queens, we'll have a disciplined army for controlling this world and all of Pegasus for that matter."
"But they eat souls," Alarita answered, clearly not just furious about also mortified. "That's the end. There'd be no reincarnation, and what happens if, well, you know, Nirrti's clause... ...I think she'd destroy this entire universe if that happened."
"That isn't an issue; the Eternal Imprint is what they recognize, not the genetics."
"Well, I guess it's better for someone to control them than to leave them roaming the universe. Why'd you do it?"
"Because I loved them and I couldn't bring myself to injure them even when they disobeyed me," Maedhv answered rather mournfully. "I... We're all part of one family. And I can control them. If I'm going to be Queen in one place, I shall be Queen over all."

Alarita flung hir head to the side with a softly choked sob. "Why, against all the gods of worms, do I love you?" Shi ignored the approach of hir lover from behind, Maedhv wrapping her arms gently about Alarita, and not speaking. "Better for us to just flee to the farthest corner of the universe and leave these humans and these Wraith to each other. But I know you won't. This is the temper of the blood that courses through your veins, so we'll fight." But the words were not pleased ones, nor did shi squeeze back into the hug by which shi was engulfed.



USS Prometheus, en route to Earth


With a few more hours left until they were due to arrive back home Jack had found a room to bunk in for some rest. He'd need it as their plan involved him having to ring down upon arrival and get into the Ancient - or was it Asvin now? - chair in the Antarctic outpost immediately.
There was sound at the door that made Jack open his eyes and look over. Samantha was standing in the doorway looking about as tired as he was. Arguably she'd been through the most of any of SG-1 in this whole thing, having worked with the Gray Star crew to deal with the Replicators. "So far the Gray Star and the Jaffa ships Teal'c is leading haven't had any problems with their hyperdrives with the ZPMs installed," she told Jack. "Teal'c thinks a couple more Jaffa ships might get to Earth within an hour of our arrival but their fleet's still pretty spread out."
"Yeah."
"So... what about Daniel?"
Jack blinked. "He's still with Her Mightyness, I guess. Probably trying to talk her out of whatever it is she's doing. And probably failing."
Sam crossed her arms. "Zaria said that he has gotten Maedhv's attention somehow."
"Oh, you know Daniel, he always has to chat up the super-people," Jack answered. "I know he's still on Maedhv's ship, but he knows the risks involved in this work. He's always known the risks. He'd tell us to go ahead and do what we have to do."

"I just wonder if maybe he can get us a peaceful solution after all. I mean, from what we've seen of Maedhv's abilities, she is the single-most powerful entity in the known universe... multiverse. And even if we get those defensive batteries up, and the Ancient drone weapons, and we get all the help we're trying to call in..." Sam shook her head. "I just don't know if we can do it."
"We always manage to find a way." Jack sat up on the bed. "I still think we should have just let Ba'al blow us up."
Sam cracked a slight grin. "Well, I'm glad you didn't. You did save us from the Replicators by getting Maedhv her ship back."
"Yeah, I know, but now Her Mightyness is going to use that ship against us now. So we have to find a way to blow it up. Any ideas?"
Sitting near Jack, Sam gave a shrug. "I've had a couple thoughts about the ZPMs, but given what happened with that one Cadmulus tried to foist off on us I think using them as bombs or weapons of any kind would just destroy everything."
Jack stared at her for a moment. "That would be a pretty big boom," he finally remarked. "And kind of misses the point of saving Earth, even if we took Her Mightyness out in the process."
"Yes it would," Sam conceded. "Other than that I'm afraid I'm all out of ideas."
Hearing Sam say that wasn't the kind of thing Jack, or anyone else, liked to hear. He gave her a nod of acknowledgement and moved on. "In the meantime, let's get to Earth and do what we can." He paused for a moment before adding, "Or hope Daniel pulls a miracle out of his hat. Then we don't have to try and blow him up too."



No-Ship Xihuatlatl, Near Earth
Universe Designate SRC-19




It wasn't often that Daniel Jackson became angry. Now that he was it would take time to subside, especially given how much of the anger was directed at himself. He replayed the events back at Kuahuatl over and over and how wrong he'd been to decide things that way. At that moment, had he had it all to do over again, he would have re-Ascended to help fight Maedhv and he certainly wouldn't have awakened her ship for her.
Had he read her wrong? Had he listened to her protestations of having changed and taken them as the truth when she was still just as self-serving and ambitious as ever. Talking about upraising Earth was one thing, but to bring the Wraith to the Milky Way because of some old attachment to them...

Daniel was so caught up in his thoughts that he didn't notice the slender figure standing at his door until she spoke out to him.
"I brought food for you, ah, it's Daniel, right? Maedhv said she was worried about you because you hadn't eaten at dinner--you were pretty upset about the operation." Erin stepped in gently, carrying a round pail filled with food, and held by a simple handle. "Which, I can understand, because killing a horrible thing, but so, too, is a lot of what already goes on on earth." She shuffled a bit: "Well. I don't want to make you upset again, so I can just leave the food and go...?"
"Why do you follow her?", he asked bluntly. "Because she promises power to you? Makes you feel loved?"
"Because she's ancient, and has seen more of humanity than I'm prepared to believe. Because she's seen... Fire in the stars and death on the planets below, Daniel, because she's been through the same journey as a tremendously evil humanity, until we got to this point.... I don't think she was ready to rule before now and she said she wasn't. But now I think she is because she's been through that same journey herself, and I like to think humanity is ready for that journey, too," Erin answered simply, but then, decided to continue:
"I love her because she loves children, dotes on them, and how many times have you seen a Goddess do that? And I know she isn't one and she doesn't want us to call her one, but she might as well be. I'm not actually all that stupid, you know. If it hadn't been for my mental health problems I'd be a professor by now--she fixed that. She brought us all in and fixed us and soothed us, and treated herself on the same level as us--ate the same food in the same rations, made love to us, picked up trash with us and tilled at the soil with us. I'd say that is in the end what made her willing to conquer again--before she conquered because she was told too, or out of lust for power. I'd say she learned though that there can be more altruistic motives."
"So we'll support her and see where she goes. What else can you do, when you find a slaver who's mated her slave, a warrior who's become a mother, a killer who dotes on children? Isn't that the whole story of the human race, Daniel, bound up in one person? She's trying to find a way and I think, I really do believe, that it's her desire to help others making her do this. That the hostage situation drove home to her, just how little the people of Earth can help each other, and that she knows she can do a better job. We'll keep her honest, and we're certainly not all of one mind, and she promised us nothing except a lot of hard work and the indefinite right for us and our descendants to live aboard this ship."

"She's not going to do a better job and that's something neither of you can see," Daniel answered her. "It doesn't matter how well-intentioned she is, Maedhv is not a good ruler. Not over an entire world. It's one thing if she can oversee you and your friends, you're a small group of people who came to her voluntarily. But as much as she claims otherwise Maedhv doesn't handle dissent very well. Do you even realize what she intends to do? She wants to cement her rule by bringing a race called the Wraith to our galaxy. We've encountered the Wraith already." At this point Daniel didn't see the point in maintaining the "classified information" secrecy given what the cultists had already seen. "They feed on Human beings, Erin. They suck the life right out of them. They've been slaughtering Humans in the Pegasus Galaxy like cattle for the last ten thousand years, leaving only enough people alive between cullings so the population can recover and they can repeat the process a few centuries later. And now Maedhv wants to bring them here."
"Maedhv did mention that do us and said we'd be immunized and that she had ways of controlling them to keep them from feeding on the innocent. Considering she also told us that she created the Wraith, I don't presume to doubt her ability in doing so," Erin answered. "And why don't you think she's matured enough to be a good ruler? If someone with her experience does not make one, does anyone? But I won't argue with you, Daniel, because that's silly--neither one of us can change the course of events here. History will show which one of us is right, as it always does, and we should let history run its course, flow with it and live happily within it--not try to stand against its tide."

Daniel remained silent for a moment. It was clear he wasn't going to make any headway with Erin, nor with any of the others in Maedhv's cult. After all, hadn't their beliefs come true? Maedhv had told them she would call down a great ship to uplift them beyond the Earth and she had. Now she was offering them a place at her side in power over the entire world. None of them had any reason to question Maedhv.
When he finally spoke, he did so firmly, calmly, and with absolute clarity, every word about as lucid as was humanly possible. "In the past eight years I've gone through some incredible things, Erin, enough to tell you that some people don't care whether they can really change the course of events or not, they still try. And there are millions of people below us and around this galaxy, including some very dear friends of mine, who are going to do just that. We've done it before. And we've won before, against odds so long our survival is nothing short of miraculous. Maedhv is going to have to kill them all to win because they're not going to give up." He stared intently at Erin in a way that might have made the hair on the back of her neck stand up. "And then you're not simply going to be waiting for History to prove you right, you're going to be praying that it will. You're going to be spending every day hoping that Maedhv will keep everything all right and terrified at each and every sign that something might be going wrong, that you're not just turning the Milky Way into an all-you-can-eat dinner buffet for the Wraith. Because if you're wrong, and she's wrong, all of those deaths are going to be for nothing." And with that Daniel took the plate of food and took a bite from it, an indication to Erin that the conversation was over.







The two, mistress and slave once, now equals walking side by side, arrived back on the ornate bridge of the Xihuatlatl, Alarita in full vacsuit for a change, helmet flipped back.. and so was Maedhv, presumably out of a concern for her child, and not wanting to waste energy on protecting her body from decompression that might be required in battle.
They took their chairs, captain's and central ops, on the main command dais and the various connectors to their internal cybernetics and movement detectors swung into place as well as shock harnesses, for it was indeed possible for even a twenty-kilometer ship to be torn through space harder than her inertial dampers could compensate for... If you had big enough weapons on the other side. And on top of that, keyboards, for the information transfer requirements for the two of them would be completely insane, as combat displays also lowered around them to augment the direct neural transmissions.
Maedhv and Alarita finished suiting up, and Alarita flashed a gesture to hir mate. "Just remember, love, we're doing this for them."
"I'll let you handle all of the targeting. If you want to be gentle, go ahead. Who knows, President Hayes might yet give in and we'll do this rather less expansively. Alright, we're..."
"T minus 8 minutes to the deadline. I've got battle-screens and our interference generators," shi referred to the defences against Hidden World attacks, "At full power and the disruption generators are too in case they try anything telepathic. Automatic repair systems are operational and the onboard robots have all be given their damage control subroutine activation commands. As well as the Xihuatlatl can be fought by two people, Maedhv, she's our's to command."
"Thank you, Alarita."
"You really shouldn't," Alarita replied, glancing through hir helmet to Maedhv for a moment. "I should be trying harder to talk you out of this, rather than talk myself into it. But we're about to start a war, and I guess that the time for that is already passed."

"It's never very good during a battle. We'll see about how to run things afterward, hmm? And if you didn't want me to be in such a violent mood today, you should have..."
Alarita shook hir head. "Always insufferable. But no, now's not the time, though it never stopped you from cracking jokes before."
"No, it never did--Oh, Hi Daniel. Glad to see you could join us," Maedhv commented offhand as she saw him, per invitation, stepping onto the bridge, and then swung the chair back into place and locked it.
"No-field generator to standby."
The immense bulk of the Xihuatlatl appeared, her engines beginning to power up and brake her into a powered-steady orbit as the two coordinated their actions electronically. They were bringing her to a stop over the United States with five minutes left, and immediately all the displays and readouts on the bridge were flooded with tactical information.
"No power from the Antarctic base?"
"Not even shielding," Alarita confirmed. "Shall I engage it anyway?"
"Negative. Wait for the deadline--I'm going to at least play this one by the book."
"Alright.... There's nothing in orbit to oppose us, Maedhv, though it seems they may be scrambling some starfighters from the surface. No possible threat, we could destroy them with weapons buses."
"I don't see a need to deploy the buses at this time.... Looks like your first scan was a little premature, my darling. We have incoming after all." The two watched as the tactical projector flashed to a series of hyperspace windows opening.



USS Prometheus, arriving at Earth


The hyperspace windows appeared over Earth's south pole region. The Gray Star was the first ship to emerge from one, still sporting her battle damage from the fight with the Replicators, followed by a protective covering of Jaffa-commanded Ha'tak-class motherships under Jaffa command. A small group of F/A-48s came out of Gray Star's hanger bay, barely ten due to how many had been consumed in some part by the Replicators in their rampage, along with a cloud of Jaffa Gliders.
Behind them a window formed and Prometheus emerged. Aboard Sam was with Jack in the Ring Room, holding a laptop. "I have the codes Maedhv gave us in here, give it to our research team down in the outpost and they'll know how to input the codes when you interface with the Ancient outpost."
Jack took the laptop and nodded. "Any word about Daniel?"
Sam lowered her eyes and shook her head. "Yeah, thought so," Jack sighed as he stepped into the rings. "Good look Carter." The rings lifted out of the floor and surrounded him. Jack disappeared in a flash of golden light, to be rematerialized on the planet below.

From there Sam walked to the bridge, where Pendergast was waiting. "The No-Ship is about 30,000 kilometers from Earth," he reported, not bothering to try to pronunce the exotic name of Maedhv's personal vessel. "We're on course for an intercept."
"Hyperspace window opening," one of the personnel reported. "It's Daedalus. Colonel Caldwell is on."
"This is Daedalus to Prometheus, we're moving into place now."
"Roger that, Daedalus, Pendergast answered.
The combined fleet moved toward the Xihuatlatl, putting themselves between it and Earth.




Back in the cockpit of an F/A-48, Kei was leading what was left of her squadron as they formed up with the Jaffa fighters. She did another weapons check to see that her payload of Guyverite-boosted M/AM missiles were ready for arming and launch, though in the end it probably wouldn't matter. Seeing the Xihuatlatl looming ahead on her HUD, Kei swallowed hard and came to the conclusion that this was probably it for her. After all the combat missions she'd survived in her career, this would be the last one, her final sortie.
"My God,", she heard Kylie Landers say behind her. "Why do I suddenly feel like one of those poor Rebel pilots trying to attack the Death Star?"
Despite all the tension and imminent doom of the moment, Kei had to crack a little grin at that.




No-Ship Xihuatlatl, Near Earth



"Activating defensive interceptor batteries on automatic," Alarita reported, leaving their missile defence to the hands of the computers--no way they could direct it on their own.
"Quite. It is their main armament." Maedhv leaned against her chair and looked over the fleet before her. "Barely a dozen Ha'taks, two Earth ships, and the interuniversal ship. I don't think they have anymore firepower than Ba'al's fleet did, do you?"
"It's unlikely. And we don't have any signs of the Antarctic facility powering up."
"Then let's not push our luck, Alarita. The moment the deadline passes, I want you to put a missile onto the base." She paused for a moment, and then added: "Neutron flux warhead, I want it intact."
"Yeah, and I remember the last time an Asvin used those on Earth."
"I'm the one who's supposed to be a snarky bitch; it's just one warhead over the southern pole, the radiation swathe won't even reach the southern tip of Nukahoatl."
"Alright, I'll make sure to detonate it at the geographic south pole to be on the safe side. We've got one minute left, by the way, so I'm powering up the missile batteries."
"Yeah..." Maedhv rubbed her gloved hands together, and then punched a button on the side of her command chair. "Jack," she addressed the Prometheus, assuming he was still aboard. "You saw what Alarita did those Ha'taks. Stand down while you've still got the chance."

"This is Colonel Lionel Pendergast in command of the Earth Ship Prometheus. I ask that you peaceably withdraw or we will be forced to assume you hostile."

"Where's Jack," Maedhv said outloud in some surprise--it would have gotten picked up by the feed before the line went dead, but she didn't care, not as she rapidly thought about--and thus sifted all the knowledge of the universe--to determine just where he'd gone. The probabilities vanished into the certainties of action. "Alarita! Fire!"
One single missile was launched from the port side of the Xihuatlatl, itself a hundred meters long and accelerating at 30,000g's to tear through space and enter the atmosphere like a firey comet toward Antarctic at substantial fraction of light by the time it hit the atmosphere, an arcing pillar through the sky.
"Now what else are they..." Her calculations showed something else, she then knew something else, and was cursing the uncertainty of hiding behind a No-Field even as she tried to trigger the No-Field again to protect the ship. It didn't activate soon enough, however, and lancing straight up, wavering its way through the atmosphere from Cheyenne Mountain, was the certain fury of the Dakara Device, distorting its way through the shields and even attacking Maedhv and her nanites, requiring her to become hazy with a blue energy field, spreading outward, trying to save some components of the ship's nanite repair system and protect herself at the same time.

"That tears that," Alarita muttered as all of the screens went dark. "Maedhv, they knocked out the self-repair mechanisms. Do we have a Class Four repair yard somewhere? Because otherwise, given three thousand years at most, you aren't gonna have a ship anymore."
"The Wraith have access to one that I built up there," Maedhv answered, "In expectation that you'd be rejoining me in Pegasus, back in those days. So, yeah, we can make repairs."
"May I recommend that we transpose into the Pegasus galaxy and effect repairs, then? We have no way of knowing whether or not that missile strike succeeded, and we're now several galaxies away from the nearest repair yard, my love. Better than before, but not good enough to be safe."

Daniel watched this all unfold. He'd realized the instant he heard Pendergast's voice that Jack had gone down to Antarctica. And had probably died there when Maedhv's missile went off. A sick feeling went down to his stomach at that realization, knowing that it had started. "It's not too late, Maedhv," he said aloud. "More people don't have to die, not over this."
The Commune had all be issued vacuum suits, and with some confidence Erin made her way to the bridge in one, arriving to hear Daniel's words. "I don't see anything," she murmured to him softly, wondering, precisely what was going on.

"Well, Daniel, I say in for a penny, in for a pound," Maedhv answered, turning to Alarita. "They're still no match for us, even assuming that Jack got the shields up in time to stop us. And I can't be sure of that--but one single defensive battery isn't going to change the course of this battle. Shift the No-field generator back to Standby and prepare for close engagement."
"....Okay, yeah, I'll concede they can't even bring down the battleshields with the firepower at their disposal," Alarita acknowledged, but sucked in hir breath rather hesitantly as the No-field was again deactivated, and the ship flicked for a ghostly moment in realspace and then appeared in whole form again before the fleet.
Daniel raised a hand. "Maedhv, no! Please, let it go! Just tell us where the Trust are hiding and we'll take care of them!"
"You've gone from muskets to naquadah bombs in two hundred years, Daniel--all while still letting your people starve. If I give you another two hundred, you'll come after me and mine. Alarita, stand by to engage."



USS Prometheus, Near Earth



Eyes were fixed forward as the enormous Xihuatlatl seemed to fade into full existance. "The Dakara wave did hit them completely," Sam said from where she'd found a seat. "But sensors still can't tell if we knocked out their repair systems."
"What about that missile that hit Antarctica?", Pendergast asked.
"It appears to have had a neutron warhead. It produced a short-lived burst of radiation capable of killing anyone it reached," Sam said. "The flux in the atmosphere is keeping me from determining any lifesigns..." She bit back the fear she felt, the realization that Jack and everyone else down there had died.
"Prometheus, this is General O'Neill. Don't worry anyone, I got the shield up just in time. I'm locking the weapons on Her Mightyness' ship right now and preparing to fire drones."
"All of us versus a ship of that size," Pendergast murmured. "I think we're in a lot of..."
A series of lights appeared on Sam's monitor. "Hyperspace windows opening!"

Outside more exitways from hyperspace formed. Out of them emerged the sleek forms of six Asgard warships of the potent O'Neill class. The vessels moved toward Daedalus.
In front of them, down on the surface near Jack, and on Maedhv's bridge, a holographic form of an Asgard appeared. "I am Thor, Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet," he said. "The planet Earth is under our protection."
"You always had the best sense of timing, Thor," Jack said over the comms.

"So noted, Thor. Welcome to the engagement," Maedhv answered back over the open comm line. "Perhaps the Ancients bothered to tell your people of my existence. If not, well, blame them for the surprise--while you've got the chance."
And then, still on the open transmission line: "Alarita, lock main batteries on the Asgard squadron as the primary objective."
"Her Mightyness really has let her head swell," Jack remarked.
"I'm picking up something else," Sam said. "This gravitational pattern, I've seen..."
Nate's voice came over the line. "That would be the cavalry."

Behind the Xihuatlatl, out toward the Moon, massive ripples formed in space and widened into full-blown wormholes of swirling gold, green, and blue color, much like Stargate event horizons to Sam's eye.
Vessels began to emerge from them, of all types and sizes. Some had the familiar saucer-and-hull combinations of Starfleet vessels, others the single-hull and twin-nacelle arrangements of ADN warships. They varied in size from similar to the Prometheus and Daedalus to gigantic vessels nearly the size of the Asgard ships, bristling with weapon emplacements.
From a couple wormholes ships of different appearance came. Single-hulled vessels with attached sublight drives but no warp nacelles emerged, identifiable to the Gray Star crew as MWB-32 indigenious designs bearing the mailed fist of the Lyran Commonwealth, the eagle seal of the Free Worlds League, and the sword and green triangle of the Capellan Confederation.
Another wormhole produced vessels of a unique form, taller than they were long, blue-sheened vessels of powerful grace and very imposing size. In their midst were vessels of similar form but over two kilometers "high", sporting multiple prominent gun ports of great size and power. In their midst were smaller vessels with some similiarities to the Gray Star. That ship's friend-or-foe identification systems soon relayed the information to the two Earth ships and their Jaffa allies, identifying the vessels as Minbari warships of the Sharlin and newer Dukhat-classes, accompanied by White Star-class vessels of the Rangers.
The numbers soon overwhelmed the capacities of the plotters on the Prometheus and Daedalus to keep track of them. Each wornhole was disgorging hundreds of ships, seemingly the very limit of their capacities, with identifiers marking the majority as coming from the Alliance of Democratic Nations and the Federated Worlds. Ships with class identifiers varying from "Defiant-class corvette" to "Vesuvius-class superdreadnought" were popping up on the sensors and even down in the Antarctic outpost, where Jack let out a stunned "Woh" over the transmission.




No-Ship Xihuatlatl, Near Earth



"Charge up the distortion field generator, Alarita, and release the safeties on all the missile tubes and open the cell hatches," Maedhv ordered as she watched the fleet swell in size. "It appears we have a real fight on our hands, after all."
"Beginning chargeup sequence, clearing the main missile tubes, opening the cell hatches. Deploying all of the weapons buses, too," shi added, ignoring Maedhv's brief glance--knowing that it meant Maedhv didn't think it was necessary, and also acknowledged that shi wasn't going to be questioned on deploying them anyway--and first initializing the commands which deployed 700 detached, artificial-intelligence directed missile and interceptor drone combat buses to orbit in clusters around the hull, with their own sublight engines and special tractor receptors so the ship's tractor beams could also rapidly reposition them as required to meet enemy attacks.
Alarita's commands soon showed that the Xihuatlatl intended to stay to fight, because along each side of the ship opened retractable armoured slats in the hull running the length of the ship's broadsides. Each line consisted of a honeycomb of heavy anti-ship missile cells, ten thousand in number. The Xihuatlatl had eighty thousand missile cells in addition to eight thousand reloadable tubes. Against that, the three thousand, seven hundred ships plus small fighters that the enemy had seemed rather less grand. Then shi saw something else. "Maedhv, there's some big ships coming through! "
Maedhv looked up to the tactical plot and watched as an enormous, indeed, utterly enormous vessel began to swell and push through. Then she coolly got back to work. "Mass reading is.... In excess of fifteen billion tonnes. That's thirty times the mass of one of those line ships out there. And the escorts are two and a half billion tons--two of them. They're only moving at thirty gravities of acceleration, though, Alarita. Those aren't ships, they're mobile battlestations equipped with interuniversal drive generators. Clever of them--though there are some more proper ships coming out, I read them as being about eight hundred million tonnes fully laden, confirm?"
"Yeah, about six of them, so they're 40% heavier than the main enemy line ships that have deployed." Maedhv looked back at the holoprojector for a long, quiet moment.
"Maedhv, that fleet more or less matches us in mass now. This isn't a minor pacification effort anymore." Alarita looked back hirself, quiet. "Auto repair systems are down. If we lose the fold drive in this fight..."
"I'm checking, and their mass/power ratios aren't nearly our's. We still have a substantial advantage."
"What if they send another fleet?"
"Given the scope of about sixty settled, civilized corners of the Milky Way, I think that's a fair bet," Daniel chimed in. "Maedhv, you have your followers and you have Alarita back. Let it go before people die."

"People die every day on your planet in far more squalid conditions than this. I am sick of your hypocrisy in trying to talk me out of uplifting your most impoverished. Alarita...?"
"We got a transmission coming in from the latest fleet, Maedhv."
Another image materialized, this of a stern-faced bald man with a graying beard staring at Maedhv intently, dark-skinned, with his hands joined in front of and below his head. "This is Fleet Admiral Benjamin Sisko, Commanding Officer of the Provisional Expeditionary Force of the New Brasilia Treaty Organization. The Earth of Universe SRC-19 is now under our protection. I ask you to stand down or we will open fire."
"Admiral Sisko, welcome to the party." Maedhv answered jovially at first, staring intensely at the man through the visor of her suit, and then she dropped her hand back down to the right armrest of her chair and began to drum it softly, and spoke very midly, now. "Now, I was around the crew of the Gray Star long enough to hear about an interesting anecdote from one of the universes you represent--well, skim it from their minds, if we want to be technical. Admiral Sisko, if your fleet engages this No-Ship, it's going to look like the Battle of the Line."
She paused for another moment, sifting through information, and then smiled wickedly. "Or maybe I should say Wolf Three Five Nine."
Only the slightest glimmer seemed to pass Sisko's intent eyes at the mention of the fateful battle against the Borg, the battle where his first wife was killed and he and his son nearly lost. If Maedhv's remark gave him any pause, however, he didn't show it, as his remark came out in an ice-cold tone.
"Then so be it. Mister Worf, lock Guyverite torpedoes."
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-11 09:52pm 

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Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8423
Location: Florida USA
Chapter 16



No-Ship Xihuatlatl, Near Earth
Universe Designate SRC-19




"Well, Admiral Sisko, good luck." Maedhv offered a pursed smile and cut the channel preemptorily. "Now, we're going to have to follow a very careful set of executed manoeuvres to win this engagement with a fair safety margin, Alarita."

"Doesn't that only apply if the Ancients decline to attack?" Alarita queried. “Otherwise they’ll negate your prescience vision--and thus we won't be aware of the outcome," shi warned softly.

"Yes. But we can still master them. Particularly if the Ancients don’t immediately intervene, as that won’t invalidate the initial moves. As it stands, here are the correct opening evolutions for us to take..."

"Incoming," Alarita briefly interrupted, hir eyes still focused on hir display readouts. "You can see the plot development yourself, but they’re already throwing everything at us. Decided they didn’t need any more justification, it seems."

"Ahead, one thirtieth acceleration," Maedhv answered with no further concern shown as the fire began to strike home against them. "As for the battle plan, then, Alarita, I want you to use all weapons that can bear on the Asgard squadron and those Earth ships and the Gray Star. They'll be the toughest opponents by power/mass ratio. Once we've heavily engaged them, we'll pivot behind them and clear the starboard broadside for engaging those big battlestations which form the next main target. Once we've taken out their shields..."

"Disruption field Generator against the squadron, you'll take care of the crews of the battlestations?" Alarita guessed with the crisp ability of one who had been around Maedhv and in the system of Asvin war for so very long.

"Yes." Maedhv's eyes flicked away to the plots as the shields of the Xihuatlatl flared with energy fire, and then the ship slightly shuddered as the first salvo from the Antarctic base guns slapped against them with a much greater impact. “Increase to one-fifteenth acceleration. Let’s give Jack some difficulty targeting us without risking friendly fire incidents, no need to take the pounding from those batteries in full, or to divert attention to trying to wear down the Antarctic theatre shield.”

“One-fifteenth, aye.”

Then the enemy missiles came in against them, and the automatic interceptor batteries opened fire.

The Xihuatlatl's counter-missiles were Ancient drones themselves, and they flooded space around the ship in such incredible numbers as to wipe out 90% of the incoming fire with the next 10% met and annihilated by rapid firing weapons which seemed identical to the main armament of Shadow fighters. Nothing got through.

Maedhv smiled tautly when she thought of the impact that would have on the Asgard and the local humans-and the Minbari, for that matter, who she recalled were like Serlann. "Action joined," she murmured. "Alarita, the targets have been set. You’re now weapons free.” A smile as she remembered old, glorious times, and the memories brought a ruthless smile to her lips. “Again let sound the fury of our guns!"


Alliance-Zohan BattleCarrier Bastion, Near Earth


On the bridge of the massive Zohan BattleCarrier Bastion things were decidedly calm, despite the extremely poor odds against them the diminutive forms of the Zohan bridge crew went about their duties with the same crisp efficiency as ever, as if it were but a routine minor maneuver of no great consequence.

“Targeting solutions set on all launchers, all primary batteries have lock. Secondary PPAC batteries set to flak mode for long range missile defense.” came the report from one side of the bridge.

“CIDS activated in full predictive autonomous mode, Hellstorm conditions set for all point defense clusters.” came another report, just as calm and crisp.

“Maintain weapons hold until the opponent makes an aggressive move or orders from Fleet Command come in.” came from the fiery-haired female Zohan seated in the central command console. Senior Combat Executive (Command) Fir'tarn had been in hopeless situations before, having commanded Bastion long before the mighty BattleCarrier had been named in the annoyingly illogical human manner.

“Comms, is Mar'tov's packet prepared?” she asked, in the same phlegmatically calm and assured tone.

“Affirmative, Senior Combat Executive. Packet is prepared and loaded for burst transmission, wideband spread in clear.” came the immediate response.

“Very well, transmit.” Fir'tarn replied, a small smile on her face as she turned her attention fully once more to the holographic image of their opponent.

From multiple antennae in the bow of the massive vessel a broadcast was initiated, the data transmitted in the clear in multiple formats and across multiple frequencies. All carried the same information, but nobody was certain just what the ship opposing them could do and the Zohan were taking no risks on something so mundane as an inability to read the data ruining this gambit.

The data was simple, external imagery of the enemy aliens who had devoured the Zohan's home universe in the wake of the disastrous revolt followed by the single most intriguing recording of them all, the rescue of one of the BattleCarrier's and it's accompanying fleet by the unusual pyramidal-and-cigar shaped vessel, showing the impossible power of the ship and the reactions of the aliens.

The entire gambit was complex, coming as it did from the subtlest and wisest of the Zohan, to simultaneously attempt to intimidate the commander of the mighty ship facing them while also attempting to learn more about what had been seen in that recording. Indeed, in the shadow of the BattleCarrier a highly stealthed and cloaked IU probe was hidden, recording everything and programmed to immediately form a micro IU gate and return home the instant the BattleCarrier it was sheltering behind was destroyed.

After all, even from catastrophic defeats things can be learned. And sometimes that knowledge is enough to turn the next encounter into victory. Then the order to fire came in from the fleet flagship, and there was no more time to worry about their impending demise or the potential success of the gambit, just to do their duties, which they did with their usual sanguine crispness. They would not stay un-blooded for long.


DNS Buchanan, Near Earth


The Buchanan was named after DD-484, a famed destroyer of the USN in the Guadalcanal battles of WW2, and her crew was eager and experienced, having fought in numerous small-wars that the stellar hegemony of the Alliance was required to act upon. Commander Richard Casey, the captain of the ship, had never expected anything like this, though, a space-station sized warship that was now absorbing the fire of thirty-seven hundred vessels including some that seemed outrageously more powerful than anything he’d seen before in his life.

Drawing beyond that, the fleet had been gathered together from a dozen sources in a desperate haste, with the Buchanan having joined with the Zohan in orbit of the Alliance capitol for the fold directly into SRC-19 Earth orbit, a previously prohibited universe. The IUCEC had dedicated to act against a paramount threat and the Alliance had committed wholeheartedly to the effort; nothing was being held back at all.

As he watched on the tactical displays, however, and their own missiles joined the initial salvoes, hordes of glowing yellow interceptors flooded space like a solid wall from the huge ship and tore apart the lead salvos with an excess of energy, while the defensive energy weapons that followed took apart the remainder. The combined energy weapons firing from the fleet were striking the enemy and striking her hard, even as the big ship’s defensive batteries were engaged in counter-fire against identical drones rising from the surface, and blue-white huge, fat energy bolts tearing out of Earth from Antarctica struck the shields, leaving them to glow a faint orange colour whereas before they’d been translucent. Similar fire from the ships registered as the Asgard were similarly making the shields glow, but they held.

Fleet directives flashed up. “Lieutenant Waters, fire the next salvo.” Buchanan was a dedicated missile destroyer, and that left Casey acutely aware that once their missiles were exhausted, well, we better hope the enemy runs out of interceptors first, he dismissed the thought while Lieutenant Waters sent home the next salvo.

But the enemy was replying, a huge salvo of missiles-48,000 in total! All of them pillars of orange energy a hundred meters long which tore through space with insane accelerations--and similar, identical, fat blue-white bolts which were headed toward that powerful Asgard squadron. Soon the shields of the Asgard were under intense fire, and they displayed the existence of counter-missile batteries. So, too, did the two earth-human ships Prometheus and Daedalus display, even as the Ha’taks also in the formation took the hits especially hard, shuddering and slewing under the solid wave of energetic firepower. Someone on the bridge sucked in their breath at the sight, for in the midst of the blue-white bolts were the stuttering efforts of what were clearly Shadow cutting beams.

Key-tone. “Third salvo!” And again the Buchanan added her efforts into the fray as the big ship grew closer and closer to the fleet, making about 400g’s of acceleration and her shields now also glowing from the concentrated firepower of the Zohan and the Minbari to her starboard. Head-on, now the battle-line of superdreads and dreadnoughts was firing down her nose with no sign of damage or bleed-through. The ship began to turn to bring her starboard broadside to bear on the Zohan… And the Buchanan. Commander Casey tensed in his chair… “Shields front-port, double strength!”

The starboard side of the Xihuatlatl erupted with another 48,000 missiles. The Zohan, despite their incredible size and acceleration, took out a surprisingly huge number of them, and a lot more tore into their ships, the shields of which-like those of the Asgard-held, but barely. But at least a thousand missiles simply past through the formation and came against the Alliance light squadrons supporting them. They had time to get off a blessed fourth salvo, and then the missiles started to hit.

Their counter-missile fire did surprisingly good execution, too, but some ships took bad hits and Commander Casey though he saw one destroyer exploding through the corner of his eye on the projectors, and then one orange-glowing missile filled the screen in front of them. There was barely any time to brace for impact, and then the missile collided with the doubled-up shields and detonated with a lance of energy right forward that tore through them, violently overloading and destroying the shield generators and slamming into the bow section of the destroyer with a roiling wave of hyper-energized particles and exotic hard radiation.

The Buchanan was virtually torn pieces-it felt like it to those onboard, anyway--the shearing power so intense against the inertial dampers that Richard briefly blacked out as the ship was torn out of formation and sent spinning back out of the battlefield on a wild course, the dizzying twirl of the stars on the screen lending a chaotic air as shock damage jolted consoles from the floor and sent them flying into the walls. Three bleeding and shattered bodies marked the bridge, but Lieutenant Waters was quick enough to recover that she shut down the spinning and useless plot.

The inertial dampers recovered and it seemed like they were standing still as she raced over to the Captain and checked him over while he came-to. “Lieutenant, just get a status report, don’t worry,” he muttered softly, surprised that even some of them were still alive after that incredible impact.

She nodded and turned back to the nearest functional console while he unbuckled himself and over his throbbing head moved to join her. They looked at the display readouts. “Can’t get any contact at all with the front third of the ship, Sir. Automated systems are all down and there’s nobody responding, there’s insanely high radiation levels right up to the third transverse bulkhead at Frame 40. Nobody survived that forward of the frame, and I’m not sure there’s even much left except twisted wreckage.”

“Engineering!” The comm crackled. “Engineering to the bridge! Is there anyone alive there?” Lieutenant Kellian de Valera-a descendent of the famed and controversial Irish leader-echoed over the comms.

“I’m still here, Kelli. Go ahead with your report.”

“Thank God.” A pause. “The main reactor was physically sheared from its mountings by the shock of the explosion and the entire reactor room crew received fatal doses of radiation,” she reported, adding, “And I don’t think any of us in engineering control are having kids. We’ve lost the front twenty-five percent of the ship, it’s a twisted wreck, and everyone’s dead ahead of Frame 40, we’ve got repair teams in hard radiation suits patching up progressive atmospheric leaks from shock damage and fighting fires caused by the internal damage, which are currently blazing in 10% of the ship; we can’t vent them to atmosphere automatically because the radiation was absorbed by the control wires and burned them out everywhere across the ship. We need someone to reach the manual atmospheric valves to kill oxygen to those sectors.”

“We’ll do it ourselves since we’re closest,” Richard decided at once. “It’s just me and Shelly not seriously injured up here, and the ship’s out of the fight for good with that damage. You’re in charge of the damage-control efforts until I can get to engineering. But make sure you send a corpsman up here!”

“Everyone in sickbay is dead, and the survivors are already overwhelmed.”

“Alright. Good luck, Kelli.” He cut the channel. “Come on, Lieutenant, we’ve got to get those valves open before the progressive fires affect what’s left of the ship.” He started off, wondering grimly what was happening to the rest of the fleet if a single missile had done this to his command.



USS Prometheus, Near Earth



“Forward shields at 15% with multiple bleed-throughs! We have three hull breaches venting to space!”
For all her time in SG-1, Samantha Carter had never witnessed fury quite like this. Maedhv's ship was pounding them intensively to the extent that even the Asgard ships were facing imminent shield failure. The fleet formation was being broken by Maedhv's maneuvering, the starboard weapons on her ship pounding the Zohan vessels. The large Expeditionary Fleet led by Sisko was trying its best to deal with Maedhv but their weapons were having little effect save in mass use. Only the Asgard beam weapons seemed to be doing anything of note to Maedhv's vessel.
Those and one other, as plumes of energy erupted from near the South Pole, followed by a swarm of Ancient drones. Under Jack's control the full fury of the Ancient and Asvin weapons in Antarctica struck Xihuatlatl, causing damage where they were used but not having a decisive effect, leaving the No-Ship free to now tear into the Zohan without fire slacking against the Asgard one bit. It didn't look good.



No-Ship Xihuatlatl, Near Earth



"Asgard shields are collapsing, Maedhv, across the board. Shall I commence the Disruption Field Generator firing countdown?"
"Go ahead, my dear." Maedhv turned her attention back to maneouvring the Xihuatlatl as her point-defense batteries confidently continued to handle the swarms of missiles coming in against them, the shields now glowing heavily orange but still holding without bleed-throughs.
Lancing out from the extreme prow and extreme aft end of the great No-Ship were two brownish-orange beams. They bisected each other in the midst of the Asgard formation, and vanished where they touched. "Disruption field established. Ambient temperature dropping within norms--the Asgard shields would have blocked it, but now..."
"Very good," Maedhv answered, turned her attention to one of the Zohan ShieldShips that the starboard broadside had just succeeded in hulling.

Alarita had turned hir attention back to processing the endless tasks on the ship in a desperate attempt to keep up with them which was occupying all of hir cybernetic enhanced attention. One of them was the computer analysis of the burst transmission from the Zohan ships that they'd received; apparently analysis had finished and shi brought it up to review internally.
What shi saw made hir blood run cold, for it was something shi'd not seen since the Great Standing, and it terrified hir, particularly when shi saw the context of it. "MAEDHV!"
"...Alarita?" She stared, never having expected her lover to break discipline like that, and courteously never usually scanning hir mind, either.
"The Zohan. They're under the protection of Nirrti. Break off the attack, Maedhv, look, look, you've got to!" Shi sent a burst containing the recordings and power measures to Maedhv's receptors, and hir lover, didn't hesitate in reviewing them. The sucked in, sharp breath, too, seemed like a real trace of genuine shock or fear from the otherwise arrogantly powerful being.

To this point Daniel had been a helpless spectator, unable to get through to Maedhv from her attention to the battle. With Maedhv suddenly distracted Daniel leapt in. "Maedhv, you have everything you wanted. You have your mate, your ship, and your followers. Stop risking all three from your personal pride!"

"And then what of your people on the surface below, Daniel? We've already had this conversation." Maedhv shifted her fire to the BattleCarrier--it would be more efficient to wait on attacking the crews, who seemed all telempathically networked, chillingly a sign the image might be right, until all of their shields were down--and started battering away at its remaining shields as well. "Are you sure it isn't faked, Alarita?" But the Zohan are definitely descendants of Sarasavsati slaves...
"They don't know what a Lord Krishna looks like or the right power/mass ratio or reactor intermix and the Zohan got them all even if they don't know what it is. Maedhv, it's real. Break off the attack. You're attacking Nirrti's subjects. It's a violation of truce."

Daniel immediately spoke up again once Alarita finished. "But we don't need you to help them, Maedhv!"
"You can't help yourselves, Daniel. You've proved that much."
"Yes, we can," he retorted. "You've already done everything you've needed to in order to see to that." Daniel gestured to a readout of the fleet opposing her. "This close to Earth, do you think this entire fleet can go unnoticed? Every commercial satellite in orbit is probably fried now, not to mention the obviousness of your missile aimed directly at the South Pole! For better or for worse - and I grant you, probably for better - our secret is out! We haven't been using our new technology on Earth itself because we've been keeping the Stargate Program a secret, but you just blew that secret wide open!"
Still indicating the fleet, Daniel added, "Even if you still think we can't do it alone... we're not alone anymore, Maedhv! Look out there! It's not just the Asgard and the Free Jaffa we have fighting for us! A Multiverse full of people, humans and aliens, just put thousands of lives on the line to protect us! You don't think they'll help us in other ways? If we don't know how to deal with it ourselves, they can show us how to end the starvation, the destitution, the sheer misery on our world! And they don't have to take us over and rule as a dictator to do it!"

"Fine, then if I don't have to take care of you, Daniel, why do I have to rein in the Wraith like you demand?" She asnwered with a jarring grimace of consternation. "I have more important things to do now, anyway. The Ancients are attacking." Maedhv gritted her teeth, closing her eyes, and in the familiar old way her body started to waver, stomach glowing blue. It was intentional, she was attacking, not defending, in the cocoon of the ship, but it was still yet another distraction, and now her prescience lent her no help in envisioning the battle to come.
"We've lost the Distortion Field before the field reached absolute zero, Maedhv, the Asgard ships, the Ha'taks, the earth ships, they're all powering back up and recovering. One of the Ancients must have interfered with the generating beams." Alarita glanced back to Maedhv in great consternation. "And the moment the Ancients started attacking us we went to max power draw on the interference generators. We're starting to have power routing issues with the automatic systems."

Even as all this happened, Daniel gave Maedhv an incredulous look. "Why do you have to stop the Wraith?", he asked, almost in surprise that she'd said something like that. "Maybe it's because you created them, Maedhv! You gave them life! Like you said, you're their mother! Hell, for all intents and purposes, you are their God! And that makes you responsible for every life they take, every thing they do!"
Seeing he had the attention of Maedhv, Alarita, and Erin, Daniel continued. "You didn't make Humanity, Maedhv. You're not solely responsible for what we do. You might want to make us better but it's not your sole responsibility. But you did make the Wraith and that makes them your responsibility! The blood they spill is on your hands! You have an obligation to the people they hurt, even to them, to deal with them in whatever way you can!"
"You have your life back now. You have Alarita, your ship, and now your followers. There's nothing holding you here anymore. But you do have responsibilities in the Pegasus Galaxy to deal with." Daniel's expression softened a bit. "Don't you want to end this, Maedhv? Aren't you tired of the violence, the death, that has filled your life? It's claimed almost everything you've ever known or ever loved. Is this..." - he again motioned to the battle outside -"...really what you want? More war, more death? I don't think so. You've proved you want more out of life, but you have to let go of these things Maedhv. You have to stop the killing, here and in Pegasus. I don't know how, but that's something you'll have to figure out. And you won't have to do it alone."
Daniel drew in a breath, looking at Erin and Alarita for a moment before returning his attention to Maedhv. "The choice is your's, Maedhv."

The response could hardly be expected, and it shocked Alarita. Abruptly, the blue shield around her stomach vanished as her body stopped wavering... And deep in the hull the incredible engines of the Xihuatlatl began to scream, whining in their moorings as the automatics started to short out everywhere and all of the energy weapons' capacitors were dumped to engine power instead of firing, the guns of the ship immediately going silent.
Alarita had the presence of mind to of hir own initiative immediately check fire on the missile batteries as the ship tore out of the allied formation, tractor beams flinging up at Maedhv's direction to drag ships in the way of her course to the side with a rough intensity, though better than splattering them against the No-Ship like bugs. They continued reorienting with a speed and violence well beyond any that might have before seemed possible, levelling off to face the sun, the ship making 6,500g's of acceleration and straining the engines to the point of failure as her speed rapidly compounded.
And then Maedhv engaged yet some other drive, which tore them straight through the barrier of light, and beyond it, still accelerating, and still in realspace where the fleet's sensors could barely keep up. Straight toward the sun. She turned to look at Daniel, while Alarita looked on in terror, and smiled softly.
And then her transporter ability grabbed Daniel, and he was flung through space and time to materialize on the bridge of the Prometheus.



USS Prometheus, Near Earth


Sam watched with amazement as the battle simply stopped. The Xihuatlatl's guns and missiles fell silent and the ship suddenly raced forward. The Asgard ships and the Daedalus, having been in her path, were flung to the side by sudden, intense bursts of tractor force, clearing the way for the No-Ship as it barreled ahead at an impossible acceleration rate.
Straight for the Sun.
"Daniel," Sam breathed in horror, believing him still aboard, as the No-Ship accelerated past lightspeed toward Sol. Their sensors tracked it until it finished plunging through the star's corona and photosphere... and then it was gone "Oh God, Daniel...."
And out of nowhere, Daniel's voice called out, "Hey Sam."
Samantha heard Daniel and turned in her chair to where he'd appeared just behind Pendergast. Relief overpowered professionalism as she jumped up and happily embraced her comrade. Daniel took a step backward. "Woh, woh, this isn't the first time any of us have been yanked from the jaws of imminent death at the last second," he remarked.

That, and the looks of those on the bridge, sufficed to help Sam recover her usual professional decorum. She let go, though the smile was still on her face. "What happened?"
"I... I'm not sure. I said something to Maedhv and she suddenly broke off the battle and..." He went silent. "I... I just can't believe she'd kill herself and everyone..."
"Colonels, look!"

The cry of the lieutenant at a sensor station brought all eyes to a display. From the other end of Sol the massive Xihuatlatl came forth, erupting from the nuclear furnace of Sol in dramatic fashion. They had no visual of course, simply the blinking light to tell them that Maedhv's vessel had survived its descent into the heart of Sol. Their imaginations had to suffice for the image of the great No-Ship emerging from the swirling pockets of plasma and gas, an act that yet defied imagination given the sheer power it would require.
The crew double checked the sensor data, and double checked it again in a state of awe, for the course of the No-Ship meant that the Xihuatlatl had plunged straight through the immense pressures of the very core of the Sun itself. But it was real, the ship was really there, and it was confirmed a minute later as the very long range visual sensors magnified a view of her, from a solid three AU away.
Her immense bulk was streaming superheated plasmas still like a comet made of pure light, and they bled away to reveal beneath the shields fading back from a sharp orange glow to a translucent one, and then vanishing, showing the hull below as intact as it had been when Maedhv made her mad, impossible dive into the Sun. And then she lingered, though only for a moment longer, at her great speed, and finally vanished with the distinctive brief ghost-form of her fold drive engaging, leaving it all behind.

"Tells you one thing about her," Pendergast said in awe. "She knows how to make an exit."
"That wasn't what that was about," Daniel remarked.
"Oh?"
"It was her way of saying 'you're going to wish I'd stayed around'," he said to the assembled.

Everything shifted again at that moment. Daniel was back on Abydos again and Kasuf stood before him, Skaara at his side. "Well done, good son," Kasuf said happily. "We were right."
"Kasuf?" Daniel looked at his in-laws intently. "Right about what?"
"About whether to trust you," he answered. "Your judgement about Maedhv was correct, much to the surprise of Ganos and the others. They were not pleased with me when I whispered to you how to awaken her vessel back at Kuahuatl. But you have now proven I was right to do so."
Daniel nodded at that. "So, what will they do now? Has this entire thing persuaded them to give up on non-interference without exception?"
The two Abydonians shook their heads. "The others still believe it is not our place to interfere with the affairs of mortal beings," Skaara answered. "We were allowed to aid you against Maedhv because she was regarded as a responsibility of the Ancients. They acknowledge their part in betraying her and making her so vengeful toward us. And now you have convinced her to deal with the last remaining thread of their war with her, so our involvement is ended."
"The Wraith," Daniel said. "So you're going to leave her alone now because she's going to deal with the Wraith? Maybe keep them from feeding on the people in Pegasus?"

"As you said, it is her responsibility. We will leave her to managing that." Kasuf stepped forward and put his hands on Daniel's shoulders. "You have shown great wisdom, good son. But your work has not yet ended. Just as you convinced Maedhv of her responsibilities, you must fulfill your own. It is time for your people to learn the truth about their place. The time for secrets has ended."
"I agree," Daniel answered. "We have to tell people the truth now, Maedhv was right about that. We can't just use what we've learned to explore the galaxy without doing what we can back here on Earth."
"We wish you well with the tasks ahead of you, good son," Kasuf said. His expression suddenly darkened a little, as did Skaara's, as he drew close. "And we give you this warning. Maedhv and Anubis were not the only dark secrets of the Ancients to be discovered. For your sake and the sake of your people, I hope you never have cause to find out what else lies hidden in the shadows of the past."
Daniel looked at his father-in-law with a bewildered expression. "What do you mean, Kasuf?"
"Pray you never find out, Daniel," Skaara answered. Before Daniel could inquire again, the two faded away and he was back on the Prometheus, where a celebration had broken out.

"I don't know how we keep doing this," Jack's voice called out over the comm system, "but it feels great every time."
"That it does, Jack," Daniel answered in measured tones. "That it does. I just hope we can keep doing it." He forced a smile and joined the celebration, not wanting to rain on the parade despite the dark thoughts in his mind.
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-13 11:35pm 

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Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8423
Location: Florida USA
Chapter 17


The White House, Washington D.C.
Earth, United States of America
Universe Designate SRC-19



In the hours since the battle news had spread like wildfire across the world. Millions across the Southern Hemisphere had been blinded by the bright flashes of the battle against Maedhv and over half of the world's commercial satellites were fried as a result of that brief, intense conflict. The "phenomena" were getting worldwide attention with the governments of the world either demanding answers or, in the cases of those who were privy to the truth, prevaricating or otherwise trying to delay an answer.
Among those doing such were the United States government under President Henry Hayes. President Hayes had just left a meeting with some of his immediate subordinates, all constantly on the phone with various scientific experts to try and come up with an excuse as workable as the "meteor shower" used to dismiss the loss of the USS Nimitz and her carrier group to Anubis the prior year. In his office he was met by Daniel and Jack. "Ah, General O'Neill, Doctor Jackson, so good to see you," Hayes said before finding his seat. "You picked a hell of a time to pay me a visit."
"Well, Mister President, we had a good reason to come now." Jack motioned to the corner of the room. Hayes noticed now they weren't the only visitors he had. His Secret Service detail looked jumpy as they also noticed the twin figures in the room, the dimunitive alien form of Thor standing beside the larger uniformed figure of Benjamin Sisko. "May I introduce Supreme Commander Thor and Admiral Ben Sisko?"
Hayes stared with some surprise for a moment before recovering his senses. "Commander Thor, Admiral Sisko, you have my thanks and the thanks of my country for what you've done for us. What can I do for you gentlemen?"
"Your sentiment is appreciated," Thor answered. "We have come at Daniel Jackson's request to speak with you on an urgent matter."

"And what would that be?", Hayes asked.
"I've been informed that you have maintained your Stargate Program and interstellar capabilities as a national secret," Sisko answered. "Well, Mister President, you may have noticed that your secret just became compromised."
Hayes answered Sisko with a stiff nod. "Yes, Admiral, I know. We've got bureaucrats across the globe rushing to find a way to explain what's happened."
"Actually, that's why we're here." Daniel moved closer to Hayes, not bothering to take a seat. "Mister President, with everything's that happened in the past year... Anubis, Alec Colson, now this... it's time to give up on the secrecy. We need to go public now."
Hayes' eyes widened a bit at Daniel. He looked to Jack. "General O'Neill?"
Jack gave Daniel a bit of an annoyed look, though still supportive, before nodding his head at the President. "I'm as used to keeping this all under wraps as anyone, Mister President, but I think Daniel's gotten it right. It's time to go public."
That brought a stiff nod from the President. Afterward he remained quiet for a few moments before speaking again. "Gentlemen, I appreciate your opinions, but you do realize that I just got out of a room full of my highest advisors who are unanimous in maintaining the secrecy of the Stargate Program?"

"Sometimes you can get used to keeping secrets, Mister President," Sisko said from where he'd found a seat. "But that's a luxury you can no longer afford. I can assure you, there is no plausible explaination your people can make to explain away the battle that was just fought over Earth."
"Perhaps not. But we just need an answer enough people will accept until we're ready for disclosure," Hayes answered.
"Are we ever going to be ready, Mister President?", Daniel asked. "Let's be serious, we've already had Anubis knock out power over most of the globe and sink an aircraft carrier and we barely got away with our little 'explanation' for that. Now we've had much of the Southern Hemisphere blinded by today's battle, a lot of dropped phone calls from all the satellites that got knocked out, not to mention all the weathermen who won't get to show nifty looking screens on today's weather reports..."
Hayes raised a hand. "Yes, Doctor Jackson, I get the point," he replied irritably. "But we've had no preparation time. Our plans for public disclosure as they are call for more lead-time..."
"You've had eight years." Sisko folded his arms together. "How much more do you need?"
Hayes showed a dislike to the tone in Sisko's voice. "Admiral?" he asked in a very dangerous-sounding tone.
"Thousands of good men and women are either dead or wounded right now because we came to the aid of your world." Sisko leaned forward. "They didn't go through all of that so you could keep your people in the dark about what's out here. I can tell you from practical experience that there's never enough preparation time to tell something as great as this. You're better off doing it and letting things proceed from there."

There was an uncomfortable moment of silence afterward. Hayes leaned back in his chair and seemed deep in thought. "Well, Admiral, perhaps you can help me prepare for the results? What do you think the countries we didn't bring into the Stargate Project are going to do when they find out?"
"They'll be quite angry, I'm sure," Sisko answered. "But that anger will be tempered when the technology we have to offer starts becoming available."
"You think we can buy their support by giving them a few ring transporters, maybe a couple naquadah reactors?"
"Mister President, if I may...", Daniel cut in. "The technology we've gotten through the Tok'ra and the Asgard, yeah, I can see your point about that. But now we have the entire Multiversal Community," he motioned to Sisko, "on our side, with advanced technology for every aspect of life."
"Such as?"
"Food replicators," Sisko answered. "Matter-energy conversion transporters to simplify and improve your Earth's food distribution network. Advanced terraforming techniques to reinvigorate depleted soil and give regions currently arid the ability to be self-sufficient in food production. We can also provide advanced medicine to eliminate the plagues and diseases your people still suffer from. We could turn cancer from the serious and possibly terminal illness it is for you into the new common cold. We can show you how to best adapt the energy shield technology you already have to provide non-military services like emergency flood control. After all, this is the year 2005 for you isn't it? In just a few months you're going to need such technology to prevent the near-destruction of New Orleans."
"Really?", Jack asked. "Good timing for us then, I'd hate to see where we'd hold Mardi Gras without New Orleans." He flashed a grin toward Hayes, showing that the apparent irreverance was more than what it seemed.
Sisko's points had clearly gotten through to Hayes. "Well, I guess I might be losing the farm vote," Hayes remarked sardonically, thinking of how well the farm states would take the drastic drop in food prices such technology would bring. "Commander Thor?" He looked to the Asgard. "I suppose you are in agreement with these gentlemen?"

"We have long remained silent about your policies of secrecy over the Stargate Project and your knowledge of other worlds and races, as we felt it was not our place to dictate your own development to you but to permit you to grow at your own pace. But I am in concurrence with Admiral Sisko and Doctor Jackson," Thor answered. "The best thing for your people is to be told of us and their place in the universe, or the Multiverse as things now stand. It is the next step in your development as a people."
Hayes listened to the answer. He drew in a sigh. "I am going to catch ten kinds of hell for this," he lamented. "Half of my Cabinet might just walk out on me, not to mention what's going to happen from the other countries. But you gentlemen have convinced me you're right. I will need something to take to the other nations though..."
"Let me know when you intend to meet with them," Sisko said. "I will be there with an active IU radio link to the IUCEC Special Directorate. They can give assurances of our continued assistance and cooperation in raising your Earth to our technological level."
"I will also be in attendance," Thor agreed. "To answer any questions your allies may wish to make."
"It's a date, Admiral, Commander," Hayes said, standing up. "I'll go make the necessary calls to set up the meeting." As everyone stood up as well, Hayes turned his attention to Daniel. "You know, Doctor Jackson, when your name comes up I imagine some of my advisers are going to accuse you of having a personal bias in this."
"Oh?"
"Once the Stargate Program and all of its reports and studies go public, you're going to go from a crackpot kicked out of your field for kooky alien theories to a visionary who saw what no one else saw, the archeological Einstein of our day," Hayes answered. "Not to mention a national hero who saved Earth a few times."
"Oh, yeah, that." Daniel scratched at his head a little. "Um, yeah, I guess I won't mind seeing my professional reputation restored and my findings vindicated."
"Just remember to invite me to Stockholm when you get a Nobel Prize and to give me the credit for declassifying the whole mess," Hayes joked as he walked out.





Gray Star, Lunar Orbit
19 October 2178 AST



After the recent days of intense battling Gray Star's need for repair was finally being met, though not in the fashion originally planned. Normally the ship would be returned to the classified projects yard used to build her, put together deep in Minbari space. But with things developing in SRC-19 the way they were, the decision had been made by the IUCEC, as a result of their talks with Earth SRC-19's Stargate Program participants, to refit Gray Star on the spot.
Towards that purpose a Carlton Ross-class Alliance mobile dockship had been dispatched by the Stellar Navy, the great hollow vessel now containing the Gray Star within its space to undergo on-the-spot repair and refit. Replacement crew for those killed or wounded by the fight against the Replicators and then Maedhv were being arranged to join the ship's remaining complement, most of whom were now hard at work alongside an Asgard engineering team led by Hermiod to switch out Gray Star's hyperdrive with a superior Asgard model.
On the bridge Data was using his modified DNI interface to observe progress in the refit/repair operation while the other crew continued on their own duties. He briefly stood to welcome Nate back on the bridge before being waved back into his chair. "General, Chairman Thompson is on IUComm."
"Patch it through to your bridge office, Captain, I promise I won't touch anything else," Nate answered. He found the door near the front into Data's "ready room", as he tended to refer to it, and entered it. It was not as spartan as he would have figured. Data had furnished the room with a couple of chairs and a number of paintings and pictures, including images of his old crew on the Enterprise, an act of sentimentality for old and fallen comrades that one usually didn't expect from androids. As was Starfleet custom miniature models of the two USS Enterprises Data had served on were on display upon his desk, reminders of his most prominent prior positions.

Nate, as he promised, didn't touch anything but the control panel for the communications system. He inputted his Marine Corps serial number and passcode and waited for the system to accept it and begin decrypting the signal. A few moments later Arthur Thompson appeared on the small holo-emitter installed in Data's desk. "Ah, General, good to hear from you."
"Director Thompson, I see you're doing well."
"So you think. Personally I find living in a five mile long tube to be a strain, but that's something for another day and a good round or two of bourbon. How are things proceeding?"
"The repair and refit are progressing according to schedule according to Captain Data. The Asgard are personally overseeing the integration of their drive and making sure that the ZPM being plugged in won't overload our systems." Nate slipped into one of the guest chairs Data had. "Still, things are going a bit fast. We just got finished with Maedhv and now..."
"Just one of the chips we traded with President Hayes and the other SRC-19 nations," Thompson said. "Their Atlantis Expedition is expecting an attack by these 'Wraith' to come soon. Even if we get the city the ZPMs it needs from that stash you got from Maedhv they're going to need all the help they can get and [/i}Gray Star[i] is one of the couple ships we have available."
"Well, Data and his crew are ready to join Daedalus in the relief mission to Pegasus Galaxy. Doctor Herzela is staying with them to help make sure the technology is properly integrated and, I believe, because she's dying to get a look at all that Ancient technology."
A smirk crossed Thompson's face. "Yes, she can get carried away, can't she? But you're not intending to go too, are you?"
"Oh hell no, I'm not getting dragged to a different galaxy," Nate guffawed. "No, now that this is done I have to go back home and explain to Ivvie why I missed the end of her wedding reception."
"Oh, yes, my congratulations to Ivliya, and please give her my personal apologies for dragging her daddy out so he could help save the known Multiverse," Thompson chuckled in reply. "Well, I respect you have to go mend fences with the family, but I've been talking with the rest of the Directorate and we might have a job for you, something a little bit better than being a Quartermaster..."





The White House, Washington D.C.
Earth, United States of America



Nate was back in dress blues when he materialized in one of the private conference rooms of the White House, courtesy of the Asgard transporter now installed on the Gray Star. The room was already occupied with Generals O'Neill and Hammond and the other members of SG-1. "Ah, General Hammond." Nate gave Hammond a respectful salute, recognizing the third star on his rank insignia now. "It's good to see you sir."
"General Mackensen," Hammond answered with a salute and a smile. He extended his hand afterward, prompting Nate into accepting the handshake. "Congratulations on your promotion."
"Thank you, Sir, the same to you."
"How is everyone?"
"They're doing fine. Frank Parker just made Colonel, we keep in touch. Most of the others I don't really hear from, you know how it is, but I do know Lieutenant Colette left the service and got a position in the Colonization Bureau." Nate found a seat after being prompted by Hammond. "As for General Thompson, it's actually Director Thompson now. Chairman right now actually. He got talked into joining the IUCEC Special Directorate that got formed after President Dale brought some of the other powers in on the Stargate Project."
"I guess we all get moved up over time," Hammond agreed. "I've found that as the head of Homeworld Security here in Washington I have to deal with our own allies who are in on this operation. Though there's going to be a lot of change coming up."

"Yeah, I was told before coming down. President Hayes is about to do full public disclosure with lots of IUCEC guarantees to soften the blow." Nate let out a low whistle. "Things are going to become pretty damn interesting around here. I hadn't even been born when the Surveyor crashed on HM-1 Earth but we still had some issues about it when I was growing up."
"Hopefully the prior experience you've had with this kind of situation will make things least interesting for us," Daniel said hopefully.
"You can always hope, Doc, but we won't know for sure until it all hits the fan..."
The door opened and a suited man peaked in. "We're ready."
"Well, folks, here we go," Jack said as he stood from the chair he was in.





The President had picked the Rose Garden to hold his world-shattering press conference. A large number of reporters were already present, their cameras transmitting across a confused and uneasy world. For the moment Nate remained to the side and off the camera, as did Jack and the members of SG-1, so Hayes could do his thing.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the press, my fellow Americans," Hayes began, before adding a third term not part of the usual opening, "and those of other nations watching me here today, these past couple of days have seen extraordinary events rock our world. The Southern Hemisphere is now reeling with the result of millions of people blinded by the phenomena that appeared in the sky overhead while hundreds of people airborne in the vicinity of the South Pole have been sadly killed by a sudden and massive burst of radiation. Global communications has been sent reeling by the sudden loss of over sixty percent of our satellite network. You are all asking for an explanation. You deserve an explanation. And I've come to give it."

Hayes took in a breath and visibly swallowed, steeling himself for what he was about to unleash. "Everything that has happened is the result of nothing less than a massive battle in the space between Earth and our moon, waged between a force determined to take over our world.... and a fleet of friendly humans and aliens who came to protect us." He waited a moment for the stunned, amazed reporters to absorb what he just said, their incredulous looks telling him what he needed to know about how people would take this.
And so he continued. "When I became President earlier this year I was informed of a top secret project known as the Stargate Program that had been enacted by my predecessor. The Program involved using an ancient device known as a Stargate, found by archeologists in Egypt in the 1920s and in US Air Force possession since the end of World War II, to travel to different worlds through a galaxy-wide network of these Stargates. This 'Stargate Command', as it came to be known, has since enhanced our knowledge of the galaxy and made contact with many worlds. They have also served as our protectors and on numerous occasions have, through bravery and sacrifice, protected our entire world from threats we would never have known about otherwise."

With incredulous looks still on the faces of those watching him, Hayes nevertheless checked the clock and counter placed behind the cameras before continuing. "Among the most amazing discoveries that Stargate Command has made was to discover that we were truly not alone. Our universe, our Earth, is just one of many, and there are other Earths out there who have long taken to the stars. These separate worlds are among those who came to our aid two days ago and have pledged to provide us with help... and with protection."
Another glance at the time counter told him that it was time. A second later a loud roar filled the air and eyes looked skyward. Shouts of surprise, fear, and amazement came from the assembled as the form of the Prometheus swooped over the White House, flanked by F-302s and some F-15 fighters. The newer Daedalus followed the Prometheus amongst a formation of F-302s. "Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to introduce to you to the Earth vessels Prometheus and Daedalus, built here on Earth using advanced technology gifted to us by offworld allies. They are crewed by the finest men and women that the United States Air Force has to offer, acting under my authority and with the support of the other permanent UN Security Council members."

The demonstration was not over. More cries of surprise and astonishment came as the Gray Star flew overhead, clearly larger than either Earth ship. Flanking it were a few ovoid and aerodynamic-shaped Assault DropShips of the Lyran, FWL, and Capellan fleets and finally, behind them, a squadron of White Stars with their engines making a particularly unique shriek in the air. "As for the others, these are some of our allies. They have already pledged to me and the other permanent Security Council members their continued support and immense technological aid. With this aid the problems that face our world - drought, starvation, pollution, declining energy reserves - will be overcome. Through them we may finally see an end to the misery that continues to afflict most of the world."
"These are the fruits of the Stargate Program, fruits that we would be wrong to hide from you any longer." Hayes cracked a smile, well aware of the hailstorm about to descend upon him over what he'd done. "But before I continue, I would like to give recognition to a group of people who have time and again served not just America but Earth as a whole. Their efforts were paramount to the accomplishments of the Stargate Program. Time and again they have acted to protect the people of Earth and encourage others to take a stand against a terrible, tyrannical empire that now, thanks to what they've done and inspired, is finally collapsing. Their efforts have been, at best, quietly rewarded, but most often left hidden due to the secrecy of the Stargate Program. Thankfully, we can give them the credit and applause they are so richly due. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Brigadier General Jonathan O'Neill, the current head of Stargate Command, and his comrades Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter, Doctor Daniel Jackson, and Teal'c of the Jaffa. They are the original members of the flagship offworld team of Stargate Command, SG-1."

"Enjoy being the Big Damned Heroes, everyone," Nate remarked in a low voice, prompting a brief look from Jack before he joined the others in accepting the applause of Hayes and the assembled. The applause wasn't quite as heartfelt as SG-1 deserved, if only because those assembled were still reeling from what they'd heard and, in most cases, were applauding only because the President was doing so and clearly expected it of those gathered.
Hayes shook hands with the members of SG-1 one at a time, accepting salutes from Jack and Samantha and a deferential head-bow from Teal'c. "A grateful world thanks you for your service," he told them. "I am proud to be the one who has introduced you to the world you have protected so bravely."
"Thank you, Mister President," Jack answered for his team, close enough to the microphone to be heard. "It's an honor to have you introduce us."
"The honor was mine, General O'Neill." Hayes looked back to the podium. "I will be taking questions shortly, but before we start I have one more person to introduce, a dear ally of Earth who has played a significant role in the events of the past couple of days. Ladies and gentlemen, Brigadier General Nathan Mackensen of the Allied Nations Marine Corps, newly-appointed liaison officer of the New Brasilia Treaty Organization to Stargate Command."

Jack flashed a grin to Nate, who didn't let out the groan he very much felt like giving before stepping up as well and shaking Hayes' hand. Turning to the assembled reporters, Hayes said, "General Mackensen will now join me in taking your questions."
"Why couldn't it be Sisko?" Nate whispered to Hayes.
"Something about not getting along well with media," Hayes answered. "Said talking to them gave him a splitting headache."
"I think I'm about to get one," Nate muttered as hands went up from the assembled reporters.



Jack O'Neill's Cottage, Colorado
Earth, United States of America
22 October 2178 AST



A couple days after the historic press conference in the SRC-19 Rose Garden, Brigadier Generals Jack O'Neill and Nate Mackensen were in civilian clothes and holding fishing poles cast into the lake behind O'Neill's Colorado home. A cooler with the remnants of a pack of Heineken beer remained on the ground between their lawn chairs while each held a bottle in their free hand. Silence reigned for the moment as the two men enjoyed another swig. Jack would be the one to break the silence, asking, "So, when do I get to find out what space beer is like?"
That prompted an amused look from Nate. "Space beer?", he asked.
"Yeah. That's what they're going to market it as, you know." Jack put the pole down and held a hand up, as if creating a little sign. "It'll make millions. People will buy it just for that."
"Ha." Nate took another swig of Heineken. "Trust me, Jack, it doesn't matter what planet it's brewed on or which universe, beer is beer."
"Oh come on, beer can never be just beer. You ever have one of those fancy imported beers from Europe?"
"Okay, you got me on that." Nate began to think hard. "Okay, I'll have to get you some Lowry's Stout, from a microbrewery on New Appalachia. Favored beer of any Marine who's ever been stationed there. They use some native hops - I mean native as in natural to New Appalachia and not transplanted from Earth - in the brew, makes it real frothy and kind of, I dunno, sweet and spicy I guess. It goes down smooth though."
"Well..." Jack almost made a "Jarhead standards" joke but held back at the last moment, not so much from lack of a buzz as it was the desire to try out an exotic non-Earth beer. "Sounds like something I should try."

"There's also this Keloan drink I once tried, they call it a s'nurga, it's pretty strong and is pretty salty too. But they tend to cost a lot if you get one of the top Keloan brewed types."
"Alien beer?" Jack seemed to think for a moment. "Cool. Definitely gotta try that."
"Just do yourself a favor, Jack, and never ever let anyone ever talk you into Klingon bloodwine," Nate warned. "That stuff is like 220 proof strong, seriously. It's almost pure alcohol, I swear to God. I don't know how Klingons can drink the stuff and not get instant cirrhosis."
Jack nodded. "I'll keep that in mind."

Another they each finished their bottles and fished for more from the cooler Jack went on to say, "Nice job at that press conference, by the way."
"Are you kidding? Half the reporters thought I was some lunatic brought in as part of a really elaborate cover-up by your government and the other half looked like I was about to jump into the crowd and eat their brains or something."
"Oh, they did not," Jack retorted. "Even if they were afraid of you they stopped being so the instant you started acting like a deer in the headlights."
"Ha." Nate shook his head. "I'm no damned good with the media. Don't know why Thompson insisted on giving me this liaison position with the SGC. I should've said no, dammit, but what the hell, I've always been the 'serve dutifully' type and it's got to be more exciting than debating what local contractor on New Appalachia we'll be getting bathroom supplies from." Taking another drink, Nate added, "That was a bit of theater by President Hayes. That flyby I mean."
"Hey, I thought it was pretty cool. And it's hard for people to think we're all nuts when they've got big honking spaceships flying overheard."
"Yeah, but think about what might've gone wrong. People might've gotten scared, thought the Earth was being invaded or something and started rioting and looting."
"Oh come on, that wouldn't happen," Jack said. "Besides, it was cool. That's reason enough in my book."
"Yeah, I guess it was kind of cool to see all those ships flying overhead...."

Another period of silence passed with the sun beginning to slowly set in the sky. They were down to their beer when Nate stopped looking at where his pole's fishing line was dangling through the surface of the water and turned to Jack. "Say, Jack, um.... there wouldn't happen to be any fish in this lake, would there?"
That brought a moment of thoughtful silence from Jack. "Y'know, to be honest, I don't think there's a single fish in the lake."
The only response Nate gave was a blank stare. "Okay. Fine. That's... that's fine, really, fishing in a lake with no fish." He finished his bottle as Jack finished his and they each put their emptied containers into the pile of empty bottles between them. The two men eyed the single solitary Heineken bottle left. "Flip you for it?", Nate asked.
"Nah," Jack answered. "Rock-paper-scissors?"
"You're on."

Last edited by Steve on 2009-06-15 05:02pm, edited 1 time in total.
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The Duchess of Zeon
PostPosted: 2009-06-18 09:55pm 

Gözde


Joined: 2002-09-18 01:06am
Posts: 14354
Location: Exiled in the Pale of Settlement.
Chapter 18




Stargate 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:


Quote:
“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?”

“Yes.”


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.
   Profile |  

The Duchess of Zeon
PostPosted: 2009-06-19 02:14am 

Gözde


Joined: 2002-09-18 01:06am
Posts: 14354
Location: Exiled in the Pale of Settlement.
And, for the tech nerds! :

QUEEN KERALKA CLASS LINE SHIPS OF THE TALORAN IMPERIAL STARFLEET, SHOWN AS THE REPRESENTATIVE, HSMS EMPRESS MIKELA THE GREAT, OF A MODIFIED SUB-VARIANT NOT REPRESENTATIVE OF REGULAR SHIPS OF THE CLASS. THESE SHIPS ARE RATED AS SUPERDREADNOUGHTS ACCORDING TO ALLIANCE CLASSIFICATION LISTS.


NOTED STATISTICS:

Length, overall: 3,965 meters.

Beam, minus sponsons: 375 meters.

Height, minus superstructure: 375 meters.

Hull Volume (superstructure and sponson exclusive): 240 million m^3.

Mass, Empty Hull: 71.35 megatonnes.

Mass, Fuel: 220 megatonnes (metallic hydrogen plus miniscule quanatities of anti-matter and fissionables counted in stores).

Mass, Stores: 55 megatonnes (45 megatonnes are metallic hydrogen for ERA).

Mass, internal fittings: 20 megatonnes.

Mass, sensor masts, hangars, barbettes, turrets, guns, missile casemates and other superstructure: 76.2 megatonnes.

Mass, Total: 436.05 megatonnes.

Pod Empty Mass: 4.5 megatonnes.

Pod Fuel Mass: 5 megatonnes.

Pod Stores Mass: 1 megatonne.

Pod Equipment Mass: 1.25 megatonne.

Total Mass of Two Fully Equipped Pods: 20.5 megatonnes.

Overall loaded mass with pods: 456.55 megatonnes.

External fittings volume: 30 million cubic meters.

Total volume: 270 million cubic meters.

Density: 1,700 kg / cubic meter (equivalent to the ship being a solid aluminium block).

Overall Power Output: Approximately 1.25 x 10^20 watts.

Sublight drive type: Heim gravito-magnetic reactionless; high efficiency.

Crew Compliment: 25,000 minimum operational; 55,000 war standard.

Onboard troops and flight personnel: approx. ~10,000.

Energy Armament: 72 x 1.5 GT p.c. in 18 quadruple turrets; 56 x 50 MT p.c. in 23 twin turrets and 10

single mounts. Main guns are capable of firing once every twelve seconds, secondary guns once every two seconds.

Missile Armament: 16 x 10 GT short-range torpedo tubes per broadside; 4 x TTs fore and aft,

40 in all, eight reloads per tube. 120 x Mk.30 very-long-range quadruple-rail accelerative missile

launchers per broadside, 240 in all, 300 missiles per rail (variable mix of anti-fighter/anti-ship rounds) -- some missiles can be replaced with 4-pack capsules for LIS-168 as needed; standard anti-ship warhead is 256 MT for very-long-range missile for the Mk.30. Torpedo and missile launchers recycle to fire once every six seconds.


Point-Defence Armament: 144 x twin 21cm p.g. turrets (each gun fires four times per second); 288 x sixteen-cell missile interceptor launchers, 288 x quadruple LIS-168 box launchers (reloads carried internally only) -- 'raider-killer' bolt-on anti-slow small craft weapons + 8 x additional box launchers inside the hangar bays for last-ditch defence against suicide attack; 288 x flak projectors.

Weapons busbar capacity: 10.95 GT/S.

Maximum instantaneous shield absorption capacity (impact of greater energy than this in the space of a milisecond will burn out and destroy all the ship's shield genators): 208 GTs. (note only half this energy is available to each broadside.)

Acceleration:

1,500g's.


STATISTICS RELEVANT TO THE EMPRESS MIKELA THE GREAT SUB-CLASS:

Length, overall: 3,967 meters.

Beam, minus sponsons: 377 meters.

Height, minus superstructure: 375 meters.

Hull Volume (superstructure and sponson exclusive): 240.5 million m^3.

Mass, Empty: 74.15 megatonnes.

Mass, Fuel: 220 megatonnes (metallic hydrogen and fuel-grade tylium, plus miniscule quanatities of anti-matter and fissionables counted in stores).

Mass, Stores: 57.5 megatonnes. (46 megatonnes are metallic hydrogen for ERA).

Mass, internal fittings: 20 megatonnes.

Mass, sensor masts, hangars, barbettes, turrets, guns, missile casemates and other superstructure: 76.2 megatonnes.

Mass, Total: 445.05 megatonnes.

Pod Empty Mass: 4.5 megatonnes.

Pod Fuel Mass: 8 megatonnes.

Pod Stores Mass: 1 megatonne.

Pod Equipment Mass: 1.25 megatonne.

Total Mass of Two Fully Equipped Pods: 26.5 megatonnes.

Overall loaded mass with pods: 471.55 megatonnes.

External fittings volume: 30 million cubic meters.

Total volume: 270.5 million cubic meters.

Density: 1,750 kg / cubic meter (Somewhat more than the ship being a solid aluminium block).

Overall Power Output: Figures reported to IUCEC indicate approx. 9 x 10^20 watts at maximum power.

Sublight drive type: Heim gravito-magnetic reactionless; high efficiency.

Crew Compliment: 25,000 minimum operational; 35,000 war standard (heavily automated by Taloran standards).

Onboard troops and flight personnel: approx. ~5,000.

Energy Armament: 72 x 1.5 GT p.c. in 18 quadruple turrets; 56 x 50 MT p.c. in 23 twin turrets and 10

single mounts. Main guns are capable of firing once every two seconds, being of modified type with Tylium heat sumps which serve to transfer thermal energy from recoil absorption into electrical power for ship systems, secondary guns fire twice a second due to the same method being employed in their design.

Missile Armament: 16 x short-range torpedo tubes per broadside; 4 x TTs fore and aft, 40 in all, ten reloads per tube. These torpedoes have 48 gigatonne three-stage M/AM -> Tylium -> Fusion warheads. 120 x Mk.30 very-long-range quadruple-rail accelerative missile launchers per broadside, 240 in all, 300 missiles per rail (variable mix of anti-fighter/anti-ship rounds) -- some missiles can be replaced with 4-pack capsules for LIS-168 as needed; Tylium-boosted anti-ship warhead is 1.23 GT for very-long-range missile for the Mk.30. Torpedo and missile launchers recycle to fire once every six seconds.


Point-Defence Armament: 144 x twin 21cm p.g. turrets (each gun fires 27 times per second with Tylium cooling system fitted); 288 x sixteen-cell missile launchers (RMI-120 high acceleration interceptor missiles carried), 288 x quadruple LIS-168 box launchers (reloads carried internally only) -- 'raider-killer' bolt-on anti-slow small craft weapons + 8 x additional box launchers inside the hangar bays for last-ditch defence against suicide attack; 288 x flak projectors (these emit a cloud of ball bearings around the ship to destroy incoming missiles with their own kinetic energy).

Weapons busbar capacity: 82.125 GT/S (amount of energy which can be directed into the ship's weapons).

Shield type and strength: Vessel uses a composite layer system with 16 different shield fields. Each shield field area is triple layered, and each layer is powered by a copy of a standard Ha'tak shield generator so that the total shield strength is comparable to that of 48 Ha'tak type vessels. The ship is physically much larger than a Ha'tak however and so the point-strength is at 3 times Ha'tak strength. Backup shields have a maximum absorption capacity of 224 gigatons / ms, only half of which can be absorbed in each direction without compromising resistance to the other broadside. A total of 52 shield generators are fitted.

Acceleration at full load mass, with pods full and fitted: 1,985g's.

Power generation: The Empress Mikela the Great uses a revolutionary new Triple Cycle Generation propulsion system. The standard Taloran Double-Generation system in which an initial stage of Hydrogen --> Helium 3 fusion provides the majority of the power and a matter/anti-matter catalyzed fusion of Beryllium six from the helium products of the first fusion cycle. In the Empress Mikela the Great however the heat from the two fusion cycles is directed through fuel-grade Tylium (also known as Naquadah) which produces an immense boost in overall power; the ship is recorded as generating about 7.5 - 8 times the power of the standard Double Cycle generation scheme. The primary fuel for the reactor cycle is metallic hydrogen.

Armour: The armour has been enhanced (making the ship slightly longer and beamier) with a layer of naquadah which transfers thermal energy in the outer armour layers into electricity, recharging the capacitors of the shield generators and guns and cooling the armour to prevent additional thermal deformation. The use of the metallic hydrogen tankage as explosive-reactive armour is retained.

Drive capability: Instead of the standard Gravito-Magnetic submersion (Heim Field drive) and Jump drive combination, the Empress Mikela II has a third stage with a Goa'uld Hyperdrive. The combination of Gravito-Magnetic drive operation inside of Hyperspace allows the ship to obtain 53.4 times the regular speed of a Goa'uld hyperdrive without further modification. Using a Cylon jump drive installation, the ship can instantaneously jump up to 1,840 lightyears with a recharge and recycling time on the jump-drive of 35 minutes. Dropping out of hyperspace and jumping before returning to hyperspace can be accomplished under computer-predictor control within one Taloran minute, making it worthwhile to use the hyper/heim-field combination and jump drive successfully when a maximum speed approaching 24,000 lightyears / hour is desired in critical response situations.

Onboard parasite combat craft: A total of 128 modified J'u'crea-type Gunboats are carried. They operate with a modified version of the semisapient computers used on Carinan tanks and small craft, allowing them to be fully automated and dispense with the crew; this in combination with Tylium power boosting allows for much more rapid-firing 21cm guns, more missiles, better shields to be fitted, and somewhat higher accelerations to be obtained; the craft can also manoeuvre without regard to a crew's limitations, and receive directives from a slave-control facility inside the ship, but can operate fully autonomously for scouting purposes.

Pod notes: The currently fitted pods each carry 24,000 Very Long Range missiles in mass-flushable cell launchers as well as the general stores and fuel storage normative to all pods.

Last edited by The Duchess of Zeon on 2009-06-27 01:36am, edited 3 times in total.
   Profile |  

Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-22 05:53pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8423
Location: Florida USA
Chapter 19



Atlantis, Lantea
Pegasus Galaxy



The mood among the members of the Atlantis Expedition had fallen to new depths, with just days left until the arrival of the Wraith. With the threat to Earth having been made clear by Teyla Emmagin's telepathic contact with the Wraith the Expedition members were faced with a bleak set of options, the primary one to be to destroy the city and wipe the city's database to keep the Wraith from finding Earth.
Dr. Rodney McKay was busy informing the others of his plan to re-activate an Ancient defense satellite found at the outer edge of the system, along the Wraith path of advance, when the alarm came from the control room. "Unscheduled gate activation!"
Given the mood it was perfectly understandable that every heart in the room froze with dread. Dr. Elizabeth Weir and Maj. John Sheppard were the first into the control room overlooking Atlantis' Stargate. As they arrived the gate flashed to life, though not before the Canadian technician overseeing the gate controls triggered the protective shield. "Do we have an IDC?", Weir asked as she took a position near the Stargate controls.
The technician stared at the screen for a moment. An astonished expression came to his face. "Doctor, reading IDC, it's... Stargate Command!"

Stunned astonishment came across the faces of all in the room. Remaining skeptical for a moment, Sheppard asked, "Wait, are you sure?"
"It's confirmed, it's Stargate Command!"
"Lower the shield!" A sudden burst of enthusiasm came over Weir and the others as she, Sheppard, McKay, and Lt. Aidan Ford all tromped down the steps and toward the Stargate. The protective field that covered it flashed out of existance. As they came close armed soldiers began entering, moving out in a protective formation briefly before they allowed themselves to relax. A gray-haired figure stepped through after the first squad of troops, wearing an urban camo BDU and the rank insignia of a US Colonel. Ford saluted immediately as the figure walked up to them. The man saluted sharply and identified himself, "Colonel Dillion Everett, United States Marine Corps. Dr. Elizabeth Weir?"
"Yes," Weir answered, everyone else staring at the figures continuing to come through, some pulling pallets of boxes or carrying smaller ones.
"My congratulations to you on a job well done under extraordinary circumstances." Everett brought up a radio. "We're clear, send them through."

As more men and women came through carrying items, Jack and Nate emerged from the event horizon as well. This prompted Weir and the others to gawk for a moment; O'Neill, commander of the SGC, stepping through to Atlantis and stranding himself here? Unless....
"Dr. Weir, good to see you're all still with us." Jack motioned to Nate. "Doctor, Major Sheppard, Doctor McKay, this is General Nathan Mackensen, Allied Nations Marine Corps and the new NBTO liaison to the SGC. Nate, this is Doctor Elizabeth Weir, Major John Sheppard, Doctor Rodney McKay."
"Nice to meet you," Nate said to them.
"General, what are you doing here?", McKay asked, almost stammered. "I mean, you can't go back unless...."
"Doctor McKay, we come bearing gifts." Jack looked back just in time to see three SGC personnel carrying in boxes, each clearly labeled "ZPM".

At that sight McKay's eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas morning finding an overflowing mountain of presents underneath the tree. "How... how did you... three ZedPMs?"
"It's a long story," Jack said. McKay didn't wait to ask more, he immediately began motioning for the box-carriers to follow him so he could get the ZPMs plugged in. "So, how are you holding up?"
"We weren't doing bad until the Wraith started coming in," Sheppard answered. "Speaking of that, are we getting anything else to help with the Wraith?"
"We've got four ships coming your way, including one big honking... what are they called again?" Jack looked to Nate.
"Superdreadnought," Nate offered.
"Ah, yes, superdreadnought... I really do like the sound of that."
"Sounds... big." Sheppard gave a little half nod along with that remark. He pointed toward Nate. "I don't think that uniform looks..."
"He's from a different universe, Sheppard," Jack answered. "Afraid you weren't with the SGC long enough before leaving to get briefed on that one."

Weir, however, had. "The universe-jumping Humans from the Olympos Mission?"
"One and the same."
From behind it the scope of aid coming into Atlantis was now clear. Open pallets carrying powered body armor should the Wraith somehow get in the city went by. Others bore the markings of surface-to-orbit weapon emplacement parts that were going to be rigged to the city's pier areas.
"Woh, that is one sweet looking set of body armor," Ford remarked upon seeing a platoon of Alliance Recon Marines start coming through the gate in their own light powered armor. "When do I get one?"
"When you're certified for it, Lieutenant," Nate answered for him.
"We're bringing you enough materials to hold out in case the Wraith do somehow break the shield, as well as some weapons we hope will catch them a bit by surprise if they get too close." Jack grinned. "Presuming our ships don't get here first and..."

"General, sir, we may have a problem."
Heads turned toward a young Oriental man hovering over a computer system. Nate asked, "Yes, Lieutenant Nguyen?"
"I was doing a quick systems check on this security scanner and picked up some kind of anomaly. It looks like a life sign but..." Nguyen looked up at Nate. "It's definitely not Human."
"I think we have a couple non-humans here already," Nate pointed out.
"No, that's not it Sir. The signal's coming from elsewhere in the city."
Everyone started looking at one another. "A Wraith," Sheppard said. "Has to be one..."
"How could it have gotten here without us knowing?", Ford asked.
"Your report did mention a flyby by a Wraith fighter," Jack pointed out. "Sneaky, but that just means they take after their Mommy Dearest." When that prompted another quizzical look from the assembled Atlantis personnel, Jack added, "Another long story, you'll have access to the report soon enough."

Suddenly a new voice called out. "Hey Jack, did I miss anything?"
Looking very irritated, Jack turned to see where Daniel had stepped through the gate. "Daniel? I thought you were going to remain on Earth gloating to all the people who claimed you were crazy?", Jack asked.
"I can always gloat later," he answered. "Besides, you might end up blowing up Atlantis so I wanted to get a chance to look around as quick as possible." A sardonic look came over Daniel's face. "After all, you and catastrophic explosions and/or other acts of destruction do tend to go together."
Nate chuckled a little before catching himself, putting a hand over his mouth as he endured an irritated look from Jack. Jack looked back to Daniel and, suddenly, a very pleased smile came to his face. A very pleased, mischievous smile.
Upon seeing that smile, Daniel felt a cold feeling go down his spine. "Jack, I don't like that look. What are you about to do?"
Still smiling, Jack gave his reply. "I was just thinking that if you've come all this way you might as well make yourself useful."
In a very cautious tone," Daniel asked, "Useful in what way?"
At that question, Jack's smile looked almost predatory, and that didn't make Daniel feel good at all.




A short time later Daniel was walking around Atlantis in the general location of the suspected Wraith. "I should have stayed home," he muttered.
"Oh, just relax, you'll be fine," Jack answered over the radio.
Daniel increased the grip on his pistol.
He was turning a corner when he heard a noise, a low hissing sound. He swung the gun and his flashlight around and found himself staring face to face with a humanoid figure of pale greenish complexion. The being hissed at him and swung out, knocking the gun from Daniel's hand. The speed of his attacker was such that Daniel barely moved before he was being thrown back into the wall, the Wraith reaching its hand back in a prepatory gesture for feeding.
He stopped when the word "Maedhv" left Daniel's lips. Still snarling, the Wraith seemed to appraise Daniel closely. "How do you know of the High Queen, Human?", he demanded.
He didn't get to say anything else. A bolt of energy struck him courtesy of a zat'nikatel in Jack's hand. The Wraith fell over completely unconscious.
Daniel drew in a breath and put his hand to his head for a moment while Jack walked up. A group of Alliance Recon Marines in full power armor moved around him to secure the body, Sheppard taking up a position beside Jack. "Good work, Doctor Jackson," Sheppard said. "You're better at this than Rodney."
"Yeah, I have a lot of experience in 'I'm about to die' situations," Daniel answered sarcastically, giving a "Are you happy now?!" glare to Jack.

"So, what's this about 'Maedhv' and a High Queen?"
"That..."
"....is a long story, yeah," Sheppard finished for Jack. "Well, how about you tell me while we get Bob here," he motioned to the unconscious Wraith, "into a holding cell?"
Daniel looked a bit bewildered before asking, "Bob?", in an incredulous tone.
"Yeah, well, they don't name themselves," Sheppard explained, "And we already had a 'Steve'."
"Really? Huh." Jack nodded, seemingly impressed. "'Bob', I like that. 'Bob' is good. Any other names on the list for the next one?"
Sheppard seemed to think about a second. "Either Todd or Michael," he finally answered. "McKay suggested Radek and Peter as names for the list but given his rivalry with Zelenka and Kavanagh I decided against it."
"Ah, Dr. Kavanagh," Jack said simply, thinking about the civilian's petulant message to him in Atlantis' earlier broadcast home about the things he thought Dr. Weir had done wrong. "Maybe I shouldn't have used Daniel to draw Bob the Wraith out...", he added, letting the sentence trail off wistfully.



Several hours later Daniel was waiting with Sheppard and Teyla when "Bob" came too. "Well, Bob, good to see you awake finally," Sheppard remarked. "We've got some questions to ask you."
The Wraith merely gazed at them, smiling an eerie, predatory smile.
"You've been in this city two weeks," Sheppard continued. "What have you done while you've been here."
"I have a question for you as well," Bob the Wraith countered. He leveled his eyes on Daniel. "How do you know the name of our High Queen?"
"Answer our questions and I'll answer your's," Daniel replied.
Still smiling, Bob's reply was cold in delivery. "The truth is that it doesn't matter what I did to this city. You cannot stop us from taking this place and finding the location of Earth."
Sheppard and Daniel exchanged looks. Neither wanted to tell Bob too much since he might telepathically warn the others. "You know what I think? I think you were biding your time until the fleet was close," Daniel answered. "Then you were going to come out and sabotage the city while we tried to defend it."
"If you think that, then your question is meaningless. Mine isn't. How do you Humans know of the High Queen?"
"We... found her name written down in the database. I recently finished the translations," Daniel lied.
Bob clearly saw through it, as he let out a low cackle and answered, "I do not believe you. You know far more than that."
"Maybe I do," Daniel admitted. "But I have no reason to cooperate with you."
"But you do, Human," Bob said. "If you truly know the High Queen, we may yet spare you to learn about her whereabouts."

To that Sheppard remarked, "You want to know about this 'High Queen' pretty bad. Why?"
Bob scowled. "That is not your affair."
"Given you plan on feeding on us and then Earth, I think it's become our affair," Daniel pointed out.
"I will tell you no more," Bob insisted. "You can kill me but it will only ensure your suffering when the others find out what you have done. But if you cooperate with us on your knowledge of the High Queen..."
Daniel and Sheppard looked at each other. "I have a better idea," Sheppard finally said. "Teyla?"
Looking very resigned but determined, Teyla stepped up to the bars of the holding cell and began to concentrate.




Jack and Nate were in the main conference room with Weir, Dr. Carson Beckett, and McKay as Sheppard, Daniel, and Teyla reported on the results of their interview with "Bob". "I am sorry," Teyla said softly, still looking rather unettled, "but I was unable to get into his mind."
"So we don't know if he did any sabotage before being caught," Jack said. "Swell."
"Oh, I'm not too worried about that now," McKay said in a very self-assured tone. "I am happy to report that our three ZedPMs are operating perfectly normally. We'll be able to raise the city shield easily and hold off the Wraith for quite some time. And with the assistance of these Talarans...."
"Talorans," Daniel corrected him.
"Whatever," McKay answered in expasperation. "...with some input from them, your's-truly has been able to power the weapons they've brought through the Stargate from the ZPMs as well. We're ready to give the Wraith one hell of a fight."
"That's good, that's real good," Jack said. "Well, I've enjoyed my visit, Dr. Weir. I look forward to telling the President what an excellent job you and your people have done here in Pegasus. But I'm afraid I must be getting back to Earth." Standing up, Nate doing the same a moment later, Jack motioned to Daniel. "Come along, Daniel."

"But... I haven't gotten to really look around yet, I haven't even seen the database..."
"Daniel, in sixteen hours you're giving a report to a joint session of Congress and a UN General Assembly meeting," Jack reminded him sternly. "You're going to have to come back to Earth."
Looking defeated, Daniel looked to Sheppard and Weir and said, "Please, please don't get this city blown up."
"Sorry, Doctor Jackson, we can't make any promises," Weir answered.
"But we'll do our best," Sheppard promised. "We've grown rather attached to it ourselves."




Empress Mikela The Great, Arriving Over Lantea
Pegasus Galaxy
29 October 2178





“As Your Ladyship commands,” Commodore Anneliese von Brauchitsch turned around with the vaguest of smiles on her lips, leaving Fiyesia to vaguely smile. She had been the one who recommended to Admiral Uroijha that they not bother with their titles when dealing with democratic Earth-humans of the 21st century, who would respond negatively to it. Properly Fiyesia was Her Ladyship the Rear Admiral Fiyesia Countess of Hilumjhui. Democratic societies never thought well of such formality, and now they had a real chance at securing command of the IUCEC force in Pegasus due to their judicious support of the Stargate Command’s civilian leadership there, and less formal demeanour.

Unfortunately, such delicate concerns of political manoeuvre were about to end in favour of a less tasteful action, for all it was one Fiyesia was scarcely unfamiliar with-nor was most of her crew unblooded. Von Brauchitsch for that matter had received the Order of the Faith against the Domain’s forces, which was not a military order, but had been given by the Farzian prelates for the liberation of countless slaves at the Battle of Rulangat while commanding a detachment under the Marchioness Sapai during the first interuniversal adventure of the Empire. Since the Zohan had been instrumental in the construction of the Empress Mikela the Great they had put her name in for captaincy of the ship and so the first Tylium enhanced vessel in the Imperial Starfleet had been put under the command of a human who had entered the Imperial service because she was bored with being the dutiful housewife of the officer she’d married.

Well, she was in Supply, and how odd that relationship turned out, didn’t it? Now it’s Anneliese who’s the decorated hero, and Khalimna in relative obscurity. Fiyesia admitted that her having been a family friend of Khalimna’s had provided some influence in the appointment, but the Order of the Faith was no triviality, even and more precisely especially on the neck of a human. Having her in command, also turned out to be good publicity here, though Fiyesia was the ranking officer. The immensely tall and rugged German woman with her body wiry from hard exercise and kept dangerously lean, and hair coloured a vibrant green that contrasted blue eyes, was admittedly attractive even by Taloran standards, if not particularly, though Fiyesia had never had much recourse to wandering her eyes beyond her husband in many years. She certainly understood what Khalimna had seen, though…

“We’re approaching the Artaik limit.”

“Bring the ship out of hyperspace,” Commodore von Brauchitsch ordered coolly, checking displays which indicated the ship was fully at Condition One with all internals buttoned up, and shoving a stray lock of hair back into her suit. “Stand by the missiles to engage as required and disengage Gravito-Magnetic drive on return to sublight and cut our speed to ten-percent c.” As she’d agreed with Fiyesia just minutes before, there was no real reason to wait for the rest of the squadron to arrive; indeed, they could insert themselves into the standing engagement as they thought best for added surprise.

“Aye, Captain!”

Four kilometers of muonic titanium, d-uranium and tylium, laden with countless megatonnes of metallic hydrogen, smoothly slipped from hyperlight, carrying along for a greater distance before the drives dropped them down near to Lantea, as Anneliese understood the planet to be named. The holoproject betrayed the existence of three immense ships close to twelve kilometers in length and very broad by beam, nine smaller escorts which could be considered warships, and an entire swathe of smaller targets, reminiscent of the tiny Cylon Raiders that the infamous Tisara of Urami had once encountered. Fortunately, they were well-prepared for the likes of those.

“Commander Mhyanjhra, Stand by the Starboard pod if you please and read the missile batteries. We have the enemy well in sight and range.” She turned back to Rear Admiral Hilumjhui. “Does Your Ladyship believe that the Wraith are aware a state of war exists with the Empire by treaty?”

“I don’t think so,” Fiyesia answered for a moment, her ears dipping to show a thoughtful bit of consternation. “All right, Commodore, go ahead and warn them before commencing the attack.”

“Certainly, Your Ladyship.” Anneliese stepped over to the large display bank around the holoprojector and flipped up a communications handset, broadcasting in the clear. “This is Commodore Anneliese von Brauchistch of Her Serene Majesty’s Starship the Empress Mikela the Great. I have been directed to inform you that pursuant to causus foederati our nations are now at war, and we mean to destroy your squadron. This is effective immediately.” She set the handset down: “Full missile salvo and flush the starboard pod!”

25,000 very-long range attack missiles leapt from their rails or flushed from their cells at the enemy in one grand salvo, the two hundred and fourty quad-rail launchers immediately reloading with fresh missiles, and the starboard pod having flushed its full load, but the port pod still available.

“Time to impact?”

“Twelve minutes, thirty-two seconds, Commodore. The range is relatively close so the missiles will only be coming in at twenty-five percent c.”

Anneliese flipped open an old fashioned pocket watch in gloved hands, well, on the outside; on the inside it was a very complicated relativistic chronological display. “Widen the parabolic trajectory to eight arc-seconds relative the system primary and stand by for lightspeed!”

“Astrogation has ship’s navigation computers control,” voices coolly droned out across the ship. “Replacing tactical plot, Your Honour.” The tactical flipped into a green-line display of the shifting arc of the ship and the indicated course as they’d be driven to with engagement of the supralight capacity of the Gravito-Magnetic drive. One of the Astrogation officers turned up, her ears flicking up clear and attentive. “Commodore, we will be approaching within fourty thousand kilometers of the planet’s moon if the course is held for more than one minute and twenty-two seconds.”

“Noted. Engage.”

“Aye, Your Honour!”

Anneliese coolly held the course and speed for thirty-eight Taloran seconds. “Disengage from lightspeed and roll the ship. Stand by to flush the port pod.” They quickly responded to the helm orders, the huge superdreadnought flawlessly dropping from 1c back down to .1, with one leg of a crudely formed oblique scalene triangle having been crossed. The moment they dropped out, control reverted to the helm and the ship rotated one hundred and eighty degrees.

“Salvo all tubes and flush the pod!”

Another 25,000 missiles leapt toward the Wraith formation on a converging course which would bring them in simultaneously to the first 25,000, at an 87 degree angle from the angle of their approach.

“One hundred degrees starboard y to ship’s orientation and stand by for lightspeed on bow heading.” The ship pivoted her bow flawlessly toward Lantea and the Wraith fleet and the Gravito-Magnetic supralight drive again flashed green.

“Button up,” Anneliese added, and flipped her own helmet into place, sealed and locked. She activated the internal comms… “Attention All Hands, this is the Captain speaking. We will now be entering close combat with the enemy. May the Lord Justice grant us all success in our duties. Good luck and good hunting, my children!” Then she flipped through to the channel for the Central Battery Director. “Weapons free all batteries from the moment we drop out of lightspeed, Klarikha.”

“Understood, Your Honour. All batteries report ready, over and out.”

“Astrogation: Engage the drive and disengagement on proximity alert with the enemy fleet!”

“Astrogation: Engage the drive and disengagement on proximity alert with the enemy fleet!” And again the huge superdreadnought leapt forward, now inexorably toward the Wraith fleet. The Wraith had already analyzed the situation, and seen the magnitude of the danger, and they had their own response for it.

By the time the Empress Mikela the Great had dropped out from supralight, the Wraith Darts were already dying violent deaths by the thousands as they interposed themselves between the cruisers and Hive Ships and the enemy missile salvoes, firing their guns to kill as many missiles as they could and then ramming the ones they couldn’t, or more precisely interposing themselves between those missiles and their ships. There had been about ten thousand Darts deployed from the fleet-its entire strength-to meet the incoming missile attack, and they were dying as they deployed in waves to meet it.

“Show them the Raider-killers,” Anneliese gestured to the central defense control bank as she spoke, attention returning to the renewed tactical plot in time to see as the forward arc guns, fourty of them in all, fired their first salvo. And then, with a speed that surprised her even though she knew her new ship was capable of it, fired a second; one second intervals, one salvo every two seconds.

Along the hull the armoured box launchers for the LIS-168s were opened and the missiles swarmed in immediately at the Darts which were further out than they were, the missiles having passed through and leaving very few behind as they manoeuvred to doggedly attack the ship of whom the crew already fondly called the ‘Miki’. Without further ado the highly manoeuvrable army surface to air missiles, adapted for engaging extremely small and slow fighters with high manoeuvrability, simply washed in a wave over the remaining darts, leaving precious few left. The 21cm powerguns opened up next, their rates of fire also substantially increased by Tylium-based dry coolant systems.

Ahead of them, great gouts of venting plasma were visible from the massive 1.5 gigatonne particle cannon strikes of the main guns of the Miki.

“By the Lord Justice, we’ve really got the firepower of eight Line Ships in one hull, don’t we now?” Fiyesia murmured softly as she watched the holographs and scrolling computer analysis of the destruction besides them. “And the enemy is unshielded, too. These people are the terror of an entire galaxy? Here come the missiles…”

Having raced past the hull of the big Line Ship, the missiles converged in two directions, overwhelming the point defence cannon on the cruisers which had formed themselves forward to protect the Hive Ships from the huge salvo. Gouts were torn out of their hulls as again and again the Tylium boosted warheads struck home, until in a tremendous explosion one of the cruisers detonated, and then another, and then another, spun to pieces as the missiles simply overwhelmed all of their defences. One final ship was overwhelmed by the missiles and detonated, while the five surviving cruisers were ragged with damage in the space of the barest seconds over which the battle had been fought.

“Flank deacceleration and present the broadside for the CBD’s favour,” Anneliese spoke coolly from where she contemptuously remained standing by the holoprojector. Then she flipped on one of the comm lines. “Director control, this is the bridge. Secondaries against the cruisers only. They’ve been badly handled, no need to waste main battery fire on them.”

“Enemy is returning fire!”

“No need to inform me, Lieute…” Anneliese was cut off as the huge Line Ship was struck hard enough by the massed salvoes of three Hive Ships to be bodily flung to the side, her confident hands gripping hard enough on the rail lining the bank of readouts surrounding the holoplot that she wasn’t tossed across the bridge as she might have been.

“It appears, Commodore,” Fiyesia offered gently, “They punch a lot harder than they can take.”

“Quite, Your Ladyship,” Anneliese reluctantly stepped back to settle down into her command chair and strap in, just in time as the next salvo slammed violently into their shields as the engines strained into overdrive, working the inertial compensators to the redline to keep the Miki holding formation while her full broadside-84 gigatonnes of concentrated firepower from 56 particle guns-was fired with the massive 50-meter recoil of the 150 meter long gun barrels deep into the turrets, the retardation systems generating enormous heat… All of it now absorbed by Tylium dampers, with the energy then bound into the Tylium at once drained into the regular capacitors and allowing the gun to be fired two seconds later, instead of twelve. Sent at velocities of .99994c toward the Wraith Hive Ship targeted were small streams of neutrons which at such velocities contained the requisite kinetic energy.

The hull was riddled end to end and it scarcely seemed like the ship should remain functional, but as with their original target a disturbing thing started to happen; the vessel began to immediately repair itself. “Nanite repair mechanisms? Interesting,” Fiyesia commented from her position high on the bridge, being more of an observer than anything else at the moment. Unfortunately the situation on the bridge indicated things were more serious for them.

“The outer layer of primary shielding has collapsed under those salvoes, Your Honour!”

“We’ll keep our starboard broadside to them-concentrate all shields there,” Anneliese answered even as the ship heeled and rocked under them from another massive rain of fire directed upon them by the Wraith ships. “How many more salvoes can we take from them?”

“Eleven or twelve until we’ve lost all shields, Your Honour!” The ship slammed from yet another, and then another, and another bank of shields collapsed, even as the broadsides from the Miki were sloshing one of the Wraith Hive Ships to pieces regardless of her ability to regenerate damage. The secondary guns had claimed a sixth cruiser with rapid-fire 50 megatonne particle shots, but the remaining long-range missiles were having less of an effect due to the close range, yet they were not close enough to use torpedoes yet. Commander Mhyanjhra elected to start firing heavy anti-fighter missiles at the Wraith Hive Ships, which had twice the acceleration though even smaller warheads, and not Tylium boosted; they got through unlike the slower-accelerating anti-ship missiles at that range, but the damage they added was marginal at best.

“The Wraith cruisers are moving, Your Honour. We’re analyzing their attack maneouvre…” Lieuteant Efylait seemed as unpeturbed as his commanding officer. “There is a danger. They’re coming about to present their guns to our unshielded port, Your Honour, and quickly.”

“Shift the reserve shield banks, full power to port. Keep all primary shield generators focused on the starboard hull.” She glanced back to Fiyesia, still unperturbed. “Fortunate for us they’re so big that almost every shot lands as a hit, is it not, Your Ladyship?”

“Surely, but mind your ship first, Anneliese,” Fiyesia answered, to make it clear it was not a formal rebuke.

The captain of the Miki turned back without another word, just an imperceptible nod. Then within a few seconds the fire from the Wraith cruisers remaining started to land brutally upon their old-style reserve shield banks… And one of the Hive Ships blew up. The only reaction on the well-disciplined bridge was the satisfied snap! of the face of Anneliese’s expensive relativistic pocket watch having been closed sharply, though Fiyesia thought for sure she’d heard something soft in the woman’s native tongue as well.

“They’re highly internally compartmented and not very strong-possibly even metal-laced bio-ceramics. It ironically means our high velocity fire at least partially penetrates straight through without causing spreading damage, so we had to get lucky with a reactor hit,” Anneliese commented as though to no-one in particular, but clearly to Fiyesia, and the Taloran woman was struck again by how the devilish perceptiveness of the human meant she’s earned every honour, family connections or not. Then she leaned over… “Klarikha, port main battery turrets if you please…”
“Understood, Your Honour!” Sixteen particle cannon from four turrets swung out and aimed in on the lead of the remaining six Wraith cruisers that were now pummeling the old-style backup shields of the Miki, put out to port, and rapidly depleting them. They opened fire at maximum rapidity, and within ten seconds, the number of Wraith cruisers was down to five. It wasn’t enough; the backup shields were rapidly collapsing.

“Shift one main shield layer to port,” Anneliese finally ordered, and just in time, too. The cruisers were being hammered to pieces but in the meantime they’d knocked down the backup shielding and the Goa’uld-type layer snapped back into existence just in time to hold up against the next salvo of fire. That, however, meant…

“Two more broadsides to starboard, Your Honour and the hull will be exposed.”

“Keep firing, we’ve almost got that second Hive Ship, look at how she’s riddled,” Anneliese answered, and coolly flipped her pocket watch back open as another broadside slammed home into the Line Ship.

And then, just moments later, the next. “We’ve lost shields to starboard!”

“Shift shields from port and keep firing, we’ll take the fire from the cruisers in the hull first…” She fiddled with her watch. “And stand by to go to lightspeed.” The words were met with genuine relief from all who could hear the command.

And then, flashing into existence on the opposite side of the Wraith Hive ships from the Miki, a very familiar squadron of three ships: Daedalus, Prometheus and Gray Star. Again, the snapping sound of Anneliese’s pocket watch being closed, even as the hull shuddered under unprotected fire from the cruisers and the last shield bank collapsed against the Hive Ships.

“Take us to lightspeed!” Without further comment, she turned back to Fiyesia. “They were four minutes and nineteen seconds late, Your Ladyship.” The smile that touched her face was almost infectious, and Fiyesia flicked her ears in her helmet in a hidden acknowledgement.

Anneliese, though, was back to being all business. “Now, give me a report damage to the portside armour and any penetrations and get as many of those shield generators back up as we can. We’ll re-enter the battle as soon as we’ve got any kind of shielding. Let’s help them out as we can, though: Deploy the synthetic control gunboats and bring them into the engagement immediately.”

“It may be quite some time before we can complete repairs to the generators, Your Honour.”

“Well, then, we shall have to hope that the parasites are sufficient aide.” Anneliese stood to get a better view of the developing engagement.




Gray Star, Arriving Over Lantea


"Emerging from hyperspace now," Di'not said as the Gray Star emerged from the hyperspace window it created near Lantea. Around the bridge crew braced themselves for another intense combat after a few days of relative rest during their intergalactic flight. "Firing engines to full capacity."
Hsiao gave a report on the enemy. "I'm picking up six major enemy contacts as well as numerous parasite craft. Going by what we've been told I believe the Wraith force consists of four cruisers and two of their Hive ships. All six vessels are damaged, two cruisers badly as well as one Hive showing extensive damage."
"Status on Empress Mikela?"
"She's showing signs of severe damage but is still functioning, they're making a lightspeed course away from the combat zone using their Heim drive," was Hsiao's reply to Data.
"Gray Star, Prometheus, this is Caldwell. We're launching fighters and locking weapons. I'd suggest a direct attack, keep the Wraith on their toes. Captain Data, since you've got seniority and the most experience in this field we will defer to your commands."
"I concur, Colonel Caldwell. Please maintain a position on our starboard arc exact positioning left to your discretion. Colonel Pendergast, maintain distance and use missile fire, your vessel lacks the weapon loadout to participate beyond missile attack and fighter support. I am leaving you responsible for our stern arc. Data out." With his commands given Data now issued orders to his crew. "Lieutenant Di'not, engage in evasive maneuvers as necessary. Glin Torcet, you may fire at your discretion." He was answered with a series of "Aye"s and "Yes sir"s.

With the commands given the two Earth ships took their places relative to the larger Gray Star. The twenty-megaton empty displacement vessel targeted forward weapons on the nearest Wraith cruiser and let lose a barrage of phaser and neutron cannon fire. Normally these weapons would have only inflicted minor damage that the Wraith repair functions could keep up with but they were now enhanced by the ZPM attached to Gray Star's power core, the ship's power grid having been carefully altered to deal with the extra energy being coursed through it. A solid beam of green energy speared through the Wraith cruiser's bow, coming out near the stern. The phasers proved somewhat less than effective from a pure power standpoint but their particular atomization properties were causing the damage they caused to ripple along the Wraith ship's hull. The cruiser died when a pair of Guyverite torpedoes slammed into it, blowing the Wraith vessel in twain.

Flooding in to aid the three attacking ships was a swarm of 120 gunboat-sized vessels; they were about 4,000 tons each and moved very rapidly under Tylium-enhanced anti-matter drives, dropping out from Heim effect to close with their two 10-gigatonne m/am torpedoes each, executing manoeuvres no ship should be able to execute... Precisely because there were no life-signs aboard, the 'synethic control' ships being operated by semisapient computers and having been launched from the Empress Mikela; their forward powerguns stuttered in very rapid fire and decoy rockets and missiles were fired to help confuse the targeting picture for the Wraith against the Earth ships and the Gray Star as well.
While Prometheus engaged from long-range with their missile batteries, Daedalus opened up with the four 300mm particle cannons built into the ship's forward arc. Powered by the naquadah reactors of the ship and now the ZPM it was using, the lances of sapphire energy scoured the thick hull of a nearby Wraith cruiser, sending molten pieces of armor material flying with trails of atmosphere erupting from the damaged sections. The missiles had their own target, moving toward the riddled Hive ship that had already endured a battering from the Empress Mikela. The warheads detonating along the ship's hull further deteriorated the Hive ship's structural stability and auto-repair systems.
On the Gray Star Tarak was busy using his station and his DNI interface to scan the enemy ships. "Captain, I have identified a possible weak point in the Hive vessels. Given their lack of energy shielding and point-defense weaponry I believe missiles and torpedoes could be fired into their launch bays."
"Lieutenant David, relay Glin Torcet's information to all ships and fighters," Data ordered.




Kei reduced the acceleration of her Scorpion fighter to bring a Wraith Dart into her HUD's targeting crosshairs. She pulled the trigger on her weapons and watched a stream of energy pulses lash out, swiping across the Dart's body and causing the sleek craft to fly apart in a ball of fire. "Commander, we're getting targeting data from Gray Star," Kylie said from the rear seat. "They want us to put our ordnance into the Wraith ships' launch bays."
"Roger that. All F/A-48s form up on me, target that Hive ship. Tell the F-302s from Daedalus and Prometheus to take the other Hive." Kei fired her engines to full acceleration again while Kylie entered the targeting data into her system, informing the missiles' targeting computers of what they were to look for and when to detonate their warheads. Wraith Darts whizzed by, unable to get solid shots at the faster F/A-48s.
"We're at 50 kilo-klicks, Kei, missiles are good."
"Fox One!" Kei pressed her thumb down on the missile trigger.
Her immediate flight all fired as well toward the same target, a launch bay on the least-damaged Hive. Darts saw the missiles flying and tried to intercept, a daunting task for those between the missiles and the hive and impossible for those already behind the missiles. One missile blew apart as a Dart crashed into it, immolating both. Another missile went up, but that would be it: the Wraith Dart forces had dispersed trying to engage the fighters and the ships and the Taloran synthetic control craft and had already taken great losses in the engagement.
Even with the best targeting systems designed in the Multiverse not every missile hit the mark completely, not when dealing with the sheer amount of emissions in the battlespace or the speed of the combatant. Those that didn't still did damage, their warheads' proximity fuses determing they were about to hit and detonating the warheads just in time to avoid being crushed against the Wraith Hive's armored hull. These detonations did a fair amount of damage, but it was the missiles that successfully slipped into the launch bays that did the trick. The least-damaged Wraith hive, as well as two of the cruisers, disappeared in blinding flashes of light, leaving only some specks of debris behind.
"Looks like one of the good shots was our's," Kylie said, a bit of a grin on her face. "Good shot, Commander."
"Thank you, Ensign."



Even as the first missiles came off the launch points of the F/A-48s and F-302s, Data suddenly seemed to tense up. Kharaste noticed this and gave a concerned, "Sir?"
"Curious," Data said. "Lieutenant David, emergency dispatch to all ships via secondary laser data-transmission. The Wraith are attempting to transmit a computer virus into our systems via communications systems. I have detected the attempt on Gray Star's computers and am currently uploading firewalls to contain the infection. Commander Triulajha, we must sever all physical system connections to the primary communications transceiver."
Kharaste immediately dispatched the orders while the necessary communications were sent to Prometheus, Daedalus, and Empress Mikela.
On the screen the last Wraith hive went up in a spectacular explosion, the victim of a naquadah-missile fired from one of Daedalus's F-302s. The sole surviving Wraith vessel turned away to disengage.
Tarak struck before it could. Again the supercharged neutron cannon in Gray Star's bow fired, joined by the four cannons on Daedalus. Four blue beams joined the larger green lance in savaging the rear quarter of the Wraith cruiser. A hyperspace window beginning to form before it dissipated abruptly as a result.
The Wraith cruiser turned to engage and was struck by a brace of missiles from Prometheus and Daedalus. The explosions nearly blew the Wraith cruiser apart before a Guyverite torpedo from Gray Star finished it off.

"Captain, enemy vessels destroyed," Tarak reported.
To add to this news, Kharaste gave a report. "Teams have severed the physical connection to the main communications transceiver."
"Thank you, Commander," Data answered. In truth he'd sensed that the moment his own interface registered a loss of contact with the infected system but didn't begrudge his crew of a verbal report. "Signal all fighters to shut down comm systems and land by laser sight control. Upon arrival their computer systems will be completely purged to ensure they were not contaminated by the virus."
"Yes Captain."


Atlantis



A cheer came from Stargate Operations as the final Wraith cruiser disappeared from their screens. "Allied fleet, this is Dr. Weir on Atlantis," Weir said into her comm headset, "congratulations on defeating the Wraith."
"Atlantis, this is Colonel Caldwell on Daedalus. Thanks for the support. We're going to be collecting survivors from lost fighters, do you think we could send them down to you?"
"Doctor Beckett and his staff are standing by in the infirmary," Weir confirmed.
"Thanks. Caldwell out."
"Well, Rodney, looks like we won't get to try out those guns after all," Sheppard said to McKay.
Before McKay could respond, the accented voice of Dr. Radek Zelenka spoke up. "I wouldn't be to sure of that." Everyone looked to him as Zelenka brought up an image from Atlantis' long range hyperspace sensors.
The image of wavery yellow shapes, in the distinct form of Hive ships, made the celebration end immediately.
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The Duchess of Zeon
PostPosted: 2009-06-23 06:54pm 

Gözde


Joined: 2002-09-18 01:06am
Posts: 14354
Location: Exiled in the Pale of Settlement.
Some notes on the armour scheme of the Taloran Line Ship, or dreadnought to the foreign powers:

For the heavily protected Taloran dreadnought, utterly no expense is spared in protection. By long tradition the shields are considered the first line of passive defence (active defence being the interception and dispersion of incoming targets, which can include intercetion by counter-missiles of even incoming energy weapons fire where this may be appropriate). The shields are arranged with projectors running along the dorsal and ventral surfaces fore and aft only, and along the entire length of the ship in two rows offset from the broadside. One generator is therefore typically attached to six projectors and is usually designed to power all six at standard levels, or four at double-strength (due to power loss in transmission and certain other factors).

Due to this it's quite typical for shields in standard mode to actually have one generator focused on one side of the ship or another; to double the shields up is to concentrate all of them on a single side, and computers handle the complex switching tasks of allocating energy on the point basis to maintain the subspace distortion fields which operate on a two front basis--first the matter and energy of something entering the shields is partially submerged in subspace and then the distortion waves cause sheering. Therefore it is typical for missiles impacting the shields of Taloran vessels to simply be snapped in two; the shields themselves are not a mere barrier in space, but an area of effect extending out perhaps a dozen kilometers from the hull. The characteristic image of a forcefield around the vessel is the visual appearance of the subspace wave effect around the hull at the point where the shear effect disrupts incoming matter or coherent energy beam.

Because of the nature of the shields they beautifully allow for direct fire out of the fully raised shields without compromising the defensive integrity of the hull: This is due to the fact that the subspace shearing wave, occurring last against incoming fire, occurs first to outgoing fire, meaning it has no effect whatsoever as that fire is not submerged in subspace. Traveling beyond the shearing layer is the submersion layer, which means the outgoing fire is submerged in subspace and then de-submerged as it passes through it, which has the effect of actually increasing the velocity of outgoing fire, and indeed if the shields are at full strength it allows the heavy particle cannon shots to briefly exceed the speed of light for several tens of kilometers before dropping back down to extreme sublight velocities, though the infestimal length of time this occurs in makes it irrelevant to the overall time to target for fire.

A typical dreadnought or other heavy ship therefore has eight primary and three secondary shield generators as well as a series of twenty-one tertiary engine shield generators (providing point fields over the gravitic vanes) and up to 18 tertiary main battery shield generators over the main turrets. The three secondary shield generators, which are actually primary shield generators operating at full power, but concentrated over very limited areas of the hull, protect the hangar bay (one ventral), and the sensor masts (two dorsal), at levels of power much greater than the protection actually afford to the rest of the hull, while the tertiary generators are of lesser power, since the distributed nature of the engines and the armament makes it less important to provide them with overwhelming protection.

Rated shield capacity is based on the maximum amount of energy which can be absorbed by the main shields landing within the space of one milisecond before the submersion and shearing power of the generators is exceeded to the point where the generators themselves will be overloaded and melted into a slag, releasing intense energy into the hull. The secondary and tertiary shields do not enter into these figures. Wear to the shields can however take place because extremely concentrated fire can cause disruptions in the subspace shearing wave effect, allowing penetration of enemy fire before the shields themselves have been taken offline; also the heat absorbed by the generators must go somewhere. Taloran ships convert some of it to electrical energy and store it in massive super-capacitors (this has the direct effect of increasing the length of time the ship can be in combat before fuel is expended by meaning that when the capacitors are being drained the ship's reactors can be reduced from full military power), and dump the rest into heat sinks which must be periodically flushed in combat. Computerized systems automatically take the shields offline at the moment of critical damaging failure, but the shield generators are in internally armoured compartments with their control rooms outside of the armour which are designed to protect the rest of the ship from any potential damage from the generators being slagged anyway, as the magnitude of energies involved and rapidity of the situation means even direct computer control cannot always successfully take a generator offline before it is overwhelmed. In rare circumstances power from this event will be generated at excessive levels and can travel through the lines to the super-capacitors and blow out surrounding power distribution busbars, but statistically it is an exceptionally rare occurrence with recent extensive modifications having made it less likely.

The sinks themselves are usually flushed by diversion through emitters along the hull which emit it as diffuse light and directed thermal energy; this temporarily engulfs the ship in a blinding flash to rival the intensity of a star, and means that in action Taloran heavy ships will regularly disappear in immense blinding flashes to reappear a moment later undamaged, an effect that is also produced by the leftover energy when submergence in Heim Gravito-Magnetic drive effects allows for the violation of conservation of momentum; it is typical for Taloran fleets, though rigorous and requiring extensive planning, to rapidly slow or make extreme manoeuvres that would otherwise be impossible by briefly going to lightspeed and then disengaging the drives on the desired course and speed; this is accompanied by a huge backwash of leftover energy emanating from the Heim fields themselves which is superficially similar to that produced by dumping the internal heat sinks. It is also similar to the flashes produced periodically by Taloran cloaking devices to dump energy from the internal heat sinks which allow their cloaks to function, but unlike the cloaking devices and shields the burst is produced from the Heim fields themselves, located a hundred or more kilometers from the hull and is far more intense.

The hull armour itself consists of an extensively layered system dozens of meters thick, though the majority of that thickness is in the form of the metallic hydrogen tanks. For the very largest and newest of Taloran Line Ships, the outer layer of the armour is a strength layer intended to protect against incoming fire, particularly kinetic energy penetrators, by shearing away or being melted by thermal energy. It is muonic steel about half a meter thick, the only use of that substance, and for good measure is coated along the outside in a thick layer of graphite. The second layer consists of a meter-thick depleted uranium (duranium) which resists vapourization and absorbs energy well from kinetic impactors; the heating of this layer necessitates the addition of a second, meter-thick layer of ceramsteel composites designed especially for dealing with extreme thermal energies. The next layer is one-tenth meter thick lead to guard the fuel tankage against radiation backwash, and the final layer is one-tenth meter thick muonic aluminium which serves as the outer nonpressure hull skin. The layers of armour are attached to it via pinions made up of solidified metallic hydrogen, extremely lightweight and easily manufactured from the fuel onboard to allow ease of replacement and a relatively small aspect profile within the armour. When energized they explode outwards; but each armour section is secured by fourty or more and will continue to serve in a protective fashion even with 75% of the pinions having been destroyed, as designed, and sometimes they will continue to protect even after this number has been exceeded. The pinions are attached to the main outer hull plating by huge built up base foundations of muonic aluminium which resist vapourization through transmitted energy by sheer bulk.

Below this outer armour structure (which is applicable to the Empress Mikela the Great) are the huge metallic hydrogen tanks. Since a typical Line Ship carries well in excess of 200 megatonnes of this fuel, these tanks occupy a substantial portion of the hull despite having a volumetric energy density due to their exceptionally compression, very similar to that of matter/anti-matter reactants. However the fuel has another function; because of the nature of metallic hydrogen, it is sufficiently volatile that it may be used as explosive reactive armour. The tankage is subdivided not hundreds but thousands of times across the hull in cells just large enough to function equivalent to ERA blocks. Penetrating fire cutting through the first layer of the armour sandwich will detonate the ERA tankage. The subdividing cell blockers are made up of a central layer of one-meter thick muonic aluminium with one meter of duranium on each side and one-meter of ceramsteel composites one each side sandwiched between them, for five meters thick subdividing bulkheads which essentially guarantee only one tank detonates; with the immense backing of the primary internal armour layer behind it, the tanks explode outward through the damaged region and intercept the penetrator or absorb the energy of incoming fire through their detonation.

Because the use of fuel as armour can result in a loss of fuel for sustained combat operations, the amount of metallic hydrogen carried is actually much higher than reported in ship statistics; for example the Queen Keralka class actually has an extra approx. ~40 millione tonnes of metallic hydrogen aboard, classified under stores as "Explosive Reactive Armour", meaning that the ships is expected to lose no less than 20% of her regular fuel tankage in sustained action due to detonating events along the hull; this means that the Admiralty expects a Taloran ship of the line to see the total destruction of around (when the additional tankage is factored in) 16% of the outer armour layer and 16% of the total tankage, meaning that only 84% of the ship's outer hull surface is seriously expected to remain intact after an action for the ship to still be considered combat capable. The detachable pods are not similarly armoured and their metallic hydrogen tankage is purely fuel (though some is still counted as stores due to the accounting metrics of the Starfleet) which is always drained first in any circumstance so that the ship always has full tankage; note however that only 75% of the ship's own total storage (including the stores-listed parts for the accounting metric) actually forms the ERA; the rest is in ready-use tanks associated with the reactors, guaranteeing that even with 100% loss of outer hull armour and tankage the ship can still be powered to continue fighting.

The lower layer of armour is by far the thickest, backing the tanks with an outer layer of 1 meter thick muonic aluminium. Below it is a layer of 2-meter thick duranium, and then a 2-meter thick ceramsteel composite; the .1-meter lead radiation absorption layer follows and then a final strength layer which consists of .2-meter thick muonic aluminium. Following this is a 5-meter thick void space separating the armour layers from the internal primary strength pressure hull. The primary strength pressure hull comprises of 1-meter thick muonic aluminium also heavily coated in graphite, and several milimeters of lead provide a final radiation coverage. This means that the hull and hull armour consists of 7% of the volume of the ship, not counting the ERA or void spaces. Another 1% of the hull consists of the 70 transverse bulkheads, each 1-meter thick muonic aluminium coated in graphite, which are placed every 50 meters along the length of the ship in a Queen Keralka class vessel. The ship is further subdivided by 5 longitudinal-vertical bulkheads of equal thickness and graphite coating, running the length of the ship at intervals of 60 meters inside the pressure hull; finally 5 longitudinal-horizontal bulkheads run the length of the ship dividing it into five vertical sections, these bulkheads of the same composition as the others, and spaced at 63-meter intervals in the Queen Keralka class, meaning there is one every twenty-one decks. In total the ship is therefore subdivided into approximately 1,500 vacuum-tight comparments and internal subdivision (which also reinforces the strength of the vessel)--the reduced number is due to the reduced beam fore and aft, where the bulkheads progressively terminate as the ship's hull curves inward, and, in the case of right aft, the horizontal bulkheads also terminate as it curves downwards. In total, 2.5% of the vessel's internal volume is taken up by internal vacuum-tight bulkheads. Standard regulations mandate that each vacuum-tight compartment be pierced for only three vacuum-tight doors, which are at the same thickness as the bulkhead and on heavily reinforced antishock mountings. In addition to protecting against decompression the incredible thickness of the internal bulkheads guarantees they can mitigate damage from fire which has completely penetrated the armour with a considerable degree of effectiveness.

The strength of the hull is completed by the central keel, a structure that is a 20-meter thick muonic aluminium box. This box is a total of 60 meters high and 60 meters wide and most of the central power mains run down it; the barbettes which enclose the main battery centerline turrets and the sensor masts are also directly anchored to this structure, running through the entire vertical height of the ship to be secured to it. Three decks including officer's country and all of the CIC and bridge functions on the ship are included inside the armoured keel with the other 11 meters of vertical clearance being devoted to central power and fuel distribution. There are only twelve access points into the internal keel capable of handling the crew; the rest are milimetric piercings for diffuse fuel and energy transmission, and the keel is subdivided every 24 meters along the length of the hull by a standard 1-meter thick muonic aluminium transverse bulkhead in the event of the unthinkable possibility of enemy fire penetrating 20 meters of solid muonic aluminium; all strength members are also coated in graphite, and the access points are closed off by 10 separate 1-meter thick vacuum-tight muonic aluminium blast doors each. The foremost and sternmost 6.5 meters of the keel is completely filled in by muonic aluminium forming solid, unpierced muonic aluminium blocks of 23,400 cubic meters in size that anchor the keel into the hull. The ship's several dozen gigawatt-range emergency fission reactors are also located inside the keel to provide emergency backup power for the sustenance of life support--or when in combat, to power the CIC/Bridge command functions--with electricity which can last for decades.

The keel is not however relied upon alone; eight subsidiary keels, which are 20 x 20 meter structures running part, though not all of the length of the ship (usually around 70% of the hull length) and are completely solid muonic aluminium also exist at the cardinal compass points of the hull structure, directly backing the armour. These are connected to the keel and to each other by a reinforcing girder structure of 2-meter thick muonic aluminium girders, all designed in a classic truss arrangement which cross through and are interconnected with the internal bulkheads so that both in turn strength each other, with all girders being two force members and the truss structure being statically indeterminate with a 100% safety margin, meaning that half of the girders in the hull can fail before the ship can suffer hogging under maximum military acceleration or any kind of impact event within the design specifications. This consequently also allows when the girder structure is fully intact for the ship to withstand accelerations or impact events with a very large safety margin above the design specifications.

Completing the armour structure of the ship is the barbettes, engine sheaths and reactor shells, with one barbette corresponding to each turret and sensor mast; for example the Queen Keralka class has 20 barbettes, 18 for main battery turrets and 2 for sensor masts. The barbettes when inside of the hull armour are a 8.5-meter thick armour sandwich of 2 meters of muonic aluminium, 2 meters of ceramsteel composites, 2 meters of duranium, .5-meter of lead, and another 2 meters of muonic aluminium, with the outside coated in graphite. Outside of the hull armour all of these thicknesses are doubled so that the barbettes when exposed to direct enemy fire are armoured to a thickness of 17 meters all around. The barbettes in all cases each contain a fusion reactor, a small supply of fuel, and dozens of super-capacitors, and each barbette has only three entrances from inside the hull only except for milimetric diffuse power conduits. The barbettes are fully self-contained and with all capacitors internally provided and a backup fusion reactor, the guns can be worked even when the ship's main reactors have suffered a 100% power loss, often for hundreds of shots. The neutron base material tanks which provide the particles for the main particle cannon are thus also located within the barbettes for the turrets. The sensor mast turrets thus can also continue to operate even with all other power lost, and the sensor masts are covered in 17-meter thick armour entirely, with the sensors simply built over-powerful enough to work through the interference this creates out to the desired ranges, and the muonic aluminium in the armour itself being energized through milimetric leads as part of the subspace receivers for long range scanning and communications.

The actual turrets themselves are somewhat less armoured due to their large position and the preference to keep them low-aspect to minimize hits, being provideded with the below-the-hull 8.5 meter thick armour sandwich all around. However, the standard quadruple turrets on modern Taloran Line Ships have an 8.5 thick armour sandwich bulkead subdividing the turret, so that even if one half of the turret is destroyed the two guns in the other half can continue to function normally. Barbette/turret crews are provided so that the guns can be fought even if all contact has been completely lost with the rest of the ship. Wing turrets are attached to the secondary keels, running through one and terminating on the mid-line keel for strength (centerline turrets also run through the centerline keels at the strength deck).

The next component is thus the 17 meter thick armoured shells which surround each of the ship's (in the case of the Queen Keralka class) 144 primary fusion cycle reactors. The two-cycle reactors receive metallic hydrogen, and are penetrated for crew access three times, and also three times for the admission of metallic hydrogen, and three times again for the busbar leads--there are only two beryllium/helium vents, however). The two-cycle reactors on the Queen Keralka-class ships operate standard pulse fusion powered by metallic hydrogen; the helium which results is then catalyzed by very small amounts of anti-matter into helium-beryllium solar type fusion, and the exhaust gasses of helium 4 / beryllium 7 are then vented to storage and are used as thrust matter for the low-velocity ion manoeuvring thrusters as required. The reactor shells are dispersed throughout the hull to prevent one from being damaged by the destruction of another. A series of fifteen central busbar routing stations for internal power have separate and identical protection, and the ship's two jump drives (one main and one backup) are also similarly protected.

The missile batteries are arranged in Armoured Decks which pierce the regular armour hull, and are surrounded in the standard 8.5 meter thick armour sandwiches on all sides, pierced only for internal access, with subdivision between every eight launchers and corresponding magazines. Identical protection is provided by the secondary turrets; the point-defence weapons are all mounted in individual self-contained mountings inset into the armour without completely penetrating it. Like the individual secondary turrets each one of the torpedo launchers is mounted individually.

Defensively the last area protected is the ship's gravitic vanes. These are defended by 17-meter thick standard external armour sandwich like the barbettes, with the four superlight and four main main drive vanes clustered together in the extremely thick amidships sponsons. Four secondary thrust vanes are mounted aft with 8.5-meter thick protection. Eight manoeuvring vanes aft and four forward have similar protection, and the final, reversing and forward manoeuvring primary vane mounted in the telaro bow is afforded full 17-meter thick protection due to its importance. This completes the overview of the passive protective systems, which in combination with the hull, occupies 25.5% of the internal volume of the ship entire, the other 75% being empty space for tankage, habitation, storage, or the mounting of machinery; this does not count barbettes, turrets, sensor masts, and the small craft hangar, nor the sponsons nor other gravitic vane mounts, all of which are not counted in the hull volume figures, and so whose armour is not, either.

On the Empress Mikela the Great in particular the ship is 2 meters beamier; this is an addition to the backing of the second, primary armour layer of a thin layer of Tylium and space, sealed with a .1-meter thick muonic aluminium layer behind it off from the void space, allowing the mounting of machinery which transfers the energy absorbed by the tylium as heat, into the ship's power systems as electricity. Additionally the reactor spaces are expanded to allow for the third tylium-based stage of the reactor generation process, and two new armoured shells for the main and backup hyperdrivers are installed. These changes cumulatively increase the percentage of the hull's volume filled by armour and structural members from 10.5% to 13% on the Empress Mikela the Great sub-class.

A brief addendum on repairs: Within the stores are large quantities of .1-meter thick muonic aluminium plating which can be welded across damaged sections of the hull during lulls in battle or between actions where further repairs cannot be effected at a dedicated facility. These sections can then be flooded with metallic hydrogen up to the limits of the sealed bulkheads or lower armour layers (if it is only a partial penetrating hit). This turns the damaged area into an ERA block which can provide at least some protection to the ship's internal spaces, with the bulkheads resisting the force of the detonation enough to direct it outward with the outer plate intentionally lightly welded on, so that at least some defence can be provided in the already damaged sector against incoming fire which would otherwise have an impeded path into the ship's internal spaces.

Note also that regularly published calculations neglect both the volume of the barbettes / sensor masts / hangars / armoured vanes and also the mass of the armour protecting them. Since the barbettes, sensor masts, turrets, and armoured vanes are a very large component of the armour, as well as the secondary turrets and missile casemates, these figures can be slightly deceptive. For example though 10.5% of the hull volume is armour when the armour weights of the ship are balanced against the much more heavily armoured sponsons, vanes, barbettes, and etc, and their volume, the figure rises to not less than 25.5% for the Queen Keralka class and 28% for the Empress Mikela the Great. The actual density of the hull armour due to this accounting of figures (which is partially intentionally deceptive) is about 2,000 kg/ m^3, with the muonic aluminium being 1,700 kg / m^3 and the highly sophisticated ceramsteel being as little as 1,000 kg / m^3. Therefore the empty mass of the average Taloran ship is actually closer to double the figures typically listed, which basically are published for the hull alone in a stripped condition without armament fitted, a fairly typical shipbuilding practice; the same is true of most other powers.

Last edited by The Duchess of Zeon on 2009-06-26 10:20pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Steve
PostPosted: 2009-06-24 03:58am 

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The final scene was written by Chris Purnell.

Chapter 20



Atlantis, Lantea
Pegasus Galaxy



The incoming Wraith fleet had prompted the formation of what Fiyesia had termed a "War Council" in the Atlantis conference room off of Stargate Operations. The leading Atlantis team was present with Weir and Zelenka, Fiyesia and Brauchitsch joining Caldwell, Pendergast, and Kharaste from Gray Star, sitting in for Data due to the android's need to stay on Gray Star and oversee the computer sweep that would verify whether or not the Wraith virus had been eliminated.
"Long range scans have confirmed that there are now twelve Wraith Hives coming to Atlantis," McKay said to the assembled, pointing to the screen in the conference room. "That means about thirty-six to fourty cruisers and as many as thirty thousand Darts are barreling our way."
"How long do you think the city can hold out if we're forced to withdraw?", Caldwell asked.
"No telling how long. We know the Ancients held out for years under Wraith siege, but the Wraith might have improved their weapons in the last 10,000 years or found other ways to deal with our shields. Even if we do hold out for awhile, eventually the ZedPMs will drain and we'll be right back where we were when you showed up," McKay explained.

That prompted Kharaste to remark, "Given the ZPM power sources we acquired from Maedhv, couldn't we just replace drained ZPMs with new ones?"
McKay flashed a little bit of a sneer. "Sure, let's drain all of those precious ZedPMs we've managed to get our hands on," he grumbled, as if insulted by the idea. "Thankfully we should have enough time for me to come up with something..."

"There's another issue I'd like to discuss," Commodore von Brauchitsch spoke slowly from her seat at the table, and as she did, drew out an elegant silver cigarette case covered in etched teak panels showing south seas scenes from one of her uniform pockets, opening it with a reflexive motion that led to a faint snap as she drew out one of the very long and narrow cigarettes. "We did receive the after-action report from the IUCEC force on the Gray Star about the encounter with the Wraith High Queen, this Maedhv Curoi'larijh. What is our plan if she intervenes on the side of the Wraith? Though I am reasonably confident we can find a way to cope with a dozen of these Hive Ships, the ability to repel firepower of that magnitude doesn't exist outside of the Home Fleets of the Alliance or the Empire."

Most of those present knew little about what was going on, leaving it to Kharaste to remark, "I think that if Maedhv was going to become involved in this situation she would have done so. If she does then we have no choice but to cut our losses and abandon Pegasus."
"Just how powerful is this 'Maedhv'?", Sheppard asked.
"Major, Maedhv is an immensely powerful entity who has the ability to teleport herself and others via wormholes, interface with machinery, absorb energy from the very essence of the universe, and emit powerful psychic impulses that permited her to seize the bridge of the Prometheus with naught but a kind word," Kharaste responded. "Her vessel was so powerful that even with a detachment of Asgard vessels and a massive fleet of a couple thousand of combatants, including one of the Zohan BattleCarrier stations, it was still winning the day when she was convinced to retreat. And that was with its self-repair nanites disabled through the use of an Ancient machine called the Dakara Device."
"Wait wait wait..." McKay gave a look of bewilderment. "'Absorb energy from the essense of the universe'? What is she, a walking talking ZedPM?"
"That would be a pretty accurate description," Pendergast said, remembering what had happened at Kuahuatl.

Anneliese pulled out an elegantly etched cigarette lighter with bas reliefs of Babylonian motifs, again in silver, and quietly lit the cigarette while the conversation was going on, a faint puff of pure tobacco without tar echoing across the room as she added. "Courageous acts are only purposeful when they have a hope of success. I fear it's necessary to have a backup plan in case she does arrive, to evacuate Atlantis, and destroy it."
"To guarantee Atlantis' destruction we'll have to use one of our naquadah-enhanced warheads. One of the big ones," Caldwell said.
"Or if we want to make absolutely sure, we set a ZedPM to overload," McKay added. "We'd only need one, that means we can take two with us."
"Do you think we'd have time to evacuate everyone through to Earth?", Weir asked.
"Given Maedhv's abilities and the power of her ship I expect we might only get minutes," Pendergast answered. "Of course, she may also make the point of destroying Atlantis moot. She certainly knows where Earth is."
McKay suddenly brought a hand up. His face betrayed the scope of the epiphany he'd just had. "Wait, we don't need to destroy Atlantis!"

"How do you propose to save the station, Doctor? Fiyesia quoted.
"Atlantis isn't just a city," McKay pointed out. "It has a stardrive, that's how the Ancients brought it from Earth to Pegasus millions of years ago. Now that we've got three ZedPMs to power the city I could get the stardrive going and we could bring Atlantis back to the Milky Way!"
"How long has the city's stardrive been dormant?", Kharaste asked. "Could you really get it running in the next few hours?"
"Oh please, remember who you're talking to," McKay boasted. Zelenka rolled his eyes a little as McKay began to verbalize some of the systems needed to be checked, caught up in the enthusiasm for his idea.
As McKay wandered a moment, he stepped too close to Anneliese and got a faceful of cigarette smoke. A disgusted look came over his face. "Hey, we're not outdoors, put that out. Don't you know that stuff can give us all cancer?"
"It isn't my fault you haven't had gene therapy against nicotine-based carcinogens," the human Commodore in Taloran service answered a bit tartly. "I can even refer you to a doctor, if you'd like."

McKay looked ready to retort when Weir, ever the diplomat, stepped in. "Commodore, that's a bit above our technological level at the moment, would you please indulge us for now?"
"Ah, of course, Doctor Weir." She pinched the cigarette out with her fingers without a trace of further expression. "Well, the military engagement now at hand is dealing with the existing Wraith forces. I'd feel better if we had some CAPTOR mines available, but currently we're reloading the pods for two more massed salvoes. That should let us severely attrite the Darts but there's at least ten thousand that will be left--I'd recommend we hold the synthetic gunboats and the other fighters back as a reserve until we've attrited the Darts. This time we're going to have to close to torpedo range, where the tylium-enhanced warheads can do some real damage. I'd like to plan the combat around the Empress Mikela being escorted to close range so we can flush our torpedo boats at point-blank simultaneously with all the fighters hitting them all out. Are there any other suggestions to compliment the attack strategy?"
"Bringing a Line Ship into such engagement should be quite devastating to the enemy," Kharaste said, "but the odds do not look well. I would feel better if there were some means of subjecting them to attrition. Even our preferred strategy of firing missiles into their launch bays will not work well until the enemy fighters are reduced sufficiently."

"Maybe we could put some warheads on some of the Puddle Jumpers, slip into the launch bays under cloak and leave the nukes?" Sheppard looked to McKay.
"I don't know. Given the destructive power even our side is going to be tossing around a Jumper wouldn't have much of a chance of getting close," McKay said. "But there is another way we could get nukes inside without worrying about the Dart screens. At least two of our ships are equipped with Asgard beaming technology."
"Three," Kharaste corrected.
"Okay, three. We could beam active warheads right into the Hives."
"Is it a known fact that the Wraith have no kind of interference capability against Asgard beaming technology?" Fiyesia queried from her point on the table; being after all at least the effective commander.
"Well, we don't know," Sheppard answered. "Since we never had any Asgard technology to try on them. But we don't see how they would."
"Well, we'll have to plan around a direct engagement without the tactic working. If it works, it should be done immediately, to give us better chances in the direct engagement," Commodore von Brauchistch spoke again. "At that point, if it fails, nothing changes; if it works, we have less targets to engage. We'll also want to fight close enough to the planet that the defensive batteries we've installed in Atlantis can join in the battle, though. We need every erg of energy we can throw at them to have the best chance."

"There are only a few of the Ancient drone weapons left in the city," McKay said, "but they might still take down a Hive. I mean, if we've got someone in the control chair..."
"That would be me," Sheppard said.
"Of course. And that leaves me to handle the city's shields and keep those guns you've brought down firing. We've already attached them to the city power grid and thanks mostly to me they will be quite effective." A self-satisfied smile came across McKay's face.

Human and Taloran exchanged a brief glance--both Christianity and Farzianism teaching humility--but Fiyesia nodded for the lot. "Certainly, Doctor McKay. Then we have the rough strategy for the operation well in hand. I trust there are no objections to my assuming command of the entire defence from the flagbridge of the Empress Mikela?"

"I don't see why there would be any objections," Weir answered. She did notice that Pendergast didn't seem quite as enthused, nor did Caldwell, but the fact of the matter was that the Talorans had sent the highest ranking military officer and thus it was a matter of protocol that their officer was in charge.
"I do have combat experience, command of a destroyer flotilla in the Cylon War, so it seemed appropriate." The Taloran Admiral added to assuage the concern of the USAF ship commanders, recognizing as she had before by dropping titles, the importance of the diplomatic aspect.
"We're probably going to need that," Sheppard remarked.




HSMS Empress Mikela the Great, Lantea Orbit


“Here they come…”
“Thank you, Commander Kylandris,” Fiyesia observed curtly as the holoplot activated on the flagbridge, showing the Wraith fleet arriving from hyperspace. “Signal all ships to bring defensive screens to full power and activate their countermissile batteries. Condition One, stand by for action, all ships button up.”
“Aye, Your Ladyship!”
Fiyesia activated the channel down to the conning bridge further aft in the ship’s huge armoured keel. “Captain, give them the missile broadsides.”

“Understood, Your Ladyship.” Commodore von Brauchistch didn’t even bother to flip off the channel. “Port broadside and all launchers stand by to salvo. Helm, prepare to role the ship one hundred and eighty degrees…”

Fiyesia did, though, and then switched the line to the three lesser ships in the formation. “Colonels Caldwell and Pendergast, Captain Data, please stand by to use your transporter effect the moment the enemy comes into range… We will shield you for the moment, take advantage of our protection. Remember that if the attack fails, you will execute the necessary manoeuvres to shift and provide cover for us as we move to close engagement. The fighter groups will be released at my command.”

She coolly waited through the acknowledgements as the ship shuddered faintly beneath her feet at the release of the first 25,000 missile salvo, and then the rolling which was unfelt, to present the next salvo, fired six seconds after the first, this time coming in one after the other; the huge expanse of the Wraith fleet prevented the sly manoeuvring of before, and anyway, the Wraith had only one effective method of countermissile fire and that meant suiciding their Darts into the incoming missiles after they’d shot at them as much as possible.

“Time to target?”

“Twenty minutes. They’ll have .4c on impact.”

“Not bad.” They were at 12% of light moving on an intercepting course trending slightly to port of the Wraith fleet to cut across their bows if it was unaltered, but nearly head-on. “They don’t have any long-range missiles with which to reply, so, we wait.”

“Admiral.” Commander Kylandris looked over from his position rather intently. “A new strategy on their part. The massed Dart formations are accelerating toward us rather than staying back. Best guess is that they’re intending to bring the Darts up to maximum acceleration and joust their way through the missiles.”

“They’ll only have enough time to engage one missile each head-on like that.. Though they could spin the craft and engage another from behind. It’s a relatively sound strategy, I suppose, and preserves at least some of the Dart force. Interesting. Well, let’s not make it easy for them.” She opened a channel back down to the bridge. “Start firing all missile launchers immediately, Captain. Anti-ship missiles first and then switch to anti-fighter missiles targeted at the Darts. Any that aren’t destroyed jousting with our missiles are going to come for us as kamikaze, but they may well not be able to tell the difference between the two types of missiles and will actively try to ram the anti-fighter missiles anyway.”

“Our missile batteries will be exhausted in twenty-four minutes of continuous fire at current levels of supply, Your Ladyship,” Von Brauchistch’s voice echoed up from the bridge, and Fiyesia could imagine her smoking at the moment.

“So noted, Captain. Then, I want you to also open fire with the main battery and force them to break up their formation.”

“Of course, Your Ladyship.” Anneliese pinched out the cigarette with her bare fingers and tossed it in the discrete recycler to the side of the holoplot, then pulled her helmet on and secured it. “Central Battery Director,” she called on the comm line to the separate fire control station on the ship where the ship’s gunnery officers coordinated the fire of her main turrets, “Show the enemy our range. Use predictors and keep up rapid fire, let’s slosh them up a bit.”

“Aye, Your Honour!”

Anneliese flipped through the comm channels to the flag bridge. “Since we’re supposed to be covering the light ships, Admiral, can I go to emergency flank acceleration and start maximum power jamming?”

“Negatory on the jamming, Captain. But ply on all the speed you want.”

“Thank you, Your Ladyship.” She turned to the helm. “Helm, remove the safety interlocks and bring us up to two thousand gravities.” Anneliese turned without further comment to her command acceleration couch, strapping in, because bleed-through in the inertial dampers would rapidly make standing upright similar to a strong gust of wind pushing against her. “Range to the enemy?”

“Two hundred and thirty-six light seconds and closing! First particle cannon shots will arrive within the enemy fleet in two hundred and thirty-four seconds.” The guns were now steadily thrumming through the hull at two-second intervals.

“A bit less than four minutes. Noted.”

Wraith ships normally fought at extremely close ranges, and worse, they fought in tight formations because of it, often very, very close to each other, a few kilometers, within easy visual distance. This had the practical effect of making the particle cannon fire from the Empress Mikela the Great effective even at a range of more than three and a half light minutes. Each turret was firing on a slightly different pattern determined by computer-predictors which analyzed the expected and possible manoeuvres of the enemy force, creating a kill-box of particle bolt fire tracking each direction the fleet could manoeuvre in, and the Wraith, instead of dispersing their fleet formation, altered course from the initial firing en masse, which carried the force into the fire zone of two of the particle cannon turrets, only the glowing of the energized particles flashing fast enough to burn a streak along the retina showing any evidence of their passage.

Little was available or clear as the Miki leapt ahead, for the next ten minutes that was, but then the picture started to rapidly come together… And they still hadn’t yet been engaged by the enemy. It felt very strange indeed to be drawing as close as they were with their missiles less than two light minutes from the target and to not have been fired back against. Relieving, though, to know they could force the massive force to run the gauntlet, with the light ships holding back in range of the guns of Lantea.

“Got a couple good hits on the enemy formation, Commodore.” The Sensor officer was the daughter of a Duchess, and certainly didn’t need to call Anneliese ‘her honour’. “We’re shifting and clarifying the predictor tracks and bringing more turrets to bear on them and they’re not yet breaking formation. Turrets engaged on the correct tracks are managing about three to four percent hits for shots fired. The Darts are shifting course to concentrate on us and are about to try and joust with the missiles, but they’re also diverting some into ”

“Thank you, Ritaga.”

“Interposition!” The dots showing the missiles and the Wraith darts on the holoprojector abruptly blurred together.

“How many left?”

“Ten thousand Darts and five thousand missiles are still inbound toward the enemy. They’re now running into the subsequent smaller waves of missiles… Trying to take those out solely with massed fire instead of ramming it seems, Commodore. A sizeable detachment is moving into the stream of the particle cannon fire and is starting to take losses trying to disrupt the bursts, but that’s working about as well as expected.” In other words, not at all.

Anneliese patiently waited out the engagement as the Wraith darts shifted from the hopeless task of trying to deal with the particle cannon fire back toward closing on them rapidly, slicing their way through the incoming waves of missiles… And then abruptly finding themselves targeted as the missiles shifted to anti-fighter missiles. They were quick on the uptake, however, and their velocities spiked as they tore down onto the lone and exposed Miki whose batteries were now sloshing through the Wraith heavy ships with increasing effectiveness.

The operation however was having its desired effect. Not one single Wraith Dart was closing with the three ships fitted with Asgard transporters. Annelise snapped out her relativistic display chrono from a skinsuit pocket and grinned faintly. It wouldn’t be long now until the three ships had closed within one light minute.

As the Wraith Darts got closer and closer the missile stream kept attriting them further, and they raced into the minimal-effective range of the huge high acceleration long-range anti-fighter missiles. “Counter-missile batteries opening fire.” The side of the ship erupted with tiny lances as the big manoeuvrable cell launchers for the countermissiles sent of flurries of them toward the enemy, and the armoured box launchers for the secondary LIS-168’s elevated to reveal the waiting missiles inside.

“Are they coming in too fast to manoeuvre around to attack the portside?” Anneliese asked.
“Yes, Your Honour.”
“All shields to starboard.”
“Aye, Your Honour!”
“Kamikaze,” Anneliese murmured softly, an old word that would be familiar to the Talorans only in translation.





******


Thousands of Wraith Darts were swatted out of the skies by the countermissiles and hundreds more by the LIS-168s that fired at the same moment that the 21cm powerguns opened up. 72 twin mounts could bear on the incoming, and each gun fired 27 times per times, meaning some 4,000 shots of a yield of about 800kT each filled space against the approaching Wraith Darts… every single second. Behind them a cloud of ball bearings was forming around the ship as the flak projectors shot them out, aimed slightly ahead to counteract the continued acceleration the Miki was pulling.

A second later everything happened at once. The Darts that survived plowed into the ball bearings at c-fractional velocites and were literally shredded into fragmentary scrap, some so fast that they couldn’t explode. Then the less than seven hundred of them which had made it slammed in a staggered wave into the shields. It turned out they were packing explosives aboard and the ship shuddered and rolled from the strain on the shield generators as the craft were annihilated; in a couple places point failures in the shield field-area allowed a few Darts to get through, and these slammed into the hull armour with enough kinetic energy to explode.. inside the tankage. Massive explosions ripped the side of the ship, and as they faded, she continued on course, undamaged except for the blackened, pock-marked sections of the hull where the impacts had triggered the ERA.

Perhaps two hundred darts had missed the impact and carried on, shaping courses toward the three ships, and that was it. Fiyesia smiled tightly. “Fighters and drones, stand by to take care of those Darts if the beaming tactic works.” She flipped over on the line to the three ships in the rest of the squadron.

“Admiral, how are you holding up?” Colonel Caldwell asked immediately. “We’ve seen some pretty heavy detonations along the hull.”

“ERA, Colonel, we didn’t suffer any compartments vented to space at present though I understand the Captain has teams checking for shock damage micro-leaks. We’re still holding position and engaging the enemy—six new-type generators burned out, but we’re restoring the other fourty-two to full power. Do you have range?”

“That’s affirmative,” Pendergast replied. “We’re the lead ship and we’ve just crossed the market.”

The Miki shuddered beneath her feet, and Fiyesia glanced to one of her subordinates. The officer answered without words.

“The Wraith are attempting ranging shots on us, Your Ladyship, and starting to make a few hits.”

“Noted.” She switched back to the feed. “Colonel Pendergast, your Prometheus has the honour of the trial engagement. You may fire when ready.”

Fiyesia turned back to her own flagbridge in time to catch the evident delight as the one of the Wraith cruisers went up in a violent explosion from the long-range fire of the Miki’s main battery, and then waited tensely for the bigger show. She only had to wait a moment longer; without any warning at all one of the Wraith Hive Ships violently exploded from the inside out, one major explosion initially followed by the huge secondary of the reactor going.

“Good detonation, good secondaries,” one of the staff officers commented, rather stating the obvious, though it made Fiyesia smile even as she immediately snapped back to the general channel.

“Before they can counter it, gentlemen! Before they can counter it—give them every bomb, gentlemen, every bomb!—and fire your missiles for good measure!” Then she flipped over to the comm link to the fighters and the drone control. “Maximum acceleration now! Take out those Darts and then head straight for the enemy fleet!” Then, last, to the Miki’s bridge. “Cut acceleration back to normal rates and veer us toward the enemy formation at sublight and add the secondary guns to the fire, Captain. We’ve got our chance.” A last order: “Atlantis, commence battery fire on your discretion.”

“Look, Admiral! Three Hive Ships, all at once!”

Even Fiyesia grinned as the enemy formation’s heavy ships were abruptly reduced from twelve to eleven to eight while the missiles tore out of the Gray Star, Prometheus and Daedalus and the fighters leapt up from the planet. Beyond that, the Hive Ships were again the target of the transporter being, and again another three exploded while the Miki had drawn close enough to take the cruisers under very heavy fire, and her main battery guns were joined by similar installations mounted on Atlantis. Under that combined firepower another of the cruisers quickly succombed as the enemy force was torn apart in disorder.

The fire of the enemy fleet had been seriously compromising the shields of the Miki, but with the abrupt lost of the majority of their combat capability, the danger slacked away like the ending of a rain, while the fire from the superdreadnought was unstaunched. Behind them, the fighters and drones racing in ripped apart the remaining Darts even as they tried to set up desperate suicide runs on the Earth ships and the Gray Star, completing the perfection of the attack.

And, again, three Hive ships blew up, and suddenly there were only two left, and moments later, too, the number of cruisers was reduced from thirty-four to thirty-three.

“They’re powering up their hyperdrives!”

Fiyesia immediately flipped open the general channel: “No mercy to them while they’ve not surrendered! Keep firing!”

But the two surviving Hive Ships made it out before the transporters could be used again, and the cruisers followed them under the harrying fire of the massed batteries and missiles, losing two more of their number before escaping successfully. Suddenly, and oh so suddenly, the threat to Atlantis had been checked, and all that remained were a few dozen darts that were rapidly mopped up, with a mere four getting through to explode harmlessly against the shields of the Gray Star and Daedalus.

“All ships, batteries, and fighters, Stand down. At least for the moment, gentlemen, you have saved the city.”





USS Prometheus, Near Mars
Commonly-held Earth Space
15 November 2178 AST



A view of the famed Red Planet filled the bridge window of the Prometheus as it slipped into Mars orbit. Colonel Pendergast and his crew had seen such a sight a number of times during working-up periods and system patrols but, like everything else, that had changed.
Where once there was nothing with them save the occasional 302, now Martian orbit was bustling with activity. From support for excavation teams milling around Olympus Mons to uncover ancient secrets potentially buried beneath the great volcano to vessels beginning first-phase terraforming of Mars, there were at least two dozen vessels of varying size in their section of Martian orbit alone.
"Quite a sight, isn't it Colonel?" From behind Pendergast Hammond stepped forward. The normally reserved, even soft-spoken former commander of the SGC was now out of military uniform and in a "simple" business suit.
"I can only imagine how cluttered it'll look in ten years' time, Gen..." Pendergast caught himself. "...Director."

Hammond answered him with an understanding smile. Along with the changes coming to Earth was one for him as well. Hammond had finally retired from the United States Air Force - having postponed doing just that to head up the SGC - and was taking up a position that President Hayes had talked him into holding; Earth's first representative to the IUCEC's Special Directorate.
He certainly didn't intend to hold it for long - Hammond had two granddaughters he loved to spoil - but for now he was up to continuing heeding the call of duty in these extraordinary times.
"Colonel, we've received clearance to enter the gate," one of the bridge officers said.
"Follow their gate approach pattern to the letter. We wouldn't want our first trip through one of these to go bad," Pendergast said.

Ahead of them, just over the north pole of Mars, was the initial form of what would soon be a full Interuniversal Jump Gate Assembly. Currently it only consisted of a square block with two gates per open face, the upper and lower segments containing the guyverite (or naquadah, or refined tylium, depending upon your terminology) reactors that permitted the gates to be powered without bulky, fuel-intensive matter-antimatter reactors like on the vast majority of IU gate assemblies.
With guidance from Gate Control the Prometheus was moving along at mandated speed, engines ready for emergency stop or course correction if necessary, when ring of material at the top of the gate "cone" came to life. An energy field emitted by the ring met over the center of the cone and formed a shining wormhole that pierced the universal barrier, creating hues of blue, green, and gold color along its event horizon.
The Prometheus' engines fired to a controlled rate, bringing the ship through the "jump point". An eerie sense of dislocation came to those on the Prometheus while their instruments blanked out for the brief moment they were between universes.

When the sensation ended they were coming out the other end. Ahead a brown, lifeless-looking planet loomed. Prometheus' engines powered up and the ship moved toward the planet, moving closely enough that a small object (small compared to the planet anyway) became increasingly visible.
As they neared, a voice came over a general channel. "Earth SRC-19 vessel Prometheus, this is Babylon Control. We are sending you telemetry for your scheduled approach vector. Please maintain a careful watch for civilian traffic as you come in." A brief pause came before the voice continued. "Director Hammond, welcome to Babylon-5."
"Thank you, Babylon Control," Hammond answered. Looking back to Pendergast, Hammond continued, "Well, I believe this will be it. Thank you for the ride, Colonel."
"It wasn't a problem at all, Sir," Pendergast answered. "We'll have your things beamed over to the customs bay you're arriving in."
"Of course." Hammond looked back briefly to the window and saw the space station up front for the first time. Currently in the shadow of the planet below, the station was lit up with running lights that turned along with the station's main body. The entire crew took in the sight for a moment before Hammond began speaking again. "Before I go, Colonel, I want you to know that I'm proud to have been your commanding officer. You and your crew have made many accomplishments and sacrifices that have brought us to where we are today. Thanks to the victory at Atlantis Earth has as strong a position in the Multiverse as we could ever hope to have."

"Thank you, Director," Pendergast answered. "For what it's worth, I'll miss not having you as our superior. Your confidence has been a key part in our successes." Pendergast saluted Hammond at that point, as did the others on the bridge. "We're going to miss you, Sir."
Hammond grinned and answered them with a salute of his own. "The feeling's mutual, Colonel," he said. After this Hammond brought his right hand down, prompting Pendergast to shake it. He took the time then to shake the hands of all of Prometheus' bridge crew before saying, "I guess we shouldn't keep them waiting any longer. I'm sure they've got some kind of welcoming committee for me."
"Of course not, Sir." Pendergast nodded to one of the bridge crew, who began operating the controls for the Asgard transporter. Hammond disappeared from the bridge in a burst of white light.
"Sir, receiving another transmission from Babylon-5. Babylon Control confirms Director Hammond's arrival. They also wish to know if we intend to send any personnel over for shore leave."
Mulling it over a second and considering their time table, Pendergast sighed wistfully. "Maybe next time. Okay, bring us about and ask Babylon Control for an approach to one of the Gates, we're due back home now."
And as quickly as she had arrived, Prometheus turned to leave, returning to a universe that, in some part by her efforts and her crew's, was being irrevocably changed.




Genii Homeworld
Pegasus Galaxy



The underground capital of the Genii undoubtedly reinforced their paranoia and siege mentality, and at the very center of it was the most paranoid and besieged Genii of them all. Chief Cowan ruled the Genii Confederacy as military dictator, and was getting in the nasty habit of seeing enemies all around him. Granted people were out to get him and the Wraith were constantly threatening to devour his entire civilization, so a certain amount of psychological strain was to be expected. Reports from the scientific attaches with their technology development group were beginning to suggest it was going too far, and that had the leadership at Festung Wewelsberg contemplating their options. But for the time being the man remained the leader of the most advanced nation yet detected in the Pegasus galaxy and his actions had thus far served the interests of the Empire.

That meant Kommandant Istvan Schwarz was obliged to treat the shifty, capricious peasant like a respected head of state. As he was escorted into the Chief's working office he removed his peaked cap as a sign of respect, and bowed slightly. "I am pleased to respond to your summons, your Excellency."

Cowen's office looked like nothing special, boasting the same bare metallic walls as the rest of the bunker-city and stamped-metal furnishings that brutally served utility over aesthetics. That sparse looking desk, weighted down with paperwork, may as well have belonged to a junior clerk except for the computer system and holographic display device that had recently been installed. Those, like the other touches of high technology the Genii were beginning to field, were gifts of his Emperor.

The leader of the Genii sat there, regarding the visitor for a few moments. Schwarz knew Cowen was not above deliberate rudeness, and studied him back. The broad peasant's face, the growing waist that careful tailoring failed to hide, the perpetual smirk the man wore... it was a trying task to remember to respect the Chief, but he was an officer of Naval Intelligence. There was shrewdness in Cowen's eyes, and underestimating him would be a serious mistake. The leader finally signaled him to sit, allowing Schwarz to pull out one of the stamped metal seats stowed in front of the desk for visiters. It was uncomfortable, and he suspected that was the point, and that Cowen did it for all of his underlings and anyone else brought into his sanctum of power.

"I want to thank you people for these virtual computers," Cowen began, offhandedly. "It's cut down on how many forms I have to sign each day. Just press approve, and it goes through." He sounded bemused, which was annoying but at least meant that Schwarz wasn't going to have to deflect any probing or feel the brunt of Cowen's temper.

"I am pleased to hear that your Excellency has found our holographic systems of such usefulness. It is only one of many benefits that a closer association between our powers can bring." Translated, it was just another reminder of what the Empire could do for the Genii, one that he was prepared to elaborate on but which both men knew by heart now. "My government greatly appreciates the intelligence you provided about that world, Dagan. We are already planning a visit to seek out the ZPM device your man Kolya lost there. Once the present unpleasantness dies down, of course." It hadn't been that long ago that the Wraith had swept through this area of space, and it was going to be a while before travel outside the Eisenrings was safe.

Cowen nodded, his smile never wavering despite the mention of Commander Kolya. But the reference was barbed in more ways than one. The Empire had not been pleased that their Genii allies had mounted an independent operation to recover a ZPM. And Cowen was increasingly coming to believe that Kolya represented a threat to his continued status as Chief. "I'm sure you'll enjoy better luck than we did. Kolya had his intelligence and thought there wasn't enough time to wait to act on it. Looks like he should've. But I've got some new reports that might interest you here."

Schwarz perked up, leaning forward just a bit and narrowing his eyes barely perceptibly. "Naturally we value all intelligence that your directorates can provide. Our joint interests require information. We do not want to be like those damned fools from Atlantis, traipsing about randomly."

Now that reminder did get to Cowen, and he scowled briefly remembering the trouble Atlantis had caused for him and his people. "Well it looks like they received reinforcements from their own galaxy, and they managed to trounce the Wraith. I'll have the details we have made available to you, but it looks like they beat two groups of Wraith hive-ships. And the ships they brought in are a diverse lot, not just from the Terrans who run Atlantis. We've been hearing about a new group involved there, an IUCEC. Heard of 'em before?"

Schwarz had to fight hard to maintain his poker face. This would require the immediate notification of his superiors at Wewelsburg. "We are familiar with them..."

Last edited by Steve on 2009-06-27 05:16am, edited 1 time in total.
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The Duchess of Zeon
PostPosted: 2009-06-24 04:38am 

Gözde


Joined: 2002-09-18 01:06am
Posts: 14354
Location: Exiled in the Pale of Settlement.
Epilogue

The Hive-Ship of the Wraith Primary,
Wraith Territory, Pegasus Galaxy.
20 November 2178 AST.



The Wraith had lost thirteen Hive-ships in the attempt to take Atlantis, and nobody was pleased about it. With the Keeper—leader of one of the two great factions of the Wraith—dead, her subordinate Queens had tried to organize the offensive against Atlantis in concord, only to fall into bickering. In the wake of its defeat by such a powerful enemy, they had no recourse but to turn to the Primary, the leader of the other principle faction of the Wraith; each had controlled the allegiance of close to seventy Hives, but now only one lived.

Her own control for that matter had fragmented severely, though she still commanded the allegiance of about half of her original Queens. It was enough to maintain her as a force to be reckoned with, but most of the other Queens were being openly insubordinate as they discussed the appropriate measures by which to deal with the threat of Atlantis and the powerful reinforcements the revived Ancient city had received.

“I don’t think your endless bickering on how to organize the culling is quite so important in the wake of such a miserable defeat as that we’ve not experienced since the earliest days of war with the old enemy,” she growled out in an attempt to quiet the other Queens. It was met with immediate dissent, and she feared the growing certitude of an open challenge to her tenuous authority.

In the depths of the dark, vaporous passageways of the Hive, though, nobody noticed the heavy-shod feet as they slammed down, until the doors to the meeting hall snapped open with such abruptness as to send them straight into the walls with a resounding thud, likewise made by the two warriors guarding the entrance, who crashed against them and fell to the ground, at the very least shocked and injured. Staring out of the gloom were two green eyes, a gloved hand on the bone-hilt of a sword.

The figure stepped forward, into the light: Solid black jumpsuit with ripped bands around the joints, pistol and a few other items clipped to it as well as that sword. It indeed had a hilt of human bone and a black opal inset at the top, in an old ceremonial sheath, also in black. A cape trailed back and nipped at the floor behind her, and the tightness of the jumpsuit made certain that perfect form was female, while long and vibrant coppery red hair flowed down to the small of her back, and virulently alabaster skin revealed she was… Certainly no Wraith, at least in body. So too revealed by her approach and indeed blatantly displayed in the light were the reinforcing bands in the jumpsuit which supported and protected her unborn child, and only the Asvin would be haughty enough and confident in the excellence of their nanites and perfection of their bodies to think flying while pregnant to be a common enough occurrence to manufacture a flight suit just for the occasion. But they, of course, had indeed done just that.

The assembly of twenty-six Wraith Queens fell deathly silent in shock. The figure walked confidently toward the head of the table and the Primary. “Ixtakutmul,” she spoke, for she had named the Wraith, and only those Wraith named by Her, had ever possessed names, and these were private names which were known only by the Queens, and by Her. “Why do you not keep your subordinates in order?”

A trace of a smile touched her lips as she approached the bony throne, and a curved, wicked grin looked across the faces of those held in awe. “Though don’t worry about it, Ixtakutmul. Your loyalty for me when Culixma forced my disposition has been amply rewarded; in honour of you, the child in my womb bears the name Ixtakcuaridhv. And yes; by it I mean she is pure and of the High Caste and also to be a leader among you, without the flaw, the blindness to the ways of prana bindhu, which makes lesser humans susceptible to your witchery.”

“Thank You, Your Majesty, Creatrix,” Ixtakutmul stumbled through a speech she’d imagined through a very long life, shivering. “Our people have fractured and our numbers have receded since the defeat of the Lanteans, and Culixma, our Creatrix, Culixma is dead at the hands of the humans of Earth, those who have reoccupied Atlantis.”

“I am aware, Ixtakutmul.” Maedhv didn’t remain standing. Instead, she moved toward the throne, and as Ixtakutmul rose to vacate it for her, pushed her back into it, straddling the Wraith Primary and nuzzling her filling stomach against the vaguely reptilian Wraith. “I’m not going to let you sit alone, you know, Ixie,” she whispered in amused fondness as she leaned in and delivered a passionate kiss to the lips of the deeply relieved Primary, for it meant that at least when it came to her own life, Maedhv was satisfied and behaving as she always had; that left her to return it with a little of the old fire.

Breaking the kiss she squirmed her way in Ixtakutmul’s lap to face the other Queens, and began delicately pulling off her gloves, while gently accepting the embrace the Primary offered, given in part out of fascination at putting her hands over another of the High Caste, the purebred progency of their Creatrix, the High Queen of Connaxutl. Delicate fingers began to trace through the air, and then brilliant golden beams of pure light lanced out from a few and slicing and cutting and curving through the air, sliced one of the Queens into fifty pieces in the space of a second.

“Waxi was directly and grossly insubordinate to me; and that is punishable by death under the old Asvin Law; and so it is also in many cultures that the child who is directly insubordinate to the head of the household, may be put to death. I wished it of Waxi. She was once one of the finest of my children; but I will not let my progeny escape my wrath now, because to do so dishonours my own line.”

The ichor of more than a few of the Wraith Queens at the table ran cold at once.

Then, they found some real difficulty in continuing to function as Maedhv reached out with her mind and started to strangle the selected eight Queens, slowly. “You all, are also directly insubordinate to me—and I will not deign to say your names while you remain alive. You conspired to disobey me and pursue the war against Atlantis to the bitter end, and gave me the choice of killing you, or leaving to let you pursue policies in this galaxy, I had no desire to allow you to pursue. Well, I have taken my time about deciding what the answer to that ultimate is, and I’ve settled on it.

"I’m going to kill you.” The sound of eight necks being broken instantaneously was peculiar, and surprisingly loud, though not as loud as the bodies collapsing off their chairs in a haphazard mess upon the floor, ringing through the silent hall as Maedhv glared along the length of the table.

“The rest of you were either neutral or supported me or were not yet born or had become the Queens of Hives, in those days; for you, I am pleased to have returned. Now there are seventeen sitting below Ixtakutmul, but she is the stronger for it, for I know you will be loyal to me; she is my Second.”

“I still love you all, you know. All as children, and some as lovers past, who might again be.” With those words she reached down, lifting Ixtakutmul’s hand with the feeding organ in her two smaller hands, up to her mouth, and kissing it intensely. The Primary tossed her head back and moaned in hapless delight at the old gesture; it was both sexual and a sort of feeding, for within Maedhv was the power to bestow upon the Wraith energy by merely touching them, taken not from herself, for she never gave parts of herself away, but from the Hidden Realm itself.

Her eyes, aware, smirking, flicked around the other queens for a pregnant moment before she lifted her lips and began to speak again. “You’ve got, what, a hundred and thirty-eight hives left? Rebellions and revolts and dissensions across the galaxy, when once I led you with sixty fourteens of fourteens in strength of Hives against the treacherous Alterans! Demographic catastrophe due to improper management of your food resources. This is what my children have accomplished?”

“We’re sorry, Your Majesty, for having failed you…”

“To shortsighted to realize I’d ever come back, though, Tixmatl. And also unable to see how you could govern yourselves. So enough of this game. I am back, and all orders disseminate from me once again. The Wraith Empire again has its High Queen, and obedience to me will be enforced in a military force, children of mine or not that you may be. I created you to bring the Ancients to their knees, but they escaped through the method of Ascension and may yet attack and harm us again, or those I have chosen to be close to me. They must be guarded against, and we must build a fleet capable of resisting Nirrti, for she is active, and actively protects some of our enemies, you understand?”

Maedhv smiled brilliantly at the looks of terror on the faces of the Queens, the tensing of Ixtakutmul beneath her. “Now, I encountered, in my sojourn, this interesting low-born human, Daniel Jackson, from among our enemies. He argued vigorously with me, and in the end, I confess, forced me to return to this responsibility I had neglected, to turn away from Earth, which I had aimed to rule with your aide, and take direct responsibility for you, and only you, first and foremost. So here I am, to again sit as High Queen.

“But Daniel Jackson misunderstood one thing. He’s never been a father, and even a father doesn’t understand a mother. I created you out of my own genetic material, without another input… You are as thoroughly me in origin as this child of my womb shall be. No, a man by definition cannot understand being a mother.

“So he didn’t realize that when he awoke me to my true responsibility, it meant implicitly, that in accepting responsibility for you again, rebellious though you’ve been, and even though I might have to kill some of you to reassert my proper authority… My first interest is for you, my Queens. Not for the humans of this universe, but for the fruit of my own body. There will certainly be changes in how business is conducted; but I did not come here to destroy you in vengeance. You are, and always will be, loved by She who Made you.”

“I cannot believe the reserves of your forgiveness,” Ixtakutmul spoke softly to her Creatrix’s ear, their hands still clasped together, though the other Wraith Queens could hear her. “But how do you intend to have us aide you, though we will try regardless, against such a great entity as Nirrti herself? Our Hive Ships no longer have the power sources they once did, and…”

She became aware of a shadow being cast through the windows, growing, and seeming to obscure the entire ship. A long and battered hull slid into view, dwarfing even the huge Hive Ships, semi-cigar shaped, built in heavy armour with countless weapons blisters and mounts, twice their length and many times their mass.

“My trump card, which I never told you about before, my dears. My old No-Ship, the Xihuatlatl; Alarita, my loyal two-sexed Vizier and highest lover, as you know, escaped… And as you don’t know, escaped by blasting hir away out of an assembled Alteran fleet, traveling to the Milky Way and burying her on a planet for the ultimate day when we might be reunited, for Alarita is a ghoula beyond time who is always resurrected by the ancient technology of my race. Though the ship needs heavy and extensive repairs and reconstruction at the Class IV yard at Connaxutl, the more important thing is that she carries aboard her more than a thousand ZPMs, recharging stations for them, and automated manufacturing facilities for various shielded attack craft, whose shield generator production plans can be adapted to finally give all of our Hives energy shielding; the ample power for it and all the usual benefits of improved power generation in these hulls will be met by a full compliment of three ZPMs as in the old days when we took the war to the Alterans.

“They will not be destroying a thirteen of hives in one day ever again, I promise you that!" Maedhv smiled sensuously, more of a lethal threat in the context, though not to anyone there. "Does this satisfy all questions for the moment? Detailed instructions, I deign to save for later.”

The Queens bowed their heads in nervous acknowledgement of the incarnate goddess, the Creatrix of their race. Maedhv luxuriated in it, arching her back and leaning back into Ixtakutmul’s form. “I’ll sleep tonight with you in your chambers, my dear Ixie,” she purred, and then her eyes jerked back to the remaining Queens.

“Go tell your subordinates and spread the news far and wide that the High Queen is returned, and that she shall receive the homage of all the lesser Queens, or else put my vengeance down amongst them and their offspring and scour them for their disobedience. You are dismissed from our presence. Ixtakutmul and I have… Old business to catch up on.”

The Primary very nearly laughed. That was the old Maedhv that she remembered so well. Her loss of prestige to Culixma and consequent sundering of the horde and great losses, had been the punishment for her defence of the High Queen; the payoff had been millennia in coming, but it had come, and with a surfeit greater than she’d ever hoped to imagine. And besides, even the hated Alterans had acknowledged Maedhv to be the most sexually talented and experienced being in existence…

“Ixie. There’s change coming in the air, you know? Things are happening in the cosmos again. Lorien was present recently, some of the Old Ones have gone back Home.” A pause. “I’m going to make sure there’s still Wraith alive when it’s all said and done, and you, my lover.”

“As we’d be honoured so by our Creatrix!” And then, softly: “Maedhv, how bad is it?”

“Maybe back to the old days—playing ball games with planets and stretching the fabric of the cosmos to kill a trillion at a time—or maybe just the assumption of the destiny of humanity again. Either way, I’ll be here for you and your progeny. Promise. I am also a Wraith; and you are also me.” Again they kissed, and this time, lingered. "Only death in battle will ever make me shirk my responsibility again."

"I look in your eyes--and I know this, Your Majesty." Again they kissed.
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