1215 Hours, March 1st, 2008 (Military Calendar)/
Delmak, Ori Command Complex
To many a Jaffa, even standing near to this building would have been sacrilegious. The massive stepped pyramid rising before them was both holy and cursed, at the same time. It was holy as any building of a- false -god could have been. It was cursed for the gods who had controlled it. Sokar, a Goa'uld so cruel that he reveled in being the 'devil' to his already twisted siblings. Anubis, the most evil of all Goa'uld, who had taken it after Apophis had perished. Both of them had left their marks upon the psyche of the Jaffa of Delmak, and that mark had transferred to those held prisoner on the world. No Jaffa would willingly approach this building.
It was little surprise that the Ori, with their 'cleansing fire' cared little for Jaffa legends. If anything, they had appropriated the building knowing that it would be secure. Jaffa wouldn't try and sneak into a building that many were, still, convinced was full of traps.
"Forward, brothers! Burn the Ori with their own holy fire!"
It was a shame, then, that no one bothered to tell the Sangheili that.
"This temple reeks of decay." Standing tall atop a Spectre transport, a golden armored General clicked his mandibles in distaste. Nearby, Wraiths pounded the stone facade with mortar fire. Jaffa milled around the vehicles, clearly in awe at what they saw. Children, all of them. "I do not like this."
"The Flood do not exist in this universe, my General." A Major, his crimson armor darkened by fresh blood, stood beside him. His dark eyes narrowed at the temple in the distance. "Though I do share your distaste for that 'temple'."
Shaking his head, the General looked down on his subordinate. "I don't speak of the Flood. This is...different. That building was home to much suffering, and even now, it stains it. Not even our fire could cleanse it."
"As you say." There was no argument from the Major, as he clapped his arm against his chest. "I will return to the troops. The Fleetmaster wants this done as quickly as possible."
"Go, my brother, and fight well."
As the younger Sangheili jumped to the ground and stomped through the milling crowd of Jaffa, the General clicked his mandibles again. Beady eyes wouldn't- couldn't -look away from the temple. It was crumbling, Goa'uld construction never intended to stand against plasma like Forerunner structures. Yet, he still felt uneasy. Sangheili were no strangers to cruelty. However, even they had generally made the death of humans a quick process.
That building...the horrors that had taken place inside it echoed, even now. To one as spiritual as a Sangheili, it was obvious. He thought the Jaffa felt much the same, looking upon them.
I wonder. Do they believe that some specter of their 'god' still haunts that building?
Huffing a breath out, the General followed his Major, and jumped down from his transport. His massive frame kicked up dust upon landing, and made a few Jaffa stumble from the shock. In another time or place, it would have garnered an amused chuckle. Now, it only made the General shake his head. Many of these Jaffa were not warriors. They were not like Teal'c or Bra'tac. They were not even kin with the Jaffa he had observed training with his brothers at Reach. Pitiful.
Perhaps he was simply too used to the humans of his reality. For all he had gleefully killed them, he had always respected the humans. Even when driving his blade into their backs.
"General 'Vadum. I require your assistance." One of the honorable Jaffa, Teal'c, stood in a gap made by his brothers and sisters. His dark-skinned face staring at the temple stoically, not a hint of whatever he felt visible. "My warriors are not confident in our ability to take the temple by storm."
The General, Rtas 'Vadum, inclined his head. "So I have noticed. Do you believe in the same legends as they do, Teal'c?"
It was a sign of his respect for the near-human that Rtas spoke his name instead of his species. No human had earned that, and few enough Sangheili had.
"No." Teal'c was quick to respond, planting his feet firmly into the ground. He held up a human submachine gun, likely taken from a UNSC stockpile, towards the temple. "I have seen Anubis. I have fought the forces of Sokar." Here, his lips thinned. Ever so slightly. "They were powerful, but no more magical than any other false god. Anubis is, if Daniel Jackson is to be believed, in eternal combat with an Ancient."
Rtas knew of the 'Ancients'. The closest thing that this universe, this galaxy, had to the Forerunner. It was his understanding that they had ascended to a higher plane, much as the Great Journey had once promised the Sangheili. If the Jaffa was correct, then they had nothing to worry about. Yet...
"I do not share in your superstitions," Rtas huffed, his mandibles clicking shut. "However, that building stinks of something."
Teal'c nodded, shortly. "It does. It is possible that Anubis left something behind, and the Ori have been using it."
"Perhaps. We will soon find out."
Even as he said that, Rtas felt the Wraiths cease firing. He didn't need to look over his shoulder, to hear the roar of Ghosts and Spectres begin. To know that his brothers, and the few Jaffa willing to join them, would soon be charging the temple. Once this building fell, the Ori would lose Delmak. It would be impossible to hold the world...yet any secrets that the Ori had been holding to their chests, would be blown open. The Jaffa, equally, would be free.
This was not a mission that Rtas was used to. Sangheili were rarely taken prisoner, and even rarer still was a mission to rescue any.
I will still do this to the utmost of my ability. It is the honorable thing to do.
Grinning now, in the way only he could, Rtas pointed at his Spectre. "Join me, Teal'c, and we shall fight alongside our brothers and sisters. The Ori will perish, with warriors such as ourselves leading the way!"
"Indeed." Teal'c was a man of few words, as ever. He merely picked up another human weapon, and joined the General atop the purple vehicle.
With a roar that was echoed by every Sangheili present, Rtas and his brothers charged the temple. Blue and red plasma met blue Ori staves, as the final battle for Delmak began!
Flashes of blue were the only illumination, as Shak'tar fought in the darkened interior of Sokar's temple. He clutched an Ori stave tightly, panting under his breath. Screams of pain and rage from Demon and Jaffa alike echoed all around, though he could not see any of them. Perhaps it was the bombardment by the strange vehicles the Demons had brought. Perhaps it was the Ori deliberately attempting to confuse attackers. Regardless of the reason, the power was off in the temple and few torches remained lit.
They must think that we are afraid to fight in the darkness. Ha!
As a Jaffa of Ares, Shak'tar lived for combat. In a way that few other Jaffa did. Fighting in the darkness? It was nothing new to him. He was at home in the darkness, as he was in the daylight. The only problem was fighting alongside the Demons. He felt that they wouldn't care if they shot him by mistake.
"Shak'tar!" A Jaffa, one whom Shak'tar believed was once a servant of Yu from his features, called him over. The man held a time-worn Ma'tok and warily watched around the corner. His eyes were tired, when they flicked over to him. "I heard him. He was giving orders to the Ori!"
Blood turning to ice, the pale Jaffa clenched his hand tightly enough to make the staff in his hand creak. "He is here?"
Neither Jaffa needed to say more, to that. Both men looked at each other, eyes cold with rage. No longer caring for the roars of the Demons, they charged around the corner of the hallway. Orange fire spat from the Ma'tok and blue from the Ori stave. Screams of pain accompanied the fire. Shak'tar jumped over the crumpled from of an Ori soldier, barely even noticing as he thrust the sharp tip of his stave through the chest of another. Blood stained his face, flowing over his scowl as he twisted the stave. The man he had impaled gurgled, frantically tugging at Shak'tar's hands.
He, without a hint of remorse, tugged the stave free. Firing even as he pulled.
These monsters deserve no mercy. They've shown none to my brothers. Too many of my sisters have come back broken.
As the body fell away, chest little more than a scorched crater, Sha'ktar glanced over at his comrade. The Jaffa of Yu shared his look, shaking his head. His Ma'tok was similarly decorated with red, after he had brought it down on the head of a struggling Ori officer.
"He must be deeper in the temple. Sokar's sanctum, perhaps?"
Shak'tar grimaced, "Most likely. I was taken there, once. The Ori thought they could break me!" Grimace turning into a satisfied smirk, the Jaffa flung his stave to the ground and picked up a fresh one, without damage. "The fools had no idea who I am, if they thought that would work! I can lead us there, without a problem."
"Lead the way," Yu's Jaffa grinned back, though he kept his Ma'tok. "I hope that we find him. I want to see his face, when we bring even a little of the pain he gave us."
With a sharp nod, Shak'tar did just that. He ignored the smell of combat. Nary a glance was spared for the blood beneath his feet, or the Demons running through the halls. He barely even noticed when a pair in silver armor, joined by a tall dark-skinned Jaffa, joined him. They probably noticed that he knew where he was going. That was fine. If nothing else, it made it very unlikely that his target could escape. That...that...man had escaped too many times, already. He would not be so lucky again.
Support from the Demons and his knowledge of the temple worked together, and it took very little time for Shak'tar to reach his destination. Ori soldiers stood around primitive barricades, guarding Sokar- and Anubis' -inner sanctum. The deepest, most secure, part of the temple.
"Hold, Jaffa." One of the Demons spoke, strangely in the common language. The words were rough and gravelly, his four jaws shifting with each word. The monster held his hand up, a blue glow emanating from it. "We will clear the Ori filth from the hall. You must stay back, as you lack a shield."
"I will not be denied this!" Shak'tar hissed back, pointing his stave at the towering creature. "You cannot understand what that monster put our people through!"
The Demon snorted, "Perhaps. I, however, have my orders. Move aside, and talk with your brother if you don't believe me."
With nary a word to explain further, the silver-armored Demons faded. Only a faint shimmer, like water on glass, remained. They moved forward so silently, that Shak'tar could hardly believe they were as large as they were. And they left him behind, with only the Jaffa of Yu and the dark-skinned Jaffa beside him. Growling under his breath, the Jaffa of Ares turned to look at the man beside him.
It was only when he saw the gold on his brow, that he realized who it was.
"Master Teal'c!" Shak'tar quickly bowed his head, protests dying on his lips. Even after he had vanished, this man had the respect of all true Free Jaffa for what he had done. "I...apologize. You must understand, the man in that room is the one who has lead the Ori on this planet."
"There is no need for an apology." Teal'c's clipped tones were short and to the point. He held two strange, probably human, weapons in each hand. A frown on his lips. "A Prior?"
Shak'tar shook his head, "Were it that simple. No, that creature is not a Prior."
He would have explained further, however, screams distracted the Jaffa. Spinning around, Shak'tar leaned around the corner and saw the Ori soldiers firing into thin air. Two men lay on the ground, bodies cut into pieces. Even as he watched, another was lifted into the air by an invisible arm. A now-familiar blue blade sprang to life, piercing his chest. The soldier frantically grabbed at his chest. A silent scream on his lips...as his hands fell limp by his side.
A roar echoed, and the Demon threw the body to the floor. Ori staves fired where it had been, yet, nothing was hit. And another man fell, his head split from his body. The Ori panicked and spun in circles, trying to find what was attacking them. They fired wildly, and screamed as another man had his legs cut out from under him. He fell, screaming for his life, as a booted foot slammed down on his chest. Blood splattered the other Ori soldiers, and they could do nothing but attempt to hit an invisible foe.
I...can't see anything. I do not want to fight these Demons. I hope I never have to.
Shak'tar still didn't know why Master Teal'c would ally with such beasts. He also didn't care, in this moment. He scowled and began to fire his own stave. If the Demons were smart enough to avoid the Ori, they wouldn't be hit by his fire. The Ori, on the other hand, couldn't hope to do the same. A man fell, and Shak'tar began to run forward again. He wouldn't allow his prize to be taken from him so easily!
"Shak'tar! Hold!" That was the Jaffa of Yu. Golden Ma'tok fire took down an Ori soldier, who had evidently decided he was going to kill a Jaffa, if he couldn't kill anything else.
"Let him go!" Teal'c shouted as well, and from him came a strange rattle of human weaponry. One that Shak'tar had never heard, even though he knew that the bulky Jaffa was firing one in each hand. "The Ori will fall!"
When those words left his mouth, the last of the Ori did fall. The Demons had finally reappeared, one holding the last Ori soldier by the throat. The man was flailing his arms against the monstrous bulk of the reptilian arm, trying to pull it away. As Shak'tar watched, the Demon opened his jaws wide in a primal roar...and squeezed. A sickening crunch echoed through the hall, and the last Ori soldier was flung to the ground.
"It is done, Jaffa." The Demon turned around, caring little for the carnage around him. He held the arm that had killed the soldier to his chest, and inclined his head at Teal'c. "We do not see anyone in the room, save for one old man. I assume that is your target?"
A deep growl rumbled up from Shak'tar's chest, as he walked forward and flung the sanctum's door open. He didn't even notice how the marks of Anubis and Sokar had been burned away, or how the gold had been stripped and replaced by silver. He didn't care about the weight of the doors, or the blood staining his boots. The blue torches on the wall got little more than a glance, for all his attention was on the man in white robes at the center. He was staring out a balcony, looking at the shattered remains of the Ori fleet and the ruins of Netu beyond.
The man let out a soft sigh, turning around to stare at Shak'tar.
"You know, I never thought it would come to this. The Ori promised so much. To see it torn down by creatures like the Unas is beyond me." There was little to no remorse in his words, as the man's wrinkled face scrunched up into a frown. "And you, Shak'tar. I had so many hopes for you."
A cry of rage echoed from the Jaffa. "Quiet! You've done nothing but cause suffering! How many of our brothers have died?" A punch shot out, knocking the old man to the floor. Shak'tar hardly cared, crouching down to pull the man up by his robe. Glaring into his remorseless eyes. "How many of our sisters have had their purity stolen? How many children have lost their families?" Moving nose-to-nose, the pale Jaffa growled out his last question. "How many, father?"
Father, for he had lost any right to his given name, continued to stare at the panting Jaffa. "More than was necessary, would our people have just given in. You haven't seen the Ori like I have. They are not the Goa'uld or the Tau'ri. They are truly gods, in every sense of the word. The Orici alone..."
Dropping his father like a bag of sand, Shak'tar stood to his feet. He walked back to his stave, and picked it back up. If only to keep himself from strangling the man. "The Ori killed millions. Even the Goa'uld didn't kill so many of our people, Father. No gods would do that to their servants. No gods would expect us to slaughter our brothers and sisters, for the crime of living their own lives. Isn't that why we left Ares?"
"Ares was a fool." Climbing to his feet, Father held a hand to his face and rubbed a bruise. Blue eyes, identical to his own, stared at Shak'tar. "He killed for his own pleasure. The Ori kill to cleanse the nonbelievers. Haven't we been lenient here, on Delmak? Many of our brothers would have been killed out of hand, if I hadn't pushed for this plan."
"A plan that has broken so many of us!"
Shak'tar was aware that Yu's Jaffa and Teal'c were staring at the confrontation. He didn't care. They couldn't understand how intensely personal this was for him. At least the former understood how this-this-traitor had ruined so many lives.
"It is regrettable, yes, that so many have refused to see the light. I truly did hope that more would convert, though it seems that the nonbelievers have found new friends." Father turned his eyes on the Demons, standing silently by the door. His lip curled in distaste. "Monsters, all of them. You claim that the Ori have no mercy? You have surely seen what these creatures have done to my soldiers."
A wince answered him. "I won't defend that. You, Father, need to stop changing the subject. Why would you do this to our people?"
With a heavy sigh, the old Jaffa turned to look back out at Netu. His eyes faintly glowing, in the dim light of fire in orbit. The fleets continued to fire on each other, and with the size of some ships, it was visible from the temple. A battle in the heavens, to decide the fate of those on the ground. There was probably a metaphor in there somewhere, though Shak'tar wasn't in the mood to care. He wanted answers and his father was ignoring him again. He was about to stomp forward again, and force the man to answer.
Only for him to turn around, and hold his hand up in surrender.
"As I've said, I have seen the Ori. They are truly gods, in a way that none can hope to match. They destroyed the Asgard and the Tau'ri and the Goa'uld. They've performed miracles I could never hope to see from Ares." Father shook his head, a dim smile crossing his lips. "I truly believe that they will save us all, if we just believe in them. We can join them, one day, if we just believe."
A Demon finally made a noise at that. A sound that sounded like a snort, but wrong.
"Then you are a fool." His gravelly voice echoed in the room, though the massive pile of muscle made no moves away from the doorway. Beady eyes stared over at the Jaffa, as he shook his head. "We were promised much the same, by our Prophets. They lied. If we had followed them, we would have been marching to nothing but death."
Father shook his head again, "Your Prophets are the fools."
It was rapidly becoming apparent, to Shak'tar if no one else, that nothing was going to change. His father was gone. The man before him was a monster, even more than the Demons. At least the Demons were honest in their brutality. His father spoke words of salvation and peace, while happily condemning thousands- millions -of Jaffa to death. He spoke of the Ori's forgiveness with one hand, while holding the lives of every Jaffa in the other. He was a Demon, more surely than any monster ever could be. A demon in human skin, who would smile as his own son was worked to death.
Who had smiled, as his own son was worked to death.
"Do what you wish with him, Master Teal'c." Shak'tar's head fell in exhaustion. He was done. "This man is not my father."
No response came from Father, as Teal'c inclined his head. The elder Jaffa stepped forward, staring at the traitor. "Shol'va. I wore that title with pride, when we fought the False Gods. It was a sign of how they feared me."
When no response was forthcoming, Teal'c stood right before Father. He did not touch him, nor do anything but stare into the depths of his soul.
"You are a Shol'va in truth, where I was one in legend." Teal'c continued, holding his weapon up to point at Father's head. "I have but one question. What did the Ori look for, in this temple?"
Father's eyes widened, for the first time. He opened his mouth, closed it, and opened it again. His words were drawn out slowly, as if it pained him to answer. "I-do not know. The Priors have excavated the core of the temple. I have always assumed it was for some weapon or secret of Sokar. Perhaps even Anubis. I have observed them bringing things from the depths of the temple. I cannot claim to know what they were."
"I see." Teal'c nodded. He lowered his weapon, and looked over at Shak'tar. "This could be difficult, for our brothers."
Shak'tar couldn't dispute the point. "Do you believe it was a weapon?"
"A weapon, or something that should have remained buried. We have never known everything Anubis, or Sokar, possessed."
Turning back to question Father, Teal'c was surprised when the older Jaffa tackled him. The tall Jaffa barely budged, too strong and trained for such a move to work...
...if it had been intended to hurt him. A single gunshot rang out, Father falling to the floor. He had pulled Teal'c's hand up, and fired the weapon. His face, covered in blood, a mask of failure. Failure at serving his 'gods'? Or failure at being a true Jaffa and father?
It was impossible to say.
"He died free," Teal'c, at least, was going to give him that much. Turning away from the dead traitor, he glanced at Shak'tar and Yu's Jaffa. "Come, it is time to leave this place."
As a green craft flew through the air towards the balcony, neither Jaffa- nor the Demons watching the door -argued the point. Shak'tar felt numb. Conflicted. He had dreamt of this day, for so long. To finally see it happen...he didn't know what to feel. How to feel. His father, the demon of Delmak, was dead. He was finally leaving the planet. How was he supposed to feel?
He wondered if there would ever be an answer for that.
AN: Sorry about how long this took. Work was killing me XD
I hope everyone likes the chapter, though! I tried to make it a bit longer this time, though it wasn't as much actual combat as I wanted. We get to see an old friend at least!
(since Nar has mostly taken his place, he is a General here instead of a Fleetmaster :P)
Next chapter will round out this mini-arc and finish the space battle too! I hope everyone is looking forward to that! :D